by Ed Ellingham, Owner of Cloud Nine Communications
Each month we will feature a guest blog post from one of our Business Expansion Network (BEN) members. To learn more about BEN click here or give us a call at 815-942-0113.
Anyone that follows me online or has listened to me speak about web design has probably heard me ranting about the three strategies every website should have to be successful. I love sharing tips, ideas, and expertise in the web design and marketing space. You may have even heard me tell you about this at a totally inappropriate time… Sounds like something I’d do.
You – “Hey Ed, do you know when the next BEN meeting is?”
Me – “You know what you should really do with your website…”
You – “Never mind, I’ll look it up…”
Me – Starts rambling about lead generation strategies
Just to touch on this again, I’m going to summarize these three things for you.
- Traffic Strategy: How are people going to find your website? How are you driving traffic? Spoiler Alert, this isn’t ‘Field of Dreams’ and just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come.
- Conversion Strategy: Now that people are finding your site, what’s your plan to convert them to a lead? Remember, most people visiting your site aren’t ready to buy yet, so have a strategy to convert them to a lead.
- Nurture Strategy: Sweet, you’re converting site visitors into leads, but now what? Now we need to stay active in staying on top of that lead without annoying them. We need to nurture them.
I know what you’re already thinking, “Well, that was vague and useless!”
You’re welcome 🙂
Simplifying the web strategies
I originally wrote this post with a ton of different ideas for small businesses to use for these strategies. What I’ve decided to do was break these strategies down into the easiest and most universal way to apply them to everyone’s small business. When we develop a strategy it’s generally custom tailored for your business, and it’s goals, but there are a lot of things we do that just simply work and use every time.
*cheesy pun alert* If you’re allergic to cats, you should leave, because we’re just about to let the cat out of the bag.
In SEO (Search Engine Optimization) we refer to two common types of tactics, on-site and off-site. When we build a site, we build it for best SEO practices, which means we’re doing our best to make sure your ‘on-site’ SEO is handled with care. This is a one-time practice with any website you get from a web designer, but like off-site SEO, your on-site SEO should be ongoing.
What you should do…
Years ago, in a land far far away… Well, maybe just years ago, Google was NOT the top search engine. We had Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, and so many more, and…they pretty much sucked! At the time, search engines ranked you based on keywords alone, which means that the system was really easy to beat without any relevance, resulting in poor results. Then Google came in, the world’s most boring website, and crushed the competition. They did this by developing an algorithm that provided better search results for a better user experience, and their business practices are still focused around this idea today.
Blog you must…
This is important because today’s algorithm has hundreds of factors, but there is one that’s stood out for many years. The factor is CONTENT! Yep, content is king, and you need to keep adding it to rank. The thing is, you don’t necessarily want to just keep adding pages to your website. That’ll make it confusing and difficult to navigate. So, how do you add content then? You must blog, and keep blogging. Writing a blog on your website gives you the opportunity to write about your expertise and experiences, relevant on topics and keywords you want to rank for.
If your competitor isn’t blogging the odds are you can rank above them by simply doing this one thing. Remember, write on-topic articles relevant to your business, products, and services. Although only Google knows its algorithm, we’re showing that you want to be in the 800-1000+ word count. Throw some 300-700 word count posts in there too, just to prevent from creating a footprint with Google. Stay away from anything that feels systematic.
Blog on-topic and with relevant keywords. Have plenty of 800-1000+ for best SEO results, but sprinkle smaller posts in there too to not look like it’s being done systematically. Do not copy others, as unique content that’s not duplicated is a ranking factor. Use proper heading tags as you go (i.e., H1-H6). Lastly, you should do this as often as you can. If you can do it weekly, do it…if monthly is all you have, do that. Just keep ‘em coming.
Check out Neil Patel’s guide on blog writing
This can vary depending on your business model, but we’ll share the most popular and successful method with you. A conversion in this strategy is going to be getting a Name and Email address from a site visitor. They’re not buying anything, they’re not requesting a quote, and they’re not ready to buy. This strategy is actually focused on those NOT ready to buy, and the reason we’re focusing on that is because today most of your traffic is coming from those ‘Googling’ a topic online. They’re researching, they’re visiting you and your competitors, and then they’re getting interrupted. Yes, it’s 2017, and our phones are buzzing, emails are coming in, and your friend just tagged you in a Facebook post about a rat dragging a piece of pizza up a flight of stairs (this is a real video).
