Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

253% Increase in Web Page Contacts with One Little Test

The Optimized-Marketing laboratory is buzzing with new experiments, however the results from one test have been blowing us away…

Optimizing your website to convert more visitors to contacts is crucial!

Optimizing your website to convert more visitors to contacts is a crucial part of your web strategy!

The numbers are simply staggering. Almost unbelievable.

This test was run in 4 different states for 4 different businesses in the same industry and all produced the same winner at a statistically significant level.

Overall, the winner increased contacts an average of 253% over the control representing 200 more contacts per year for those 4 small businesses.

Did you catch that last part?

With no additional investment in TV, Radio, PPC, SEO, or any other form of advertising, combined those 4 businesses will have 200 more web contacts this year than without this test.

The answer is at the bottom.

The Unbelievable Power of Conversion Rate Optimization

This is the hardest thing for my team to explain to our clients because it just sounds ridiculous.

If the message on the page is the same and all the information is there, then why in the world would “minor tweaks” have such a drastic difference?

The answer to that has to do with a combination of eye movements over a web page, the “trigger points” of your visitor, and also understanding how to “optimize the thought process” of that visitor.

This is called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and Chis Goward has a great definition:

Conversion Rate Optimization is the science and art of getting more revenue-generating actions from the same number of website visitors.

Here are a few common aspects of CRO:

  • Optimizing page layouts based on eye movements from click-tracking data…
  • Optimizing the thought process of the visitor by presenting information in the best order to maximize the chance that she will contact you… (i.e. You don’t put a contact form at the top of a page if the visitor still has to be convinced to contact you.)
  • Optimizing the “flow” of visitors to direct them to the highest-converting pages…
  • Surveying visitors to learn what problems you can best solve for them…
  • Experimenting with all of these concepts to see what works best in the real world.

Conversion Rate Optimization is the most powerful tool available in the internet marketing world.

Imagine the potential improvement in all of your marketing if you KNEW scientifically which headline or offer generated more leads!

With that information in hand, you could now make your TV, Radio, direct mail and cross-marketing efforts more effective than ever before.

How much can your website truly grow and improve?

Most service-based business websites convert less than 10% of visitors to contacts (6-8% is on the high end). That means 9 out of 10 visitors leave your website without taking an action.

Increasing that to just 20%, 2 out of 10 visitors, is possible in almost every instance and we guarantee to at least double your contacts.

My team and I were joking recently that our business probably wouldn’t even exist if the ad agency for my water treatment business in New Mexico would have been able to tell me what to expect for a conversion rate and cost/contact for our marketing.

That lack of information is what kicked my engineering brain into high gear to figure out a way to use the internet to scientifically answer those crucial questions for small businesses.

Since then, we’ve learned how to take technology, science and expertise that Fortune 500 companies use, and bring it to small businesses.

But unlike those large companies with entire departments dedicated to the task, we’ve figured out how to do Conversion Rate Optimization for small businesses for as little as $400/month.

Optimizing your website isn’t a quick process because it takes mountains of data and bucket loads of testing but, over the long-term, it’s the most powerful way to get the absolute highest percentage of your website visitors to contact you.

The best part is, your competition has never even heard of this so you can be confident they aren’t doing it.

If you’re the first business in your market to learn how to scientifically get more leads per marketing dollar spent…

  • You can start bidding more for Adwords and for more keywords.
  • You can run more TV ads on more stations.
  • You can mail out more postcards.
  • You can increase the wallet share of your current customer list.

While your competitor is cutting back his marketing because “nothing is working”, you’ll be going full steam ahead because all of your marketing just keeps getting better and better results.

The Science of Conversion Rate Optimization applied to your website in just 15 minutes

The most eye-opening 15-minutes you may ever spend with your website will be on a Conversion Rate Optimization walk-through with one of our scientists.

You will “walk-through” your website with us step-by-step to learn where our research has proven you are scaring away good leads.

You are then welcome to compare that to one of our websites to see the “psychological tricks” we use to increase sales that most people would never even notice.

