I want to show you a simple way to improve both your website and your email marketing. It will take just a few minutes, involves no new technology and is free to implement. In fact it is so basic most people will laugh it off as a joke and leave it alone. However, I know that there are a few souls who are more committed to online marketing success who read this newsletter. For them, here’s a tip they can implement and then go back to their coffee while it’s still warm.
So are you ready? Great – let’s start with your website.
Firstly, bring it up in your browser. Now take a screen grab of the home page and print it out on in portrait orientation on an A4 page. Go grab the paper from the printer and bring it back to your desk. Now for some marketing origami. I want you to fold it neatly into thirds with the fold lines running parallel to the shortest edge of the paper. Then unfold it and lay it face up in front of you. You should be left with a picture of your home page with two lines crossing through it – one a third down from the top, the other a third up from the bottom.
All OK? Take a slurp of coffee for making it this far.
Now look at the top third of the page and tick off the points from the list below that appear in this section. (The list is not complete, but includes most of the key ones.)
- The business name and what the business does.
- Its unique selling proposition.
- Any third-party endorsement of this claim, e.g. testimonials.
- Navigation prompts to a) learn more; and b) make contact.
It’s a short list so you should have ticked them all. Well, some of them at least. Locate all five in the top third of the page and you can skip the rest of this short article and get back to following up the mass of prospect leads you no doubt have.
For those finding less than five, well, why don’t you peek into the second third of the page to see if the missing components are there. I wouldn’t bother to look at the bottom third in hope of finding any still missing – anything placed here might as well not be on the page for the amount of attention it receives. And this, my online marketing friend, is the true reason behind the task.
Depending on your online marketing activities, first-time visitors should make up between 30% and 60% of your total visitor traffic. (See the note later on in this newsletter on Benchmarking to see what the norm is for your industry category.) While each visitor will have their own reasons for arriving they will all a) be skipping through your pages at speed; b) have very little knowledge of what you do; and finally, c) have a very limited amount of attention to spare.
It’s almost like they arrive with a stop watch in hand and the seconds start counting down as soon as your first page loads. (As a guide to how long they have before the alarm sounds, look in your Analytics logs for average time on site for New Visitors.) Content placed higher up the page receives the most attention. And, just like the old Direct Mail term of placing all the key information ‘above the fold’, the same principle applies online.
We can also take this concept and apply it to your direct mail online equivalent – email marketing. Best grab another slurp of coffee for making it this far.
In this case you could argue that the audience already knows you well enough to be on your list so there is more attention on offer. Not so fast. Spam has put pay to that idea and the rising volume of day-to-day email is forcing downwards the Inbox attention on offer.
So, just as you did with your website home page, take your last prospect-based email message (these subscribers have the least amount of attention for your messages), convert it to paper and fold it into thirds as before. Now look at the top third and from the list below see what you find:
- The prospect’s name.
- The headline and core proposition of the message.
- A strong reference to the action you want them to take to move them up the prospect conversion ‘ladder’ you have designed for them. (You have one, right?)
Images that carry any of these messages don’t count. As you probably know and just needed me to remind you, a growing proportion of subscribers read their emails with applications that suppress images.
Again, if the top panel doesn’t contain all of these three components, then look down into the one below. Were your results an improvement on your home page? From my experience, all high-performing email campaigns use these top two panels to get their message across – with more in the top than the middle.
So there you have it – you can go back to your coffee now. If you are a quick reader and folder then it should be still be hot enough to enjoy while you consider how you fared.
For those who own a website that has the primary task of new visitor lead generation then the results of these tests will be quite important. If this is you, then I suggest filling in the gaps as quickly as possible and then monitoring your home page bounce rate to see it track downwards as these changes come into play. For the rest – well, it only took you a few minutes and managed to get you out of your seat and walking around the office!
How We Became An Email Marketing Agency
Our story with email marketing starts back in November 2000 with Chris Price joining a small email marketing Software Company in Auckland. He had spent over 8 years in the outsource printing and mail house industry and was now ready to take on its electronic alternative.
