Sales is about trust and transparency, right? With all the media conversations about how Twitter and Facebook are impacting small business owners, that may be obvious. But with all the discussion about conversation, don’t lose track of the direct paths to sales. Don’t get soft and focus on conversation for its own sake. You can be trustworthy and transparent and still be about the sale.
Just about every time I’m asked about the best way to increase sales on the web, these three points are always my initial answer. These are part of having a quiver full of arrows.
What are you asking your customers to do?
A clear call to action is essential. Are you telling your audience what you want them to do next? They don’t have to follow your request, of course, but you should take the opportunity to guide and be unafraid to say, “Click here…”
Rather than having a weak collection of copy or signage that never asks, never tells, never guides a busy, busy prospect, you should suggest what they might do next. Amazingly, people will often follow the directions. You don’t want to miss that opportunity.
This is going beyond the old marketing maxim of tuning in to radio station WIIFM — answering What’s In It for Me. That’s important, but you have to also tell them what you want them to do next. We sometimes spend so much time on bullet point lists of the benefits that we forget to share some simple courteous directions.
So the first little known tip is to change your website or landing page so that when a prospect lands there, he or she knows what to do.
Leverage Pay-per-click (PPC)
Second point — test out pay-per-click as another way to drive traffic to your site and business. Here are FIVE things about PPC and using Google Adwords:
- Run short campaigns: 30 days or less. Running a shorter campaign duration means you’ll watch it closer and tweak it more often. I recently heard a Google small business spokesperson state that campaigns are most effective in the first 30 days.
- Place lower bids so that you’re not showing on page 1. Why? One, you can better control the costs as you figure out how PPC works. If you’re paying someone else, well some of this won’t apply, but it might. You won’t show up on page 1 of the search results if you underbid, but you’ll show up on page 2 and, for some people, that’s good enough.
- Use the Content Network. It is a less-commonly used approach, but takes more work. You can also run display ads in this part of the Google Ad network. Google also built a great tool for you and I to be able to build simple display ads.
- Put a phone number in your ad URL. Hardly anyone does this, but it is a super low-cost way to get people to call you and in some cases they won’t click the ad, which reduces your PPC spend.
- Build a custom landing page for each PPC ad, if possible. As part of your PPC, rather than try to revamp or rebuild or refocus your website, just build a custom landing page for each ad (hopefully you’re not running tons of ads). It is a faster way to get moving on your PPC campaign. You can then test these different landing pages by building two versions and leveraging another free Google tool called the Website Optimizer (free tool from Google).
Side note: Lots of small biz owners are testing Facebook ads in small bursts. I think its a great platform to test, but you still want to stay diversified. The real power in FB ads is that you can target down to a very focused audience or customer profile. One guy I read about did a test where he targeted to just his wife! And she missed the ad, which had a photo of their baby in it!
Analytics: Start Using It to Understand Your Website Visitors
Your website visitors reveal tiny insights into what they find useful and valuable. And the answers are in just about every site via Google Analytics (or some other default analytics program running on your server). Analytics is underused. Period.
If you don’t look at your analytics, you’re missing out on the data points that will help you improve your site, your content, and your sales. Every day you can have the analytics report emailed to you and save your self time and effort. Plus, it points to holes in your sales funnel. It points to places where people abandon your site and that allows you to fix the broken spots. It reveals more than most small business owners realize. I’m presuming that nearly every small biz owner reading this is using Google Analytics, since it is free.
Once you start understanding your data, you can build similar versions of the same page and test them one against the other (a/b split with the above-mentioned Website Optimizer).
You think that one page or one document or one photo will pull better than another? You load the simple experiment into Google’s Website Optimizer (and tie it to Google Analytics) and you have a little test running that over time will yield good insights into what your customers prefer. When you look at the data and results, do more of what achieved those results!
In real life, you can assess how its going in a conversation with a customer by the nonverbal and verbal cues. In web life, you have mostly virtual data points. So you have to design your site with instructions that give your customer some “nonverbal cues” and then you have to test those cues with analytics.
But when it comes to traffic, you want to be as diversified as possible, so don’t just work on organic results (although it is super important) because if Google changes it algorithm (which it does frequently), you can watch your traffic plummet. So you need social media, you need pay-per-click, you need worth of mouth and maybe even printed materials or direct mail.
Powerful sales results are only possible when your quiver is full of different ways to nurture and encourage the sales conversation.
Do you have any tips to increase online sales? We want to learn about them below.
TJ McCue is founder of TechBizTalk which does independent web-product reviews and offers a Simple Website package to help small business owners get online fast and inexpensively with a $99 website. http://simplewebsite.techbiztalk.com