Companies may consider a corporate web site a prerequisite for doing business – similar to a business card or mailing address. But ask yourself “how many sales has my site generated” and “has my site met its sales quota?” If the answer to either of these questions is “no” or “I don’t know” consider the following tips for driving sales from your company’s web site:
Call to Action
Most companies don’t create a web site for the general good of humanity – they expect the site to contribute to driving sales. Therefore, ensure your site includes a powerful “call to action” or message enticing potential customers to contact you. This call to action should be prominently placed on your site and repeated on the most popular pages. Freebies, contests and giveaways are great tools for enticing site visitor’s to submit their contact information. Require site visitors to submit specific pieces of information in order to contact your company such as their name, email address, phone number and nature of inquiry. Not only will this information allow your sales force to craft a response specific to the potential customer’s need but you can also add their name and email address to your monthly newsletter.
Search Engine Optimization
Your potential customers are online searching for your company – they just don’t know it yet. If your company doesn’t appear on the first page of results chances are your competitors are stealing your potential customers.
To ensure your company appears on the first page of search results consider the following techniques:
– Ensure your web site’s keywords, meta tags, header tags, and meta description (all elements of the code behind your web site) are updated and accurate. Search engines use these elements to categorize your site and match it against search engine requests. For instance, if a Google user searches for “business process management and Fort Worth” and your web site’s description includes these terms you are much more likely to appear in their set of search results
– Create a sitemap file that lists every page of your web site and register the location of this file with popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Ask, and Yahoo. Sitemap files tell the search engine what pages on your site should be included in their engines and increases the chances your site will be included in search results.
– When people use search engines to find products and services they tend to use certain words more frequently than others (eg “wireless contract” is used more often than “cellular service” to find cell phone service providers). Therefore, the text on your site should closely mirror the keywords people use to find your products and services. Online tools exist that suggest which terms you should include in your site’s description, keywords, meta tags and content. Using these terms helps your site match the terms your potential customers are using to find you.
The meat and potatoes of your web site is the content, or words and text, found on the various pages throughout your site. Content describes your products and services, helps search engines find and categorize your site, and can serve as a call to action. When writing content for your site consider the following:
– Be Benefits Oriented. Possibly most important to consider when creating content for your web site is how it describes your company’s benefits to the customer. Your site should answer these questions: Why do business with your company versus a competitor? How will I benefit from your company’s products and services? What compelling information, research or data do you have to convince me your company is better?
– Not too much. Not too little. Just right. Most visitors to your web site are not looking to read a novel, so keep the length of your text short and concise. A few paragraphs at most should be sufficient to articulate the benefits of your products or services – and most often I recommend no more than one paragraph per page. Bulleted lists work very well for communicating to an audience with a short attention span.
– Are you dense? Keyword density refers to the number of words and the times they repeat on a particular web page. Search engines assume that a web site using the keyword “insurance” multiple times on a page (and in meta tags and descriptions) along with keywords associated with insurance such as “premium” and “benefits” should appear higher in search results for “insurance.” Therefore, ensure your content is dense with keywords associated with your company’s products and services and industry terminology.
– What’s your frequency? Frequency refers to how often the content on your site changes. Search engines give preference to sites where content changes frequently so make sure you are adding to and editing the content on your web site frequently. I recommend at least once monthly, but weekly is best. This can be done by simply adding new press releases to your “Press Releases” page, describing current sales on your home page or updating your product catalog. Whenever you update your site resubmit your URL to popular search engines so they know you have something new to offer.
Ever visited a web site where you thought “I can’t find what I need on this site but I know it’s here somewhere?” The navigation (or structure of links) on your site should focus on how customers will likely use your site. For instance, if your customers are most likely to use your site to find a price on widgets make pricing links primary on your site and relegate links for the management team or pictures of the company picnic. Also consider how quickly your customers want to find the information they seek and adjust your navigation accordingly. If your visitors just need a quick way to find a customer service phone number don’t require them to click on Support, then Existing Customers, then Contact Us, then Method of Contact to get your phone number. A general rule of thumb is that your site visitor should be able to get the information they need within three clicks.
Your web site is a member of your sales team and should provide the tools your sales force uses to make a sale. For instance, if your product or service is a commodity and focuses heavily on price provide a price quote calculator on your web site. If you provide a consultative sales approach provide a questionnaire tool on your site asking the same questions your sales force would ask, such as “What email marketing tools do your employees use in daily operations?” Knowing what functionality to provide on your web site requires you to know your customer so ask them for their input.
Ask your sales force what functionality they would like to see on your web site since they are most in tune with your customers. (Also ask other departments in your company what functionality they would like to see. Customer service might suggest functionality giving customers the ability to view current work orders to reduce call hold times at service centers.)
Link to Social Networking
By now you’ve probably heard of social networking and sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. For your customers already using these tools, encourage them to link to your account with links such as “Follow Us On Twitter” posted on your home page to encourage existing Twitterers to follow your posts. Then, use Twitter to send product and service updates directly to their cell phone.
Close the Deal
Lastly, consider your company’s sales cycle and figure out how your web site fits into that process. Focus with a laser beam on how to:
o Ensure search engines can find your site
o Drive customers to your site
o Provide useful tools and information your customers value
o Entice them to take a particular action
When a customer contacts you via your web site forward the lead to an existing sales person for immediate action. Be sure to track close ratios of leads generated from your web site (eg via a Customer Relationship Management tool) and ask for user feedback to determine ways to improve the web site over time. These simple techniques will position your company to use the web site as your new sales person – that works 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
By Aaliyah Brooks