Tag Archives: conversions

When Your Phone Rings Does Your Cash Register Ring Too?

TelephoneAre phone calls the life blood of your business?

It’s not true with online-only companies, but brick-and-mortar stores can live & die by the phone call. I have a client who claims that he can close one sale for every four phone calls versus closing one sale for every ten “contact me” forms completed on his website. Wow, that’s a big difference and I learned that he didn’t know exactly how many phone calls he was getting or whether they could be considered legitimate “leads.”

My client uses Salesforce.com for managing leads and deals that are in the sales cycle and at various points of closing. Even though his website has a “leads-to-forms” application that automatically puts completed forms into Salesforce, phone calls that turn into leads must be manually entered by the sales people. He was very disappointed that his reports would only show a few phone calls per month. Knowing the difference in close ratios for phone calls, he was desperate to see more calls coming in.

I was introduced to a marvelous service called IfByPhone by a colleague who indicated that it might be very valuable to me. Was he right, or what?

I spent some time researching this service. Essentially, IfByPhone provides, among many services, call forwarding to your main business telephone number. When someone searches on Google for instance, your PPC ad or organic listing is displayed. If the searcher clicks on either, they are taken to your website page, however, and this is pretty cool, IfByPhone presents a unique, dynamic telephone number, which if called, is used to track that searcher’s call all the way through to completion. If the searcher calls within 60 minutes of viewing your webpage (and unique number), IfByPhone can report on the keyword phrase the caller used to find you. In addition, you also receive the caller ID in reports that can be generated “on demand.”

Imagine what you can do. You know who called and when; you know, in most cases, for what they were searching; and you know the length of the call (did they talk with anyone or just leave a voicemail). Not only are you able to see if the salespeople are putting leads into Salesforce, you’re able to accurately determine which keywords and phrases are generating the most calls and can then alter your SEO or PPC strategies accordingly.

I would think that the energetic salesperson could also use the caller ID information to place a “cold” call, knowing in advance where their interest lies. That’s about as warm a “cold” call as you can get.

This has been incredibly helpful for my client. He feels better informed and that he now has a better handle on what kinds of phone calls he’s getting as well as the accuracy of his Salesforce management system. We are also using the keyword data provided to improve conversions through SEO and PPC.

So, does your business rely heavily on the phone call? If it does, you may want to consider IfByPhone.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


Article-Based Advertising Can Get Results

Classical booksEveryone loves the storyteller who captures our minds and tickles our desire to be entertained, to be carried away to a world that only exists in our imaginations.  It’s what makes the classics so accessible and worth reading; their creators were incredible storytellers.  I wrote a recent blog about how to use storytelling in your marketing,  but there is a recent post about a two year consumer preference survey which supports this concept of creating content on the Internet that can help build brand awareness and drive sales if written as an article or in a story-based form versus other methods of online advertising.

Jack Loechner, writing for the Center for Media Research, sites a two year study conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation whose results show that “article-based advertising was preferred by 53% of respondents who said they are ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to read and act upon the material, compared to 51% a year ago.”  And of the age demographic of 25 to 34, there was a 66% favorable reaction.  Even the affluent, those making in excess of $75,000 per year, showed a 60% likelihood of reading and acting upon this kind of content.  These results far outdistanced other methods of Internet advertising like pop-up ads and sponsored search.

In examining closer, we find that this two year study was sponsored by Adfusion, which is a company that writes “advertorials” for their clients that are placed in publications around the country.  These are stories that are made to appear as articles but are really brand promotions.  This could cause us to invalidate these survey results; however I believe that would be a hasty conclusion.

I am not saying that when writing a blog, article, or newsletter, that there should be a blatant self-promotion or an attempt to fool people into believing that they are reading a legitimate article when in reality it is simply brand advertising.

What I am saying is that if you provide value through the telling of a story, and your readers find it interesting, then you will likely see a positive reaction to your brand. This in turn can support the other methods of direct advertising which are a part of your overall media mix and as the survey above shows, can bring measurable results.

What are your thoughts?

You Can Buy My Loyalty, for a Price


You found it, the exact item you were looking for.  You did the Google search, found the website for the company that sells that item and you go to their website.  You place your order and provide your credit card information and then comes that little harmless question: What is your email address so we may send you a confirmation of the order?  They say they will never sell your address to anyone else so you give it to them.  Then what?

Many of us have experienced buying an item online from a retail store to then be bombarded with every kind of email and direct mail offering that the company can come up with.   This happens to me even if the product I purchased has no relation with the offers that land in my inbox daily.  Annoying, isn’t it?

This is probably not going to gain me any friends, but I whole heartedly support this method of marketing, which is called Loyalty Programs, because if done correctly, they can be very successful.  The problem is, that so few companies go the extra step to insure success.

