Tag Archives: Landing pages

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.


Could Your Marketing Budget Lose Some Fat This New Year?

Weighing in on a scale

It never fails.  Right after we ring in the New Year, they start coming out of the woodwork;  every possible kind of solution to the problem of how the holidays forced us to loosen our belt buckles.  Each claim is a “sure thing,” guaranteed to bring back the svelte and lovable you.  As they say, fat is not phat!

What a great analogy to an overweight marketing budget.  Why not use this time of the year to get out the magnifying glass and really analyze whether there’s not some areas of fat in your marketing spend that could be trimmed out?

  1. Start with Yellow Page advertising. If you’re doing it, stop.  Nobody looks at that book anymore and landfills are full of unopened directories.  If you are addicted and are afraid you just can’t do that, then cut it to its minimum and see if your worst fears are realized.  My thinking is, nobody will notice and sales will not be affected.
  2. Take a hard look at any print advertising or direct mail you’re paying for.  I’m not saying it’s not working but these are hard mediums to measure success on.  Consider using a unique telephone number or establishing a PURL for each ad.  What is a PURL you ask?  It stands for Personalized URL or many refer to it as a unique landing page on your website which corresponds exactly to what was in the print ad or direct mail piece.  Using your website analytics, you can then measure actual responses to your ads and can then justify the expenditures there.
  3. Unless you have an incredibly extensive website with a shopping cart of tens of thousands of items, or the security of your website is mission critical, you probably shouldn’t be spending more than a couple of hundred dollars per year for hosting.  I’ve run across small businesses spending $500 per year!  There are some very good hosting solutions out there for under $80 per year.
  4. Speaking of websites, if you are paying a webmaster to make each and every change that is needed to keep your website content fresh, that’s fine but there may be a better solution; it’s called a Content Management System and means that you can make those changes yourself without having to understand programming languages.  Now, this may not be for everyone.  Some business owners just don’t have the time or notion to do this.  But, if you want to save some money, this may be for you.
  5. Pay close attention to the analytics on your email campaigns and websites.  It could be that you are spending a lot of money and time and getting no email opens or a ton of website “bounces.”  These events mean that nobody is paying any attention to what you’re saying.  Some changes and further testing are warranted.
  6. Have a strategic marketing plan.  Lack of a plan is a sure way to end up going in a lot of worthless directions throwing money at anything that is shiny.  If you have a plan there is a purpose for everything you do.  You will have specific objectives associated with each activity and you can make changes quickly as needed based upon measurable results.

It’s time to get that marketing budget fit and trim.  Don’t wait, because just like last year, 2011 will fly by and before you know it, we’ll be looking at 2012.

All my wishes for a prosperous New Year, and if you feel like you could use a “marketing trainer,” let us know, we would love to help.


Your Outsourced CMO

Leave Them Wanting More: 5 Steps to Making Sure They Come Back


In my varied past, I spent some time on stage as a professional opera singer, a wonderful and enriching experience.  One thing I learned was that during the curtain call when there was applause (assuming you got applause), you never wanted to let the applause die down before leaving the stage.  Really it was ideal to leave when the applause reached its apex and therefore leave the audience wanting more of you.  They were never quite satisfied and probably would be talking about you for some time after leaving the show.  It’s the same reason that no matter how hard you scream for an encore, you never get to hear that one more song.

You may wonder how this relates to an effort to market and promote your business.

Let’s make sure that we’re not confusing what someone wants with what someone needs.  If you start to leave people needing more, than your product or service is not providing what is necessary to sustain the consuming experience and it is likely that you will lose that customer.  Meeting the market’s needs is fundamental to having a product or service that is worth anything at all.

What I’m emphasizing here are wants.  A fundamental rule learned in every Economics 101 course is, “Man has insatiable wants and desires.”  The statement didn’t say insatiable needs.  Every human on earth has basic needs: we need to eat, we need to work, we need adequate health care, we need shelter, we need clothing, etc. Meet the needs and you’ll be okay, but probably not hugely successful, nor will you likely be able to sustain much growth.

What is imperative is that you are able to find how you can leave your customers or clients “wanting” more.  And this really begins with their initial exposure to you, say through your website, and goes clear through the lifecycle of that consuming experience.  Seth Godin in “Embracing Lifetime Value” reiterates how important it is for you to be able to quantify the value of that lifetime experience in order to understand what resources need to go into the relationship. You can then keep them coming back for more.

So, how do you make sure that your customers or clients leave with what they need but leave definitely wanting more?

