Best Marketing Strategies
This blog explains several marketing strategies that there’s more to online lead generation than just SEO and I revealed the irreplaceable “Three Ms” you need to apply for lead generation success.
And then, we explain why your marketing isn’t an expense…it’s an investment…and briefly introduced you to the best way you can make the response to all of your marketing trackable, by applying direct response marketing. You’re getting the basics under your belt. Let’s keep rolling…
Meet the “Three Ms” of marketing…
This key is so powerful, many marketers refer to it as a “secret.” It’s referred to as the “Three Ms.”
The Three Ms are:
• Your market (your clearly identified ideal client)
•Your message (communicating your USP to your ideal client)
•Your chosen form of media (the way you communicate that message)
When you have mastery over the market, message, and media, you’ll be able to drive action on the part of your ideal clients/customers in increasing numbers.
The biggest challenge with the 3Ms for most businesses is often choosing the correct form of media. Yes, there are dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of forms of media available today – but only a few will work in any given situation.
Once you’ve identified your ideal client (aka: your market)…and you understand all the reasons why people buy the products or services you sell…and you’ve found the best ways to communicate the value of a business relationship with your company (your message)…you just need to focus on determination of the ideal form of media for your campaigns, for maximum success.
The truth is, for all of the wonderful things it’s made possible, the Internet’s still little more than another form of media. As a form of media, the Internet is a wonderfully rich source of information and – because of search engines – it’s also reasonably well organized. Certainly more so than almost any other media.
Understanding what your potential customers are looking for on the Internet is key to helping them find you for the answers. It will enable you to place yourself in the path they’re following, to the answers they seek.
When you do this, you don’t have to be found at the top of the search results for keywords related to the problems you can solve to still get all the business you need.
In almost every conversation I have with business leaders, they tell me what they want most from their advertising and marketing is to make the phone ring more often – to get calls from prospects interested in the products and services that they’re selling.
Like it or not, effective optimization (SEO) and the visibility in search engines that results is the backbone of the online business lead generation today.
Being found at the top of search engine results is what it takes today to make your phone ring more often. That’s because there are a lot of crazy scams and posers running around claiming to be SEO “experts” and it often confuses the issue.
I have to admit, I’ve had just about enough of the endless parade of scammers and spammers who send emails to businesses – including me – trying to say they’re the best SEO service on earth.
It’s gotten so bad I halfway expect, whenever talking with some of these people, to hear them ask if I’d like a Slurpee™, to complete my order. I’m often tempted to ask for one. At least then I’d get something in return for my money.
Here’s an example:
A few months ago, I received an email from a guy who told me he’s the only “pay for performance” SEO firm ever created. His pitch?
According to him, this is absolutely the best way to buy SEO services because, if it doesn’t work, you don’t pay. That’s not what this guy’s terms of service said – but I’ll come back to that in just a bit.
It does sound good. Unfortunately, even if the deal was exactly as presented, there are lots of red flags flying on this offer – and I see them often enough to warrant addressing them here and now. If such an offer comes your way, I want you to know how to avoid it.
First – I visited this guy’s site and noticed that, for credibility, he’s displaying a “Google Certified” emblem. I’m very familiar with that program.
I know that, when you meet the qualifications for inclusion, Google actually gives you a button that’s linked in such a way that, if you click on it, you can verify whether a company really is certified by Google as meeting those qualifications.
In this case, the button was just a graphic. It wasn’t connected to anything. When I clicked on it, nothing happened – because it was a scam.
That might explain – at least in part – why most of the portfolio of sites this guy had supposedly worked on weren’t in business anymore. To make matters worse, the SEO on his own site appeared to have been done by someone who’s never done it before.
But wait – it gets better.
The domain this site was on was owned by a firm in India, but they’re advertising with a U.S. address. I typed the U.S. address into Google Maps and it showed me that this business was apparently operating in a gas station, in San Jose, CA!
Maybe he’s just a part-timer who works at a gas station…but I doubt it, seriously.
Adding insult to injury, this guy’s terms of service indicate that his so-called “pay-for-performance” program costs $2000 per month but, if they don’t get results, they’ll keep working for free until they do.
There’s nothing wrong with this guarantee, as it stands…unless, of course, the guy offering it is a scammer who doesn’t intend to help you beyond your initial $2000 payment anyway.
Unfortunately, if you counted on him to perform, I think you’d be more likely to join the company of those other poor souls listed on this guy’s site – with websites banned by Google or out of business altogether – before you ever saw the “results” he claimed he could get.
Frauds pretending to know SEO are far more common than you might ever imagine. It’s gotten bad enough I always caution the entrepreneurial business leaders I serve to be very careful when they’re approached with similar offers.
Remember: Internet lead generation – especially SEO – is still a rapidly changing, growing field. Actual certifications and qualifications to provide these services are few. The best certification you can ask for is to look at the results anyone approaching you as a provider has created for their clients.
Another, more recent example: I was approached not long ago by someone on LinkedIn who wanted to connect. My process for approving requests from people I don’t know is simple: I look at their profile and see who they are. You probably do this, too – right?
So, I took a look at this guy’s profile. He presents himself as a professional web developer and SEO expert. OK – I’m connected with a number of them now. Some of them are really good at their craft and well worth following.
They enable me to keep up with what they’re doing and, occasionally, we exchange ideas. I also saw a link to this guy’s website in his information so, off I went to have a look. Uh-oh!
His site was so bad that, if they were publishing an updated edition of Web Pages That Suck, his homepage would be on the cover. There were no mentions of past clients or links to sites in a portfolio – also a troubling sign.
So – instead, I looked at the SEO he’d done on his own site…another way to see if someone knows what they’re doing when it comes to this type of service.
Still, he’s out there trying to convince small business owners to consider him one of best SEO service companies and pay him to help them.
Lying Liars Who Pour Out Lies
I warned you I can rail on this aspect of the lead generation business to the point of ranting. I’ve had too many conversations with business owners who have been lied to just to make a sale.
You might also get emails from firms all over the world, asking if you want to hire them to “get you on the first page of Google.”
I know I get them.
Here’s the thing: millions of pieces of this kind of SPAM are sent out every day by these firms. Most don’t even operate in the U.S. All of them ignore a core principle of business today: that people do business with people we know, like, and trust.
First and foremost, I’m a passionate advocate for never hiring a foreign firm to do mission-critical work like SEO. Why? Because, if something goes wrong, they’ll simply disappear and leave you to figure out what happened.
You want to hire the best person you can who understands your industry and your specialty within that industry. For this reason, it’s always best to work with someone who is easy to understand and, if at all possible, who works similar hours to yours. This is usually difficult when you work with someone who is located in another country.
Also, when you hire someone to do SEO work on your site, keep in mind they’ll need to have administrative rights over your website. This gives them enough power to wreak serious havoc on your business – inadvertently or otherwise. I’m not suggesting this happens regularly but, if that access isn’t secured, it could fall into the wrong hands.
If, for example, the passwords and other login details to your website aren’t updated or deleted at the end of the project, your worker – or one of his or her associates – could easily re-enter and hack your site.
In mere minutes, your entire investment in your website could be gone. This is where that whole “know, like, and trust” thing seriously comes into play. In reverse. For you.
When it comes to hiring someone to help you improve the marketing you’re doing online, you want to first fully vet the company you’re considering before you hire them. The number one way to evaluate the work they’ll do for you is to look at the last six projects they’ve done for other clients and speak to the people they worked for.
All I can do is sound the alarm for you and hope you heed my warnings. There are lying liars everywhere and you must protect yourself. Your marketing budget and the future of your business depend on it.
Finally, don’t be one of these guys…
One of the best possible ways I know of to avoid being scammed by all the posers out there is to be reasonable in your expectations and understand that you generally get what you pay for.
Online lead generation can easily become your most powerful marketing vehicle – the most cost-effective marketing you’ve ever done. When you do find and vet someone capable of handling the task for you, the last thing you want to do is chase them away by signaling with your offer that you doubt their capabilities.
Here’s what I mean:
If you’ve done your due diligence, you should at least know the people you’re talking to are qualified professionals with a track record of delivering what they promise.
Still, I’ve talked to far too many business leaders (and, sometimes, their sales teams) who insist that, if I can get them more/better customers now, they’ll be happy to invest some money in their marketing with me…later.
Basically, they’re asking me to work free and “earn my keep” by “proving my worth” before I can expect payment.
Look at it this way: If it’s cold both outside and inside, there are only one of two possible actions you should take if you want to improve your conditions: (1) gather some wood and start a fire or (2) walk over to the thermostat and turn the heater on.
Internet Business Lead Generation is a Lot More than SEO
To have success in any business – to avoid having skinny kids – you need to identify who your ideal client is, develop a message they’ll respond to, and use a form of media to which that ideal client pays the most attention to reach them.
Then, you can simply wash, rinse, and repeat – with one minor twist: Over time, you’ll identify the top 20% of your campaigns, so you can keep using them more often. You’ll also identify the top 20% of your customers, so you can repeat what you did to find them, to find more just like them.
That means you’ve also got to use marketing you can reliably track, so you can focus in on what’s working best and eliminate what isn’t, constantly improving your ROI as you go. Marketing should never be an expense…
Anyone who ever told you marketing is an expense that must be paid – like the utilities or the stockroom staff payroll – was wrong. Marketing – all marketing – is an investment that deserves a reasonable ROI.
You wouldn’t knowingly add a product or service to your business that returned less than it cost you to provide. Still, countless businesses do this, day in and day out, when it comes to the marketing they do to bring in new business.
Don’t feel bad. This sort of wrong-headed thinking was prevalent long before there was an Internet. It’s what led John Wanamaker, considered a “pioneer in marketing” by many people of his era, to coin the oft-repeated phrase, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
This kind of thinking has also led literally thousands of businesses to spend more than they had to try to build a brand – when they should have been focused on attracting more paying clients.
Branding is the form of marketing that drives advertising agencies like the ones you’ve seen on TV…from Bewitched to Mad Men…precisely because it is so expensive and unpredictable. This is because the results, by and large, are essentially untrackable.
These agencies make their money as a percentage of what they can convince their clients they should spend running the ads the agencies create. The branding approach makes total sense…for the agencies.
For this reason, after studying every form of marketing there is for a lot of years, I’ve concluded that “branding” is almost always a nearly complete waste of time and money for most businesses today. If you’re doing it, you should stop. Now.
Getting directly to the point…
Consider direct response advertising, instead. With direct response, you’re investing in the acquisition of ideal clients and customers. With direct response marketing, you’re not at all concerned about the nebulous activity is known as “branding your business.” Instead, you’re either going for qualified leads or a low-cost direct sale from everything you do.
When it comes to generating small business leads online, direct response marketing makes it happen. It’s what everything I do for my clients is all about – online or offline.
Regardless of which form of marketing you use, you always want to ask for a response, tell people exactly how to respond, then make it easy and worth their time to do so. When your request is clear, they’ll do what you’ve asked a reliable, measurable percentage of the time.
Direct response = measurable response.
Like I said – as with any investment, you can and should expect a return on your investment. The 80-20 Rule can easily be applied to your direct marketing efforts, to help you achieve that return, once and for all.
Because you’ll be able to easily see the results of everything you do quickly enough to make necessary changes that keep you on the track to greater profits – much faster than any other method I know of.
In short, you’ll be able to maximize the profitable return you deserve from your marketing dollars. Predictably. Digging in…
I always pay careful attention to what’s going on in the world of SEO. You can probably tell, from the way I opened our discussion in this blog, that I’m particularly tuned in to the nonsense a lot of so-called SEO “experts” are trying to sell to my clients.
Probably the most annoying of these schemes, as far as I’m concerned, are the ones who come in guns blazing, claiming they’ll get you on page one of Google.
You’d think this is some kind of Holy Grail of SEO, guaranteed to net you a huge return for your money, to hear them tell it. While being at the top position of Google for the right keywords can certainly bring you some business, I hope you haven’t fallen for this nonsense pitch.
There are a lot of businesses today who “own” the number one spot on Google for a lot of keywords – but most still aren’t seeing the kind of increase in their business and sales they should for the effort. Far from it.
