Online marketing is a common challenge for many business owners; they invest time and money on websites to attract interest, but don’t have an overall online marketing strategy in place for converting leads and retaining customers. Leads coming in to the website aren’t effectively captured. Warm and cool leads that may buy later are forgotten. And opportunities for repeat sales are missed. With seemingly unlimited ideas and strategies out there, it can be difficult to distil them all down into one seamless marketing plan that will work for your business.
The following seven steps provides guidance to businesses searching for a simpler way to develop an online marketing plan. No expensive books and workshops. No complicated forms and exercises. No gimmicky sales jargon. Just seven simple steps that act as a framework for developing your sales and marketing process.
STEP 1: Attract Traffic
Consumers today have become highly adept at ignoring advertising in all its forms—they skip TV commercials, stream free online radio, block emails from unknown senders and are virtually blind to banner ads. Paid advertising alone is no longer a viable option for driving traffic to your website. You have to earn traffic by creating valuable content that attracts visitors. Content can mean many things to many people, but really it’s any valuable piece of information or entertainment that attracts leads to your site or that connects them to your business.
STEP 2: Capture leads
Now that you’re attracting people to your website with the lure of valuable content, you need to entice them to give you their contact information so you can nurture them over time. Web forms are an excellent way to capture leads, but the reality for many businesses is that the majority of their website visitors never submit a form.
- Your Content Isn’t Compelling: For visitors to fill out a Web form, they must be motivated enough to share their personal information and take the time to consume the content.
- You Ask for Too Much Information: Consumers are becoming more protective of their time and personal information. To maximize opt-ins, minimize the number of required fields on your forms.
- You Don’t Inspire Trust: If a visitor is reluctant to submit a form on your website, it could be because your site doesn’t look credible enough.
STEP 3: Nurture Prospects
The truth is, most buyers don’t see an ad and immediately want to purchase your product online. They buy when they are ready to buy. To reach these buyers, you need a systematic approach for developing trust and converting leads. The not-so-secret weakness of most businesses is that they don’t follow up with leads as well as they should. But consistent, valuable follow-up messages can prove to be a huge competitive edge, as long as you approach the nurturing process with a clear communications plan in mind.
STEP 4: Convert Sales
You can attract, capture and nurture all the leads you’d like, but if they don’t convert into paying customers, you’re not going to make any money. Depending on your business type and setup, you likely use one of two methods for converting leads into customers: an online shopping cart or a sales team. No matter which method you use, there are a few strategies to realize the full potential of both.
E-Commerce Shopping Carts: Your online shopping cart represents your digital storefront and should be as effective and easy to use as someone visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
Personal Selling: For some companies, customers must connect with a salesperson before making a purchase. Unfortunately, many of these sales-intensive businesses lose revenue because of a buy-or-die mentality on the sales floor. If a lead comes in that isn’t ready to engage right away, it can fall into a black hole of lost leads that could have become customers given enough time and nurturing.
STEP 5: Deliver and Satisfy
If you have ever received disappointing customer service (and who hasn’t?), you won’t be surprised to learn that most companies spend more on acquiring new customers than keeping existing ones happy. Winning lifelong customers requires the ability to not only get a prospect to buy again and again, but to do so happily. The benefits go far beyond inspiring loyalty and repeat business; happy customers become advocates for your brand, driving referrals by sharing their experiences with friends, colleagues and social networks.
STEP 6: Upsell Customers
One of the very first statistics business owners learn is this: 80% of your profits come from the top 20% of your customers. Yet so many business owners spend all their time focusing on attracting and converting new leads and customers. Upselling and cross-selling efforts directed at existing customers completely fall off the radar. Continue to develop relationships through lead nurturing, like letting customers know about complementary products and services they might enjoy.
STEP 7: Get Referrals
Once you’ve established a clear process for funnelling leads from their first contact to after-purchase communications, you’re in a great position for the final step: growing even more through customer referrals and affiliates.
Get Customer Referrals: People are more likely to do business with someone when they’re introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Based on that idea, customer referral programs are a fantastic way to generate highly qualified leads. The key to getting referrals from happy customers is simple—just ask. And don’t forget to reward customers for their referrals with a thank you gift, account credit or heartfelt thank you card.
Leverage Affiliates: Affiliates are third parties who market your product on their website and through email and social media. They are an excellent way to drive traffic to your website and generate leads. The best thing about affiliate programs is the ROI—you pay only for performance. You simply make a small investment in marketing resources and then pay affiliates for any leads or sales they generate. Because your investment is minimal, these programs can yield amazing returns.
Implementing a marketing plan based on this platform will help you rediscover the joy of running your own business AND give you more time to tackle other important items on your life’s to-do list.
For marketing training for SMEs, contact Chipo at firstname.lastname@example.org