Category Archives: Content Marketing

How to Improve Your Customer Service with These 8 Ways to Get Feedback

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have or how long you’ve run it. Your customers are the lifelines of your brand.

Whether you sell products, offer services, or a combination of the two, customer service needs to be one of your top priorities.

You could have the best product in the world, but if you don’t treat your customers well, it’s going to hurt your bottom line. On the flip side, you could have a product that’s average, or even subpar, and be extremely profitable if you provide excellent customer service.

How is that possible? Well, the numbers don’t lie.

According to research, 80% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more money to businesses offering better customer service.

But that’s not all. Failing to provide good customer service can result in the loss of your customers.

What exactly causes a business to lose customers? Research shows that only 14% of customers stop supporting a business because they are not satisfied with their products or services. And 9% leave because of the price.

But look at the top reason why customers leave a business. Nearly seven out of 10 customers will leave because they don’t feel valued.

In short, customer service is more important than what you’re selling.

Now that we’ve established why improving your customer service is important, it’s time to take steps in that direction. But how can you improve your customer service if you don’t know what your customers want?

It’s simple. Just ask them.

Getting feedback from your customers is a crucial component of your customer support strategy.

It shows them you care about their opinions. Furthermore, the results can help you better your business and ultimately make more money.

If you want to provide excellent customer service, I’ve narrowed down the top 8 ways to get feedback from your customers.

1. Create surveys

Leveraging customer surveys is the most logical place to start your quest for feedback.

Depending on what you’re using the survey for, the questions and potential responses can vary.

It’s important to have a clear goal when you’re creating these. For example, if you’re trying to improve your customer service, you don’t necessarily need to ask the customer about a specific product.

That said, surveying customers about a previous purchase shows them you value their opinions, which they perceive as good customer service.

The idea is to get your information and get out as soon as possible. Customers don’t want to fill out a 20-minute survey.

People are busy. In all honesty, they’ve got better things to do. I recommend using an online resource such as SurveyMonkey to create your surveys.

You can create an account for free and have access to templates and pre-written questions about specific topics. Obviously, you can customize those to fit your business and goals.

Once your survey is complete, it’s easy to distribute it electronically to your customers through all your marketing channels.

Since time is of the essence here, keep your surveys short and limit them to a handful of questions. Don’t ask obvious or misleading questions.

Don’t ask questions and provide answers you want to hear. You may be doing things wrong. Allow your customers to share that information with you.

Sometimes you need to give your customers some extra incentive to fill out a survey to get as many responses as possible. A discount off their next purchase should be sufficient.

2. Interviews

Interviews might not work for your business.

It’s much easier for brands with brick and mortar locations to conduct interviews than for online businesses.

Sure, ecommerce companies can still interview customers. But they’d have to set up a Skype session or phone call to do so. This isn’t impossible, but it’s more of a hassle.

But those of you with physical store locations can interview customers when they shop in person.

The best time to do this is after the customer has checked out and is getting ready to leave. You don’t want to bother customers while they are shopping because it could potentially prevent them from making a purchase.

Since it’s not the most common practice, this strategy could really help you gain an edge over your competitors.

Nearly 90% of marketing experts believe that improving the customer experience is the top factor for differentiating their brand from the competition.

Before the customer leaves your store, politely ask them if they have five minutes to answer some questions. If you tell them the interview is going to be five minutes, you’d better stick to five minutes.

Conduct the interview away from the register so it doesn’t hold up your line.

It doesn’t need to be in an office, but go somewhere with some privacy so other employees and customers can’t hear the responses.

Introduce yourself and explain why you’re conducting the interview. Establish a rapport with the interviewee so they feel comfortable answering your questions honestly.

Make it clear that you won’t be offended by their responses. Some customers may be hesitant to provide negative feedback if they are saying it directly to your face.

You’ll need to let your guard down and ask questions in a way that gives them the opportunity to say how they truly feel.

The great thing about an interview, as opposed to a survey, is that the answers are more authentic. Customers have a chance to tell you what’s on their minds, without having to select from a pre-determined list of survey responses.

Record your interviews, with the customer’s permission, of course. That way you won’t have to scramble to write notes while they are speaking.

Again, you can offer an incentive to customers who take the time to answer your questions. Thank them for their time, and give them a coupon.

3. Add a comment box to your website

This one is pretty simple.

Include a customer feedback form on your website. That way, people who are visiting can see this as an opportunity to share their opinions.

Here’s an example of a basic version of a comment box on the BuildFire website:

You have different options with these comment boxes. As you can see in the example above, this form requires you to include your name and email address with the message.

But you could provide the visitor with an anonymous option.

If customers do provide you with their contact information, it’s always in your best interest to reach out to them when you receive the message. This is especially true if they are voicing a complaint.

Apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused them. Offer a solution.

Let them know that you value them as a customer and that you’ll make improvements to ensure this won’t happen again. Thank them for reaching out to you.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Don’t be discouraged by negative comments.

You should be thankful the customer told you about their poor experience instead of leaving without saying a word.

In fact, only 1 out of 26 customers will complain if they are unhappy. The other 25 will just give up on your brand and stop buying.

When a customer gives you negative feedback, you still have the opportunity to make things right. Not all is lost.

You can turn a negative experience into something positive by mending that relationship.

4. Third-party reviews

Your business is on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and TripAdvisor.

Just because you don’t control those websites doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Make a habit of checking those listings weekly, at a minimum.

If you are getting tons of reviews, consider checking more frequently.

For starters, you want to make sure the information listed on these sites is accurate. I’m referring to your hours, phone number, menu, pricing, etc.

But you also need to consider the customers who willingly took the time to write about your business.

Good comments. Bad comments. You want to pay attention to all of them.

All too often when we talk about customer service, it seems like businesses automatically jump to the negatives. While it’s important to be proactive about those poor experiences, it’s also necessary to keep track of the positive ones.

This will reinforce what you’re doing right. You’ll know what you should continue doing instead of changing something that customers are happy with.

5. Live video broadcast

Jump on the live video bandwagon.

Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. All of these marketing channels have live streaming features you should be taking advantage of.

While this tactic isn’t quite as intimate as a focus group, which we’ll discuss shortly, it gives you the opportunity to reach a high volume of customers at the same time.

Here are some of the top benefits of live video streaming, according to brands, retail companies, agencies, and other marketing executives:

As you can see from their responses, a more authentic interaction with the audience ranked first on the list.

This authentic interaction is great for getting customer feedback. That’s because customers can comment in real time while you’re broadcasting live.

Everyone else watching can see those comments as well. Respond to comments.

Depending on how many people are watching your stream, it can be overwhelming to keep up with comments. That’s okay. Take your time to go through them.

The great thing about these live streams is you can save them and refer to them at a later time. Read through the comments, and take notes. Group similar statements so you can prioritize what needs to be addressed first.

Live video is great for customers as well. They can watch it on their smartphones from the couch as opposed to being bothered when they are in your store.

6. Focus groups

Focus groups aren’t nearly as popular as some of the other feedback methods. This is mainly because the logistics are more complex.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this option. Even if it’s not your top choice, conducting a focus group should still be in your arsenal of potential ways to get feedback from your customers.

An ideal focus group is conducted in person, with all the participants in the same room. Groups of six to eight customers should commit between 30 and 60 minutes of their time to participate.

Being in a room together will allow them to feed off each other.

One person could say something that another customer may not have thought of. As a result, it could trigger a response based on that customer’s experience.

Focus groups are great for testing new products and ideas. Allowing your customers to be part of the innovation process will make them feel valued, the importance of which I have already talked about.

Customers who participate in focus groups should be compensated much more than those who fill out a survey online.

Your customers who complete a survey may get 20% off their next purchase. But it’s not unreasonable to provide a $50 or even $100 gift card to customers participating in focus groups. You should also provide them with some food when they arrive.

7. Follow-up emails

After a customer makes a purchase, you should send them a follow-up message, asking for their feedback.

I’m sure you’ve seen these before. Here’s an example of a short survey from Venmo embedded directly into an email:

As you can see, this survey is directly related to customer service.

In addition to embedding the survey into the email, you could also provide a link for the customer to provide feedback through a platform like SurveyMonkey, which I talked about earlier.

You may even decide to send a link to the comment box on your website I previously mentioned.

Just realize that any additional steps a customer has to take to give you feedback will decrease the chances of it being completed.

Don’t be annoying. All too often I get three or four emails from a company asking me to provide feedback for my most recent purchase, flight, etc.

You don’t want to be that person.

If they don’t respond after the first message, you could send one more reminder. But that’s it. If they still haven’t given feedback, you could always try again in the future after their next purchase.

8. Social media comments

You need to stay active on social media.

