Can you imagine the hypocrisy of spending thousands of dollars, countless hours, and boatload of resources to create a marketing tool that actually sends prospects running for the hills? It might seem crazy, but a overwhelming majority of websites are doing just that.
By failing to (1) define the specific goals of your website and (2) understand how it fits in with your customer's buying process, you could be loosing out on the opportunity to enable prospects to receive the value you can offer them. -- Or worse, by grossly confusing, discouraging, and even annoying them, you could be pushing them into the arms of the competition.
These two incredibly common pitfalls could be costing you business.
However, used effectively, your website becomes a strategic component of a well-oiled marketing and sales funnel that effectively supports your ideal prospects and customers in making the decision to work with you.
There are three components to an effective marketing and sales funnel:
Component 1 - Enables ideal prospects to find you or your business
Component 2 - Gives a prospect an experience of you
Component 3 - Invites the prospect to become a customer
Each successive stage helps your ideal prospects -- those who most need the solutions you offer -- to find, connect, and build a feeling of trust with you.
Like a funnel, it is wider at one end and smaller at the other. So in order to get an abundance of customers coming out at the end of the funnel, it's important that you supply the beginning of the funnel with a healthy number of prospects.
Each component of a fine-tuned marketing and sales funnel uses key marketing tactics and tools to guide a prospect along the path to working with you.
A website is one of those tactics and tools. Other examples include email newsletters, complimentary consultations, brochures, speaking engagements, strategically-placed advertising, grassroots marketing, publicity, and networking.
Together, the three components, and their underlying tools and tactics, can support you in reaching your business goals.
To build an effective sales and marketing funnel, first define your specific marketing and sales goals. Do this by asking yourself:
How many new customers do I want to generate per week/month/quarter/year?
How many dollars in revenue do I want to generate per week/month/quarter/year?
What would you like your product and service mix to be? In other words, of your total sales, what percent would you like to have allocated to which product and service?
How many total prospects would you like to have in you customer database? How many people would you like to have on your mailing list?
How many people would you like to add to your mailing list per week/month/year?
Once you have defined the specific goals and objectives of your marketing and sales funnel, consider how you would like your website to support those goals.
Looking at your Marketing and Sales Funnel, do you want your website to support Component 1, Component 2, Component 3, or some combination of these?
If you want your website to support Component 1 of your marketing and sales funnel -- it must serve as a channel for high-volumes of people to find out that you and your company exist.
In order for your website to support Component 1 of your marketing and sales funnel, it must produce a consistent heavy flow of prospects to your business. Without this, the rest of your marketing funnel will suffer dramatically. If only a few people can find your business, then even fewer will be interested in sticking around to get an experience of you.
To make sure you have consistent, heavy flow of prospects coming to your website, consider specifically how a prospect might find you.
Did they search for you on a search engine, like Google? If so, what specifically did they search for?
And when the list of options came up on Google, where was your listing located? Was it in the top 10 listings, or was it on page 102?
Did they find you on another website? Like an affiliate partner website?
Did they find you on another website featuring an article you wrote? If so, what kind of article would have brought them to you?
Were they visiting a popular, high-traffic website that attracts a similar market as yours, when they found a banner add linking to your website?
In order to effectively help prospects find you, it's essential that you understand the specific needs that they are trying to solve. This will help you craft effective search engine listings, feature relevant articles, and target the best key words.
By doing this, you can align with and help along the decision-making process of prospects.
If your website is NOT meant to function as a vehicle for Component 1, then make sure that some other marketing channel is -- speaking, networking, article-writing, publicity, advertising, or some other tactic.
Remember that without a healthy Component 1 -- leveraging a website or some other marketing tool or tactic -- it's almost impossible to meet your sales and marketing goals.
If your website is meant to support Component 2 of the marketing and sales funnel, the focus shifts towards giving visitors an experience of you that leaves them wanting more.
Examples of using your website for Component 2 - to give visitors an experience of you include:
Offering a host of free downloadable tools - reports, assessments, community-building tools, etc.
Having a blog
Making available articles
Having high-quality, high-intrigue web copy
How ever you deliver this experience is less important than the reaction it evokes. --It's should create a want and desire by the visitor to want more from you and your business.
If it just gives them a bunch of free stuff and they leave, then you have not met the real objective of Component 2.
During Component 2 of the marketing and sales funnel, a prospect is answering the question, "Is this product/service right for me?" To answer this question, the prospect looks at two very important factors: benefits and objections. Your job is to make sure that the benefits outweigh the objections.
If your website is meant to support Component 3 of the marketing and sales funnel -- and you really want people to actually type in the numbers of their credit card to pay for your services online -- it's important that you really understand what you're expecting.
Here's the thing -- it generally takes at least seven times of being exposed to a particular product or service before an online customer will be willing to make a purchase.
Hence, if you are expecting that the average web visitor will find you today and be willing to pay for your product after only being exposed to you through your website in 10 minutes or less - you're probably not being realistic.
True, impulse buys do happen, but they are more the exception rather than the rule. So if you want your website to effectively invite prospects for an order, it's important that elsewhere in your marketing and sales funnel you have given them the opportunity to really, truly get to know you.
Examples of this would be by providing a free multi-part eCourse, delivering a free evening seminar, or through a referral from someone they already know and respect earlier in the marketing and sales funnel process.
If Components 1 and 2 have been effectively delivered, then Component 3 is easy.
However, it is quite common for internet marketers to make the mistake of assuming that large numbers of web visitors will magically say yes to products and programs they know little about.
Don't make that mistake.
Bottom line - The key to building an effective Component 3 on your website is to have strong, consistent and effective tactics build into Components 1 and 2 of your marketing and sales funnel.
To avoid wasting time, money, and energy on websites that not only don't work -- but actually scare prospects away -- be sure to incorporate the Three Component System to building an effective marketing and sales funnel.
Copyright 2005 Coco Fossland
About Coco Fossland
The author of the forthcoming book, The Power of Trust: Trust Yourself, Transform Your World, Coco Fossland is a nationally recognized expert in personal transformation, self-empowerment and self-healing. Blending a decade of technology and strategy consulting with her expertise in self-trust transformation, Coco's business is focused on supporting people passionate about creating businesses that make a difference in the world. She helps her clients fuse their higher path with their businesses, creating institutions and organizations that profoundly impact the world one person at a time. http://www.cocofossland.com