The process you need to follow is a little more complex than simply occupying a certain position on a Google search page. When you follow the right steps, applying the 80-20 Rule to help clarify and quantify your best approach, however, you’ll see the results you were hoping for almost without fail.
As I said earlier, SEO is an integral part of an Internet business lead generation – of making your phone ring more often – but there are several related steps involved, to get it right.
Here are the pieces you’ll need to put into play, to benefit from an effective online lead generation campaign:
•Clarity on who your ideal client is
•Your business USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
•A process for effective keyword generation/targeting
•Professional landing pages for PPC lead generation
•A well-designed website, built for lead conversion/generation
•Great content, properly optimized for search (one part of SEO)
•Professional back-link campaigns (the other part of SEO)
We’ll go through each of these steps in more detail throughout the rest of this blog. First, it’s important that you understand the marketing principles behind each of these steps.
Free your mind – and increased sales will follow…
Hopefully, you’ve cleared your head of the notion that all forms of marketing and advertising are good because they “get your name out there.”
There are many forms of advertising and marketing to choose from today, but only a few of them will actually generate the response you want and need, making it worth the money you’re investing in them.
Whatever advertising you choose to invest in must, for example, be able to generate leads or customers. The ROI must also be in line with other measurable and effective forms of marketing/advertising – or don’t write the check!
When it comes to marketing your business, your decision process begins when you know who your ideal client or customer is and what their lifetime value is to your business.
Then, measure every form of advertising you’re doing or plan to do against the job it’s doing attracting those customers and apply the 80/20 Rule to those results.
Will it produce the results you need or want it?
The 80-20 rule dictates that 20 percent of your efforts will produce about 80 percent of the results you’re looking for. Likewise, it dictates that 20 percent of your clients (the result of your marketing) will generally produce 80 percent of your total sales.
When you’re able to continually measure what you’re doing and how much you’re spending versus the number of leads and/or sales you’re generating as a result, you’re able to then shift your efforts for maximum effectiveness as you go. Your business is assuredly going to grow in the process.
Do this right and business growth is practically unavoidable.
A website alone is just that…
Today, there are two basic ways people will find you on the Internet. The first is because someone already has the address to your website. Usually, someone who has your web address or URL already knows you. They’re either an existing customer or they might have gotten your business card or a brochure, or flyer somewhere.
The second way people find you on the Internet is through search engines or, perhaps, through social media.
If they do find you this way, however, they aren’t necessarily looking specifically for you – they’re usually looking for something that solves a problem they’re having and they do this by typing in words related to the problem.
These people are typically ready to make a buying decision and you want them to find you when they type in these keywords – not someone else. After you’ve determined precisely what keywords apply best to what you have to offer, here’s what you need, to make that visitor decide to buy from you:
1. The information on your web pages must be set up properly and optimized for search.
2. Other, more important sites must link to your site.
There’s still more to it – but, when you get just these two elements right, you can get preferred placement in the search engines for important keywords related to your business.
If a lot of people are searching for your products and services and you’re optimized for search engines on the keywords they’re using, you can get visitors coming to your site in growing numbers.
If your website is properly optimized for users, so they can easily make a small “introductory” purchase, or opt-in to your email list – or take some other important next step that leads to more sales for your business – you can do very well.
If your site gets visitors, but they’re unsure of what to do, they’ll leave and visit a different site. Usually within seconds. Remember how many websites there are on the Internet today? Yeah – they’ll go to one of them, instead of yours. In a heartbeat. This will increase what is referred to as your site’s “bounce” rate.
Believe it or not, Google can and often will penalize you if your bounce rate (the number of people who visit your site from their search results, but “bounce” back away from it quickly) is too high.
This can affect your SEO with the lower placement of your listing. It can also make your PPC campaigns more expensive because Google often also charges you a higher per-click rate if your bounce rate is too high.
If your website isn’t bringing you the new business and growth you were hoping for, you now know just a few of the reasons why.
Account for your conversion rate…
What if you found that, for whatever reason, the traffic you get from search engines converts (opts-in to download something, completes a form, buys something, etc.) at a rate of just under two percent?
Then, what if you find out that traffic from sharing information about your good work on your social network converts at a rate of three to four percent?
The social traffic is better, right?
It can be – assuming all the numbers line up favorably.
In my own case, I invite visitors to my site to opt-in, to receive my regular updates by email. This adds them to a list that I can then reach out to regularly, to continue building a relationship that eventually leads to sales.
Right now, roughly six percent of those who arrive at my site convert by joining that list.
Here’s the interesting thing: of those who convert on my site, LinkedIn traffic out-performs search traffic four-to-one. Looking at my opt-ins for just one month, 74% came from LinkedIn traffic and only 18.5% came from search. Roughly 80% from one source.
The 80/20 Rule is a rule for a reason.
If these were your numbers, where would you focus your attention?
You’ll find out the effectiveness of your marketing by measuring where your traffic’s coming from and how many of them are converting in the way you want them to.
What about social media?
Business owners frequently tell me they’ve heard social media’s a great choice for marketing because it’s free. Much like SEO, which a lot of people also tend to think is free, social media has a very real cost – either in the time you invest in it or in the size of the check you’ll write to have someone do it for you.
Some of the costs you can expect include designing a branded look for your social pages and the time needed to research, share content, and engage with people online, to make it work.
Yes – branding still matters – and that’s largely what social media is all about. It’s just that it should never be the end goal of your marketing.
With social media, it’s also very important to have your “ear to the ground” in related forums and pages, so you understand what problems, frustrations, or issues prospective customers have that you may be able to solve with your products and services. This can be more time-consuming than you might think.
If you’re already busy, it’s easy to put this task off. This is probably the main reason why most do-it-yourself business social media efforts fail to ever get any traction and generate meaningful leads.
You’ll either do your business’ social media yourself or you’ll hire someone to do the work for you. That’s up to you – but always remember your time is very valuable.
How you value your time is a matter only you can decide. Usually, it’s too valuable for my clients to give up and devote the attention required to properly maintain a social media presence that gets results.
Certainly, if you hire someone skilled in listening on the social networks and doing all the things required to get your business found on the social web, you should expect to pay a reasonable rate for having it done. Either way – again – meaningful, productive social media work for your business won’t be free.
Once again – the best form of marketing and advertising for your business will be the one that produces the best overall ROI. Carefully track your results. Apply the 80-20 rule as you go, to make the necessary adjustments to maximize the ROI on your investment, and it won’t matter what the actual amount of that investment is.
You will eventually, however, want to ramp up what you spend.
Making pay-per-click pay…
I like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. A lot. It’s highly measurable and trackable – and it can provide some of the highest ROI of any type of advertising you’ll ever do. However, if you don’t do it properly, it can and often does fail to deliver any worthwhile results at all.
The most common mistake businesses make that leads to PPC failure is directing the traffic generated from PPC ads to a generic page, such as the company website’s homepage.
The person who clicks a PPC ad was looking for something very specific. If they click on your ad – which is when you incur a charge for your advertising (hence the name, pay-per-click) – and they arrive at a page that’s not related specifically to that ad, they’ll hit their “back” button and leave, usually about two-three seconds after they arrived. Yeah. That quick.
The secret to getting exceptional returns on your PPC advertising investment is to use specific “landing pages” that match the information in each of your ads and deliver on the promise you made to get viewers to click in the first place.
If you promise free information about your product or service in your PPC ad – an informative free report, for example – and I click through to your site and find the same info on the landing page I see, you have an excellent chance of converting me into a lead. Nice, huh?
A lot of business owners I talk to are enthralled with PPC advertising. Usually, it’s because they’ve heard stories circulating about businesses who turned a $250 ad budget into tens of thousands of dollars in return. It’s the proper use of landing pages in PPC advertising that leads to these reports.
You can find advertising and marketing successes and failures with every type of media that exists today. The best form of advertising for you, however, is the one that produces the highest quantity of ideal clients for your small business at the lowest cost.
In football, winning and losing comes down to the fundamentals: blocking and tackling, as well as running and passing the ball. Winning or losing in business comes down to proficiency in two simple fundamentals: Getting and keeping customers in a measurable way.
If you can measure it, you can make it pay.
When you understand that traffic is traffic and your real objective is to get customers who spend money with you, it will all come down to the return on investment you’re getting on the different sources of traffic.
You’ll only know the ROI when you calculate the lifetime value of the customers you’re getting and compare it to what you spent to attract them. Applying the 80-20 Rule to your numbers will help clarify where to place your efforts for maximum ROI.
I decided to write this blog about generating online leads because I’ve found that online leads are returning the best ROI for most of the clients I work with on a daily basis.
Some clients get a better ROI on search. Others do better when they focus on social media traffic. Others I work with do very well with pay-per-click traffic. Some do better still with a combination of all of them.
At the end of the day, if you don’t know which form of traffic produces the best flow of customers, then all you can do is spend money on marketing and hope for the best.
Nailing Down the Ideal Client
I see a disturbing trend in business. It’s the philosophy of “you’ll do.”
Almost every business owner I know is looking for new customers. In spite of whatever the economy or any number of other factors might be, the need entrepreneurs have to improve their results never changes. Still, their client attraction process is rarely as tight as it could or should be.
As a result, someone calls, clicks, or otherwise inquires about our products and services and all we really care to know is if they have the ability to pay. If their answer is “Yes,” we tend to reply, “You’ll do.”
There aren’t as many of these ideal clients as there are of the “you’ll do” variety. Remember – 20% of your clients produce 80% of your results, but that 20 % is also more profitable, lower-maintenance and, working only with them, you’ll also find you have a better quality of life.
The same goes for the service providers you choose –, especially in the online marketing world. Today, it seems as if you play on Facebook or Twitter for a few hours a day, you can market yourself as a “social media expert.” Many do.
Likewise, if you read a blog or attend a Webinar or two on SEO, you can now market yourself as an “SEO expert.” Many do this, too.
But, if you want your site to be a useful tool, one that generates leads and helps you grow your sales to those type of customers you really want most, you need to choose who you work with to get the work done wisely.
You need to make a choice based on ROI – not on cost. You simply must identify your ideal clients. It’s the only way you can reliably focus your marketing efforts to find your ideal customers where they reside.
It’s so important, I’ve only just begun hammering you on the forehead with reminders. Allow me to continue hammering home the point:
Some people and businesses make ideal clients – and some don’t.
Truthfully, in the case I just related to you, I was trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. I was pushing a bit to make that happen when she “went off.”
Prospects give off clues with their body language. It’s been said that 90+% of communication is non-verbal, but I ignored the clues and made my goal more important than hers. She sensed that and forcefully shut the conversation down.
Sorting out your prospects first is better, easier, and more effective than trying to sell everyone. There are some who are interested in what you’re offering. Others won’t be. It’s possible that, while you’re trying to sell to the one who isn’t interested, you’re missing an opportunity to sell to someone who is.
Imagine the impact it would have on your life if your business served only ideal clients/customers on an almost exclusive basis. Do they understand that your business – like every other – needs to be able to provide value while still making a profit? Or, are they more inclined to grind you for every last nickel in the deal?
Sifting and sorting…
When you take a slipshod, shotgun approach to your marketing, attracting the most desirable customers is a nearly unattainable goal. With a targeted direct marketing approach, however, the majority of customers you attract to your business can be that ideal customer. You just have to identify the ideal target and fire those arrows at the bullseye.
That’s all very good. But – what if you’ve already got a list of customers? Are you now left to find out which of them is your ideal, after they’ve exhibited some of the most undesirable traits to identify themselves?
If you keep records of your sales and which customers purchased what, there’s a process you can follow. If not – you need to start doing so right now.
Here’s an exercise for you…
Assemble the information from your records over the past year or two that allows you to see:
•Sales by product/service
•Profits by product/service
Once you’ve done this, diligently apply the trusty 80-20 Rule to your data. Go line-by-line through the list you just assembled and identify the products or services that – either by revenue or by units of sale – are in the top 20%. You’ll find your list of best customers among those buying the top 20% most profitable products or services you sell.
Once you’ve identified a list of your most profitable customers, go through it again. This time, remove any from the list who you already know, from personal experience, created the biggest problems – or those who consistently nickel-and-dimed you at every step.
They might make you money – but it’s never worth the effort or aggravation, in the end. Move them over to the “less-than-desirable” list.