But in addition to posting content on a regular basis, you also have to track what your customers say about you.

Don’t ignore your notifications. Read through your comments and direct messages.

Do this on all platforms. Facebook. YouTube. Instagram.

Use the Twitter advanced search query to find out what customers are saying about you, even if they don’t tag you directly.

Check out these comments from a post on the Lululemon Facebook page:

The first comment is positive, and the second comment shares some criticism.

But do you notice something they both have in common? Lululemon responded to both of them.

As I said before, you need to treat both positive and negative feedback the same. In both instances, you want your customers to know you value them.

More than half of consumers say they expect brands to respond to their feedback. If their comments are negative, that number jumps from 52% all the way up to 72%.

Conclusion

If you can’t keep your customers happy, your business is going to struggle. It’s a fact.

Customers care more about customer service than they do about the quality and price of what they’re buying.

That’s why it’s so important for you to find ways to get their feedback. But there is no one-size-fits-all way to do this.

Not all customers will respond to all tactics.

In order to get responses from as many customers as possible, you’ll need to try different approaches. This will also help you get accurate results.

Refer to this list of my favorite 8 ways to get customer feedback. Ultimately, this will help you provide enhanced customer service.

What method is your company using to get feedback from your customers?

How to Generate Sales for a New Product Release

So you’re ready to launch a new product.

Congratulations.

Regardless of your business type or industry, it’s important for brands, both new and old, to be innovative to stay relevant. I know how much hard work you’ve put into this new release, so I want to commend you on that.

Whether you’re releasing a new product or an extension of an existing product line, you’ve got to make sure your marketing efforts lead to sales.

Think about all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into this creation. Okay, maybe not blood, but you get what I mean.

This goes all the way back to your early brainstorming sessions as well as your research and development phases. You may have even had some failed attempts.

Oh yeah, and what about all the money you invested in this new product? Can’t forget about that.

If you can’t get consumers to buy your product, you won’t get an adequate return on that investment.

But those of you who are able to effectively promote your new product will enjoy the high sales. I’ll give you some tips and advice that will help you out.

Build hype early

If you wait until your product launches to start marketing it, you’ve waited too long. Those of you who failed to start early are already behind.

But don’t worry. I’m not here to reprimand you. There are still ways in which you can generate sales after the item is released, but we’ll talk about those later.

A great way to build hype in the early stages is by turning the announcement into a big deal. Apple is famous for this with its keynote presentations.

Since the company has been using this strategy for years, consumers now anticipate the announcement itself. By the time Apple announces a new product, people have already decided to buy it.

Announcing new products at a particular event will get your audience ready. They’ll want the latest and greatest product or technology.

The anticipation of the release makes the product that much more desirable. Now you’ve got them hooked before it’s even released.

Consumers will be lined up around the block to buy your new product because they’ve been thinking about it for months. They already know the features and benefits of it because they’ve done the research.

Building hype before the release will help you generate sales on the release date as well as the subsequent days and weeks.

Start taking pre-orders

Again, this strategy relates to the idea of starting early.

You don’t need to wait for your product to be in stock to start generating sales. Let your customers pre-order the product so you can secure profits right away.

Offering pre-orders has tons of benefits. One is collecting money early. But pre-ordering an item also gives your customers a sense of exclusivity.

It will give customers the illusion that they have something before anyone else does. They’ll be one of the first people to have the product in their hands.

Furthermore, if you take pre-orders, people may think there is a chance the product may sell out. If they don’t order it now, they may not have the chance to buy it on the official release date.

Pre-orders ensure your new product gets off to a strong start, which is better than it would do through the average product life cycle.

There’s no reason to have a slow introduction phase if you can avoid it.

In addition to wanting to be exclusive or have the product before anyone else, think of other reasons why a consumer may be interested in a pre-order.

Discounts.

Everyone loves getting a deal. Depending on your brand image and pricing strategy, you could potentially offer a discount to customers who pre-order the product to help drive sales.

Taking orders before release can also help you gauge your inventory. You’ll have a better idea of how much of the product you’ll need to have on hand for the initial release.

This is important information in terms of your production costs, and it will help you maximize your ROI.

Target your most loyal customers

Just because you’re releasing a new product doesn’t mean you need to find new customers.

Don’t get me wrong. New customers are great, and they are always welcome to buy. But you already have an existing clientele of people familiar with your brand and existing products. Those are the customers whom you should contact first.

Your email marketing list is a great place to start.

These are the customers who are so interested in your brand and products that they signed up to hear from you on a regular basis. So send emails before and after the product launches.

Here’s an example of an email sent out by Lululemon:

This email is promoting new colors of an existing product. So it makes sense the company is starting with its existing customers, who may already be familiar with this product.

Even if it was a new product, telling your email subscribers about it first is still a viable strategy.

It’s also worth noting that you have a 60-70% chance of selling to a current customer. But you only have a 5-20% chance of a new customer purchasing a product.

If sales are your goal, focusing on new customers won’t be as effective.

Research shows that it’s six or seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to market to an existing one.

When it comes to your ROI, marketing to your most loyal customers is the best bang for your buck.

Run a contest

Another way to generate sales for your new product is by giving it away.

I know what you’re thinking. This sounds counterproductive. How can you make money by giving something away?

You need to learn how to run a profitable giveaway. Contests will get people interested in what you’re selling. Rather than promoting it by saying “here is our new product,” put a unique spin on it by running a contest.

The cost to run a contest is relatively inexpensive as well. The only major expense is the cost of the item you’re giving away, plus maybe some additional shipping charges.

But the benefits will be worth it. In my opinion, social media platforms are the best places to set up your contests. Here’s why:

Running your contests on social media will expose your new product to a larger audience. As a result, it will help you generate more sales.

Here’s a hypothetical example to show you what I’m talking about. Let’s say you run a contest on Instagram. To enter, people need to post a picture to their personal Instagram profiles and include a relevant hashtag.

Let’s say 1,000 people enter your contest. That’s 1,000 photos of your brand just from one contest. Tons of people will see these pictures.

Of those 1,000 entries, you’re selecting only three winners. But there are still 997 people who want your product, plus who knows how many people who were exposed to it.

They’ve already built up excitement about using it. There is a good chance a large chunk of that group will still buy it.

As you can see, something as simple as giving away three items can generate hundreds or potentially thousands of sales.

Offer a discount

Typically, most brands don’t offer discounts for new items. When a new product gets released, they discount older items.

While I can understand the thinking behind this concept, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct. People love to get a deal. Put your pride aside for a moment, and recognize that consumers are price sensitive. They’re also more intelligent than you think.

If they realize your new product will eventually go on sale, they have no reason to buy it right now. But by the time it goes on sale, they may have forgotten about it and lost interest.

While the product is fresh in the minds of the consumers, close the deal.

Mark down the price right away. If you want, use an age-old marketing trick. Jack up the initial retail price, then discount it making sure you can still profit.

Psychologically, it’s going to be tough for people to justify paying a full price for a product when they see cheaper items surrounding it on your site and in stores.

Blog about it

Use your blog to your advantage.

Start talking about the product in your posts before it gets released. Continue talking about it after the release as well.

Blogging has many benefits:

As you can see from these numbers, your blog can help you generate new leads. Consumers trust advice from blogs.

Sure, it’s obvious your readers will know your opinion is biased. They realize you won’t say anything bad about the products you want to sell.

But that shouldn’t stop you from writing about your new release. You can also reach out to other websites and try to get featured in guest posts.

Set up a link directly in the posts that brings the readers to the checkout page with the new product in their carts. Reducing the steps in the process increases the chances of driving sales.

Be innovative

If your new product is boring, is the same as your other items, or is already available from other retailers, people won’t be thrilled to buy it.

But if it’s unique, improves their lives, and enhances their customer service experience, they’ll be much more willing to spend their hard-earned cash.

Be creative.

Start by conducting the right market research.

What do your customers want? Give it to them.

Try to make drastic improvements to existing products that have problems. If your product is revolutionary, it will sell like crazy.

Highlight the new product on your website

Now that your product has launched and is available for purchase, don’t bury it on your website.

Showcase it on your homepage. Take a look at this example from the GAP website:

The new arrivals are the first thing featured on its homepage.

Do you notice anything else about this site? It also offers discounts on its new items, a strategy I’ve previously discussed.

You can feature your new product in other places of your website as well.

Let’s say your site has a search filter, which it should, so I’m assuming it does. When someone searches for something by name or by a category that fits the description of your new product, it should be the first item they see on the page.

If they have to navigate through pages and pages of results to find your new product, it will decrease the chances of them buying it.

