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Businesses and Nonprofits Map Their Social Media Marketing Strategy

By: Erica Scaife

Dana VanDen Heuvel, founder of MarketingSavant and a nationally recognized digital marketing expert, guided attendees through the process of mapping out their social media marketing strategy on October 20, 2009, at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, PA.  

One of the most beneficial aspects of these workshops, entitled Mapping Out Your Social Media Marketing Strategy, is that they were divided into two half-day sessions – a morning session for business marketers and an afternoon session for nonprofit marketers.  Numerous workshop attendees expressed their appreciation that the eMarketing Learning Center and the Nonprofit Partnership worked together to bring VanDen Heuvel in for two industry-specific sessions.  This was important because businesses and nonprofits have substantially different marketing goals and face unique marketing challenges.  For instance, while businesses and nonprofits may have a common goal of building interest and awareness, businesses may focus more on generating leads and driving sales, whereas nonprofits may focus more on recruiting and mobilizing volunteers, promoting advocacy and building donor relationships.  Since the workshops were divided, attendees were able to focus on the needs of their industry and learn from the challenges and successes their peers have faced throughout their social media marketing efforts. 

Social media is an emerging channel that is still surrounded by some mystery, leaving many marketers hesitant to jump into the social media landscape.  However, with a combined 150 attendees at either the business or nonprofit session, it is apparent that marketers are realizing the bottom line about social media – your customers and constituents are there, whether you are or not, and they’re talking about you!  Don’t you want to join the conversation?

But first things first.  As the presenter, Dana VanDen Heuvel, has put it, “What the ‘tweet’ is social media?”

What the ‘tweet’ is social media?

Social media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media).  Or as VanDen Heuvel more simply explains, “Social media is people having conversations online.” 

Early on in the workshop, Dana reminded the attendees that social media isn’t just about the tools and technologies you use; it’s really about a change in people’s expectations.  The traditional purchase funnel focuses on the marketer-generated stages of consumer and constituent awareness, consideration and purchase.  In today’s socially savvy world, however, that purchase funnel has evolved into a feedback cycle.  While this feedback cycle still begins with the marketer-generated stages above, it also recognizes consumer-generated stages – use, form opinion and talk.  Social media has transformed this process, and therefore, the way in which businesses and organizations market themselves.

A survey of frequent online social network users revealed that 30% trust the opinions of their peers when making a major purchase decision, while only 10% trust advertising (eMarketer).  These people are finding their peers opinions online, which means you should be hanging out in the same places as your customers and constituents, a point stressed by VanDen Heuvel.  And social media marketing is producing results in companies that are engaged.  According to a study by Altimiter ENGAGEMENTdb, socially engaged companies are, in fact, more financially successful.  You should realize, however, that these companies do not merely have a presence on social media, they are deeply engaged. 

Social Thinking

Throughout the workshop, VanDen Heuvel encouraged attendees to re-think their marketing strategy from a social media standpoint with a number of exercises and activities.  First, what are your company’s or organization’s touchpoints?  Touchpoints, as Dana explained, can be viewed in several ways:

1)      Functional – What does your company or organization do that is going to generate positive conversation?

2)      Customer – What is of value to your customer?

3)      Channel – How can you replicate your constituent’s good experience over multiple social media channels?

Next, how can you tell if your social media marketing is producing results?

In his presentation, Dana referenced a quote from Lord Leverhuime, founder of Unilever:  “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted.  The problem is I do not know which half.”

This is not the case in social media, according to VanDen Heuvel.  In social media everything can be tracked; it may take some work, but it can be done.  He went on to explain that there are three measurement points in social media:

 1) Social media listening – tracking and monitoring your customers’ and constituent’s online conversations

2) Web analytics – help you determine the relevance of your social media content

3) Pipeline metrics – help you determine the impact of your social media efforts

VanDen Heuvel warns, however, that not all metrics are meaningful; some are meaningless UNTIL you do something with them.  For example, having 300 Facebook fans is a meaningless metric unless those fans are contributing something to your social media efforts, like posting content or starting conversations.  “Social media,” VanDen Heuvel states, “is not just about bringing in people as fans.  It’s also about building deep connections and relationships with those people.” 

