Online marketing is not as easy as it seems it should be. There’s a whole lot more to it than just sending an email or writing a post for your site or social media. Years of traditional sales and marketing concepts being drummed into your head could make this hard to accept.
This is going to seem counter-intuitive at first glance. That’s because you need to look deeper. As you get further, perhaps you’ll start to see why sales are slumping beyond just the poor economy. The online world is just that, its own world with its own rules. You can choose to ignore those rules at your own peril. Or… you can learn how this world works and come out on top.
Take a walk with me and I’ll show you the sights. I’ll show you where to go and what to not do as well as what to do there.
Don’t sell on social media
This is a lesson that some businesses learn too late. They do (sometimes long lasting) damage to their brand and online reputation.
- People don’t like to be sold
- People hate advertising
Both reasons are why they gather on social media. There was no advertising or what was there was unobtrusive. That’s why Facebook’s attempts to monetize through advertising have largely failed.
Don't sell in your emails
Your biggest obstacle is getting people to open your emails. If your emails are just a means of access to sell to the reader, you’ll find many no opens and unsubscribes when you look at your subscriber data.
Why? You might be thinking “These people want to hear from me right? They signed up for my email list.” Yes and no. They signed up for what you told them you would deliver. If that was prime content that interested them, that is what you need to send. If your idea of prime content is sales messages and theirs is free advice that helps them understand their needs or wants more, you will fail to get anything but no opens and unsubscribes.
You don’t want to take the time and effort to build a list of subscribers who don’t open your messages, do you? Of course not! And what’s the point of getting new subscribers in, only to have nearly, just as many, or more leave your list? Email marketing does have a place in the system. It’s just not what too many make it out to be, a silver bullet. There are no silver bullet solutions or magic solutions.
So if your email is not selling and your articles are not selling either, just where are those increased sales coming from?!
Don't sell in your posts
If people will stop opening your emails when they recognize “It’s just another in an endless line of sales messages,” what makes you think that merely sending them to a sales message on your website will be any different? It will just train them to do the exact opposite of what you want. They will never click through to your site because they’ve seen enough to know what to expect.
Your articles should not be “Glengarry Glen Ross ABC” type copy. Why do you think people prefer buying over the internet? The biggest reason is not because they save time or money in gas or cheaper prices. It’s because they don’t have to deal with a pushy, commission-driven, “ABC” salesperson! If you want to kill your online sales, the surest way is to adopt the Always Be Closing approach.
Right about now you’re probably thinking, “So if you’re not selling on social media, your email is not selling, and your articles aren’t selling either, just where are those increased sales coming from?!”
Just like a headline's job is to get your reader to read the first paragraph, the first paragraph gives an overview that entices the reader to continue onto the next paragraph, and so on. Online marketing has a process. All of the things you’ve probably been told were the answer, had their time in the new sun and now lack that luster on their own. They’ve become common and necessary. They do however work quite well and sustainably as parts of an integrated system.
The process is
- Call their name
- Capture their information
- Confirm that they need or want your product/service
- Make the offer
- Call to action
The integrated system is comprised of
- Social media
- Preferred channel
- Alternative medium
- Email marketing
- Automated follow up messages
- Feed Broadcast messages of your posts
- Broadcast messages general
- Your website
- Capture pages
- Sales pages
I go into greater detail on the process that takes visitors to your store, your website, your social media page, your booth at a trade show, etc. from low on the buying scale to right now, ready to buy customers in the premium section below
tags: email marketing, marketing system, online marketing, marketing process
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Understanding how you should be using the system’s components starts with understanding the process you’re taking the person through to maximize conversions.
That process is
Call their name
People identify themselves by more names than just their given name. People in emergency services perk up and listen when you call “First responders.” Yet you still don’t have it focused enough to have their complete and undivided attention. If you call for firefighters specifically or police officers specifically, you have narrowed down the call to a specific segment. How narrow your focus is will directly correlate to how much of their attention you have.
Identify and contact the people who need or want your product/service. Then get their attention. This can be accomplished with some time and effort using a business fanpage. You can also look for forums or groups where your target market is and contact the admin to advertise.