Loyalty programs go back a long ways,  I can honestly say I remember S&H Green stamps, given out by the local grocery store based on how much was spent.  My Mom would paste them into books that were used to redeem them.

Times have changed and Loyalty programs have gotten a lot more sophisticated through special on-line incentives, free shipping, discounts for referrals, etc.  But, have they necessarily gotten more successful?  Do they provide the return on investment to the marketer?

According to research by InfoPrint Solutions Company, a joint venture between IBM and Ricoh, the answer is a dismal no.  I recommend you read the entire article at The CMO Council website but I’ll try to summarize here.

From the consumers’ viewpoint, the study indicated that a “surprising 79 percent of consumers surveyed say they are very, or pretty, satisfied with their loyalty and rewards program experiences. But 70 percent want to see more discounts and savings, and 52 percent more compelling personal deals and offers as reward for steering their business to loyalty program operators. In a definitive call for personalization, 58 percent say they want more compelling personal benefits and services, as well as more relevant offers or individualized deals.”

What’s interesting is that it appears that the wealth of information that is gathered by marketers about consumer behaviors, wants and desires is either being ignored or not being coalesced to provide more relevant offers.  Why in the world if I order a straw hat from Bass Pro would they assume that I would want to see offers for guns, bows and arrows and camouflage clothing?

Something else that was interesting, it seems the state of the economy has very little influence on loyalty club participation so even as we move down the road toward recovery, these programs will still have an impact on buyer behavior.

With the average household enrolled in 14.1 loyalty programs but only active in 6.2 of them, doesn’t it make sense to be making offers that stimulate action?

If you’re thinking about a loyalty or referral program, make sure you understand how often your customer wants to hear from you, in what form they want to hear from you and what it is that will drive them to buy.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

So Where’s the Payoff?


Website conversion, that somewhat illusive term that every site must accomplish, can have a number of meanings.  Generally, we marketers refer to it simply as what action we intend for the website visitor to take before leaving our site.  It may mean completing an online form to receive a technical white paper; it could also be requesting to be added to a mailing list to receive future newsletters or blog posts; or in its purest form, to complete a transaction where an exchange of a product for money takes place. The evaluation of website conversions is important whether your marketing efforts are directed towards the consumer (B to C) or whether directed towards another business (B to B).  Website conversions also take place regardless of industry, and this would include manufacturing, professional services, transportation and even not-for-profit.  The bottom line is, regardless of whether the intent behind the conversion is to generate leads, to sell a product, to take a survey or to gather market information, the conversion is the key measurement to success in Internet marketing.

I have had a number of clients ask me what kind of conversion rate they should expect as a result of their online search marketing initiatives.  As I’ve said in a number of previous posts, there are many factors that can impact your conversion rate, but you should also consider the sales cycle of your product or service.  If your product has a high price, your sales cycle is likely much longer and therefore a lower conversion rate is probably acceptable.  If on the other hand, you are trying to gather information on people who could potentially be a customer, then your conversion rate will depend on what value the visitor receives in exchange for the information they provide.

Internet visitors can come to your site from four very generalized sources:

  • Pay-per-click or Sponsored Search ads
  • Organic or Natural Search (a result of your SEO efforts)
  • Directly typing in your URL or having bookmarked your URL
  • Some other referring party

Even though traffic can come from an endless number of places, a study completed recently by Engine Ready looked at these categories and the traffic to 26 e-commerce sites over a 12 month period.  Although I will hit the highlights, the complete study is available at


You’re probably saying, David, we don’t do e-commerce on our website and that is a perfectly legitimate concern.  Although results can vary dramatically based upon what you have defined as a “conversion,” I just thought this study might be interesting in helping you evaluate whether you are getting the best value from your search strategies.

According to their findings, for these 26 “e-retailers” this was what they saw:

  • The conversion rate from sponsored search was 2.03% versus 1.26% for organic search.  This could be attributed to the fact that more design time is spent on the landing page of a sponsored search ad.
  • Not surprisingly, the best conversion rate, 7.38%, was from someone directly typing in the URL or clicking a bookmark.  The second best was the visitor who was referred by another website or who clicked on an email link, it was 6.58%.
  • The bounce rate, or visitors who immediately left after hitting the landing page was 43.9% overall, with organic search producing the worst bounce at 48.5% and direct access the lowest at 39.2%.  Many times either people don’t input quality search phrases or the search engines missed their mark.

So, where’s the payoff?  The clear answer is if they don’t know your domain name, then you definitely want to be referred by another website; it’s like word of mouth advertising.  But, I believe this shows that you simply have to have an overall strategic plan when it comes to Internet marketing and always measure, evaluate, adjust and then measure again.  Your thoughts?