Finally, Dana concluded the first part of his presentation with a breakdown of social media channels.  Social media is broken down into three main channels:

1)      Social content – includes blogs, microblogs, photos, audio and videos

2)      Social platforms – include white-label social networks, wikis and branded social networks

3)      Social interactions – include event calendars, email, status updates, SMS and text messages

Without getting into specific tools, these are the channels by which you actively listen to your customers and constituents.  What does it mean to actively listen?  In the words of Rohit Bhargava, author of Personality Not Included, “[Active listening is] more than just listening or monitoring, it’s actually engaging in a dialogue with your customers.”

Through this process of re-thinking their marketing strategy from a social media standpoint, attendees had the opportunity to share their social media experiences with the rest of the group.  For example, in the business session, Triple Nickel, a local manufacturer, shared that they are known for their fast response times and easy exchanges.  They frequently receive emails about this touchpoint, but they have not yet been able to bring it into the social media landscape.  Deborah Vanhanian, the owner of Glass Growers Gallery, a local art gallery, prides herself that knowledge of art is one of their strongest touchpoints.  This however, is not translating well in person and she is hoping to further her position as an expert through social media.  In the nonprofit session, the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation discussed how they are already leveraging social media and how they could use social media to better and more effectively pass along their message that “cancer touches everyone.” 

This process and the interactive format of these sessions was very helpful in facilitating participants ability to learn from the successes, struggles, ideas and thoughts of their peers regarding social media marketing. 

Mapping Out Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

In the second half of the workshop, Dana took attendees through the process of building their social media marketing plan.  When mapping out your plan, VanDen Heuvel identified eight elements that you need to address:

1)      Objectives

2)      Target audience

3)      Integration

4)      Culture change

5)      Capacity

6)      Tools and tactics

7)      Measurement

8)      Experiment

Start by focusing on just two or three objectives for your social media marketing efforts.  Try to make these objectives “SMART” (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based) and ask yourself how they can be supported through social media.

A few things to consider when analyzing your target audience include:  What do they know about you?  What do you want them to know about you?  Where are they – what social media tools and channels are they already using?

When considering how to integrate your social media efforts with your overall marketing strategy, think about all the online and offline channels and components you can integrate into your overall marketing strategy.  For instance, the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, mentioned above, was recently featured on 60 Minutes.  They used their Facebook page as one venue to spread the word and generate buzz about their nationally broadcast story.

The last several considerations are important, but not quite as critical as the first three points, said VanDen Heuvel.  Take some time to think about the capacity of your organization and who is going to implement the organization’s social media strategy.  This becomes especially important in small-medium sized organizations where time, resources and personnel may be scarce. 

When deciding on which social media tools and tactics will best reach your target audience and help you accomplish your objectives, VanDen Heuvel stressed that success lies in starting with ONE tool.  Companies that try to start by using a number of social media tools at once are the companies and organizations that often fail in their social media endeavors.    

Finally, experiment with social media!  As mentioned, it is still a new field.  “There are no ‘experts’ in this space,” VanDen Heuvel concluded, “we’re ALL still learning right now.”

The Takeaways

As an attendee at both the business and nonprofit sessions, it was interesting to see the differences in reactions between the two groups.  Overall, both business marketers and nonprofit marketers are eager to learn about this emerging field.  They’re seeing social media constantly and are being told it’s the way to go for marketing their business in today’s socially savvy world.  In addition to their obvious interest in social media marketing, both groups expressed concerns about the topic as well.  In the business session, a new tool, Google Sidewiki, was brought up by an attendee.  This tool, once downloaded, allows you to view comments about any Web site on the actual Web site itself, not some distant page.  This raised a great deal of concern among the attendees in this session because of the lack of control you have over the comments posted using this tool.

