Your website will only do what it’s told. And although this sounds simple, let’s examine this for a minute. What have you really told your website to do for you? And would you do that anyway?
Looking at your website as part of your sales system is the most effective way to make your website work for you. Your website is a never-sleeping employee that will work tirelessly through the night, even weekends, to further the objective. But you must be clear on not just what you want your website to do, but also how the task(s) connect with actions in the real world so you can achieve your small business goals.
On any given page of your website you should have a purpose. The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and page rank (where your page appears in online search) will get you found but then it’s up to you to make the connection with the visitor. To become useful and memorable to anyone that clicks on your page. And let’s say you ARE both of those things (useful and memorable). You still need to DO something with your prospects once they find you. And you can do this directly or indirectly.
Let’s break this down into steps…
- Visitor does a search on Google.
- Sees your website listed in connection to their search terms. [this is SEO]
- Clicks on your website link & visits your website.
- Visitor hopes to find exactly what they’re looking for.
- Visitor performs an action [the next actions are up to you]
Reads and shares content
Sends you an email
Books a call with you
Makes a purchase
Leaves your website immediately without taking any action
Clicks through your website without taking any action [uh-oh]
Direct & Indirect Actions
We want our visitors to take action on our website as this action can lead to them becoming a customer. The path from visitor to customer has many variables but the first is to decide on the action you want them to take. There are two different action groups here: direct and indirect.
Direct are actions that can directly connect to a sale or loss. Indirect are actions that are more difficult (and sometimes impossible) to connect to a sale or loss but there are other benefits that may further different goals e.g. engagement, followers, list building, etc.
Book a call
Book a meeting
Make a purchase
Send an inquiry
Share on their social network (Expand your reach)
Leave a comment (Engagement)
Download something (Build a list)
Register (Build a list)
TIP: A higher price point may require more contact to move them from visitor to customer. A more complex offering may require more education to move them from visitor to customer. Your business will decide the most effective path to purchase.
Once you’ve selected the action you want your visitor to take you then need to plan the steps to get them there.
TIP: There is no official path that works best. Look at what your prospects are responding to most and start there. You will likely need to tweak things a few times before you find something that works well for your unique business.
Defining your sales stages
It’s important to know how your ideal customer moves through your sales stages. When they finally reach out or are willing to connect are they already ready to buy? Or do they first reach out to book a demo or chat with a sales rep or negotiate price? These variables depend upon your business.
A typical framework looks like (terms may vary or perhaps you have more stages):
Each stage contains different actions that move them along from Visitor to Customer. (For the purpose of this post we’re restricting our info to online activities but you should be adding offline activities as well.) There is some overlap in the list because the function of the action depends on the content and messaging as well as where they are in the sales cycle.
Awareness [Get found]
- SEO (organic traffic)
- Network (inbound links)
- Affiliates (inbound links)
- Social media (inbound links)
Interest [Secure Leads]
- Reports (other opt-in ideas)
Nurture [Build Trust/Relationship]
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
Purchase [Convert Leads]
- Case Studies
TIP: I’ve actually had people tell me they have no buying cycle and that they visitors only reach out to purchase. This is funny to me as it says they are oblivious to their customer buying cycle which is something you need to match your sales to. Think about when you notice a need. Do you perform research finding the top products or service to fill that need? Do you ask friends or chat rooms for recommendations? Do you visit websites and download information or read informational posts/pages? Now think about how you can be involved in each of these stages. The earlier you get involved in this process the more likely they will purchase from you.
Each stage requires an action (click, download, subscribe) to move them further down the line in the sales process. Some processes move quickly e.g. online purchase. And others may move slowly e.g. departmental purchase that requires buy-in from different stakeholders. Some purchasers are further along when they get added to your list and others may just be at the beginning. This will vary from business to business. But if you’ve segmented out the type of information and identified the typical buying stage for that information you can begin to segment based on buying stage. This allows you to do all sorts of fun things to engage with prospects with the right information at the right time.
The final part is to map out your onboarding. Nothing makes you regret a purchase than a poor purchasing experience.
Onboard as new client/customer [Fulfill Expectations]
- Thank-you screen
- Thank-you email
- Product/Service/Login info email
Integrating these systems into your website is what makes it generate leads for you. By this point you have defined a process with specific actions for every stage culminating in a purchase. To do this you need to employ a marketing automation platform.
Does this all seem a bit complicated? It doesn’t have to be. WindWater Marketing builds website systems for small businesses. Feel free to reach out for a bit of help.