His team was as small as they get – two programmers and him, acting as sales, marketing and customer services all rolled into one. When he left four years later, the business had grown to a staff of 16, with two offices and over 50 clients.
But it was on the first Friday afternoon of the business launch over 9 years ago that is of interest here. Chris found himself on a podium of what was then the Direct Marketing Association (now the Marketing Association) luncheon, staring out at 350 direct marketers, introducing an overseas expert speaker on email marketing.
The speaker’s first question was a classic.
“Please raise your hand if any of you receive any unsolicited or SPAM email messages”, he asked.
Nobody raised their hand.
“Well I suppose the spammers have yet to discover New Zealand. Don’t worry – it will only be a matter of time,” he quickly mentioned and moved onto the next slide to cover his predictions on how the use of email marketing would play out in this country.
How right he was. We all started to receive SPAM the next month and it has been arriving unabated since. Nevertheless, there were some positive points mentioned in Derek’s predictions that, like the growth of SPAM, have also eventuated.
Prediction No 1 – Most marketers will have a space for email in their business communications plan. If you want to deliver a short message to your customers within an even shorter timeframe, then email is the first choice. You can’t beat it when you want to tell thousands the same message in a morning.
Prediction No 2 – Email will allow your customer acquisition process to take on a whole new dimension. Now prospects can start to receive your communications by sharing just their first name and email address. This is a first step that most feel more comfortable with, rather than providing a phone number and physical address.
Prediction No 3 – Email marketing will drive down the cost of marketing communications. What took a marketing department two weeks to dispatch and cost a dollar per pack can now be sent in days for cents. No surprises that this revelation on its own seduced many to transfer a large majority of their communications into email when not all were fit for the task. However, marketers were quick to find out how little time customers have when it comes to consuming a 35 page brochure online.
These three statements highlight just a few ways that, since November 2000, email marketing has changed the way in which we think about implementing effective customer and prospect communications. There is always a part to play for email marketing in our customer’s lead generation and/or customer loyalty strategies.
The problems this type of work solves.
There’s a lot I can add here so here are just a couple to consider.
Customers forgetting about you and your service. “If only I knew you sold that as well THEN I would have purchased it from you and not your competitor.”
Your prospects failing to make a decision because of the lack of any ongoing communications that nurture them towards making a final commitment.
How it will make your site sell more.
Most websites are built for the prospect who wants to make a decision NOW. It should not surprise you that this represents a small proportion of your available market opportunity. Email marketing is for those that will say yes, but in the near future. In most cases there are more people in this group than you would initially imagine.
What needs to happen BEFORE this type of work is completed?
There’s a mix of technology, content and strategy within any successful foray into email marketing. Some clients arrive with none complete, others come with a couple – we help them produce the necessary detail in each to make a success of their future efforts.
What coaching content do we offer in this area?
There’s been a few. Try these areas:
Our Online Lead Nurturing Services
When it comes to research, the online space is hard to beat. Latest figures show that technology buyers conduct nearly 75% of their research/information gathering online, and nearly four out of five technology buyers search the web at least weekly for new information. Of those that find what they are looking for, 93% consider the information they found online to be of greater or equal value to the content they received through print, events etc. (Source: Knowledge Storm & Marketing Sherpa, 2007 Connecting Through Content Series.)
So, if you are not already active in online lead generation, now may be a good time to start. The prospect attention seems to be there – all ready and waiting to be tempted by some suitable content, which will ideally reward you for your efforts with a fresh new prospect lead.
For most of us the arrival of a new lead is cause for a celebration. Yes, that AdWords ad is working well or, perhaps, that copy change on the landing page is starting to hit its straps. You really are starting to master this lead-generation lark, you mutter under your breath – and you would be partly right.
You see, generating a lead is one thing – converting it into a customer is another. Frequently, I see that success at the first stage is not always translated into a similar level of achievement with the second. Of course, you are not expecting a 100% conversion rate between the two – not all leads have the same propensity to become customers. But still, there can be a wide difference between the total leads generated and the resulting customers converted for many businesses using the online space for lead generation. This is the area of focus of our Lead Nurturing services; contact us today if you would like more information on this solution area.