I recently gave a speech at a business summit in town called “Revenue North,” which is a small conference of sorts for local business owners, all with the main theme of “growing your business.” I had found out about the event when it was announced the year before and was flattered when I found out that I was selected to be one of the speakers for the 2013 event.
I’d never spoken to an audience of that size before, and it was a great experience. As I was preparing my presentation, I looked at the list of all the other speakers to ensure that I wasn’t going to have any overlap with their topics. I was happy to learn that I didn’t-which wasn’t much of a surprise, because I knew that most of the speakers would want to talk about two things: 1) social media, and 2) SEO. Why? Because I’ve been in the Internet Marketing field long enough to know that those are pretty much the only two topics that anybody at a business summit talks about. Those are the topics that sell. If an event organizer wants to sell tickets and fill seats at his event, he’ll find speakers who can talk about Social Media and SEO. Because that’s what small business owners (the audience of this particular event) are interested in-they want do-it-yourself tips for growing their business via the internet, and those are the two things that people have heard will grow their business for little to no cost.
Here’s the video of my talk
Here’s a video transcript
Thank you. My name is Ron Stauffer and I work for a company called Infront Webworks, and Infront has been in business for 19 years. Which makes them one of the oldest and largest web design companies in the Pikes Peak Region. And I mention that because it’s important when you’re considering internet marketing and things of that nature to consider not just what tools are available to you today, but [also] where we’ve come and what we’ve learned. And you know I’ve been doing internet marketing for about 6 years. About one and a half years I’ve been at Infront and I really like working for them and I really like that context that we have. Andy Meng who’s the company founder (I don’t know if he’s here or not) but he’s done a great job building a company that started way back when, in 1994 when here’s what the web looked like. I mean this is what Apple.com looked like, [it] talks about the new powerful “internet capable computer” that you can buy. So that was Apple.com. This is Amazon.com in 1994, “earth’s biggest bookstore.” (I don’t think it was at the time, that was probably what they aspired to be). [Here’s] eBay. Funny enough, eBay looks exactly the same now as it did back then so some things don’t change. And here’s what Google looked like in 1994. Haha! There was no Google in 1994. It wasn’t invented (or founded) for another 4 years. So you know, going back, a lot has changed about the web. But mostly what has changed is the technology you can use and the way things look and feel but ultimately the way people use websites, in my opinion, really hasn’t changed. Just so you know, this was me in 1994. I didn’t know anything about the internet. The internet got better looking and older, and hopefully I got better looking and older as well.
So today, I want to talk about thinking beyond SEO and what I mean when I say that is I talk with businesses all the time, they come into our office and they say: “Hey, I’ve got this website that I really like but I don’t have enough traffic. I need more traffic. I need more hits. Hits, hits, hits. Ranking, its gotta rank better. SEO, I need SEO.” And so I’ll ask them questions, and a lot of times, yes they do need SEO, but in addition to that, what they need is something more than that, because again we’re thinking beyond just getting someone to your website. So everybody wants a bajillion hits. And thats kind of a joke, a bajillion. And my joke is, you know, “how many hits is enough hits?” So there’s a couple things to consider, as I’ve stated: getting visitors to your website is not the end, it’s only the beginning. And really for me, for my purposes, that’s where I start to rub my hands together and say: “Ok, we’ve got traffic, we’ve got real live people, we have visitors. Now we can actually do something with those visitors and that’s much more important.”
I want to clarify something: I’m not putting down SEO by any means, I’ve been doing it for several years and it works really well for clients and there are lots of other companies that do a great job of it. Here’s an example-a tale of two websites: the red line is a website that we built and the client decided not to hire us (or any other firm) to do any internet marketing and the green part of the graph shows a website where the client did hire us to do search engine optimization, and it was really interesting, I went through all of our analytics data for almost all of our websites to try and find two that match and these were the closest. Where they were both local businesses and they have similar product offerings and a similar business structure, sales model and that sort of thing and the only real difference was the way they approach the internet. And you can clearly see that the company that didn’t do any SEO 18 months after launching is still pretty flat. He’s gotten a total of 499 organic search visits period in 18 months; not very impressive. The website represented by the green: 5,422 organic visits. So thats 987% more traffic. So I’m not putting down SEO. It is important.