The more of this type of data you collect, the more precise you can be here. Worst-case, identify 20% of your most profitable customers. Start from there, if that’s all you can do. Then, track the results on all future customers going forward.
Here’s where the fun (and maybe some pain, too) comes into the exercise:
For those who are your best, most ideal clients and customers, write down how you attracted them to your business.
Ask yourself – which campaign did they respond to? If you keep copies of every campaign you’ve run in the past year or two, get them out so you can review them. This will help you identify your most effective message when it comes to attracting your ideal customer or client.
Next, turn your attention to the group of less-than-ideal clients/customers. Ask yourself – which campaign or promotions did they respond to?
Stop – or at least change – those campaigns or promotions!
If all your customers are glommed together into a single list, with no indication of who buys what – you have a bit more work to do. In this case, you should at least pick out those you know are more trouble than they’ve been worth.
Next, do some targeted direct marketing to the rest of the list, offering something that will appeal only to your ideal customers. This can help you identify some more ideal prospects to work with more often when they raise their hands.
This exercise will give you clarity about many things and help you map out future promotions and offers you can use to build your business. It won’t be long before you find you’re only working with the best-of-the-best customers, enjoying your work more, and making more money in the process.
Touch your finger to your temple and say, “A-HA! Now I understand…”
This blog, I revealed the “you’ll do” syndrome we all must battle from time to time, and how to get past it for better marketing results. I showed you some steps you can use to identify ideal clients and, hopefully, to keep less-than-desirable clients away from your door.
And – I ran through a way you can do this with your existing client base, moving the best of the best to the top, where they can get the focus they deserve. This is the power of knowing your ideal client and applying the 80/20 Rule to find them and sell them more. Now you’re ready to take the next steps.
Defining Your USP
When I work with clients, helping them identify their Unique Selling Proposition (USP), that song runs constantly through my head.
Who are you? It’s what your USP is all about. This desire for the product – and the fear they can’t have it – provides a business with all the leverage.
In a world filled with “me-too” businesses, with so many businesses begging for customers and willing to throw themselves – figuratively or otherwise – into a pit of snakes to close a sale…this approach, alone, will turn your unique selling position into a position of real strength and profits.
Your USP and the competition…
Understand that, unless you operate in a vacuum, you have competition. It might not be someone in your area selling exactly what you sell.
It could just as easily be someone on the Internet or in the next town over. It could even be another, totally unrelated business that’s pulling revenue your ideal customer used to spend with you.
I talked to a retailer of antiques and gifts in Kansas who once told me, “I have over a million dollars in inventory. I own a store filled with things no one needs. Everything in here is a discretionary purchase.” His problem?
His sales had dropped dramatically ever since a new Indian casino had opened just outside of town and he was convinced there simply wasn’t any more discretionary money left to come to him.
That antique and gift shop owner changed his positioning, adding the message to his marketing that you should have a treat now and then because you deserve it – and when you buy yourself something nice from his store, it can actually be an investment.
He got that message into the media where he knew casino fans were paying attention.
Sales went back up. Because his was one of the prime antique retailers in the area, with the most luxurious and expensive collection of goodies for miles around, he started making a lot of sales to people who had gone out to the casino and won, probably along with some sales to people with money still in hand they decided they’d rather spend elsewhere.
The rest wished they could become a member of that “inner circle” who could buy something there for themselves.
Your USP is that special something that makes your business and what you do for your customers and clients truly different. It should be easy to communicate in your marketing and appeal to the ideal customer or client you’re seeking.
It should never, ever, be price alone. Instead, you should focus on what it is about you that you uniquely bring to your business. Something special that your business does differently. Your positioning in the market is subject to evolution over time but, for the most part, it should remain fairly consistent.
As you’ve learned by now, I work with entrepreneurial business leaders who want and need to get more leads and sales from the Internet.
Occasionally, I’ll add that I focus on roofing contractors, attorneys, cosmetic dentists, and chiropractors – but my emphasis is always on helping the owners of businesses improve revenue and profits.
If people don’t know you but find themselves in need of your products and services when they come to your website and they still don’t clearly understand what you do – you’ll lose that sale.
If your positioning isn’t clear and someone asks your competitor about you, it’s possible the competitor will be able to honestly say, “I’m not really sure if they even offer this service.”
Again, you lose.
So – if you haven’t already done so, grab that sheet of paper and write down at least five (preferably ten) problems that you solve or results in your customers/clients get when they buy your products and services.
Then, take a few minutes and research your top competitors’ sites, to see how many of them do the same things. When you do this, you’ll find a few they either don’t do or some they don’t promote in their marketing.
Develop your marketing messages and the content on your site to speak directly to their issues and about the problems that your company can solve that no one else offers. We’ll go into this a bit more in-depth soon.
You’ll be glad you did this – especially because it will help you stop playing Twister in your marketing and get more ideal clients calling and seeking you out for the unique programs you have.
Now you know the makings of the best possible USP for your business – complete with examples from major rock stars, a sitcom, and a pair of khakis. This will provide you with the ammunition you need to make your business and the value you bring to the table so desirable people will literally ignore the competition and work with you instead – on your terms.
Combined with an intimate understanding of precisely who your ideal customers are, you should now be prepared to develop the perfect keywords to help those customers find you. We’ll get into that next.
Generating Effective, Targeted Keywords
You may already know this – and, if you don’t, it’s time that you did: No matter what product or service you sell, there are potential buyers waiting for it. It doesn’t matter how specialized whatever you sell happens to be, you can now reach out with your message, directed only to those people most likely interested in buying, and generate more sales.
This is the essence of niche marketing. It’s what the Internet lead generation is all about. Would you drive to the local department store and start searching the shelves?
Maybe…if you’re lucky…there’s a large specialty sports store in your area. You might head over there and hope they stock something.
You never know. They might still make ping pong paddles like the one you just broke – or they might not. You could wind up searching store shelves in your town and the three closest to you without success. Or…would it makes more sense to search the Internet and see what’s available?
After all – there actually might be a very similar paddle three towns over from you. If you checked the Internet first, you could call and ask them about it, see if there are any in stock, and then drive directly there to get it.
There could be someone selling those very paddles online, shipped to your door.
Yes – this imaginary example’s a bit extreme. But not as much as you might think. I’ve often joked that you could probably make a living selling pet tarantula leashes online, with the right Internet marketing in place. You think I’m kidding? I just did a search on Google for “pet tarantula supplies” and got roughly 171,000 results!
In the end, you might not actually be able to make a living selling leash to fans of these hairy creatures, but it’s clear there’s a market for them among people who keep them as pets. Who knows? Maybe now you’re pumped to try selling some. Consider it a free business idea from me – just let me know how it works out.
This plays directly to the heart of what Internet search is all about and why so many people today look online first for whatever it is they feel will solve their current problem. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a need for a championship ping pong paddle, everything needed to keep a pet tarantula happy – or whatever it is you sell.
Keep in mind – of those people who have an interest in what you do, almost all of them (+/- 90%) will start their search on the Internet when they consider buying your “thing.”
More interesting; most sales are triggered by a problem consumers want to solve. This leads them to start looking for solutions (not necessarily solutions to buy – not right away, anyway).
They go online to look for those solutions and they search for them with “keywords” – the “hook” upon which SEO hangs its hat. These keywords are the specific words and phrases people tend to enter into a search engine when they’re looking for the right solution to their needs.
To maximize sales and lead generation online, you want to identify the precise words or phrases the type of people you most want to attract to your business would enter into a search engine when they’re searching for a solution to the specific problems you can help them solve.
Get the keywords rollin’…
There are three basic things you need to do, to select the best keywords on which you need to focus your efforts:
1.Keyword selection. The specific words and phrases people are searching for related to the product or services your business sells.
2.Advanced keyword research. Analyzing which of the words and phrases you’ve identified will generate the most profit for you, if you rank highly for them.
3. Skip keywords with huge monthly search traffic. If this sounds a little counter-intuitive, consider this: if thousands upon thousands of people are searching on a keyword each month, the competition you’ll have to battle to rank highly for that term can be fierce.
If, instead, you identify keywords with less competition, but still plenty of active searches, then create pages for several of them, you can still generate loads of traffic without the heavy competition.
To identify the best keywords to focus on for your business, turn to your description of the ideal client or customer you identified. Imagine you are one of these people.
This shouldn’t be too hard. You just imagined you were a ping-pong champion. I saw you!
If you have any problem with this…go back and re-read the blog on identifying your ideal customer and determining your USP. Pretend you’re a big movie star (hey…admit it…you do this now and then already – it’s ok, we all do every once in a while). You’re about to be called to the set and the character you’re playing is your ideal customer.
For a moment, close your eyes and become that person. It’s kind of like method acting. Don’t worry. This isn’t painful and you can switch back at any time.
Ask yourself what problem that person would have that you could solve with what you sell. Picture this person having that problem. See them sitting down at the computer, bringing up a search engine, then typing in…what?
In the end, you want to build a list of at least the five keywords you think are associated most closely with what your business sells. But…don't type them directly into a search engine to see how competitive they are.
Instead, you can gain a lot of actionable information about which keywords are being searched and by how many people with one of these tools:
1. Google Keyword Planner –
This is provided by Google for use with Google’s AdWords PPC programs (their paid advertising platform), but it provides valuable keyword usage information for your SEO, too. It’s also free to use and very useful.
With this free tool, you can see how many people search each month for keywords that match what you’re doing. It will also show you how many companies are competing for each term.
2. Market Samurai – I’ve used this fairly low-cost tool for keyword research for several years now and I find it to be incredibly valuable. You can learn more about it and get a free trial to test it out by visiting: http://bit.ly/ms0813.
The name of the game is to decide on just five keywords – ten at most – that a reasonable number of people are searching for, but with low enough competition that you’ve got a decent chance to rank highly for them.
For my own clients, I tend to work mostly with keywords that get 30-50 “exact” searches per day. This means the searcher typed that word or phrase into the search engine exactly as you’re using it.
For example, you’ll see different results for “furniture moving” vs “moving furniture.” You want to optimize for the exact term, as opposed to a “broad” match, which can include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other possibly (but not always) relevant variations.
It’s not uncommon to eventually add dozens of SEO landing pages to your site to attract prospects, if not more, but I always focus my efforts on exact match keywords.
Beware the unbelievable bargain…
This isn’t all that difficult, but it most certainly can require a bit of time and effort. Putting together the various pages for the keywords and optimizing those pages can also be a considerable amount of work.
The effort’s very worthwhile – but you might not have much choice in the matter. After all – chances are good you already have your hands full running your business.
It’s tempting to hire some outside help with this. If you don’t feel you’re up to the task, I recommend you do. However, watch out for deals that are obviously too good to be true.
Emails guaranteeing they can get you to number one on Google for just $97 a month arrive in my “in” box all the time. Most likely, you get them, too. It might sound like such a good deal you’d be a fool to pass it up. It’s not…and you’re not. Here’s why:
As you know by now – this kind of stuff makes me cringe whenever I hear it!
Business owners often hear legendary tales of SEO success – it seems everyone knows the name of the game is to be found at the top of the listings in Google. As I already pointed out earlier, even being found on the first page of Google for a search isn’t enough – unless you’ve taken some important first steps.
1. If you’re found on page one of Google for keywords no one is searching for, you’ll get zero traffic to your site.
2. If you’re found on page one of Google for important keywords, but you aren’t in the top three spots, the amount of resulting traffic you get will be small.
Over 70% of people searching online for something will click on one of the top three listings. The next 20% of searches are divided among those listed numbers four through ten. This isn’t too great for you if you’re number eight.
You also need to understand that it’s Google who decides who shows up where, based on the search engine’s proprietary formula for ranking websites. As I’m writing this, they were reportedly measuring over 200 different elements when making that decision.
I’m explaining this so you’ll understand – someone who has the skills to manually work on your website’s pages and improve them until they’re at the top of the results can’t possibly do what you need for a price that’s too low.
Much of this takes some time to map out and implement. $97 for a number one ranking – or even to show up on page one – is simply…really – too good to be true.
Perhaps there are companies that can do it, but I don’t see how it’s possible and I haven’t found one yet. I’ll keep you posted…but don’t hold your breath. Usually, people who promote offers like this are overseas workers. This can certainly lower the cost to provide the extensive services required to actually perform on the promise.
