Website Conversion Rates – Why It Is Important and How Your Stats Compare

I recently met with the e-commerce team from a CPG/Manufacturing company. We had a great conversation about driving sales online and it got my marketing juices flowing. Recently, I wrote an article about measuring ROI for marketing and it included discussing Website Conversion Rates…

By monitoring your conversion rates, you’ll know how well you’ve been capitalizing on the traffic coming to your site. You can monitor several different types of conversion rates, including:

  • Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become leads through regular site visits, requesting a price quote, downloading content or repeatedly attending webinars
  • Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of leads who become customers
  • Visitor-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become customers

Tracking each of these conversion rates is like giving your marketing funnel a checkup. You’ll see where you’re doing well (such as converting visitors into leads) and aspects of the website that need improvement. Most important, you are measuring metrics that ultimately can impact revenue generation.

You can track the percentage of visitors who arrived at your site through organic search and completed a desired conversion action, such as filling out a contact form, requesting a price quote or registering to receive the company’s enewsletter.

But you also should dig deeper into your web analytics to track conversion rates by:

  • Specific keyword or search phrases
  • Unique landing pages
  • Referring URLs

Tracking these metrics helps you fine tune your SEO strategy. For example, you may discover certain search phrases that don’t deliver tons of unique visitors, but that have a higher than average conversion rate. Or, you may find that high traffic from a common search term isn’t translating into a good conversion rate. So, you are not only looking at quantity, but quality.

After my conversation with the team, I decided to expand on this topic by providing ways to dive deeper. There is a lot of useful information published that can help you make sense of how your specific data may compare to others – both inside your industry and out.

First, it occurred to me conversion rates still may be a bit foreign to some. I found this waaaay oversimplified explanation that gave me a chuckle…

“Well … it’s the number of people who did what you wanted them to do … divided by the total number of people you tried to get to do that thing.”

Perhaps a little basic in the explanation, but you certainly get the point.

Leadpages went on to provide in their article, What Is a Good Conversion Rate? (And When Can I Stop Worrying About Mine?), helpful examples of the basics. They also made it clear, “it depends” when it comes to what you are counting as a conversion (and what industry you are in, and what you are trying to convert, etc.).

Speaking of segmenting by industry, Continue reading

Tips on Moving the Customer Through the Sales Funnel

Taking a potential customer and converting them to a loyal advocate for life is the goal of most organizations. While I have covered customer loyalty and advocacy in previous blogs, I recently was asked for suggestions on how to move a potential customer down the sales funnel to make that oh-so-important first sale.

Here are a few tips on how to shorten the sales cycle…

A typical sales funnel may look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As your prospect moves through the sales cycle, your goals will change as they meet each stage in the decision process:

  1. Awareness – Perhaps your product or service is well known. Maybe it is not. In either case, the goal is to make sure your service/product is top-of-mind when they eventually have a need
  2. Consideration – Engage with those who are now aware your service/product exists
  3. Preference – Educate those who are now committed to making a purchase but haven’t decided where yet
  4. Purchase – Make the sale!

I recommend you think of moving your prospect through the sales funnel as a series of small conversions. Each conversion leads to the next and will eventually result in a sale. To be successful, it will be critical to define what each stage looks like for your particular company, develop a step-by-step plan to communicate with the prospect for each stage, and to track and analyze the results along the way.

Awareness

I have written blogs on each of the following topics if you care to do further reading. However, I am going to assume we are all in agreement these are some of the more successful ways to generate awareness and drive traffic to your website:

Engage

Once your prospects are aware of your service/products, it is time to engage them. To do this, you will need to get their email address so you can communicate directly with them. Not so simple, you say? Here are some great tips on how to use “lead magnets” to build your database with opt-in subscribers:

101 Lead Magnet Ideas For Every Stage Of Your Marketing Funnel

16 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Get More Email Subscribers in Less than 5 Minutes

Keep in mind, the prospect is not only volunteering their contact information, but they are also volunteering what interests them, based on what offer they responded to when prompted. It is important to keep their interest in mind when reaching out, so to not be considered spam and provide the best chance to engage them.

Tips to consider when engaging your prospects: Continue reading

How To Turn Your Customers Into Advocates – Part 2

Turning customers into Advocates will do wonders for your business. There may be no better way to create a sale than by having your customers rave about your business/product/service. In my last blog, I discussed how creating online communities will keep your customers on your site, and talking about you. But, what can you do to create a community in person?