But there’s two basic steps, and this is ridiculously basic, but it’s worth repeating: you’ve gotta bring customers to you, and then you gotta get them to buy. And there are two different ways to approach that and I always like to think of the storefront example: if you have a store where you’re selling clothes or something like that, the first step in marketing your business is to get people to walk in the front door, right? You can’t sell anything if nobody’s walking in the front door. But if everybody walks in the front door and they pick up products on the shelf and they look at it, and they maybe check the price tag and put it back down. You ask them: “Hey, can I help you find anything?” What do they always say? “No, I’m just looking”, right? So if they’re not buying then you’re still not making business, and if they leave they’re gone.
So I like to tell people, “take off the Google Goggles.” Stop being so focused on “Google, Google, Google, that’s all I gotta care about.” Because it’s the customers who pay your bills, it’s not Google. And actually, probably if you’ve done internet marketing for any length of time, you’ve paid Google a lot of money. And Google is aware of this themselves because outlined in their webmaster guidelines on Google.com, where they have a whole section for telling companies how to do SEO and how not to it says: “Make web pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” So even the search engine giant Google understands this concept which is that search engines are just one of many different ways that people can find your business but ultimately, you’re making your website for your customers. Not for search engines. A pet peeve of mine is when people say “hits”… like that’s part of the joke about bazillion hits, it kind of shows that people don’t really know what they’re talking about or maybe they’re not paying attention very clearly. Because “hits” is an incredibly old fashioned term. We’ve moved beyond that since 1994 when we couldn’t even figure out you know, what a hit was, it was just a hit. And we didn’t know anything about it. But these days we know things like where these people are coming from, how long they stay on your website, how many pages they view, what kinds of actions they take on their site. So these are real live people. So I would encourage you to erase the term “hit” from your mind (if you’ve ever used it) and replace it with visitors or potential customers, because potentially, that’s what everybody is. And most of the time, depending on your business model and the products and services you offer, these people who are visiting your website are sitting in a chair, in front of a computer, looking for a solution to their problem. They have a problem, and you might have a solution, which is why they’re there in the first place. They’re not hits, they’re people. And the golden rule in my opinion, of Internet marketing, is: if your website sucks, getting more traffic to it won’t help.
So what makes a website suck, right? That’s obviously the next question. Well, here are a couple things, and this is not an exhaustive list by any means:
- Confusing layout: if you make it hard for people to figure out where to go and what to click on because they can’t read it, thats not helpful.
- If it has bad design: if it looks really old fashioned. If it looks like Amazon.com did. You know, its time to update things and make them look good.
- Unclear calls to action: this one is extremely popular-extremely frequently seen on websites all over the internet. “Hey, here’s who we are.” Well isn’t that great? Wonderful. Well, what should I do on your website? You’ve gotta tell me with your website, how can I hire you. How can I buy your products and services? And you’d be amazed at how many websites are out there that don’t ever really give you an option to do that. They’ll just say “contact us.” Which is a horrible call to action, by the way.
- Filler content: I just call it filler content. To me, that just means content that wasn’t really thought through. So if you go through the “about us” section and it says “we only use the best quality ingredients” and you know “only the finest materials in the production of our products” ok you know, whatever. Everybody gets that. What’s different about you? What’s something that’s unique to you, casue everybody says their product is the best. People aren’t really interested in you explaining what’s so great about it in the same way that everybody else is. Try something unique: talk about you, and the history of your company. Talk about what sets your product apart, don’t just say: “Our product is great.” Filler content can also be stock images. Boy, stock images just kill it sometimes. If you go to a website and it’s just full of images that you know don’t represent anything about the company that is, you know, whose website it is. That doesn’t really do too much for you.
- Broken links and images: this one is a classic problem. If you go onto a website and you try to go to a FAQs page or contact us, or something like that, if there’s a broken link people are gonna curse and they’re gonna hit the back button and go away and find someone else’s website because that’s the most annoying thing in the world. So make sure that you don’t have any broken links on your website. Same thing with images, if there’s an image that doesn’t show up, that looks like you’re not paying attention. It looks like you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Old technology: is another problem and the further along we get in web technology, the faster it iterates so its really hard to keep up with, especially for e-commerce stores, but unfortunately I see that all the time. Make sure that your website has good technology that instills confidence in people.