 

Dana VanDen Heuvel shares his thoughts on Google Sidewiki and the social media marketing workshops

The concerns in the nonprofit session focused more on how to effectively utilize social media marketing when working with little time and few resources and personnel.  It can be done, however, and it’s important that it be done – especially for nonprofits because of their specific marketing challenges and needs.  Social media marketing offers a cost-effective strategy which can return substantial results.

Robert Wooler, director of the Nonprofit Partnership, discusses why social media marketing is important to nonprofits

Overall, it was an enlightening and interesting day.  Everyone at the workshops walked away with something of value – whether it was new knowledge, ideas or tools for social media, an inspiring story about one of their peers using social media or a plan for implementing social media in their business or organization.  Remember, social media is new and it’s changing every day.  So explore new ways to use it in your business or organization, experiment with different social media tools and technologies and engage in social media yourself.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts on the workshop or on social media in general by leaving us a comment.

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Research makes compelling argument for the importance of educating small business owners about the online channel

Small Business Not Keeping Up With Online Presence

Research from Research Brief column on MediaPost

According to research from Webvisible and Nielsen, reported by Marketing Charts, though 63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend
less than 10% of their marketing budget online.

My comment: This is not a sustainable business model in today’s digital economy.

The research finds an accelerating trend toward online media for local search. However, the report says the study uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online.
The survey found that search engines are the most popular source for finding local information:• 82% use search engines

57% use Yellow Pages directories.
53% use local newspapers
49% use Internet Yellow Pages
49% use TV
38% use direct mail
32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while 24% chose the Yellow Pages directories.

92% of searchers say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines, though 39% report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business. This means, says the report, searchers don’t may choose to contact a similar business with a stronger online presence.

Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services. Compared with two years ago, respondents report they use search engines and email newsletters more, while they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less.

Despite the growing use of online media for local searches, only 41% of small businesses report turning to online search engines first, and 31% turn to Yellow pages directories first. In addition, only 44% of small businesses have a website.

When using a search engine to find a business they know exists, only 19% of survey respondents report never or rarely encountering trouble locating that business online and 39% say they routinely have difficulty.

Though less than half of small businesses do have a website, the ones that do are not happy overall with their online marketing.  Among those small businesses that have a website:
• 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new customers is only “fair” or
“poor”
• 30% of business owners feel that they typically do a better job of marketing than a close
competitor
• 78% believe they advertise in the same places as their competitors
• Only 7% of small business owners say their primary marketing goal is to get more visitors to
their website
• 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing their website
• 99% of small business owners are directly involved in the marketing
• 65% believe it is very important to know where their customers come from
• Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts
• 78% of small business owners dedicate 10% or less of their budget to marketing Of those,
30% do no Internet advertising

My Comment: eBizITPA Education and the eMarketing Learning Center are performing research to learn more about small businesses knowledge and interest in eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing  strategies Training.  Click to learn more about survey results.  Click to download a copy of the eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing eBook

Over the past two years, 43% of small businesses say they have increased use of search engines in their marketing efforts. In contrast, use of traditional small business advertising mediums is on the decline:
• 23% say they use the Yellow pages less
• 42% say they use the local newspaper less

For the purpose of this survey, the term “local business” refers to any retail business in a respondent’s local area, including restaurants, entertainment venues, places of recreation, etc. and services such as plumbers or accountants. The term “Internet Yellow Pages” refers to online Yellow Pages websites such as yellowpages.com, judysbook.com, superpages.com, etc.

Center for Media Research, February 13, 2009
MediaPost Communications, 1140 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001

Brain Break

Have you ever had a day where pretty much every minute of the day you were learning something new, hearing new terms, discovering new ways of doing things…so that by the end of the day, you actually had to give your brain a break, but you feel so rejuvenated?

