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April 2012
Your Website as a Powerful Sales Tool: Improving Online Performance
By Diona Kidd

  

Your Website as a Powerful Sales Tool

Improving Online Performance

  

     Savvy businesses quantify the value of their corporate Web presence to make informed marketing and budgeting decisions. By putting metrics in place, the investment is less subjective and easier to evaluate return on investment.

     Like many businesses, you may not be sure that your company’s Web presence is returning the value you expect. If you decide to focus on increasing the return on investment, you’ll discover there are many options available.

     Before building potentially complex online marketing campaigns to increase website visitor traffic, it’s important to ensure the fundamentals are in place to convert existing website visitors into sales leads. Once this foundation is in place, growing the reach of the website makes more financial sense.

     To ensure you have the fundamentals in place, you should review the following:

 

Is your website aligned with your brand?

     Aligning the corporate website with brand messages and value propositions for each target audience helps to educate prospects. While this may not shorten sales cycles for complex purchases, it certainly makes the sales conversations more efficient for both the seller and the buyer. This leads to higher quality sales conversations.

 

What are you offering?

     Valuable, informative content is a great way to help prospective customers become more informed buyers and self-select into your marketing campaigns. Continuing the conversation beyond the first website visit is a great way to help buyers move through the buying process.

     For instance, you might offer a white paper informing readers about how to solve an issue common to your prospective buyers. Informing prospective customers about a particular solution or market challenge that they are facing lowers the hurdle to a purchase decision. By asking for a limited amount of information about the visitor and exchanging valuable information in return, you’re more likely to convert visitors into sales leads.

     In addition, you can continue to market to the potential customer using lead nurturing. These content offers can easily be integrated with the outbound sales process to aid sales in educating potential customers and attracting leads to your content.

 

Do you have any online sales barriers?

Online sales barriers are any items that make the activity of understanding what your company offers more difficult. Sales barriers often exist in the form of confusing navigation, poorly written content, hard-to-use features, and excessively complex forms. It’s critical that visitors can easily locate and understand the product or service that matches their need.

     Look for areas of the website that might be difficult to use—or instance, if your website offers a cost calculator. If it’s complicated to use and prospects can’t easily estimate costs, potential customers may perceive your company’s products or services as more expensive as a result.

     Web forms are used to engage visitors as sales leads and encourage marketing opt-ins. When evaluating Web forms for sales barriers, consider where the visitor is in the buying process. If they are just learning about your company, then the prospective buyer is early in the buying process. As a result, they are less willing to offer detailed personal contact information. Requiring less information of prospects early in the buying cycle will ultimately increase the number of responses you receive.

 

Measuring Success

     You probably already have website analytics in place. If not, Google Analytics is a free and easy-to-use tool to measure website performance.

     Close the loop on Web leads by creating a process to tie closed sales back to leads from the Web. Even a low-tech solution is better than no solution.

 

In Summary...

     Your website is a powerful sales tool. Before investing to grow your website traffic, make sure the website is aligned with the corporate brand, offer content to educate prospective customers and aid sales, then remove any sales barriers from the online experience.

 

 

Industry Watch: Content Marketing

     Content marketing is not a new idea. Some brands have been marketing their own content for over a decade. So why is content marketing getting so much attention now?

     The rise of social networks, demand for unique intelligent content, the popularity of thought leadership, and the overload of advertisements has brought content marketing to the forefront of Internet marketing.

     Content marketing is a method of delivering content to potential buyers that doesn’t sell them. Instead, it informs them about a particular solution or market challenge that they are facing. It makes them more informed buyers, which lowers the hurdle to their purchase decision, with the ultimate objective of driving profitable customer action. Read more about it at www.knowmad.com/content-marketing.

Diona Kidd is a Managing Partner at Knowmad, a Web strategy, design and Internet marketing company located in Charlotte.
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