just for the record, I would not recommend you start calculating how much money a traffic jam is costing you, it could be hazardous to your mental health and possibly the physical health of the next construction worker you see stacking another orange barrel right in the middle of the only lane that isn't already blocked and jammed up!
Ah, but alas I am on a tangent. My point is that too many business owners (of all sizes) waste time or have their time wasted by other activities, like orange barrels and hence are not able to do activities that help make them money. Question, is your web site in this category? Does it help you make money or simply waste your time and hence cost you money?
Simple question for some, more complex for others. A recent statistic I read said that most white papers (those prolific 7-12 page marketing pieces that are rarely printed on white paper) are delivered electronically more than in any other format.
This little nugget of information combined with the rage at the orange barrels created the fishing model in my head. If my web site had a great, well written bait piece, call it a white paper, booklet, tip sheet, etc. on it and people were finding it and downloading it while I was stuck in traffic doing absolutely nothing than I would be making money and gathering leads for when I got back to the office.
Ok, some of you are saying "hey genius, people have been doing this for years on the Internet, where have you been". I would respond I didn't realize it because I have been in this stupid traffic jam for the last several years! No seriously I realize this is not rocket surgery, but I am still amazed at the number of web sites that doesn't have this material on it and don't create fresh versions of these materials to continually gather leads while they are doing other things. I still come across tons of sites that have the typical about us, services, products, pictures of our employees (including pets) and many other things that couldn't interest the prospect less. So while the model is not actually mine nor is it completely new and innovative it also is not being followed by a large amount of buisnesses.
However imagine a prospect that comes to your web site and instead of being put to sleep by reading about your latest "about us" overhaul he/she finds some well written copy talking about a new booklet you have made available called "How to Create a Profit Centered Web Site" (one of my own creations) do you think they might be enticed to download it? I am guessing if they don't know the last person that called them because of their web site they might want to.
Now you don't just include a simple link where they can download this document, you ask them to give you their email address, name, and maybe phone number and then once they submit this information then you roll them over to another page where they can't download the document...yes you read that correctly I don't give them the bait at the rollover page. Why? Because years of driving around orange barrels has made me a cruel and insensitive human being. No, because if you are a fisherman like me the fish come up and take your bait and at the end of the day your net is still empty.
I recommend that you roll them over to a page that offers your newsletter sign up, information about your downloadable products, the ability to refer a friend to your site for another free download that was even better than the last and of course a note that tells them that an email will be arriving shortly with a download link. By doing it this way you will be assured that whatever email address they gave is actually real and you can actually deliver a message to.
In addition, you should have this email message go out automatically. Don't make the person wait until you get the message and respond because if you do they will get upset and may even forget 10 minutes later they visited your site and asked for it. You want them to have it right now, after all it is a bait piece and designed to move them one more step into your sales process. Here are the items I think this strategy must have to be successful...
- A way to make your prospects aware this document exists on your web site and why they want to get it. This can be done with an email blast, radio ad, direct mail postcard, or any other vehicle designed to alert people.
- Fantastic copy that gets the reader's attention as soon as they land on your site letting them reinforcing and expanding on the message in your step above as to why they want this and how to get it.
- A truly well written and (important point) educational document that is not just an oversized brochure for your company. People want information, not just sales crap.
- A web site processing system that collects their contact information and attempts to alert them to other things you might have available they might find interesting.
- An automated way to send them the document they just asked for.
- A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to put the lead into and track it to the successful close of the sale (a story for another day).
- A catalog or other sales piece that is built right into the white paper or email message that tells them about all the products and services you offer. If they find your bait piece valuable and informative you want to make it very easy for them to buy your additional items.
This little bit of information may keep you safely within the little white lines on the road when you are stuck in the next traffic jam. You won't necessarily be making piles of new money, but you also won't be wasting all your time either...you will be fishing.