5 Tips for Successful o2o Channel Leaping

The most strategically planned offline direct marketing effort can be sabotaged by weak links in an online sales order processing system. Moving a prospect from any offline channel marketing to online ordering has its clear benefits, but can be tricky. Whether from direct mail, broadcast, or other print source, your offline to online (o2o) channel redirection must be carefully designed, tested, and refined to maximize the conversion process. So here are five recommendations to ensure a seamless o2o leap.

The most strategically planned offline direct marketing effort can be sabotaged by weak links in an online sales order processing system. Moving a prospect from any offline channel marketing to online ordering has its clear benefits, but can be tricky. Whether from direct mail, broadcast, or other print source, your offline to online (o2o) channel redirection must be carefully designed, tested, and refined to maximize the conversion process. So here are five recommendations to ensure a seamless o2o leap.

In a past era, we direct marketers pitched our offer to our lists. When the prospect decided to buy, they would use a reply envelope to mail or phone their response. While that still happens today, more and more direct marketers prefer to drive a prospect to the web.

There is often a disconnect between concept and execution of taking a prospect from offline to online. We’re so close to the process that we sometimes assume a seamless o2o flow, but while fumbling around a keyboard, the prospect’s attention can be diverted. The online order experience can be clunky or even confusing. Sometimes too much is asked on the online order screen, and information overload sets in. Or we assume the customer is tech-savvy when in fact, they’re not. Orders and carts are abandoned because the prospect gives up.

What to do to ensure a seamless o2o leap? Here are five recommendations:

  1. Clarity Rules: Create a detailed flow chart of every possible path a prospect could take before they press “buy” to see if there is any unanswered or confusing language or visuals. Ensure that there are no dead-ends, and allow them to back up. And, be sure the form they’re returning to is still populated with their original entries, rather than being shown an infuriating screen full of blank fields.
  2. Roadmap the Journey: Manage expectations for your prospect with an overview of the process, why it’ll be worth their time, and how easy and quick it will be, especially if placing an order has multiple options.
  3. Wireframe to Visualize: If you, the marketer, are having trouble visualizing how it all works, just imagine how confused your customer will be. Developing even a crude wireframe will help ensure you don’t overlook something, or that the process unfolds logically and obviously.
  4. Clear Copy: Write to the reading level of your audience, but remember that online channels tend to be one where people are more rushed and scanning. They don’t always read for detail. Make it clear and simple.
  5. Tell and Sell with Video: People may not read copy as closely online, but they are apt to invest time watching a video with tips on how to place their order. It can save the customer time, and help reduce abandoned carts.

The back-end programming of online order systems are usually someone else’s responsibility. But, if you’re the marketer or copywriter, you need to put serious thought and effort into the customer-facing side, so it’s clear, friendly, and quick. Your prospect forms a lasting impression of your entire organization when you have an o2o channel leap requirement. And, if it’s muddled or worse, you may never have another opportunity to make it positive.

How to Double Your Landing Page Conversion Rates With 6 Easy Tune-ups

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your Google AdWords campaign is failing to optimize your landing page. No matter how carefully you fine tune your ad copy, tweak your keyword match settings and reallocate your budget, if your landing page conversion rates are low, you are literally giving away sales

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your Google AdWords campaign is failing to optimize your landing page. No matter how carefully you fine tune your ad copy, tweak your keyword match settings and reallocate your budget, if your landing page conversion rates are low, you are literally giving away sales. Today, I will walk you through the steps to improve (even double) your current conversion rates.

What Is a Landing Page?
A landing page is the specific page on your website where prospects land after clicking on one of your ads. Note that you should never use your homepage as a landing page, because the homepage gives a general introduction to your company, while a landing page needs to be tightly geared to the ad copy. In fact, it is best to create a separate landing page for each ad. This allows you to clearly reiterate the main idea in the ad, improving the overall congruence, or harmony, of the prospect’s experience.

What Is Your Conversion Rate?
The most important conversion rate is the ratio of sales to visitors. However, that’s not always quick and easy to calculate, so advertisers measure other key sales actions, such as filling out a contact form or making a phone call. For example, let’s say that 1,000 people click through your AdWords ad to your landing page, but only 20 of them fill out the contact form on that page. Divide 20 by 1,000 to find that your “contact form conversion rate” is 2 percent. Your numbers might be very different, but remember that the conversion rate refers to the percentage of people who take further action toward making a purchase after landing on your page.

Why Should You Improve Your Landing Page Conversion Rates?
Simply put, improving your conversion rates means that you will get more leads or customers for fewer advertising dollars. Taking the example above, suppose that the action you want prospects to take is purchasing a product that you sell for $100. If 20 of 1,000 people who click on your ad buy the product, you make $2,000. If 40 of those same 1,000 people buy the product (4% conversion rate), then you make $4,000. That’s $2,000 extra revenue from the exact same investment in advertising!

