I received a direct mail postcard (yes, they still make those!) in my inbox this week — not my virtual inbox, but my trusty old snail-mail box. This was a piece I could pick up and hold. It was a well-designed card, quality print job, and it had a few nice things to say about a new product available at a well-known retailer.
As I looked at it, though, I began to wonder, “So what?” What was the marketer trying to get me to do as a result of receiving and taking the 10 seconds necessary to read the postcard?
With no obvious offer or call to action, I was stumped. Really. Was the expectation that I would hop in my ca, fight the traffic, and stop by said bricks and mortar retailer to buy something I wasn’t sure I needed without the promise of some sort of incentive, or did the marketer expect me to fire up my smartphone, tablet, or laptop to check for the item online?
What was the offer? Where was the enticement (there was no promo code or percentage off claim to be found)? If I was interested, what was my logical next step (other than helping the postcard find it’s final resting place in my paper recycle bin)?
About a year and a half ago, I wrote the blog, Taking the Lead: You Make the Call, which covered this very topic. Don’t make the mistake of capturing the attention of your target buyer only to fail to ask him or her to do something . . . anything. Without obvious next steps or calls to action, most times your sales message falls flat.
Read on . . . and enjoy!
Taking the Lead: You Make the Call
(Originally posted on February 19, 2014)
You or your marketing team has generated leads. You have foot traffic, phone calls, Web traffic and/or all of the above . . . but now what?
You’ve captured the attention of prospective customers, so what do you want them to do?
Many small business owners fail to make obvious calls to action—to ask prospects to do SOMETHING—either in-person or online that, hopefully, result in sales.
How many times have you visited a Web site that’s come up on a search for some product or service you have interest in, only to find there’s no obvious next step for you to take?
Sure, there’s some information on the site about the item or service, but you have questions. Is the product or service right for you? What do others think? Are there pictures, reviews, and testimonials you can look at? If you are interested in learning more, what are you supposed to do, where can you turn? Is there a person you can call or send an email? Is there a social media presence so you can see what others are saying? And just where is the site owner’s contact information?
Absent an obvious next step, many people click the proverbial back button or close their browser window altogether, neither of which is good for business.
Similarly, consider those brick and mortar locations we’ve all experienced. You know the places: you walk in looking for a particular item, but the store is not very well organized and there’s no one available to answer your questions—only the muffled voice of someone in the back on the phone.
What do you do? Do you take precious personal time to hunt high and low for something that may or may not be there, or do you shout out to the person in the back who seems more interested in having a personal conversation than in making a sale?
Chances are you’ll simply move on to some other venue that makes it easier for you to do business with them, where you’re greeted by helpful (not pushy) sales staff eager to assist . . . the kind of place you’ll return to in the future and tell others about.
When either a Web site or a physical storefront makes customers uncertain about how and where to find product or sales information, the sale is likely lost, and all the hard work attracting the lead goes for naught.
I’m not suggesting that every lead is a sale. Good conversion rates for retail are generally 3% to 5%, and for ecommerce somewhere in the 5% to 10% range. But not every lead needs to become a sale for you (and the lead) to benefit. A lot of good will gets generated through pleasant greetings, warm smiles, and can-do, helping attitudes.
Sometimes a lead simply shows up in the wrong place. That’s no reason to be rude or unhelpful. Whether face-to-face or by email or phone inquiry, you can pay it forward with a simple “how can I help” and offer suggestions on where the lead might go for the desired product or service. You’ll make a good impression and maybe, just maybe, that lead will come back when he or she does need your particular product or service.
Of course, if the lead HAS landed in the right place—either at your virtual or physical business location—then making engaging with you/your business as easy as possible is critical, whether as a paying customer or not.
As marketers, we all know that one-touch customers are rare. Usually, people need to hear from us at least 3 to 8 times before they decide to buy. Too often, we generate leads and then give our prospects an all-or-nothing sort of proposition: “Buy this product or service now . . . or go elsewhere.”
But what if you were to give your leads an opportunity to experience you/your service free of charge or at a low price point before committing to a bigger ticket item? What might your conversion rates look like then?
- If you sell a product, can you offer free samples or a low-cost, low-risk trial version?
- If you offer a service, is there a low-cost, no strings attached preliminary step people can take—an assessment, a survey, or some sort of free time-limited consult?
- Do you have value-added information you can share—a free newsletter, blog, useful tips, eBook, or report—that leads can’t get elsewhere and that they will perceive as valuable enough for them to give you their email address in return?
- Do you give leads a reason to engage with you on social media? Do you offer specials or promotional items through your social media presence, sufficient so that people will join your social media community and/or share your content with others?
In other words, do you make it EASY for your leads to take baby steps towards what you hope will be a bigger commitment and longer-term relationship in the form of buying a product or service you offer?
Put That Coffee Down!
Here are some tips for both physical and online venues:
- Keep it simple. Ensure your marketing message and sales messages are clear and in alignment so that you can meet or exceed customer expectations regularly.
- Make the experience easy. Whether walking in the door or visiting your home page, make the experience for customers easy. They should not have to think too hard to determine next steps or to respond favorably to your sales message in some way. Have your sales people look and act the part; if online, offer obvious paths and choices for more product information, reviews, etc.
- Provide “baby steps” in the form of low-cost, low-risk options so leads who otherwise might move on can experience your product or service without having to go “all in” with a long-term commitment or high-priced item.
- Make a call to action. Ask leads to take some specific action (i.e. buy, register, call, subscribe, etc.), and make taking that action as easy and as straightforward as possible.
- Engage visitors by giving them a way to say connected with you, either through social media or by subscribing to your blog or enewsletter. The more touches you have with a lead, the greater the likelihood he or she will become a customer. But remember, your content needs to demonstrate value so that leads will be willing to share their email addresses.
Grocery stores offer free food samples all the time. They’ve learned that while some people simply cruise the samples for free nibbles, many use the opportunity to trial something they might not otherwise buy. The same goes for wine-tasting, and you certainly wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive.
What about your business? What low-cost, low-risk options do you provide so that leads can experience what you have to offer by first “kicking the tires?”