That’s what happened to me when I attended the eMarketing Learning Center’s Digital Marketing Mixer at the Ambassador on March 26th. The day was awesome, rejuvenating and most fulfilling. My goal was to find the right eMarketing mix for The Erie Community Foundation, where I am the marketing and public relations director. Due to the struggling economy, my marketing budget has been cut by 25%. Basically, I need to do more with less, and the Digital Marketing Mixer gave me the answers I need.

Our morning began with a series of vendors sharing their skills and expert insight with the audience. I learned new lingo like: pod lounge, pod catcher, podcast blaster, Purl’s, juice and happy fish.

Then, the mixing began. It was like speed dating with vendors. The vendors sat at different tables throughout the room. You could pick and choose which vendors you wanted to meet, pick their brains, share your eMarketing troubles, and ask questions. Good conversations took place. Just like speed dating, we were on a time limit because after 15 minutes, we moved to our next favorite vendor. I thought that was uniquely fun, and I picked up great information and business contacts.

The highlight of the day was the lunch presentation by Dana Van Dan Heuvel of the Marketing Savant Group. He explained the digital intimacy of staying close to your customer, the power of social media and the importance of search engine optimization. I now fully understand how eMarketing offers me measurable and traceable results, which are important for me to share with our board of trustees. Dana explained how I can follow present and potential donors of The Erie Community Foundation from the reach to acquisition to conversion to retention.

In summary, I think eMarketing still comes back to the basics of figuring out who we are and who we are trying to reach to determine our strategy, but eMarketing is cost-effective. I know that 92% of the population uses the web to do research and make purchases. We need to be where are donors are on the web. We have to be relentless to keep pace, but it’s exciting. These are exciting times to be in marketing. The main message from the Digital Marketing Mixer is: we can’t move forward without risk. I hope the eMarketing Learning Center hosts another mixer sometime soon. My brain is all rested up and ready to learn more!

I Got Personal with PURL

Joe Mehl presents on the topic of PURL

Joe Mehl presents on the topic of PURL

Attendees got personal with PURL at the Manufacturers Association on February 19th when Joe Mehl of Dispatch and George Sackandy of Intelmarx spoke about the benefits of combining PURL with traditional direct mail marketing. But let’s not jump into the benefits until we uncover what PURL is and how it even works. 

 

What is PURL?

PURL, also known as a Personal URL, is a Web page address that has been personalized to a specific recipient using their name.  The idea being that a person is more likely to visit a Web page that is personalized with their name in the URL out of curiosity of what information is there. Once they go to that web address, the information is tailored specifically to them based on data the organization already has on file. For example, women may see more humanistic language and images verses a man who would see more competitive/methodical content.

 

How does it work?

According to Joe Mehl from the seminar, these are the steps taken in the PURL process:

 

  1. Contact receives a direct mail or e-mail message describing an offer enticing them to visit their PURL (ex. http://www.gettingpersonal.com/CathySmith)
  2. The welcome screen on the web page is directed to the recipient using their name
    An example of what a Login Page would look like

    An example of a Welcome Screen

  3. A contact information page is pre-populated with any data that may already exist and is relevant to the offer
  4. The prospect is asked to complete a short survey probing them for more information
    An example of a survey page

    An example of a survey page

  5. A marketing message or offer is given
  6. A thank you page appears providing other links and downloads to the viewer
  7. Follow up happens immediately whether it is an e-mail or a phone call
  8. Now the sales process on this individual can begin

 

Okay, now that we have figured out what PURL is and how it works, it is time to look at how PURLs can be beneficial.

 

Why use a PURL?

According to George Sackandy, CEO and Founder of Intelmarx, the direct mail industry has a response rate of only 2 percent. This means that the non-response rate is 98 percent! We receive thousands of marketing messages each day and only respond to few and far between. So, how do marketers grab the attention of their prospects? They use PURL in combination with mailing pieces to attract customers!

