Your Website Conversion Rate is Meaningless. Period.

People often ask me what my website conversion rate is, which I think is an absolutely ridiculous question. But before we continue, let’s assume you don’t know what a conversion rate is OR let’s define it so the rest of this post is based on a mutual understanding of conversion rate.

Here it is: Number of Visitors ÷ Number of people who perform the task you want them to perform = Conversion rate (as a percentage).
Example: 100 people visit the site, 10 people buy. Conversion rate is 10%

Easy enough, right?

Let’s start with a real life example, let’s use, which is the masked url of an antioxidant nutritional supplement that advertises heavily on TV and Radio – but no advertising on the internet.

95% of their web traffic is derived from folks who heard the 30 minute radio infomercial or saw the 30 minute TV infomercial then went to the website to buy the product. What do you think their conversion rate is? Well, it just so happens that the conversion rate is 30%. That means 3 out of every 10 visitors buys the product.

Website Conversion Rates are Meaningless

For a while the company advertised using Google’s AdWords, which means they bid on ad space on the Google Search Results pages. When they did that they drove thousands of people to the site who were searching for “antioxidants” and “antioxidant nutritional supplements”. But the conversion rate of these ads were only .7%, which totally didn’t match the conversion rate of the customers who came to the site from the TV show.

Same website. No changes.

The only thing that did change was the quality of the person that arrived at the site. From infomercials the prospect had 30 minutes of explanation and product examples, before they searched to buy the product, But with Google Adwords they only saw a banner ad. That means most of the people were just curious. The conversion rate of the website dropped substantially.

So the website conversion rate is bunk. In fact, if anyone asks how well your site converts, just tell them that question makes no sense.

Rephrase the question for them. Let them know that they really asked the wrong question. What is important to know is the conversion rate of the traffic that comes from the TV show. It’s good to know the conversion rate of the traffic that comes from banner ads. 95% of the time that conversion rate will differ among sources.

Your website conversion rate is meaningless. The conversion rate of your source’s web traffic, on the other hand, is like spun gold. Knowing what converts well and what doesn’t is the first step in testing, revising and optimization. And hopefully it isn’t the last.

Can you start a new site outside your niche?

Prior to going to BlogWorldExpo I’ve maintained the position that trying to build an audience in a new, unrelated niche wasn’t the best idea. The whole point of list building and empire creation is culling together an audience of similar interests to which you can create a community.

Starting a second site in a related niche means you have the power of your community behind you. Emailing your loyal fishing enthusiasts about your new rainbow trout site makes a ton of sense. You get instant engagement and typically great testimonials from the old people. And doesn’t it make more sense than inviting all your fishing enthusiasts to your new quilting website?

Why are you doing that again?

There are so many things to do, isn’t there? Podcasts, Pinterest, Facebook, e-books, email, Flickr, Youtube, Hubpages, Google Places, backlinks, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Cinch, Slideshare, Instagram, Digg, BlogTalkRadio, Kunaki. . . the list goes on and on.

Does the existence of a social network, a social utility or a marketing tool mean you have to use them? Of course it doesn’t, but then why do so many companies maintain presences on all of them? The answer is purpose.

When you begin your marketing efforts, make sure you have a plan and can execute that plan. If you can successfully execute an entire marketing plan on one network, then you can probably expand that to two. A well executed plan means you’ve tested your messaging so that it attracts the right people to your funnel. Then you’ve tested the parts of the funnel so you’ve maximized the number of prospects that make it to your goal.  Finally, you’ve tested the backend and have found surefire ways to monetize them over and over again.

Banner Retargeting Marketing Strategy

A well executed banner retargeting marketing strategy is a tremendous way to capitalize on all your other marketing efforts. Banner retargeting is a way to make sure that visitors to your website continue to see ads for your products/services on the web AFTER they leave your site.  Basically – automated outbound follow-up.

Executing it is easy. It is the practice of putting a cookie on the computer of someone who’s been to your website (specific pages that is). Then buying banner ad space that will serve your ads when someone with that cookie on their computer visits that page. That’s the entire program in a nutshell.

If you’ve ever wondered about doing an outbound telemarketing campaign to call past users of your product or perhaps a postcard campaign to your pile of business cards – you’ll like this.