This notion has been around for ages. One classic example is a book club sponsored or created by bookstores. What better way to get people reading more than to get a group of people to all read the same book and then gather to discuss it? There is something about sharing one’s passion with a fellow fan that brings a lot of joy. Plus, there is the peer pressure of finishing it by the allotted time, and being able to discuss it intelligently. Ultimately, it keeps the customers active in what you offer and, hopefully, your business “top of mind.”

You may be thinking, “But what about my business? I don’t sell books. What can I do to get people together to enjoy my service/product?”

The answer is simple, really. Continue reading

How To Turn Your Customers Into Advocates – Part 1

It is no secret… it costs more to win a customer than it does to retain one. You may spend considerable capital to advertise your product or service to fill your pipeline with interested prospects, with only a certain percentage actually closing. After all that investment, effort and manpower to get the sale, doesn’t it make sense to do what you can to keep them spending with you?

There are many avenues of creating customer retention; loyalty programs, coupons, customer referral rewards, auto drafts, subscriptions, to name a few very effective ways. However, you may want to consider adding another tool for your arsenal: Communities.

Providing customers a place to gather, whether online or in person, will create a bond around a common interest. This is the best way to turn Loyal Customers into Advocates. According to Dictionary.com, to advocate is “to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.”

Wouldn’t it be great if an undecided prospect read, or was personally given, a recommendation by one of your customers? In Fred Reichheld’s “The Ultimate Question,”  he breaks down customers in to three categories; Continue reading

Tips on Marketing to Millennials

 

With graduations happening all over the country, another group of millennials are entering the workforce – which is already the largest portion of today’s working class. With over 80 million millennials (born between 1982 and 2004), they make up nearly a quarter of the population and spend over $200 billion every year.

If you haven’t already started, this is a group you want to target.

When searching online, you will find multiple surveys and articles written about this group. Elite Daily surveyed 1,300 millennials, looking at their buying habits and brand loyalty. Deloitte surveyed nearly 8,000 millennials to provide their outlook on society and their attitude toward their work.

What to take away?

Millennials are an incredibly important audience and there are several key factors to consider for your next targeted campaign.

Segment vs Demographic

As most marketers know, the key to successful ROI is segmenting your audience and not treating your entire target audience exactly the same. The same can be said for millennials. This is less a demographic you can sum up easily and more a diverse collection of individuals that range from young professionals to move-back-homes, and from partying singles to single parents. It is important to understand your specific audience before launching any marketing campaign.

That said, the following are common traits found in this generation you may want to consider when developing your strategy.

Multiple Channels. Gone are the days of “offline versus online” strategies. With the mobile revolution, millennials have grown up with the idea they are always connected wherever they are. Many use multiple devices simultaneously to stay connected, with 87% of millennials using two to three devices at least once every day. If you want to get their attention, you need to move quickly and use multiple channels to reach them. Constant communication will be key.

Hard Sell vs Content Marketing. When asked if a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more, only 1% of millennials surveyed said yes. Advertising is seen as promotional (and dated) and millennials would rather review content when considering purchases. Blogs and articles make a big impact in buying decisions.

While Content is Important, Authenticity More So. Content marketing is very important with this generation, however 43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. If they do not trust the source, they will not even bother reading the content they produce. In fact, they often would trust peers over companies. Influencer marketing holds a lot of weight.

More Social than Informational. While Baby Boomers and Gen Xers may have preferred traditional news sources, millennials prefer to get their information through social media channels. While fewer than 3% of millennials rely on TV news, magazines and books to make a purchase, an impressive one-third rely mostly on blogs before they buy.

They Want to be Engaged. A whopping 62% of millennials say they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them on their preferred social networks. It is not enough to just be on the social network – millennials expect companies to engage with them.

Yes, Millennials Are Loyal. There is a common misconception that millennials don’t have brand loyalty and are easily swayed, suggesting they are wishy-washy. This may be because they are more likely to be loyal to ideals rather than a company logo and, if a company appears to lose those ideals, will move on. The fact is, they can be very brand loyal – 60% of millennials surveyed said they are often or always loyal to brands they currently purchase. It just may be harder to maintain that loyalty.

