Do You have a Strategy for Online Sales Leads?

This is always a hot topic, and we all need as much help as possible on strategies and techniques for getting sales leads through our websites.

Here’s an article by A J Agrawal of Alumnify exploring five ways to generate these sales leads.

He starts by pointing out that when running a B2B business, our main concerns should be generating leads, continuing . . . . . . .

According to a study, 61 percent of B2B marketerspointed out that generating high-quality leads is their biggest concern and biggest challenge.

You already know that creating content is one way to generate B2B sales, and you already know about the importance of building relationships.

This guide is going to show you some of the ways to generate sales leads like never before through inbound marketing and more.

Podcasting is Big Business

The podcast is a format of content that has been around for over a decade, and the future of podcasting is bright. This is not something new and it’s not something that has just hit the market. But it’s something that more and more people are starting to tap into, on the side of both consumers and businesses.

It’s one of the prime audio sources because it can be downloaded and listened to from practically anywhere. It can even be listened to live via a mobile device. It fits into the busy lifestyles people have adopted today. Podcasting is getting huge, and through a well planned podcast, you can help promote your services on the Internet.

Crafting Online Discussions

Through online forum and webinars, you can get customers talking to each other, as well as you. Not only is this perfect for building relationships, you are also using the power of word of mouth marketing. For example, in an online discussion someone may talk about finding the best golf courses. They may get talking and then they’ll recommend specific golf courses, which may be yours.

Remember that customers need to have relationships with each other as much as they need to have relationships with you. These online discussions can have a huge effect through engaging your target audience.

Use Pinterest

Pinterest is a relatively new social media network that you absolutely should be using. It uses images to communicate messages. It fits in perfectly with what people want to see from their content today. They don’t have time to read long pieces of content. They want to gain as much in the shortest possible period of time.

It’s also a growing social media network. It’s not closing on 100 million registered users, with a significant portion of them posting at least once a month. This platform is designed to act as something that can inspire people to make a purchase, and so if you use it right you may well encourage more B2B sales.

Take note that some brands will find more successful than others when using Pinterest. A vacation rentals company will be able to use the color and beauty of their natural surroundings in their images, but accountancy firms and sellers of insurance may well struggle with the visuals.

Still Consider Content Marketing

It has to be said that content marketing should remain your priority in terms of marketing yourself. Good content marketing is a relative unknown among some businesses because they are still stuck in the past. 86 percent of B2C marketers and 91 percent of B2B marketers may be using it, but this doesn’t mean they are using it in the right way.

So many businesses use content marketing to promote their brands. Your brand should never figure as part of your content marketing. It shouldn’t be mentioned more than once, and even that should be at the very bottom of the page.

Content marketing has to fulfill the needs of customers. Effective content must add real value to the lives of people.

Landing Pages

So what happens when you have convinced a potential to lead to visit your platform?

They turn away because your landing page isn’t doing enough to appeal to them. When a prospect visits your landing page, you need to have a narrow focus. It has to be a closed tunnel where there are only two ways out. They either leave the website or they continue to move forward.

The majority of landing pages’ bounce users back because they either aren’t appealing enough or they don’t offer what the person expected. In order to make landing pages’ work, you need the right combination of elements on the page.

And that’s where this guide can no longer help you. The right landing page is something that differs for every industry and every business. Your only option to make this work is to split test regularly.

Conclusion: Generating Leads Takes Time

There’s a lot of testing involved in B2B lead generation. It’s why this process takes a lot of time and effort to make work. You must commit to split testing and this has to be a permanent and ongoing process.

Read this and other articles by A J Agrawal here.

Les Signature

 

Having a Fabulous Website isn’t Enough!

Here’s an excellent article from Jawad Khan who regularly writes about content marketing for small businesses. In this article he explains why your business needs a blog, and includes some fantastic and compelling infographics.

 

Here’s what he says . . . . .

Over the last few days I’ve come across a number of business owners who still do not seem to understand how important blogging has become for the online survival of their business. While talking to some of them, I almost felt I had gone 10 years back when businessmen were still arguing on the need of company websites.

Having a company blog is just not an option anymore….its mandatory!

But if you’re still not convinced, here are 10 reasons why your business needs a blog.

1. Blogs Attract Traffic Instantly

If you want to give yourself any chance of making sales through your company website, you need highly relevant traffic first. With a company website, your content is limited to a few pages and there are usually not many frequent updates either.  Blogs are the perfect solution for this problem.

Blogs are traffic magnets. Google loves them and indexes blog posts much quicker than other pages. You can generate highly relevant traffic by focusing on relevant keywords in your blog posts and route that traffic to your company website to drive your sales.

2. Blogs Help You Build Communities

Blogging is the best way to build a community of like minded people around your website. You can’t do that with a simple company website. It’s just too dry and people don’t have much to relate with. With blogging, you can exchange views with your readers and engage in different discussions with them. This will not only enhance your customer penetration but will also help you access their circles of influence through effective word of mouth marketing.

3. Blogs Make You Industry Experts

There’s no better way to leave your competitors behind than establishing yourself as the go-to guys for any issues related to your industry. Blogs can help you do that very easily. Post valuable content, help people resolve their issues, offer new ideas and provide business solutions through your blog posts. Even better, launch an eBook on your industry and promote it through your blog. Place yourself as an expert and instantly raise your earnings.

4. Blogs Strengthen the Image of your Brand

Brands represent consistency, credibility, a sense of association and a loyal community. Your blog can be the perfect place to kick-start your branding activities and help you achieve all that. Post content that truly reflects the values of your brand and connect with your consumers on every important occasion. Be there all the time and keep them engaged with your brand.

5. Blogs are the Center of Marketing Activities

Internet marketing is much more than a few SEO tricks and Google search rankings. Any level of online marketing success requires a comprehensive content strategy that covers all the bases. All modern content marketing strategies revolve around a regularly updated and engaging blog.