  1. Make sure your website landing page tells them exactly what they need to know, no more. I believe that it is imperative to give enough information to fulfill the promise of the ad or email that drove them to your site’s landing page, but there is no reason to go beyond that.  If they need more information, provide an easy means for them to contact you so you can enter into a direct dialog, either by phone or chat, which as most salespersons will tell you, is how you can overcome objections and secure the sale.
  2. Try to invite questions that will cause them to engage with your site, with your brand or with you by picking up the phone. The key to consumer loyalty is the ability for them to directly engage in your brand.  Many marketers profess that companies no longer really have control over their brand with the new social media tools. You may as well accept this fact and make it as easy as possible, plus it will help you learn about what your customer needs or maybe even wants.
  3. Regularly add new, relevant content to your website so people will want to come back and see what’s new. This seems so obvious but I can’t tell you how many business owners build a really nice website and then never touch it for months and months.  Not a good idea.  Fresh content will also help improve search results.
  4. Make sure you are enhancing or adding features to your product or service, something your competition isn’t. This also seems obvious but it’s easy to become somewhat complacent as you start to have some success and forget about what improvements could be made to what you offer.  Always be innovating. 
  5. Constantly tell them how much you appreciate their business. Everyone loves to be appreciated and I believe this is rapidly becoming a lost art.  Loyalty comes by making sure to say “thank you.” Reward loyalty through offers that entice them to come back.  Make it lucrative for them to refer you to their network of contacts. 

Leave them needing more and you’ll lose them.  Leave them wanting more and they’ll come back.

Let me 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?



It’s Just Touch and Go

What, another landing page blog!?

Please indulge me for just one more post about how best to convert visitors on your website. I have had a number of my readers comment that they appreciated the subject so much that they wanted more. It isn’t really surprising. Thousands of dollars are wasted each day in email and Adword campaigns that drive lots of traffic but no conversions. Regardless of how you define a conversion, or what you want someone to do when they come to your website, it is the conversion that ultimately rings the cash register, right? Are you concerned that your visitors are doing the old “touch and go?”

I enjoyed attending a webinar the other day by Tim Ash of SiteTuners titled “The 7 Deadly Sins of Website Design and What to Do About Them.” He did such a great job of illuminating some very common design mistakes that I will do my best to sum up what his hour and a half webinar covered.

Sin #1
An Unclear Call-To-Action

Since the call-to-action is the actual conversion, it has to be extremely clear, even stupidly clear. The key here is “please don’t make me have to think too much.” If it takes too long for the visitor to figure out what to do, they will get frustrated or confused and hit the “back” button. Also, there are times where competing visual elements demand so much attention that the call-to-action is lost. Be sure that the call-to-action is obvious and it’s best if it’s above the fold.

Sin #2
Too Many Choices

Tim provided a great example of a Home page that had 146 clickable links! What exactly is the visitor supposed to do? For the sake of simplicity it is best to reduce the amount of detail so early in the process. The visitor doesn’t know you, therefore give them only what they need to know then provide sub-pages that they can go to for more detail if they choose. This grouping of choices into higher level categories will reduce confusion.

Sin #3
Asking for Too Much Information

This is especially true when someone is completing a form to be contacted or to receive a whitepaper, or sometimes even as the part of a shopping cart. If you ask for a lot of extraneous information (many times just for the purpose of gathering marketing information) it becomes too personal or it is not appropriate. If the process is too imposing or takes too much time, you’ll also lose them. Ask only for information that is absolutely necessary. If you don’t need a zip code, don’t ask for one. Reduce the number of fields in the form to the bare minimum which will also simplify. You can always get more details later, once you have established a level of trust.

Sin #4
Too Much Text

“Do I really have to read all of this?” How many times has that happened to you? We humans have very short attention spans especially online. In this case, less is definitely more. Unless you want your visitors to suffer some serious information overload, create very clear headlines and sub-headings in bulleted format. Use imagery if you can (only please, no overused stock photos). Most of all, put the important stuff, what you want them to know, first.

Sin #5
Not Keeping Your Promises

Every visitor to your website is there with a clear intent and in a particular frame of mind. They arrived because your email or pay-per-click ad gave them the expectation that they would find what they were looking for. The worst thing you can do is go back on that promise. Many times, because of a disconnect upstream, expectations are not met, and the “back” button is hit, only with vigor. Be sure you are representing what your ad talked about by repeating ad text or keywords. Provide clear access to information. Remember, your brand is a promise, keep it.

Sin #6
Too Many Visual Distractions

This used to be a huge problem back when Flash animation was all the rage. You would go to a website and be inundated with so much color and movement you’d thought you were having an epilepsy attack. Be clear about where on the page you want your visitor to look. Gratuitous graphics is like a visual assault, it interrupts the whole experience. I’ve seen websites where I can’t even separate content from navigation from branding. It’s just a hodge-podge. Studies have indicated that actually boring can convert better because there is no competition with the call-to-action. If your web designer is frustrated with boring, let them cut off their ear and be an artist!

Sin #7
Lack of Credibility and Trust

When a visitor comes to your website their first question is, “why should I trust you and buy from you?” Be prepared to answer that question and calm their concerns. You can do this with clearly displayed endorsements, trust symbols or social proof. In some cases, companies have featured the trust mark so prominently that is carries a heavier weight than the brand. Now that makes a statement: you are more concerned about your customer than you are about blowing your own horn. Whenever you can, use client logos and make sure you are providing generous money-back policies and guarantees.

My thanks again to Tim Ash and the folks at SiteTuners.

If you follow these guidelines and avoid these sins, your website visitors will not do the “touch and go” but will do the “touch and stay for a while and maybe even spend some money.”

As always, I welcome your comments.