With millennials currently ranging between 13 – 35 years in age, your marketing campaigns are going to be keenly targeted on this group for decades to come. Like any marketing strategy, the key will be to communicate to your target audience with the content they want, in the style they understand, in the places they prefer. For millennials, remembering engaging, authentic content on multiple social channels will be instrumental in helping your brand get noticed and build brand loyalty.

Rick Verbanas has brought his passion for marketing to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and not-for-profits. He strives to stay current in the latest marketing best practices, and provides a weekly roundup for your news and enjoyment. To subscribe to future blogs, please enter your email address on the left hand side of the page.

Mother’s Day Marketing Tips

This Sunday is Mother’s Day (Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!). “Celebrating Mom” has become big business for many small businesses. While there are many stores and services hoping to bring in shoppers (and I’ll share some of my ideas below), there are some sharp guerrilla marketers looking to “ride the wave” and cash in on all the sentiment.

Build Traffic
You may wonder how you, who may not offer products or services normally associated with Mother’s Day gifts, can benefit from the holiday. The real question is, could your website benefit from more exposure, more traffic? If the answer is “Yes,” start considering ways to chat, blog or share about Mother’s Day.

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is post a question on your site, or in your e-newsletter – wherever you track customer responses. Buzz Accelerator suggests 50 Mother’s Day Status Updates for Your Business.They offer some phrases and questions you can post on your Facebook business page (which may also work well with your home website, twitter, LinkedIn Q&A, etc.) such as:

  • Like this if you grew up to be just like your mother.
  • Moms: Yay or Nay on breakfast in bed?
  • What makes your mom better than all the others? Tag her in a comment so she’ll see what you say.

The point is, you want to engage your readers. Give them something to respond to, or vote on, or “like,” or forward, etc.

Another way to drive traffic is to offer Mother’s Day content. Some companies encourage their employees to post heart-warming stories about their own mothers in an effort to give their company a more approachable face. You can blog about famous mothers (the more popular, the better) or, present real-life moms who make sacrifices every day for their children. The NY Daily News provides a look at the ten worst TV moms.

Whatever you do, make it about the mothers and not you. Unless you are a company that offers products or services their moms would like, readers will not take kindly to companies looking to make a profit by exploiting an institution revered as highly as motherhood.

Marketing Ideas
For those who do offer a product or service, here are some ideas to consider in addition to the above:

Continue reading

PR Formula Made Simple

What, exactly, is public relations? Throughout my career, this has to be one of the most misunderstood tactics I perform. To many I have spoken, “PR” is this nebulous service that is hard to define. Is it journalism? No, but one should be able to write for journalists if in PR. Is it publicity – Notice or attention given to someone or something by the media, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary? In a sense, yes. However, my definition strives to include more.

Public Relations is the art of building brand awareness through building reputation.

I have known Ken Hitchner, current public relations and social media director for the talented folks at Creative Marketing Alliance, for several years. We have worked together off and on in our career and he defines PR very simply:

Reputation + Relationships = Revenue

The goal for any marketing or public relations campaign should be to increase revenue. I cover how to measure the return on your marketing investment (MROI) here.

So, if the goal is to increase revenue, it is imperative you develop relationships with your target audience. Generally speaking, people purchase from people and/or brands they like. True, they may be swayed by other factors like price, but do you really want to build your business strategy on being the lowest priced? It makes better business sense to build brand loyalty, allowing price to not be the most important factor.

This brings us back to relationships and building your brand. If people purchase from brands they like, then who do people like? While the answer varies wildly, an underlying element usually includes trust. It is safe to agree, few people like what they do not trust.

Which circles back to reputation. Without a reputation you can trust, it is highly unlikely you will earn relationships with your target audience. And, without those relationships, it will be even more challenging to increase your revenue based on brand alone.

Third Party Influence
The question is, how does public relations build reputation? While paid advertising unquestionably has its place, the average consumer is bombarded with countless messages every day. These tend to be disruptive and it is widely understood the goal of the advertisements are to sell you something and, therefore, are biased. But, if your message is conveyed through a third party such as a news source, it tends to have more credibility and, if positive, will likely increase trust.