Whether its your social media presence or other forms of promotion, it all comes down to how smartly they are integrated with your blogging strategy.

6. Blogs Engage Customers

The comments at the end of each blog post provide you a highly effective source of customer engagement and feedback. Not only can you gather quick feedback through your blog but also save valuable time of your customers by responding regularly to their comments and emails, and by addressing their concerns instantly. It also gives you a very good idea of how your customers perceive your brand.

7. Blogs Trigger Innovation

The customer feedback and preference trends, that you gather through your blog, can be the catalyst of innovation for your brand. You can use your blog posts to understand problems of your customers and provide solutions to them. You can discuss ideas and ask for their help in bringing innovation in products or services. Most importantly, you get the opportunity to think from a customer’s perspective.

8. Blogs Compliment PR Activities

The very concept of blogging is based on flexibility and customization. That is why not only can you utilize this platform for product enhancements, you can also make it your most effective PR source. Connect with other companies and organizations with complimenting visions and develop strategic alliances with them. Use your blog to promote your CSR activities and let your customers know that you care for the society in general.

9. Blogs Help You Build Subscription Lists

I am sure you know how important subscription lists can be in determining the success or failure of your online business. But why would anybody subscribe to the mailing list of a dull corporate website? You’ll need an active blog to build your mailing list. When your visitors see value in what you’re posting on your blog, most of the times they’ll be happy to subscribe. You can offer short eBooks or small promotions in return for their email addresses or simply sign them up for a short email course. The possibilities are just unlimited.

10. Blogs Generate Qualified Sales Leads

Once you have the trust of your readers and loyal visitors through consistent value addition on your blog, it becomes much easier to convert them into paying customers. This is why some of the largest organizations are using their blogs as their primary lead generation source.

Is that it?

……..No!

There are many other ways blogs can compliment your corporate website, help you get closer to your customers and reduce communication gaps.

Here’s a great infographic explaining why corporate websites should blog regularly.

Why Every Business Should Blog
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

It all comes down to the solutions you can deliver through your posts and the value you can add through your content. Do this the right way, and you’ve got yourself a ready pool qualified sales leads to make you money and do the word of mouth marketing for you.

Do it the wrong way, and nothing could be more damaging for your brand!

Looking for a quality blogger to manage your content and take you to the next level?

Visit his website to find out more about why your business needs a blog, and please contact me if you would like help writing and scheduling blogs for your business website.

Les Signature

The Social Media Marketing Plan

If you’ve got good products and services that you want to sell you’ve got to tell people about them, and to do that you’ll need marketing – probably quite a lot of it!

You probably won’t disagree with this statement, but if you’re a small business you’ll then remind me that marketing is expensive and that you can only afford to do a limited amount of it.

This is where social media marketing comes in.

Lauren Dugan on the Simple Measured website describes how social media marketing can be used at relatively low cost to achieve the key marketing objectives important to most small businesses – particularly start-ups.

She starts by outlining the essential components of a social media marketing plan and then goes on to describe how to put this plan into action:

  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals.The more specific, the better.
  • An editorial calendar.Orga’
  • A short- and long-term vision
  • A clear idea of the channels you will focus on.It’s better to do one channel well than a dozen channels poorly.
  • An understanding of your brand’s voice.
  • Audience personas.
  • Which metrics you will use to determine success.

Along with these items, any good plan should have some flexibility. If a 24-hour flash Twitter sale gets no traction, learn to pivot quickly and try a different tactic.

Startups without a marketing plan will find that their social media activity falls flat: without goals, strategy, and metrics you won’t be able to assess whether or not what you’re doing is successful.

Take content marketing, for instance. A full 88 percent of B2B marketers say they engage in some form of content marketing, but 36 percent say that it’s not effective. And why is that? Seventy percent of those surveyed say they either have no strategy or an undocumented one.

To make a long story short, spend some time making a plan of attack before you send your first Tweet.

She then goes on to describe how all the individuals in your business can contribute to your social media marketing:

Use Everyone’s Brainpower

As a startup, you are in a unique position to empower all of your employees to contribute to your marketing efforts on social. Your smaller size makes it easier to get everyone on board, and it helps that you probably (hopefully) know everyone’s name!

Not only can your employees contribute their ideas for blog posts, tweets, and status updates, they can also be leveraged as advocates on your company’s behalf. Since 70 percent of customer brand perception is determined by experiences with people, those startups that encourage their employees to engage customers publicly on social media will be well ahead of the competition in terms of reputation-building.

Your sales team (who might also moonlight as your marketing team, depending on your size) is also a potential source for social media marketing insights. Ask them to pay attention to the questions and objections that customers have about your product, and address these in your marketing material.

Lastly, startups can run their customer service on social media. This can save you money, as your marketing team can double as your customer service team, and it can also act as social proof that your company listens and responds to its customers.

Word of Mouth is Your Best Friend

Far and away, the form of advertising that consumers trust most is word of mouth.

Recommendations from people in a consumer’s social circle are trusted significantly more than any other advertisements they see.

Your startup can harness the power of consumer-to-consumer recommendations on social channels in a number of ways:

  • Offer an incentive for referrals, such as a percentage discount, a gift card or reward points.
  • Directly ask your most satisfied customers to send you referrals.
  • Go above-and-beyond on every customer service ticket.
  • Build a highly visible, engaged community through activities like Twitter chats, webinars and crowdsourced content.

Social media makes it possible not only to encourage your customers’ word of mouth, but that of influencers as well. And the good news is, you don’t need Bieber in order to raise celebrity-level awareness – you just need a handful of mini-Biebers who are influential among your target audience.

Influencer marketing can be an extremely cost-effective tactic for startups. By reaching out to notable thought-leaders in your niche, you can amplify your marketing message well beyond your own audience. Journalists, prominent public figures, bloggers, authors, speakers and more all make great influencers.

It doesn’t cost anything to develop relationships with your fans and influencers on social media, and the payoff can be massive.