I’ve hired lots of overseas help before, too – but, when it comes to sensitive, potentially high-value work, you want someone who is US-based – someone who can explain what they’re doing – especially if something goes wrong.
Don’t fall victim to a scam which, in the end, won’t help you at all – unless you simply have so much extra cash you need help disposing of some. As I walk you through the rest of the steps in this process, you’ll be able to make an intelligent decision about how to proceed and who best to hire to handle it, if you can’t.
For now – get into “method acting mode.” Become your very best premium customer, looking for a solution to that person’s unique problems. Get the right keywords sorted out and you’ll be armed and ready to launch an SEO or a PPC campaign with a reasonable expectation of success.
We’ll go deeper into what you need to put those keywords to work building up some traffic with SEO. First, I feel it’s important that you see how the research you’ve done so far can pay off quickly with PPC.
You now know the true power behind finding your perfect niche. Match this to your USP, armed with a profile of your perfect customer, and you can start lining out keywords for an SEO or PPC campaign designed to deliver new prospective clients and customers to your door.
You also know why SEO isn’t about being “number one,” and you know how to spot an apparent “bargain” that really isn’t one, should you run into it during the process. You should now be ready to dive into PPC some more and the first step is getting the right landing pages ready. I’ll cover that next.
PPC Landing Page Concepts
I’ve already talked about the importance of attracting ideal customers or clients while simultaneously repelling those who aren’t ideal for your business. I’ve also gone over developing an “avatar” of an ideal client and I explained how this exercise will make you much more effective in your marketing.
I’ve taken you through this process to show you the importance of studying your best clients and truly understanding what specifically makes them ideal. This is a vital exercise when it comes to determining the best search terms on which to rank with your SEO.
It’s life-or-death when you start paying for PPC traffic. However – it’s equally important that you pay attention to who your less-than-ideal clients are, so you can develop an approach that helps fend them off as you attract your ideal.
You need to do this because less-than-ideal clients can make your life more miserable than you might ever imagine. They generally haggle over your going rates and will tend to nickel-and-dime you to death on every billing – or they consistently demand more attention than other clients for the money they do pay. Or both.
Consider what these less-than-ideal clients are really looking for, as opposed to those you’d most like to attract. There are subtle differences and, sometimes, you’ll need to climb into both ways of thinking to ferret them out.
For example, if you focus only on low prices or discount offers, you’ll find you tend to attract clients and customers focused on price as the main benefit they’re seeking. These are rarely the easiest customers to work with.
Likewise, discount offers and sales, while they can help boost sales in the short term, will also tend to bring you clientele focused primarily on price, unless you offer those discounts or sales after having already firmly established the real-world value of what you offer.
These won’t be your ideal customers, either. Bargain-seekers don’t usually appreciate the value of what you offer and will make your life less than desirable in the process.
It’s easy to fall into this trap as you plan out your PPC campaign and the landing page you’ll send that traffic to visit. You want to encourage visitors to take action fast and the tendency is to “make them an offer they can’t refuse.” Sadly, you’ll also often wind up attracting clientele you wish you had refused if you don’t take the right approach with the offer you make here.
You might be faced with competition bragging about lower prices and selling the same or similar products or services as you do.
Surprisingly, in this case, if you focus instead on the higher quality of your service after the sale, the higher quality of what you sell, or other benefits of buying from you, you’ll find you can even charge more than your competitors and attract a better grade of the customer when you do.
Keep these considerations in mind as you plan your PPC landing page. You’ll then attract the type of clients you dream of having – people you most enjoy working with, who appreciate you for the added value you bring to the table and reward you with their repeat business and referrals to like-minded new clients and customers. You’ll enjoy what you do more and your life will be much better as a result.
Now you’re in the right mindset, ready to put together the different web pages you’ll need to make your PPC campaigns generate an excellent ROI for your dollar. When you take all that ideal client “stuff” and bake it into the words on these PPC landing pages – when it’s clear to visitors that you’re selective in who you work with – them, ideally, you’ll get more of the kind of customers you prefer and less of those you don’t.
You’ll also kill a lot less of the sales you most want to make.
First things first – when someone clicks on your ad, what page/website are you going to send them to visit?
You might have spent a ton of money on a slick-looking, informative website.
You might, for this reason, feel this would be the perfect place to send you
AdWords traffic and draw in customers.
I agree this sounds reasonable enough – in theory. Unfortunately, it’s actually the wrong approach.
Believe it or not, you’re far more likely to lose clients if you’re routing all your ad traffic to your main website!
Please re-read the above paragraph. Out loud. Then highlight it and read it again in a day or so, so you never ever forget that thought again.
You must send AdWords traffic to a landing page specifically designed to match up with the ad that sent people there. Yes – it needs to be one of those single-page, simple, easy-to-read landing pages that invite the prospect to take action now.
The simplest of these pages include only a paragraph or two of text below an eye-catching headline. Both lead directly from the specific ad that brought the visitor to that page.
There’s also usually an opt in-form or a link to a form or some other call to action on the page – and usually an arrow or other eye-catching graphic pointing to the action element.
It’s direct marketing, pure and simple. It must be. These landing pages get the person who clicked on your ad involved right away, so they contact you before they get distracted by anything else.
If your traffic from your AdWords campaign is being routed to your main website, you run a constant risk of visitors getting distracted by all the different sections on your site.
They’re likely to take no action at all. Even if they wind up really liking your page and bookmark it to read in-depth later, they didn’t pick up the phone. They didn’t fill out a contact form. They aren’t a lead for new business and might never be.
You just lost a potential client. And you paid for the “privilege” of doing so.
If the landing page is written properly and the call to action is compelling and clear enough, however, you’ll get people converting. They’ll call you and come into your business. They’ll take the action you wanted them to take. In other words, you’ll start generating leads.
I’m frequently asked, “Why to create a landing page, if I already have a website?”
The #1 trap Google has placed in the path of their customers/advertisers is how they handle processing the traffic they send them. There’s a concept widely talked about by the people who advertise on Google. It’s known as Google’s “stupidity tax.”
This stems from:
1) the keywords you’re using and
2) how you process the traffic they send you
If you do a poor job at keyword selection – if your keywords are already broad, for example, or if you don’t include negative keywords (keywords you specifically want to exclude) – you’ll pay a fortune in advertising costs for traffic that will rarely, if ever, buy from you. So, you want to first get the right keywords, format them properly and then send them to a landing page.
The reason for the landing page? The person who clicked on your ad was searching for something very specific. You want to keep them, so you need to match precisely what they were searching for on that page.
This allows us to focus the mind of the consumer around the unique client proposition and call to action you want them to take while they’re there.
If you send them to your home page and the visitor has to figure out where they can find the info they were just looking for, they’d rather simply back out and go elsewhere. By using a landing page, we can focus them and keep them right on the topic they were interested in, enabling them to make the decision to inquire/take action.
Once you have your keywords – including negative keywords – selected and formatted properly, and your landing page is set up, you’re going to see an increasing and steady amount of AdWords traffic visiting the page.
It’s pretty amazing, actually. Kind of like a spigot – you can open it up and get as much traffic as you want/need or are willing to pay for whenever you want, simply by turning your campaign “on” or “off.” Ideally, it can pay for itself, so you can simply continue to reinvest and keep it rolling.
A good example is an attorney-client I’m working with. I showed him how, over the last three months, he’d spent about $2,500 in ads. What he got in return was a combination of lead forms and phone calls through a tracking phone number we set up. He got a total of 30 leads.
His response to that was, “If I sell two of those 30, I’m profitable.”
Get this – the typical number, in his case, is to sell one in three. If his “typical” numbers hold – and the proper keyword targeting and landing page setup will help make that happen – he’d sell 10 of those 30 leads! This AdWords campaign can be massively profitable for him.
His only response was, “How can we expand and do more?”
The answer is equally straightforward: he now only needs to increase his budget to get more business. The light was on. He was responding to the fact that, if an investment of $2,500 will get 30 chances to close new clients, we just need to spend more and get more.
This should be your response, too.
As the traffic comes in, you’ll also see all kinds of opportunities to optimize the campaign. Many, many advertisers on Google set it up and forget about it.
They either don’t have the skills or they’re lazy and don’t take the time to monitor the campaign, to look for ways to improve it. These are generally the same people who will, in the end, tell you that AdWords doesn’t work after they’ve given it a try.
Instead, we monitor the campaigns on a weekly basis. We split test, to improve the ads themselves, also improving the click-thru rates on the ads, and we improve the landing page, based on the traffic coming in. All along the way, we also apply the 80/20 Rule to our analysis, to show us what gets tossed and what should receive more attention.
One of my clients was advertising on his own. Every time someone clicked on his ad, it was costing him about $40. It was clearly hurting him because he couldn’t get enough opportunities out of that to get his money off the table. We took over and started monitoring and optimizing the campaign by increasing his click-thru rate.
His cost per click fell thru the floor, dropping his costs drastically. What he was spending $40 on before was now costing him $12 – and providing him with three and a half to four times as many opportunities to close a sale for the same money.
The combination of the right keywords, sent to a professionally-developed landing page, generates traffic from AdWords. By optimizing those campaigns on a regular basis and refining the landing page and call to action itself, we begin to see steady growth in the lead flow.
WordPress development/content development/clear call to action…
This was what came to be referred to – after Web 2.0 was established – as Web 1.0. Before that…it was just “The web.”
Web 2.0 was established as websites evolved into tools to be used for conducting conversations with people. This is when sites were designed to attract people to our own spot on the web, to have a dialog with them, to talk with them, to answer their questions, and so forth. This brought on the “social media” phase we have today.
Although we don’t really need to go into the social media scene here, the mindset that the web is a living thing that we can use as a tool for communication is very prevalent in what I’m about to explain: it’s my philosophy behind using the web.
The idea is to build a customized, attractive website but, more important, it’s going to be designed specifically to do what you it want it to do – to generate leads.
For a whole lot of reasons, we no longer build websites with HTML – the “coding” language of the Internet. There are some people who still do, but it’s the most complicated way to go these days.
It’s now far better to build websites on a dynamic platform, rather than a static, straight-up “HTML” format that comes close to producing those web “billboards” of old.
WordPress is one of the most popular and powerful dynamic website platforms today. It’s often referred to as a content management system. The beauty of using a dynamic platform such as WordPress is that all the information that lives on your website – the pictures, the words, everything about your site – actually lives inside a database.
There’s also an exterior to a WordPress Website, referred to as a “theme” or “skin,” that controls how the site looks.
The beauty of this arrangement is that we can update the theme from time to time, completely changing the site’s look very quickly. We can also easily change the content on the site, without having to rebuild it when we do. Everything’s in the database. The site is only actually generated whenever someone visits the web address.
Each visitor sees the latest version of the site that’s generated for them from the database when they arrive, including any of the changes you’ve made when they do. You only update what you want to.
The biggest advantage to a WordPress site, then, is flexibility. It’s also an extremely inexpensive platform that provides a fast turnaround to implementation. Sites can be built quickly, then easily optimized for better search engine visibility and you don’t have to learn a bunch of complicated code to do it. We’re going to take advantage of all of that with the process I’m laying out for you here.
With the keywords we’ve developed, we then engage in this process of WordPress development/content development/on-page optimization/call to action. Those are all the components, or ingredients, of a lead generation website.
With the right foundational preparation – creating a solid USP, keywords, and branding – you can then use a formula to develop a very straightforward website that speaks to the ideal client or customer, communicates your USP, and asks them to take action on that USP, to choose you or to take the first step, whatever you determine that should be.
With WordPress, getting the framework up and running usually takes just a few days. After a bit of customization of the look of the site and fine-tuning some stuff along the way, you move to the next step: developing the content.
An ideal landing page for PPC should include, then, only information directly related to the search term or terms you’re using to attract clicks that send people to that particular page. This information doesn’t necessarily have to be revealed on the landing page itself.
Your landing page can be a link to the specific information being sought – and the “answer” could be filling out a brief subscription form to join your email list, after which you’ll send the information they wanted to see.
Overall, PPC marketing is two-step direct marketing, in its purest form, directed at a precisely targeted audience seeking an answer to a specific question.
