Strapline

Ideas and Words for all Business Communications

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Sometimes I work in silence - sometimes with music





And sometimes with this.



Not sure if it's music or just sound - but it has helped today as I complete the copy for a complex website project.



Really nice to have on the background

Monday, 29 December 2014

How to convert customers and prospects to engage and purchase - part 4

Friction - sounds painful and it can be.

My take on "friction" is that it's not just limited to websites, where it's associated with anything that gets in the way and discourages a visitor completing what they want to do and  what you want them to do.

In the online world this is often at the point when payment is required and the visitor just fails at the last moment to complete the transaction. This could be due to the purchase/value ratio being not that strong or it could be the visitor is fed up with an antiquated shopping cart system.

Friction can happen from the moment a visitor lands on your site, so you need to make sure sure every page has contact details, clear headlines and if possible make the navigation as easy and intuitive as possible. Also make sure your goals for the page or whole site are built into the design and copy - guide your visitor to engage in the way you want them to. If you have a poor shopping cart do something, if your visitors fail to complete the transaction, add some guarantees or find out if your competitors have a better proposition.

Friction is complicated. But not just online. Think about "friction" across all media - including insidious hidden friction that can be so damaging. Consider these for a moment:

  • Are you the best ambassador for your business in all you say and do?
  • Do you pay your bills late?
  • Do all your employees promote you and the business that pays them,  positively if no why?
  • Do you really want to be in the business you're in? 
If you can't answer these the way you should, then you have inbuilt friction within your business that no amount of slick online trickery will cover up. Internal friction will lose you more customers everyday because you will never know you have lost them - they just won't  give you the opportunity of losing the order. Gone are the days when you could hide behind smoke and mirrors - transparency is everywhere.

Take a honest look at all the inbuilt "friction" in your business - ask yourself would you do business with your business?

Next post will be 5 things you can do in January to change the way everyone feels about your business.

Monday, 22 December 2014

How to convert customers and prospects to engage and purchase - part 3

Are you a stats watcher?

Are you always having a sneaky look at the activity on your site?

Well it's very important and with the freely available information that you can glean in real time from Google analytics for example, you can draw some valuable and interesting conclusions.

But how can this type of information help with improving online engagement and purchases?

You need to consider 3 things:


  1. Context - Have you done something recently to generate activity on your site? If so did you use a dedicated landing page? If you did then you can get a pretty good idea of the response rate to your whatever you did - and then see how many visits you converted. But don't get downhearted or confused if you generated 100 new visitors and only made 1 additional sale, because not every visitor is human. In a recent white paper Incapsula suggests that 56% of traffic was not human. Some of the non human activity was made by Good Bots but even so only 44% of visitors to your site could be real human beings.
  2. Expectations - Do your expectations match with your visitors needs? You might want to sell a product or service, but some of your visitors might just want more information. Do you have easy to access information about what makes you special or how your product or service can make a difference. If you don't then a percentage of your visitors will leave empty handed.
  3. Timing - You just don'y know were your visitors are in their buying cycle. You can add content and reply mechanisms that can help you to find out, but at the end of the day a percentage of visitors just want to know you exist and will come back to purchase when they are ready.
So yes I'm, a stats watcher, but I don't get tooooooooooooooooooo wound up if I get 20 hits on the site and not a call or request.  I figure 10 are probably human, 5 just want to check me out, and the other 5 have a need which means I might get a call tomorrow or next year.

To maximise the lasting effect when a visitor lands on your site try and cater for all needs. Include all of the following:
  • Contact details on every page
  • Clear physical address and land line contact no.
  • An offer on the landing page that has NO risk and lots of Value
  • Free information section - with or without sign up 
  • Lots of testimonials from real named clients
Next blog will be about friction and how to reduce it - should be fun!

Friday, 19 December 2014

How to convert customers and prospects to engage and purchase - part 2

Today we look more closely at the moment a customer or prospect engages with your business. We will assume that all is well in the business, everyone is in good spirits and confident about their roles and responsibilities.

We will also assume that you are confident that your proposition is competitive and in some way unique in the market you seek to serve.

So now with a notional level playing field ask yourself these 4 questions:


  1. If a prospect landed on the website right now looking to buy what we sell,  how easy is it for them to find a way of actually making a purchase or contacting us?
  2. Are all the benefits of using our product or service clearly identified or do we focus just  on facts and features?
  3. Are there a named individuals for visitors to call or email?
  4. Do we offer any "comfort" in the way of introductory discounts or guarantees?
If at this point you you don't have a positive answer to all of the above - just think about the fact that your competitors do and they will be getting the calls you never get the chance to lose.