Here’s a look at how Michael Kors sorts products on its ecommerce page:

You can employ a similar strategy to increase the exposure of your new products.

This will help you generate more sales.

Timing is everything

Your new product might be great. However, if you release it at the wrong time, you won’t get lots of sales.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to release a product on a Thursday, which just happens to be July 3rd that year. You can’t just do that without taking things like that into consideration.

July 4th is obviously a national holiday celebrated by Americans. Lots of people will take July 3rd off work and enjoy a nice long weekend with family and friends.

They could be having a barbeque, traveling, or spending the day on the beach. They probably won’t have tons of time or incentive to buy something online.

Your opening weekend is going to be a dud. This won’t build much buzz around your product release.

On the flipside, if you were releasing a product that could be used on the 4th of July, such as American flag apparel, you’ve got to make sure the release date gives your customers enough time to get the item before they need it.

If they need it for the 4th, releasing it on the 3rd won’t get you sales either.

You should also keep seasons in mind as well. For example, nobody in New England is going to buy snow gear in the summer.

When it comes to proper timing, ecommerce brands can build hype for the holiday season. You’ll want to release your products when consumers are ready and willing to spend money.

Use video content as a promotion tool

Don’t just share pictures of your new product. You’ll want to give people as much information as possible about what they’re buying.

That’s why video promotions are a viable strategy. There are lots of ways in which you can accomplish this.

You can use commercial style promotions to showcase your product. This can be done before and after your product is released.

Once the new product is available for purchase on your site, include a video demonstration to show website visitors how it works.

Recognize what type of content your target market wants to see. Consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.

Furthermore, 90% of consumers say videos about products help them make buying decisions. Customers are 64% more likely to buy a product online if they’ve seen a video about it.

Share the videos on your website, social media platforms, marketing emails, and all your distribution channels.

Jump on the live video bandwagon. Showcase the product with live video streams as well.

These tactics will help you drive sales for your new product release.

Conclusion

Releasing a new product can be intimidating. You put so much effort into the release that you need to make sure everything goes smoothly.

If you don’t generate sales, your new product won’t turn a profit.

That’s why it’s important for you to start building hype for your product before it gets released. Take pre-orders, and start collecting money right away.

Rather than looking for new customers, promote the new release to your most loyal customers.

Come up with an innovative product. Run contests, and offer discounts as promotional methods. Talk about the new product in your blog posts.

Showcase the item on your website, and consider the timing of your release.

Create video advertisements, and share them on all your distribution channels.

If you follow the advice in this guide, your new product will generate sales and drive high profits as a result.

What marketing strategies are you using to drive sales for your newest products?

How to Write Guest Posts That Drive Traffic to Your Website

Are you currently writing guest posts?

I see this problem all too often when I’m consulting various businesses and bloggers. They aren’t using guest posts as a lead generation strategy because they don’t see the benefits.

That’s because they don’t want to waste time creating content for other websites. These bloggers would much rather put more effort into publishing blogs on their own sites.

If this sounds like your mentality, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity here.

Guest posts are one of my favorite ways to drive more traffic to a website. I use this strategy all the time.

If you’re not convinced that guest blogging will benefit your business, this is the perfect guide for you. Those of you who want to begin guest blogging but don’t know how to start or turn these posts into site traffic, you’re in luck as well.

As an experienced guest blogger, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the topic so you can increase traffic to your website. Let’s dive in.

Write for websites related to your brand

If you’ve been writing guest posts for a while but haven’t seen a boost in website traffic, you may want to re-evaluate the websites you’re writing for.

Here’s the first question you should ask yourself:

Is this website related to my brand?

Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely some wiggle room and flexibility when it comes to answering this question.

I have several businesses. While they are all different, they all primarily focus on helping brands with their online marketing, lead generation, and site traffic.

Take a look at this guest post I wrote for Forbes magazine:

Forbes is a global brand. They specialize in topics related to business, entrepreneurship, technology, investing, and other similar subjects.

While their brand isn’t exactly like mine, it’s close enough. Plus, their readers and target audience are similar to mine as well.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you have an ecommerce brand that sells sneakers and sunglasses. Your guest blogging strategy doesn’t have to be restricted to websites specializing only in sneakers and sunglasses.

Instead, you could write for fashion blogs. But not just any fashion blog.

As I explained with my Forbes example, you need to make sure the readers fit within your target market. If your brand sells sunglasses made for males between the ages of 18 and 35, it wouldn’t make sense to write for a fashion blog that targets women over the age of 50. Make sense?

Although your current guest posts may have great substance and content, it won’t do you any good if they’re not published on the proper sites.

It’s okay to turn down guest posting opportunities if they don’t fit with your brand. Just don’t burn any bridges. Politely say “no, thank you” and explain why you’re not interested.

You never know. The person who reached out to you may end up working for another website in the future that’s more aligned with your industry. You’d want to keep that relationship on good terms.

Reach out to credible blogs

Don’t just sit back and wait for people to contact you about writing guest posts for their websites.

Unless you’ve got an extremely well-known website, name, reputation, and brand, chances are this may not happen. You need to be proactive and find websites on your own.

But it’s extremely important to make sure these prospective blogs have elements that add credibility to the website. For example, is the site full of various ads?

As you can see from this data, people don’t like seeing ads on websites. They can hurt a brand’s credibility. You may want to avoid reaching out to blogs that have an overwhelming number of ads.

As I just discussed, it’s best to start your search with blogs relevant to your brand.

But just because a website is relevant and has the same target audience as you do doesn’t mean you should write for it.

Do some research.

You want to find sites that already have lots of website traffic. It’ll be a waste of your time if you write for sites nobody reads.

In addition to the advertisements, there are other ways to tell whether a blog is credible. For starters, if it’s a big name brand you know and recognize as an authority in your industry, it’s a safe bet to assume they already have lots of traffic.

If you’re unsure about this, look at the engagement for their blog posts. Check the comments section. Are people interested?

Look at their posting frequency.

If a blog publishes only one new post per month, you can assume they don’t have a strong audience that drives lots of traffic.

But bloggers who post on a more frequent basis report stronger results in terms of engagement:

These are the kinds of websites you should try to contribute to.

That’s because their audience is more likely to come back to the site on a regular basis. As a result, your guest posts will be more likely to be seen, and your site will see more traffic as well.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to websites to inquire about guests posting. You may be pleasantly surprised by their responses.

As you know, blogging takes time. On average, it takes more than three hours to write a typical blog post.

These sites may be relieved to hear you’re willing to lighten their workload and help them produce more content.

What’s the worst-case scenario? They say no. Not a big deal. Just move on to the next site.

Show off your unique voice

A guest post isn’t the time to slack off when it comes to quality. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.

Unlike the readers from your own website, this new audience doesn’t know who you are yet. You haven’t won them over.

They may be skeptical because they’re reading something that’s different from what they’re used to. You need to recognize that these readers may be critical of the way you write.

Don’t disappoint them. Your guest posts should be an accurate reflection of the posts on your own site. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

Recall the example of my guest contribution to Forbes. If you read that article, you’ll recognize I wrote it with the same voice as I do all my other posts.

If your writing style is typically funny or sarcastic, continue using that unique style. Just make sure it’s done tastefully.

The last thing you want to do is offend someone or damage your brand. That won’t help you get more site traffic.

Write a strong introduction

People reading your guest posts won’t navigate to your website unless they actually read your post.

Considering that 43% of readers scan through posts and articles, the odds are against you that your content will get read in its entirety.

If you can’t write post introductions that hook your audience, people won’t have any reason to read the rest of your post and visit your website.

Your opening lines are essential. Your headlines are even more important:

After you come up with an engaging headline, you can use several approaches to hook your audience in the introduction.

Ask a question. If you recall, the opening line of this post was a question. Scroll back to the top if you don’t believe me.

You can also state an intriguing fact or statistic in your intro to pique the interest of the readers.

Identify a problem. Hint at a solution that can be found in the post. Don’t be ambiguous. Be direct and get straight to the point.

Talk about a subject your readers can relate to. Again, I’ll use this current post as an example.

I talked about the reasons why people are opposed to writing guest posts because I figured it was relevant to the majority of readers. But I also made comments about people who are currently writing guest posts but need some additional guidance.

With this approach, I was able to reach the widest possible audience and get them hooked with the introduction.

If you do this in your guest posts, people will be more likely to read the rest of your post and navigate to your website.

Include links to your own website

How can you expect people to navigate to your website if you don’t give them a link to click?

Don’t expect them to Google your name, do some investigation to see what company you own, and then visit your website from there.

That’s way too complicated, and nobody is going to take that many steps.

Instead, just include natural hyperlinks within the content of your posts. Writing guest posts is one of my favorite ways for you to consistently build backlinks.