You might, for example, offer one solution directly related to the search term or terms…and an invitation to the visitor to sign up for your list for similar, even better tips. You could also then include a teaser or two as to what additional answers the visitor can expect after opting in.
Then, in the emails you send to list members, fulfilling the promise you made when they signed up, keep mentioning that you can save them a tremendous amount of time and – surprisingly – money when they choose to have you do it all for them instead.
If you provide services performed for clients, you can also do well with a landing page that shows people step-by-step how to do what you do for them on their own.
Point out how much less time-consuming this same process can be when the visitor enlists some affordable help…then invite the visitor to join your list to find out how they can make this process happen with the best results possible – by hiring you.
The key to a great PPC landing page is keeping it short and simple, directly on-point with answers to the specific question or questions a visitor had in mind when he or she typed in the search term that brought them to your ad.
By “simple,” I mean you should maintain a steady focus on a “less is good” approach.
One powerful way to tie your PPC ads directly to a landing page, for example, would be to create an ad that asks a question or that starts a statement directly related to the targeted search term – and the answer or the rest of the statement is on the landing page people see when they click – perhaps in the headline they see the moment the page opens.
The ad itself might say, “An easy garment waterproofing solution,” for example. The landing page, then, could lead right into one powerfully quick way the visitor can waterproof their own garments, along with an invitation to get even more tips by signing up to join your list.
I often use professional writers who work with all the keywords I’m trying to optimize the site around, along with the framework of what the story needs to say. The writer then creates the articles or content for placement on the site.
You want your writers, whoever you use, to create the highest quality content because Google has made it very clear they want to present the highest quality results to people who are searching.
To the degree that you can, if your desire is to be the number one Website in the world for a keyword, you should come as close as you can to present the world with the best page with the best information related to that keyword that you can.
You might be thinking, “How do I do that?” It’s not as hard as it might sound. You simply look at who’s ahead of you in the rankings for that keyword now, see what type of content they’re putting out, and present better information than they are, relating to that keyword.
This is well worth whatever extra effort might be required. It can be the “make or break” element for any PPC campaign.
Google developed a formula as an update to their existing algorithm, so it’s “just an update” – but it was a huge shift in how Google ranked pages before. They called this update “Panda.” In literal terms, it’s a filter and its job is to filter out poor quality content.
For this reason, when Google sends their virtual “spiders” to crawl your content on your site, we want them to say, “That content is extremely relevant to the keyword and is worthy of being indexed and presented.”
By itself, this isn’t enough – but it does form the basis of where you want to start. It’s why you want to do what’s necessary to create great content for these pages.
A magazine publisher I know once told me, sighing deeply, with the kind of look in his eyes usually reserved for losing a loved one, “I wish I had all the checks possible subscribers have stuck on their fridges with magnets, but never got around to putting in an envelope and mailing to me.”
When the work identifying the precise keywords to attract your ideal clients is done, and you’ve designed your campaign to drive those people you most desire to reach to your landing page, you want nothing to get in the way of the action you want people to take after clicking on that ad. You don’t want them to wind up stuck up on the fridge.
As for the design of your page itself, a solidly-converting landing page is specifically designed using a proven template to get your prospects to do one thing. What that one thing is might vary.
You might want visitors to pick up the phone and call you, you may want them to set an appointment on an online calendar so you can call them, or you might want them to fill out a form to receive a free newsletter or to sign up for special “members-only style” discounts, a special report, or a free ebooks.
It’s up to you and your audience what works best here. Split-testing different enticements will show you which items your ideal clients respond to best. The ever-powerful 80/20 Rule will help you determine the winners and losers.
Plan to set up more than one landing page and more than one ad going to each of those pages. Google lets you set up multiple ads and automatically rotate them, so split-testing becomes automatic, once you have this set up the way you want and turn it on.
The key, again, is designing your ads so they attract the right kind of targeted lead to a specific page that’s only designed to capture the lead you’d most like to see come in.
Because you have only a limited number of words in an AdWords ad and you want to also “close the deal” on your landing page with the fewest words possible, you’ll find that the use of multiple landing pages, to rotate in and out with multiple ads, will help you quickly “dial in” and find the right combination for maximum click-through rate (CTR).
This takes some effort and then some trial-and-error after you start getting traffic…but it’s required effort that will help you generate results you can quickly see.
We’ve now covered the elements of a solid PPC landing page and I’ve shown you how to avoid the dreaded Google “stupid tax,” keeping the cost of clicks you buy at their lowest.
I’ve also pointed out why one PPC landing page is not like the others, so you need multiple pages for maximum results – and how to send the right prospects to the best page for them.
I also showed you how you could be sending people away with what you say – and how to know when enough is enough. Next: I’ll walk you through turning your main website into the best possible SEO magnet it can be.
Designing Your Website to Generate and Convert Leads
Showing, not selling
We’ve already discussed why you don’t want to send AdWords clicks to your company website. Any page to which you send AdWords PPC clicks should be specifically designed to match the ad that sent the click and, in the process, to capture a lead – clean and simple.
It’s always a good idea to enlist the aid of a competent online business lead and conversion specialist with this process, if at all possible.
Don’t panic. Your main business website is still valuable. After all – it’s your online “company store.” Even better, this is also where you can put SEO into action, for longer-term results. This way, you can make certain your company website generates and converts leads, in addition to your PPC landing pages. More of a good thing is always better, right?
Although you don’t send AdWords clicks directly to this main site, people will visit it as a result of your SEO and other marketing efforts. After people click on your PPC ad, then visit your opt-in page.
For example, they could also visit your main site – whether they’ve opted in or not – to find out more about you. This can present you with another excellent opportunity to turn those visitors into additional leads for your business.
Pretty has its place…
To get this right, you don’t really want to involve your web designer. I’m sure you were taught growing up to always include everyone. However, website designers – regardless of what they might tell you – are primarily focused on making your site pretty.
While pretty might get a lady more dates, it won’t get you more leads. This is why an online lead generation and conversion specialist can best help you take these vital next steps and turn your company site into the best lead generation and conversion machine it can be.
I’m not saying you can’t do this yourself. You do, however, need to understand what you’re doing and what’s required, to meet or exceed your goals. Most of my clients would rather leave this part of the equation up to a specialist. The choice, of course, is yours.
You want to start by making certain your main website navigation is structured properly. This is the first step in turning your main site into something more than simply another static billboard on the wide open information superhighway.
And then there’s conversion…
Following the steps I’ve outlined so far, you should now be ready to put SEO to work, to do its thing and bring you even more leads. This will help turn your main business page into an attractive beacon to the search engines, so they know what traffic you’re looking for and start sending it your way.
You also now understand that traffic is traffic…nothing more, nothing less. That’s why you want to do all you can to convert those new visitors to your site into leads. Until they become a lead, they’re just more traffic and bragging rights never buy the groceries.
Once again, the thinking you’ve done to map out exactly who your ideal customer is will provide tremendous help here. You’ll want to crawl into the mind of that perfect new client again and think like he or she does, to determine the perfect enticement you could offer your new visitors that will lure them into opting in, to join your list and hear more from you.
Picture your target – the perfect new customer you most want to attract – sitting in a straight-backed chair facing you, glaring at you with a scowl, arms crossed. For a moment, you can hear in your head what he or she is thinking:
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know about your company. I don’t know your company’s products. I don’t know what your company stands for. I don’t know your company’s customers. I don’t know your company’s record. I don’t know your company’s reputation. Now – what was it you wanted to sell me?”
Remember – new visitors to your site clicked one link among a list of many on a search engine. They got to your page but, to them, you’re still anonymous…an unknown entity. Going for a sale at this moment is like asking someone on a date without first even knowing their name.
They could say, “Yes…” but the odds are high that’s not the answer you’ll hear.
Think about the problem or question your new site visitors most likely have. Decide what it is you could provide to your new visitors that will most likely solve that problem or answer those questions immediately – then provide immediate access to that, in return for the visitor’s name and email address.
This could be an ebook, special access to limited-edition items as soon as they arrive, unadvertised discounts and specials…a free phone consultation to answer their questions.
Make sure you add an opt-in form or link to it on your main page offering this in a way that’s difficult for visitors to miss. Usually, this is best located “above the fold” – a term we use for the part of your web page that first appears when it opens, without needing to scroll down to find it.
Your site will naturally provide details about you and your company possibly an overview of the products and/or services that you sell (with links to deeper pages with more detailed descriptions of each). It most likely already does.
You’ll also want to add some more useful information that you know your ideal clients and customers will appreciate having access to. Update them on new happenings in your industry. Provide them with your latest tips and ideas for putting the products or services that you sell to users.
Present them with case histories of successful clients. Pull back the curtains and show visitors your operation from the inside out, introducing them to the other people in your company, “behind the screen,” so to speak. Give visitors the benefit of your expertise right there on your site and update all of it regularly.
Make every one of these pieces useful, helpful information. Always stress in each piece that, by opting into your list, the reader will also get “this and this and this” or “this”…and point them to your opt-in offer.
When you do this, you show your new site visitors that you’re someone they should get to know better with the content you provide on your page and you provide visitors with plenty of reasons to opt in. Now your main website will help you attract more traffic and convert more of those visitors into qualified leads, to generate more business.
Now you understand why pretty’s nice for getting dates, but essentially useless when it comes to SEO on your website. You also know how your website’s pages should be organized, for maximizing SEO – and the right “bait” to set in the conversion “trap” you should place on those pages.
I’ve also discussed the power of showing – not selling – to keep visitors on your site longer and make more conversions happen. This means you’re now ready to get your SEO set up and rolling in new leads that convert into increased revenue – which we’ll dive into next blog.
Optimizing the Right Content
The truth is that effective SEO is pretty easy. A few things done in the right order with consistency can make a huge difference. Truly listening to what you’re telling your best customers and clients, again and again, can provide countless clues to the best SEO approach for you.
My clients can testify to this.
However, most business owners (probably including you) are experts at their craft and much too busy doing what they do best to learn how to do their own search engine optimization, too.
This is most likely not something you normally do or have ever done before. Even if you’ve actually optimized your pages for SEO before – more than once – it’s likely you still need to “listen to the tapes” several times, going back over everything again and again, to make sure you’re getting it right.
Keep this in mind as I run you through this. If it sounds like too much to take on yourself, I understand. If you don’t feel compelled to put in the time to learn how this part of lead generation works, there’s no shame in admitting you need help with something along the road to success.
Self-made successes are far rarer than you might think. Still, it’s important that you understand the process – even if you decide to hire outside help to handle your SEO work. This will help you see the scams and schemes when they appear at your door and know when to keep looking for someone who really knows what they’re doing.
Optimizing for maximum results…
If, after checking, you find that some of your money pages aren’t getting indexed by the search engines, this is a sign. It’s telling you that you still need to optimize your pages. It’s an indication there’s some confusion, in the eyes of the search engines, as to what the page is about.
This is when you’re going to want to understand and apply the principles of on-page SEO to the pages and posts on your site.
Most of what you’ll read about this topic is wrong. Contrary to popular opinion, search engines like Google have gotten very good at understanding what your page is about. Still, there’s no downside to giving them a little help. The right level of optimization will help ensure your pages are indexed and that the listings you earn as a result say what you hoped they would.
You have to exercise some care here because there’s also a way you can overdo optimization. This can wind up getting you penalized. In almost every case, you’ll want to focus each post or page around only one primary keyword. It’s also fairly common to optimize for a secondary keyword – on some pages, but not necessarily on all of them.
One common mistake is forgetting that you still want to engage people with your site content. The best way to do that is to start out with a powerful headline. Headlines ensure that people will read your pages and it’s often a reason that content gets shared with others. Sharing helps your SEO rankings, too.
We know, for example, that Google’s number one most important element on any page is what’s called the “Meta Title Tag,” or just the title tag, for short. They look at the title tag and compare it to other elements within the page.
It tells their computerized arachnids crawling your site what the page is about, without actually having a human look at it. This helps them index the page properly and put it in the right place in their search results.
If you think about it, a typical Google search starts when somebody types in a word or phrase. In a few microseconds, Google’s ability to figure out the 1,000 best pages that are the most accurate results for that search, then sort them and present them to you on your screen, in order of their relevance, from number 1 to 1,000.
