So you’ve built your website and orders/enquiries are piling in right?
The ‘build it and they will come’ approach is one way many entrepreneurs fall flat. Fortunately there are some proven steps that will help you improve the effectiveness of your website.
Have a clear value proposition
So what is a value proposition and why is it important?
Every business is seeking to solve a problem for a customer.
The way you articulate this on your website, in your adverts and even the way you speak is crucial. You should prioritise what is most important to the customer and focus on benefits rather than features.
If free shipping is important to people for example, you need to make sure it forms of your core value proposition.
You should be able to articulate your value proposition in a sentence, for example “Uber – The Smartest Way to Get Around”.
Know your customer
Male? Female? Old? Young?
You may think you don’t know the answer, but it doesn’t take long to begin to understand who your customers are and how they think.
Creating ‘customer personas’ involves building up a picture of your typical customer and using that to inform everything from website and ad copy to the colour schemes and logo you use.
Crucially it also helps you decide where to advertise to get your brand in front of these people.
Clean user friendly design
Over 50% of web traffic is now on mobile so you must build for desktop and mobile.
Clean design and user experience will payback hand over fist. If people can easily understand what you sell, what you stand for and how to buy from you you are into a winner.
A clean, fresh website is crucial for this. And it no longer costs tens of thousands of pounds to build a high grade website – so no excuses.
Full funnel marketing
So many people focus on getting in front of new customers, and this is crucial. However what is also important is maintaining contact and marketing to existing and lapsed customers.
This is full funnel marketing and is a crucial approach to building a sustainable and efficient business.
Target active and passive customers
There are 2 types of target customer.
Those who are actively looking for a solution (active targets).
And those who fit the profile of someone with the problem but are not currently looking for a solution (passive targets).
It always makes sense to start with targeting of the active segment (using Google AdWords for example), because they have already decided they want to buy. But this pool or opportunity tends to be small and highly competitive.
Make sure you also have a strategy to target passive segments. Facebook and display advertising are great for this.
Remarket to engaged visitors
When people visit your website, they are either interested and stick around, or they are not and they ‘bounce off’ your site. Those that stick around but don’t buy are your ‘engaged users’.
These are the people you should target with remarketing adverts.
After all, they know who you are and have shown an interest. This is one of the most underused forms of digital advertising.
Be a growth hacker
Cookie cutter approaches to marketing rarely work simply because every business is so different. In order to succeed you need to be prepared to fail.
Think outside of the box, test new ideas, fail fast and move on.
This is the way growth hackers think and it’s a great way to quickly zero in on what works best. It’s often not what you would think!
Know your competition
You can learn a lot from your competition and so should watch them closely. There are a range of tools and techniques you can use to understand how they run their marketing.
You should learn from their mistakes and mimic their successes. But don’t watch them too closely or you may end up following them rather than outpacing them.
Having worked with a number of small and scaling businesses, I have become used to seeing the surprise and excitement after outlining some of the innovative techniques that can be used to attract new customers.
Sophisticated capabilities that were once the sole preserve of enterprise businesses with enterprise budgets, are now in easy reach of even the smallest businesses.
Here are some of the main areas of opportunity that are relevant to any business whether startup or small/medium business, product or service based, consumer or B2B focussed.
1. Be visible at the exact moment people are searching for a solution like the one your business offers.
It’s this that has made Google the behemoth that it is now. What better time to be visible than the exact moment someone is seeking out a solution to their problem?
Google AdWords is the place that most businesses start with their online advertising for good reason. In general it’s the marketing activity that will deliver the highest quality of leads to your business.
You can setup a basic campaign in just a few hours and can spend as little as £5 per day. Get in touch with us for £75 of free credit to get you started.
2. Get your brand in front of your competitors customers
That’s right. If your competitors have a website, you can create campaigns that will actively seek out and target their website visitors.
This is a great way to find customers as you will have a high level of confidence that they are interested in a product or service like yours.
Your advert will appear wherever they are on the internet and you can create enticing adverts to bring them to your website. These campaigns can be run for as little as £10 per day.
3. Stay front of mind by reminding your website visitors about your business after they have left your website.
Using remarketing campaigns you can target people that have previously visited your website with adverts.
Not only that but you can actively target individuals who spend a certain amount of time on your site or looked at particular pages so you only go after those with a high level of interest.