 

One case study conducted at Albertson College proved that by incorporating PURLs and variable data printing in their recruiting materials, the school could increase their response rate by 18.7 percent. The school was originally sending large packets of information about every program to all prospective students. This was a lot of information to juggle through and not personal in any way to the person opening it. Prospective students were not responding because the packet looked just like all of the others they had received from other colleges. Albertson decided to get personal. They used information that had already existed about prospects in order to send them a direct mail piece including a PURL. When students went to their PURL, the page was catered to the individual based on their interests, activities, and future major of choice. Albertson took a few extra steps to change their recruiting using PURLs and what a difference it made. Now this gives plenty of reason to use PURLs in any marketing campaign! By using PURL you can increase response rates, leads, and overall profit. Why not give it a try for your business?

 

For more information on Intelmarx click here

For more information on Dispatch click here 

 

 

How the web is driving the new rules of marketing and PR

Did You Know…

92% of people use the Web to evaluate purchase options, yet less than 30% of businesses allocate dollars for online marketing.

 

Over 30 % of online visitors go to social media sites.

 

Gen Y (aged 18 to 28) is the most Internet-savvy group, spending more time online than they do watching television, with 42 percent watching online video at least once per month.

 

The older Generation X (aged 29 to 42) also use technology extensively for more task driven needs, especially when they intersect with business and family.

 

*This research is part of Forrester’s 2008 North America Technographics Benchmark survey which gathered data from around 61,000 consumers in the US and Canada.

 

 

“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” – How to use news releases, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing and online media to reach your buyers directly

For decades, marketers have relied on buying expensive advertising and begging for media coverage. We interrupted “prospects” with our egotistical “messages” in the hopes of generating interest from buyers (who usually ignored us anyway), but the Internet is a marketing channel that is dramatically changing how we perform. As marketers, we must shift our thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy where we target specific audiences and niches we want to reach.

Writing news releases is no longer just for when we have big news.  Now we write news releases that highlight our ideas and stories and we distribute them online so that our buyers and constituents can get them on the news search engines and vertical content sites.  As Meerman points out, the “Internet has made public relations public again after years of almost exclusive focus on media.”

The online marketing channel requires more than a big idea with great creative and a one-way message. Smart marketers now communicate with buyers through content rich Web sites, blogs, YouTube videos, e-books, and other online media that buyers actually want to consume. To succeed in marketing online, we need to adapt to using these very direct and interactive social media strategies. These mediums help us communicate and engage customers in places where we have no physical presence but where the customer can find out about what we offer and how we can meet their needs. The products and services offered by tuned-in companies resonate with people who willingly buy without being coerced. 

 If you would like to learn some of the new criteria for marketing & PR and how to succeed in a digital world, then come listen and ask questions of David Meerman Scott, a nationally renowned speaker and best-selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

 Scott will be the keynote speaker at the Advertising Federation of Northwest Pennsylvania’s Erie Ad Day on Thursday, September 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, 55 West Bay Drive, in downtown Erie. The full-day professional development event will focus on the theory, tactics and technologies driving the advertising and marketing communications industry.

Learn how to leverage the potential that Web-based communication offers. A step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of the new rules of marketing and PR will be provided, showing how to identify audiences, create compelling messages, get those messages to the most consumers possible, and lead those consumers directly into the buying process. Told with many case studies and real-world examples, this a practical discussion about the new reality of PR and marketing.

 Register online at: http://www.afnwpa.org/membership/creative_spark_registration

Or register by phone at (814) 451-8677.

Listen to Podcast

Get the lowdown on the New Rules of Marketing and PR in a podcast interview with David right here:   http://www.ebizitpa.org/audio/davidMScott.asp

 

Holly Buchanan Increases Website Conversions: Part II of II

Holly Buchanan

Read Part I of this two post series.

Every individual that visits your website is unique, looking for different pieces of information and reading websites differently. Each visitor will most likely be persuaded by various aspects and determinants. With Holly Buchanan’s personality descriptions of the four most common types of buyers, we can design our websites and copy so that we can persuade each personality type most effectively.

