Your website is the heart of your business communications. To make it work for you, it needs to be able to engage web visitors with your business, pull them closer to you, gain their trust, inspire them to spread the word about you, and buy from you when the time is right.
Here’s a list of ten valuable tips outlining the key priorities for creating a lead-generating site for your business.
Have we missed anything? What works well for your website?
Sonja Jefferson is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and owner of Valuable Content Ltd. A new book — Valuable Content Marketing — by Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton is published in January 2013.
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Marketing is a very challenging profession because it requires supreme creativity to conceive and develop great ideas, while at the same time demanding the discipline to complete campaigns on time by managing masses of detailed, evolving information.
Those in non-marketing roles often point to marketing’s intangible reputation as a reason to shy away from signing-off new campaigns or to withdraw support for a project at an early stage.
This ultimately leads to a huge disconnection between strategy/planning and what takes place on the ground. If marketing strategy is agreed, but implementation is not supported, the chance of failure, or failing to reach agreed objectives, is of course much higher.
Add this to the external issue of trying to keep pace with changes in the market, such as catching up or getting ahead of consumers who are communicating online, and we often see marketing departments of all sizes playing catch up against a rapidly evolving landscape. And that’s without even considering how to respond to competitor developments.
I would also go far as to say that the marketer’s job has become less fun and less rewarding over recent years because the increasing complexity of the job has not been matched by the right tools that help to manage marketing’s development.
To assist your team, and avoid these issues, you need to carefully consider which management tool to use to plan, execute and control your marketing campaign. There are a range of options but fundamentally these tools fall into two key categories.
Traditional resource management platforms
Integrated marketing software solutions such as Unica, Aprimo can be expensive solutions for marketing campaign planning and management. They are also complex and can require extensive consultancy to implement.
Cloud-based planning and sharing tools
These fall into two categories and offer clear advantages of immediate set up, easy access and being simple to use. The first category is general tools, such as Google docs, Huddle and Basecamp that have been developed to share and store documents and content, and perform that task very well.
The second category is specific marketing collaboration tools, such as Kaboodle, that have been developed to answer the specific requirements of marketing teams across geographies and between brands and agencies.
Using cloud-based planning and sharing tools or purpose-built tools will allow you to focus on marketing, rather than worrying about admin and management. You need a product that doesn’t get in the way of your work and offers a single, secure online workspace where internals teams, external agencies and advisors can collaborate in real-time, wherever they are.
Effective marketing is all about creative people working closely together. With the right tools, you can make communications work harder and drive your marketing forward.
Kevin Freedman is the CEO of Kaboodle.
There is no doubt that in a web-enabled digital age, the role of a salesperson has to change. Quite simply, in most markets, prospects now have more access to choice and information than ever before. This has altered the way buyers access choice and make decisions. Simple logic would, therefore, dictate that sellers have to react and alter their own behaviour.
Below are three questions every salesperson should be asking themselves today:
1. Where do I add value?
Quite simply, salespeople used to provide value by turning up. In a world where there was limited access to information, seeing a few sales reps was an efficient way for a customer to find out what was going on in a particular marketplace. This is no longer the case. Today, customer perception is that they can find out most of the information they require online. Therefore, salespeople have to define where they provide value in a face-to-face meeting. Regurgitating information that is already widely available, is not enough. Today, salespeople need to provide “insight”. That is, a perspective and understanding of which the prospect was previously unaware. This means that salespeople now have to be real experts in their field.
2. Do I understand the context of the purchase?
In a world where the customer is empowered, they have often undertaken much of their own research before they even speak to a salesperson. This means that salespeople are often seeing prospects a lot later in the buying cycle. In this scenario, it is imperative that the salesperson understands the context in which the purchase is being made. No-one ever wakes up in the morning and decides they want a new software system, training provider or photocopier. Understanding the events that are driving the interest in the purchase is vital.
3. How do I create a sales experience?
The web has provided everyone today with a voice. If they choose, people can post comments and views on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others and be read by an audience of which they could only have dreamed, a few years ago. People have become empowered and more active. For example, nearly all of the biggest shows on British TV today allow the audience to decide the outcome. People no longer want to be passive recipients. Now, they want to be involved in the process. In this context, just going through a boring sales presentation will not capture the imagination of a customer. Today, salespeople need to get the customer involved in the process. In other words, they must provide an experience.
These are just some of the new paradigms that salespeople have to deal with today. It is the best salespeople who will consider these type of questions and outperform others who are still trying to make the “old models” work in a world that has moved on.
You can read more about improving your sales in our dedicated sales strategy section.
Our smartphones are wonderful creations. Nearly half a decade ago, no-one had even heard of the word “app”. Now, they hold the ability to transform every aspect of our lives.
No longer do our phones just manage our numbers and messages, nowadays they manage our time, tasks, social lives and even have the power to control our businesses.
With over half a million apps currently available on a variety of different platforms, apps are great tools for businesses who want to keep costs down, but who are looking to drive sales and profits.
Every business knows that the best way to drive these two important factors is through the simple instrument of awareness via our good old friend, marketing.
Traditionally, marketing was about using costly mixed media methods such as television and radio advertising to raise brand and company awareness. However, as the British Promotional Merchandise Association has found, the cost per impression of these methods far exceeds the ideal costs for businesses.
With our world moving into an ever-increasing digital age and the power of the internet and social media becoming increasingly prominent, marketing is now about outreaching to potential clients online.
Thankfully for many businesses, the introduction of smartphones and the plethora of apps available to download means that there is now a greater ability for businesses to market both successfully and cost-effectively.
