Thursday, June 27, 2013

Content Marketing Mistakes

Content marketing is one of the (current) hottest plugs for every agency out there.  Why not?  After all, content is king.  It demonstrates industry leadership, search engines love it, web users consume unstoppable amounts of it, and if you're lucky, it might even get shared and bring loads of free traffic.

If your business model is to sell ads on your website, all you need is viral content.  But, I've seen an increasing number of businesses, B2B and B2C, that are publishing traffic attracting content and getting no business results.  What's worse is there are agencies saying that you should use your content to attract potential customers 3 years before they need you.

The goal of conversion optimization is to reduce the length of the sales cycle, not open it up to 3 years!  So, how do you create content that brings conversions?

You have to create content that helps people make a purchase.

By focusing your content on the people who are already looking to buy, you don't waste time and effort trying to build a long term relationship that will be lucky to last 3 minutes, let alone 3 years.

What does this content look like?  Well, have you ever taken your tech friend to go help you pick out a computer?  Or asked your mechanically inclined friend to help you pick out a car?  It's kind of like that. 

You're an expert in your industry, so it seems obvious that you would be the best equipped to help someone navigate their options.  You get more conversions from this kind of content by shining a light on your own business and solutions.

These visitors are already looking to buy, and if you do it right, you've set yourself up to be their best option.

Here's a real world (personal) example: Choosing the right Conversion Optimization Company.   

What does your current content help visitors do?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The power of landing pages

Landing pages operate on the principle that less is more.  Fewer options, mean you don't have to decide what to buy, just that you will buy.  And you don't have to figure out where to go, there is only one path forward.  This creates an obvious focus that decreases indecision and in turn increases conversions.

But, there is another force at work here.  We, as a species, have a hard time accepting pluralistic values.  Pluralistic value is when two or more descriptions of a person or item are technically correct, but are in conflict with each other.  Depending on the gravity of the conflict, we unconsciously choose to ignore one or more of these views/descriptions, and accept only the one we feel most comfortable with as the "correct" view.

An example of this is a person who has purposely killed someone and is a good person.  In many cases we put this person in jail and view them as a murderer.  There is no way they can be a good person if they are willing to kill.  The flip side is the men and women of the armed forces.  Many have killed and are good people.  Regardless of the reason, we do not view them as murderers, rather, they are just good people.

The above example is an extreme view on the topic of pluralistic value, but it relates just the same to small conflicts.  An accountant who is an artist, or even a person who is an expert in multiple fields.  It seems hard to imagine that the accountant could be equally good at a logical task (accounting) and a creative task (art), or that a person could achieve and maintain the highest ranking of expertise in multiple fields.  

It would be like Micheal Phelps winning the 100M Butterfly and the 100M Dash.  Would you call him a swimmer? or a runner?

Many businesses don't limit themselves to just a single product or service and thus there is naturally a pluralistic conflict displayed on the homepage of nearly every website.  Luckily this is where landing pages come in.  

You can segment your traffic based on what they searched for in the search engine, where they came from, their location, and even their history on your site.  Showing them only what they came for will increase the likelihood that they won't feel conflicted about your company and will be able (mentally) to move forward much easier.  (You can always up-sell or cross-sell them after you have them on the hook.)

Note: I am working with a client who sells thousands of products in hundreds of categories AND services all of them.  Currently they have no landing pages.  Over the next couple of months, we'll be deploying a few hundred landing pages for them.  I'll be sure to write up a case-study to show you how it worked out.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What makes your website so valuable?

Your website is the most valuable marketing tool you have because it is where you start, and maybe even complete, the sales transaction.  Seems like common knowledge, so why is this ground breaking?

Research shows that over 50% of customer loyalty is attributed to the experience of purchasing the product or service.  

It seems more logical that an amazing product at a great value from a trusted company would inspire more loyalty, but it doesn't.  I'm not saying that these things aren't important, but I am saying that the buying experience controls the majority stake in repeat business.

I understand that this is a hard concept to grasp, so let's look at a real world example.  Starbucks goes to great lengths to make the experience of purchasing coffee unforgettable.  The aroma of freshly ground coffee hangs in the air.  There's smooth music on the radio that's just loud enough to get lost in, but not so loud you can't hear yourself.  The hustle of the baristas adds to the noise of world around you while the comfortable lounge area calls for you to slow down and take a moment for yourself.  The same coffee at McDonald's, just isn't the same.  

Conversion Rate Optimization isn't just about getting people to say "yes" and click "buy."  It's about creating an experience that makes it easy to say yes and where you don't worry about clicking "buy now."  

CRO creates a process that instills trust, confidence, and gives the buyer piece of mind.  This reduces hesitation and buyer's remorse.  It all adds up to a better purchasing experience that increases customer loyalty.

Are you ready to start optimizing your website?