When I started my company in 2002, I knew I needed to have a website. Why? To provide credibility! How can a company be "real" in this day and age if it doesn't have a website? So, like many companies, I published an informational website that explained "here's who we are, and here's what we do".
I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about my website. I certainly didn't think of it as a strategic weapon in my company's marketing arsenal. That started to change in the spring of 2004 when a newsletter was forwarded to me by a fellow member of the National Speaker's Association. The subject of the featured article was something called "internet marketing".
The article caught my fancy, so I subscribed to the author's newsletter. Over the next month or two I picked up an eBook and a CD that were recommended in newsletter articles. The concept of internet marketing really started to intrigue me, so I decided to do some serious research.
During the next four months I invested several thousand dollars and a couple hundred hours learning about internet marketing. My conclusion? I was missing out big-time with my company's website! In fact, I concluded that just about every business website would be vastly improved if it was re-designed to do three things:
1. Help visitors RAPIDLY answer two questions:
"Is there anything here for me?"
2. Encourage visitors to opt-in to receive free information resources.
- "What does this company do?", and
This keeps website visits from being one-shot deals. If you offer visitors the opportunity to opt-in to receive free, value-added information, and you provide truly useful information on a regular and consistent basis, you will earn trust and build relationships. This increases the likelihood that your website visitors will buy from you over time.
3. Motivate Action
If a website page is going to motivate a visitor to take action, the focus needs to change from you, your company and your products and services to your visitors and their problems.
Web pages that motivate action are not distant and aloof. Instead, reading them feels like a one-on-one conversation between you and the reader. The copy invokes the reader's emotions, plus provides enough supporting details to enable the reader to feel comfortable making a decision to buy online or to contact your company for more information.
This very specialized form of copywriting is called a "sales letter". You have probably received sales letters in the mail, or seen a similar type of advertising in television infomercials. Some sales letters and infomercials sound pretty "cheesy"; yet, for decades sales letters have repeatedly proven to be one of the most productive forms of direct marketing.
The biggest criticism you'll hear about sales letters (usually from corporate website designers) is, "This copy is much too long! Nobody is going to take the time to read that much information!"
You know what? The critics are almost right. Probably 95% of readers will not read any given sales letter in its entirety. That's OK, because sales letters are not written to appeal to everyone! They are written to appeal to specific individuals that have the specific problems the sales letter addresses.
Most people will skim a sales letter...IF it has a compelling headline or sub-headline that catches their attention. They may read a paragraph or glance at a few bullets. If the paragraph or bullets are compelling, they may read another paragraph. Once they have read several compelling paragraphs, they may decide to go back and read the sales letter from the beginning. At that point it becomes much more likely the reader will take the action the sales letter recommends.
If you want your website to generate online sales and/or leads, it needs to do three things:
Help visitors rapidly figure out what your company does and whether you can do anything for them
Encourage visitors to opt-in to receive value-added communications (so that you can build relationships and earn trust)
To motivate action, change every page that describes one of your company's products or services to a sales letter
. Make sure each sales letter includes a "call to action"
, whether it is making a purchase or contacting your company for more information.
Change the focus of your website from you, your company, and your offerings to your visitors and their problems -- and watch the online sales and leads roll in!
Copyright 2005 -- Alan Rigg
Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling: Why Most Salespeople Don't Perform and What to Do About It. To learn more about his book and sign up for more FREE sales and sales management tips, visit http://www.8020performance.com.