Try Something New

Lastly, don’t be afraid of experimentation. Breaking the mold or taking a leap outside your comfort zone doesn’t require a huge budget. It just requires a little courage.

Take a look at the #6SecondScienceFair viral Vine campaign for GE. The campaign encouraged fans to film their own science experiments, in order to build GE’s reputation as an innovator. It generated over 600 user submissions, 345 percent follower growth and 253,800 engagements. In a single week.

Or what about Burberry’s live, behind-the-scenes Snapchat and Periscope campaigns? By adding streaming and short-form content into their marketing mix, the company soared past 100 million impressions and generated record customer engagements.

Sure, these campaigns were created by high-powered ad agencies for high-powered brands. But their basic foundations – crowdsourced content and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks – can be used by even the most bootstrapped of startups.

Be creative with your social media marketing, and you’ll make a splash. Your audience craves newness and excitement, and if you can give it to them, they will reward you with engagement, loyalty, and maybe even some cold hard cash.

She sums up by pointing out that lack of money is no excuse for not marketing if you are savy enough to expolit the opportunities provided by social media marketing.

In the End ….

Money shouldn’t limit your marketing efforts, especially since growth in the early stages of startup life is so essential. There are lots of organic, effective, and cheap (or free) methods of reaching your audience on social media that you can turn to to accelerate your growth. 

It’s well-worth reading the full article by Lauren on the Simply Measured website. It has some some excellent graphics and illustrations.

Les Signature

 

 

 

 

Poor Quality Audio Spoils Website Videos

I expect you’ve noticed that website videos are frequently let down by poor quality audio. There’s such a big difference between these videos and the professional videos that can be found in abundance on the net these days.

But it’s quite possible to produce high quality audio for website videos once you know a few of the professioanl secrets.

Noble Samurai sell a number of excellent products (see the article on Market Samurai). They have a product for video production called Vidsy  and have produced a number of excellent training videos about how to produce quality audio for website videos. Have a look at Vidsy, but if you decide you can’t afford it yet use the tips provided by Noble Samurai to produce your own high quality audio.

What this Video Will Teach You

You’ll find out about:

  • The equipment and software you need to create a professional audio for website videos. (This is the EXACT set-up used by Noble Samurai to generate over $7 million dollars over the last four years)
  • How you can use Audio Sweetening Techniques that automatically inject energy and passion into your sales message and skyrocket your conversions!

Credit: Nobel Samurai

Don’t spoil your website with poor quality audio. Follow the advice given by Noble Samurai and you’re more likely to keep the attention and interest of your website visitors.

Les Signature

What Are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is an extremely versatile online tool.  It can be used to help you with a wide variety of essential business activities:

  • Research important business topics
  • Monitor the activities of your competitors
  • Investigate what others are saying about your business.

It does this by tracking web keywords and phrases so that you never miss any important information. Google sends emails to your inbox whenever it finds a new result.

I can’t do a better job of expaining Google Alerts than Mathew Woodward in the Search Engine Journal.

He describes the various ways in which Google Alerts can be used to help with a wide range of monitoring activities.

Monitor Your Brand

Matthew Woodward is my brand. Any time my website or name is mentioned, I get an email direct to my inbox to alert me of that. This offers a great range of opportunities: I can get alerted to new discussions about my brand or if I have been mentioned somewhere without a link back to my site.

You can then take action by addressing the feedback and getting links added. These are the alerts I have set up to monitor my brand online:

matthewwoodward.co.uk
www.matthewwoodward.co.uk
matthewwoodward
matthew woodward

Monitor Competitors

In addition to monitoring your brand, you should also be looking at what your competition is doing. You could receive alerts of positive and/or negative feedback about your competitors or even alerts of new links that they have acquired. You can use Google Alerts to keep a close eye on their activity online and then leverage it to your advantage. I’m not going to publicly reveal who I monitor.  Just setup brand based alerts for all of your competitors.

Monitor Questions in Your Niche

This is great for driving traffic and building authority and loyal subscribers. You can monitor your niche for a range of question-based terms and then jump in and provide an expert answer with a link back to your site. Here are the alerts I use to monitor link building-related questions (but you can swap the phrase link building for anything you want):

How * link building
Is * link building
Can * link building
When * link building
Why * link building
Will * link building

(The asterisk is used as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms e.g  "a * saved is a * earned")

I have alerts like that set up for Link Building, SEO, Google Penalty, and so forth.

Every time I create a new piece of content that answers questions about a certain topic, I set up corresponding alerts so I can direct people to the answer.

Monitoring Content Distribution

If you have a cornerstone piece of content, then you can use Google Alerts to monitor mentions of the article across the Web. You can get an alert if someone talks about it on a forum or shares it in a blog comment somewhere. Again, this provides you with multiple opportunities to get involved and add to the discussion.

My http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/the-ultimate-guide-to-tiered-link-building-part-1/”>Ultimate Guide To Tiered Link Building video tutorial series has proved to be very popular, and I have alerts to monitor for mentions of it around the Web:

“ultimate guide to tiered link building”
“ultimate guide to link building”
“tiered link building part”

(When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Only use this if you’re looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you’ll exclude many helpful results by mistake.
Example: "imagine all the people")

Finding New Guest Post Opportunities

Most blogs that accept guest posts have a page telling you how to get in touch and submit a guest post. You can use Google Alerts to monitor a range of common footprints used on those blogs to let you know about new guest posting opportunities in your niche. Here’s what I have set up:

“write for us” SEO
“submit guest post” SEO
“bloggers wanted” SEO
“become a contributor” SEO
“this guest post” SEO
“become an author” SEO

Monitoring Link Building Footprints

There are a lot of platforms out there that you can use to get links from. Commenting on WordPress blogs is a great way to establish traffic, authority, and relevant backlinks, but we can take this a step further. WordPress plugins, such as KeywordLuv and CommentLuv, will let us drop keyword-based anchor texts with links back to our most recent posts. This offers a lot more benefit than a regular blog comment, but how do we use Google Alerts to find these opportunities automatically? Here are my alerts:

SEO +”CommentLuv enabled”
SEO +”enter yourname@yourkeywords” -intitle:”enter yourname@yourkeywords”
link building +”CommentLuv enabled”
link building +”enter yourname@yourkeywords” -intitle:”enter yourname@yourkeywords”

That’s just an example of monitoring the KeywordLuv and CommentLuv WordPress plugins for the keywords SEO and Link Building. There are lots of different platforms you can target this way, just find a common footprint and set up an alert.

