According to the late Ben Feldman, regarded as the greatest life insurance salesman of all time, "Success is 98% understanding human beings and 2% product knowledge".
With this being the case, it doesn't take much to appreciate that the best tool you have for understanding human beings is to be yourself - a human being.
It's kind of ironic then that many websites, Information & Internet Marketers and online stores implement applications and all sorts of technology to minimise contact with their customers â€“ opting to treat them as numbers, probabilities, statistics and graphs.
To be successful in the online world, there are a few more commonsense practices that would be wise for your business to adopt now if you're remotely serious about growing the online side of your business.
There's an increasing amount of evidence to indicate that the average conversion of web-based sales is around 1-3% of all visitors.
I donâ€™t know about you, but I wouldnâ€™t be spending the kinds of dollars I've seen some companies spend, with numbers that are not much better than doing a letter drop.
Success is 98% understanding human beings and 2% product knowledge
Suppose however, that you could replicate what Ben Feldman did and sought to understand the human beings behind the clicks and impressions. In what sort of a position would you be if you knew when to introduce a real person into the mix?
A US-based company, 24/7 Customer, suggests that online customer conversion rates can be increased by 15% or more when the human touch is introduced at the right time.
But what does it take to know when to apply the human touch?
Let's look at how current online business strategies differ from the way business is conducted in the physical world.
Online vs. Physical-World Strategies
For a start, in real-world retail stores for example, the marketing process at the top of the funnel, the point at which people visit your store, is fairly poorly focused. Let's face it. You don't really know why people are walking in. It's not like they have a sign above their head screaming "I want a new fridge!" or "I'm after one of your advertised specials."
It's not like they have a sign above their head screaming "I want a new fridge!" or "I'm after one of your advertised specials."
The real power of the sales funnel lies at the bottom where sales people get involved - converting store visitors into buyers. A qualification process is required to make sure that youâ€™re able to effectively match what you have to offer to what they're looking for. This process is largely covered by Sales 101.
In the online space its potentially quite different because it is possible for you to employ an almost infinite number of strategies before a person even visits you site. Your online marketing efforts allows you to gain quite a bit more knowledge about them and can bring you leads that are significantly more qualified.
Use Adwords to Set Up You Sales Funnel
Online marketing can take any number of forms but the most popular and most successful strategies generally revolve around the use of highly targeted Adwords to deliver traffic to you site. At this stage, you're basically telling the online world that you've got something to offer (defined by the keywords youâ€™ve chosen for your Adwords advertisement) and that youâ€™re proud of what you have.
From this, if you've selected your keywords appropriately, what you'll get is a group of visitors who a) have a need, now or at some stage in the future, to buy your product and b) are looking for a compelling reason to buy from you. When they land on your website, you want to make sure that the information you provide is precisely the information they're expecting to find.
Landing Pages are What Your Visitors See First
This is where Landing Pages with a powerful call to action are most useful because they are often the first web page your visitors see of your online presence.
Sure, its important to know which Adwords campaigns were successful and which weren't but it is also important to know why a visitor came looking for you. When the content of your Landing Page matches your visitorsâ€™ model of the world - explains how you understand the problem they have in a way they understand and then are able to clearly tell them that you have a solution to their problem and what they need to do next to get that solution you will have a winning interaction. Its no good having a visitor click through to your website and then leaving them to hunt through it to find what they need.
This level of self-service just doesn't work online - there's too much easy access competition for your potential customers to click away to.
There will always be times though when visitors come with only a cursory interest in your product (the "Tyre Kickers"). At some point however, they decide that yours is the product they want, so make sure your business is the one they remember and come back.
Get the Mailing List Working For You
Your second priority is to get visitors onto a mailing list and to drip-feed them interesting and relevant information that will become a valuable source of reference when it comes time to making a purchase. Like an Adwords campaign, every email you send them should link back to a Landing Page that is unique and aligned to the message contained in the email.
Every email you send should link back to a Landing Page that is unique
It is now considered quite common to automatically close the loop on emails to prospects. The success of an email with a strong call to action can be very accurately measured. More importantly, because of the amount of information it is now possible to collect from a simple email, and degree of customisation offered when recipients click on a link back to your website, you could quite literally present a fully personalised page for every recipient of the email.
At some point, your prospect will require information that is specific to their needs and will want to contact you. There are a number of ways in which you can customise the way they communicate with you.
The most common approach is to have them fill out and submit a form with a message announcing that "Someone will respond to your query shortly." This approach used to be the standard method by which questions were asked via the website. Not any more. This method is too impersonal and lacks the immediacy needed by the visitor in receiving the response.
Go Live - Chat at the Speed of Broadband
A real time chat capability can be easily added to your website for free. Doing this allows a visitor to connect directly to one of your customer support representatives. They are able to type in their question and get an immediate, human-generated, response that is specific to their needs.
Now you're really getting into the human side of the web because you're no longer just providing information that anyone can get from a brochure or web page. For under $500 per year, it is even possible to have a local phone number in every Australian State; allowing your customers to contact your business and talk to a real person. And it is at this point that those Sales 101 skills really come in handy because you're now (quite literally) in your customers' ear.
Look at any standout businesses on the Internet and you'll find that their owners are very clear about their market and their engagement with their market. In fact, in almost every single case there is probably a step in their sales process funnel somewhere that says something like "Talk to the prospect."
New tools on the Internet now allow you to use completely new techniques to understand the behaviour of online visitors. Through this you can make informed judgements about visitors to your websites and take decisions designed to qualify them further - to the point where you can step in and close the deal.
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