What Are the Basic Keys to Improve Landing Page Conversion Rates?
Improving your landing page conversion rates is both a science and an art. Monitor your AdWords campaign closely at first to determine the results of the changes you implement, and be ready to tweak your landing page as needed depending on what you discover. These are the parts of the landing page that often need fine-tuning:

  1. Congruence: This is the overall harmony of the user experience. Your landing page should tightly reflect the message, tone, and feel of the ad that was clicked on. Your prospects clicked on the ad because something in it resonated with them, so follow up on that with the landing page. If you change nothing else, ensuring congruence can dramatically improve your conversion rates.
  2. Headline: The headline is the most important part of your landing page. People scan quickly and make snap decisions when reading online, so your headline needs to captivate them. Don’t try to close the sale in the headline, but do restate the offer or the most important point from your ad.
  3. Offer and Call to Action: Most people know that a strong offer is an important element in making a sale, but is your offer irresistible? Try offering something different from what everyone else in your line of business offers, or add an extra bonus. Make sure to give clear instructions on what to do next to make the purchase, and if possible, add a deadline to increase urgency.
  4. Copy: Make sure your landing page explains exactly how you can solve the customer’s current problem or fulfill a specific need. In other words, focus on benefits rather than features. Plus, add elements that make your business sound legitimate, such as testimonials, reviews, or industry affiliations.
  5. Reduce Risk: Prospects tend to be skeptical when shopping online, largely thanks to the frequent horror stories in the media. If your offer requires payment, reduce the perceived risk by providing a guarantee, adding third-party trust verification, and providing full contact details for your company.
  6. Layout and Aesthetics: Because people scan rather than reading in depth online, clearing out the clutter can improve your conversion rates. Make it easy for prospects to figure out what to do. Make the buttons they need to click bigger. Remove extraneous navigation menus. Avoid long blocks of text. Keep it simple and obvious, aesthetically pleasing, and congruent with your overall brand.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my Google AdWords checklist.

Best Practices Exist for a Reason, Part 2: Landing Pages

In my last post, I gave some specific and proven best practices for the creation of successful emails. In this post, I’ll talk about Landing Pages—because now that you’ve been able to lure your target into opening your email and clicking on the embedded link(s), you want to continue to drive that prospect to your desired outcome.

In my last post, I gave some specific and proven best practices for the creation of successful emails. In this post, I’ll talk about Landing Pages—because now that you’ve been able to lure your target into opening your email and clicking on the embedded link(s), you want to continue to drive that prospect to your desired outcome.

Whether your email offer is more information, a video, an e-book, a survey or a whitepaper, don’t send your prospect down a black hole by linking them to your website. Instead, create a specific digital destination (a landing page) for your campaign so you can not only quantify site visitors and their actions on the site, but it also reassures prospects that they’ve arrived at the right destination.

Based on lots of testing with our own clients and best practices from sites like Marketing Experiments, Marketing Sherpa, KISSmetrics, HubSpot and more, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Your LP Headline Should Match Your Email Headline: While this may not seem like rocket science, prospects can get easily confused. You have less than a second to help them take the next step, so why create confusion with a brand new headline that is seemingly unrelated to the email they opened, read and clicked?
  • Place the CTA ABOVE the Fold: Especially now that we’ve entered the world of responsive design, it’s critical that your call-to-action is near the top of your page so that those viewing on even the smallest screens can clearly take the next step. And, make sure it’s the most obvious thing on the page because—after all—it’s the action you want them to take!
  • Make Buttons Highly Obvious and Actionable: Whether it’s using a color that contrasts to the rest of your page, uses language that makes it clear what you want/what they’ll get when they click, or are sized big enough to be obvious and legible, don’t hide your action buttons where they might get missed. Instead of buttons that say “Click here” try “Get me my..”
  • Have a Single Purpose With a Single-Focused Message: Think about why the prospect clicked on the email, and what their expectations are for when they arrive on your page. Don’t clutter it up with extraneous copy points or additional “stuff.” In fact, remove other types of navigation from the page as it can unnecessarily distract the visitor from taking the desired next step.
  • Be Authentic and Transparent With Real Testimonials: While you can—and should—edit quotes, make sure they’re attributable to someone even if it’s “Carolyn G., Business owner” or “C. Goodman, California.” Make sure they’re pithy and don’t ramble. These days, “social proof” (using quotes from Facebook posts or Tweets), adds social credibility. Plus people are influenced based on reviews by others.
  • Use Bullet Points for Copy: People skim, and won’t spend any time reading long paragraphs of text. Make sure your copy is crisp—short, sharp and to the point.
  • Include a Phone Number: This helps overcome buyer insecurity that they may be dealing with a company based overseas. Plus, they may have questions before completing an order, so it’s best to provide an easy-to-find phone number to help.
  • Keep Your Forms Simple: If you don’t need to collect certain data, then don’t ask/collect it. As a rule-of-thumb, shorter forms tend to work better. Personally, I’m always annoyed that certain forms ask me for personal information that is seemingly irrelevant to my purchase. As a result, I’m often untruthful in the information I provide in that field because I consider it none of their business.
  • Radio Buttons or Drop Down Menus? The right answer is to test it yourself because different tests for different customers yield different results. Marketing Experiments provides some great case studies on this topic. In one experiment, radio buttons generated a 15% lift over a drop down menu.

In summary, if all of these marketers have already done all the testing for you, why wouldn’t you at least consider these insights and apply them to your own landing page efforts? Tell me. I’m all ears.

