Online customers

How to Build a Profitable Online Relationship with Customers:…

It takes at least 7 visits to your website before someone purchases something from it.

In support, comScore Networks V.P. John Miniati said at this year’s IR Conference, “People don’t always convert in the same web session when searching.” Their study found that only 17% of search-initiated sales (mostly movie tickets and flowers) occurred during the same web session. 20% occurred in later online sessions and 63% in latent offline purchases.
John Miniati, vice president, comScore Networks Inc.

Now even though I am a high-end web user, my own personal experience confirms this. At the moment I am looking at buying an information product, online. It costs US$997.

The person who wrote it is renowned for being a guru in his space. On his website there are near 100 testimonials extolling the product’s virtues and value. But, I still haven’t purchased it. These are some of the things I have done:

• I have googled his name, visited his website and looked over the materials at least 3 separate times.
• I have read reviews about the product on others’ websites.
• I have looked through affiliate sites and read tips on the product by those who are currently using it.
• I have researched the supporters’ websites to confirm their authenticity and see how their business is performing as a result of applying this product’s instructions.

I guess I want to get as much information and ensure this is the right product for me, before I purchase. At the end of the day I am going to have to take that leap of faith and just try the product. There is a money back guarantee but I am very skeptical about those kinds of things.

The concept I want to show you is that you need a lot more than just information and a ‘buy now’ button to persuade customers to transact on your website.

You need every single piece of evidence to build credibility about you and your product/s. This information is partly what will convince customers to buy from your website.

The other factors are a) a decent product, and b) potentially the most important element – a genuine relationship with your customer.

A relationship is defined as:
Dictionary.com – “A connection, association, or involvement.

In order to start the relationship we need to get a connection, association or involvement with this other person. In everyday, a business relationship is built on the following milestones.

First Contact – By accident or design you meet, exchange contact details and a first meeting is set up. The relationship has the ingredients (contact details) to begin. The communication using these contact details is the basis upon which the relationship can be formed. Interactions follow, which build and grow this relationship.

First Meeting – Following from the exchange of details you meet and get to know each other further. At this point you haven’t yet worked together but feel it may be possible, so a proposal is requested – the relationship is new and fragile.

Proposal written and received – At proposal stage you receive pricing estimates, detailed solutions and can begin to place some sort of value on the relationship; its future costs and benefits. If the proposal is pursued, the relationship becomes an “involvement”.

If the proposal is not accepted, efforts can still be made to build the connection or association. For example, if a supplier and ourselves were to partner up and pitch for a particular piece of business, to the person receiving the pitch we would be associated with each other. This association is only in infant stage as it hasn’t yet been tested although it still exists.

On the other hand, if I were to simply meet this supplier at a networking event and introduce him to a third-party, our relationship at this point would be described as a “connection”.

How do I replicate these face-to-face contact experiences online?

The above example is a very physical way of explaining relationship building although the same principles apply online.

First Contact – You might search, receive an email, click on a banner ad or hear from someone else about a particular website. The key thing here is that you have the contact details of the domain name. Hopefully on the website you can get more contact details to extend the communication to other mediums like telephone, mail or face to face.

First Meeting – A visit to a company’s website is your first meeting. Just like when I first went to the information product’s website for the first time. I met the company for the first time and I scoured through their website.

However, this is where ‘real-life’ and ‘virtual-life’ differ. Although we are having a ‘meeting’, I have yet to introduce myself to the online company. At this moment I – as the consumer – have the company’s details, but they don’t have mine. Only 1 way communication is possible.

The only way they can follow-up and take me to the ‘proposal stage’ is by capturing my (the consumer’s) contact details. In order to foster the relationship they need some way of contacting me and continuing the conversation.

As an online company, what can you offer to get those contact details?

A FREE enewsletter – If people opt-in to your newsletter signup they are interested in what you have to say. Sure, some competitors might opt-in but in general, anyone who opts-in will be very interested to hear and read about what you have to say.

A FREE eBook – Wrap up all that initial information you would normally give a prospective client in a first meeting into an ebook. An ebook has 1 rule, “It must contain high quality information or you will lose ALL credibility with your subscriber.” These ebooks do take some time to prepare although they are a master capture device for contact details once you get it them and running.

