Category Archives: Marketing

5 reasons your website Isn’t attracting leads.

So, what are your big Internet marketing plans for the New Year? Will you beinvesting more in social media? Will you start blogging? Will you take a more proactive stance with self-promotion? Whatever your online marketing plans, the end goal is likely to attract more people to your website in the hopes that the influx of new eyes will translate into new customers, new leads and new opportunities for your business. However, you won’t be able to do any of that if your Web site is turning people off, instead of turning them on.

Below are some very common reasons SMB Web sites fail to attract customers and how to avoid falling prey to them.

1. There’s no conversion path in place.

One criticism of many SMB sites is that they don’t include a clear conversion path for their customers. If you want customers to take a certain action, you need to create a funnel intended to guide them to do that. Simply stringing together a number of content pages won’t necessarily put someone on the path to buy. Your conversion path may be as simple as a solitary landing page paired with a call to action, or as complex as an entire microsite. Either way, you are in charge of designing the flow of your website. Creating a clear conversion path not only helps customers feel more comfortable on your site, it also gives you clear data to track so that you can see where people are abandoning, where they’re engaging, etc. The more data you have to act on, the better you can design your site to attract new customers.

2. There’s no sign of life.

Customers are discriminating. You can bet that when they land on your website they’re going to kick the tires a little to see if they can trust you. They’re going to check your copyright date to see if it lists 2011 or 2006. They’re going to look for old statistics or other signs you haven’t taken the time to update your content. They’re going to check your company blog to see how often it’s updated, if you reply to commenters, if people are talking back, etc. They’re going to look for signs that you’ve created a dynamic website, instead of one lying around in stagnant water. Before your customers get there, take a look around yourself. Would you hang out with you?

3. It’s all about you.

Customers don’t head to your site to hear how awesome you are. They’re there because they have a problem they need you to fix or a question they need you to answer. Your website should be designed to help them quickly achieve whatever it is they came for. Too many references to “I” in lieu of “you,” too much sales talk instead of helpful information, and too much of you not addressing their fears/wants/desires will turn people away from your brand, not on to it. Your customers don’t care about you–they care about how you can help them.

4. People can’t find you.

If you’re finding that customers aren’t interacting with your website at all, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

  1. Is it accessible? With more and more users searching via mobile devices and on the go – is your website mobile accessible? If it’s not, users trying to find you may hit a dead end. There’s nothing worse than trying to find your accountant’s website while on the road and finding out his site only renders in Flash and won’t load on your phone. Not that I’m talking from experience.
  2. Is it properly SEO’d? Have you made it easy for users and search engines to find your content? That means using the right keywords, linking properly, making your site super crawlable for spiders, and staying away from common SMB SEO mistakes.

Sometimes before you can see more traffic, you have to break through the obstacles preventing you from seeing any.

5. There’s no POD.

If you want to attract people, you have to give them more of you. You have to stand out from the crowd and show them something that they’ll want to align themselves with. Take a look at your own site – what are you showing potential customers? I don’t mean the graphics or the videos you choose to incorporate (don’t forget to SEO those, too!), I meanthe experience that you’re creating. Are you using your site to set yourself apart, or do you come off like everyone else? Are you talking to customers in their own language or filling your pages up with buzzwords and jargon? The more powerful a POD (point of differentiation) you can create, the better you’ll attract the right customers to your brand.

If you’re finding it difficult to attract leads via your website, it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions. Before you can fix the problem, you first have to identify it. What are some struggles you’ve had attracting new leads? How have you fixed the problems?

http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/01/5-reasons-your-web-site-isn’t-attracting-leads.html

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Your prices tell your customer EVERYTHING!

You’re currently sending a very important ‘hidden’ message to your customers. That message is ‘hidden’ in your prices.

Entrepreneurs think that setting their prices is all about how much profit you can make. Of course, that’s true but your prices also tell your customer something of great significance.

Your prices tell your customers how much you value yourself, your product and your service.

There’s gold in those 15 words so let me repeat them:

Your prices tell your customers how much you value yourself, your product and your service.

One of the big Entrepreneur mistakes is setting your prices too low. If your prices are too low you’re obviously losing money but even worse, you’re doing horrendous damage to yourself and your brand.

If Mercedes, Lexus, Prada and Gucci halved their prices tomorrow and promoted the price cut with a big advertising blitz they would almost certainly boost their profits for the year. But they would also destroy their brands in one foul swoop.