Monitoring Site Security

I have had sites hacked on a few occasions in the past. Some hackers chose to inject hidden links in footers, while others go all out creating thousands of junk pages. Usually, the first time you notice this is when your site completely disappears out of the SERPs. You can use Google Alerts to monitor for any suspicious activity on your site, so you can take action before you get penalized. Set up an alert like this to monitor your site:

site:matthewwoodward.co.uk acne OR botox OR casino OR dating OR debt OR insurance OR mortgage OR paxil OR pharmacy OR phentamine OR pherimones OR poker OR porn OR OR roulette sex OR viagara OR viagra OR xxx

Obviously, if your site is about getting into debt buying viagra in an online casino, then you need to tweak the keywords in my alert above.

Monitoring Shoppers

If you run an e-commerce store, you can set up a series of alerts that will drop you an email every time a shopper is ready to buy a product in your niche. With the right alerts, you can target people who have made the decision of buying a product but haven’t actually bought it yet. Zing! Here are some laptop-based examples:

laptop * under *
* laptop under *
laptop under *
cheapest laptop *
cheap laptop *
buy laptop * cheap
best price * laptop
* laptop * price

Regional Based Monitoring

If your a local business, then you can use a range of search terms to monitor for shoppers in your immediate local area who are looking to buy. You can get in touch with them and convert them into a sale without having to move! Here are some examples to find people looking for laptops in London:

london laptop *
laptop * london
london * laptop

Discovering New Niches

How would you like alerts of hot, new, and emerging niches landing in your inbox on a daily basis? Consider setting up alerts like:

new * this year
new * 2012
will * 2012
what will happen *

How to Setup Google Alerts

Setting up Google Alerts is very easy and takes seconds to do. This is what the form looks like:

In the Search Query box, you can enter the term you want be alerted for. Have a look at my examples above and see which ones you can utilize for your site.

In the Result Type box, I always select to receive alerts for everything.

The How Often box allows you to choose between once a week, once a day, or as it happens. I change this based on what I want to achieve. For example, I want alerts about site security as it happens, but only want new guest post opportunities every week.

In the How Many box, I always choose All Results to make sure I don’t miss anything.

The Deliver To box, lets you choose to have the alerts delivered via email or RSS. I tend to have things like brand-related alerts delivered by email and have link building opportunities delivered via RSS in Google Reader.

Once you have set everything up, you will get new alerts forever! It might take an hour or so to set up, but it is worth every minute of your time, and you can set up as many alerts as you want.

Think Out of the Box

Now that you understand the true power of Google Alerts, take a step back and think about unique ways you could apply them to your business or website. There are thousands of different ways you could use it over and above what I have discussed in this post. Think out of the box and be creative with your alerts! It is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal, so make sure you take full advantage of it.

How Do You Use Google Alerts?

So now you know how I use Google Alerts to build authority, brand, traffic, and sales to my SEO blog & video tutorials. Do you have a Google Alerts strategy that I haven’t discussed? Will you be integrating Google Alerts into your online strategy?

Alternatives to Google Alerts
There are alternatives to Google Alerts:
  • Mention
  • Social Mention
  • Talkwalker Alerts
  • Topsy
  • Meltwater News
Find out more about these at Make Tech Easier. However, I suggest you start by experimenting with Googe Alerts first.
Les Signature

What is Feature-Benefit Selling?

Ok, so you know your product inside out and can talk about its features endlessly. But features alone don’t sell a product. If you want to improve your sales and win new customers you must learn the secrets of feature-benefit selling.

The best way to explain feature-benefit Selling is to provide an example.

“Think back to the last time you decided to buy a new computer, camera or some other technology-based product. Did you return home empty-handed because the store sales person used lots of technical jargon, but failed to translate this jargon into understandable benefits?”

This is not an unusual story. Avoid making this mistake when you’re selling your products and services by describing a relevant benefit for each product feature you talk or write about.

When you do this you’re using feature-benefit selling.

A short time ago I was looking for a new camera and I came upon this video. It’s a good example of how not to sell your products.

 

The sales person in this video is both articulate and intelligent but has no understanding of feature-benefit selling. I chose not to buy the camera online and found a good local shop with a sales person who knew how to sell feature-benefits.

In the paragraphs below I am going to describe a simple technique that will enable you to translate your technical product knowledge into readily understandable feature-benefits. It’s not diificult to understand and use. Once you grasp the technique your sales will improve and your confidence in your ability to sell will increase 300%!

Customers Buy Benefits not Technical Features

Well, there may be some exceptions to this. I expect you’ve met or know technical nerds who buy products based purely on their technical specification. They do this because they know exactly what they want and are well able to make detailed technical comparisons between competing products in order to choose the one that’s best for them.

However, most customers aren’t technical nerds, and it’s not unusual for them to be unclear about exactly what they want. I’m have to admit that I’m often in this situation when I want to buy a new piece of equipment or a gadget. I need help making up my mind about the best product for my needs..

When you meet customers like this you’ve got to make sure that first of all you understand their requirements. Next you must identify the product features and benefits that meet those requirements. If you cover these two steps well, you’ll be in a much better position to make a sale. Also you’ll avoid putting your customer off by loading him or her up with a lot of technical information that is more likely to confuse than help.