On Thursday, April 17th, Holly Buchanan addressed over 100 attendees at eBizitPA‘s King Conversion: Websites that Sell conference. Holly was an extraordinary speaker with several quick tips and in-depth techniques to vastly improve the conversion of your site. In the last post, I discussed some of the more basic background and theory of website effectiveness, as explained by Holly.

In this post, I’ll continue the discussion, focusing on designing your website to meet the needs of each unique individual that visits your site by addressing the most common four types of visitors: Methodical, Spontaneous, Competitive, and Humanistic.

The Methodical

Methodicals are detail oriented and like to be prepared, so they appreciate the hard facts, data, and information presented in a logical manner. When designing for the methodical, consider including:

  • Details, statistics, and proof of any claims
  • The process used and how it works, including a step by step explanation
  • The product specifications
  • Guarantees

The Spontaneous

The Spontaneous type lives in the moment, making spur of the moment decisions they can be confident in. They are good in crisis situations due to the fact that they can take action quickly. These people who are less likely to fall into a strict routine. When designing for the spontaneous, consider including:

  • A way to help users narrow their choices as quickly as possible and choose exactly what they are looking for
  • How your company will help users enjoy life more
  • How your product or service can be customized
  • How your product can make users’ lives more flexible

The Competitive

Competitives are the CEO types, they seek to understand and control life. They are driven individuals who are always educating themselves. Competitives are highly motivated, goal-oriented, image conscious, and often concerned with their social status. When designing for competitives, consider including:

  • Competitive advantages over similar companies
  • Why your company is better than others
  • Your credentials- why is your business credible?
  • How can you help the users be more productive and look good?

The Humanistic

Humanistics are the family-oriented individuals, with a tendency to put others’ needs before their own and may be uncomfortable accepting gifts or allowing others to do for them. They are usually slow to make a decision, often relying on trust and intuition. When designing for the humanistic, consider including:

  • Company and leadership bios to convince the users to trust you and your organization
  • Reasons why the user can trust you
  • How your organization will help users strengthen their current relationships
  • Testimonials

Design One Page for all Types

Often, it is not realistic to create four different sites for each personality type of your visitors. If your organization’s target audience does not typically consist of one specific personality type, you must include something for all personalities so you don’t lose potential customers. So, how do we do this when these personality profiles differ so much?

Simply, provide a sentence for each type of individual, ensuring that they all flow together. Be sure to address the competitive and spontaneous personalities first, as they tend to be more impatient. If they read the first paragraph and don’t find anything for them, they may click the back button and leave your site forever. Methodicals and humanistics are more patient, so you can speak to them further down the page.

For example, if you’re selling a Caribbean vacation, you may first discuss the variety of activities available at any time, day or not, on the resort (for the spontaneous), and then talk about how this vacation rivals those in more popular vacations because of its prestige (for the competitive). You can then transition into the details of the vacation, discussing the schedule of family activities available to you each day (for the humanistic AND the methodical).

Quick Changes to Increase Conversion

These past two posts are just a portion of the knowledge that Holly had passed on to those in attendance of the King Conversion conference. The following are some quick tips that will take you a few moments to fix and may increase your conversion greatly:

  • Don’t let design get in the way. Make all your hyperlinks the default blue so that your users know what is clickable
  • Use buttons instead of text call to actions when possible
  • Instead of using “Submit” on buttons, specify the action that is to be taken, such as “Download the Report” or “Buy Now”
  • Have a call to action on every page, including the About Us page so that it doesn’t act as a dead end
  • Include images and bios on your About Us page so that the humanistics will allow herself to trust you
  • Maintain consistency from the initial website ad all the way to the form of the call to action

Did You Attend? Share Your Experience

If you attended the King Conversion Conference on April 17th, we invite you to share your experience with the event in the comments section below.

Holly Buchanan Increases Conversion during the King Conversion Conference- Part I of II

Web Sites that Sell Conference

For those of you who were fortunate enough to attend eBizITPA’s King Conversion: Web Sites that Sell conference a few weeks ago, on Thursday, April 17th, you can join me in attesting to the genuinely quality content presented by Holly Buchanan, Senior Persuasion Architect at Future Now Inc, based in New York City.

