America's Business to Business Journal for Industry

Turning Yesterday's Web Traffic into Today's Customers


Is your business utilizing 21st century technology to its fullest within the sales process?  Have you been able to definitively point to sales generated through new technologies/services available – such as a new website, search engine optimization (SEO), implementation of a customer relationship management system (CRM), etc.?  If your answer is no, or if you are unsure - then you are not alone.  Many companies have invested thousands of dollars implementing new technology: to find new sales leads; to streamline existing sales processes; or to keep customers informed.  However, oftentimes these companies are unable to conclusively justify whether the investment has paid off.

Maximizing new technologies can be very resource-intensive – with manpower and financing.  When moving your company marketing plan towards taking advantage of online tools, it is important to break the process into stages.  Below, you will find a list encompassing six key focus areas.  Although this list does not include every form of marketing technology available, for most small/midsized companies it will be a nice starting point.

1. Your Company’s Website Design: Your organization’s website must be visually attractive, informative to your prospective customers and align with your company’s sales goals. Study your intended audience. Analyze your prospects and customers. Who are they? What are their interests? What kind of information do they need to make purchasing decisions? What information do they need to do business with your company?

It is essential to accurately align the design of your website with your company’s current and potential revenue sources. For instance, pretend your company is a metal fabrication shop.  Although a 10,000-piece order may be very attractive, if your business generates 90% of its revenue through small run custom fabrication work – focus where the potential sale actually is. Design your website accordingly, keeping in mind that its purpose should be to assist your sales team as opposed to redeveloping your company’s target clientele base.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Make sure you design your website both visually and contextually with SEO in mind.  A website properly optimized for search engines will often receive higher volumes of targeted traffic, which will ultimately translate into increased quality sales leads.

There are many misperceptions about proper SEO. Oftentimes, SEO consulting firms advise companies to load their website keyword meta-tags with lists of popular key words used as search words. Today, nearly all of the major search engines have modified their search methodology, no longer putting a preference on keyword meta-tags, rather to take a logical look at the content itself. This re-enforces the need to focus and target the content on your website. Avoid any information that does not directly apply to your business - like weather reports or local news.  Also, do not have links from your site to other sites that do not relate to your industry.

One of the best ways to promote healthy SEO for your company’s site is to routinely update content. Set a goal for how often you would like to put new content online – and work with your sales team to employ a plan on how that will be achieved.  An ideal target would be to add new content once per week. Publish a white paper, introduce a new service/product, post a case-study, share positive customer feedback, have your service department post regular tips/guidance, announce trade show appearances, etc.  When posting content, highlight the unique skills or experiences of your employees. If you are concerned about having enough content on a regular basis, set a schedule for the posting of content over a period of time versus adding it all at once. By regularly updating the content on your website, search engines will scan your site more often.


Another often overlooked part of SEO is monitoring your company’s ‘webmaster tools’ with the 3 major search engines. For example, depending on the design of your site, Google can require specific control adjustments within its ‘webmaster tools’ to properly scan your site.  If you do not accurately administer the ‘webmaster tools’ with Google – Bing - Yahoo, you could actually unintentionally instruct them to remove your site from appearing within each of their search engine results.  If you are unsure how to administer your company’s ‘webmaster tools’, there are numerous self-help guides within each of the three major search engines.  If you still have difficulty, consult an expert – settings within the ‘webmaster tools’ are not areas where you should guess at what you are doing.

3. Content Management System (CMS): Managing a large volume of content, whether it is white papers, product catalogs, press releases, and others can be extremely difficult without a method of organization.  One method growing in popularity is a ‘Content Management System’ or CMS.  A CMS can integrate with your online marketing efforts in a variety of ways, including organizing a product catalog for an online store, organizing white papers, and updating content on the pages of your website.  An entry-level CMS can be extremely user friendly, requiring minimal training.  In a small to mid-sized business, a CMS can actually reduce work volume on existing employees and increase the productivity of the sales/marketing staff by automating many tasks previously performed manually.  A CMS can vary greatly in capability, but one thing remains true:  If your company implements a CMS appropriate to its needs, organizing a large catalog of content efficiently and kept up-to-date is a much easier task. 