Capture their information
Get their information. That is the prize that allows you to continue to send messages that lead to sales. You may have noticed that this process is constant, meaning you don’t just do it once. Each offer has its own entry to the main list, yet has its own follow up sequence. That ensures that the person signing up gets messages interesting to them.
Confirm that they need or want your product/service
The content you write should be of interest to them specifically. This is a problem or frustration they need a solution for or a desired result they want to achieve. Both needs and wants are powerful enough to get people ready and willing to pry their wallets open for.
Make the offer
Now you send them to the sales page. Use links or contextual ads for your product/service placed within or at the end of the post that link to the sales page.
Call to action (CTA)
Once they’ve finished reading your sales page, it’s time for them to act. Send them to a place where they can get your product/service that fills their need or want. That would be your payment processor for your product or a contact form for your service.
The process in action
You call a person’s name. This will most likely be on social media. Call their name. Give them an action (click a link) to take. That action leads them to your funnel. The destination of that action can vary. It can be a post, a video, a capture page, etc.
Your goal (at first) is not to sell. Your goal is to get the person on your list (Capture their information) to begin building the relationship. If they buy from you, that’s cake. If not, that ok because you have a way to build the relationship up to the point where they are ready to buy.
Your relationship with the customer is not “I sell, you buy.” It is “You come to me for valuable information, I give you that information and offer products or services that make it happen.” You want them coming to you. When you have them coming to you, you have confirmed that they want/need your product/service.
Whether they’ve bought from you or not, you have captured their information in your email marketing system. Whether you’re talking to buyers or lookers, your email marketing should engage the reader to take action. That action can and should vary. If you send the same thing, people discount your emails as “Seen it” and hit delete or just ignore them.
Most times (75% or higher) you will be sending them content and the CTA will be to continue reading. You can have a CTA at the end to comment. Somewhere in the article or at the end, you can place an “ad” for your offer. Of course that offer will correlate with the content they just read.
Sometimes (that remaining 25%), you will send a primer for an offer. It is almost a sales letter in itself. But it really just sells them on going to the sales page.
Then of course they will get to the end of the sales page that makes a clear and compelling case using the benefits, solutions, and results. That’s where they find your final Call To Action, the buy now button.
So now you can see what should be done…
What should be done with social media
Use social media to find the people where they are. Social media isn’t just Facebook and twitter. Youtube is not often thought of as social media but it is. In fact, Youtube can generate more traffic than other social media channels because it has the ability of getting your message across in a multimedia package. You have an audio/visual medium combined with the text and link feature to make it easy for people to get to your site.
Your site is where they will get more info about your business, offer, and hopefully your email list.
What your emails should be
Every email should have a purpose. It should have a single, specific, and clear Call To Action (CTA). That action should take them to where you want them to go. You want them to go to the next step in the process.
Keep in mind, the CTA is not “Buy this now.” It is go here for more. You leave that action up to them, giving the reader control leads to less feeling of sales bombardment. Thus, less unsubscribes and more opens. Start by not annoying the subscriber.
Simply not annoying the subscriber is not enough. You can take it up a notch by sending messages they want to get. These messages should appear to be pure content. (Remember I said every message should have a purpose and CTA.) The message should be helpful and give them information on their need/want. The CTA sends them to get more information or to a sales page to get the solution you offer.
Do you want to prevent sales fatigue and increase opens? Send the occasional free gift. Remember, you don’t want freebie seekers but you do want to reward loyal and active readers.
Your posts should be
Content marketing or educational marketing is based on having content that people want to read. People don’t want to read a sales message unless it relates directly to their want or need. What your content should do is talk about the want or need, not just your product or service that fills that need. In fact, the less you make it about you and your offering, the more genuine and helpful you will appear to the reader. That’s what gets them coming back. Do the terms Know Like, and Trust ring a bell?
Your posts should not be selling directly. They should lead to capture pages and/or sales pages on your site. That is where the selling should take place.
Don’t ever be afraid to use the favorite tactic of television, “To be continued…” You don’t have to be all inclusive in your posts. After all, this is not a book!
An upcoming post will cover the Integrated System
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+ Rob Calhoun
Helps small to medium businesses succeed by building systems for them that help them get new customers, retain customers, and re-energize past customers.
Rob helps clients and marketers maximize the return they get from their online marketing efforts.