The Internet influences 70 percent more sales offline than it does online, according to a recent study by The Dieringer Research Group. From Q2 2003 to the same period this year, consumers spent $106.5 billion online. Yet the Web influenced another $180.7 billion in offline sales.
So let's talk about how to maximize a site's ability to generate those offline leads.
Map Customer Objectives
Say you manufacture cars, all of which are sold only at dealerships. Your site's goal is to generate leads; customers contact dealers, visit them, and purchase cars off the lot.
Buyers visit your site, as well as competitors' sites (each with its own goals and objectives), in different stages of the buying cycle. Your site must account for, plan, and map objectives that match those customers' buying cycles and objectives. Providing content and simplistic product overviews isn't enough, especially when you consider customers are only a click away from the competition. In some instances, a sale is won or lost on the Internet.
Does your site persuade leads to contact you?
With the right analytics tools in place, dashboards can measure a site's capabilities and performance in each of the following scenarios.
Objective One: Qualify Suspects
Set up objective scenarios for "suspect customers." These are people who are early in the buying cycle and just beginning to investigate a purchase. They ask broader questions, such as: What do I really need? Will it meet my needs? Can we afford it?
Answer these questions. Educate visitors about the product category. Deliverables, such as buyers' guides, make it easier for suspects to quickly qualify themselves. Many won't be potential leads for your product.
Measure your site's ability to persuade suspect customer by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs). How many visitors bookmark your site? Do they click through to more detailed product descriptions? Do they download a buying guide? Do first-time visitors sign up for your newsletter?
Objective Two: Persuade Prospects
Prospect customers have likely identified and defined their needs. They may be comparing your solution with a competitor's. Prospects ask more complex questions: What makes your car different? Is this car a good value? Are there financing incentives?
Provide content to answer these questions. Checklists, comparison charts, glossaries, downloadable brochures, product demos, even testimonials all help prospects. Use resolving-door hyperlinks to propel them deeper into the site.
Measure success by monitoring newsletter subscriptions, time spent on site, demo downloads, brochure downloads, comparison chart downloads, and so forth.
Objective Three: Turn Prospects Into Leads
Leads have been persuaded your solution is viable. They want to contact your company to complete the transaction or simply gain further confidence this solution is the right one.
Measure your site's ability to persuade and convert prospects into leads through visits to the contact or dealer-locator page or through live-chat links if you have them.
A Step Further
Persuasion architecture takes these scenarios further still. It accounts not only for where a persona may be in the sales process but also for that persona's preferences. We can thus create even more specific scenarios, content, and objectives that can persuade each persona further into her own customized conversion flow.
A methodical persona who's early in the buying process, for example, may be more inclined to download a white paper, whereas a more humanistic persona would prefer to start a relationship by subscribing to a newsletter.
Lead Generation: Not for B2B or Complex Sales Alone
If your site can actually close the sale online, should monitoring lead generation still be an objective? Yes, if your site impels visitors to purchase your service or product from a brick-and-mortar store or an offline affiliate.
The Internet influences 70 percent more dollars spent offline than it converts online. If visitors abandon your site or shopping cart, all isn't lost. Equip visitors with information and other options.
Generate Leads, Generate Sales
There's big money in using the Internet to harvest offline sales. What's your site doing to grab a hunk of that $180 billion pie?
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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