Don’t Expect Your Customers to Work Out the Benefits

Even though your customers may be intelligent and know a little about the products or services you’re selling, most of them won’t recognise the benefits of the product or service you’re selling.

You know your product inside out and are probably very confident of your expert status. But until you take the time and effort to translate your technical knowledge into clearly understandable features and benefits your customer won’t grasp how the product meets his or her needs and will not make a decsion to buy it.

Here’s an example:

SALESMAN:   When you publish a press release on our internet site it will be available to magazine publications in our Group (Feature).

CUSTOMER:   So what?

SALESMAN:   This means that every time we accept a press release from your company it’ll be published in 5 to 6 other magazines which are read by over 55,000 readers each month (Feature-Benefit).

This is an example of a feature-benefits statement.

How to Develop and Use Feature-Benefit Statements

The following technique is a very simple and easy to use – with a bit of practice.

Start by creating a table with three columns:

•             In the first column, make a list of all the features of your product

•             In the second column write down the advantages associated with these features

•             In the final column of your table list the associated benefits

The column on advantages will help you expand the features and link them more easily to the benefits.

For example, the sales person might say:

“This camera has an advanced automatic focus system (feature) which will enable you to take photographs of subjects however far they are away from the camera (advantage), and will ensure that you always get high quality photographs (benefit).”

I think you’ll agree there’s no doubt about the value of the feature described. I’d want this feature on my camera.

Now you need to do some work:

Use the three column table to create features-advantages-benefits statements for each of the features of your product so that you can select the feature-benefits most appropriate for different customers. Make sure all the important features are included in your table. You won’t need to use all your feature-benefit statements with every customer, only thosethat are most appropriate.

Its a good idea to use a folder for the feature-advantage-benefits of each of your products and review each of the statments from time to time to keep them fresh in your mind. You may also want to change and expand your list as your experience of using the technique grows.

Feature-benefit selling can be used in a wide range of sales and marketing situations. Once you master the technique you can also use it when writing sales articles and letters  and when making sales presentations.  Your feature-advantage-benefit statements can also be use when training new sales staff.

It’s important that you feel comfortable using this technique. The best way to ensure this is to practice. Test your feature-advantage-benefit statements by role-playing them with a colleague. It may seem strange at first, especially if you’ve always been a features only person, but once you’ve mastered the technique you’ll not look back – I promise.

Where You Can Use Feature-Benefit Selling

We touched on this above, but its quite important, so I’ll repeat myself a bit.

Using feature-benefit statements rather than just features isn’t only important in sales situations. The feature-benefit approach can also be used in any situation where you want to persuade people about a product, service or idea. If you do this it will help to ensure that the facts you’re trying to communicate are better understood and seen as relevant to the individuals and groups involved.

Try using the features-benefits approach in the following situations:

•             Making presentations to customer groups

•             Communicating new ideas to friends and colleagues

•             Writing letters and articles

However, it’s in one to one sales situations that feature-benefit selling is really powerful. Successful sales people, marketers and copy-writers have been proving this for years!

Use Feature-Benefit Selling to Beat Your Competitors

If you understand the importance of the rule “sell feature-benefits not features” you’ll improve your chances of selling successfully and become more effective in competitive sales situations where your competitor hasn’t learned the importance of this rule or hasn’t learned how to use it properly.

Make sure you take action and start your feature-benefit selling today.

Les Signature

 

Three Reasons Why You Need a Business Website

OK, so you’ve survived in business for years without a business website. Why do you need one now?

Here are three very good reasons:

  1. Your customers expect it. Many of them might think that you’re not serious about your business if you don’t have one (ask them and find out!)
  2. It will help you find new customers. The internet search engines (Google, Bing) will help you with this providing you follow some simple guidelines when you build your business website
  3. You’ll be able to communicate regularly with your customers. This will enable you to build strong relationship with them and sell more of your products and services

We’re not saying that it’s impossible to make money on the internet without a website. In fact there are even internet marketers that are quite successfully without one. But now a website has become as important as a business card, a brochure and an email address.

Here’s a survey from a company called Bright Local. They asked a group of people what they thought about business websites. The diagram summarises the findings:

business website survey

You may have avoided building a business website up untill now because of the cost. This is no longer an issue. There are now very effective online tools available that make it very easy to create a business website or blog.

Your website doesn’t have to be very complicated or highly sophisticated. In many cases you can start your business with a single web page, and then later extend it to include a supporting website blog.

However, whether your website is simple or complex its better to build it using your own domain (i.e www.yourbusinessname.com)  rather than a generic domain provided by a webs services provider (e.g such as www.yourbusinessname.redhosting.com).

Why Free Business Websites Aren’t the Best Choice

It’s not difficult to find internet companies that will allow you to create your own business website free of charge.  These are services such as  “Google’s” Blogger, WordPress.com, Squidoo and HubPages. These are amongst the most popular .  Sometimes it can make sense to use these services first to build up some experience, but as your internet business grows it makes much more sense to own your own website on your own domain.

Many people are attracted to the free services because they are uncertain or even frightened by the technical aspects of setting up their own website. However, as I’ll explain in a minute, they are doing themselves a disservice.

The free website services are fine up to a point, but they don’t allow you the freedom to develop your business website in exactly the way you might want.  This may be a fairly unimportant limitation at the start, but once you begin to get more confident and adventurous with your internet marketing and your website design you may find yourself inadvertently breaking the rules of your service provider (these rules can sometimes be very confusing).

When you do this they will very quickly delete your website and its contents without notification.

Choosing and Hosting Your Own Domain

If you decide to build your business website using one of the free service providers it can be totally heartbreaking to see all your hard work disappear because you may have broken a rule that you weren’t aware existed.

That’s why I recommend that you take the time and effort to learn the basic skills required to set up your own business website under your own control.

There are three basic things you need to learn:

  1. How to purchase a domain
  2. How to set up your hosting
  3. How to link your domain and hosting

Buying an Internet Marketing Domain

This is very easy.