Fortune favors the bold so don’t be the last one in your market to have a CRO team on your side.

Carpe Diem!

To your conversion rate optimization success,

P.S. In this experiment, we moved the contact form from the sidebar into the body of the page. That’s it. The wording, form requirements, and other details were all the same, they were simply laid out differently.

Contact us for a 15-minute CRO walk-thru of your website. You’ll learn exactly where your website is bleeding away good leads.

How 1 sentence can increase web conversions 1244%

There are 2 ways to approach your internet marketing:

  1. Assume you know everything and can guess what your target prospects want to see.
  2. Assume you know almost nothing and need to test to learn what actually converts prospects to customers.

If you’ve ever worked with an Ad Agency or Web Designer you are probably intimately familiar with #1. Often you go through an interview process where your agency or designer asks about your business services and then either writes up the pages on your website for you or asks you to fill in the blanks.

This method is all based on guesses… You, your web designer, and your agency are all guessing at what headlines, calls-to-action, offers, designs, videos, images, contact forms and other things will result in you getting the most new customers.

What few people realize is that there’s a much more powerful way to generate leads with your website.

Let me give you an example…

Recently I was going through an analysis on one of our clients, as we promise to do every month, and found the phrase, “Best <local> Customer Reviews!” in a Google Ad increased our Click-Thru-Rate over the control by 32.5% but, more importantly, also increased our conversion rates by 1244%!

Both were at a statistically significant level.

One sentence in a Google ad, with traffic being sent to an optimized landing page, increased actual contacts 12-fold over our original ad.

How hard is it to create a sentence that generates a 12-fold improvement?

To learn that 1 sentence we tested over 130 different Google ads and about half a dozen different page designs over about 6 months. That’s only part of the story as we’ve tested over 1,000 different ads in that industry and have performed dozens of tests on different site layouts for similar businesses.

Keep in mind, the results in one part of the country are not always directly applicable in other areas of the country as you have different competitors, demographics, local problems, and knowledge levels.

So it’s not quick or easy.

However, imagine what those type of results look like over a year of testing and optimization! A few percent improvement each month can result in doubling your online contacts and cutting your cost/contact in half over the long term.

How does online optimization work?

The first step is breaking up your internet efforts into 2 sections for Equation

  1. Traffic – Where and how you’re getting visitors to your website.
  2. Conversion – How you’re converting the highest percent of visitors to contacts.

For a service-based business, your website’s job is to generate a contact. It’s your sales department’s job to turn that contact into a customer.

We break up your online game plan into Traffic and Conversion because both are necessary. If you have the best website in the world but no one ever visits it, or you have thousands of visitors but a low-converting website, then you’re throwing money out the window.

The traffic portion is relatively easy for people to understand…. It’s all those buzz words that have been thrown around for the last decade. Pay-per-click, Google Adwords, SEO, online directories, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn networking, email marketing and any other place you can run an ad to direct people to your website.

Conversion is all about getting the highest number of visitors to contact you. The most important part of this is your conversion rate which is defined by the percent of visitors who contact you.

Think of it this way… If you develop great marketing and give 10 leads/day to your sales person but he only converts 1 to a customer. Your Traffic is excellent but your Conversion, at a 10% conversion rate, is pretty poor.

If that happened in your office would you increase your marketing budget to get 20 leads/day or invest in training a better salesperson?

Obviously you are going to work on your salesperson first!

Well the same is true on your website. If out of 100 visitors only 4 people contact you (which is about average for most service industry websites) then why not figure out how to get 8 out of 100 to contact you before spending more on SEO or PPC?

That is what website conversion rate optimization is all about. Saving you money by learning what converts the highest percent of your website visitors to contacts.

According to a study done by Adobe, for every $92 marketers spend on Traffic they spend only $1 on Conversion.

Let me put this in more reasonable terms. If your marketing costs for a new lead are $92, to match the findings of this survey, you would then pay your sales person a $1 commission to close the deal!

Think of your website as your 24 hour salesman and you can start to see why investing in ongoing testing and optimization is a crucial part of your online strategy.