The reality of it is that the number of people who go beyond the first 10 results Google shows to them is few. Almost all the interest goes to the people located in the top three positions. There’s a lot of complexity that goes along with that, but we aren’t going to deal with that here. Google’s ranking formulas are, after all, changing constantly.
It doesn’t make sense to immortalize what’s going on right now in a blog as it will likely be outdated by the time this sees publication. Still, the general principles of what Google is looking for haven’t changed much and it’s doubtful they will. They’re just getting better and better at honing down to exactly that and nothing more.
The point is this: we’re going to give them great content. We’re going to optimize it properly with the correct title tags – a very compelling title tag – and we’re going to have professionally written Meta descriptions.
When you hear the words “Meta description,” I want you to think in word pictures of a Google search. See the different listings on the search results page for the word representing whatever you were looking for. There’s a bold blue link at the top that you click on to get to the page.
That’s your title tag. The words underneath that link are the Meta description you provided. This isn’t a big part of what Google is using to rank the website, but it does have a valuable role: it’s the “ad” you’re actually presenting to the public when they find your listing with their search.
You’re trying to sell the public, to get them to click on your link, instead of the one above or below it. This “ad” should be designed to help do that.
If possible, include your primary target keyword for the page in your headline. When it comes to on-page SEO, the most important place for you to include your primary keyword is in the HTML “title” tag. To view this tag, you need to look in the page’s HTML source code. The tag looks something like this: <title>your keyword phrase</title>.
It’s also still very common to include your primary keyword in:
• The Meta description tag. You can include a sentence of description about your site that you’d like the search engines to use in your listing. Including your primary target keyword in this description adds some serious punch to your on-page SEO.
•The Header tags (H1, H2, H3). Although you really only actually need one of these, adding your primary target keyword here will add more SEO “zing.”
•The body copy. Use this sparingly. Do not focus on “keyword density” in your content. Writing your site content to intentionally include your keyword as many times as possible will get you penalized.
This is still being taught by some outdated or outright unscrupulous supposed marketing “experts,” but it’s also one of those things that now constitutes over-optimization. If you can logically work your keyword into the body copy…fine. Stop there. But, don’t sweat it, as long as the copy itself is relevant to the keyword you’re ranking for.
•In link text – internal, pointing to other pages on your site and external, to pages that are off of your site.
•In your images – you can use the keyword in both the image name or in the “alt text” areas. Ensure that the target keyword for your page is used as illustrated in the graph, above, for each of your initial group of keywords.
As you can probably see…there are a few considerations you need to balance, to get your website optimized correctly.
Financial freedom isn’t free…
Most entrepreneurs I talk to come to me in love with the idea of SEO. They’ve heard it’s “free.” I guess this has become a widespread notion because, unlike advertising on TV, radio, or in the paper, you usually don’t have to write checks directly for the links themselves.
If you have the requisite skills to do SEO yourself and you don’t count the cost of your time in doing so, then you might be able to make a case that SEO’s free.
Whenever you hear this, however, you’re either dealing with someone who doesn’t understand that every form of marketing has a cost (your time is never free), or they’re simply being dishonest. SEO will cost you – in either time or in money.
Still, most business owners don’t have the skills they need to effectively do SEO, even if they have the time. They need to hire someone to do it for them.
SEO, then, isn’t free, no matter how you look at it. But – if it’s done right if you work with your business’ most important keywords and your site gets ranked near the top of search results – the impact can be dramatic, producing an ROI far in excess of whatever you might see from most other advertising or marketing you could do.
You’ve seen that SEO boils down to just a few things. It’s true. That’s why I’ve split the subject into two separate blogs – one each for the two things you need to focus on. The next step is creating the content I also went over with you, to build your ranking the right way.
Search engines rank content, not websites…
When you think about it, people looking online are usually looking for information that provides them with the answers they needed. Especially when they use the search engines.
When you focus your attention on providing valuable, targeted, informative online content that’s properly optimized, you won’t have to spend time or money chasing new customers.
They’ll come to you. Give those people visiting your website a reason to reach out to you for more information and a percentage of them will do exactly that.
This is the power of direct marketing via the Internet.
This focus on valuable information will also generate sincere backlinks – links to your information – from other websites. Other websites like to provide their visitors with valuable information and one of the easiest ways to do this is by pointing to that information from their site.
This information, when you get this part of SEO right, will be yours. So will the new traffic and better rankings that come along with it.
When these two elements are combined properly, you’ll never run short of new clients and customers. Game. Set. Match.
This can be more complicated than you might imagine, however. And the rules are constantly in flux.
Clients of mine know that I talk to them about the content they generate and share pretty much all the time. It’s that important. People do business with other people. But the key, as I opened this blog points out, is that they do business with people they know, like, and trust.
If you regularly create and share high-quality, targeted content, people will become familiar with your name. I do this all the time. It’s not uncommon for me to meet someone who will remark, “I see you everywhere!”
This isn’t some happy accident – and, no, it doesn’t mean I’m stalking them!
By getting my content out there, I get known. From there, we focus on the liking and trusting part of the equation. Both of these happen faster when ideal client prospects read what I’ve posted and learned something valuable from it.
Just as it is with almost all aspects of life, if you share or give without thought to what you get in return, you usually receive in abundance. Those who are known as givers are often liked by many, too.
The trust part grows organically. When you share information and ideas with people and do it consistently, people begin to realize that you’re for real – someone they should talk with more about providing the solutions they need.
Understanding this, go back to your initial list of keywords and begin creating content that talks about the problems people have that your products/service solve.
The concept is simple, really: seek to create the “best” piece of content on your topic anywhere on the Internet. Search engines and other sites will then want people to be able to find it.
Excellent written content is usually lengthy, as much as 1000 words or more. An ideal standard, when creating content that drives your SEO – can’t usually be done in 300-500 words.
If writing content isn’t your thing, consider other types of content, including videos, podcasting, or conducting live webinars or teleseminars. Another option would be to hire a qualified writer to help you generate excellent content for your prospects to enjoy. You can find decent writers locally by advertising on Craig’s List.
Just remember – don’t create content that’s intentionally “loaded up” with your keyword repeated all over the place. You want to include your keywords when they apply directly to your content and would naturally fit in the conversation where you place them.
At this point in our journey, I’ve explained to you why it pays to listen to your market. I’ve shown you the power of compelling content and provided the steps you should follow to properly tag your pages for results from your SEO efforts…including how to avoid over-doing it.
You also now understand the power of being seen wherever you can as often as possible. You’re ready, then, to move on to the second half of the SEO equation – which is exactly what we’ll do, in the next blog.
Professional Back-Link Campaigns
Once you have quality internal content optimized on your site, you’re ready to share your content with the world. If you’ve created the best article ever on your topic, lots of people will naturally want to link to it and share it with others.
This will create quality back-links to your site, done the right way… something the search engines reward with higher rankings. Still, you should always be on the lookout for other legitimate ways to add links to your site that will boost its authority in the eyes of the search engines.
This isn’t a link-building course. Far from it. In the Google terms of service, we’re not allowed to build links to our own sites. That said, there are legitimate ways of having at least some control when it comes to getting links coming into your site.
Ten of the most popular back-link-building methods include:
•Submitting guest blog posts to other blogs
•Creating a high-value “lens” on HubPages
•Submitting your blog to directories on http://bestoftheweb.org
•Finding website directories in your niche and submitting your link for inclusion
•Interviewing (and being interviewed by) other bloggers
•Getting clients and friends to link to your site
•Making sure your social profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) include a link to your site
•Adding your blog to different communities on http://blogcarnival.com
•Answering questions for people on sites such as http://Quora.com
•Starting or participating in forum conversations and linking to your own site in the signature line with your comments
The most powerful ways to naturally attract links to your site include:
•Creating “Link Bait” – high-value content that people will naturally want to share
•Hiring a programmer to create a simple piece of software you can give away to visitors (again, people love sharing links to valuable freebies)
•Developing a “badge” for visitors to add to their sites
Here’s the thing: the number and quality of the sites that link to your site is a solid indication of your authority and value to your community. But, if you try to build a ton of links to your own sites too quickly, Google will catch you.
When they do, they won’t count the links you’ve built and may, in fact, punish you for doing it.
Worst-case: screw this up and it’ll be “No Google for you!”
Watch out for the penguins…
Because people are constantly trying to figure out how to “game” Google, to get top rankings without actually earning them, Google constantly adjusts the algorithms their computers use to generate those rankings.
On April 24, 2012, Google updated their search algorithm to focus on “webspam” issues. I mentioned this earlier. It’s known as Google’s “Penguin” update. One of the issues addressed in the Penguin update was back-links and the keyword/anchor text used to display your link.
Some years before this update, marketers had discovered that Google relied heavily on back-links, to determine if a site was important enough to rank highly in their listings.
Once that was known, the name of the game quickly became “get as many back-links as possible, to improve our chances of being found at the top of search results for our keywords.”
Hey – if some are good, more is most certainly better, right?
The result? A lot of junk content was created and distributed on a lot of websites, for no other reason than to create more links back to sites they wanted to promote – for themselves or for their clients. This is what we now refer to as “web SPAM.”
Google put a stop to this with their Penguin update. The short, non-technical version of the message this update sent to the marketing world was that all content created only for the purpose of increasing the number of links back to sites they were promoting would no longer be acceptable.
And Google is now very good at finding them. Fortunately, today, we know that it’s not the number of links that play a major role in where Google ranks your site, but the quality of those links.
No longer is more the same as better. Concentrate, then, on creating specific types of high-quality content on your site, something that’s useful to people. Share it everywhere and some people will naturally choose to link to it. These are the kinds of back-links you want.
One example of this kind of information, for me, is the calculators I have on my site. My lifetime value and return on investment in your marketing calculators are tools a lot of people like. They link to them, to share them with others. This gets me quality back-links that help my site’s ranking in the search engines.
In some cases, a quality info-graphic can also generate a lot of links. They’ve become an extremely popular way to deliver quality content that’s easy for people to grasp quickly.
Videos, ebooks, and other useful content can all result in quality back-links, but be careful you don’t rely on them too heavily. A lot of web spammers still use them, too. Google could decide, at some point, to discount all of them, to maintain the overall quality of their listings. It’s not imminent, or even necessarily likely, but the possibility’s still there.
I watched a webinar that confirmed the game as we know it has been forever changed. The very smart team at Page One Power revealed the results of three companies’ efforts to build links, in their attempt to rank highly for the keyword “HR Software.”
So – what type of link-building should your teams be doing? Start with research. You want to find the high-value sites that are relevant to your ideal target customer’s interests and see if they’ll link to your site.
Looking closely at the link profile of your competitors might yield some clues to which high-value sites you want to get links from. Again, if your site offers a lot of high-quality useful content, people will be more inclined to link to you naturally.
It’s kind of funny, really. When Google first hit the world with their Penguin update, you could almost hear the roars of frustration from the creators of all that web SPAM, now rendered pretty much useless. The funny thing is how incensed they are that Google caught on to their game and shut them down cold.
They should have been angry with themselves. Instead, many expressed their open displeasure with Google’s decision about how it should run its own service.
Remember – Google and other search engines are a modern form of media. Like any magazine, newspaper, or broadcast, the search listings they deliver are the content they provide to the market.
They want to deliver a high-quality experience to their users. Help them, and they’ll reward you with leads and business. Work against them, and they’ll destroy your business website’s visibility without warning.
Social SEO aka some special secret sauce for you…
Here’s one many person fail to see. It’s honestly the “secret sauce” to SEO success with your content, so pay close attention.
The search engines are also now able to see how often people engage with your excellent content. The number of “likes,” “shares,” re-tweets, blog comments, etc. that each of your content posts receives translates into social signals that are now factored into where your page appears in search results and where it’s listed when it does.
For this reason, a part of the online lead generation process today involves developing and cultivating a following on one or more of the social media networks and sharing your content with them there.
When I share my articles with readers, I also make it a point to reply to those who take the time to comment, letting them know I want to build a connection with them.
Even if they just “like” a post, I’ll send them a note and thank them for the “vote.” Often, we end up following one another after that and they further engage with my information going forward.