Go to a company that is able to sell you a domain (a domain registrar) and sign up for an account.  There are hundreds of domain registrars around. – GoDaddy, Cheap Names and 1&1 are three well-known ones.  When you have found one you like, create your free account (none of them will charge for creating an account).

Next you have to find a domain name that you like that’s available.

A domain name is the part of a website address (sometimes called the URL or “uniform resource locator”) that comes after the http:// bit in your internet search bar.

Using GoDaddy as an example it can either be of the form:

http://www.godaddy.com  or  http://godaddy.com

Note that a domain name has two parts – the name itself (GoDaddy) and its suffix “.com”. If you selected a  different suffix such as “.net” or “.org” this would make it a different domain.

Each domain registrar will provide a search box which you can use to type in your chosen domain name to see if it’s available.  If it’s not available you can try another domain name, and carry on doing so until you have found one that you like which is available.

You can use variations of a domain name that you like such as:

  • www.mydomain.com
  • www.my-domain.com
  • www.mydomain.net

Sometimes a domain registrar will make some suggestions to help you with your choice of domain name.  Even with this help It may take a little while to find a domain name you like, but it’s worth working at it.  Bear in mind that you can’t change the name after you’ve bought it.

The domain registrar will ask you how long you want to register the domain for – 1, 2 or 5 years.  Once you have decided you can choose to checkout and pay.

Even after you have paid for your domain, you don’t own it.  You are renting it for a set amount of time.  If you neglect to pay the renewal fee after you rental period has expired you will lose the domain.  However, most registrars will provide you with an email reminder about renewal.

How to get an Internet Hosting Account

It’s quite easy to find a company that will host your internet marketing domain.

Use Google and search for “web hosting”.  You’ll find lots of hosting companies who want your business. HostGator is one of the biggest and one of the best.  They offer hosting from as little as $5 a month, and also provide a superb level of support.

You can buy your hosting from the domain registrar, but most people recommend against this because it’s not a good idea to have all your eggs in the same basket.

Once you have a domain and a hosting provider you now need to link the two of them together.

How to Link Your Domain and Hosting Together

When you buy your hosting account you will be informed about the DNS (sometimes called Nameserver) code for your account. Make a careful note of this.  It looks a bit like an URL (e.g. ns889.hostgator.com).  You will in fact be provided with two DNS numbers. The second will be one number higher (NS890.hostgator.com).

When you have made a note of your DNS numbers, log into your domain registrar account and select the domain you’ve just bought.  Next look for a menu item called DNS or Nameservers.  Select this item and a table of the DNS codes currently associated with your domain will be displayed.

You would be able to leave these codes as they are if you had chosen to use your domain registrar as your hosting company, but if you choose not to do this you will need to change these DNS settings to the DNS settings provided by your hosting company. Once you have done this save the new settings.

This may all seem complicated, but all that is happening is that you are telling the Internet the “address” where your domain’s files are hosted. Once you’ve done that you are now ready to start building your business website – but that’s another story

Les Signature

Domain Names & Google

There are several important factors that need to be weighed up if you want to find the best domain name for your business.

Firstly, although your domain name is the internet home of your business, it doesn’t always make sense for it to be the same as your business name. For example, the domain name of my Website is “Business Growth Hub” even though the name of my Company is Actionplan.

But why didn’t I call my domain Actionplan? The reason I didn’t do this was because I wanted a domain name which related to the keyword searches carried out on the internet by the types of people that I’m particularly interested in –  small to medium-sizes businesses looking for help with Internet marketing.

If you only want your website to be found by the search engines when people search for your company by name then making the two names the same would make good sense, but if your strategy is to use the Internet to grow your business, this isn’t a good idea. For example, I wanted businesses using the keywords “local Internet marketing” and “business growth” to find my domain on the web. But I will also be found by people searching for Actionplan, because Actionplan is also a keyword that I use on content all over my Website.

A lot of research has gone into assessing the importance of domain names, and it’s now generally agreed that you are more likely to be found by the search engines if you have your important keywords in your domain name. You can find out a lot more about identifying the best keywords for your business below.

Webmarketing Domain Names Vs Company Domain Names

In addition to registering (find out about domain name registration) my chosen domain name I also registered a domain appropriate to the name of my Company (“actionplan-online”). I set up this second domain so that it pointed to my main Internet marketing domain (you can do this using the administration panel provided by your web services provider).  Once this was done I knew that visitors who already knew my Company would be able to find me easily on the web even if they didn’t know my domain name.

Tools to Help You Choose Domain Names

Selecting the perfect domain name isn’t always easy.  As I’ve pointed out it’s important to use your important keywords. even so, it’s not always obvious how you can put these keywords into a domain name. Fortunately there are tools available on the Internet to help you with this. Here are some of the sites that can help you find the perfect domain name for your Internet marketing.

Domainr – http://domai.nr/

On the Domainr home page type in your chosen keywords and you will be offered a range of name options. With this tool you can be very innovative in the way you decide upon your Internet marketing domain names.  The Internet has grown so rapidly in recent years it’s sometimes difficult to find available domain names that end with “.com, .net and .org”.  Domainr helps you explore naming possibilities based upon some of the more unusual domain extensions.

Dotomator – http://www.dotomator.com/

On the Dotomator website  enter a word (or words) in the appropriate box and choose some of the suggested endings (or enter your own). Click to combine them and shortlist the names you like for availability checking.

BustAName – http://www.bustaname.com/

BustAName is a feature-packed domain-name finder that uses linguistic data to help you in your search for domains. With BustAName you can save and manage/organize your searches for later use. It provides you with a “list of words” feature that suggests similar words to those you have chosen as your keywords.  You can select these words and organize them inside folders. The creators of BustaName also provide video tutorials on how to use their website.

