Monday, June 28, 2010

Why SEO Rankings Are Overrated, If You Overlook This Key Factor

I've talked with several website owners the past few weeks, and they're all focused on their website having high SEO rankings for relevant keywords and phrases. That's part of having a profitable website... but only if you have a landing page that does this critical task. Most website owners have the process backwards:

They look to maximize their SEO rankings first, THEN figure out this critical component second - when it should be the other way around. If you get this key factor handled first - and then focus on SEO - your online marketing will be more profitable in a shorter amount of time.

What is this commonly overlooked and critical factor? Conversion. The percentage at which you convert visitors into paying customers.

Think about it: Why would you want to spend time and money boosting your SEO rankings, when you only convert a small percentage - or maybe none - of the incoming traffic? You could be wasting money focusing just on SEO... and burning good leads.

Focus on your landing pages, website copy, auto-responder e-mails and marketing strategy. Test them with a small sample of visitors, and when it converts well... THEN you can invest more money, and roll it out on a larger scale.

If you aren't sure about how to setup a good marketing funnel, write good website content/copy, or auto-responder e-mails - consult with someone who can. Just because you CAN do something in your business, doesn't mean you SHOULD. A "fresh set of eyes" always helps - even for me - to see things I overlooked, even after reading a section of copy 15 or 20 times.

I know a guy who I consulted with 10 months ago, who's still trying to get the results he wants. Talked with one of his sales reps last week, who said he shut down his business in February to get this right. Ugh. Don't spin your wheels and try to figure it out yourself - ask for a fresh set of eyes and thoughts to get the results you want.

I attended AffCon2010 in Denver last Monday and Tuesday, was playing catchup the rest of the week - that's why I didn't get this post written until today. I'll have another blog post up later this week or early next - have a safe and fun 4th of July holiday!

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's the PROCESS, Not the Product

Many times business owners come up with an idea for what they think is a great product or service. However, many times they're surprised that the prospects they're selling to aren't as enthusiastic.

I thought about this title because a friend of mine showed me the website of someone with - surprise! - a really cool product they like, and they hope enough other people will like enough to buy. The premise behind her friend's marketing plan was to get enough people to buy this one product, and their business problems would be solved.

As I've learned over the years, that's not the most profitable business model to use. The initial product you sell to a customer should be the START of a long-lasting business relationship. You discover what problem(s) they want to solve, and provide products and services - either your own or from other biz owners - that will solve your customers problems.

You can become an affiliate for other quality products and services, and get paid for the sales that you refer to another busines owner. However, make sure that you only become an affiliate for good people with quality products and services - not just the ones with the highest affiliate payout.

Most of the time it's not the product, but the marketing process that will lead you to business success. And here it is:

1) Build a qualified list of customers and prospects. You can do this from networking events, landing pages, Pay-Per-Click (but only if the lifetime value of the customer is more than the cost of generating the lead), and opt-in forms on your website.

2) Communicate with and educate people on your list through e-mail, Social Media, teleseminars and/or webinars, and your website. There's an old saying in business: "The more you tell, the more you sell." Provide quality information that truly educates people about your industry, business, product or service - it can't be just a thinly-disguised sales pitch. People will see through that in a heartbeat.

3) Survey people on your list periodically. This is to make sure you're providing the products or services they want - not the ones you think are a cool idea. Many an entrepreneur has failed because they had a "cool idea." I'm not critizing innovation or creativity, but you should always TEST your ideas on a small scale... before rolling them out on a larger one.

4) Promote your - or someone else's - product or service, one promotion at a time. Try it for a few days or a week, then take a look at your numbers and evaluate your results. If you like the results you got, keep doing what you were doing - but remember that no matter how good a promotion or message is, it'll eventually suffer from "message fatigue." If the results aren't to your liking, you may want to try another product/service, or change the way you're marketing it to your list.

5) Rinse and repeat the process. Although it isn't easy, it is that simple.

Have a great weekend, look for another educational marketing post next week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Biggest Website Mistakes - Part II

Here's my sequel to The Biggest Website Mistakes - Part I. These are other annoying, unnecessary and profit-draining mistakes that I see people make on their business websites.

Mistake #4: Burying the most effective headline(s) "below the fold" (top part of the Home page). It's crazy why people insist on making visitors work hard to find the information they want. Put these eyeball-catching, benefit-laden headlines at the top of the website, where it's easy to people to read them. Remember - you only have 7 to 10 seconds to sell a new visitor on staying at your site.

Mistake #5: Burying the opt-in form and Social Media links at the bottom of the page. I saw a marketing consultant's website with page links, a cutesy tag line and a picture at the top of the website. I scrolled all the way to the bottom, where these forms and links were at. That doesn't give me a lot of confidence in their ability to help website owners if they don't do the right things on their own website.

Mistake #6: Focusing too much on themselves and their business, instead of how their company, product or service can solve a problem for the website visitor. Information - that's what almost every website visitor is looking for. And visitors want to know HOW that information will solve a problem, or fulfill a desire in their lives.

And if you just blather on about how cool you or your company is, that will turn people off very quickly and they won't be interested in what you have to offer - because you haven't shown that you're interested in solve their problem or understanding where they're coming from. If your website has no solution or empathy for the reader, you probably won't get their business.

While I could write several more posts about common website mistakes, I'll stop at Parts I and II for right now. I'll have another post up next week, enjoy your weekend.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Biggest Website Mistakes - Part I

I've looked at several websites lately, and see the same things that annoy me almost every time. They irritate me because they detract from making sales, and cost website owners a lot of money.

So instead of being frustrated, I decided to post these biggest website mistakes and explain what you should do instead. Here we go...

Mistake #1: Putting your business name or logo at the top of your Home page, instead of 1-3 good headlines. The headlines should tell visitors: Who this website is for, what the benefits are for them, and what's different about this website and business.

I know you love your cool logo, and seeing your name in Internet lights. The problem is... new visitors aren't interested in your name or logo! They want to know what's in it for them by coming to - and staying at - your website. And a new visitor will decide whether to stay or click out in 7 to 10 seconds.

An adage from the early 20th Century says it best:

"Tell me quick and tell me true, otherwise sir (or ma'am) the heck with you."

And it's even more true today in our fast-paced, high-tech world than it was in the simpler 20th Century.

Mistake #2: Not clearly telling your visitor what you want her to do. Some website owners believe their website should provide a show or a concert. Or fill the entire page with tabs and buttons to make it look impressive.

But that isn't what most folks want. The majority of people who surf the Internet and go to a website want one thing: Information.

And they want that information quickly. That's why landing pages with an opt-in box for first name and e-mail address work well. Capturing a name and e-mail address is great, but it's only half the battle. And it leads me to:

Mistake #3: Not following up with auto-responder e-mails and an e-zine. Auto-responders and e-zines are great ways to inform and build a relationship with a new prospect. I realize that e-mail open rates have declined over the years, and e-mail marketing has gotten more difficult.

However, e-mail marketing still gives you a big advantage over Social Media: A reader's undivided attention on your message. You don't have to post, re-post or re-tweet something 17 times a day to make sure someone sees it. If you're consistently providing good content and information in a reasonable manner, you won't have to worry as much if your e-mails are getting opened. People will want to read what you have to say.

That's all for Part I, I'll post Part II later this week.