Drive Leads on Facebook by Getting Customers to Gab

What can a regional supplier of HVAC products and services teach you about Facebook? Plenty. I’ve already explained how Steelmaster Buildings gets leads on its Facebook page using a similar strategy. Today I’ll give an update on how Amanda Kinsella, of residential HVAC provider Logan Services, is getting along. She is continuing to generate leads and tracking ROI to the penny on Facebook. Yes, Facebook.

What can a regional supplier of HVAC products and services teach you about Facebook? Plenty.

I’ve already explained how Steelmaster Buildings gets leads on its Facebook page using a similar strategy. Today I’ll give an update on how Amanda Kinsella, of residential HVAC provider Logan Services, is getting along.

She is continuing to generate leads and tracking ROI to the penny on Facebook. Yes, Facebook.

A Simple Approach
Drive prospects to your page and get them talking about themselves. At first it sounds too simple. But that’s the beauty of it. Here’s the short version: grab customers’ attention and “ethically bribe” them to visit your Facebook page.

Sure, use a contest … BUT … make sure you provide an incentive for prospects to talk about themselves.

Bribe Customers to Talk About Themselves
Get a bowl of candy. Then, hand it out. Free. Just like at a trade show booth.

Why do vendors set out a bowl of candy? To encourage you to linger? Yes.

But smart booth attendants know the key to success is not using candy to talk about what they’re selling. Generating leads is 110 percent about getting prospects talking about themselves first.

A Strange Place to Start
Don’t be fooled by the bad advice online about how to generate leads on Facebook. We’re being hoodwinked into believing social media is a no-cost way of generating customers.

Wrong! It is a low-cost strategy. Smart, targeted advertising is often where to start: Buy attention. Pay for advertisements in places your target market can be found.

For example, Amanda is a one-woman marketing team at Logan Services. This small business serves a large chunk of territory in the Dayton, Ohio region.

Amanda keeps it simple—buying ads where her target market hangs out. She invests precious budget-dollars in local newspapers, TV and radio spots. This creates attention she can work with … that she can push towards Logan’s Facebook page.

Her lure? A free heating or air conditioning system for a customer who needs one. She runs a contest on Facebook that gives away a multi-thousand-dollar residential HVAC system!

Sound crazy? Keep reading. She’s been doing this for a few years now—generating positive ROI.

Tactic No. 1: Use an Incentive to Spread the Word
Any fool can run a contest on Facebook. But when giving away thousands of dollars in equipment and a service contract, Amanda has to be SURE her investment will pay off.

She needs guaranteed leads that will generate thousands in profit for Logan.

When potential customers (from the ads) first started landing on the Facebook page, Amanda told them about the catch. Nobody would win a new furnace unless a minimum of 200 prospects entered the contest.

Her prospects needed to:

  • tell Logan why they needed the system (in a few sentences); and
  • spread the word about the contest.

Amanda put her prospects under incentive to help make sure Logan got what it wanted—leads! You can do the same.

Tactic No. 2: Use Your ‘Thank You’ Page
After prospects filled out the contest application, they were presented with an opportunity to get a quote from Logan on the contest “thank you” page. On average, 20 percent of all contestants started requesting quotes.

Prospects were realizing, “Hey we need a furnace sometime soon … and we may not actually win … so why not check out Logan’s prices anyway?”

This is the power of good direct response social marketing design and this is why you should know people like Amanda.

Tactic No. 3: Give Customers an Incentive to Talk
Human beings love to talk. Especially about themselves. Your potential new (and existing) customers are no different.

Once Amanda’s hopeful contestants spread the word (and reached the minimum threshold) they were given a chance to enter the contest. To enter, prospects filled out an application. The contest form captured valuable insights … stories on why the prospect needed a new furnace so badly.

Talking about themselves naturally revealed details about current and future need for Logan’s products and services.

Convincing customers to talk about themselves is how Amanda grew her database of qualified leads well into the hundreds. That was just in the first year.

Exactly How She Did It
Here is a visual example of how Amanda “ethically bribes” customers to talk about themselves … in ways that reveals leads for her sales team to gently follow-up on.

YOU can do the same. See how it works?

Today, Amanda uses the same lead generation model for Facebook. It works, so why change it?

She also exploits her captive audience on Logan’s Facebook page. As you can see above, these are people who have come to expect giveaways. So, Amanda gives away regularly!

In this case, cash. Gift cards.

Amanda’s reward? More leads at even less cost.

Here’s the rub: She’s not spending on ads for these leads because prospects been “trained” to keep in touch with Logan. Lately, they’re hungry for energy saving tips that save them some money. But most of all, prospects and customers are on Logan’s Facebook page accessing the latest contests.

It wasn’t always easy for Amanda. She struggled for a long time. Amanda tried everything to get potential buyers to talk with her on Facebook. But nobody wanted to talk with a HVAC company. Not even about subjects like saving money on taxes and other energy tips she provided.

But today is a different time for Amanda!

