Set Your Sites On Providing Information
In a time when customer-service training seems to be the mandate for many companies, I often find myself dodging those who serve the customers.
Ever have this happen to you? You’re in a store merely browsing when a battalion of salespeople descends upon you. One after another they barrage you with, “Can I help you?” — or that incredibly intrusive, “Looking for something special?”
Just the other day I was in a specific electronics store that employs teenagers. I was out on a fact-finding mission. My brother’s birthday is still weeks away, and I’d decided to research prices before purchasing that flash-in-the-pan video game he needs to maintain “cool” status in the third grade.
No, I didn’t want help.
No, I wasn’t interested in the fact that today was the last day to order an advance copy of the next big thing for grade-school trendsetters.
I wanted to check out the merchandise and the prices. I wanted to be alone.
Surely just about everyone has this type of experience, which is precisely my point. Not every interaction with a potential customer is about making a sale. Sometimes, and more often than we think, merely facilitating the process of helping the consumer become more informed is far more critical.
So why do we expect every “successful” website to make mountains of cash?
It seems that supplying a website filled with information is just as crucial for a successful online venture.
Those of us who are employed in marketing communications know that much of our job involves informing the consumer. We also know this is a critical part of doing business.
An organization that thinks marketing is only about sales probably won’t generate much loyalty — or interest — among its target markets. In this age of the “informed consumer,” you’ve merely got to provide as much information as possible.
We marcommers were thrilled when websites came on the scene, and we’ve never lost our excitement. Granted, some organizations may have lost their Web fervor, over the past several years, but that’s all the better. It gives us more time to catch up, stop pursuing the newest interactive “must have” of the week, and create some great, information-packed sites that are of value to the user.
How do you create an informative site?
Here are Five Basic Rules:
1. Do it yourself.
Can the canned copy, especially the AP Wire stuff. It doesn’t help your organization establish itself on the Web — or anywhere. Marketing is all about creating a point of differentiation, and canned copy accomplishes just the opposite.
2. Hire great writers and editors.
Website content demands good writing. If you’re going to build a great site, you must have in-house or outsourced writers who can communicate your message.
3. Get niche-y now.
The web provides an opportunity to show your connection with a specific target audience. A backpack site, for instance, contains not only the backpacks for sale but also information on everything from cycling to spelunking.
4. Think internet in your marketing plan.
I get bothered when entrepreneurs and business executives present marketing plans without mentioning their proposed websites. It’s said that radio plus outdoor provides the same impact as television. However, what provides the impact of a content-rich website? It’s indeed in a class by itself.
5. Build internal excitement.
Some of your best content can come from your employees. Engage them in building a great site, and you’ll have content to last until the next dot-com boom. The Gallup site does a great job of calling on in-house experts.
Quite frankly, if salespeople acted more like informative websites, we wouldn’t have to concentrate so much on a quality web content. However, that’s a perfect world where I’d be out of a job.
What Has Your Website Done For You Lately?
Businesses out there are measuring the value of their website purely by the number of visitors they attract. This is worrisome for two reasons: first, how do you know those visitors are the right visitors, and second, are those visitors actually doing anything of value as a result of viewing your site?
Creating value through conversion
The best way to measure and enhance website value is by defining the actions that you want your site visitors to take – actions which align with your sales process. These are known as conversion goals. What these are will depend on the primary focus of your website, which can be one of 3 things:
- Prospect acquisition: To deliver qualified leads and prospects through the site
- Sales/ECommerce: To sell products and services online directly through an e-store
- Cost saving/cost avoidance: To cut costs, usually resources such as printed material or staff time, by automating in-house processes online.
Conversion is then defined in relation to the goal you identified above.
Let’s say your website’s primary goal is prospect acquisition: the key to generating leads through your website, thereby increasing its return on investment (ROI), is to embrace the entire buying cycle-because conversions can happen at each point.
Below is a matrix that sets out some possible conversion goals for a prospect acquisition website:
Ask your site,”What have you done for me lately?”
These should be narrowed down to one primary conversion goal and a couple of secondary ones. For most websites, newsletter subscriptions are more important than people realize. Why? Far too many visitors will just forget you exist after their first visit.
The newsletter brings them back, and your list is a source of “warm leads” – people most likely to buy. You will sell more by selling to newsletter subscribers than trying to sell “cold” to new visitors.
Starting kicking goals through your website today
A website without conversion goals is like a life without purpose – it’s a waste of a precious resource. Every user interaction – every click – needs to prepare for the conversion points for the site, and that conversion should be able to be tracked – thereby enabling you to calculate the ROI of your website.
So how do you introduce goal conversion to your current website?
Some sites are already a hub of conversion activity, but just don’t know how to measure it.
Other websites are merely squat in cyberspace doing little to encourage visitor interaction. It’s these websites which are crying out for a redesign that is better optimized to goal conversion.
So what’s the real value of your website?
It might be exchanging a few nods and glances with your customers, but if it doesn’t drive them to act in some way, then what’s the point?
Talk to Marqui Management today about measuring or redesigning for goal conversion – you could seriously ramp up the return on your marketing dollar.