Consumer Buying Process: Messaging Makes all the Difference

I always enjoy “analyzing” the consumer buying process in different industries. For instance it doesn’t take much effort to sell a candy bar at the grocery store checkout. But it takes a heck of a lot of work to get a country to buy a Boeing 747.

This past week I met with both an insurance guy and a financial services guy (sales calls basically). I don’t need either, and imagine a great number of their appointments are with people who don’t want to change insurance or need a new money manager. But they make sales – so how does that work? And can we translate that to the web?

According to the financial services guy, there’s no way to makes sales in the financial services sector without first establishing a personal relationship with the clients, basically over coffee to start. In his mind even when people are shopping for what you have, unless you have a relationship with them they’re not doing business with you. The insurance guy felt the same way.

Surveys aid the buying process

I recently read an article over at Alejandro Reyes’s website (which you can see here) where he published the results of a survey his readers took. I thought what he learned from his readers would be quite germane to your business.

He asked his audience three questions:

  • What kind of content do you want to see in 2011 on AlejandroReyes.com?
  • What format do you like best?
  • How can I help you best in 2011 to become more successful?

If you can’t identify with those questions because it sounds like a website owner asked them, have you ever had a customer request something? If you’re a hair dresser, has anyone ever asked you what kinds of foods promote shiny hair? If you’re a hardware store owner, has anyone ever asked you if you do workshops? Why not ask them by e-mail what kinds of things you can do to make their experience better – and how they’d like you to do it. I’m sure you can think of three questions.

What Alejandro learned will certainly make his business better over the course of 2011. His readers said they’d be interested in hearing how other successful entrepreneurs became successful. That was great for Alejandro because he loves doing success interviews. I bet your customers, if you’re a hardware store owner, would love to see what other successful ”birding” folks are doing to attract bluebirds or cardinals to their feeders.  Ask your customers what you can provide.

Alejandro also learned that his customer prefer blog posts and video over podcasts. Wouldn’t that be nice to know? Would it be great to know that your real estate clients would much rather attend open houses on Thursday evening from 5 – 7 than Sunday from 2 – 4? How would that change your business?

Your customers have already researched what they need to know about your products. They’ve decided your place of business serves their needs, and many of them are repeat buyers (meaning they’ve overcome any buyer’s remorse). Your job now is to become a more staple expert in their mind and expand the services you can provide to them.

The only ways you can make more money is to get customers to buy more or get more customers. In the case of the survey, you have a prime opportunity to provide more value in exchange for money.

Surveying your customers is extremely easy on-line. There are many, many free polling and survey services you can use. To get people to take a survey, put the link in the footer of your e-mail signature. Send a postcard with a link to the survey.  Add the survey to your website home page. E-mail your customers and ask them to take it. Or even ask them in-store.

Surveys will not only make your relationship with your customers tighter and give you opportunities to meet their needs, but will also start a conversation with your customers that you can continue by e-mail all year long. So don’t forget to ask for their name and e-mail – then you can really serve their needs.

What are your thoughts on surveys? Why haven’t you done them yet? Some people are afraid it will annoy their customers. Do you feel that way and why? I’m interested in your thoughts so leave a comment below.

The Buying Process – Writing Ads for your Audience

So, I’ve written quite a bit about the buying process lately. I think that’s mainly because marketers don’t always understand. For instance if you’re an affiliate marketer and you write an ad that says:

    Nikon 30D Camera
    Lowest Price on the Nikon 30D
    No registration required

Now, suppose you write that ad because you’ve become an affiliate of a camera website and the Nikon is a popular camera. Does it make any sense to send that person to a landing page with a title like:

    Nikon 30D vs the new Canon SLR

NO! It doesn’t. Do you know why? It doesn’t make sense because the person who clicks on your ad (based on what you wrote) is beyond comparing features in their buying process. They want to be taken to the page that shows the price and the “BUY NOW” button. Anything less than that and you’re wasting your money on ads.