With so many different options, I will discuss best practices on how to produce a positive message through public relations Continue reading

How a Job Search is Just Like Dating

While I typically write about marketing, I thought I would take a pause from my current job search and offer this observation for your amusement. For clarity, I’m not single (sorry ladies). And, while this could apply to those seeking a new job while currently employed, I am saving the How a Job Search While Employed is Just Like Trying to Discreetly Have an Affair for those who know more about the topic than yours truly.

So, you have taken the plunge and are now back in the big wide dating pool. Perhaps it was by choice. Perhaps the choice was made for you. Nevertheless, here you are, ready to try something new.

But what will it be? You’ve done some soul-searching and, after evaluating previous experiences, have a better understanding of your type. Perhaps you are seeking a life-long commitment (but, does that even exist anymore like it did generations before?). Or, maybe you aren’t sure of what would be considered a good match and want to play the field and not be tied down, staying with someone for only months at a time (but secretly wondering if it will become serious at some point).

Well, there are many ways to find your match. While putting on your best outfit and simply getting out there and meeting someone cold could work, it is very time consuming physically going from place to place. Frankly, it can be a meat market.

So, it is time to turn to the internet. There are so many options. There are free services, paid services, professionals who act as matchmakers… But, to start, you should probably stick with the more popular free sites.

Your bio is key. While it is expected you will put your best face forward, it is considered a best practice to remain honest. Make sure to put your highlights at the top, because if you don’t grab them in the first few seconds, you may go to the bottom of the pile. If you are older, perhaps try Continue reading

Social Media Crisis Management Plan: Tips on How to Prepare and Execute

With United Airlines’ social media disaster going viral last week, many top executives are questioning what is the plan to avoid such an embarrassing public relations nightmare for their own company. Who is monitoring what people are saying about you and your business? And, what do you do when it is negative? What is your crisis management plan?

I spoke with Mike Moran, Senior Strategist at Converseon and author of “Do it Wrong Quickly,” who says it is essential to keep track of the chatter on the world wide web. “The first thing you need is awareness,” he said. “There are people out there who have something to say and they have many different ways to be heard.”

Blogs, Message Boards, Product Ratings… should all be tracked for any negative comments. “That can be challenging,” Moran admitted. “Once you understand the importance of listening to your audience, you need to develop a process to help you hear them.”

How to Be Aware of Potential Problems

To keep track of what is being said about your organization, I recommend implementing a Social Medial Monitoring (SMM) tool, also known as a listening platform. This allows you to monitor and track mentions of your brand, products and competitors. SMM tools provide many different ways to analyze, measure, display and report findings.

Some of the more popular SMMs: Continue reading

Ethics in Marketing – A Social Responsibility?

My Mass Communication professor climbed on to her desk, which seemed so small and far away in one of the large lecture halls at the University of Delaware. It was at that point Associate Professor Juliet Dee yelled something I will never forget. “If you remember one thing from this course,” she pleaded. “Watch television with your children!”

Her words did stick with me and I took them to heart while raising my own children years later. While at school, I did learn of all the studies done about the influence of media in our society. In fact, Professor Dee wrote books and gave lectures on the very subject and I wonder if she would be happy or disappointed with what I am about to say.

First, let me start by stating I believe media does influence both children and adults, both the developing minds and the most learned. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be in marketing, trying to influence behavior through different types of media. The shows and movies we watch, the books and advertisements we read, and the songs and presentations we listen to all make an impact, no matter how small.

Want an adorable example of young minds mirroring what they see? Watch these two toddlers act out their favorite scene from Frozen.

As a marketing professional most of my career, I have seen all sides… B2B, B2C, mass media, social media, print, digital, public relations, crisis management, direct mail, e-mail, events, promotions… the list goes on and on. Since I believe media influences thought and thoughts influence action, should I worry about what message I promote?

Fast-forward ten years after the lecture hall to my early career as an Account Executive at an advertising agency. My clients were new and used car dealerships throughout the country. I was responsible for over half a million dollars in media budget and produced radio, television and newspaper ads, as well as direct mail and other campaigns. Each state had it’s own laws and each required different ways to provide disclaimers. No doubt, you are used to hearing the low, fast talking disclaimers at the beginning or ending of radio spots or the fine print at the bottom of television and newspaper ads. Some of my accounts would really stretch those to the point I started to question my career choice.

During a long road trip with my boss, Continue reading