Everyone you know has a website, so you figured you needed one!
Having a website to generate sales leads can be a cost-effective tool for your business.
Can you answer these questions about your business’ website?
I’m not writing about the e-commerce sites that need to have a website to illustrate their products and take orders online. This article is about consultants, lawyers, accountants, marketing, and other service firms that don’t sell services online but need leads from their online investment.
Many business owners cannot answer any of the questions about their websites or if it generates sales leads. Some business owners seem to feel that the website is a lost leader or cost center. Most business owners haven’t taken the time or insisted that others take the time to develop an online business strategy.
Most owners tell me Trade Shows and referrals bring in most of their sales leads. Referrals are the best leads since an element of trust already exists from someone your prospects already knows and trusts. Trade Shows can be a good source of leads but are expensive. Often the cost of leads can exceed a small business owner’s budget.
It takes hard work. Building and they will come doesn’t work. Sure, it is nice to have a pretty brochure you can point potential clients to online but
“pretty” doesn’t produce sales leads. Nor will “pretty” turn those leads into sales.
This isn’t a trick questions. Few business owners can describe their ideal customer.
“Someone with money that is willing to spend it”.
This isn’t exactly the answer I had in mind but definitely could be one of the characteristics of an ideal customer. Here are some of the characteristics of a customer persona that can help you craft a strategy for reaching your prospects.
HubSpot does a good job of defining a customer persona.
“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.”
Knowing your ideal prospect will help you develop a strategy that enables them to find your company online. Without going into a long explanation of marketing and sales funnel my focus is on the last few steps of the funnel. A prospect has a need for your services and has started a search to understand more about those services, who provides them, and how much they cost. The prospect is close to purchasing because they have an immediate need or otherwise decided to pursue obtaining the services.
Based on the services your business provides and the persona of your ideal prospect how would they search to find your services? What words would they use for this type of search? They won’t use unique qualifiers that many businesses like to use to differentiate themselves as being different from other similar businesses. See “is your message clear and compelling” post. Often if a prospect finds your business in this stage they will consider you an expert on the services and return for their next two stages of search or jump to the transaction stage based on your clear and compelling message.
In this stage content is king. the information on your website needs to be useful and authoritative based on Google’s rules and what is provided by your competitors. Google strives to provide search results that are useful to the searcher, your prospect. A webpage full of gimmicks and pop-ups to entice a visitor to take action doesn’t sit well with Google when ranking your information. It is important to understand how to write and present your content so Google favors the information in a search. in many cases just the basics so that Google or other search engines can find your information helps.
This is a business second chance to be found at an opportune time in the search. The searcher is fine-tuning their quest for suppliers. What are their choices for purchasing these services? For local services providers, your business needs to be found at this stage. Often the closest business, the best reviews, or visual presentation of the business can win over the prospects. For both this stage and the final transaction stage local search engine optimization is very important. Google will provide results according to their local search algorithms. If your business doesn’t appear in this search it is the same as no one seeing the sign in front of your business when they drive by in a car.
Similar to the second stage of search and often overlapping your business must show up on the first page of the search to be considered. This often means a listing in Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Business, or a multitude of other online listings. Think about the results you see when searching. Was a map displayed with the business location? Are there reviews of the business? Photos of the business?
Recently please with a new convertible top a local upholstery shop put on my aging convertible I posted a picture of the new top on Google My Business with a positive review. Within 3 months that picture was viewed 3,000 times. Photos are important as are reviews!
Local “certifications” or listings are also important. Your business needs to be listed consistently across multiple directory sites. Most of us don’t even see “yellow pages” anymore but in ancient times if your business wasn’t in the yellow page book your business was never found. Online directories are as important. Many carry what Google refers to as authority in that they have valid listings and many visitors. Your business needs to be listed in at least 29, yes 29 or more of these to get top placement in a local search.