What you should do…
Create a lead magnet or offer, usually entirely free or steeply discounted. Our goal is not to gain revenue off of this, but to grow our mailing list. The revenue comes later! Repeat after me, “the revenue comes later, the revenue comes later.” Your goal is to build your email list so you can keep remarketing to these potential customers.
Opt-ins, lead magnets…stop talking gibberish!
A lead magnet can be an eGuide, Case Study, White Paper, eBook, Infographic…be creative and think of something that kind of answers a common question people have when they visit your site. If you’re a plumber, you might have a checklist of “5 things to do before calling a plumber”.
This allows you to position yourself as an expert with great customer care. In exchange for this list, they’re going to opt-in to your email list. Odds are they were going to leave your site and visit your competitor’s site, then leave their site and on to the next. The thing that you’ve down now is grabbed their attention, and you can now keep it. Where your competitors have had one opportunity to market to this site visitor, by getting them to opt-in you now have the opportunity to re-market to them.
You can use a tool like Canva or even Word to create your lead magnet, but you still have to market it on your own site. We suggest a tool like Optin Monster to create your opt-ins. You’ll be able to create banners and pop-ups to grab their attention and get your opt-in. Remember, pay attention to how the behavior is to not annoy your visitors. Be subtle and not repetitive. These platforms allow you to set things like the time someone is on a site before seeing a pop-up or even exit intent where the pop-up doesn’t happen until the visitor is about to leave the site.
You applied a traffic strategy and drove visitors to your site; then you offered them an opportunity they couldn’t pass up in exchange for them to opt-in to your email list. Awesome, you now have fresh leads you can market to and convert them into customers. Now we just need to bust out the champagne, right? Not exactly… First, we need a plan in place to nurture that lead into a customer. I’d say this doesn’t happen automatically, but it kinda does. You’ll invest some time at first, but then we can set it on auto-pilot.
What should you do…
Now that we have a plan in place to acquire names and email addresses we want to set up a nurture campaign, using our email platform of choice. We suggest using a tool such as MailChimp, which is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. It even supports automation in the free plan, which is exactly what we need to do this.
You’re going to want to develop an email series that will be automated to your new lead when they sign-up for your lead magnet/offer. We’re going to setup automated triggers to get things to send when we want and how we want. The hardest part is really writing the emails, and that’s mostly difficult of getting over your own hurdles.
Start planning, start writing…
Think of the phases you want in this series and plan 5-8 (roughly) to be in this series. Your first one should be introducing yourself. We’re not going to hammer them with deals and offers and promotions until they crack, no. Your goal is to build rapport, showcase your expertise, and be helpful. The internet is buzzing with annoying sales tactics, but we’re going to stand above the crowd with being valuable.
You’ll want to follow the 80/20 rule when sending emails, so plan on 80% of your emails being personal to build rapport and helpful to provide value. Share stories of experiences and expertise, be helpful and genuine. Then your 20% will be sales and offers. Give them a great offer or opportunity to flip that lead switch into a sale. Remember, they’ve been following your emails for a bit now, they feel like they’re starting to know you and that they want to work with you, make that final offer to tip the scales.
Don’t get creative in design, with tons of pictures. This isn’t a newsletter, although those are good, that’s not what we’re doing here. Write simple text emails, include links to resources, but try to leave the photos out when you can. Keep it simple!
The best method being used right now to time your emails goes kinda like this. Your first email will go out immediately, so day 1. Your second will go out on day 2, but your following email will take the last two time frames (1+2) and add them up, so you’ll send it 3 days later. The following email after that will take the last two email time frames and add those (2+3) and you’ll send that one 5 days later. And so on, and so forth. Sounds confusing, but it’s really simple.
Once you set the automation up, it pretty much runs on autopilot. Your emails will go out at the time you set, in the series you’ve defined, and will be triggered when a new visitor opts-in.
Try doing these things with your website and overall online strategy and start seeing the growth your website can bring. Every business is different, along with its target market, but every business can get value from driving traffic to their site and using that traffic to grow their email list. Where most websites lose their marketing power once someone leaves it, a website with a strategy to grow its email list can keep that marketing power.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out, and we’d be happy to help with any web design questions you might have.
Owner of Cloud Nine Communications
Ed Ellingham has been building websites for nearly 20 years and has an extensive background in all things technology. With a love of design and technology and a passion for entrepreneurship, he started Cloud Nine Communications in 2014. He’s put his focus on helping small businesses grow through the power of the web and digital strategy.