Thanks for tuning in to part 3 of our blog series, “how to double your web leads.” In our first post, we wrote about the importance of big goals (vs. incremental goals) and thinking of your website as if it were a full-time sales rep. Speaking of sales reps… think for a moment about how much you’d have to pay per month to bring on a new sales rep. Once you factor in taxes, benefits, training, etc., you’re looking at somewhere in the ballpark of $4,000 – $5,000 per month (for most industries and geographic markets). Then thing about how long would you give that sales rep to get ramped up and start closing deals? 90-120 days is fairly standard.
Your website is your number one sales and marketing tool, but unlike a sales rep it will never call in sick, ask you for a lengthy vacation or leave you for a better job opportunity. Many businesses, especially small to medium sized services businesses, fail to invest a sufficient amount of money in building, marketing and managing their website and total online presence.
It’s fairly common for a business owner to search high and low for the cheapest company to design their website. Given the importance of your website to the future success of your business, that’s kind of like shopping for the cheapest brain surgeon!
Saving money should not be your number one goal when developing a new website – maximizing your results and overall ROI is. Think about your own business for a moment. Are you the cheapest guy in town? Do the companies offering a cheaper service providing the same level of service and value you are? In most cases, the answer is, “no.” You don’t need to buy the Mercedes of websites, but you shouldn’t be test driving Yugos either.
At the same time, you can’t invest big bucks in a website and leave no money for generating traffic for your new site. The days of, “if you build it, they will come” have been over for years. A good rule of thumb is to spend five times what you spent on your website on marketing. If you spend $3,500 on a website, you should plan to spend another $17,500 marketing it (that’s not even $1,500 per month – you probably used to spend double that on a print yellow page ad).
Again, think of your new website just like you would a new sales rep. If you hire a sales rep and fail to get him or her ramped up because you’re trying to save money, you’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Having said all of this, our last post illustrated the importance of having accurate tracking systems in place. You should not invest a nickel in your website or any other marketing strategy for that matter without first setting goals and putting systems in place to accurately measure and track your results.
Advertising and marketing without accurate measurement and tracking is like bowling blind-folded!
Marketing strategies worth testing
Assuming you have a great website in place, which marketing strategies should you be testing to try and double your web leads? It depends on what you’re selling. Companies marketing to other businesses frequently have success with directly mail, search engine marketing and opt-in email marketing. Companies targeting consumers should try pay per click (PPC) advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and opt-in email marketing.
When brainstorming marketing strategies to test, you want to consider your audience and your average customer’s buying cycle. If you’re selling $150,000 kitchens, it’s foolish to expect someone to receive your direct mail post card, visit your website and immediately call you. More often than not, this size purchase involves a decent amount of research and consideration – before contact is initiated. Instead, ask people to build their dream kitchen and send them to your website where they must provide some basic information before using an interactive online kitchen design tool.
The registration to use the tool is not a lead and you shouldn’t treat it as one. It’s more of a micro-conversion – a pre-lead, lead. Resist the urge to hard sell the prospect. Instead add them to your database and send them other “soft” offers designed to further engage them. Warm them up a bit before you contact them as a lead or prospect. This “lead nurturing” approach also works very well for B2B companies where there is a longer sales cycle and more research and analysis done prior to inquiry.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) 101
Regardless of whether you’re selling to other businesses or to consumers, your prospects are using the Internet to learn more about you, your industry and your products and services. If you can’t find your website on the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing for search phrases relevant to your business, you’re losing clients to your competitors – guaranteed.
Here’s a look at the search engine landscape:
Each search engine results page can be broken down into at least three distinct areas:
When you visit Google and perform a search, you typically get a page that looks something like this (see screenshot above). At the top and along the right-hand side of the screen are Sponsored Listings, Paid Listings or pay per click (PPC) ads. Other names for PPC ads include: Cost per click (CPC) and Paid Search. Within the context of the search engine results page, all of these refer to the same thing. The paid listings or PPC ads are marked in the screenshot above with an orange box.
In the green box in the screenshot above are Local Listings. These results are usually (but not always) displayed when someone includes a geographic phrase in their search query. It is free to add your business to the Local Listings – which some people call Google Maps, Google Places or Local SEO.
Last, but certainly not least are the organic listings – inside the purple box in the screenshot above. Google determines who shows where in the organic listing using a complex algorithm designed to put the sites most relevant to the search query at the top of the page. The process of improving how Google perceives your site’s relevance and authority on a particular topic or search query is known as search engine optimization or SEO.
Critical point: SEM success is about maximizing first page real estate
Many business owners make the mistake of investing in a single search engine marketing strategy – often based on their own personal searching habits. For example, a business owner that never clicks paid listings will often invest only in SEO. This is a mistake. Business owners with accurate tracking in place on their website will quickly find that paid listings do not significantly cannibalize organic results – the entire page is really just a piece of real estate.
Savvy companies maximize their first page real estate using Paid Listings, Local Listing Optimization and Organic Listing Optimization.
You want things to look like this:
Companies selling to consumers stand to benefit the most from search engine marketing because search engines are one of the first places today’s consumer goes when they need something. However, even companies selling to other businesses can benefit from increasing their first page real estate. The search volumes are lower, but the value of a new customer is often much higher.
Again, savvy companies, those that actually track their website(s), quickly learn three things:
To get more website traffic and leads, you want to maximize first page real estate.
Paid ads DO NOT significantly cannibalize traffic from organic listings (and vice versa).
Investing in SEO and PPC can be effective, but proper set-up, management and tracking is critical to achieve maximum ROI.
Search engine marketing is a zero sum game
One of the reasons you should be testing search engine marketing is that it is a zero sum game. In order for your business to move up higher in a search engine results page, you must leap-frog a currently better optimized competitor.
Many companies have already made the decision to go “all in” with search engine marketing. While pay per click advertising is off/on and the results are near immediate, search engine optimization (SEO) is a long-term strategy where the work you do today can take weeks – even months – to have an impact. Make the decision to get in the game NOW.
The steps to get started are fairly simple:
Set-up an account with Google AdWords and create your first PPC campaign
Get a full site SEO audit of your website (should cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000 – $2,000)
Create, add and promote remarkable content in the form of web pages, online articles, white papers, blog posts, etc.
Next time we’ll get into the specifics of setting up your pay per click campaigns, why you need a full site SEO audit and more!
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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“We trust our support team at Blue Corona completely and quite frankly are involved in very little of what they do for us. They truly understand SEO and what is needed to make it work. I would say this has been the most valuable aspect of working with Blue Corona. They do so with little to no effort on our part, which allows our sales managers to focus on sales rather than SEO tasks and education. For all of these reasons I would recommend Blue Corona to any business seeking Web design and a strong Internet presence. ”