Domain Tools – http://www.domaintools.com/

The Domain Tools website provides a range of software tools that will help you uncover relevant information about certain domain names. They have a “whois” search that reveals records about the people or companies that registered the domain, a “suggestions” search to help you find similar domain names and a “domain search” which shows you what domain names are available or for sale.

Domize – https://domize.com/

Domize is a search engine that enables you to check quickly for the availability of domains. You can also install a software widget on your website so that visitors can carry out domain name searches.

Squurl – http://www.squurl.com

squurl is another search-engine-based site. It has a “suggestions” feature to help you discover similar domains to the ones you’ve selected.

DomainsBot – http://www.domainsbot.com/

DomainsBot is a domain search engine that has an “advanced” search feature that enables you to carry out a more customized and refined search. For example, you can set the maximum character length of your domain to eliminate lengthy domain names from the results or exclude domain results that have a hyphen (-).

DnScoop – http://www.dnscoop.com/

dnScoop is a very clever tool that tries to estimate the value of a particular domain based on statistics such as site traffic, links pointing to the domain, and other factors. This tool will help you gain some insight into the value of previously registered domain name if you should want to buy a previously registered domain which is up for sales rather than register a new one.

StuckDomains – http://www.stuckdomains.com/

StuckDomains is a database of expired domain names that previous owners have not renewed.

Nameboy – http://www.nameboy.com/

Nameboy is a very popular domain name generator. You select primary and secondary words that describe the topic of your website, and Nameboy suggests possible domain names. For example, typing in “web” and “superman” results in suggestions such as webhero, supeweb and supermanweb. There is also a “rhyme” option that tries to suggest domain names that rhyme with the search phrases.

Dyyo – http://dyyo.com/search_form.php

Lots of people like to keep domain names as short as possible so that they can be typed quickly and remembered easily.  dyyo.com specializes in helping you find 4-letter domain names to keep your URLs short.

What is a Domain Name?

We started this article with a simple question “What is a Domain Name”.  Now you know a lot more about domain names you should be able to find some names that are perfect for your business. Read my other articles to find out more about registering domain names once you have found one that  is suitable for your Internet marketing.

Les Signature

Why is Lead Generation So Important

If you’ve set up an on-line business but don’t have a strategy for building a list of future prospects from vistors to your website you’re missing a big opportunity to grow your business.

When people visit your website some will leave straight away, some will linger and some will buy your products. It’s a well-proven fact that for most websites only a very small percentage of visitors will buy on their first visit.

If you don’t make an attempt to capture the contact details of those that linger but don’t buy you’re throwing away opportunities for future sales. Those visitors that don’t buy on their first visit could be persuaded to buy in future – if you keep in contact with them and give them reasons to come back.

The science and techniques of building a list of potential sales prospects is called lead generation. It’s objective is to build a database of quality sales leads that you can use for future sales campaigns.

A lot has been written about lead generation. It’s important for all businesses to set up lead generation campaigns, but especially important for on-line businesses.

You can read a lot more about all the different types of lead generation in this article.

Affiliate Marketing and Lead Generation

Affiliate marketing is a type of online marketing that could not exist without a robust strategy for lead generation. In the rest of this article we’ll focus on the affiliate marketer and his lead generation strategies to provide an example of the importance of lead generation.

A typical affiliate marketer will create a website designed to sell the products of a third party for a commission that is generally a substantial proportion of the cost of the product. This website will generally concentrate on creating the greatest possible sales impact in order to persuade visitors to buy a product by clicking on an affiliate link to a product sales page.

If the affiliate has carried out the right keyword research the website will attract visitors with the right sales profile (i.e. people likely to buy). The chances are that for every 100 visitors it’ll be possible to make 5 to 10 sales (4% is often considered a very good rate of conversion!)

So although the good news for the affiliate is that he or she has made some sales (and will eventually get an affiliate commission), the bad news is that the strategy used hasn’t resulted in the capture of the email addresses of the purchasers. The affiliate product supplier gets these details and can use them to set up future sales campaigns to sell more products without the involvement of the affiliate.

But that’s not all. The visitors who decide not to purchase (although they may have been interested), move on from the website. Apart from an electronic footprint which is only partially useful (for analytics purposes), they don’t leave other details that would enable them to be contacted in future email marketing.

A good lead generation strategy will enble an affiliate marketer or anyone else who sells products or services online to convert many of the 95% that didn’t buy on their first visit into customers using well-prepared and tested follow-up sales campaigns.

How to Set About Building an Online Lead Generation List

To start building your lead generation list or database you’ll need some software that enables you to set up a “web form” on your website.  You will have seen these forms before on lots of different web sites. They are generally placed at the top of a web page where they can be clearly seen.

Visitors to your site will complete this form with their name and address and then click on a button to submit their details. These details are then added to a database/list of visitors that have an interest in your products and/or services. As you might guess, your visitors will have to be persuaded to provide these details. We’ll look at how we do this later in the article.

The software for setting up the web form is generally supplied by a company called an email provider. The software isn’t difficult to set up, and the mail provider will generally provide you with help to customize and set up your form. Most email providers also supply a service for collecting and storing the names and addresses of your visitors in an online database which you can manage from your desktop.

Read our article on email auto-responders to find out more about this.

Offer Visitors to Your Website a Free Report or eBook

As we mentioned above, you’ve got to give your visitors a good reason for parting with their name and email address.  One of the best ways of achieving this is to offer a report, book or other product, free of charge in exchange for the name and address details. Yes, it’s a sort of bribe, but a very good value one.

You’ll need to make sure that the report or product you offer has some value for your visitors. They won’t think much of you if it’s got very little or limited value. A good report might contain useful “insider” or little-known information relating to things that your visitor is particularly interested in.

Here are some examples:

Video Marketing Report – “Five Mistakes to be Avoided When Creating Home Videos”.