And speaking of how you write your ads, make sure you spend some time testing what’s written. A poorly written ad won’t get you anywhere (well, maybe you’ll get a spot in this blog) :)

Here’s an example of a poorly written (from a non-native English speaker, most likely), and highly humorous ad – just for fun. I got it in my spam e-mail folder today:

Christmas, Happy!
Hey, what are you doing lately? I’d like to present to you a very good company that I knew.
Its home page company: www.Ele-sky.com
If you have any needs, please contact the company Email.
They can offer all kinds of electronic products that you need, such as motorcycles, laptops, mobile phones, digial cameras, , x box, ps3, GPS, MP3 / 4, etc. Please take time to look at that there must be something you’d like to purchase.
Hope you have a good state of mind in buying your company!
Regards

Please check out these posts on the Buying Process as well:

enjoy!

Internet Marketing: Do You Know the Steps of the Buying Process?

I recently read Todd Brown’s Article on “the Greatest Marketing Lesson”, which I thought useful, and it made me think about reiterating this important lesson to go along with it.

Todd actually wrote about a concept he learned from Eugene Schwartz regarding the “level of sophistication” your audience has achieved and how to tailor your marketing to that. When you’re finished reading this post, go read Todd’s.

Use Surveys to Take Action

It’s always in the back of our mind, “I should be surveying my audience”. We all think it and wish we were doing it. And then some of us actually do it (which makes the rest of us start thinking about it again).

But when have you seen the results of a survey? I’m not talking about the graph or chart that shows how many people picked A on Question 2. I’m talking about a change in direction. When have you seen someone take action because of the answers to a survey?

Most likely. . . never . . . or it was something tiny.

That’s because there aren’t too many people teaching surveys. So today, let’s do just that.

Getting Started

In an ideal world you could publish a 100 question survey that didn’t box people into choosing A, B or C. You could ask questions that open up entire realms you hadn’t considered. Then you could put together a team to analyze the answers, devise an action plan, implement it and track if it worked.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. It’s pretty hard to get people to fill out one survey, let alone answer 100 questions. And then to find the time to analyze 1,000 different answers. . . I could only dream of having that kind of fun with my audience.

Nope. Time and purpose are linked and thus we must be more deliberate with our time.

The Action Plan: Survey Questions

A smart survey has a point to it. That point is action. If you’re going to ‘bother’ your audience to garner information, make sure it is information you can take action upon.

To make sure you’re doing this, you need to spend time writing an action plan based on the replies you could get back. For instance if you ask “Are you a stay-at-home parent?”, then you need a plan that says

  • “If only 10% indicate they stay home, I will refocus my content this way”.
  • “If it is 50/50, I will change x, y, and z”.
  • “If the respondents are 75% stay-at-home, I will stop doing m, n and p”.

If you can’t think of a single change you would make or action you would take, then don’t ask that question. Maybe none of the demographic questions would alter your strategy – if that’s the case then skip them all.

You really want to narrow down the # of questions to as few as possible. Narrow, narrow, narrow the focus and your readers will feel they are more valuable to you and part of the solution.

And remember Google Analytics can tell you a lot about your site and how people navigate it. Don’t ask questions of your audience if you already have the answer somewhere else. Figure out the holes in your analytics – and ask those questions.

The Right Survey Software

It’s important to have a robust survey package. You need one that will allow you to branch out after each question. For instance if the first actionable question is the stay at home question, then you will want to ask the people who said “yes” different questions about the future of your blog content than the people who said “no”.

If you serve parents and you spend a good deal of time talking about child care options, separating the opinions of the stay-at-home parents from the employee parents will help you decide how to frame future content to improve reader engagement.

(Think about this, if I told you that the only people who have signed up on your email list are stay-at-home parents, and told you that conversely 75% of your readers are employee parents, what would you do?)

So make sure you use software that can ask separate questions depending on how you answered the previous one. By the way, I recommend SurveyMonkey – it does that.

The Survey Funnel

If one of your questions is “Do you own any of my ebooks?”, then the ensuing questions would be much different for the people who do than the people who don’t. Imagine 50 people saying “no” and 50 people saying “yes” and having the next question say “Was it helpful?”. (Now 50 people are annoyed)

Before you write the survey, build a funnel on paper and ask yourself at each step, “what would I do if learned this from my audience today?” And what do I want to know of the people who say yes vs no? Hold their hand as you walk them down a path learning what you need to learn to take action and improve your site.

It should really only take 4 or 5 questions to learn good, meaningful information. But first you must plan it out – along with the actions you will take depending on the answers.

