As you may recall, the #1 requested service from our end of year survey was online marketing plan creation.  So can you guess what we’ve been doing for most of January?

Yup, creating online marketing plans.  From working on these projects I think I’ve finally put my finger on why so many small business marketing campaigns fail.  It’s not for lack of effort.  Most businesses I talk to have tried search engine optimization (SEO).  Many have dabbled with Google AdWords and Facebook advertising.  Some even tweet, pin, and share status updates.

But those tactics are all worthless if you’re missing the most important piece of the online marketing puzzle.  Do you know what it is?

I’ll give you a hint: This is the only piece in your marketing that has the power to transform a website visitor into a paying customer.  Everything else, like what I listed above, can only generate website visitors.   Visitors are great, but unless you’re making your money selling advertising on your website, then you need more than visitors.  You need customers.

So how do you transform website visitors into customers?

If you guessed your website, then you are on the right track… but your website alone is still not enough!


The Missing Piece In The Marketing Puzzle

If you’ve attended any of our monthly trainings, then you’ve heard me talk about the 4 Pillars of Online Marketing Success.  The 4 pillars are:

  1. Traffic
  2. Conversions
  3. Customer value
  4. Tracking

To be successful with online marketing, you obviously need to generate traffic to your website.  Then you must convert the traffic into customers.  Your customer lifetime value determines how much money you’ll make from your marketing.  And finally, you must have tracking in place to see exactly what’s working and what’s wasting your budget.

What I’ve found is that most businesses are missing Pillar #2: an effective conversion system.  If you’re in this situation, then all the traffic in the world won’t help your marketing.  Plus, it doesn’t matter if you have a high customer lifetime value and you’re methodically tracking all your key performance indicators (KPIs).  You simply will not generate customers without a conversion system.


3 Elements Of An Effective Conversion System

The 3 critical components in an effective conversion system are:

  1. Paid offer
  2. Lead magnet
  3. Follow-Up


Paid Offer

The paid offer is the product or service you’re selling.  Most businesses have this listed on their websites.  However, most visitors (probably around 99% of your visitors) are not ready to buy the moment they first land on your website and read about your product or service.

Excellent copywriting and a strong call to action will help push some visitors over the line, but you’re still not going to convert more than about 2 – 4% of your website visitors right away.  That’s just the nature of online marketing.  And that brings us to the 2nd component in the conversion system.

Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is something valuable that you can offer on your website for free, in exchange for your prospect’s contact information (usually just the email address). Common lead magnets are free reports, videos, demos, and free trials.

As I mentioned above, at least 96% of your visitors are not ready to buy, and when they leave your website you’ll have no way to follow up to convert them when they are ready to buy.  This is why a lead magnet is so critical to your conversion system.  Every day that you do not have a lead magnet, you’re missing out on a chance to build a relationship with a future customer.


Do I really need to explain the importance of follow-up to close more sales? :)

Once you have your lead magnet on your website, then you will start to collect prospect contact information and you’ll be able to follow up via email (and possibly phone if you collect phone numbers).  Email campaigns can even be automated using email service providers like iContact, Aweber, ConstantContact, or Infusionsoft.  The goal of your follow-up campaigns is to build trust, educate prospects about your product or service, and stay top of mind so that your prospect thinks of your business when she’s ready to buy.

If you’re struggling to profitably market your business online, then I’m willing to bet you need to focus more on Pillar #2, Conversions.  Once you have all 3 components of an effective conversion system, then all of your other marketing will instantly become more profitable.