3 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a LinkedIn Trainer

Good LinkedIn sales trainers help sellers produce measurable increases in sales—not better proficiency at using the tool. Are you considering investing in a LinkedIn trainer or LinkedIn training for your reps? Ineffective training will cost you dearly. Here’s a quick guide to hiring a LinkedIn trainer that will help sellers set more appointments, faster.

Good LinkedIn sales trainers help sellers produce measurable increases in sales—not better proficiency at using the tool. Are you considering investing in a LinkedIn trainer or LinkedIn training for your reps? Ineffective training will cost you dearly. Here’s a quick guide to hiring a LinkedIn trainer that will help sellers set more appointments, faster.

Avoid failure by:

  1. Considering if you really need LinkedIn training;
  2. Evaluating trainers with criteria that produce behavioral change, not learning;
  3. Measuring results of your training in hard numbers.

A sales rep’s success on LinkedIn has little to do with mastering LinkedIn. It has everything to do with presenting prospects with messages they cannot resist acting on.

Do You Need a LinkedIn Trainer—Really?
Do you need what you think you need? Maybe you’ve decided, “I need a LinkedIn trainer.” However, what do you want more? A sales prospecting coach—or a LinkedIn trainer? Do you want to increase leads or proficiency with a social platform?

Assuming you value leads more, be sure your trainer shows reps how to create an urge in potential buyers. Because a rep’s success is based on their ability to create dialogue with prospects. That’s more important than knowing how to use LinkedIn’s system.

A B2B sales rep’s goal is to create an urge in the potential customer to talk. If you don’t create that urge, you don’t get to talk with the prospect. Period. Mastery of LinkedIn’s platform is secondary to your reps learning an effective, copy-able process to get more appointments, faster.

This requires learning a way to help prospects get curious about how a sales rep can help them.

The idea is to help customers wonder, “How can this person help me solve a problem?” Or, how can the rep relieve a pain, help the client avoid a risk, or fast-track a goal?

A sales rep’s success on LinkedIn has less to do with mastering LinkedIn. It has everything to do with presenting prospects with messages they cannot resist acting on. And marketing cannot always be relied upon to do that!

Evaluate: Choose Trainers Based on What They Create, not Teach
After short-listing a handful of potential trainers put them into two buckets:

  1. LinkedIn trainers (who teach how to use LinkedIn)
  2. Sales trainers (who teach how to generate response and appointments using LinkedIn)

If your goal is to learn LinkedIn hire an expert. There are literally hundreds of trainers who are self-appointed “LinkedIn experts.” Their qualifications: They’ve used LinkedIn more than you.

However, this does not make a good LinkedIn trainer for sales reps, in most cases. In fact, it can be disastrous.

“I recently encountered a couple of people in LinkedIn groups claiming to be LinkedIn experts and LinkedIn trainers, who were giving out poor advice and clearly breaching the terms of the LinkedIn User Agreement,” says Gary Sharpe of Blue Dog Scientific.

Gary says any trainer who does not teach clients how to play by LinkedIn’s rules is not doing a very good job. In fact, many LinkedIn trainers are, themselves, often unaware or knowingly breaking the User Agreement.

Avoid all of this. Make the primary criteria for evaluating your LinkedIn sales trainer:

  1. If they teach a practical, repeatable communications approach that produces leads and
  2. Results that approach is creating for clients. (or lack thereof)

Measure: Good Trainers Measure ROI in Measurable Leads
This is an investment. Your investment. Good sales trainers help sellers produce measurable increases in sales-not better proficiency at using tools. From a management point-of-view, your LinkedIn trainer should create better proficiency with LinkedIn. However, they must also help reps:

  • Develop prospecting lists—faster
  • Target & qualify potential clients—faster
  • Earn demos/appointments with leads—faster

It is not enough to measure how many sales reps or distributors attended the training—or how deeply they engaged with the LinkedIn training. Nor is it enough to measure how many reps refreshed their LinkedIn profiles.

Training must be measured in terms of how many leads your team is producing now—versus before your training investment.

Yes, it makes sense to measure your reps’ mastery of how to use the LinkedIn or Sales Navigator search function… when prospecting for new customers. Research is an important piece of prospecting and LinkedIn is a new, unfamiliar tool. But ultimately their success relies more on mastering the ability to earn a conversation with prospects.

Your LinkedIn trainer or training program should be structured to teach both “how to navigate” LinkedIn and a communications methodology that creates appointments, demos or meetings, faster.

Questions? Let me know in comments. I also welcome your criticisms of what I’ve presented here.

17 Principles of Persuasion, Direct Marketing Style

So you’ve created your campaign and attended to all the details of identifying your audience, created your offer, and toiled for hours and hours, honing copywriting and design. But in the end, the tipping point for your success likely stems from the degree to which you emotionally persuade an individual to take action.

So you’ve created your campaign and attended to all the details of identifying your audience, created your offer, and toiled for hours and hours, honing copywriting and design. But in the end, the tipping point for your success likely stems from the degree to which you emotionally persuade an individual to take action.

Persuasion builds. It doesn’t just pop up and present itself. By the time you’ve engaged your audience and you’re moving toward the close, you should already have stimulated and calmed emotions, presented your USP, told a story, and walked your prospective customer or donor through logical reasons to purchase.