- Compatibility issues: the most classic example of that is if I visit a flash website on an iPad, most of the time I don’t see anything. I just see a big black screen. And for those of you who don’t know, iPads don’t render flash, so if your website’s built in flash, you have to include some extra content behind it that says if flash is not served up, give them some text. I was looking for a photographer a couple years ago and I took a screenshot of it cause it was so bad. It was just a brown page of nothing. There wasn’t even a phone number, I couldn’t even call the photographer to say I want to hire you. Don’t do that.
And so as I’m talking about metrics, metrics is the term where you’re discussing statistics about what people are doing and how you measure things. It’s important to remember to not focus on vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are things that make you feel good, you wanna pat yourself on the back and say: “Yeah, I did a good job.”
- Visits: “I got 100,000 visits last year.” Ok, potentially visits is a vanity metric, it doesn’t really help you understand anything.
- Pageviews: same thing. I had 500,000 pageviews last year. Ok well, that doesn’t help either.
- Bounce Rate: that can be a vanity metric. Sometimes people get really focused on optimizing their site to lower their bounce rate but you shouldn’t necessarily focus on that because some of the people who are bouncing off your site… you want them to bounce. Because they don’t want to buy your products and services anyway. Just a definition in case you’re not familiar: bounce rate is when someone shows up on your web page and then immediately hits the back button. Most of the time, that’s thought of as bad. Sometimes it might be good. If they show up on your website and they say to themselves: “Wow, I don’t have enough money for this product.” Probably for you, you’re saying: “Good, I don’t want to talk to you then,” right?
- Social media reach: you hear people talk about “we have 10,000 followers,” “500,000 followers,” “we have 4,000 facebook likes.” Those can be helpful metrics to know, but you don’t build a business out of that. You don’t sell products that way. The engagement is much more important than the total reach of your social media.
- Grades and scores: there’s some websites out there where you can plug in your url and you can get a grade or a score. I talked to a business one time and they said: “Our website’s great, we got a score of 95.” And I said: “What are you talking about?” And they said: “Well, we went to this thing and we plugged in our website and it said were 95 out of 100.” I said “Okay, how many leads did you get last year?” they said “Oh, we’re not tracking that so we don’t know.” So don’t focus on things like grades. A 95 rated website that gets no leads-that’s not a good website.
Metrics that do matter. These are all very similar:
Right? That’s really what websites are for. The purpose of a website is for you to put your best face, or to put your best image forward. So that people who are thinking about hiring you whatever it is, whether it’s buying your products or consulting, whatever it is. They are impressed and they say “Yes, I want to hire you.” And when that happens, then you win! Right? That’s the ultimate goal. And you’ll never know that, unless you’re tracking that. So those are website metrics that are important.
So conversely, a website that doesn’t suck:
- Accomplishes your business goals: what are your business goals? For every business it’s different. Maybe its expanding into new markets, maybe its going international. Maybe it’s selling a different product line. Whatever the business goals are, you gotta start with the business goals and then form your website around what your goals are. And believe it or not, most people don’t know what their business goals are. And if you get a committee around a table, they’ll disagree. So you gotta hash that out first, then focus on the website.
- A website that doesn’t suck brings in revenue. Again, ultimately, that’s what its all about.
- A website that doesn’t suck is helpful to potential customers and is usable by visitors. So again, if your website is fabulous and wonderful, but I can’t see it? It sucks. And that’s just the cold, hard truth.
Great example of how more traffic doesn’t equal more sales necessarily, I don’t know if you can see the bottom there but I got a phone call from a lady who was nearly crying. And it was really sad, she said: “I think I’m gonna have to close down my business because I’m not making enough money to survive.” And I said “OK, well share your analytics with me and lets see whats going on.” She said: “Well, I’m not getting enough traffic” and I looked at her analytics reports and then I made this chart based on that and you can see in 2010 traffic was relatively flat, and then in 2011 (the green) traffic had a significant jump and then it had a significant jump again in 2012. So I said: “What’s the problem?” and she said: “Well, sales have been decreasing every year since 2009” and I said: “You don’t have a traffic problem, you have a website problem”: a fundamental issue where people are showing up, but they’re not buying your stuff. In her case, it was [because] she had an incredibly old e-commerce platform with thousands and thousands of products in it and she didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade it. And I told her, that’s probably what you’re gonna have to do cause it looks so old that it’s not trustworthy. I don’t feel good putting my credit card into the form on this website. So again, its not about traffic ;er se, it’s about revenue… sales… leads. Things that actually speak.