Email Marketing Report – “Everything You Need to Know About Building Your Business Using eMail Marketing”

If the free report offered relates to the problems or interests of your visitors they’ll be very happy to provide their name and address details, possibly anticipating that you’ll be able to provide more similar free information in the future.

We’ve only provided a small amount of information on on-line lead generation. Here’s a useful video with more information:

Be Careful How You Use Your eMail Addresses

With the strategy we’ve described you’ll be able to start building your database or list of names and email addresses and planning your email marketing campaigns.  But don’t get carried away!

When someone provides you with their name and email address they have decided to trust you. If you start sending out marketing emails to them every other day your reputation will go downhill rapidly and they’ll probably decide to unsubscribe from your list. You may also find that your mail provider doesn’t like what you’re doing and decides to terminate your contract on the grounds that you’re spamming your list.

With care you can avoid these things happening by making sure that you regulate the number of emails you send, and when you do send them you make sure they’re both useful and helpful.  It’s easy to put affiliate links in your emails linking back to offers on your website. In this way you can make the most of all your sales opportunities without upsetting your customers or your mail provider.

The internet marketers who are most successful at online lead generation are very careful not to over-promote to their customers, and therefor they have very low unsubscribe rates.

As a reward for all the hard work they have put in building their lists they get an ongoing flow of additional business without too much additional hard work and effort.

Time to follow their example?

Les Signature

 Webmarketing – Building Your Website

Although it’s possible to make money with webmarketing without a website, most internet marketers eventually end up building one.  If you haven’t done this before, don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

Your website doesn’t have to be very complicated or highly sophisticated. In many cases all you’ll  need is a single web page. But whether your website is simple or complex, the very best strategy is to build it using your own domain.

Why Free Websites Aren’t the Best Choice for Webmarketing

You can find services that will allow you to create your own websites free of charge.  These are services such as  “Google’s” Blogger, WordPress.com, Squidoo and HubPages. These are amongst the most popular .  Sometimes it can make sense to use these services first to build up some experience, but as you move forward with your webmarketing, it makes much more sense to own your own website on your own domain.

Many people are attracted to the free services because they are uncertain or even frightened by the technical aspects of setting up their own website. However, as I shall explain in a minute, they are doing themselves a disservice. The free services are fine up to a point, but they don’t allow you the freedom to develop your website in exactly the way you might want.  This may be a fairly unimportant limitation at the start, but once you begin to get more adventurous with your internet marketing and your website design you may find yourself inadvertently breaking the rules of your service provider (these rules can sometimes be very confusing).  When you do this they will very quickly delete your website and its contents without notification.

Choosing and Hosting Your Own Domain

If you decide to build your internet marketing business using one of the free service providers it can be totally heartbreaking to see all your hard work disappear because you may have broken a rule that you weren’t aware existed.

That’s why I recommend that you take the time and effort to learn the basic skills required to set up your own website under your own control.

There are three basic things to learn:

  1. How to purchase a domain
  2. How to set up your hosting
  3. How to link your domain and hosting

Buying an Internet Marketing Domain

This is very easy.

Go to a company that is able to sell you a domain (a domain registrar) and sign up for an account.  There are hundreds of domain registrars around. – GoDaddy, Cheap Names and 1&1 are three well-known ones.  When you have found one you like, create your free account (none of them will charge for creating an account).

Next you have to find a domain name that you like that’s available.

A domain name is the part of a website address (sometimes called the URL or “uniform resource locator”) that comes after the http:// bit in your internet search bar.

Using GoDaddy as an example it can either be of the form:

http://www.godaddy.com  or  http://godaddy.com

Note that a domain name has two parts – the name itself (GoDaddy) and its suffix “.com”. If you selected a  different suffix such as “.net” or “.org” this would make it a different domain.

Each domain registrar will provide a search box which you can use to type in your chosen domain name to see if it’s available.  If it’s not available you can try another domain name, and carry on doing so until you have found one that you like which is available.

Try using the following variations to find a suitable name:

www.mydomain.com

www.my-domain.com

www.mydomain.net

Sometimes a domain registrar will make some suggestions to help you with your choice of domain name.  Even with this help It may take a little while to find a domain name that you like, but it’s worth working at it.  Bear in mind that you can’t change the name after you’ve bought it.

The domain registrar will ask you how long you want to register the domain for – 1, 2 or 5 years.  Once you have decided you can choose to checkout and pay.

Even after you have paid for your domain, you don’t own it.  You are renting it for a set amount of time.  If you neglect to pay the renewal fee after you rental period has expired you will lose the domain.  However, most registrars will provide you with an email reminder about renewal.

How to get a Wemarketing Hosting Account

It’s quite easy to find a company that will host your internet marketing domain.

Use Google and search for “web hosting”.  You’ll find lots of hosting companies who want your business. HostGator is one of the biggest and one of the best.  They offer hosting from as little as $5 a month, and also provide a superb level of support.

You can buy your hosting from the domain registrar, but most people recommend against this because it’s not a good idea to have all your eggs in the same basket.

Once you have a domain and a hosting provider you now need to link the two of them together.

How to Link Your Domain and Hosting Together

When you buy your hosting account you will be informed about the DNS (sometimes called Nameserver) code for your account. Make a careful note of this.  It looks a bit like an URL (e.g. ns889.hostgator.com).  You will in fact be provided with two DNS numbers. The second will be one number higher (NS890.hostgator.com).

When you have made a note of your DNS numbers, log into your domain registrar account and select the domain you’ve just bought.  Next look for a menu item called DNS or Nameservers.  Select this item and a table of the DNS codes currently associated with your domain will be displayed.  You would be able to leave these codes as they are if you had chosen to use your domain registrar as your hosting company, but if you choose not to do this you will need to change these DNS settings to the DNS settings provided by your hosting company. Once you have done this save the new settings.

This may all seem complicated, but all that is happening is that you are telling the Internet the “address” where your domain’s files are hosted.

Once you’ve done that you are now ready to start building your webmarketing website – but that’s another story