The majority of businesses that engage in online marketing fail at it. Despite the promises from marketing agencies, social media gurus or popular marketing blogs, most just can't seem to get it to work. It doesn't matter if it's SEO, social media or paid advertising, they see little to no results for their time and money.
Why is this?
It comes down to not having a proper marketing strategy in place. Online marketing has many moving pieces that need to work together, you can do one thing really well, but if the other parts are not performing, the whole system doesn't work. Creating a rock solid marketing strategy isn't hard, it just requires you to really think about the customer journey online and what information/trust/guidance they need at each step and to provide it for them.
When it comes to online marketing, most businesses focus on tactics, not the overall strategy. Learning how to create Facebook ads or running your own Google Adwords campaigns are tactics. Tactics are important but can (and eventually should) be outsourced so you can focus on the overall strategy and not spend all of your time on tactics that others can probably do better. When it comes to online marketing, businesses have a bad habit of focusing on the minutia and not the overall marketing strategy, if they have one that is.
If your only tool is a hammer, you'll tend to see all of your problems as a nail – Abraham Maslow
If the only marketing tactic you know how to do well is social media, you'll tend to try and solve your marketing problems with more social media because that's what you know and are good at. But what if your value proposition is all wrong? What if your offerings are not lining up with the audience you are targeting? What if your website is failing to convert visitors into leads?
More social media won't fix any of that.
Effective online marketing involves many moving parts that all need to work together in order to turn a visitor into a lead/customer for your business. If you only focus on one part and not see the bigger picture, you're going to continue to see poor results.
Why Your Online Marketing Strategy Isn't Working
A business owner will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building out the perfect retail location or office and then turn around and buy a $800 website to represent it. Your website represents your business online and has a potentially much larger reach than any physical location, yet most businesses still look at their website as an expense rather than a critical marketing investment for their business.
Worse yet, most of the time businesses rely on the web designer to do the copywriting and marketing as well. That's like having the architect who designs a house also build it and then try and sell it themselves. They are different parts of the process that require different skill sets and it very rare (unless you hire a larger agency) to have all of these skill sets in-house with a small web design company or freelancer.
Think about how the sales process looks like in real life for your business. For most businesses, especially more complex sales like financial services and real estate, this usually involves several conversations, some education and a few weeks to a few months before a sale is made.
As you can see above, the entire process can take quite a long time and involve several communications before any deal is made. Several of these steps may happen online before you ever get a chance to speak to this person, but most likely they are missing from your website.
A cold visitor to your website, who doesn't know you from a hole in the wall, will be met with calls to actions like, “Call now for a free consultation”, or, “Schedule your free quote today”. Where's the education? Where's the value? Where's the “why” you should even stick around for another 10 seconds and see what you have to offer?
Asking a cold visitor to your website to call you or schedule some kind of free consult is a high threshold offer, meaning it is a high commitment request and people will be hesitant to do it. Who wants to give their personal information to a stranger, let alone schedule a meeting or phone call before they feel like they can trust this person and won't get hounded until the end of time with spam emails and dinnertime phone calls.
Same goes for ecommerce, only about 1-3% of people will buy on the first visit, what plan do you have for the other 97% that come to your site but aren't ready to buy? And if you are driving traffic with paid advertising, not having a plan for that other 97% is a surefire way to lose lots of money on your advertising campaign.
Lack Of Online Marketing Strategy
Most online marketing strategies (I use the term “strategy” lightly) have nothing to offer people unless they are ready to contact you right away or buy from you with little information to make them feel comfortable taking the next step. So what is that, maybe 1% percent (at best) of your visitors who are ready to commit with so little information?
What about the other 99% of people who are looking for the same thing but need more information, education, and trust before they are willing to move forward. These people are usually left to find someone else that can show them the value and trust they are looking for.
You Can't Take Shortcuts with your Online Marketing
If you want to convert online visitors into customers, you need to recreate the sales process people normally go through in order to become a customer. You can't take what usually a 5 step marketing and sales process and turn into 2 steps online.
You wouldn't go to a party and ask the person you've spoken to for 5 minutes to have sex or marry you, that would be violating social norms in our society.
So what do you do?
Think about that customer journey for your business, break it down step by step, and write out what does this person need to feel comfortable enough to move to the next step?
You may not be able to replicate each step right on your website, but what you can do is get people to opt-in to your email list by giving something of high perceived value and then nurture them with a drip email campaign.
The main point is to think about the marketing and sales process for all of your visitors, not just the 1% ready to buy on the spot. You will always have your go to offer ready for the 1%, the call now or fill out this form call to actions, but think about secondary offers you can make for those people that are interested, but just not ready to buy yet.
Developing a marketing strategy that focuses on all of your visitors is more work and requires more thought and planning, but wouldn't it be better to target 100% of the visitors you work so hard to get instead of just 1% of them?
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— Gary Shouldis (@3BugMedia) January 11, 2017