How to know if your agency or designer is focused on testing?

You don’t go to your accountant and say, “This is how much tax I’m paying, do the paperwork for me.”

The same should be true for your web guys.

If your web experts say, “Your website is done, let us know when you want us to update it“, then you have a problem. Unless you’re an expert at web analytics and testing, how will you know what needs to be updated or when?

My team, on the other hand, are the experts online and don’t expect that every sentence, graphic, formatting, color change, or call-to-action we’re testing needs to go through you first.

We work best when we test the ideas and then let you know what works and what doesn’t. It saves you a ton of time and allows us to put the results of all of our tests to work for you with minimal effort.

That’s the difference between a web designer and a team of optimization experts.

To your optimization success, Bryan


How much do your customers care about what you think?

In the past week I had a great opportunity to talk to dozens and dozens of small business owners about internet marketing and, in particular, their websites.

One of the most common things I would hear is, “I like this website” or “I don’t like that website.”

When I’d ask a business owner about his own website and whether he was happy with it, the majority of the time the response was, “Yeah, I like it, it looks pretty good.” Or, “I like it but it could use some updating. It looks outdated.”

My question was actually a setup because his opinion about his own website is irrelevant.

That’s kind of harsh for me to say, right?

After he would tell me his opinion on his own or another website I’d ask, “Do your customer’s or prospects care about what you think looks good?”

It was kind of a verbal punch in the nose so I had to repeat the question almost every single time.

In case you think that’s a trick question, let me make it simple.

NO – Your customers don’t give a hoot about your opinion of your own website.

Your opinion or preference or feelings about your website don’t matter a lick to the visitors who come to your site. You know what does matter? Their own opinions. All they care about is themselves and quite frankly, you’re the same way.

The problem is actually worse then that… Your opinion is not only not important, it could be outright harmful to your website’s performance.


Because you know too much and yet you don’t know enough.

You have the “curse of knowledge” so you already know all the jargon and slang and vernacular of your business. When you look at your website you understand exactly what each button and drop-down and description means. To you it makes perfect sense.

Beyond that you may not even be the target consumer. In other words, if you’re a 55-year old married male and your target market is 30-45 year old mothers, no matter how hard you try, you can’t see the world exactly through the eyes of those mothers.

So you know too much about your own product, but don’t know enough about your target customer to put yourself in her shoes.

So how do I know if it’s a good website?

There are only 2 ways to determine a great website.

  1. The conversion rate. Conversion can be defined in a number of ways but is generally local contacts divided by local visitors. In other words if you had 100 visitors and 5 contacted you, then the conversion rate would be 5%.
  2. Test and optimize the site. If you want to improve your conversion rate, you need to setup tests throughout your website to determine exactly what will catch your visitors’ attention and get them to take action.

So the next time someone asks you if you like your website, feel free to say,  “I love it!

Then when they ask you why, be sure to say, “because we have a conversion rate nearly double the industry average.

By-the-way, this is entirely true of all marketing. Unfortunately, testing which TV or Radio ad is resonating better with your target market is hard to do. So test out your marketing concepts and ideas online first, then take them offline.

It will save you a lot of time and money and will absolutely get you better results.

To your success in learning what really matters to your customers, Bryan

P.S. If you need help using your website to learn what motivates your customers, contact us at and we’ll either take over your current site or create a new one for you. Either way, your conversion rate will consistently improve.

Instantly Beef-up your Marketing Response AND Sales Conversion with a Rock-Solid Guarantee

Your typical “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” is now roughly translated as, “blah, blah, blah.” We’ve seen it so many times that our eyes glide past these types of Guarantees without a second thought. It’s trite and meaningless for everyone except for the guy looking to take advantage of you. But there’s a better way…

So if “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” is a weak guarantee, here are a few great guarantees I’ve come across:

We so firmly believe we can help you make a difference in your business that if we
cannot increase your gross profit by $1000 a month we will either refund your investment
back to you OR we will work with you at NO cost to you until your gross profit increases by
$1000 a month.” – Automotive Management Solutions

Lifetime Free Replacement Of Any Broken ASEPCO Tank Valve

– No Matter Who Broke It!