What type of Questions

In a package like Survey Monkey, the multiple choice answers dictate which questions they answer next. So ask multiple choice questions, but always include a space to leave comments. You don’t want to box people in if they have something to say.

Once your survey has divided your audience into the groups you feel you can learn from, ask them a final essay question to really learn what action you need to take. In the photo (see above) you can see that there are a total of 20 questions, but no one has to answer more than 5 to get to the end.

Sometimes it is appropriate to ask everyone the same essay question at the end. Then you can compare the answers from one group to the next, which can really supercharge your action plan, can narrow your target market and can increase your income.

Finally, when they’ve answered the last question make sure you take them to a “thank you” page. You can use that page to give away your ebook, have them sign up for your newsletter or give them a link to an article that will make their day brighter. Don’t miss that opportunity to do something nice for them. They just finished doing something nice for you.

Dan R Morris

My Readers Don’t Want a Newsletter

In my recent article Don’t Write an E-book, there were some questions about the purpose of building a list. I believe a couple people actually said “my readers don’t want a newsletter, they already get my feed”.

In reading those I both understand the sentiment and where you might find success creating one.

List building is a critical element of an online business. Without the ability to contact your audience “at will” do you really have an audience? Or are you the kid with the lemonade stand on the side of the highway, just interacting with the traffic when it slows and rolls down the window?

I totally agree with the idea that there is no place or time for a “general newsletter” anymore. Especially for an active audience engaging with the feed and Facebook. Sure your grandma will read your newsletter, but most people will open it 45% of the time for the first two months then only open the seasonal ones.

Suppose you were to write a couple gluten free recipes and you get quite a few nice comments from that. That would be telling that you have an audience appreciative of gluten free recipes. Perhaps you could type those up and offer them as a “kitchen printable”. If you had them “opt-in” with their email to get this printable, you’d start to develop a “gluten free specific” list.

This would be a group that has a certain affinity to which you could learn more about. You could learn the phases of being Gluten Free. You could echo what sucks about being Gluten Free and what’s great. You could put together a pretty good email program, specific to that part of your audience, with recipes, books, blog posts, ideas, images, and more to serve them. Your entire audience might not be interested in that, but your Gluten Free fans would.

Let’s do a quick test, which of these do you open?

FROM: GAP
SUBJECT: January Newsletter

FROM: GAP
SUBJECT: 40% Off the Khaki Jeans you like

Parsing your list into affinity groups means every message is relevant. Every “newsletter” has meaning. Your open rates go up, your click through rates go up, your income goes up. If you want to learn more about List Building, Phil Hollows of Feedblitz wrote a great book on the topic. You can read more about that here: List Building for Bloggers.

Is it more work? It can be, but there are lots of ways to automate list building, parsing lists and email marketing to make it both easier for you and a better experience for your audience. If you would like to learn about the automation part, let me know in the comments and we’ll tackle that next.

Dan R Morris 

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 2.00.08 PM

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 1.59.55 PM

Make Products Guaranteed to Sell

1389187_on_sale_now

So there’s a great way to make your own products without worrying about whether they’re going to sell or not.  In fact you could say there is a 100% foolproof way to figure out what your audience will buy.

The first thing you need to know is that people don’t buy products – they buy labels, titles and headlines. In fact, most people don’t look through the Table of Contents on Amazon before they buy the book.

They base their purchase on referral and the title.

Build Your Marketing Funnel

Today’s note is short because I made a video that better describes what I’m hoping you’ll learn.  It’s hard to figure out what to do from one day to the next for your business. What can make that much easier is mapping out your overall business structure, which I show you in a short video here:

http://lettersfromdan.com/consumer-buying-process-strategy/

Internet and DR Marketing: Do You Know Your Audience’s Level of Sophistication?

Eugene Schwartz, the guy who revolutionized direct response marketing – the guy who didn’t get paid enough for his copywriting skills – the genius of marketing, broke down this very important lesson.

As I reference in my previous post about understanding the buying process of your audience, it is also important to understand their level of sophistication.

People buy belief not benefits: Just ask Martin Luther King Jr.

A friend of mine sent me a link to this video. I gotta tell you this might be the single best video I’ve seen on the human condition. Straight from TEDx these insights go directly to what makes a good leader. I can’t say better than what’s said here:

Bad Behavior has blocked 4053 access attempts in the last 7 days.