But to seal the deal, you need to return to emotion, and you need to persuade. So today I offer 17 principles of persuasion, direct marketing style.

Persuasion is an art, really, that builds over time. It’s earning trust and leading your prospect to a place where they give themselves permission to act. That permission comes from the individual recognizing that acting is in their interest and that they will feel good about their decision. You want them to say “this is good, this is smart, I’m going to do this!”

A place to start this list of persuasion points is with the six principles from the landmark book, Influence: How and Why People Agree to Things, by Robert Cialdini:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social Proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

Expanding on Cialdini’s concepts with additional principles for direct marketers, I offer this checklist for direct marketing persuasion:

  1. Trust and Credibility: Persuasion isn’t coercion or manipulation. Trust is earned. Credibility is built. Without these two foundational elements, most else won’t matter. Begin persuading by building trust and credibility first.
  2. Authority: People respect authority figures. The power of authority commands respect and burrows deep into the mind. Establish your organization, a spokesperson, or an everyday person, relatable to your customer, as having authority.
  3. Express Interest: Your prospects are attracted to organizations that have an interest in them. Use this starter list of the six F’s as central topics to build around so you can persuade by expressing interest: Family, Fun, Food, Fitness, Fashion, or Fido/Felines.
  4. Build Desire for Gain: A major motivation that persuades your prospects and customers is the desire for gain. Give your prospect more of the things they value in life, such as more money, success, health, respect, influence, love and happiness.
  5. Simplify and Clarify: Communicate clearly. Obsess over simplifying the complex. Write to the appropriate grade level of your reader. Your prospects are more easily persuaded when you simplify and clarify.
  6. Expose Deep Truths: Go deeper with your persuasive message by telling your prospects things about themselves that others aren’t saying. Don’t be judgmental. Be respectful.
  7. Commitment and Consistency: When your prospect commits to your idea, they will honor that commitment because the idea was compatible with their self-image. Compatibility opens the door to persuasion.
  8. Social Proof: Even though the first edition of Cialdini’s book was written in 1984, a generation before the explosion of social media, he recognized the power of people behaving with a “safety in numbers” attitude from seeing what other people were doing. Testimonials and an active and positive presence on social media are often a must that leads in trust and persuasion.
  9. Liking: The term “liking” in 1984 was developed in the context of people being persuaded by those they like. People are persuaded and more apt to buy if they like the individual or organization. Still, it’s affirming to be “liked” on social media!
  10. Confidence is Contagious: When you convey your unwavering belief in what your product or organization can do for your prospect, that attitude persuades and will come through loud and clear.
  11. Reciprocity: It is human nature for us to return a favor and treat others as they treat us. Gestures of giving something away as part of your offer can set you up so that your prospects are persuaded and happy to give you something in return: their business.
  12. Infuse Energy: People are drawn toward and persuaded by being invigorated and motivated. Infuse energy in your message.
  13. Remind About Fear of Loss: No matter how much a person already possesses, most want more. People naturally possess the fear of missing out (FOMO). When you include them, they are more easily persuaded.
  14. Guarantee: Your guarantee should transcend more than the usual “satisfaction or your money back.” Your guarantee can persuade through breaking down sales resistance and solidify a relationship.
  15. Scarcity: Human nature desires to possess things that are scarce when we fear losing out on an offer presented with favorable terms. But make sure you honor the any positioning of scarcity in your message. If it’s an offer not to be repeated, don’t repeat it.
  16. Convey Urgency: With scarcity comes urgency. Offering your product or making a special bonus available for a “limited time” with a specific deadline can be a final tipping point to persuade.
  17. Tenacity and Timing: Just because a prospect said “no” the first, second or more times, it doesn’t mean you should give up on someone who is in your audience. It can take multiple points of contact, from multiple channels, before you persuade your prospect to give themselves permission to act.

What would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

3 LinkedIn Profile Tips for Sales Professionals You Haven’t Heard Before

The Web can be an unreliable place to get sales tips. Most advice we “Google” doesn’t work. LinkedIn profile tips are no exception. Most advice focuses on superficial face-lifts. Want to get more appointments, faster, using a LinkedIn profile? Follow these three tips:

The Web can be an unreliable place to get sales tips. Most advice we “Google” doesn’t work. LinkedIn profile tips are no exception. Most advice focuses on superficial face-lifts. Want to get more appointments, faster, using a LinkedIn profile? Follow these three tips:

Make your profile:

  • earn attention
  • spark curiosity
  • earn a response

Here’s how to get it done in three simple steps.

No. 1: Convince Prospects to Read Your Summary
The job of your professional headline is to create curiosity about your Summary section. Use the headline to:

  • get found by prospects searching for you
  • connect with buyers forcefully, clearly
  • present an irresistible reason to read the Summary section

Avoid listing your professional title in this space. Be sure to use words or phrases that your target buyer would use. For example, if you sell copywriting services to natural health marketers say so, like David Tomen of Swift Current Marketing does on his professional headline.

Also, appeal to the deepest desire of your buyer. Help buyers become curious about your ability to put out a fire, scratch a bothersome itch, solve a problem or help them fast-track a goal. As David Tomen says, “I help natural health marketers get as many customers as you can handle.” 