Higher prices, backed by effective Marketing, send a subliminal (and sometimes not so subliminal) message to your customers that you have great confidence in yourself and what you’re selling. People are drawn to such confidence and certainty. If you doubt this, go take a trip to Harrods and just watch people and their buying behaviours.

Is it possible that you’re pricing yourself too low? Your customers are looking for quality and value. But they’re also looking for certainty and leadership. We want to be sold to by people and businesses that have confidence in their products and services. It’s true that there’s a minority of the population who always want to buy at the lowest price. But there’s an increasing proportion of the population for whom price is not the key criteria. If you can build a business selling to this group, your financial security is assured.

4 tips for turning new customers into repeat ones

So much of our energy is spent trying to attract new customers. We want to increase brand awareness, make new connections and woo new customers into our stores. But we’ve all been told that keeping an old customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one. So what are you doing to make customers swoon once you’ve already attracted them? What are you doing to turn new customers into repeat and even lifelong customers?

Here are 4 tips to help you do just that.

1. Offer return shopping discounts.

One way to give people an incentive to keep shopping with you is to offer discounts to help get them back in the store. That may mean throwing a coupon in with their order or sending them a targeted mailing two weeks after their first purchase. Either way, the coupon gives them a reason to seek you out again and gives them something branded to hold on to and associate you with. Leaving customers with something tangible they can use helps to build your brand and keeps their experience with you fresh in their minds. If you’re going to use discount coupons as a way to target repeat customers, make sure the discount is sizable or unique enough that it will stand out from more generic offers. You need to give someone a reason to use the coupon. Otherwise it (and your brand) will get stuck in their junk drawer.

2. Start a mailing list.

One of my favorite ways to re-target people time and time again is via e-mail lists. E-mail lists give small business owners a more personal way to stay in touch with past customers. You can use your e-mail list to keep customers updated on what you’re up to, share personal business stories, and include information about promotions or special events to help people get back in the store. E-mail marketing is great from a customer retention standpoint, not only because it enables a business owner to include promotional information, but because it helps you develop a more intimate relationship with your customer. E-mail is personal. When you show up in the customer’s inbox, it’s a sign that the customer trusts you and your brand and that they want to further the relationship.

3. Offer exclusive discounts.

Another way to encourage repeat business is to offer special discounts to your best customers – whether that means your most profitable customers or the ones that have a history of being loyal. By showing that you recognize the value that they bring to your customers, you make them feel appreciated and encourage them to keep doing business with you. The exclusive offers you give them may include higher discounts, more attention in some way, or early access to sale prices. Make it something that sets them apart and lets them see how much you value their loyalty. Many business owners do this by creating a “private list” or branded “membership program” to help people feel acknowledged and valued.

4. Create a compelling experience.

People buy based on brand, but they also buy based on experience. If you want people to come back and keep doing business with you, then you need to focus on the experience that you’re building with them. Some small business owners send handwritten notes to thank customers for making a purchase. Others include small gifts in their orders. Others focus on creating the best experience they can while someone is still in the store. As customers start to feel more and more empowered thanks to social media, I believe it’s this “experience factor” that will be most influential in whether or not customers choose to spend money with your company.

Those are some areas small business owners should focus on when trying to encourage repeat business from customers. What has been key for your business? What do you focus on?

1 page Marketing plan anyone can use

Planning sucks. None of us like to do it and if you’ve had any corporate experience in the process, it’s no wonder. But planning is an absolute necessity if you want to be successful.

So how do we reconcile our need to succeed with our propensity for procrastination?

Simple: Re-frame how you look at planning.

 

We hate planning because we remember the endless meetings, hours of research that doesn’t seem to get you closer to an answer and documents the size of War and Peace. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Developing a Marketing Plan is nothing more than setting goals and making a to-do list that will get you there. It’s really not much different than planning a party.

You’re basically creating a plan for inviting more people you love to give you money and then tell other people why they should give you their money too. Sounds like a party to me. How about you?

That’s why I’ve been working to develop really simple, one-page templates that can be used to develop marketing plans. I’d like to share two different ones with you. They’re designed to get you thinking and planning and making money, not writing lengthy documents.

(1) One-page marketing plan # 1 – The first marketing plan template is one that I’ve loosely adapted from learnings from the original marketing guru, Philip Kotler. (Even he doesn’t believe in hundred-page plans). It’s a simple single sheet of paper that outlines the basic marketing components or categories like your Mission/Objectives, Target Market, Offering, Pricing, Distribution, Communication — you know, those 4 Ps we love so much in marketing. But the good news is that that’s really all there is to it.