So how do you know what potential customers want? Because going back to what Google says, which I totally agree with: build a website for users. What do the users want? And there are lots of ways to find out what users want:
- You could just analyze the data, you can do in through Google analytics. If you do not have Google analytics on your website (although Google analytics is just one platform, it’s free) please go get it. If you don’t have it, get it installed or if you do have it and you don’t have access to view it, go find your web guy or your web gal, whoever that is and say: “I need access to these reports today.” Put that on a to-do item. If you have not seen this screen before, figure out how you can log in and see this. Because you live and die by these numbers. So you can analyze all that data.
- You can also (just) ask your customers what they want. Sometimes if somebody buys something, you can send them a follow up questionnaire, a survey and say: “Hey, what did you think about your purchase?” Amazon’s really good about that, [and] Zappos is great about that. “Was your check out simple? Did you find the products you were looking for?” All that information is valuable, to help you make your website better. Another thing you can do: here’s a little tiny piece of software I installed, it’s a paid service but I only signed up for a 30 day free trial. It’s called Qualaroo, if you want to check it out. It’s kind of a strange name, but its Qualaroo.com. And all I did was I installed a little script on the bottom of every blog post and I put this little popup that says: “Is this blog post helpful: Yes? or No?” And if they select no, I ask them: “Why not?” And this is crucial data as well. And also notice it’s very minimalistic, it’s non-obtrusive, it’s not annoying. And it’s very slow and it just pops up and you almost don’t even know its there. It’s not screaming in peoples faces. So that’s something you can do and then just measure that data. Ever since I’ve been doing this, the blog posts that I’ve been writing, 93.75% of visitors who have responded have said, “yes this is helpful.” Ok good, that tells me the I’m on the right track. Now if I really wanted to dissect this further I would put a different one on each blog post and then I could start comparing blog posts with each other. Now, do people find this helpful, do they find this helpful?
- Content experiments. Again, there are lots of different software services you can use to run experiments but I highly recommend tests. Run tests. Whatever it is. If you already have Google analytics, great because it’s already built in and its free. You could create multiple versions of a webpage with varying calls to action and that sort of thing, and then you can import them into the analytics and then it will test them for you. So it will rotate out up to 4 different pages based on totally random 1 out of every 20 visitors. Or something like that. And then it runs for a certain amount of time and then it will tell you, “this version is the winner… this was the most successful page.” So now what do you know? You can say: “Well look at that! The call to action I used on this page was ‘x’ and that had more conversions that ‘y’ over here.” So now you know: “Ok, maybe I should do that throughout my whole website.” So you can run experiments.
- Looking and listening for clues is really important, and I don’t just mean online, I also mean offline. Listen to your customers talk. Listen to them talk to each other. It’s amazing how much reconnaissance you can get, especially if you have a front desk gal or a guy who’s sitting at the front desk, who just listens to people talk to each other. If they say things like: “Boy, I really had a hard time finding the place” or “I couldn’t see the sign” or anything about your business that gives you valuable data that you can use in your website. If somebody says it was really hard to find your place, maybe you should make the map directions more obvious. Or maybe you should put maps up if you don’t already have them
- Watch them use your website. This ones a little bit awkward, but it’s really good to do if you can go to where your clients are, especially if you’re friends with them and say: “Hey, can I just watch you use my website for a couple minutes?” and you’ll learn so much fascinating stuff. For me, the one that I’ve learned more than anything else, is when I tell people: “Go to infront.com” they’ll type in “in (space) front.com.” I would’ve never thought of that in a million years because I know that you can’t put a space in a URL. But a lot of them don’t know that. Which is why we have a lot of search queries for people searching “infront dot com” in Google. Because they tried “in (space) front.com” and it didn’t work. I’m not sure exactly what to do about that yet but that’s very interesting, that tells me more about who these people are.
- And pay attention to frequently asked questions. Again, the person who answers the phone at your organization is the best person to glean this data from. Because probably they’re gonna say, you know, if its a gal that sits at your front desk and answers the phone five days a week, she’s gonna say: “Oh man, oh boy can I tell you!? #1 call we get is this, #2 is this, #3 is this,” and she’ll just go on and on. and I’ve done this many times. And then when you do that, all of a sudden you’ve just created a FAQs section for your website, [one] that actually responds to what your users want. A lot of websites have FAQs that were written by the website owner. Because they think that would be helpful. Don’t do that. Ask your users. Find out what questions they really are asking. And sometimes they won’t really tell you that. That’s why you’re looking for clues. You gotta ask people on your team, “have you heard people ask this? …or ask that?”
