Sunday, August 27, 2006

Flash Burns

Adobe Flash is all over the Internet these days. There are thousands of sites that have Flash banners, headers, videos, and entire sites built in Flash. However I don't think all this Flash is a good thing. Flash is often a distraction that is introduced to a web site visitor and the distraction often takes the person's attention away from other elements or sections of your web site that are much more important.

I have written previously about having a purpose for your web site and offer a program called "The Purpose Driven Web Site". Without a well planned web site strategy your web site will probably be a dismal failure. To avoid this you need a purpose for your site and that purpose has to be clear to you and your audience. You should have a defined action you want them to take and a goal you want to accomplish and help your audience accomplish.

I think that purpose or goal is often interupted and often not completed because of poorly planned Flash elements that distract a user from doing what you hope they would, like say BUYING SOMETHING! If your Flash is costing you in lost sales and lower profits you need to read my most recent FREE position paper...

How Flash Is Costing You Money and Hurting Your Internet Marketing Strategy

I hope that those of you with Flash infected web sites will take the time to read this free white paper before it costs you too much in lost sales and profits. The choice is up to you and the clock in ticking. Lost time is lost opportunity. Read it today.

Michael Temple

Friday, August 18, 2006

Make It Personal

I am often reminded in this busy world in which we live soaked with technology that we often forget to make a personal connection with our friends, customers, prospects, and others. We often forget that a personal note or card sent on the right occasion can really pour a turbo boost on your relationships with everyone.

Now many of you are saying that is great, but I don't have time to keep up with something like this. Well, technology has come to the rescue here. There is a great new web based company that allows you to shop for a card, write a personal note in the card, and drop in the mail with a live stamp on the envelope from the comfort of your own computer in about 2 minutes for a cost that the card store simply can't beat. Check it out at...

This is one of the ideal uses of technology. It takes an age old tradition such as sending out personal cards and makes it easier, faster, and cheaper than it has ever been in the past. Like all of my strategies blending common sense marketing with technology is a winning combination. Check it out today.

Michael Temple

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Quiet Desperation

In Pink Floyd's famous song "Time" on the Dark Side of the Moon album they have the following lyrics...

"One day you find out 10 years got behind you no one told you when to run you missed the starting gun"

As I thought about these lyrics I realized this is pretty much the average company's Internet marketing strategy. Back in the height of the dot com era several now non-existent companies thought all they had to do was get their business on the web and some of the magical dust everyone was snorting in those days would make them a millionaire!

The more frenzied the action got the more people believed nothing mattered except getting your business on the web. Once that amazing strategy got de-bunked we still have a whole group of people putting up web sites, but not doing anything with them. They spend money to build it and figure "they" will come, but they usually don't and hence your investment is wasted. Just as Pink Floyd's lyrics say no one told them to do something so 10 years later they find they missed the boat. Lost time is lost opportunity.

Your web site strategy breaks down into 3 neat chunks if you will (4 actually, but who is counting). The first one is developing traffic to your web site. If you fail to get people to your site then it doesn't matter how cool it is or how much awesome Flash you have or anything else. You can develop traffic both online and offline and I have found both are critical to your success. How much of each depends on your business, customers, markets, goals, and a host of other factors. However the point is there is a constant battle to keep your site visible and get people to come to it. I could discuss strategies to do this all day long, but that is a story for another day.

The second main component is getting someone that actually stumbles (yes stumbles is the right word for most people) to your site to actually find what they are looking for and take action. That action might be signing up for a newsletter, picking up the phone, buying a product in the store, completing a survey, etc. I have talked many times in the past about getting someone to take action once they are on your site. As a quick summary I believe this is done through sharp copy and content, intuitive navigation, layout, and a few other tricks that will funnel the visitor to the action you want them to take.

The final component or next to final is doing something with the person that takes action. If they buy something online, sign up for your newsletter or some other self-fulfilling action then we go to the next step (below), but if the action was to email you or pick up the phone and call you then you need somewhere to put this lead and a system to move the sale along. This is best accomplished with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that tracks all the basics about a lead, automates some of the basic sales functions, such as mailings, email follow ups, and scheduling calls.

A well designed sales system in your CRM program is going to yield gold because it will help you follow up with each person systematically (key point) over time until you close the sale or the lead is dead, which in my universe, like in the cartoons, death is only a temporary set back. Once they are dead you can always recycle the lead on a new sales system that isn't as aggressive. Who knows someday that person/company may become a live lead again long after you competition has given up and found another job. Wouldn't you like to be the one there at the right time to land the account?

The final step regardless if you closed a sale (loosely defined) once they visited your site or as a result of the CRM follow up you now have to ask yourself about the life time value of a customer. There are countless stats out there that I won't make you drudge through that say it is much easier to make a sale to an existing customer than constantly finding a new one. Unfortunately new customers become old and forgotten once you have closed them to many companies. The Righteous Brothers have it right in their song "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling"...

"There is no love in your eyes when I reach for you and you are starting to criticize little things I do"

The point is that once sales people have "conquered" the customer they forget about them and move on to the next elephant and eventually your competitor will be waiting in the shadows for you to slip up so they can club you over the head and take your hard won customer away.

Therefore you need strong loyalty and customer service programs to keep your customers; to show them how much you appreciate them. If your business is strictly over the web then you need to give people a reason to return to your site. In other words get the maximum value from each and every customer you bring to your site, get to take action, and close the sale. You are never done "closing the sale" in my book, it is something you must do each and every day to insure that your competitor keeps following you and not leading you.

Martha Rogers and Don Peppers in their now famous books on One to One marketing are always talking about share of customer not share of market. In other words if a customer buys $100 dollars a month of services or products you sell do you get the entire $100 they spend or do you get $50 and your competitor gets $50. Your goal is obviously to get every last dollar that your customers spend on a category of product or service that you sell with every customer you land.

Loyalty and service programs that are off the charts will do this (as well as having a great product or service) if that service is your web site it better be top shelf as well or else your competitor who is only a click away will eat your lunch.

In summary four key parts of a successful web strategy...
  1. Develop Traffic
  2. Get visitors to your site to take action
  3. Close, track and keep selling with a sales system and CRM system
  4. Have awesome service and loyalty programs to maximize the value of every customer
Anything less is going to cause you and your web strategy and marketing to fail. Pink Floyd says it so well...

"Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time...Hanging on in quiet desperation"

That is, in my opinion, the average company's web strategy. They never seem to find the time to develop new traffic, update content, close new sales, etc. So their web site and as a result sales hang on in quiet desperation and they wonder why they can't get ahead.

Start running today or else you will wonder why you missed the starting gun.

Michael Temple