If you do this correctly, people will click and be sent to your website directly.

But that’s not all. Having backlinks on other credible websites will positively impact your SEO ranking.

As a result, you’ll also benefit from an increase in organic search traffic.

Tell your story

It should be clear from the beginning that you’re writing a guest post.

Introduce yourself so the readers know right away the post is written by someone they’re unfamiliar with. Otherwise, your audience may not have a reason to visit your site if they don’t even know they’re reading content from a new author.

This is the perfect time for you to master the art of storytelling.

That’s because more than 90% of consumers want brands to deliver content that feels like a story:

Not sure what story to tell? Start with your own story.

Relate your background and expertise in the subject matter of the blog post.

If you own a successful business in an industry related to the topic, be sure to talk about it. Do you have a degree in a particular field that makes you an expert? Mention it.

All of this helps improve your credibility.

By letting the readers know you’re legitimate, you increase the chances they’ll navigate to your website as a result.

Encourage the site to promote your guest posts

This part is a little bit tricky. There is a fine line between writing a guest post and being part of a company.

Just because you’re writing a guest post doesn’t give you the authority to make decisions for that brand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t politely ask them to share your guest post on their social media pages.

You can even ask them to send it to their email subscribers.

A nice way to help the site meet your request is by offering to return the favor. You can tell them you’ll share the post on your social channels too.

This benefits everyone. Their website will get more traffic. As a result, more people will see your guest post, which increases the chances of you getting more traffic to your own site.

Track your results

How can you tell whether your guest post strategy is working?

You don’t know unless you use analytics and tools to your advantage. I recommend building unique links by creating UTM parameters:

Each hyperlink in your guest post can have a unique link. You’ll be able to see exactly how much traffic comes from these links.

If nobody is clicking on these links, obviously your strategy isn’t working.

There are a few different ways to go from here. You could potentially change the style of your posts and the placement of your hyperlinks within the content.

Or you could decide to stop writing guest posts for that particular site.

Regardless of your decision, you’ll need to track the results with these types of analytic tools to evaluate your performance properly.

Keep writing

Don’t just write one guest post and think that’s going to be enough to spike your site traffic. Continue writing for that blog if they allow you to.

You don’t have to go overboard. Once per month or so should be sufficient.

Just because you had success with one website doesn’t mean they have to be the only site you contribute guest posts to. Reach out to other brands as well.

Write for as many sites as possible, without spreading yourself too thin. You don’t want your own blog or brand to suffer as a result of your guest blogging.

Make sure you stay balanced, and don’t let your quality suffer. But the more sites you write for, the greater your chances of getting higher traffic to your website will be.

Conclusion

Contrary to popular belief, guest blogging is a great content marketing strategy. It’s an inexpensive way to drive more traffic to your website.

It’s important you write for sites related to your brand. Reach out to credible blogs, and pitch a guest post idea.

Stay true to your voice. You want this new audience to enjoy your writing so they can visit your website. Tell your story to prove you are an expert on particular topics.

Start with a strong introduction that hooks the readers. This will increase the chances that they’ll click on the hyperlinks throughout the post.

Promote your guest posts on social media and other distribution channels. Encourage the website you’re writing for to do the same.

Use tools to track your results with analytics. This will help you decide whether your strategy is effective.

Always look for new guest blogging opportunities. Build long term relationships with as many people as possible to help you increase your exposure.

If you follow the tips in this guide, your guest blogging strategy will translate to an increase in traffic to your own website.

How are your guest posts generating new leads and driving traffic to your website?

How to Track Your Leads with UTM Parameters

No marketing strategy is complete without an effective lead generation strategy.

Those of you who are making a conscious effort to generate new leads are on the right track so far. But where are your leads coming from?

When you’re running multiple campaigns, how are you able to identify the source of your new leads? If you can’t answer these questions, read this guide.

UTM parameters will tell you exactly where the traffic from your digital marketing campaigns is coming from.

I’ve advised some marketers who haven’t implemented this strategy because they think it’s unnecessary. They see their site traffic increase, so they automatically assume this is the result of their lead generation campaigns.

While this may be true, you can’t make assumptions. The only way to know for sure is by putting your theory to the test.

According to the HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound Marketing report, getting leads and traffic are the top challenges faced by marketers.

It’s obvious the majority of businesses can benefit from a strategy that helps improve their lead generation efforts.

Once you’re able to pinpoint your most effective marketing campaign, you can focus the majority of your efforts on that strategy.

On the flip side, you may also realize some of your lead generation strategies aren’t working at all. So you can stop wasting money on those by eliminating them completely, or you can decide to rework them with an improved approach.

Ultimately, UTM parameters will make your marketing strategy more efficient.

In this guide, I’ll show you exactly how you can track leads with UTM parameters. I’ll also give you some examples of ways you can implement these tactics.

Setting up your UTM parameters

Before we go any further, it’s time to show you how to set up a UTM parameter for your marketing campaigns.

To those of you who are unfamiliar with this, it may sound a little bit intimidating. But don’t worry, you’ll soon realize this is actually fairly easy.

Just navigate to the “Campaign URL Builder” option from your Google Analytics menu.

From here, you’ll see simple instructions for creating a custom link to track your leads.

If you’ve only got a handful of marketing campaigns and you’re distributing them on a couple of channels, your custom URLs won’t be too complex.

But eventually, you should diversify your marketing efforts across as many channels as possible. That’s why it’s important for your UTM parameters to be very specific. It can help you stay organized in the long run.

Google Analytics has five potential parameters that you can add to each customized URL:

  • campaign source
  • campaign medium
  • campaign name
  • campaign term
  • campaign content

The source is used to identify exactly where the link is going to be embedded. This could be something like an advertiser, another website, or publication.

Email newsletters, banners, or CPC campaigns would all fall under the campaign medium category.

The campaign name is where you can be specific with your promotion. You could enter terms related to a slogan, promotional code, or something like “summer sale” to specify.

Campaign terms are for those of you who are paying for keywords. To keep track of any paid keyword promotions, you’ll want to include those words in this field.

Your campaign content parameter will help you separate similar links within the same promotion. For example, let’s say you have multiple CTA buttons within the same newsletter. You’d use this parameter to differentiate among them.

Here’s a look at an example I made to show you how this would look:

I’m obviously using Quick Sprout as the example here, as you can see in the website URL field.

Based on my parameters, this link is going to be from an email newsletter about one of my lead generation campaigns. This link is specifically for the first CTA button in case I’m planning to have more than one in the same newsletter.

Once you fill out the fields, the Google Analytics tool will automatically generate a custom link for you. Here’s what the link looks like from the above example:

As you can see, all of those terms are included in the link.

Once your link is live, all you need to do is copy and paste it for use in that specific campaign. Google Analytics will track all the data from each link.

Now, you’ll be able to see exactly how successful all of your various lead gen ads are.

Best practices for naming UTM parameters

Now that you know how to set up your parameters, I want to give you a little bit more insight on naming them.

Sure, no matter what you put in the term fields, Google Analytics will still generate a working link to track your leads. But there are definitely ways to make things easier for yourself to avoid confusion.

For starters, your UTM parameters should be as simple as possible.

Simplicity is a common theme in marketing. Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

While the complexity of your UTM parameters may not impact conversions, it will certainly have an effect on your organization. It’s easier to keep track of everything if you have fewer terms.

It’s also essential that you stay consistent with your capitalization. The easiest way to do this is by using all lowercase letters. That’s because this tool is case sensitive.

For example, if you have one link with “utm_source=newsletter” and another that’s written as “utm_source=Newsletter”, Google Analytics will track them as different sources.

I know some of you may be thinking you would remember which words to capitalize and which ones not to. So what’s the issue?

We’re humans. Any time you do something manually, you risk human error. That’s why it’s in your best interest to stick with all lowercase letters like I did in the example we saw earlier.

Use hyphens.

Take a look at this graphic about URL readability. Which of the following three links is the most appealing?

Obviously, the first one is the most readable of the three. It’s simple, and it uses hyphens.

But readability aside, using hyphens also helps you with SEO purposes. Matt Cutts told us that the Google algorithm won’t penalize you for using hyphens. But underscores can decrease the chances of getting higher organic search traffic.

So if you look at the example URL I built earlier, you would see I used a hyphen between the words lead and generation.

Since there can’t be a space in a website URL, the Google Analytics default character to replace spaces is the % symbol, which looks even worse than an underscore.

It’s also important that you don’t repeat yourself when you’re naming your parameters. Here’s what I mean by that.

If your campaign source is Facebook, you wouldn’t want your campaign name to be something like “facebook-promo” because it’s repetitive.