The point: if search engines are measuring who likes your work enough to share it, comment on it, or to engage with you over it in some other way, then you have an excellent opportunity to gain visibility in the listings as you begin building relationships with the visitors.
In today’s socially-connected online world, those relationships turn into leads and new business.
Do they really know their SEO?
Here are three ways to figure out which of the “SEO experts” you’re now working with or talking to don’t know what they’re doing:
1) If they’re talking about the need to build thousands of back-links to your site because the guy who’s listed number one has them. This just shows a limited understanding of what their real job is.
It also makes it clear you need someone else to handle this task for you. If you can get just 10-15 high-quality sites to link to you this month – it’s plenty. Just keep that up and you’ll keep building your visibility as you go. Remember…steady, consistent action gets the right kind of search engine attention.
2) If, when discussing link building, they use article marketing, “content spinning,” or other similar “Google tricks.” This is the epitome of the junk that Google’s trying to remove from their index.
If you or your team contributes to the junk pile, don’t be too surprised if Google decides to punish you for it. This punishment can mean you might find your site listed on page 100 – where no one ever looks – if it’s not banned from the listings altogether. It happens!
3) If they’re still using bulk directory registrations or social media profiles as a way of getting links for your site. This demonstrates they still don’t understand that it’s quality Google is looking for – not quantity. Directory listings and social media profiles are excellent…but go easy and remain natural with it.
So – how do you choose the best SEO service?
When it comes to knowing who is the “best,” that’s subjective. The best is probably someone you like most and whose credentials check out. The one who is most accessible and available to help you when you need it most. The one who doesn’t see the need to speak in riddles and then tell you its too complicated for you to understand.
Oddly enough, you’ll select the best provider of this service the same way your new leads will decide they want to do business with you – by finding someone you know, like, and trust. Coincidence? I think not!
By now, you’ve seen the power of properly earned back-links and you understand more fully what it is Google really wants – key factors in winning the SEO game.
You also know how to make social SEO sizzle and how to find the best professional SEO help possible, avoiding the worst. Now all you need to do is start tracking your results, to apply the 80/20 Rule and fine-tune everything. We’ll cover that next.
Checking Your Results
A combination of direct marketing with Internet lead generation makes tracking your results a fairly straightforward matter. Google analytics – a free tool Google provides – will show you all the traffic coming to each of your pages and where it came from. Your PPC campaign will show you the CTR for your paid campaigns.
This tracking makes it possible to know your conversion percentage, adjust your campaigns accordingly, and continually improve your results as you grow. Your main concern, then, is starting with the right goal.
Mapping out where you want to be, once you’ve made the necessary adjustments. This is how you know where you’re currently located along the path to your goal.
Even better, with the power of direct marketing for an online lead generation, your future success moving forward is totally quantifiable. You can hold every piece of the system accountable as you proceed.
Because you can measure the results, you also have the opportunity to improve them, little by little, until you get more of what you want or need, just as a pilot adjusts the flight path of a plane.
More leads. Increased sales. Higher profits.
Apply the 80/20 Rule to each step in the process, and to the results of the process as a whole, and the potential for growth in your business will quickly become unstoppable… controlled only by your willingness to do more. Now that we’re here – my challenge to you today is this:
Look at your calendar for the last week and figure out how much of your prime working hours were spent in selling situations with qualified prospects who can buy the products or services you offer.
If you’re not at the 80% mark yet, don’t worry – at least you’ll know where you are now. That means you can improve and you know how much improvement is needed before you’re there.
You’re already in a far better situation than most business owners. For example, I recently chatted with a business leader who’s current marketing services provider is just beaming because he’s now getting more than a dozen keywords ranked on page one of Google. The problem is, the combined number of searches per month for all of those keywords is (wait for the drum roll).
Meanwhile, my clients often average two-three new leads per day.
This can only happen when your business is ranked properly for the keywords your ideal client is using, to find solutions to the problems they have that you can solve. More important, this “visibility” creates traffic to your website and those visitors convert into leads at a measurable rate.
To track your progress with everything I’ve shown you so far, the 80-20 Rule is the key. Focus in on your keywords and the traffic you’re attracting. Track your resulting leads (conversions) and sales (the whole reason we’re doing all this).
Look for the 20% of your keywords producing 80% of your results. They will be there. Drop the under-performers and test new ones.
The same goes for your PPC ads. And your customers.
So – I’ve gone through the entire process I follow for maximum lead generation online. I’ve shown you all the steps involved and how to carry them out.
This blog, I also showed you how to tap Google’s amazing tracking capabilities and combine them with direct sales techniques on your site, to get more leads faster than you most likely thought was possible before.
I’ve also shown you how to apply the 80/20 Rule to all of this, to stay on track and continually maximize your results.
Next, we’ll look at where you need to focus the bulk of your attention, to keep the leads coming into the foreseeable future. We’ll also take a glance at what we can expect in the world of online lead generation as we move into the future.
Maintain your focus on web traffic and conversions!
There is no trackable benefit to having traffic without converting as much of it to a buyer or subscriber, as quickly as possible. Get your conversions from traffic cooking and you’ll see more traffic from better rankings just because you did. It can become exponential – not to mention addictive!
This is your number one ongoing concern for the foreseeable future.
You don’t really need a crystal ball or extrasensory capabilities to see the future of online lead generation for business, to be honest. As I see it, things will likely escalate down the path they’re currently cascading along.
A reliance on web traffic to cost-effectively generate new business leads will definitely continue. I’m not talking about freeway-level web traffic here, mind you, but real web traffic…people who actually visit your website.
The old “tricks” will continue to fail and new ones will pop up from time to time, only to be squashed and rendered useless, too. If you follow all the rules and are ranking organically – and appear at the top of the search results for an important keyword that people are searching, you can get a lot of ongoing traffic.
Still, if that traffic doesn’t convert in some way, what do you really have?
One thing you might have is a significant bounce rate. I’ve defined this already, but here’s how our friend, Wikipedia, describes it:
“Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and ‘bounce’ (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
Bounce rate is a measure of the effectiveness of a website in encouraging visitors to continue with their visit.”
A high bounce rate is not good. Google (and perhaps other search engines, too) now considers your bounce rate as a signal when deciding where to rank your site.
It makes sense that if your web traffic leaves your site right away, you’re most likely not giving your visitors what they expected to find. If that happens to a great degree, you won’t be ranked at the top for long.
I see this trend continuing, along with other factors that will increasingly play a roll in the overall ranking system and SEO practices.
Quality, Relevant Content Is Key
Considering the growing importance such factors as your bounce rate already has in your success, it’s no wonder perhaps the biggest change in SEO to come along in a long while has been an increased focus by the search engines on quality content directly related to the search listing that brings visitors to the page. This makes quality content now a must.
In the future, you can expect more changes in this area, all designed to make certain that the content being delivered is of the highest possible quality. Also, don’t rule out the addition of human rankings, at some point.
Rather than a computer algorithm determining the position of your listing in the search results, these rankings will come from the human readers of your content themselves, through mechanisms similar to Facebook’s “like” button and Google’s “+”.
I feel so certain of this I don’t even consider it a prediction.
Because of this continued escalating reliance on the quality of the content being delivered for search results, you’re already poised to stay on top of the game if you focus on its importance right now. Make quality content your priority. You won’t be sorry you put in the extra effort or dollars to develop your content to the highest level possible.
One of the content marketing experts at the Content Marketing Institute, Katie McCaskey, recently filed a post stating that content marketing was about to burst the “SEO web writing” bubble that’s been growing for some time.
I completely agree with Katie’s assessment. This is why, since the early part of the new century, I’ve been positioned and working as a content marketing expert.
Content marketing experts – especially the ones with integrity – will tell you that, if your website content has the basic on-page factors met, and the content is good enough to share with others, the SEO will pretty much take care of itself.
Therefore, focus on the content.
As Katie said in her post, “The search engines are wising up, and so are the people embracing content marketing.” Keep this simple truth in mind as you employ a strategy that will increase your visibility in search results.
My suggestion? Have content marketing experts on your team, develop a content marketing strategy and watch your site grow and prosper.
Will SEO still be important?
Considering all these changes, should you still be focusing on and investing in SEO? Absolutely! It’s just becoming ever-more apparent that tricks won’t cut it. Increasingly, they can get you de-listed or demoted to Google’s “back pages,” where no one who isn’t your own mother will find you.
There were lots of moans and complaints when Google started enforcing their rules against web spam and link manipulation. Unfortunately for the whiners, this game will continue to change because – let’s face it – it’s Google’s game. They can change it any way they wish.
You probably see your listing on Google as free advertising for your business. Google sees it differently. To Google, your listing is the content they deliver that attracts people to their search engine.
Their search engine is, essentially, their publication. They make their money selling advertising in that publication…but the rates they can charge for that advertising – and the number of advertisers they can attract – are based on the number of visitors Google can attract to their content.
So far, they’ve done a better-than-fair job of attracting a lot of “readers” to their content, primarily because of their relentless focus on providing quality results for the searches those readers perform. Provide Google the content they’re looking for and they’ll feature it for you. Free.
It’s a good deal and it’s one I think we can count on being available to us for a long time to come. However, we also need to be more realistic about what Google’s really up to, what they really want and work harder to give them exactly that. The punishment for not “getting it” will be worse in the future… not better.
Believe it or not, there’s still widespread belief that you can get to the top of search results simply by having more links than your competitor. Even if this were true, it’s short-term thinking.
Google’s total devotion to improving the quality of their search results, their computing power, and their money enables them to eventually stop any link manipulation cold.
If your site is sitting on top of search results because of tricks, consider it a temporary situation. Google will one day – later if not right away – change that.
So – yes, you should definitely continue to focus on SEO moving into the future. This is, however, conditional. There are a couple of caveats:
First – you must have at least a basic understanding of what does and does not work today.
Today, SEO is still largely limited to your “on-page” factors, which are your title tags, meta description tags, header tags, and such. Get these right and you’re way ahead of the game now and going into the future.
Second – some links are important.
Getting high-value sites to link to your site can definitely help you. But, this needs to be very selective and done very carefully. The volume of links to your site is not important. The quality of links to your site is – and will be even more so as we move forward.
The bottom line? If you want to get more traffic to your site, being found higher in search results is one way to do that. SEO can be a part of how that’s accomplished, and quality relevant content is clearly a path to reaching this goal that will continue to gain in importance.
I believe it’s vitally important, however, to have a proven model in place for converting that traffic into leads. Once you do, you can generate traffic to your site from a variety of places, including – but not limited to – SEO.
You’ll also get more back-links when your content is worthy of sharing, and people will hang around your site, instead of bouncing away the moment they hit it.
The importance of another key web traffic source – paid to advertise – will continue to grow.
This is big and getting bigger because, finally, people are waking up to the “real” cost of web traffic. With social and organic/SEO traffic, you often pay by investing hours and hours of your time to make it work.
With paid advertising, such as PPC ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google, you pay by writing a check and you only invest a small amount of time to see very fast trackable results.
Perhaps the real upside of paid advertising is that there’s no limit to how much traffic you can generate. If you can convert that web traffic into something that leads to income for you, PPC can be the kick-starter to more leads you were looking for. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a huge credit card bill and a massive headache.
Again, the key here is top-notch quality, relevant content to which you drive your PPC traffic, on pages specifically designed to focus on one thing: getting a visitor to convert, either as a buyer or as a subscriber to a list.
What about social media as a source of web traffic?
I know that about half of my current traffic, in some weeks, now comes from the content I share on social media – mostly from LinkedIn. This site continues to gain respect and power in the world of business-to-business social media.
Facebook and Google+ both offer business pages, but they’ve never gained the traction with business “insiders” that LinkedIn has and I believe things will stay this way for at least a while yet.
I’m not saying we won’t see Google+ continue to gain its own relevance on the social media scene, however. Google continues to add new functions and features to its own social platform and it certainly has the means to continue developing more.
Since Google+ is also directly tied to Google in ways no other social media sites outside of YouTube can be, the service certainly should be included in any SEO and lead generation efforts now and into the near future.
Likewise, YouTube has gotten more social. Google has not only connected YouTube to its Google+ social networking platform, it’s also adding features that allow people to connect and share videos more easily on YouTube, among other functions. Given the fact that this site, too, is owned by Google, it’s also most certainly favored by Google search.