FREE articles related to your product or service – You are an expert in your space, and as a prospective customer I want to hear what you have to say. I want to see how your products/services might benefit me. A great thing to realise here is that anyone who provides their contact details because they want to read your articles is very interested in what you have to say. Your credibility as an expert is increased immediately and the prospective customer will be more interested in building a relationship with you.

A FREE download – Giving away a trial version of your software or a free version of a little software tool to help them is a superb way to collect contact details if you are selling software.

What I like about it is that the visitor can experience what your company is like to work with by using your software. I also like the tangible nature of an actual piece of software being installed on their computer. This is a good sign of relationship potential as they had the confidence to install your software on their computer. I would say that this is an “involvement” with you. If you were to meet this person who has downloaded and installed your software and have a chat with them you wouldn’t be coming in cold. They might say, “Oh I know your company I have been using your trial software for ages.” This is a relationship that has been going on without you knowing.

Sparking that 2 way relationship

You have collected their contact details, they might have started an involvement but you haven’t spoken back yet. To build that relationship and not let it fizzle out Send them an email. You must be tactical with what you send them but say something back. Your communication is enabling that customer to build a connection with your company. If for example you were to meet this person at an event and you said you were from XYZ company they might say, “Oh, I know your company I downloaded your ebook and you sent me a mail the other day that really inspired me to reconsider my options about your product.” You are not a stranger, you have a connection with this person.

How do you get an online customer to look at your proposal?

Just as with the face-to-face example, when your customer has expressed an interest in you, you need to give them your proposal. At this point they are clearly interested in building a “more intimate” relationship with you. The online way of doing this is to include an offer in your email.

An offer is a proposal shortened to a good headline, linking to a web page with more details. Your proposal/offer needs to be in line with what you have been discussing in your communications. You don’t want to be randomly discussing a completely different product.

Once they have accepted your offer this is not the end of the relationship. Customers like to continue to building confidence in you. They may repeat purchase, or if yours is a one-time-use product (such as laser eye surgery) they could refer you to friends and family – especially if rewarded for doing so. So after they have accepted your offer, send a thank you email.

If they don’t accept your offer there are other ways to continue building the relationship and we will address these in later chapters. However the key steps covered in this session are to:

1. Get online browsers to give you their contact details
2. Email them in response to their action/request and include an offer
3. Reply with a thank you (or follow-up) email.

Get started with these steps and by the time that “How to build an online relationship with customers: Part 2” reaches you, you will have many consumer leads upon which to implement my next chapter. See you next time.

Online customers

How to Solution Sell with online marketing

So you want to sell something from your webpage? Do you want to get your user to take some sort of action? Well your going to have to sell it to them in a way that they understand.

There are 4 steps in selling anything (real estate, entreprise IT, cars, vacuum cleaner..) it doesnt matter what the service is everyone buys in the same way.

4 steps to selling on a webpage

1. Need – Establish the need of the user. “Do you want to stop wasting your money with phony print advertisements and start making sales with online marketing?” The need for the user to get into online marketing and start making more and better sales has been established.

2. Solution – Now that you have that need, I have a solution for you. “The easiest way to learn about online marketing is to attend the Fred Schebesta seminar. You will learn ..” Provide a solution to the persons need (sometimes called problem) and by some fluke your solution is the service that you provide.

3. Reason – Give me a good reason as to why I should do that? “One good reason why you should learn from Fred Schebesta’s online marketing seminar is you will be able to increase your sales effectiveness and conversion rate of your website.” The reason as to why you should buy my solution, to your problem.

4. Benefit – The benefit to you of doing this. “The benefit of this to you is that you will decrease your marketing costs and also be able to target a new online user base.” The benefit of fixing your problem, with my solution.

Answer each of these 4 items in detail and communicate them clearly and you have yourself a well presented sale. Whether or not someone buy depends on how well you targetted your message to your audience and whether that person has that problem.

I read a famous salesperson who came upon a customer, he said “Hi Mark, are you satisfied with your printing company and could we be of any assistance?”
Customer, “No, we are fine.”
The salesman, “Would you say you are satisfied?”
Customer,”Yes.”
The Salesman, “Well here are 2 telephone numbers of my clients. Call them and ask them how they feel about their printing company. I am sure they will tell you that they are ecstatic! Now, could I have any opportunity to discuss how we can make you feel ecstatic about your printing company?”

The Salesman went on to make a sale and a retained customer for life.

How could you use this information in your business?