Considering that the marketing ‘Rule of 7’ states that on average a prospect needs to see your message 7 times before they buy from you, remarketing should be considered an important basic requirement for any business.
In fact many marketing experts suggest that not running remarketing campaigns is like ‘leaving money on the table’! We tend to agree.
Of course if you have an email database, this is another great way to remarket your brand.
4. Find new customers using Facebook Advertising
A recent report by Kenshoo states that 85% of searches for a product begin with Google. So if Google is the go-to place for identifying people looking to buy, what about people who aren’t necessarily ready to buy but fit the profile of one of your customers?
As an example, someone who has searching for travel insurance is ready to buy travel insurance. Someone without travel insurance who has just booked a holiday fits the profile of someone that needs insurance but isn’t actively looking for it right now. You could think of these 2 types of scenarios as active and passive buyers.
This is where Facebook comes into it’s own. Not only can you target adverts at people by location and age, but you can target them based on interests (do they like yoga or cars for example), demographics (are they university educated, do they have children, what is their household income).
The information in Facebook is so rich that you can create highly targeted ‘audiences’ to expose your brand message to. You can even target people that work for particular companies, have a certain marital status or any combination of all of the above. And this is just a small taster.
As well as advertising to these audiences, we have seen that promoting content to them can work extremely well. If for example you are a yoga studio, rather than an advert saying:
“Join our beginners yoga class every Thursday at 7pm”
…you could have an article along the lines of:
“5 incredible health benefits of Yoga”.
Anyone that reads your article will, by their nature, have an interest in your classes. Who better to promote your business to thank someone who has expressed an active interest and lives in your target area.
This really is just a small taster of some of the things you can do. We haven’t even touched in Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn; but each of these channels offer further opportunities along similar lines.
As every business is different, there isn’t a cookie cutter approach.
Despite all these new fangled ways for us to communicate (think WhatsApp, Facebook messenger etc) email continues to be one of most effective communications channels for businesses, largely down to it’s ability to send relevant, timely and targeted communications at scale.
Whatever your approach, you should make sure you segment your email receipt lists so you can make sure you are sending relevant communications.
For example you may want a specific list for existing customers where you talk about how to make the most of your product or service and another one for prospects (those you want to become your customers) where you focus on the benefits of using your product or service.
Here are 7 ways to win more customers with email:
Focus on list growth
Of course in order to send emails you need a recipient list! You want to make sure you give people a good reason to opt in to your emails. Give them some clear benefits like free advice or perhaps a discount. You should have prominent sign-up forms on your website.
There are some great tools to help with this like mailchimp which will do most of the things you need from subscribe forms, to list management to creating and sending. Plus it’s free for small lists.
Write for your customer
This is crucial. Take the time to think about your recipient and specifically the challenges they face and problems they are trying to solve.
Don’t write for the sake of writing. People are time poor so you should focus on clear, concise copy that directly addresses the recipients points if interest.
And don’t be afraid to keep things short and snappy. It’s better to send a second email after a few days then cram loads of info into one email that people find to overwhelming to read.
Obsess about your subject lines
If there is a single thing you need to get right, it’s your subject line.
Too many people spend hours crafting great email copy and then relegate the subject line to a mere afterthought.
The crucial point here is that if people don’t open your email, the copy you have worked so hard at won’t be read. And what is the single most important thing that gets people to open the email?
You got it…it’s the subject line.
I would go so far as to say the subject line should be the first thing you write.
It needs to be relevant, engaging and on-point so you get the highest open rate possible.
Here are some benchmark open rates from GetResponse to give you an idea of open rates you should aim for. MailChimp will tell you the open rate for your emails.
Automate your email sends
The most common approach to email is creating a monthly newsletter.
Although time consuming, this is a great thing to do but the reality is that the best time to email people is when they have just signed up. They are ‘in the zone’ and at their most responsive point.
That said, if someone has signed up for your newsletter, one of the best things you can do is send them a series of emails over the coming days that is designed to convince them that you are the right person or business to help them.
Hopefully you have a clear value proposition.
It’s your chance to convey that value proposition to them and make clear connections between the problem they are experiencing and your ability to help them fix it.
There are plenty of free and cheap tools to help you do this stuff. In fact a lot of it you can do with MailChimp.
Don’t forget GDPR
Although any GDPR misdemeanors are most likely to impact large businesses, you need some basic processess in place to make sure you are GDPR compliant. The big ones are:
Only email people that have expressly opted in to receive communications from you. You should be able to provide evidence of this if asked.