You already know the promo is on Facebook because that’s what your source is labeled. The redundancy isn’t simple and can end up confusing you in the long run.

Banner advertisements

For those of you who are paying other websites to promote your brand through banners, creating UTM parameters is an absolute necessity here.

Let’s say your brand is being advertised on three separate websites as a banner ad.

Don’t you want to know which one is yielding the highest results?

Yes, increasing traffic and getting new leads is great. But why pay for three websites to promote your brand if 90% of the traffic is coming from one website?

Using your data from the UTM parameters, you can eliminate ineffective websites from your banner campaigns. This will help you save money and increase efficiency with these types of promotions.

Use custom links for your social media strategy

Your social media marketing campaigns are essential to your lead generation strategy.

Using these profiles to drive traffic to your site will definitely help you grow your business. But how do you know which social media profiles are generating the most leads?

You can find out with UTM parameters.

We’ll keep it simple. Let’s say you wrote a new blog post and you’re going to use your social media channels to distribute this updated content. Great idea.

You can see that your blog post is getting lots of new traffic, but you can’t identify the source. By implementing this tactic, you’ll be able to tell the sources of traffic right away.

Here’s an example of a recent blog post I wrote on the Neil Patel website. I used Twitter to share it with my followers:

But that’s not the only place where I’m promoting this new content.

If you look at my Facebook profile, you’ll see a similar post there as well:

I’m sure your brand has a similar approach when it comes to marketing new content on your social media profiles. So this is definitely something that you can relate to.

By assigning different source parameters for Twitter and Facebook campaigns, you’ll be able to see where your new leads are coming from.

Based on this information, you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Let’s say you learned that 80% of your leads came from Facebook. There are a couple of ways in which you could act on this information.

First, you may decide to double down on your Facebook marketing tactics. You could increase spending to generate leads with Facebook ads.

Or you may try leaving your Facebook campaigns alone for now and focusing more on rebuilding your presence on Twitter instead. Maybe you’ll implement a combination of these strategies.

But either way, you learned this valuable information because you implemented UTM parameters.

Do NOT use UTM parameters to test links on your website

While it may seem tempting and applicable, UTM parameters should not be used for internal linking within your website.

I’ll give you an example of what I’m referring to. Let’s take a look at the Crazy Egg website. Here’s one of the CTAs on the homepage:

Simple, right?

But if you continue scrolling on this homepage, you’ll find that this isn’t the only location where “show me my heatmap” is written.

Here’s a screenshot from further down on the same page.

It has the same exact phrasing as the CTA above.

So if you get new leads from your homepage, UTM parameters will be able to tell you which link they came from, right? Wrong.

Using UTM parameters internally will just create another visit in Google Analytics data. In short, this will inflate your site visits numbers and cause several other metrics to be inaccurate.

You’re better off using event tracking or setting up A/B tests for this purpose. Use your UTM parameters for all external sources outside of your website that generate leads.

Conclusion

Running campaigns to generate new leads is important. But this strategy isn’t effective if you can’t track the source of your leads.

That’s why you need to start using UTM parameters.

It’s easy to create custom links with this Google Analytics tool. Just make sure you follow the best practices for naming them.

Keep it simple. Use hyphens. Stick with lowercase letters. Don’t be repetitive.

Use UTM parameters to help keep track of your banner advertisements. Implementing these links with your social media strategy is effective as well.

While there are plenty of ways you can use UTM parameters to your advantage when it comes to tracking your leads, you should not use them to monitor internal links on your site.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly based on the results of your analytics.

How is your business using UTM parameters to track new leads?

How to Generate New Leads Without Spending a Fortune

Every brand needs new customers.

Those of you who have been in business for a while may be doing fine generating high sales from your existing customers.

But that business model isn’t sustainable forever. There comes a point when you won’t be able to grow without new leads.

This is especially important for newer companies. Since you haven’t been operating for a long time, you definitely need new leads just to survive.

But where do you find them?

It’s a common misconception that generating new leads is costly. Here’s something to consider. Yes, it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

In fact, research shows that customer acquisition costs can be six or seven times greater than those of retention campaigns.

That said, this doesn’t mean generating new leads has to be outrageously pricy.

According to research, 69% of marketers say lead generation is a top organizational goal for their content strategy.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or whether your brand is new or old. Everyone can benefit from this guide. I’ll show you my favorite cost-effective lead-generation strategies.

They are easy to implement, and I can assure you you’ll notice results fast.

Automate your marketing process

What are your highest marketing costs?

Time is money. If you’re spending endless hours each day sending out emails and updating social media pages, it’ll cost you big bucks in the long run. Each minute you spend on marketing takes away from your other daily business operations.

Depending on the size of your business, you may have people in place to run some of your marketing campaigns so you don’t have to.

Great, right? Wrong. Think about the costs associated with paying these people. Rather than paying your employees to manually send emails to subscribers or post new content on social media, you can use technology to help.

As you can see from the data, only 24% of companies aren’t using marketing automation at all. The majority of businesses are using some form of automation.

But only 14% of these marketers describe their automation usage as higher than intermediate.

Even if you are doing cold email outreach, you can save much time by automating the process using a combination of tools such as Voila Norbert, Gmass, Dux Soup, and Zapier.

Yes, the majority of these tools won’t be free. But you can still get them for a fraction of the cost of what you’re paying someone else to complete these tasks.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you need to get rid of your employees completely, although some of these tools could potentially save you a salary or two. But with the added free time, you can use your employees for other business operations that generate growth.

Automation needs to become a priority for your brand. These tools can save you money and help you create new leads.

Grow your email subscriber list

This method is somewhat related to the previous tactic.

Before you can use automation tools to email your subscribers, you need to have subscribers in the first place. Run campaigns specifically designed to get more people to sign up for your emails.

For the most part, this won’t be very expensive.

Sometimes, all it takes is a quick redesign of some of your website elements. Make it easy for people to opt in on every page of your site. Give them an incentive to subscribe.

Just saying “sign up for emails” isn’t always enough.

Are you selling something? Give them a discount off their next purchase for signing up.

Email marketing is inexpensive and highly profitable. Most software will cost you a reasonable monthly or annual fee based on the number of subscribers on your list.

While these costs may not sound appealing, research shows email marketing yields a high ROI.

This explains why it’s such a popular marketing tactic.

I get it. It’s 2018, and you’re looking for some new or sexy way to market your brand. But sometimes sticking with the basics is your best bet, especially when you’re trying to save money.

Email marketing isn’t dead. It’s still alive and thriving.

Growing your active subscriber list needs to be an essential component of your content strategy.

Once you add people to your list, you’ll have endless opportunities to market to them. It’s a great way for you to directly drive sales with your new leads.

Start a blog

Blogging is one of my favorite ways to generate new leads. That’s why all my websites have blogs.

There are many benefits to blogging. I could go on and on about this topic, but I’ll spare you for now and just give you the highlights.

For starters, your blog will serve as a way for you to constantly post new content on your website. It’s a great opportunity for you to use keyword research to improve your SEO ranking.

Now you can generate new leads just based on organic search traffic alone because of your blog. Furthermore, the topics of your blog can also encourage sales.

I’m not saying you need to be a salesperson 24/7 with everything you publish. You can still have some fun with your posts.

But ultimately, your blog posts need to have some kind of unifying goal. Use them to create brand awareness, provide informative guides, or, in this case, generate new leads. And your blog post goals can be a combination of these.

Another reason why I recommend blogging as a top lead-generation strategy is because it’s not going to cost you much. The only major cost is going to be your time spent writing.

If you currently have a blog, make sure you are constantly updating it with new content.

Having a blog is one thing, but if you’re only posting once a month or so, it’s not going to be an effective strategy.

Try to establish a group of regular readers to maximize your results and generate as many leads as possible.

Add videos to your YouTube channel

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, you need to create one ASAP. I have my own YouTube channel, and I use it all the time.

Here’s why. First of all, video content is taking over the Internet. Research shows that 82% of Internet traffic will be videos within the next three years.

It’s what consumers want and what they’re used to seeing online. People will search for content directly on YouTube, but that’s not the only way you can use these videos to your advantage.

YouTube content is easy to repurpose.

After you upload something to YouTube, you can simply add the video to your website as well. You can even embed links directly into your blog posts, which I previously discussed.

Send videos to your email subscribers. Share them on social media.

By uploading one video to YouTube, you give yourself an opportunity to add new content on multiple channels, which is why it’s such an effective strategy.

Video marketing is the type of content that consumers prefer the most.

But you may be thinking this sounds like it’s going to be expensive. That’s not true.

Video marketing doesn’t need to be a major cost.