It’s no wonder a natural health marketer would want to read more about David’s qualifications! He sparks curiosity with this approach. You can learn more about how David improved his profile in this LinkedIn profile tutorial.

No. 2: Chunk Your Summary Section
Nothing sells you better than simplicity and brevity. This creates distinction. In a world filled with people positioning themselves with adverbs and adjectives you’ll stand out. Also, create easily-scanned “chunks” or sections for your prospect to scan.

Write these sections with headlines. Make each headline appeal to what your prospect really wants to know in most cases.

Check out how Blake Henegan helps learning and development managers quickly scan his profile’s Summary section.

  • What he does.
  • How he’s different.
  • How he can help.
  • How he gets paid.
  • Training he sources for clients.
  • His contact information.

You cannot get lost in Blake’s Profile summary. It’s a wonderfully structured bit of copywriting. It’s easy to scan with the eyes and speaks to what clients want to hear about most.

No. 3: Get Back to Basics—Less Is More
Your success depends on getting good at one thing: Copywriting. Borrow from the classic, time-tested, proven techniques of B-to-B copywriters. Speak in simple terms. Be pithy. Leave out all the descriptors.

For example, don’t have exceptional skills. Have skills. Stop trying to position, sell or convince. Just say it. Plain talk is refreshing, creates distinction and helps people want to learn more about you.

Being brief, blunt and basic sparks interest in humans. It’s a fact.

Also, make sure your summary is not a recital of your experience. This is not optimal for sellers. Yes, you may wish to have an “Experience” section but don’t make your experience the focal-point.

Here is how to take action on this idea:

Make sure the Summary section of your LinkedIn profile communicates:

  • What you do;
  • who you do it for;
  • how you do it (why customers choose you) and
  • how potential buyers can act on their curiosity.

Use David and Blake’s profile summaries as guides. Borrow from them. When you’re done drafting, go back and try to remove the “I’s” and adjectives/adverbs. This focuses your writing on what the prospect wants to hear.

Once you’ve executed the first three steps above, it’s time to get your prospect off your profile and on the phone or in your email inbox. Make clear calls-to-action and, yes, include shortened Web links. While not clickable buyers will cut-and-paste or right-click (in Chrome) to visit your landing page.

Be sure to land prospects at places where the call-to-action promise is fulfilled in exchange for a bit of information about the prospect (a lead).

Remember: Give your prospects what they want. They don’t want to know about you—they want to know what you can do for them. Good luck!

5 Common Google AdWords Mistakes to Avoid

Google AdWords is one of the most powerful tools you can use to advertise your business. It allows you to target your advertising dollars towards customers who are already ready to buy, and to tap into a constant stream of prospects searching for your product or service. Plus, there’s no big upfront investment so you can start with a low advertising budget and then scale over time. These factors make Google AdWords a vital resource for any small business, but like any tool, it is often misunderstood and misused.

Google AdWords is one of the most powerful tools you can use to advertise your business. It allows you to target your advertising dollars towards customers who are already ready to buy, and to tap into a constant stream of prospects searching for your product or service. Plus, there’s no big upfront investment so you can start with a low advertising budget and then scale over time. These factors make Google AdWords a vital resource for any small business, but like any tool, it is often misunderstood and misused.

I’ve reviewed hundreds of AdWords accounts and the most common mistakes I see typically fall into 5 basic categories, all of which can be quite costly to your business, but are fairly easy to fix. Here is a look at the most common types of mistakes people make when using Google AdWords, and how you can avoid them.

  1. Budget Allocation Errors
    This mistake can happen during the planning phase. Many company owners simply allocate their available dollars equally across all of their products or lines of business. This is almost never the best idea because all products and services are not equally valuable to your business. Instead, focus on your marketing goals based on maximizing your ROI (Return on Investment).

    Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with your ad campaign. Do you want to grow an already profitable business unit or try to scale a new product or service? How many new customers do you hope to attract per month? Figure out what you want to accomplish, and then allocate your budget based on what is most likely to help you quickly reach your goal.