And here are the three best apps that can help your business to do just that:
Whether you’ve decided to implement Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare or Google+, HootSuite allows you to stay ahead of your social media management by managing all of your social networks on one single dashboard.
HootSuite allows businesses to improve their business marketing by efficiently tracking conversations and brand mentions, as well effectively measuring all campaign results and social media traffic for your particular marketing strategy.
And what’s more, by managing all accounts at the click of a button, your team can save important time and money by scheduling out future messages and tweets, in order to focus efforts on other aspects of marketing your brand and company to the fullest.
HootSuite can also be used on a variety of technology platforms, so you can manage all your accounts quickly and easily from your laptop, iPhone, iPad and android tablet.
So you’ve sorted the management of social media marketing strategies, but now you need to measure them. Welcome to Klout.
Klout holds the ability to measuring, analyse and score your social media influence wherever you go. By analysing a wide range of social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Blogger and Google+, Klout works to measure the size of your network with the content created, as well as measuring how other users interact with your content.
Giving you an overall “Klout score” of between one to 100, the higher score you achieve, the greater strength of your online influence.
With the app boasting the most online users, it has the ability to measure your social media influence against 100 million others. By doing so, it provides a particularly accurate picture of how your own social media marketing campaigns are fairing on the grand scale of things.
Although marketing is very much about trying to grab the attention of new customers in order to lure them into investing in your product, many often forget that an important aspect of the marketing mix is actually about retaining the current customers you have managed to grab.
After all, how else are you going encourage repeat business and help to see an overall improvement in long-term sales if you don’t look after those who first invested in your product?
Stay In Touch is a brilliant app that is designed to help you maintain those already-formed business relationships. With its simple operating system, it allows you to set reminders to follow-up contact with your existing customers either weekly, fortnightly, monthly or even in three to six months’ time. Simply choose the reminder time, and the app will send you a prompt to call, text or email that particular client. With its ability to store as many contacts as you like, you’ll never forget about any of your customers or prospects ever again.
Ella Mason, an experienced freelance writer, wrote this article. Ella specialises in providing information on how businesses can improve their marketing through the use of their Lenovo easy to use android tablet.
How long should you spend on social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn? The simple answer is no more than fifteen minutes per day, preferably outside normal working hours.
If you are an entrepreneur, the vast majority of your time should be focused on your business: selling and delivering your products and services whilst ensuring you make a profit in the process. Everything else is a distraction.
The Dunbar number
You would be wise to ignore those who insist you should spend significant time in online conversations with complete strangers. This may be a very good idea for those with free time on their hands but the rest of us should remember that the number of close friends we have is only around 150 people, often called the Dunbar number.
This also represents the maximum number of people with whom you can effectively have a close business relationship. They each have the same number of close contacts, so you are no more than one degree separated from 22,500 people, plenty for most business purposes.
While developing online relationships with potential customers is sensible, you should focus your prime business activity on the 150 that genuinely represent some potential value to your business.
You should start by generating an accurate personal profile on the main networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This must include a clear elevator pitch explaining the business problems you solve for people.
You then start networking online by first offering people useful and valuable information. Once you have built up sufficient trust, you can also make useful introductions between people.
Horses for courses
All the online networks have different purposes. Facebook works well for younger people looking to socialise. Twitter is about broadcasting and overhearing useful conversations. LinkedIn is ideal for people looking to recruit or be recruited, as well as those who have already spent time building up their business network manually.
If you are genuinely doing interesting things and generating useful content, then do broadcast this fact while cherishing everyone who chooses to follow or befriend you. But concentrate your commercial activity on the 150 people who you genuinely like and who share your values. They will also make your best customers.
Originally published in The Mail on Sunday. Copyright ©Mike Southon 2012. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission in writing. Mike Southon is the co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur and a business speaker.
I’m sorry, but it’s true. Nobody cares. Everyone is far too busy packing in their priorities into their already too-short-to-fit-everything-in, 24-hour days. Just because you have a mighty fine business idea and an equally snazzy website (you think), don’t expect anyone to stop and take notice. Don’t expect your inbox to fill up with enquiries or your phone to ring off the hook. Your website lives alongside a gazillion others, with just as many claiming to do what you do. Competition for people’s attention online is mind-blowing.
A big part of my job is managing expectations. If you want your audience to care, you’ve got to care first. You’ve got to go out of your way first. Here are eight tips on how to cultivate care and attention from your target audience.
1. Help people navigate easily through your website so that they can actually find what they are looking for. Hide and seek is just not a cool game online.
2. Keep your message simple, short and focused. Help people get the information they need quickly and easily.
4. Blog. Give people relevant free advice because blogs showcase your expertise and raise your credibility.
5. Leave your website floating in space with no support and you will get nothing from it. Your website should be one tool in a mix of social media communication tools. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and blogs are just some examples of communication tools that could be used to attract your audience’s attention and support your website. Be present where your audience is looking.
6. Inspire people. Help people choose you because they like what they see, because you look different, or interesting, or professional, or approachable, or exciting, or authentic…
7. Help people take action. Guide them towards your enquiry form or phone number.
8. Remember the seven touches. Building relationships and gaining trust takes time. None of the above is about selling. All of the above is about helping people. Because when you help people, they choose to buy from you.
My point is that your website is not the magic formula. Nobody cares unless you do the above, because only then do you start to stand out as a credible source of useful information, products and services. You’ve got to do these things to make a difference to the leads you generate from your website. Sadly, many people don’t. Those that do, win. It’s that simple.