It’s free to add content to YouTube and distribute your videos on all your marketing channels. Really, the only costs will be for the equipment you may have to purchase.

You won’t need to hire a professional cameraman or director. The majority of your video content can be shot and produced in-house.

Just buy a camera, microphone, and maybe some lighting tools. That’s it. The right equipment can also help you run a successful video blog.

These are all one-time purchases, and you don’t need to spend a ton of money on them.

Don’t turn down guest blogging opportunities

I’ve got to admit, years ago when I first started to get approached about guest blogging, I had my reservations. As I mentioned, blogging takes time.

I thought to myself, why would I spend my valuable time producing content for some else’s website when I could be spending that time on my own brand?

I’m assuming that if you have turned down guest blogging opportunities in the past, you had the same thought process. But that’s the wrong mentality.

Guest blogging does promote your brand.

You can generate new leads by guest blogging because your content reaches a wider audience.

People who may not be familiar with your company could be avid readers of the website you’re writing for. Now is your chance to introduce yourself.

Here’s an example of a guest post I wrote for Forbes:

As you can see, Forbes gives me a nice bio at the beginning of the post.

In addition to this information, readers have a chance to hear my voice and learn about my brand. This is a great opportunity for you to add inbound links to your site as well.

And as with your personal blog, this is another great opportunity to improve your SEO strategy.

I’m not saying you need to write for every single website that asks you to blog for them. It’s important for you to make sure the site is reputable and won’t hurt your image, so do your research before committing.

If people aren’t reaching out to you about guest blogging, you can contact them directly and just ask.

What’s the worst thing that could happen? They’ll just say no. This is not a big deal at all. Just move on to the next one and keep trying.

Sites may be relieved to hear you’re willing to write a guest post because it makes their lives easier. It’s one less piece of content they’ll need to produce, and it’s a great way for you to generate new leads.

Build backlinks

In addition to guest blogging, there are other ways for you to get featured on other websites.

Backlinks.

I recommend using a tool such as Dead Link Checker to look for broken links on websites within your industry.

Then, reach out to the web administrator to let them know they have broken links.

You’ll be doing them a big favor because broken links can hurt their SEO.

Instead of them removing the link completely, you can offer a solution. Send them a piece of content from your own website that’s a suitable replacement for the broken link.

This isn’t a guarantee and may not work all the time. They could just take your advice and not use your website as the replacement.

But that’s a risk you’ve got to be willing to take. The fact that you’re doing them a favor should help your cause and increase the chances of you getting featured on their site.

Contribute to forums

There are plenty of places online where users connect with each other through forums.

Some may be industry-specific, while others are for the masses. You may want to consider answering a question on platforms like Quora.

Here’s a scenario to show you how successful this strategy could be for your company. Let’s say someone asks a question related to your industry on a forum.

You answer the question and provide a link to your website—maybe even a link to one of your blog posts or informative guides on the topic.

You just generated at least one new lead from the person who asked the question. But do you think they are the only person on the planet who needed help with that topic?

If the forum is popular enough, your post could become a top search result when other people look for answers to that same question by using a general search engine.

The more traffic gets driven to that page, the more traffic your website will get.

In addition to writing on forums, you can comment on other blog posts. The idea is the same: contribute to the discussion, and drive traffic to your site.

Just don’t spam other posts. That won’t be as effective.

Use the Twitter advanced search query

Similarly to our last example, you can use Twitter to discover prospective leads.

Use the Twitter advanced search query to look for general terms related to your brand.

As you can see, the search options give you a chance to get specific with what you’re looking for.

See what some of the most recent tweets are on a topic. Reach out directly to those users, and offer your services.

The reason why this is such a great option is because you can narrow your search based on a wide range of factors.

For example, you could make sure the prospective lead is in your geographic market territory and that their tweet is recent enough to be applicable.

Responding to tweets from a year ago wouldn’t be a valid strategy because that person probably found a solution by now.

Respond to comments on social media

Businesses need to have an effective social media strategy to be relevant in 2018.

You’ll have to pay for some of your advertisements. But sometimes, you can get new leads just by reaching out to your followers directly.

People have questions. Answer them. It’s that simple.

I’m talking about direct messages and comments on your social profiles.

Responding to people on social media will help improve your engagement metrics. Ultimately, this will help you generate new leads.

Here’s an example from the Best Buy Facebook page:

A customer had a question, and the BestBuy team responded with a helpful answer. They even provided a link to their website.

I know this can be difficult, depending on how many social media followers you have. Some of you may get hundreds of messages and comments among all your channels on a daily basis.

Don’t be overwhelmed.

You should be thankful so many people want to interact with your brand.

Now is another reason why you should take advantage of the automation tools we talked about earlier. You can get all your social media messages delivered to one inbox.

Then you can respond to them in the order they were received, as opposed to having to go to each platform independently.

Again, this type of software isn’t usually outrageously priced. You should consider it if you feel you’re getting bombarded with social media comments.

Conclusion

It’s possible for businesses to generate lots of new leads without spending a ton of cash.

You can use automation tools to help save you time and money on marketing. Do everything possible to get more subscribers to your email lists.

Start a blog, and contribute to it on a regular basis. And don’t turn down guest posting opportunities.

Add content to your YouTube channel to increase your video marketing efforts.

Contribute to online forums and build backlinks to increase traffic to your website. Use the Twitter advanced search option to find prospective leads.

Don’t forget to respond to consumer questions on social media.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to generate new leads on a tight budget.

What cost-effective strategies is your brand using to generate leads?

Beginner’s Guide to Customer Conversion Funnel

How do you get a new customer?

It may seem like a simple question, but the answer may be more complex than you think. Sure, you’ve got various advertising campaigns, and you’re generating sales.

A reasonable assumption would be that your marketing promotions are creating sales. While this may be partially true, it’s not a full answer.

One of the keys to running a successful business is to understand the customer buying process. Just because you’re selling something a consumer wants or needs doesn’t mean you are automatically in a position to make a sale.

But leveraging the basic concepts of the customer conversion funnel will make it easier for you to guide the consumer through the buying process.

This puts you in a position to maximize your conversion rates and ultimately generate more profits for your company.

There is a ton of information on the Internet about the customer conversion funnel. The funnel may look a little bit different, depending on whom you ask.

While the terminology may vary slightly, here is a basic visualization of what this funnel looks like:

These are the steps a buyer goes through before they finalize a purchase. I’ll refer to this image as we continue through this post.

Throughout this guide, we’ll look at different versions of the funnel and discuss each stage in greater detail.

I’ll also show you some great marketing examples you can incorporate into your own funnel as a way to get more customers and drive sales.

If you are not familiar with the customer conversion funnel, this guide will cover all the basic concepts. Here’s what you need to know.

Create brand awareness

As you can see from the funnel I just showed you, the first stage of the process is the awareness phase.

The idea here is for you to come up with marketing strategies that can promote your company to a new audience. As of now, these consumers don’t know your brand exists.

You need to change that.

Obviously, this is much easier said than done. But there are plenty of ways for you to make this happen. It all depends on the goals of your company.

You’ll also have to decide how much money you want to spend when it comes to creating brand awareness. If you’re low on funds, you’ll want to take a look at my top tactics for marketing your company on a budget.

One of the most effective ways to create awareness is to improve your SEO strategy.

Remember, at this point, the consumers don’t know you exist yet. All they know is they have a want or need for something. Chances are they will start with a search engine.

A higher search engine ranking increases the chances of you getting more organic traffic to your website. In fact, 33% of clicks go to the top search result on Google.

Furthermore, the first page of an Internet search controls 75% of all clicks.

That’s why businesses are investing time and money into optimizing all their marketing channels for SEO in 2018.

As you can see from the data, your website isn’t the only way for you to generate new leads and create brand awareness with SEO.

Social media is another cost-effective way to promote your business. In fact, 55% of consumers have made purchases directly through social media platforms.

That’s why I believe one of the best ways for ecommerce brands to grow is to leverage social commerce.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Right now, we’re still focusing on brand awareness. I just wanted to explain why these marketing channels are so important.

While not all consumers are looking to buy things on social media, it’s still a great place for you to introduce yourself to prospective buyers.

Start by creating a profile on as many social media channels as possible. Stay active on these profiles, and post new content daily.

Do your best to get more followers. Interact with these followers to increase your engagement rates. As a result, more people will get exposed to your brand.

If you want to take this strategy to the next level, you can generate leads with targeted ads. Facebook and Instagram are two of my favorite platforms to use this strategy for.

That’s because the ads are set up through the same system, so it’s easy for you to run paid ads through both.

While Facebook will always be a top marketing option, it doesn’t mean you should overlook Instagram. Marketers agree that this platform has become a top choice for creating brand awareness.