  2. Ad Writing Problems
    Writing ads is a tough job, but a great ad is the key to attracting the right prospects and turning them into customers. Many business owners struggle with exactly what message they want to send, and end up making one of 4 basic ad writing mistakes. See if your ads fall into any of these categories:
    • One Size Fits All: One size fits all ads try to target a single ad to a long list of keywords. Instead of being highly relevant for one keyword, the ad ends up being mediocre for all of them. To fix this, create separate, tightly targeted ads for each of your core keyword phrases.
    • Me Too: These ads don’t stand out from the competition in any memorable way. If everyone in your line of business offers free consultations, then a free consultation doesn’t make you special. Figure out what you provide that is different from what your competitors provide, and highlight that difference in your ads.
    • Feature Rich: Your prospects want to buy a product or service that solves a problem in their lives. Feature rich ads focus on all the bells and whistles, but fail to answer the basic question of how the purchase will meet a specific need. To improve these ads, identify your customers’ needs and explain how you will fulfill them.
    • Company Focused: Like feature rich ads, company focused ads fail to explain what you can do for the customer. Talking too much about your company wastes space that could be better used for telling prospects what you will do for them.
  3. Landing Page Issues
    It is easy (and often the obvious first choice if you’re just getting started) to set your website’s home page as the landing page for all your ads, but it can cost you customers. Your home page gives a general introduction to everything you do, but your prospect clicked on a specific ad to meet a specific need. Make it easy for your prospects by targeting individual landing pages to the relevant ads. Describe the benefits of your product or service, give specifics, demonstrate your credibility, and don’t forget a call to action.
  4. Keyword Match Type Mistakes:
    Keyword match types is one of the least understood aspect of Google AdWords for new advertisers and unfortunately these mistakes can be extremely costly. When you add keywords to your AdWords campaign, then Google allows you to set 4 different match types to tell Google exactly which search phrases phrases should trigger your your ads.
    • Broad: This is the default setting so new advertisers often unknowingly select this when setting up their campaigns. However, it is almost never the best option. With this setting, your ad will display when a prospect searches not only your chosen keyword, but any other keyword that the algorithm thinks is related. You could end up paying for clicks from people who have no interest in what you are actually selling.
    • Exact: This setting displays your ad only to prospects who search for your exact keyword phrase in the exact way that you set it up. This can be overly restrictive because you could ignore prospects who are highly interested but searching in a slightly different way. For this reason, I generally do not recommend starting with Exact match until you identify the top performing search phrases. Once you know the exact phrase, then you’ll want to use Exact match to laser target your advertising.
    • Phrase: Phrase matching is almost always the best choice for a new Google AdWords campaign. It displays your ad when your keyword phrase is searched, even if it is part of a longer search phrase. Note that your ads could still display for irrelevant searches so it’s critical to use Negative keywords whenever you use Phrase match. Negative keywords will block your ads from displaying on any irrelevant searches you select.
    • Modified Broad: This is generally the best setting for business owners who want to expand their advertising campaigns. It matches your ad to search phrases that include all of the words in your keyword phrase in any order. It improves your reach, but also raises your risk of irrelevant clicks, which is why you’ll want to avoid this advanced setting when you’re just starting out.
  5. Conversion Tracking Omissions
    Without conversion tracking, you have no objective data to use in tweaking your advertising campaign and maximizing your ROI. Yet many business owners omit this crucial step. Setting up online conversion tracking for solely web-based businesses is as simple as adding a bit of code to your receipt, or “thank you” page.

    If your sales convert offline through phone calls or face to face meetings, conversion tracking is a bit more complicated, but still entirely possible. Your options include tracking phone numbers, coupon codes, and Offline conversion imports. All it takes is some understanding of the Google AdWords conversion tracking system and a little persistence to continually keep track of your leads and sales from your advertising campaigns.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my Google AdWords checklist.

Today’s B-to-B Marketing: It’s a Lot Like Shark Tank

As a marketer, I understand the challenge of reaching business decision makers like me in a fresh and meaningful way, but I will tell you that as a focus group of one, I despise the direction marketers seem to be headed:

As a marketer, I understand the challenge of reaching business decision makers like me in a fresh and meaningful way, but I will tell you that as a focus group of one, I despise the direction marketers seem to be headed:

  • My LinkedIn inbox is now overflowing with invitations to connect to people I don’t know and now choose NOT to connect to because I know they’re going to simply try and sell me something based on their job description/profile.
  • To download a whitepaper of interest requires me to complete a form that includes my phone number, which means dealing with unwanted calls from a bored sales rep.
  • My regular inbox is stuffed with offers from strangers that want to set up meetings, desperate attempts to sell me data from unknown sources, demands that I click links to view the video about revolutionary new technology that will “change the way I do business.”
  • If I express any interest at all in a product (attend a webinar, visit a tradeshow booth, download a spec sheet), I am relentlessly mobbed by emails and phone calls.

I get that sales folks have a job to do, so what’s the answer?

It’s called Lead Nurturing.

An organized and systematic way of building a relationship that will, over time, help turn a cold prospect into a warm prospect… and from a warm prospect into a hot prospect… and ultimately to a sale.

But excellence in lead nurturing seems to be a lost art form as I haven’t been exposed to many companies that are doing it—let alone doing it well.

Best practices suggest that the marketer try to ask just a few questions at the outset of the relationship to try and determine the prospects pain point (the reason for their download or visit to your website or tradeshow booth), and the role the individual plays in the purchase process (influencer, part of a decision making team, final decision maker).

Based on the answers to these and perhaps one or two other pertinent questions that would help you define your lead nurturing strategy (for example, industry or job title/function), leads should be scored and placed into an appropriate lead nurturing system that will help the marketer deliver ongoing content that will be most relevant to that prospect.

Best practices do NOT include asking questions about intent to purchase timeframes (God forbid you answer “in the near future” as that will guarantee an instant follow up call), budget size (really? Do you think I’ll reveal that I have earmarked$100K on a form?).