Make sure you make it clear to people what they are opting in for and what communications they can expect to receive.
Ensure you have an ‘opt out’ or ‘unsubscribe’ link on every email you send.
Test, test and test
You won’t always get things perfect the first time, and ‘done’ is often better than ‘perfect’.
Don’t forget to revisit you emails and make adjustments to increase open rate and clickthrough rate.
It’s likely that from talking to your potential new customers you will discover more about the things they care about. You should be building these things into your website and email campaigns.
Don’t forget referrals
Do you know what the biggest source of new customers us for most businesses?
It’s word of mouth.
Do not underestimate the power of word of mouth referrals.
You don’t need a fancy referral scheme, but by simply asking your customers to spread the word and perhaps write a review or testimonial for you, you will be putting some extra gas into your growth engine.
If this all seems a bit overwhelming, start by simply collecting email opt in. The sooner you do this, the sooner your list will start growing.
Paid search advertising is the bread and butter of online advertising.
If you do one thing to find people who are close to making a purchasing decision, it should be search advertising or ‘CPC’ (‘cost per click’). With this type of advertising you are targeting people who are actively looking to solve a problem.
We like to call them ‘active targets’.
Let’s say you are an accountancy firm looking for customers in South West London. What better place to put an advertisement than in front of people doing a Google search for ‘accountants in South West London’? Of course this works with whichever problem you are trying to solve for your customers.
You can setup a google search campaign using their advertising tool called AdWords (get in touch with us for £75 of free advertising credit).
You decide how much you are willing to pay for each click on a particular ‘keyword’, this can vary from 5p for very niche low competition keywords, up to £5 or £10 for very competitive ones! You can also set a ‘daily cap’ to ensure your costs are under control starting with something as little as £5 per day.
Here’s an example of what an ad like this may look like:
So you have managed to setup a search marketing campaign and you are using Google analytics to track how well your campaigns are working. It’s probable that a lot of the visitors you send to your website spend time looking around and then leave without buying .
The marketing ‘Rule of 7’ states that on average a prospect needs to see your message 7 times before they buy from you.
So it’s not at all unusual for people to not buy on their first visit.
In fact it would be unusual for people to do so!
This is where display remarketing comes in. People have visited your website and then left.
Perhaps because they wanted to research some other sites before buying or perhaps because the doorbell rang and they completely forgot to come back to what they were doing.
By running display remarketing campaigns you can retarget your website visitors with banner ads after they have left your website.
You’ll almost certainly have seen these ads. Perhaps you looked at some shows on a website and now the shoes are following you around the web?!
Business owners run remarketing ads because they work. Who better to target than people you know are looking for a solution like yours?
The most basic form or remarketing ads will simply have some text or an image in them reminding the customer of how you can solve their problem, alongside your logo. The more sophisticated ads will show them an image of the specific product or service they were looking at.
Like search ads, display ads can be setup in Google AdWords.
Your Google Search and Remarketing campaigns are live and you are successfully sending visitors to your website and remarketing to them.
So what’s next?
Search Remarketing is something else that helps you make sure you are getting in front of active targets. Quite commonly prospects will conduct multiple searches online before they make a buying decision.
Especially for higher value products.
If you have successfully tempted someone to your website with one of your search campaigns, it’s worth making an extra effort to make sure that the next time they do a search, you advert comes up with a strong and persuasive message.
You want them to think “Ah it’s these guys again, they are clearly the leaders in this space…I’ll take another look”.
This is search remarketing.
The difference versus search marketing is that you are willing to increase your CPC and outbid your competitors to achieve a more prominent position in the Google results in the knowledge that these people are now more likely to buy from you or make an enquiry.
So now you have your active targeting basics in place but are looking for more ways to get in front of prospective customers.
Display advertising tends to refer to banner adverts. Google AdWords is the most straightforward way to get your message in front of a large audience using banner adverts. There are a couple of great tactics you can utilise:
Intent targeting – target banners at prospects who have conducted searches for a specific product or service online. So for example if you are looking to sell bed linen online, you can target people that Google knows have conducted a search for ‘bed linen’ on Google recently.
Affinity targeting – if you know that people that visit specific website are likely to want to use your product, then you can target them with affinity targeting. So if for example you sell travel insurance, you can target people that have recently visited flightcentre.com etc.