In fact, last year Instagram surpassed Twitter in terms of marketing usage by brands in the United States.

As I said earlier, there are tons of ways for you to make consumers aware that your company exists. But some tactics are more effective than others.

For example, I’m sure you got flyers in the mail when a new pizza shop opened in your neighborhood. That’s an example of the awareness stage in the conversion funnel.

But those types of methods aren’t scalable and applicable to all businesses in today’s day and age.

You also want to get quality traffic. Yes, you want as many people as possible to know about your brand. But that’s not helpful if they’ll never actually become customers.

It’s important for you to emphasize quality over quantity if you want to create a funnel that yields high conversions.

That’s why focusing your efforts on SEO and social media is much more effective.

Generate interest

Now that people are familiar with your brand, it’s time to take them through the next step of your conversion funnel.

You’ve got to come up with ways to create interest in your products and services. Your content strategy is going to be your best friend during this stage of the funnel.

You’ll also need to use your website to your advantage. Learn how to design a homepage that converts.

Your website needs to provide visitors with as much information as possible about your business so that you can answer any questions they might have. Here’s an example from the SERVPRO website:

SERVPRO is a cleanup and restoration company.

If someone had a problem at their home, such as mold, they may type phrases like “mold remediation” into a Google search.

Due to their SEO efforts, SERVPRO would be a top search result. That’s part of the awareness stage, which I just discussed.

But now that a visitor has landed on the homepage, you need them to become interested in this service to get them through the tunnel. Based on this homepage, it’s clear that this company provides a wide range of services that includes restoration from:

  • water damage
  • fire damage
  • mold remediation
  • storm damage
  • commercial services

It makes sense that someone who has mold in their home would click on mold remediation to find out more information.

SERVPRO provides detailed information about mold restoration:

But that’s not all. As you can see from what I’ve highlighted on this screen, their website includes lots of other resources for visitors to click on.

There is something for everyone here. They’ve got a guide about mold damage tips, odor removal, and detailed guide about black mold.

This is a great example of how you can generate interest in your products or services with your website.

High-quality and accurate content will make these prospective customers trust your brand. If you’re the one educating them on a topic, they’ll be more likely to buy from you over the competition.

That’s why your brand needs to have a blog.

It gives you an opportunity to always post fresh content on various topics related to your industry. You can publish informative guides through this distribution channel as well.

While the content of each post may be different, they all need to be written with the same intention. You’re trying to guide consumers through the conversion funnel.

That’s why companies that have a blog generate more leads:

Your blog ends up killing two birds with one stone.

Earlier I mentioned that improving your SEO efforts will help you create more brand awareness. Well, blogging is a top SEO tool.

More visitors will get drawn to your website because of your blog, and ultimately that content will keep them interested as they continue through the funnel.

If you want to take your content strategy to the next level, you’ll need to create as many types of content as possible. Give these visitors a reason to stay engaged.

Enhance your content by building infographics and create downloadable ebooks as well.

Ultimately, you can use the interest stage of your conversion funnel to collect email addresses too. Once people subscribe to receive your emails, you can use this to your advantage as they continue through the buying process.

Consideration

The consideration stage is very similar to the interest stage of the conversion funnel.

You’ll need to provide these prospective buyers with an incentive to complete the purchase. Here’s what I mean.

When they were interested, they may have done things like read your blogs, signed up for your promotional emails, or downloaded an ebook. But none of those actions generated a profit.

Remember earlier I said that different people have alternative terminology for their conversion funnels?

Well, I’ve seen ones that have the consideration phase labeled as “desire” instead. This makes sense, based on what you’re trying to accomplish here.

You have to make your brand look even more appealing to the consumer. Here is your chance to show them why they need whatever you’re selling.

The customer will weigh lots of options at this time before they decide to buy.

They’ll compare things like the cost, quality, and convenience of your product or service compared to alternative solutions. This falls under the evaluation stage of the buying process:

Refer to the above resource for ways to entice buyers during this stage. Lots of these suggestions relate back to what I previously discussed about generating interest.

Implementing these tactics will help increase the chances that consumers will make it all the way through the conversion funnel.

Finalize the sale

Let’s quickly recap.

First, a consumer was made aware of your brand. Then, they learned more information about what your company offers. Next, they weighed their options and considered buying from you as opposed to not buying at all or going to one of your competitors.

Now, they’ve decided they wanted to buy. But that doesn’t mean they’ll do it.

Sure, they may say to themselves they want what you’re selling. They might even start the checkout process. But again, the sale isn’t complete until it’s finalized.

Here’s an example to illustrate my point.

Let’s say a customer decides they want to buy something from your ecommerce shop. They add the item to their shopping cart.

That’s great! You’re on the right track.

But they never end up buying the item. What happened? For starters, you need to get familiar with the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

Take a look at the first few results from this research. These are all things that wouldn’t have been discovered during the initial stages of the conversion funnel.

You need to recognize why customers aren’t finalizing the sale and set up your checkout process accordingly to prevent this from happening in the future.

Ultimately, you need to optimize every element of your checkout process for conversions.

Focus on things such as:

  • the design on each page
  • images
  • CTA buttons
  • color schemes
  • the number of steps
  • value proposition

The list goes on and on, but these are reasonable places to start.

You can use tools to help you. Run A/B tests to determine the most ideal elements of your website to maximize conversions and drive more sales.

Tools like this can tell you whether certain CTA phrases are more effective than others.

Retain your customers

Most images of conversion funnels come to an end. As we’ve seen with the funnels we looked at so far, they tend to have an upside down pyramid shape or look like a funnel (hence the name).

They start wide because that’s when the prospective customer pool is the largest.

But the funnel slowly narrows because you’ll lose sales along the way. Don’t worry, this is inevitable. Nobody has a 100% conversion rate.

However, the idea that your funnel will continue to get smaller and smaller even after the purchase stage is a bit alarming. That would mean you’re losing customers.

Obviously, you don’t want this to happen. That’s why I prefer looking at this image of the funnel to illustrate why the conversion process never ends:

The process isn’t over after a new customer converts.

You’ll need to come up with additional marketing campaigns to get them to continue converting in the future. It’s a constant cycle.

Yes, I understand that the visual representation of the conversion funnel doesn’t actually translate to how it works. But with that said, I want to make sure you realize it’s not as simple as just a four-step process.

Conclusion

The model of the customer conversion funnel is one of the most iconic images in marketing.

As you’ve seen from everything I showed you in this guide, there are lots of different variations of this funnel and the way it works. While the terms of each stage may vary, the concepts of each one are the virtually the same.

You can generate more profits by understanding the basics of each phase.

Start by creating brand awareness. Then, get prospective buyers interested in your brand.

Come up with a unique value proposition that makes you stand out from the crowd as the consumer enters the consideration stage. This is your chance to tell them why they need to buy.

Optimize your buying process to maximize conversion rates.

The funnel isn’t over after a sale is finalized. You need to nurture your customers even after they convert to ensure they continue buying in the future.

These are just the basic concepts of the customer conversion funnel. We’ve barely scratched the surface here.

But as a beginner, you need to familiarize yourself with the above methods and implement these strategies before you dig deeper into the funnel.

How is your company using the customer conversion funnel to drive sales?

The Ultimate B2B Marketing Guide

Your B2B marketing strategy will differ from your typical B2C approach.

Sure, you may notice some overlap between the two, but for the most part, you’ll need a new plan if you want to target other businesses.

Some of you may have companies focusing on other businesses as your primary group of customers. And some of you may be considered both B2B and B2C companies.

If that’s the case, one overlap you may see between the two strategies would be social media marketing. But the difference would be in the way you use it.

Here’s an example. You could be using Snapchat to promote your business as the B2C company. But that won’t be effective as your B2B strategy. But we’ll dive into greater detail on the social media subject later.

For our purposes, it doesn’t matter what type of company you have.

Whether B2B sales make up the totality of your revenue or only a fraction of it, you’ll be able to benefit from this guide.

I’ll explain everything you need to know about how to properly manage and approach your B2B marketing strategy.

Define your buyers

When it comes to B2B marketing, this step will differ from your typical approach to identifying your target market.

That’s because this scenario will be much more specific. You’ve got a unique product or service. Right away, you’ll need to recognize which companies can benefit from whatever you’re selling.

For example, let’s say you manufacture cleaning chemicals for commercial dry cleaners.

You may assume that any dry cleaning business in the country or your region will fall into your target market. While this may be true, that doesn’t necessarily help you define your buyer.

Take a look at this graphic that highlights some of the key differences between your B2B and B2C target audience:

With this information in mind, let’s continue with our dry cleaning example. Whom are you selling to? Is it the owner of the company? The production manager? Is it the person who answers the phone when you call the facility?