Blogging and blog marketing

Hit the right note with your blog marketing

Let me tell you the story of how I got into blogging…

It all started when one of my mates, Dylan, began http://needstobeglassed.blogspot.com/. Though quite aggressive in its content, this blog has slowly built up a following of over 1,000 visitors per day.

Dylan and his blog contributors have similar types of humor. They have created a huge following by attracting those with the same humor. “Birds of a feather flock together,” as they say.

This concept was also explained to me by guru marketer, Michael Kiely, using his “Theory of Marketing”. Essentially, he says, each person resonates at a particular note, just like a tuning fork. As they resonate, they naturally attract others who also resonate at that note. The same thing happens when you bring a tuning fork which is resonating, really close to another that is not. The fork that isn’t resonating starts to, because they are on the same wavelength.

Customers are similarly attracted to companies; the company just naturally resonates with them. Look at all the Harley Davidson riders. Look how the customers and company resonate together. Some people prefer Google compared to Yahoo! search engine because it resonates with them.

The key here is to understand what your note is and resonate it through different channels that makes your note sound good. E.g. Google’s corporate blogger, Matt Cutts, is the perfect channel for Google, as their customers are online and the anonymity rings their bell. What is your customers note?

After seeing this phenomenon take place I decided that Freestyle Media clients must have a note, I must have a note and Freestyle Media must have a note. So I launched www.onlinemarketingsydney.com.au (Freestyle Media’s official blog). It is designed for corporate online marketers looking for new ideas and a channel to share ideas and build their profile.

Angela Schuster, Online Marketing Manager at www.prognosis.com has been the first contributor to the blog with a superb article about enewsletter frequency.

Send me the latest Online Marketing Sydney blog entries via email

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I look forward to seeing you online. Maybe we can make some music together – your tuning fork and mine.

Cheers,
Fred

Latest Work at Freestyle Media

So Good Banner advertisements “A taste for Tuscany!” and “So Good Active free sample” banner advertising campaign! View the banner advertising case study

Email marketing

eNewsletters – stuff frequency, it’s all about relevance

Reading through recent articles and company eNewsletters, it has become apparent that people still think an eNewsletter is just an opportunity to blab about how great their company/product is.

The problem with this aberration is that while you may get-off on hearing about how wonderful your goods are, how many awards you’ve won and all the neato features your product/service offer – your users don’t.

As part of this mindset people also still seem caught up with the question “How frequently should I send my eNewsletter?”

What they fail to realise is that it’s not really their choice, it’s their users and the answer is: As frequently as your readership will tolerate.

That’s it. No science behind it, because at the end of the day if you over-hit someone’s inbox, they’ll hate you for it. It doesn’t take testing or user studies to tell you that – it’s fact.

Now the issue with this is that your readership will only tolerate an eNewsletter if it’s perceived by THEM to be relevant. That’s right, they rate relevance over frequency.

The main reason for this is that when companies decide to do an eNewsletter they often end up creating content for the sake of getting the eNewsletter out to a schedule and that’s when you get your company back-slapping and ego-inflating content.

So, stop thinking frequency and start thinking RELEVANCE.

Stop asking the question “How frequently should I send my eNewsletter?” and start asking “Is this piece of content really (really really really) relevant and valuable in the readers mind?”.

Now, because this is important I’ll say it again just to make sure it sinks in – it’s not about frequency, it’s about relevance.

Relevance is about ensuring your CONTENT and message in your eNewsletter actually makes a difference to the reader. Corporate propaganda and marketing hype really doesn’t make that much of a difference to a reader. So, what does?

Value-added information is what matters, and the less overtly related to your product/company, the better.

Shock, horror – but what about getting our brand/key messages/value propositions/specials in front of them? What about the fact that eNewletters are a great way to get all of our long winded guff and back slapping praise in front of our prospects and brainwash them into buying our product? – you ask.

Stuff it (well most of it anyway).

Your eNewsletter (and by association you) will be valued more highly if you’re actually helping the reader or giving them information they don’t already know, or may know but need from another source explicitly to help them win a case for buying just such a product/service as you happen to offer (that case could be in their own head may I add).

So, rather than getting wound-up about the frequency and including bland information such as your latest media release about the newly appointed GM of Widgets, or the fact you won the latest “We paid lots of money to win this” award, think about a few common problems your audience may be facing or information needs they may have and write about those.

Even better, find third party information that validates your offering, include an overview and link in your eNewsletter to this information (I don’t mean someone praising your product, either).