I expect to see its capabilities and power for rankings and overall visibility for business grow as time passes. Consider getting some videos on YouTube as part of your strategy now and start building a following.
Somewhere along the way, Google added social interaction to the list of things it considers in search rankings. This is when the concept of “social SEO” was born. I see social SEO becoming increasingly important as we move into the near future.
In hindsight (as in: I wish I’d thought of that in time to make a billion or two), it makes sense. When trying to score millions of pages, to figure out which ten are the most relevant for any given search term, you’d want to look at the page itself (on-page optimization), the back-links that point to that page (off-page optimization), and how readers engage with the content.
To track this, you would ask, “Do they stick around and read it (making time-on-site and bounce rates a factor) – and do they share it with others?”
Facebook “likes,” Twitter “tweets,” LinkedIn “shares” and, of course, Google’s “+1,” are all being factored into the search results now. These and 190 or so other “signals” are considered in what ranks wherein search engine results pages today.
To say it’s complicated is an understatement. To make it all happen in less than one second is a technological miracle. The only thing stopping Google from taking it to the next unimaginable step right now is the time it takes to develop that next step…and they’re most likely already working on it.
Still, it’s a safe bet to guess that Google’s focus on Social SEO will continue to grow in importance, especially since it’s in social SEO where the seeds of human rankings for content will be found lurking.
This makes it a great idea to master social SEO right now. Doing so requires that you create good – if not great – content. Since the idea of “great” is subjective, at best, there are some things you can do, to help yourself rank better.
5 Keys To Successful Social SEO
Let’s run through five things you can do, starting today, to improve your social SEO:
Write the best content you can. Do a bit of research, link out to authoritative sources – and make sure you’ve spelled everything correctly. If you’re outsourcing your writing, make sure content published in your name is written by someone who writes and speaks your native language.
There are endless examples of articles written by foreign writers that are essentially unreadable. Believe me when I say such content won’t rank well.
Be sure to provide social sharing buttons in your post or on your page. If you’re using WordPress, there are many free plugins that can help your social SEO by making it easy for visitors to share your information with others.
Encourage comments on your post. If you want to build a following, ask people to add their opinions and join in the conversation yourself when they do.
Share the content with your social following. Just about everyone has a Facebook profile and many have a Facebook page – share your content there. If you have a Twitter account, be sure to tweet out the link to your article or page.
If you’re on LinkedIn, share it in the groups you participate in and, of course, if you’re a Google + user, post it there as well. The magic happens when friends of your followers engage with your information, too. It can then quickly spread, far and wide.
Automate the sharing of your content. There are some incredible tools that can automate some of the work involved in sharing your work. One that I like and use is called If This, Then That. This nifty free tool uses “recipes” to take the content you’re adding to your website and share it automatically in various places.
If you do nothing more than these five things, in combination with the other elements we’ve discussed in this blog, your social SEO scores will begin to improve.
As people read, comment, and share your work, your personal authority will improve, too. The result of that is more people who want or need what your business provides who will see you “out there” and begin to think of you as an expert. When everything else is equal, people will choose to do business with an expert, so why not become that expert?
Everything is Going Mobile
I mentioned the Who earlier, and how one of their songs rolls through my head every time I start honing in on who exactly a client is, in the eyes of their very best customers. Oddly enough, there’s the second song of theirs I hear almost as often – the lesser-known, “Going Mobile.”
Before you start thinking it must be really weird inside my head (and, honestly, sometimes it can get that way), I’d better get to the point: in personal computing, everything’s going mobile.
Mobile computing has been gradually overtaking desktop and laptop PCs for the past decade and we’re at that sweet spot right now where things have tipped. Mobile computing devices are dominating.
More and more people are looking at your website and pages on smaller screens these days. This is where using WordPress to develop your web pages really comes in handy.
When you select a theme to put your content into on WordPress, make sure that theme is described as “responsive.” Responsive pages automatically notice visitors coming in from a mobile device and adjust the screen and layout of your page to better accommodate them.
You also want to make certain you’re ranking in SEO for local terms if your business is primarily local in nature. Adding your city and state to the terms you rank on makes it far easier to rank on top of terms that might otherwise be over-crowded nationwide.
This also signals your location to mobile users who might just drop by while they’re already out in your area.
Mobile’s influence on everything is rapidly becoming the norm. We can expect this trend to continue for some time yet. Software applications, online and offline – and even computer operating systems – are increasingly moving to “chiclet”-style graphics, designed to be easier to see and manipulate on smaller touch-sensitive screens. There will definitely be more of this as mobile’s dominance grows over the next few years.
Adding a “push to call us” button on your site (a simple process with a WordPress plugin to do so) is also recommended, as most mobile devices these days are also phones. If a prospect can easily find you in search, then simply tap a chiclet to call you instantly, you’ll see better results, don’t you think?
The keys to creating a bright future for your business.
If your pattern is to market your business aggressively, targeting those you think would be ideal prospects, and…
If you lead with an understanding of what the prospect’s needs are, and… If you tie your USP and guarantees to their wants and needs… …things are probably going to be pretty decent for you, results-wise.
You see, if you aren’t really clear on who an ideal prospect might be, if you’re not speaking to what their wants and needs are, and if you fail to offer anything in your marketing to communicate that you are unique, then many, if not most, of your opportunities will be based on your willingness to sell for less money than your competitor will.
Something to think about, yo?
The future, then, is bright for SEO and online lead generation and it’s bright for you – if you consistently follow and apply what I’ve shown you in this blog.
That’s a forecast that makes me smile.
There you have it. Online lead generation did right. You now know enough to get your own going in the right direction – or to intelligently hire the help you need to get it done.
And you know how important it is. You also have a grasp of what to expect in the near future. Apply what I’ve shared here and it will be a bright future for you. That’s precisely why I do what I do for a living and I would love seeing nothing else.
Direct marketing makes all the difference in making online lead generation the powerful business builder it can be. You also now know how all of this is measurable throughout the process, utilizing the 80-20 Rule, to keep a laser focus on your course as you move along.
This makes you capable of quick small adjustments that keep you on track to growing returns, just as a pilot stays on course with tiny adjustments to the entire flight path, to reach a destination.
We’ve gone over setting up your SEO and optimizing your company website for lead generation and acquisition. And we’ve covered the power of PPC, to get your online lead generation on a fast track to results.
I’ve taken you through the steps. You can take them as far as you’re willing to go. But, you need to set that destination, then make a plan that will serve as your roadmap for reaching it. Don’t underestimate the power of a plan.
And don’t feel bad if you’ve failed to plan adequately before now. About a year ago, I started a poll in several of my LinkedIn groups and asked: “Does your business have a detailed, written marketing plan?”
My local Chamber of Commerce had reported that about 75% of their member businesses didn’t have a marketing plan. I was trying to verify (or debunk) those numbers because they sounded far-fetched to me.
You see, having worked with some of these businesses and having a seat on the business education committee, I got to see up close what happens when a business operates without a plan.
It’s rarely pretty. “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”
That quote, often repeated in business everywhere, originated with businessman, author, and speaker, Harvey Mackay. It’s as true in this case as it was when he originally said it.
It’s my view that many things can go wrong, whether you have a plan or not. When you don’t have a plan in place to guide your marketing, however, you can’t ever really know if your plan is working or it isn’t. We’ll look at three things that can go wrong in just a bit. You can judge for yourself whether having a plan would help or not from there.
First, you might be interested in what my survey revealed. While only a small sample responded, I feel the numbers would hold up with a larger number of responses. In my poll I found that:
25% DO NOT HAVE a marketing plan
70% DO have a detailed, written marketing plan
5% DON’T KNOW if they have a marketing plan
Obviously, the numbers I got came out quite different from the numbers reported by the local Chamber. Perhaps some of the respondents answered “yes,” but did so out of ego, when they don’t actually have a written plan.
Unless you run a huge business, there’s almost no need to do such things as a SWOT analysis (side note: If you don’t know what that is – don’t worry, most business owners don’t).
Still, as encouraging as my own numbers were, you have to ask: “Why don’t all business owners have a marketing plan?”
One of my respondents commented that “I think most small business owners are completely overwhelmed as it is and, when you throw the word ‘marketing plan’ at them, they just freeze up.”
That could be the case. If you don’t have a plan at all, however, then it’s likely that one or more of these three things are currently affecting your business success negatively:
1) You don’t know who your ideal customer is, therefore you end up attracting any customer – even ones you don’t want.
2) You don’t know the lifetime value of an ideal customer, so it’s impossible to know how much you should invest to attract one.
3) You’re subject to buying advertising from the next ad sales rep who walks through your door because you have no strategic filters in place to determine if the advertising you buy will produce a respectable ROI.
Each of these can be avoided with the right planning.
First, if you don’t know who your ideal customer is and you end up serving anyone and everyone, you can’t strategically grow. We’ve all served the “wrong” customers before, right?
Most of you would probably admit these type of customers were harder to please and consumed more resources than you budgeted for, which resulted in a low-margin sale, or even one where you lost money.
That’s obviously not a great path to growth.
If you’re strategic in your pursuit of ideal customers/clients, this happens a lot less often. Next, when you don’t know the lifetime value of your ideal customer, it’s impossible to decide what you’ll spend to attract one of them. Look, growing your business is about acquiring customers and then keeping them, hopefully for years to come.
When you plan to acquire customers through marketing, how are you supposed to know what you’d be willing to pay to get one, if you don’t know what one is worth to you, long-term, after you do?
Excellent marketing changes all of that.
One of the secrets I discussed in this blog was using content to get people familiar with your name – so they get to know you. Then, when you share quality content consistently and engage with your readers every chance you get, they begin to like and trust you.
This is when you have the chance – and maybe even the right – to proceed, looking for ways to monetize your relationships by turning followers and fans into serious prospects for your products and services.
And you now understand the power of sending social signals that let search engines know how important your content is. With just these tips and some effort on your part, you can start to increase dramatically the number of people who find your business on search engines. When you implement a process to convert those visitors to leads, you have an opportunity to increase both your sales and profits.
I’ll take the liberty here of assuming you’re ready to do some marketing. Good for you!
I offer these four recommendations as you begin the process…consider it your shorthand bullet list of the steps:
Recommendation #1: Make a commitment to learn who your ideal client or customer is and then learn everything you can about them.
Perhaps the most important thing in this process is to discover what the lifetime value of your customer is. When you’re armed with this information, you can make smart decisions about how to attract them.
Recommendation #2: List your objectives before investing in new marketing. When measuring successful marketing campaigns, be clear with yourself what success looks like to you. Most importantly, if you bring in help, look for a marketing partner who understands how important ROI is in your decision-making process, for the type of marketing you’ll be using.
Recommendation #3: Ask lots of questions of anyone you choose to
help you with your marketing! The best way to learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to their response. If they’re speaking buzzwords or confusing terms, insist that they speak to you in plain English and explain what they’re talking about.
Here are some questions I suggest you ask, to make sure you’re working with someone who deserves your business because they have what it takes to deliver the new leads to your doorstep that you need:
1. What types of marketing do you have experience with and which do you usually recommend?
2. Can you give me examples of successes you’ve had in working with other businesses? Why did these campaigns succeed?
3. Can you give me examples of campaigns you’ve done that failed? Why did they fail?
4. What type of training do you have in small business marketing? How often do you get continuing education and what type of training?
Recommendation #4: Once you’re satisfied with the responses and feel you’re speaking with an honest, competent professional who can help you, invite them to develop a set of recommendations and provide you with a firm quote for the service they propose, in writing.
A written proposal assures you of what the job will cost and what’s involved. It also eliminates any surprises.
By following these four recommendations, you’ll get all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision.
This won’t lead you to the lowest-priced help available. It might even lead you to decide you want to try doing some of this yourself, first. It will lead you to the best value for your dollar possible.
Remember: if all you want is low-budget essentially ineffective marketing, many companies will be happy to take your money.
If, however, you want marketing that positions your small business effectively in front of your ideal prospective client or customer, attracting them into your business in the most cost-effective way – then I invite you to contact me. There are a number of ways you can do that coming right up next!