You can find something roughly along these lines in an old “Marketing Management” book that Kotler wrote over 20 years ago, but I think the principles are still valid.

You can use this format as a place to put your big thoughts so that you can focus on what the strategies are.

I am making the template available as a Word document — both a blank template and a mocked-up sample plan, which you can use as a guide for how to fill out the template.

Download blank template #1 (.doc format)

Download mocked-up sample plan #1 (.doc format)

(2) One-page marketing plan #2 — The second one-page plan format I use is a combination of the Kotler plan and the Guerrilla Marketing process as advocated by Michael McLaughlin. This one’s not much different from the Kotler plan, but it’s less academic and more focused on emotional triggers that will get your ideal customer to choose you.

I am also making this template available as Microsoft Word documents for you to download use to guide your marketing planning.

Download the blank template #2 (.doc format)

Download a mocked-up sample plan #2
 (.doc format)

So, there you have the plans I’ve been using — and my hat tip goes to both of the masters for giving me a starting point to create these one-page marketing plan templates.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of these one-page marketing plans? What do you use as a marketing plan, and why? In what ways would you change or improve the templates I’ve offered? Come on, share your ideas.

Are you attracting Facebook fans or driving them away

You entered the world of Facebook with all the best intentions. You wanted to use the social network as a way to connect with current customers, attract potential new ones, and share a little bit of your brand with those listening. So every day you take to the site to post new content and engage, but is it working? Are you attracting Facebook fans–or are youdriving them away? How can you tell the difference?

Below are some activities known to either attract or repel customers. See which categories your behavior falls into. If it’s the latter, maybe it’s time for a revamp.

How To Keep Them

Offer discounts. Studies continue to show that the leading reason customers engage with brands on social networks is to take advantage of social media-based promotions or coupons. Customers are willing to “like” a page with the hopes that the brand will “thank them” by giving them a discount or special offer. When you’re creating these offers, worry less about the extravagance of what you’re giving out and more about making sure it’s something unique and an offer people will want to redeem. For example, a discount associated with breaking a certain number of fans is more memorable than a generic 10 percent off coupon they could get anywhere.

Solve their problems. Another reason customers will look to connect with you on social media is because they have a problem they need you to fix. Maybe their cable isn’t working, they got a bad burger or they can’t figure out how to get the battery out of their Blackberry. If you’re providing information to help them solve their problems or answering questions as they come in, then you’re providing value and enough reason for someone to want to stick around and remain a fan of your page.

Chat with them. Are you using your Facebook page to host conversations about community issues or are you simply using it as a datafeed, auto-posting your Twitter updates, blog posts, etc.? Users who join your Facebook page are doing it because they want that extra connection with you. If you’re seeing a lot of conversation and engagement between members, it’s a good sign you’re attracting them, not sending them away.

Get their feedback. Another good way to retain fans is to ask for their feedback about new releases, future products, etc. People like to feel like they have a say in the brands they love, and inviting them into the process makes them feel more connected and part of what you’re doing. The more invested you can make someone feel, the greater the chance you’re going to keep him or her on your side.

Entertain them. When I’m deciding which brands I want to engage with on Facebook, I look for brands that can not only keep me informed, but keep me entertained as well. Don’t go totally unprofessional, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun or post a link to something that made you smile. Showing the personal side of your brand is a good way to keep people interested in what you’re doing and make them feel more connected to you.

How to Drive Them Away

Disrespect other members. How do you treat the members in your Facebook community? Do you allow healthy debate to take place or do you hop in and criticize those who may share negative comments about your brand? Do you censor their messages because they’re not totally complimentary? Do you step in when other members are fighting amongst each other? It’s your job to create a healthy environment in your community. If you’re not, people aren’t going to want to hang out there.

Post too many messages. How many times a day do you post? Are you constantly flooding your wall with new updates, new blog posts, new links and new synced Twitter updates? If you are, you may be giving users more information than they can handle and driving them away from your page. Information overload can be quite intimidating!

Don’t post enough messages. On the flip side, maybe you never update, to the point where people wonder if you’re still there. While you don’t want to flood people with constant updates, you do want to give them a sign that you’re still part of the community and listening to what’s going on. No one wants to hang out in an empty house.

Ignore feedback. When you ask for feedback, do you acknowledge it in some way or do you let it fall on deaf ears? While asking for feedback is a great way to encourage people to become part of your community, if you continually ignore them, it may also backfire. You don’t have to act on everything that is suggested, but do give people a sign that you’re listening and appreciating their effort.

What signs do you look for that people are engaged in your Facebook community and aren’t secretly looking for the “unlike” button?