For those who were unable to attend, you missed out on an extraordinary event with a captivating, experienced speaker presenting effective information to help improve your website’s performance and your overall conversion rate.

Holly BuchananHolly focused on both B2B and B2C companies, providing simple suggestions for improvement of the overall effectiveness of the companies’ websites. In fact, many exhibitors at the event were so impressed with Holly’s presentations, that they were online updating their sites with these simple solutions live, as Holly suggested them.

Although it would not be possible to serve you with all of the same information presented to the conference attendees, we would like to provide you with some of the insight shared at this conference on how to increase your web site effectiveness. This is the first post of a two part series to provide you with this valuable information.

The conference began with the discussion of the current state of the online buying and selling process, as Holly pointed out that only 26% of consumers report satisfaction with a web shopping experience, and 97% of website visitors fall out of the sales funnel, resulting in lost sales.

The First Step: Know Your Visitors

The first aspect to consider when attempting to draw in visitors to your site, is to make it relevant. What questions do the visitors have that they need answered? Did they arrive at your site through search engines? What key terms were used to arrive at your site? All this and more data should be measured and analyzed to find out everything possible about your website visitors, and to improve their overall satisfaction with the functionality and effectiveness of the site.

Don’t Make Me Think!

Once you have found out exactly what your potential customers find relevant, you should apply it to improve the relevancy of your site- place the information individuals are looking for in an easy to find location on your site. If visitors don’t find what they are looking for, potential leads could be gone within one to three clicks.

You can not make your visitors think. If they have to dig through your site for something they’re looking for, they will most likely click the back button and search elsewhere. Every page of the site should take your visitor to another page of the site.

The About Us page is often a dead end. Ensure that it invites visitors to visit other pages of the site, subscribe to a mailing list, or take some step toward the ultimate goal of the visit.

Define an End Goal

You should design your site so that the visitor knows exactly where they should look, exactly where they should click, and what the call to action, or ultimate goal of the company, is. This ultimate goal of the company should be defined, and ranges from an online order, to the act of searching for a local location of the company or store. The goal depends on the nature of the company and its products and/or services.

Also, there should be intermediary goals, or points of conversion between the time when the visitor arrives at the site, and the ultimate goal. These intermediary goals will help guide your customer through your site, and further towards your ultimate goal.

Persuasion

Once the site has addressed and taken steps towards achieving the overall goals, you must persuade the invididual to take the desired action, and make it easy for them to do this. This means that the check out process must be as easy and effective as possible. Any opt-in forms should be short and painless. And errors should be non-existent. Anything that will increase frustration could drive individuals to give up and leave a process only partially completed.

Take a few minutes or even an hour to walk through these and similar processes to make sure they are as smooth and painless as possible for your visitors. This act alone could resolve small issues, increasing your conversion with little effort.

Online copy can also play a very prominent role in persuading your visitors to continue using the site. Copy should be organized into chunky, browsable sections. The majority of website visitors are “browsers;” they scan the web pages before deciding to read them in full. Smaller paragraph sizes will allow your readers to find the keywords they find most relevant more quickly, encouraging them to read on.

Four Types of Buyers

A very valuable, if not the most valuable, part of the presentation was the explanation of the four different personalities of the buyers. These include the Humanistic, Methodical, Competitive, and Spontaneous individuals. There are certain methods that would be most effective in capturing the attention, and potential business, of each of these individuals, all within the same paragraph.

Stay tuned for the second post of this two part series to discover the tactics that will allow you to address each of these personalities’ concerns within one or two paragraphs, as well as some suggestions for improving your web site effectiveness and conversion rates with a few simple changes.

Did You Attend? Share Your Experience

If you attended the King Conversion Conference on April 17th, we invite you to share your experience with the event in the comments section below.

Read Part II of this two part series.