Recognizing who has the buying power isn’t the same as identifying your target market.

As we can see in the graphic above, you’ll be focusing your B2B efforts on a much smaller group of people. That’s why it’s helpful to develop a customer persona to boost your conversion rates. You need to realize that the customer persona will vary depending on which business you’re dealing with.

This is one of the first things you should do before going forward with your marketing strategy.

If your buyers aren’t clearly defined from the beginning, the rest of your campaigns won’t make a ton of sense.

Focus on long-term relationships

If you’re selling directly to consumer, it’s obviously important to put effort on customer retention as well. But these types of relationships are way more important for B2B companies.

Think of it like this. Let’s say you sell something simple, like desk chairs.

If a direct consumer buys a chair from you and never buys again, it won’t make or break your company. But let’s say a hotel chain decides to buy chairs for every single room in one of its new buildings.

This is a relationship you can’t afford to lose. That’s why you need to do whatever you can to go the extra mile for your B2B customers.

A B2C customer can just go online and order something from your website. But your B2B clients may require more in-person support:

Let’s continue with the chairs and hotel example. You’ve got a huge opportunity here to continue selling to this client in the future.

Maybe they’re going to build more hotels. Eventually, they’ll even need the chairs replaced in their existing buildings as well.

You can’t just look at the initial sale and be done with it. Always look toward the future, and try to build a long-term relationship.

Adding the personal touch of being present for a delivery of goods can go a long way when it comes to repeat business. I understand this isn’t always practical for every customer or every transaction, but do what you can if it means securing a long-term B2B client.

Prioritize satisfaction

With B2B marketing, you need to make sure the customer is always satisfied. This concept relates back to our previous point about long-term relationships.

For the most part, satisfied customers will keep coming back.

There are certain things you can do to satisfy your B2B customers. Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say you sell file cabinets for offices. You wouldn’t send a free cabinet directly to the consumer, ask them to use it for a while, and then place an order if they want to buy more.

That just doesn’t make any sense from a B2C marketing strategy. How many file cabinets could one person possibly need in their personal home or office?

They would likely take the free one, and that would be the end of it.

But for a B2B company, sending free products to focus on customer satisfaction is a much more reasonable strategy.

To enhance satisfaction, you need to focus on the customer journey process after the point of purchase:

One or two free file cabinets is nothing if that satisfied customer buys thousands of units for their commercial office space. Take their feedback into consideration as well.

If they intend to make more purchases in the long run, you can customize your production specifically for that customer.

But we’ll talk more about this subject in greater detail shortly.

Personalization matters

As I just said, under some circumstances, you might need to customize your products or services based on what the customer wants and needs.

Obviously, you’ll need to have some restrictions here. For example, if you manufacture cars and the client wants boats, you probably won’t be able to help them.

But if you manufacture 11-inch plastic bags, you should be able to manufacture a 20-inch plastic bag with the client’s logo on it to fit their needs. See the difference?

Again, this relates back to satisfaction and long-term relationship building.

Sure, you won’t be able to print that logo on any of your other products for the rest of your clients, but you’re hoping that this type of personalization will result in repeat business from that customer.

Furthermore, you should be personalizing your content to target your B2B customers. Currently, 68% of B2B marketers say they are testing personalized content and offers:

If you’ve properly defined your buyers, which I previously discussed, you can take that personalization strategy to the next level. Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say your company makes coffee mugs and you’re selling a huge order to a business that gives them away as marketing material. All they want is their logo printed on the mugs.

While you are negotiating, you learn the company representative is an avid fisherman.

This may sound like just some small talk, but you could give him a personalized mug with his name and some kind of fisherman design on it as a gift.

While the gesture may seem corny, this added personal touch can go a long way when it comes to building a relationship with this company. When they are ready to order more goods, that representative will think twice before switching to one of your competitors.

Sell your story

Mastering the art of storytelling is crucial for both B2C and B2B businesses.

Having a great story and showcasing it on your website or as part of your value proposition can help you generate leads. But with B2B marketing, you need to position your story to help drive sales.

Tell your clients why you got into business. What’s your background? What’s your experience like?

If you’ve got years of experience in the industry you’re selling to, your clients may be more likely to buy something from you because your products will probably be made accordingly.

Not sure how to get your story out there? This is a great opportunity for you to start blogging:

As you can see from this data, B2B brands who blog generate more leads than those who don’t.

Here’s an example that shows the importance of your story. Imagine you run a company that sells something like gym weights and other fitness equipment.

Recall our discussion about defining the buyer. In this case, you’d be dealing with gym owners and branch managers. It’s safe to say these people have lots of experience with this type of equipment.

But if your background is in accounting and you’ve never worked out a day in your life, it’ll be tough for you to relate to these clients.

However, if you’ve worked in gyms for years and have a personal training certification, your story will help you drive these sales.

You can talk about the way your experience helped you make modifications to equipment to make it safer, more ergonomic, etc..

Pay close attention to your pricing strategy

With marketing, most people don’t tend to think about the price of what they’re selling. But that’s a key component to your promotional strategy.

There are so many factors for you to take into consideration here.

First of all, you need to know what your competitors are selling the same or similar products and services for. Second, you need to know how your price will impact the image of your company.

If the price is too low, will your potential customers think the product is cheap and not made from high quality materials?

When you set your price, make sure you have it at a point that’s enough for you to turn a profit. Factor in all your costs such as materials, equipment, labor, rent, shipping, etc.

You also need to leave some room for negotiation. These things don’t matter as much when you’re selling directly to consumer, but they make a huge difference for B2B clients:

Take a look at how pricing influences repeat purchases for B2B customers:

Three of the top seven responses, including the top result, are related to price.

Here’s an example to show you just how big of an impact pricing can make on a purchase. Let’s say you manufacture clothing.

You sell directly to consumer as well as to other businesses. The price of a plain t-shirt on your website is $15. If it were $14 or $16 instead, it probably wouldn’t have had a huge impact on how many people would buy it. If they’re willing to pay $15, they’re probably willing to pay $16.

But now think about your B2C clients.

Your price for that same shirt might be $7 if they buy it in quantities of 1,000 units. If a commercial customer wants to buy 5,000 shirts, the difference between $7 and $7.50 is $2,500 on that order.

Think about how those numbers scale if that same customer wants to repeat that order twice per quarter for the entire year.

That’s an extra $20,000 they’d be spending. If you think regular consumers are price-sensitive, know that B2B customers pay even more attention to price.

If they weren’t so picky, they wouldn’t be able to stay in business.

Recognize how your buyers consume content

You won’t be advertising the same way to your B2B customers as you would to your B2C ones.

As I briefly stated earlier, social media is still a viable strategy for B2B marketing.

But you won’t be using platforms such as Snapchat. Instead, you’ll probably prioritize marketing channels such as Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Here’s a comparison between B2C and B2B social media usage by platform:

Use promotional videos, photos, and other visual content to market to your B2B clients.

Just make sure you keep things professional at all times. Stay on brand. Build an email list.

When you form a new relationship with your customers, ask them whether it’s okay to use calling or texting as a method of communication with them.

B2C companies may have thousands of unique customers per year. But if your B2B brand has only a dozen or so customers, you can try to manage them through this type of personalized communication as opposed to traditional marketing tactics.

Putting out commercials on national television for everyone in the country to see may not be effective if you’re dealing with only 10 or 20 clients per year.

That’s a waste of your resources.

Always network with the intention of growing

Don’t settle.

Your B2B marketing strategy needs to make your company grow. Try to generate more leads and new customers. Get your existing customers to spend more money.

Networking is a great way to find new customers, especially in the B2B sector.

Take a look at this data of the top B2B marketing activities:

As you can see, attending events ranked high on this list.

Go to local, regional, and national events. Join industry networks to meet new people.

These networks host annual meetings and conferences that can be extremely beneficial to your company.

In addition to in-person networking at events, you can also network through digital platforms. As we just discussed, social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn need to be part of your B2B marketing strategy.

Conclusion

You need to take a different approach with your B2B marketing campaigns from the approach you’d take with your B2C campaigns.

Start by figuring out who has the buying power in the businesses you’re targeting.

Focus your efforts on customer satisfaction. Go the extra mile to please your customers, and use personalization to befriend them.

All of this will help you build long-term relationships so you can increase the chances of getting repeat purchases from the same clients.

Leverage your brand story to generate leads. Pay close attention to your pricing strategy.

Identify the best marketing channels to promote your content to prospective buyers.

And don’t forget: growing your B2B company requires your constant attention.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to create a profitable B2B marketing strategy.

How is your B2B brand generating new leads through promoting customer satisfaction?