- Interact with them. A lot of websites really make a mistake in this regard in that there’s no opportunity to interact, you know, on a personal level. So here’s an example: I wrote a blog post, and, of course, notice, there’s my little: “is this blog post helpful?” box on the bottom. I wrote this blog post and a guy commented and said: “Wow, that was really helpful, could you write about this topic as well? I’m getting conflicting information.” Some people say this and some people say that.” So what did he just do for me? He just told me A: he’s reading my blog, B: I know who he is, C: he’s also telling me: “Thank you I read your article, I liked it and I trust you and I want your opinion on this subject.” WOW! That’s magic! That’s like gold, solid gold data that you can use. And the reverse is true too. If somebody posts and says: “I disagree with you. You’re totally wrong.” Great, get a conversation started! Find out why they think you’re totally wrong. Maybe they’ll teach you something you don’t know.
- Anticipate questions and needs. This is a section on our website, and it isn’t necessarily frequently asked questions section. But it’s like a knowledge base and help desk center where you can go to get more information about how to do something specific. So in our industry, the number one conversation we have more than any other is when we make a web design change, people will say: “I looked at it and it doesn’t look any different” so we’ll say: “Well, refresh the page” and most people know how to do that. And then we’ll say: “Well, clear your cache” and they say:“What’s a cache? I don’t even know what you’re talking about.” So then we tell them: “Go to www.infront.com/support“ and there’s tons of information for every different browser and every different operating system on how to clear your cache. And you would not believe how popular this section on our website is. It’s the most popular section, bar none. Way, way more than the blog, more than the “about us” section. This is the most popular content. Cause it’s helpful. So anticipate the questions they might have and then give them resources.
So here’s an idea that I’m working on. I think it’s kind of finished except I don’t know what to call it, so I’m just calling it a “scale of engagement.” Cause I’ve never heard anybody talk about it in quite these terms: find out a way to turn every visitor into some kind of a customer. Or get them to engage with you somehow. Or maybe become a customer in the future. A lot of websites totally miss this. They give you the opportunity to either buy, or leave. And that’s awful because there’s a lot of research that happens between showing up and buying. Especially if your product is expensive. so here’s an example of a client that I’ve been working with for a while and we’re still kind of tweaking this, because its not a hard science. We gotta test, we gotta experiment. That’s what websites are all about. So we came up with six things that people can do on a website that have varying degrees of commitment and varying degrees of information that they have to provide us in order to complete.
- So the first thing someone could do is they could read blog posts on the site and say: “Wow, that was helpful. I’m gonna like this on Facebook or I’m gonna tweet this.” Ok, so that’s helpful. It’s extremely unobtrusive, you don’t need any personal identifying information. All you do is click share. Done! But what have they just done? They’ve just shared your content with their network. So that really helps you.
- Connect on social media. So that’s taking it a step further and saying, not only am I gonna share your content on Facebook, I’m gonna like your page so that you can continue to feed information to me because I trust you.
- Subscribe to an email newsletter. So if you have an email marketing newsletter that goes out, give them an opportunity to subscribe. And you’ll be amazed at how many people that you wouldn’t necessarily expect sign up for an email newsletter. I get the strangest emails sometimes and it’s like a friend in monument who I haven’t talked to in years. Well, how did he sign up for this? I don’t know, but he did, he liked what he saw and so he signed up so he wants to get more information from us.
- If your business or your product offering allows it, offer a free trial. Maybe that’s something you can do where now you’re really getting deep, where they’re saying to themselves: “Ok, I’m willing to fork over some information about me now because I want your product.” You know, so if you offer a free trial, maybe you require a name and an email and a phone number and that sort of thing. So you’re giving some, and they’re giving some.
- Purchasing something small, like a little teaser product or an accessory, or something that’s very minimal to where they don’t feel the pain of the full impact of your really big offering but they’re willing to give you money. If people are going to give you any money, even the smallest amount of money, that tells you they’re really interested in you and they want more. Or maybe they buy your product and determine they don’t want more. But that’s your problem, you’re gonna have to work that out.
- Full-blown sale: signing up to be a big client. That’s like the one where you lay awake at night and say: “Boy, who would be the perfect client and what would they buy from me?”