Then you’re providing REAL information and not just you-centred information. This will be of greater interest and will be more relevant to the reader. In doing so they’ll feel more loyal to your eNewsletter and your brand or product by association.

Now, I’m not saying get rid of all of the overt propaganda, but try to balance it with stuff that actually adds value to the readers life, otherwise you’re just bugging them and it doesn’t take much to swipe you outta their inbox permanently.

Online customers

Fred, you're a salesman and you sell online marketing!

I just watched a DVD as I have been recovering from my recent trip to the hospital. No, I’m not going to die but I am having one interesting time recovering.

So there was one part in the movie that really opened my mind and made me realise something. In the movie there was an old guy and a young sales guy and they needed to save their job. So they made a final pitch to a client and they bought it! As they were walking out of their office complex the old salesman said, “Its good and it will help their business.”

Now, I am a salesman. Its my best skill. I can understand what a company is doing and communicate how our service will help them achieve that. What does that mean? Every single salesman says that. It means, “I know what we do. I know what you do. I know how to combine what we do and what you do to make it go faster, easier and more er”.

Great Fred you know how to sell. Good luck with that!

Well there is one difference about when I sell online marketing compared to anyone else and that is that I actually believe in it. I could sell ferraris, Jet Aeroplanes, Real estate anything really just give me a powerpoint, a product and a telephone. But I actually believe that online marketing can help corporate companies. I believe in it, just like the old guy selling in the movie. Not only do I believe that it will help our clients, I believe it will make the world a better place. Why?

  1. Enviro – I hate killing the environment (you will notice that if you hang around with me for a while) and so I prefer electronic communication over paper.
  2. Faster – Paper = slow, TV = slow I play fast. I am bored of the old ways because I am young and I want to conqueor the world and all that machiavellian stuff. Speed up and get your marketing online. Dont be like Goodman Fielder. Look at their boring website and feel the slow grinding pace of their marketing.
  3. Its the way of the future – I love the Aviator the movie. And all the print and TV marketers out there who will never get to read this blog because your boring, slow and your kill the environment, welcome to 2006.

If I annoyed you when you read this, good. Fight back. And if you have a comment post it.

Finally, if you want to get into online marketing and your a corporate marketer, contact me, or stick with your pieces of paper and the annoying things in between the tv shows and good songs on the radio.

What do you believe in?

Fred Schebesta

Online branding

What works well online

I have lots of questions and thoughts about what companies actually work online. My answer to this is really based upon objectives and definition of what you mean by works.

Products that work well online are usually ones that dont need to be seen or felt or touched or tried on etc.. low human interaction is required. Good examples of this are:

  • Books (Amazon)
  • Computers (Dell, newegg.com, techbuy)
  • Credit cards (Virgin Money)
  • Pharmaceuticals (www.yourchemistshop.com.au)
  • Flowers (Roses only)
  • gift baskets (www.thebasketcase.com.au )
  • Insurance (HCF, NIB, NRMA, QBD)
  • Real Estate (realestate.com.au)
  • Cars (carsales)
  • Second hand goods and auctions (ebay)
  • Music (mp3.com.au, hmv, virginmega.com)
  • DVD rental (netflix)
  • Mortgages (aussies, wizard)
  • Software (sourceforge)
  • Newspapers (news.com.au, smh, ninemsn)
  • Dating (rsvp, match.com, lavalife)
  • Pornography and sex toys (… too many .. adultshop)
  • Gambling (Pokerparty, Betfair)
  • Perfume
  • Jobs (careerone)
  • Stock trading (etrade, all banks commsec, westpac, st george)
  • electronics (xbox, tvs, dvd, cameras)
  • Digital photo processing
  • Travel (lastminute, expedia, .. too many.. this is huge.)
  • Internet access
  • Web hosting (Webcentral, ozhosting)
  • Jewellery
  • Swimwear and lingerie
  • Games (Software and real life)
  • Free stuff (emailcash)
  • Distress inventory (lastminute,Overstock)
  • Cosmetics (strawberrynet)
  • Ringtones and other mobile (blueskyfrog, jamster)

There are many more categories and many more to be added.

Some key criteria which I think work well are but are not necessarily require to be together:

  1. Customer need information about the product
  2. Customers are price conscious if you have the best price online customers will buy it.
  3. The product is digital in nature or primarily based on technology
  4. The product is information. Reports, ebooks etc..