Before I go further most people who don’t understand banner retargeting have the following two concerns. (And because they have these concerns they typically fail to hear the astounding benefits of a banner retargeting marketing strategy.) So let’s address those two questions:

Moving your e-mail database

I spoke about moving your e-mail database on CinchCast this morning. I thought it might be fun to marry what I do here with what I do there. Take a listen!

Don’t build a Facebook page! (Unless. . .)

It’s true I’m an internet marketing guy who loves and values the proximity Facebook creates – but I’m telling you now, do not “get a page”. Stay away from it like the plague, like the green fuzz on old bread, like the highway during a construction project.

I know you’ve wanted to get a page for a long time and you’re thinking it will be a great place to post your real estate listings, or the status of your most recent client meetings. I know how valuable you think it will be to post photos of the new clothes you just got in stock – and you’re sure if you just do that people will flock to the door.

So if you’re thinking that getting a Facebook page would be a great addition to your company, you’re not even in the ballpark. In fact if “let’s get a Facebook page” is something your company has said, you’re missing the boat.

The biggest challenge I see small companies have with Facebook is they don’t completely understand the utility of it. “Build it and they will come” just isn’t a sound philosophy. In fact, it should probably be reworded to say “Build value and they may come once. Build a valuable community and they’ll be back.”

Facebook is not radio or billboards. It’s not a site to just post stuff. However, it is a great answer when you’re determining your company’s marketing strategy and you’ve reached the “how do we communicate with our customers better” section. Or perhaps answering the question, “how do we engage our cheerleaders and have them work for us?”.

There is a huge difference between “getting a page” and deciding to better communicate with your customers. Facebook pages can be great tools in your efforts to create a client community. However, you’ll hear crickets if you decide to “get a page” just so you can post your stuff for sale.

Once you decide you’re going to build a Facebook community, the challenge becomes content. How do you allocate the time? What content do you post? How do you stay engaged on a daily basis? And how do you determine what your customers really want to hear that keeps them coming back?

That’s a challenge you must undertake internally as a company. To some degree you’ll have to test what works and what doesn’t. As long as you’re treating your customer the way they want to be treated, your testing will come off just fine. Don’t get discouraged if the feedback doesn’t come right away. Engage. Engage. Engage.

To get back to the topic at hand. . . Don’t get a Facebook Page, UNLESS what you really meant to say was “Let’s create a customer community, and utlize the power of Facebook”.

Can small businesses use Foursquare?

I’ve been dabbling with the new “social media” app called Foursquare. It seemed, from the very beginning to be a great app to help small businesses reach new customers.

So I decided I’d not only try it out, I’d jump in and do everything you could do with it so I could really see how small businesses are using it, and perhaps be amongst the first to know of any changes or monetization ideas.

To some degree Foursquare is a game.  For small businesses, that may make it hard to conceptualize as a revenue generator. But the game involves GPS in mobile phones, which means people must find you in order to play.

If you’re small business goal is to increase exposure,  then Foursquare might be a small part of that strategy. From the game perspective, that only works if checking into your business contributes to the player achieving a Foursquare goal like attaining a new Foursquare Badge.

(By the way, it’s really a mobile phone scavenger hunt where “badges” are the prize and “check-ins” are the requirements.)

So far some big companies have been able to get their own badges, like Lucky Mag, Explore Chicago, Mountain Dew and Zagat’s. For the small business, that hasn’t been an option.

But the other side of Foursquare is where small businesses have made some headway.  The person who checks in the most times at an establishment gets labeled as the “Mayor” of that location. Places like Starbucks are honoring Mayors with 15% off at the register.  Get your customers competing to be the Mayor – and perhaps you’ll increase the number of times your regulars show up.

For some businesses (like this one), Foursquare has been a tremendous asset to their bottom line.  But the ease of “check-ins” make me wonder.

In my quest to get all the badges being offered by companies and Foursquare, I’ve noticed a few things.