Top-Quality Product, or It’s Free!

Performance as Promised, or We Pay You!”

Asepco’s Unique Tank Valve Guarantee

If you want to get real creative, check out this guarantee that not only guarantees performance, it pays the consumer to report their results so the business can then use that “testimonial” in further marketing:

If you beat the best ad you’ve ever written, I’ll send you a $100 check and a congratulations letter.

If you can’t beat your best ad, I’ll send you a $100 check and an apology, plus a full refund of your $500 purchase price.” – Perry Marshall’s Marketing Swiss Army Knife

This last one is too long to copy onto my blog, but take a minute to read Reliance Home Comfort’s Guarantee.

So what do these guarantee’s do that our more anemic guarantee’s do not?

They improve  your marketing response and sales conversion, by doing 3 things:

  1. They are specific – One of the main powers of a guarantee is that people actually read them. So use that opportunity to guarantee the benefit/performance of your product or service. While your prospect is reading your list of guaranteed benefits, you are also conditioning them to experience those benefits. The placebo affect is alive and well. I’m not suggesting you should guarantee something “made-up”, I’m just using the placebo affect as an example of how a great guarantee can condition your customers to look for, appreciate, and tell their friends about all of the great benefits you have provided for them.
  2. They guarantee Benefits – In other words, your guarantee should include the advantages of your product or service to the consumer. All of the examples above guarantee the RESULT of using that company’s product or service. Don’t worry if your competitor’s product can offer the same results… Unless they guarantee it, you’ll be out-selling them in no time.
  3. “Risk-Free” – A great guarantee will help get the customer off the fence and prevent any buyer’s remorse. Why? Because if you don’t deliver on your written, specific, benefits-driven guarantee the customer should be able to get a replacement or refund.

After all that, there is one thing that all of these guarantee’s are screwing up.

Instead of writing a Guarantee, you should write a Promise. As you know I’m a big fan of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) so I’m not one to discount the power of a single word… And I must say, there is a massive difference in Guarantee vs. Promise.

Businesses offer Guarantees. Which means they are third-party, impersonal, and “profit-driven” because that’s how we naturally see a business.

In contrast, a Promise is highly and totally personal

You “Promise” yourself you will DO IT … whatever IT means.
You “Promise” your kid you will get him that baseball mitt.
You “Promise” your Mom you will be safe.

In other words, you, as the owner or leader in your business, are making a personal Promise to your customer that you will do what you say.

Can you feel how powerful that difference can be? I can sense the tingle in my spine as I extend my hand and look my valued customer squarely in the eyes to make this promise.

As I mentioned in my blog on Conversational Marketing, this personal touch is a HUGE advantage that we as small business owners can offer that major corporations can not. It may even be THE most powerful reason consumers choose small business so don’t ever waste your time doing marketing just to appear like your corporate competitor.

Think I’m getting too touchy, feely with this stuff?

Check out the book Emotion Marketing by Claire Brand. It’s backed up by decades of research done by some of the most respected national brands with the most loyal customers. One of these brands is Hallmark who has built the largest loyalty program in the world with over 12 million active members.

Hallmark determined that of all the ways you can measure customer loyalty, the best way to determine if your customer will be loyal is by how much they feel you care for them. Caring was twice as likely to predict future customer loyalty than any other factor they could measure.

If an organization with 5,000 locations in the US can make 12 million people feel that they care, isn’t it about time your small business focuses on doing the same thing.

To start showing that you care, write your Promise, today.

To your promised success, Bryan

P.S. As I was eating my yogurt this morning, I came across a personal Promise from Activa. “Love how you feel or your money back.” How’s that for promising a result?

Internet Marketing for Small Business – Commitment

In my Internet Marketing for Small Business series of blogs we reviewed the 3 pieces of your small business’ online presence:

  1. Traffic
  2. Website
  3. Commitment

We then discussed the 3 primary ways to get Traffic (Search Engines, Online Ads/Google Adwords, Viral Marketing) and of course reviewed videos explaining some basics of Viral Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and optimizing your Google Adwords campaigns. We most recently looked at some great tips for your website in my last blog.