So your biggest offering could be the bottom of that scale. And then just write it out, and again, it’s different for every business, and it’s different for every industry. What kind of engagement do you want from people? And give people varying degrees, because maybe they’re not ready to buy, maybe they will be in six months and if you make an impression on them six months later, they’ll remember: “Well, I’m ready to buy now. I got my tax return.” Classic example, right? I got money in my pocket, I’m ready to buy now, I just need to go back and get it done. You’re on the top of their mind because you’ve connected with them in the past. You just won.
Tracking your website’s ROI. I have a whiteboard in my office and it says in big bold letters: “Data wins arguments.” Because it’s one of those fields where everybody has an opinion, and everybody has, usually a very emotional opinion and feelings get hurt when you say: “Well, I think this, and I think that.” Well, I don’t really care what you think and I don’t care what I think, and I tell that to people all the time. It doesn’t matter what we think. We can try things, and we can test to see what actually works. So data wins arguments, so start testing and stop arguing. Now if you’re gonna do that, you gotta have that data and something that obviously, where you have to start is: you can’t measure what you’re not tracking. You gotta start tracking things and you might be amazed at how many businesses will say: “Ok we’ve got Google analytics, we know how many visitors we’re getting but we don’t know how many people are you know, purchasing as a result of finding us online,” or things of that nature right? Like, we can’t figure that out, it’s like this big black box. Money just comes into our bank account somehow, and we’re not sure how to attribute it. Well, there’s lots of things you can do, you start with web analytics, you can also start CRM software, you could do lead nurturing and drip campaigns, they’re third party platforms that you can use to integrate into your website to tell you-some of them, even WHO is visiting your website, with either names and emails and everything. It’s kind of scary the kind of data you can get, but the more you know that, the more you can say: “This sale is directly attributed to this action that we took here.” And you’ll never know that until you put the tracking in place. And I highly encourage you to get used to and very familiar with using Microsoft Excel, I’ve worked in a couple different companies and I have yet to meet anyone in any company who says: “I never use excel, this web platform is all I need.” Everybody uses Excel for something. Use Excel.
Tracking. Here’s an example of some tracking that I had been doing for a client. Here, the past six months, here are the leads that came through his website and we’re tracking phone calls and web contacts. And we’re tracking three different kinds of phone calls, and two different kinds of web leads. And so now when I show him this chart, I can tell him exactly what’s working. Well, the type one calls, those are going up significantly. He’s seeing increased growth, so whatever we’re doing for that, we can say lets keep doing that. That’s working. The one on the bottom, the purple one, calls type three, it’s not working out so much so maybe we re-allocate some resources. Or try something different.
Here’s another website I’ve been working on and you know, I looked at all the leads they’ve got for all of 2012. And we can tell very clearly how many leads we got as a result of Google organic search, which is the biggest slice of the pie, Google paid search, which is pay-per-click advertising, the second biggest, referrals are links from other websites to this website. So if you don’t have this data, go find it. Got get it. Set up your websites, so that you can actually at the end of a year say: “Well this is how we did.” And then measure that year over year over year and say: “You know, well, we didn’t do so well in this, here’s what we’re gonna do about it” and then at the end of the next quarter or year you can look and say “We did better, we accomplished our goal. We learned and then we made changes.”
So you can implement goal and conversion tracking, that’s how you do that chart before where again you’ve gotta determine what those goals are. Whether it’s, you know, adding something to a shopping cart or people downloading a free trial of something. Whatever it is, determine what those are. And then you can track those and ultimately you can do it within Google analytics or you can do it other ways. Put a dollar value on everything. If you know how much money it’s worth when somebody contacts you, on average. Assign a dollar value to that. Cause now you can start to figure things out like: “Okay what does it cost me to acquire a client? What is my customer acquisition cost? I’m willing to spend ‘x’ number of dollars on a new lead or a new client.” If you don’t have the answers to those questions, start building those systems to answer those. Because then you can say: “Well now I know what kind of advertising is a total waste of money”. You know, maybe it’s billboards: “Wow-they’re way too expensive. And were not getting any bang for our buck.” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but you won’t know until you start figuring out how much those things cost. You know, here’s an example of a client of ours, it’s an e-commerce site, he did 1.9 million in revenue last year and so what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna look back and say: “Ok well, what happened in the middle of the year? Check that out. Something happened”. You know, and so we can dig into the data even deeper and find out what he did to the website that increased his sales so much, and then we’ll know better for next time.