Lead nurturing programs should include:

  • Additional assets that can be distributed via email: Content can include a competitive review, an article that’s relevant to the prospects vertical industry, research findings, videos that demonstrate how a product works, etc. These should NOT be sales literature but rather help the company position itself as an expert in their field. This in turn, helps build credibility and trust (key components in a B-to-B purchase).
  • Invitations to webinars where a particular topic is explored. Webinars should include speakers from OUTSIDE the sponsoring organization to give the topic value and ensure the attendee isn’t just signing up for a sales pitch.
  • Invitations to breakfast or luncheon roundtable discussions: Bring in a speaker of interest and discuss a topic that is most relevant to your audience (especially if it’s industry specific).

Over the course of time, you’ll be able to ask additional questions / gain additional insights into your prospect pool that will help you become more familiar with them and the problem they’re trying to solve.

After all, don’t we all want to do business with people we know and like? The reality is, it is highly unlikely that I’m ready to buy after one simple download, so stop treating me like a piece of meat that has fallen into a tank full of hungry sharks.

Exciting New Tools for B-to-B Prospecting

Finding new customers is a lot easier these days, what with innovative, digitally based ways to capture and collect data. Early examples of this exciting new trend in prospecting were Jigsaw, a business card swapping tool that allowed salespeople to trade contacts, and ZoomInfo, which scrapes corporate websites for information about businesspeople and merges the information into a vast pool of data for analysis and lead generation campaigns. New ways to find prospects continue to come on the scene—it seems like on the daily.

Finding new customers is a lot easier these days, what with innovative, digitally based ways to capture and collect data. Early examples of this exciting new trend in prospecting were Jigsaw, a business card swapping tool that allowed salespeople to trade contacts, and ZoomInfo, which scrapes corporate websites for information about businesspeople and merges the information into a vast pool of data for analysis and lead generation campaigns. New ways to find prospects continue to come on the scene—it seems like on the daily.

One big new development is the trend away from static name/address lists, and towards dynamic sourcing of prospect names complete with valuable indicators of buying readiness culled from their actual behavior online. Companies such as InsideView and Leadspace are developing solutions in this area. Leadspace’s process begins with constructing an ideal buyer persona by analyzing the marketer’s best customers, which can be executed by uploading a few hundred records of name, company name and email address. Then, Leadspace scours the Internet, social networks and scores of contact databases for look-alikes and immediately delivers prospect names, fresh contact information and additional data about their professional activities.

Another dynamic data sourcing supplier with a new approach is Lattice, which also analyzes current customer data to build predictive models for prospecting, cross-sell and churn prevention. The difference from Leadspace is that Lattice builds the client models using their own massive “data cloud” of B-to-B buyer behavior, fed by 35 data sources like LexisNexis, Infogroup, D&B, and the US Government Patent Office. CMO Brian Kardon says Lattice has identified some interesting variables that are useful in prospecting, for example:

  • Juniper Networks found that a company that has recently “signed a lease for a new building” is likely to need new networks and routers.
  • American Express’s foreign exchange software division identified “opened an office in a foreign country” suggests a need for foreign exchange help.
  • Autodesk searches for companies who post job descriptions online that seek “design engineers with CAD/CAM experience.”

Lattice faces competition from Mintigo and Infer, which are also offering prospect scoring models—more evidence of the growing opportunity for marketers to take advantage of new data sources and applications.

Another new approach is using so-called business signals to identify opportunity. As described by Avention’s Hank Weghorst, business signals can be any variable that characterizes a business. Are they growing? Near an airport? Unionized? Minority owned? Susceptible to hurricane damage? The data points are available today, and can be harnessed for what Weghorst calls “hyper segmentation.” Avention’s database of information flowing from 70 suppliers, overlaid by data analytics services, intends to identify targets for sales, marketing and research.

Social networks, especially LinkedIn, are rapidly becoming a source of marketing data. For years, marketers have mined LinkedIn data by hand, often using low-cost offshore resources to gather targets in niche categories. Recently, a gaggle of new companies—like eGrabber and Social123—are experimenting with ways to bring social media data into CRM systems and marketing databases, to populate and enhance customer and prospect records.

Then there’s 6Sense, which identifies prospective accounts that are likely to be in the market for particular products, based on the online behavior of their employees, anonymous or identifiable. 6Sense analyzes billions of rows of 3rd party data, from trade publishers, blogs and forums, looking for indications of purchase intent. If Cisco is looking to promote networking hardware, for example, 6Sense will come back with a set of accounts that are demonstrating an interest in that category, and identify where they were in their buying process, from awareness to purchase. The account data will be populated with contacts, indicating their likely role in the purchase decision, and an estimate of the likely deal size. The data is delivered in real-time to whatever CRM or marketing automation system the client wants, according to CEO and founder Amanda Kahlow.

Just to whet your appetite further, have a look at CrowdFlower, a start-up company in San Francisco, which sends your customer and prospect records to a network of over five million individual contributors in 90 countries, to analyze, clean or collect the information at scale. Crowd sourcing can be very useful for adding information to, and checking on the validity and accuracy of, your data. CrowdFlower has developed an application that lets you manage the data enrichment or validity exercises yourself. This means that you can develop programs to acquire new fields whenever your business changes and still take advantage of their worldwide network of individuals who actually look at each record.

The world of B-to-B data is changing quickly, with exciting new technologies and data sources coming available at record pace. Marketers can expect plenty of new opportunity for reaching customers and prospects efficiently.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.