Last week a prospective new customer came through to our offices to chat about an email campaign they wanted to run. Nothing new here – it happens all the time – the only issue was that they wanted the campaign to help them launch their software business.

They had built the product themselves, already had over 100 customers, and were keen to push ahead to grow this even more in the local market before targeting those overseas.

Someone somewhere had convinced him that email marketing was the cheapest way to grow a business. And, as the product delivered most of its benefits online, it seemed a simple task to send a list of prospects a message showing them the product in all its glory.

Apparently they knew of someone who could get them a list of prospects that filled their ideal customer profile so all they wanted from us was an email template and some technology to send the lead generation message on its way. I was asked how I would go about setting up such a campaign, the technology I would use and when I could start with a draft design. I took a deep breath before delivering my answer.

Email marketing can do some great things but unfortunately making the first contact in a lead generation process is not one of them. Firstly, being an illegal practice makes it a bit of a non-starter, but even so the process never worked before the Act came into force.

People need to be convinced and sold to when approached about a product they know nothing about. The scant few seconds of attention an email message attracts makes this process extremely difficult – if not impossible – to achieve.

There was stunned silence as I told the customer the news. I filled the gap with another suggestion, talking him through the classic lead generation process that people follow with this type of problem to solve. Firstly, the product was complex enough to need a good few minutes of the prospect’s time. The actual demonstration of what it did could be done in a few minutes – the real time would be taken up explaining how it was different from the other competing products and the new benefits users could now receive that they were missing out on by continuing to use the better known competitor.

To do all this justice we needed to get a document of sorts into the hands of a prospect. Someone had to author a few words that touched on the key points in a way that would entice this audience to part with their personal details in order to receive it. It needed to include content written with the prospect in mind rather than a thinly disguised sales document. Once produced this document would be presented on the website for prospects to receive. At this point I was given the site URL and shown what content was already there – things were not going too well – the copy needed work.

Yes, it explained all that the product could do in fine, accurate detail complimented with beautiful screen shots and screeds of text but there was something important lacking – benefits. The pages were packed with features – all the things the product did, but devoid of benefits – what the product could do for prospects.

Luckily there were some big differences in the types and amounts of benefits this product offered compared with others on the market so there was a lot of material to work with – it just wasn’t there. But even if we packed in all the benefits available, we were still lacking another important ingredient – emotion.

People buy for emotional reasons and justify their purchase using rational means. I don’t know how many times I have read this sentence or words like it in copywriting books but it was only when I saw with my own eyes the strong lift in response rate due solely to a more emotionally driven copy being used that I realised the statement was true.

Again the product had some great content to work with. It was used by people to solve a problem that had a whole raft of emotions wrapped around it. Fear, ego, pride – they were all there ready to be subtly leveraged to get the sales message across to convince people to either download the report or ask for an online demonstration.

Once I get going I tend to babble on a bit and the silence remained when I stopped at the ‘then you just need to find prospect traffic’ bit.

What had started out to be a simple email send was now a complex list of new tasks. Coffee helped to settle things down, as did a whiteboard that could print out the final process we scribbled together when mapping out what needed to be done, and by whom.

There’s no getting away from it, online lead generation is a complex process to set up. Fortunately, I was sitting across the table from a prospect who was: a) willing to listen while I gave some rather frank feedback on what he had achieved so far; b) keen to put the hard work in to move ahead; and c) pleasantly comforted by the Permission 100% money-back service guarantee. All the hard work is worth it once you have an offer that really resonates with your prospect audience. As an example, we received this testimonial from one of our lead generation clients a few weeks back.

€œThere have been times when we haven’t been able to cope with the amount of online sales leads Permission has generated for us.€ Graeme Norton, Select Cleaning, Auckland Area Manager.

Contact us today if you are interested in using this service yourself.

Once you install even the most basic of website analytics tools it will not be long before you are overwhelmed by the number of reports on offer and promptly underwhelmed by the amount of actionable information you now have at your fingertips.

However, one simple statistic that can have you reaching for your content management system to start making changes is the humble bounce rate – expressed as both an aggregate value over your website and as an individual value for each of the web pages.

A ‘bounce’ is calculated when a visitor comes to a page on your site, looks at it for a nominal small amount of time (a few seconds at most) and then leaves. It’s like you walking into a shop, looking around and immediately deciding, based on what you could see, that the shop wasn’t for you and promptly leaving – all within a few moments of arriving.

The statistic is shown as a percentage point. An aggregate bounce rate for a whole site should be between 20% and 40%. Some pages you would expect to have high bounce rates – ‘contact us’ pages, the ‘thank you’ pages from forms (in these cases people have completed their task and are ready to naturally move onto another site). Other pages with high values are revealing deeper problems that need attention.

To help you get to grips with this handy statistic I have come up with a brief overview of just four cases in which to put your bounce rate values to work.

Firstly, check the bounce rate on the web pages that greet your first time visitors. Search engines are re-defining the entrance points onto your website. The latest statistics I have reveal that over 70% of Internet traffic starts at a search engine. So while you may want everyone to start at the home page, there’s a good chance their visit could begin with the webpage that the search engine determines best matches their keyword search.

By checking which pages carry the most site entrance traffic you can avoid the common mistake of optimising the navigation and bounce rate of your home page (incorrectly thinking it is the page that carries the bulk of your inbound traffic) when the majority of your search engine traffic could be arriving at a poorly optimised product page deeper within your site.

Next, sort your high traffic pages by bounce rate – focusing on those with the higher percentages first. If there is no strong reason why people should be leaving (contact form or thank you page) then go to work on the content the page carries and the navigation options people can access.

Finally, if you are buying Google Adwords traffic for your site and you have Adwords properly configured to integrate with your website analytics tools then you can track the bounce rate of this traffic as a total and for each individual keyword you are bidding on.

Keywords that show a high bounce rate are either being delivered to the wrong pages on your sites or they are delivering prospects to your site who are looking for something else. Your choices are either to re-work your content or review why you are bidding on the term in the first place.

Each and every day people ‘bounce off’ your website and its pages because they are not happy with what they’ve found. You can’t please everyone but knowing the percentage of visitors that are willing to stay longer and where on your site they are more prone to bounce goes some way to ensuring you own an effective website.