How to make Twitter work for your business

There is more than meets the eye when using Twitter as a marketing tool to promote your business. There is a thin line between annoying and effective so check out these tips to keep you on the right track…

When you hear that Twitter is something only about 8% of people use in their everyday life, it’s enough to make you wonder if it’s worth using at all. If you’re not getting a return for the time and energy you invest in your marketing, then you might want to look elsewhere.

But the truth is that most people just don’t know how to make Twitter work for them. So while it looks like Twitter isn’t a strong business tool, the truth is that it’s simply a tool people aren’t using well. With these four tips, you will make Twitter work for your business, even if you’re only talking to a select market of people.

Make It Personal

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make when they’re on Twitter is to not have their picture on their profile. It seems so simple, but studies have shown that people who have their picture on their Twitter account seem to be more personable and thus they get more followers.

You also want to make the most of the profile description piece that everyone sees when they go to your Twitter account. Make sure to use keywords, of course, but you should also include some sort of description that will allow you to showcase your personality. People want to know YOU, not just what you’re selling.

Make It Useful

 

How do you expect people to follow you if you do not post relevant and helpful Tweets?

 

As you begin to make the most of the 140 characters of each Twitter post, you want to ensure your followers are getting something each time they read your tweets. You will want to post things like:

  • Valuable resources – If you find something online that someone else might need, then post it on your Twitter account. Even if this link directs the reader to another site that’s not yours, you will increase your trustworthiness and your appeal. Being helpful sells.
  • Links to your work or site – Yes, from time to time, posting links to your own site when new things come up is a good idea. Just don’t do this every single hour as that is the best way to get yourself unfollowed.
  • Announcements – If there’s something coming up that you want to announce, Twitter is the place to do it. Ask others to retweet it to really see the information get where it needs to go.

Make It Memorable

You don’t want to be just another Twitter account. You need to be a Twitter account people can’t wait to see updated. To make things more memorable, you need to find a way to interact with the audience you want to sell to. For example, when you read some marketing guru Twitter accounts, you will notice they are directly interacting with their readers, trying to get them to respond. Others try to respond to other Twitter accounts and start conversations. No matter what you do, try to find a way to be memorable online.

Make It Unique

Uniqueness can be tricky with millions of Twitter accounts. After all, there are only so many ways that you can interact through Twitter. What makes you unique is using your Twitter for your Twitter followers and for no one else. While you might be tempting to link your Twitter account to your Facebook account and to other social media networks, if a person is following you on all of the accounts, they’re going to get duplicate information. And that’s not interesting or helpful.

Twitter can work to increase the visibility of your business by allowing you to spread your ideas around the globe. Now, use it properly.

Google PPC – revisited

So here are my 7 guiding principles for making sure you are using effective PPC ads in your business. I’ll be coming back to each of these in detail in the weeks and months ahead:

  • Make your ads relevant to the topics people are searching for. Include your main keyword in your headline and then follow up with a benefit and an offer in the second and third lines of your ad. Using your company name as the headline and then saying “we give great service” is not a good idea.
  • Users clicking on your ad should NOT be surprised by what they find when they get to your site. Not only is it bad manners, but it’s really bad for your business. Make the page you send them to immediately relevant: don’t send them to your home page and expect them to hunt around for the onward links to what you’ve already promised them. They won’t. They’ll leave your site with a click of disgust and the money you paid to Google for the click is wasted.
  • Instead of trying to sell them something the instant they hit the page you’ve directed them to, begin a relationship with your customers by giving: offer them some free but valuable information in return for their email addresses and names. This could be a free report, article, video or a sample of your product or service. You can then email them at and make the sale happen at a more leisurely pace.
  • Use specific keywords accurately describing your products and services. Remember, you’re PAYING for clicks and the more “niched” your keywords are, the more targeted your traffic will be and the cheaper the clicks will be.
  • Use the power of “negative keywords”. If you’re using the keyword “builder” in your ads, then you don’t want to be picked up by searches for “Bob the Builder”. You can set your ads up to exclude these spurious hits on your keywords.
  • Test. Google’s free tools allow you to test and measure your advertising like never before: within just 10 minutes your ad can be in front of 100 million people and you can have real test-data not long after that.
  • Remember to write separate ads for each of your keywords. This will make your ads more relevant and give you a higher click through rate. Nothing I tell you will ever be theory. My own business is worth over £20 million but getting there was not always easy. All my strategies were developed in ‘the trenches’ If I can save you from some of the hurdles I had to jump over, I will have done a good job.