Develop An Effective Website
When a potential customer visits your company website, are they able to clearly identify your primary products and services within 10 seconds or less? If the answer is no or you are unsure, then perhaps it is time to evaluate the design and information provided on your company home page. According to industry experts, from the moment a visitor lands on your site, you have between 5 and 10 seconds to grab their attention long enough to entice them to click on additional pages for further information.
Visitors to your company website are there for a purpose - likely a product or service they are trying to learn more about. No matter how they come to your site, whether through a Google search, another site's advertisement, or from a business card, there is specific reason they are visiting. When a visitor lands on your site, they should find what they are searching for easily and quickly; therefore, eliminate anything on your homepage that does not belong, such as local weather, traffic and stock information. Clearly categorize your company’s products and services under separate tabs and summarize them on your home page. You do not want to overload the visitor with every one of the hundreds of products you may carry all on one page; however, you do want to categorize the key products and services so they can easily learn about all your company has to offer.
It may sound elementary, but make sure your “Contact Us” information is current and located in a prominent position. Your prospects will not spend five minutes trying to find your company phone number and/or an email address; both should be visible.
Search engine traffic will play an integral roll in the success of your lead generation online. Make sure your site has a page specifically for white papers or company news, providing an excellent chance for your company to shine as an industry expert, rather than just another sales organization. A simple ‘administration page’ can be designed so that you are able to keep press releases and your company’s products/services up –to-date, without further assistance form a web programmer. Remember, the more targeted information you put on your site and the more often it is updated, the higher you will appear in search engine results. In web design today most of these steps will be commonplace; however, it is important that you are intimately involved in the design of the site – content, layout, and functionality.
Do not get hung up on all of the bells and whistles; your ultimate goal is to connect with the visitor. A simple site with appropriate content is better than one heavy on glitz that has no information for your visitor.
Targeted Online Advertising Can Deliver Measurable Results
One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is investing thousands of dollars to develop an amazing, fully interactive website yet spend virtually nothing to promote it. A company website is no more than a modern day electronic brochure, and it should be promoted online.
The first step in planning an online marketing strategy is to identify your target audience. Look at who and where your current customers are, and what they buy. If your company only sells to metal fabricators within a 200-mile radius of Cincinnati, advertising to a seat belt manufacturer in Long Beach California is not the best use of your advertising budget. Likewise, if your customers are located across the United States, national advertising may be the most economical.
Before you commit to spending advertising dollars, educate yourself on the marketing options available to you. This could include online directories, search engines, regional e-journals/newsletters, direct email campaigns, social media, and more. Far too often, companies waste money by advertising to the wrong audience. A general rule of thumb is to pay attention to where your more ‘successful’ competitors are promoting themselves. If you see a well-established competitor advertising in a certain place, it is likely for a very good reason. Finally, and most importantly, even though you are advertising online make sure your advertisements are targeted to your prospective industry and locale.
Do Your Homework Before Buying Online Advertising:
Do your homework. When buying advertising online, here are just a few questions to ask:
- Who will be viewing your advertisement? Which industries are targeted?
- Where are these visitors located? Are they a regional, national, or international audience?
- If you are buying advertising on a per click (CPC) or per exposure (CPM) basis, what is the average client spending on that site?
- Within search engines and online directories, are you required to bid for premium spots against other companies?
- Will you receive real-time tracking reports? Can you identify specific information about your visitors?
Another excellent way to promote your company website is through blogging and online social networking. Although this method does not typically require a large financial investment, it will require a commitment of time. Social networking sites are not the place for blatant advertising and constant promotions. You will have far better success by contributing interesting content to discussion boards, industry specific groups, and company blogs that relates to your customers' interests. For further tips to successful online networking, read Online Networking: The Way Of The Future.
Turn Prospects Into Customers
A process to effectively manage sales leads generated from your website in a timely manner is a must. No matter how well engineered your website is, or how well your advertising is working, it is still up to your sales staff to turn prospects into customers. Your future sales requirements and your ability to hit sales goals all rely on efficient lead management. Review the following 5 steps, then ask yourself how your leads are currently being handled.
- Define. Companies must have guidelines to determine who is a prospective client versus a sales lead, from their website visitors. Successful sales techniques include continually educating your sales team on the profile of your ideal prospect, and how to use your companies expertise to cultivate those into sales leads. Sell through expertise.
- Organize. Invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) software package. CRM’s do not have to require large capital investments, but more sophisticated CRM’s can include features such as inventory management, web access for employees, integration with your corporate website, and more.
- Track. You must know where each lead originated, and direct that lead to the appropriate department for follow up, in order to greatly increase the likelihood of closing a sale. For example, if a prospective client visits your website; did they inquire for more information while viewing a page on a used machine for sale or was it while viewing a page for PLC programming? Because they are entirely different products, your sales staff must approach the prospect in the most targeted manner.
- Respond. Research has shown that if you do not respond to a sales inquiry within 2 days, your chance of closing the sale drops by more than 50 percent. Your sales manager should receive a weekly report of all prospective clients and sales leads; this will help him or her follow up to make sure sales personnel are responding promptly.
- Measure. Accurately measuring the QUALITY of leads coming in to your company will provide you with priceless information on your company website, marketing efforts, and more. You may find one product line is of more interest than another, or that one advertising venue is producing twice the results than one that is costing you twice as much.
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