Watch out for media discontinuity. That’s a really long, complicated term for saying: when people go offline they disappear. That’s a really big problem in marketing and internet marketing is getting much better at combining everything into one roof and you can do most of that through your website. You know, the easiest way to do that is:
- “How did you hear about us?” You’d be amazed at how many people don’t ask that question: “How did you hear about us?” and then write in your customer database the lead source. How did they hear about you?
- You can also do call tracking. So the classic example is that people will say: “Well I don’t know how many phone calls I get, but I get a bunch and I don’t know how many of them called me because they found my website”. Well guess what? I do. Because there’s a way to set up call tracking phone numbers with various third party software solutions. And I don’t really have any to recommend cause it depends on your business. And you know, how much money you are willing to spend. But if you just Google call tracking software you can find lots of different systems that will give you a phone number and you can track the number of phone calls that have come to that phone number. So what you do is you put the unique phone number on your brochure perhaps, and then a unique phone number on the bottom of your website, and a unique phone number on a billboard if you’re doing that or a phone book ad. And now all of a sudden, you have the tools to answer the question: “OK, these people didn’t go dark on me they didn’t visit my website, get to the contact form and then give up, they called me!” Ok great. So that’s still good right? So call tracking is really good.
- QR codes, you can use those. Don’t go crazy. That’s something that marketing people like to push really hard, is QR codes, but they have a dismal adoption rate. It’s very, very low. Very few consumers actually use QR codes or bar code readers. But you can. My favorite example is the urinal in the men’s room, when you’re standing there and you’ve got nothing better to do. A lot of those ads on those placards in front of the urinal will have a QR code and I guess us guys go: “Well, I’ve got time, I’ll scan this.” You know, that’s the most effective use of QR codes I’ve ever seen. So you can use those and you can track all of those in your Google analytics panel. It’s all tracked online.
- Custom URLs and landing pages, that’s where you know, you can create a whole separate domain for a very specific purpose. Or you can create a landing page for a specific purpose like you know, promos. Did you like our booth at the revenue north event? We have a 10% off special for everyone who showed up, or something like that. Visit our website, which is example.com/revenuenorth. Ok, now you know. If that’s the only way people have found that link is because you have introduced them to it, you know exactly where they came from.
- Coupons and promos. Coupons are obviously one of the oldest methods, but they still work really well. Make people download a coupon or print off a coupon or use a promo code. Revenue North, here: if you registered, I bet some of you in the audience used a promo code. You know why? Because now Frank, who’s really smart, who runs this event knows exactly how you found out about it. Through his website. So use coupons and promos.
Ok, really big list here but this is the important stuff. What are the things that you can do now?
- As I’ve said, stop focusing solely on search engine rankings and traffic.
- Make sure your website doesn’t suck. Go home, and click on every single link on your webpage and I can almost guarantee you there’s at least one link thats’ broken. Or there’s a phone number that’s out of date or there’s a webpage that says coming soon. Or there’s a page that says: “Come see us at Revenue North 2011” because you forgot to update last years page. Make sure your website is really set to go and everything is working.
- Get familiar with web analytics. Again read the data. Make sure you’re consuming that data and understanding what it means.
- Learn who your potential customers are and what they do and don’t like. You know, going back to asking them questions. Taking surveys. Just literally asking. Picking up the phone and say: “Hey, so I saw that you bought on our website. What made you decide to buy?” Comb through the data, and then you can make those decisions.
- Create a scale of engagement for your website. And that would really be fun to do, just as an exercise for you to figure out how many different opportunities you have. You probably have more opportunities than you realize.
- And then make sure you know what your cost to acquire customers is. Because that’s one of the most important metrics you can track.
- Merge your online and offline marketing efforts. Again call tracking. Custom URLs. Landing pages. Banner ads: you can use banner ads, so you know the old days of the big printed billboard? We still do that all the time, we just do it online. We use [banner] ads and we can track all of that as well.
That’s what I’ve got for you today. So I’m puttng my money where my mouth is and if you visit www.infront.com/beyondseo I also have a checklist where you can check off, check this on my website: ok are there are images that don’t show up? Is there anything wrong? So you can have a complete website where it’s guaranteed not to suck when you get to the bottom of it.