Insider tip: Why not try using affinity targeting is great for targeting your competitors websites?
With these campaigns up and running you will will be able to deliver qualified prospects to your website. You should use Google analytics to closely monitor what actions people are taking once they get to your website so that you know what’s working and what isn’t.
If you have all of this activity in place – fantastic! In terms of next steps, you need to consider other channels like Facebook which we will cover in a separate post.
It’s often associated with paying someone a lot of money to be told what you already know!
But action focussed marketing consultants can in fact have a significant role to play in changing the fortunes of a company.
Where some consultants will take a cookie cutter approach and dispense advice without properly understanding the client, a good consultant will take some time to understand the business challenges and consider a range of prioritised options that can easily be translated into action.
This should leave the client with a fresh and exciting perspective on the range of opportunities available to him or her in pursuit of business growth.
Here are the top 3 reasons to use a marketing consultant:
You get a high level of expertise and experience without needing to hire a full time employee.
To hire a marketing professional full time is going to cost you ten’s of thousands of pounds a year.
If you want a good one with decent experience you need to budget £30k+.
In just a few days, a marketing consultant should be able to clearly outline actionable steps that you can take to start reaping the benefits of a good marketing plan.
They can also show you how to employee freelancers to run the activity at a fraction of the cost of a full time employee.
2. Fresh Perspective
When you spend every day in your business, it can be difficult to take a fresh unbiased look and find clarity on the range of options available to you.
By utilising a marketing consultant, you will get a fresh, expert perspective combined with an ability to quickly home in on the ideas most likely to succeed.
A lot of this will come out in a free consultation.
Consultants tend to work across a variety of businesses which means they are exposed to a multitude of situations and have seen what works and what doesn’t.
3. You will save money
Good consultants will make sure that the benefit of using them outweighs the cost.
In most cases they will educate you or your team about techniques and processes that you can use long after you have finished using them.
So what initially may seem to come across as a high cost, will in fact deliver huge ongoing value to your business.
Good consultants will always prioritise the items that will have the fastest and greatest impact so you see rapid payback on your investment.
SEO is sometimes considered the dark art but in reality, by following a few simple principles, you can make sure you are giving yourself the best chance to rank will organically:
Keep the user in mind
Google has been explicit in making it clear that websites should be built with the user in mind. Trying to manipulate the website in favour of search engines but at the expense of users will rarely work.
So when designing your website, always think about the user first and SEO second.
Hopefully you have done some research and are confident that your product or service is solving a genuine problem for someone.
What do people type in to Google when they seek a solution to this problem?
Whatever that search term is – should be part of your keyword strategy.
But don’t forget the more generic the term, the more competitive.
For example “Pilates classes” will be far more competitive than “Evening pilates classes in Clapham”.
You can use tools like SEMrush to help figure out which keywords will work best for you.
Meta titles and descriptions
Once you have your keywords, you need to make sure that they are included in you meta titles and descriptions.
Meta titles and descriptions are not visible when you look at your web page but appear in the Google search results.
Here is a great tool to help you write your meta titles and descriptions. Remember though you are wanting to entice people to click on your link so make sure it contains relevant, useful and persuasive text.
H1 and keywords
H1 is the name given to the main title on each page.
You should make sure you H1 includes your keyword. Again keep the language natural, writing with the user in mind.
If Google sees your keyword in your meta title, description and again on the H1 tag, it will have a pretty good idea on what your page is about.
Frequent fresh content
Google has crawlers which search the web and add pages to their index. Websites that are frequently updates are crawled more frequently by Google and therefore more likely rank higher in the search results. A good thing to do is write articles, perhaps a couple per month and add them to your blog.
Another factor that helps Google decide whether your website is important enough to rank in the search results is it’s ‘Domain authority’.
Your domain authority is derived from the number and quality of websites linking to your website. The more quality links the better. You can check your domain authority using this free tool from SEOmoz.
A great way to get links is to write press releases that get published on other websites and then link back to you. You can also look as guest blogging and directories. You should never buy links and ensure that any links you try to get are from a reputable website.
Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is perhaps one of the most underused tools by business and entrepreneurs.
It doesn’t cost anything, all you need to do is place a verification tag on your website and Google will give you access to a wealth of information including diagnostics which will alert you to any site issues and a goldmine of keyword information which will tell you which keywords you are ranking for and how many site visits you are getting from them.