4. Targeted Email Marketing: With the unparalleled cost-effectiveness of email marketing – one of the biggest mistakes many companies make is not utilizing a regular and targeted email effort.   Considering the cost per contact made, it is significantly cheaper than nearly any other form of proactive marketing, including direct mail, cold calls, trade shows, print advertising and even one-on-one sales calls.

To achieve the highest level of return on investment, email marketing should be consistent, targeted and relevant to the recipient. Pay attention to content; tailor every email to each recipient’s interests.  You should make contact with your prospects regularly, often-times companies choose to reach their prospects at least once per month via email; however avoid inundating your subscribers with stale or useless information.  If you do not insure the quality of the email message you will certainly risk subscribers instantly pressing the delete button. According to recent studies performed by ProspectTrax, a marketing automation firm headquartered in Lexington KY, sending emails to your subscriber base less than once per quarter can cause the ROI to decrease by as much as 70%.

If you choose to outsource your email marketing, select a firm that can provide the necessary expertise to enhance the likelihood of ‘Whitelisting’ – which can greatly improve your ability to achieve high deliverability rates. There are many other methods implemented by email marketing distribution companies that can substantially improve the open rates, deliverability, tracking capabilities and more, so select the provider with capabilities matching your company’s needs.


5. Visitor Level Web Analytics: How many people visit your website?  Which web pages have been viewed?  Where does your website’s traffic originate?  These are all sample data sets that have been available on basic web analytic packages for years.  But did you know that there are now web analytic packages that have taken reporting capabilities to a unique user’s level?  New top-end analytic systems can show who is looking at your site, that person’s interests, intelligently predict which other content on your site could be of interest, align potential customers for product lines with the appropriate sales rep at your company, and much more.  Gone are the days where a website is an overpriced brochure.  Many companies have turned their website into the best and most efficient lead generation tool ever implemented.  Sales personnel now have real-time access to their most likely customers, based on sophisticated lead scoring systems currently implemented in today’s high-end analytic packages.  For nearly any B2B company, the ability to intelligently track a specific user – learning their interests – is a valuable tool for high dollar sales.

6. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Implementing all of the steps above to effectively attract the target visitor and generate new leads demands an equally efficient system in place to handle these new-found leads.  The answer to this dilemma is to implement a ‘Customer Relationship Management’ system.  The capabilities, and price points, of CRMs currently available will vary.  Just as for a CMS system, it is very important to select a CRM system targeted to your company’s needs.  Do not short change yourself on necessary capabilities, while avoiding features that your company will realistically never implement.  The goal of utilizing a CRM system is to help automate your contact management, while drawing more productivity from your existing sales staff – do not over complicate the situation by employing new features just for the sake of having new features.  Consult a CRM specialist to properly select the right system for your company.

Implementing a successful online marketing campaign has become a very sophisticated business. You can hire a company that can implement all six of the afor-mentioned steps or hire multiple firms – each focused on one of the areas above. By using a-la-carte firms, you could spend significantly more than by hiring a firm specializing in marketing automation – bringing all of the elements of internet marketing under one umbrella.  An analogy to consider:  Building a car piece by piece, having each component custom fabricated, would cost considerably more than buying a car from a company that already has the infrastructure in place to produce quality at an affordable packaged price.

 

Eric Zaluski is president of ProspectTrax, a division of Lexington KY based Manufacturers Group Inc.  ProspectTrax specializes in marketing automation. The firm offers a marketing automation software suite, supporting customers throughout the US.

If you would like further information on this paper, or to learn whether ProspectTrax could assist your company, visit http://www.prospecttrax.com/ or email info@prospecttrax.com

You may also visit an upcoming presentation by Eric Zaluski on Marketing Automation, Thursday, October 20th at 12pm during the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Show held in Dayton, Ohio  The 2011 show takes place October 19th and 20th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Dayton Airport Expo Center.

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