But let's assume that you have all of these in place and perhaps even a few more - how can you improve the engagement process - try these ideas:

  • Include very good quality professional looking photos of everyone in the team that has contact with customers and prospects. This single action is a powerful way of improving engagement. How we look and are perceived by others is very organic - you can see this in the way the physical characteristics of those in the public eye are always picked up and used to support the way individuals feel about them
  • Give these individuals a bit of character with a small bio - add a bit of humour if possible
  • Explain in great detail what happens when people engage. What happens to their order, who will handle their project, what happens if they are not happy, what sort of guarantees are there and very importantly what do others think about the service you provide
Bottom line is this - if a visitor to your website or high street shop or even when visited by the MD, is left in any doubt about engaging with your business - they won't. And you will never have the chance to miss out on the sale, because they will get what they want to buy from someone else.

Check out Part 3 when we look at the power of genuine testimonials.

 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

How to convert customers and prospects to engage and purchase - Part 1

If you buy into the idea that selling is old school and you have to focus on making it easier for existing and new prospects to buy, then enough of the theory lets get into some of the things you should consider for your business or organisation;


  • Do a quick audit of all the "touch" points there are where new and existing customers engage with your business or organisation. Everything from how the phones are answered, to your suite of marketing materials. and of course all the stuff you have online. Don't forget face to face meetings even when they happen in a non-sales environment. And are you totally sure the culture you have in your company or organisation is positive and inspirational - so that when your staff talk about where they work they do so with pride and enthusiasm?
Now just change 3 things. These 3 things will be different  for each company but the following all help:

  1. Make sure your contact details are on every page of your website with ideally the name and picture of someone they can call to ask questions and place an order
  2. Ensure that every person who takes buying enquiries is the best you have, with the most product knowledge and the ability to make pricing decisions if required
  3. If you've created a culture of fear and loathing within your organisation then resolve to do something about it,  because it will be costing you as an owner or board a significant amount in lost sales, increased turnover of staff, and the need to micro manage everything
If you don't have the above in place then just consider what happens when your competitors do, because the reality is they probably have already and are converting more enquiries both online and offline.

Check out Part 2 of this series of blogs on conversion and engagement in the coming days as I explain why your engagement strategy is closely linked to how you position your unique proposition.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Selling is old school – Conversion is what matters

In the early 1990’s the concept of building in greater value into a product or service and charging less for it was just beginning to be recognised. Up to then for example, if you had additional items on a car you paid for them.  Then the manufacturers were faced with higher specifications on competitor products and the race was on –and still is.

Now the concept is universal – the latest version of anything will always need to have either a reduction in price or a minimal increase but include features and benefits that are much improved.

And the same goes for the service sector. Additional reports, extra research time, faster service, etc. etc. are all part of the upgrading of a service but rarely is there any mention of price hikes.

As we settle into a post-recession period the sales process is going through just as a dramatic change. The second oldest profession in the world is disappearing from many marketplaces. Two factors are involved:

  • ·         Sales people no longer have the monopoly on innovative products or services that give businesses and consumers advantages or status
  • ·         Buyers are increasingly confident that there will be a solution available when they want one and at a price they are willing to pay


These two factors make “selling” very old school. Even modern selling techniques such as Challenger Selling are coming unstuck  because of the way they place the salesperson in a weak position.

Buyers have always had the ability to walk away from a deal but they used to have to worry about not getting what they wanted. Now buyers are almost 100% sure they will get what they want and will walk away before the conversation has even started.

Companies are missing out on most of their sales not because they fail to meet the expectations of buyers but because they just don’t get the opportunity to convert interest into action.

Conversion is going to become the most hotly contested contact point between those who want to buy and the companies that have the products or services these valuable buyers are interested in.

Conversion points are not just those on your website, they can be a subtle as the way your brand is perceived or as obvious as to how skilled your customer contact staff are. Conversion can start with how you talk about your services or products or even more importantly how others talk about them.

Conversion is influenced by your company’s social and digital footprint, how your staff talk about the ethos and culture of the business they work in – conversion is happening all around you and if you don’t manage it you won’t even get the opportunity to lose a sale.


Check out the next series of blogs as I go into greater detail of how you can create and manage a conversion strategy.