  1. You can check-in without going inside and sometimes being as far a city block away. Occassionaly I ran into a pop-up that said “Whoa, you’re too far away to check-in”, but it is rare.
  2. You can drive around like in a scavenger hunt and check-in at all the places you need to. (Though there is a pop-up if you check in to several too quickly).
  3. If you’re GPS shows you to be somewhere else, because of a glitch, you can check-in wherever your phone thinks you are. But if your GPS rights itself and you check in again locally, you’ll get a “Whoa, you couldn’t possibly have traveled that fast” pop-up.
  4. Finally, it’s hard to check-in if you’re business is in a building that inhibits your phone GPS from working. That’s the most frustrating part.

There’s little downside to listing your business on Foursquare. Probably the very best thing is knowing that anytime someone checks in within a 1,000 meters, they have a chance to see that you’re a nearby business – which they may have never known before.

If you’re “playing” foursquare and have some ideas for small businesses – leave them here and let’s chat about them!

Is your Small Business ready for the flat screen TV change?

Somehow, overnight it seems, flat screen TV’s are no longer available as an upgrade. Nope. Now flat screen is the default. In fact, if you want to buy a regular cathode ray tube TV, you’re going to have to go to an electronics store, or eBay or Craigslist. Because, Wal*Mart isn’t going to special order it for you.

I don’t recall it, but I imagine there was a day that color TV was the default – not just an upgrade option.  Just as there was a day that CD’s replaced tapes, and the automatic replaced the stick. In fact, can you find ice cream makers that require you to hand crank them? When is the day that all banks will have drive-thru’s?

Change is inevitable. The question is whether or not your small business is ready for the change? Just think about the simple things like popcorn ceilings that really make you look old and out-dated. How about business cards that don’t feature your e-mail or web address? And are you prepared to have a corresponding Facebook page should that become the norm?

Keeping up with technology is hard – there’s so much of it. But because it changes rapidly, you can begin to lose customers just because your technology is outdated – and thus foreign to today’s consumer.

Check  your website, is there a “contact us” tab? If not, perhaps there should be because everyone expects to find the hours, e-mail and phone number there. It’s no longer an add-on – now it’s the norm. Is your main web address a hotmail account? Today’s savvy youth see that as cheap and out-dated. Make sure to get right away.  Finally, are you ready to book appointments, sell products or communicate with your customers through your website? Soon enough the lack thereof won’t be tolerated.

Doesn’t sound like sitting on your hands is helping does it? What else is becoming the norm? More importantly – are you ready to grasp it? Leave your web address, we’ll look it over and tell you what we think about your site and the future “norms”.

What Can Dog the Bounty Hunter Teach Local Businesses?

Ever seen Dog the Bounty Hunter? He’s a Harley-looking dude in Hawaii who goes around rounding up the bad guys. But he doesn’t just round them up, he takes them down with style. Duane “Dog” Chapman and his family have turned their little bounty hunter enterprise into a full blown reality TV sensation. Since 2005 Dog has also turned up as a guest star on other popular shows as well.

Alright, enough with the show prep. What has that got to do with your local business? Well let me answer that with a question. If you live in Hawaii and need a bounty hunter who are you going to call? I’ll answer that for you, you’re going to call Dog the Bounty Hunter because he is the expert.How did he become the expert? He did it by allowing you to see what he does for a living – but more importantly he shows you how he does it.

There’s a roofer in Maryland who has achieved the same “expert” status in his community. He didn’t have a TV show though. He, like you, has YouTube. He films himself everytime he gets on a roof to make his initial inspection. He films the roof while talking about the problems he sees and the solutions required.

He’s created so many films that he’s featured prominently when you search for his local keywords. That ability to prove yourself by allowing others to see your expert knowledge creates a level of trust, appreciation and credibility. Not only that, but he uses the video when he talks to the client and proves to them he understands their problems and necessary solutions.

Become the Dog of  your community. Plan your work and turn it into a marketing and teaching moment. You’ll revel in the appreciation your local community shows and accomplish your marketing activities while you’re getting your work done.

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The Structure of Social Media for Small Business

Structuring your social media platform as a business gives you an opportunity not available to a consultant or sole proprietorship. While I spend a good deal of the time branding my own image, a company has the option of allowing it’s “employee faces” to brand themselves as employees or to make the “employee faces” anonymous giving all the credit to the company.

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