The final piece to the puzzle and the item we’ll be reviewing today is the Commitment. The commitment is simply the visitors commitment to buy from you or to contact you for more information if you’re not selling any products online. Obviously we’ve been talking about the sales aspect of your website, not how it caters to current customers, so with that in mind, everything you do to your website should be geared towards that goal. Here are a few pointers for achieving that.

  1. Setup your website layout and design according to my last blog.
  2. Use the 4.5 points of marketing to address their questions and concerns.
  3. Offer them something for free in exchange for their email address.

Since the first 2 points were addressed in the last post, we’re solely going to focus on the third.

When buying a product, the primary reason people use the internet is to educate themselves by reading information about the product or service they are interested in. They may also be looking for the best value, but without knowing what makes a product or service valuable they’ll first have to educate themselves on that product or service. This is where you have the opportunity to set yourself apart. If you’re an online retailer, the best reason for someone giving you their email address would be to receive email notifications of special sales and promotions. However, if you’re a service or knowledge-based business, they can have many reasons for dealing with you. A few thoughts your prospect may have to consider would be:

  1. Your level of expertise – Can you fix their problem the right way the first time?
  2. Your history – If your business is less than 5 years old chances are you’re not going to be here in another 5 years.
  3. Your prices – Are they fair and reasonable for the services you deliver?
  4. Your credibility – What do your customers say/think about you?
  5. Your guarantee – If you turn out to not do what you told me, what do I stand to lose?

Now your website can do a great job of addressing most of that, however you need to hold something back. You need to not let the cat out of the bag on your expertise right away. Why? After all, that may be the most important thing to your client and what they NEED to know about you before making a decision. Exactly. Because of that, if setup correctly, your potential client will gladly give you their name and email address in exchange for you sharing some of your expertise with them. Read that sentence again and let it sink in for a minute. That’s your hook. If the rest of your website is setup in such a way to address the other 4 items (and any others you may determine your prospects want to know) then they’ll trust that you are an expert.

This is where you utilize an “opt-in”. An Opt-in is where your visitor opts-into your mailing list or newsletter. Obviously the key to getting someone to decide to sign up for your newsletter is to offer them your expertise for free in return. So once they opt-in, you email them a PDF or direct them to a web page where they can download a PDF providing your expertise. ( can get you started with this for free.) This would be in the form of an article, whitepaper, special report, expose’, or research paper addressing your expertise. For instance:

  1. For a law firm – “The top 10 cost-saving questions you need to ask before putting down a retainer for a lawyer.”
  2. For an accountant – “The top 10 things your accountant missed on your last tax return.”
  3. For a plumber – “How to know if your plumber is more interested in your pipes or your wallet.”
  4. For a an auto-body shop – “The quickest way to tell if your body-shop repair estimate is accurate or if the body-man has been spending too much time in the paint booth.”
  5. For a photographer – “The 5 things a photographer must do to get the best picture of you – that have nothing to do with the camera!”

You get the idea. The goal is to provide a topic that is relevant and important to your visitors. Here are a few guidelines:

  1. Make it generic – Don’t say “top 10 reasons to do business with us”. No one is going to give you their email in exchange for a sales pitch. They’re looking for a “free lunch” by learning from your expertise.
  2. Set it up to paint a picture that only your business fits – This is, of course, the power of this sort of marketing. It allows you to define exactly what the perfect lawyer, cpa, plumber, beauty salon, etc. should look like. Make sure only your business can fit that definition. This is part of the way you can build value to demonstrate that your prices are higher but your overall value is unmatched.
  3. Provide some real expertise – We’re all smart enough to see right through a thinly veiled sales pitch. This is the kind of thing that will help them decide to NOT do business with you.
  4. Make it simple – Lay it out with a list or graphs and make it conversational. Write this copy, as you should with all marketing copy, as if you’re sitting across the table from this person explaining to them exactly what you’re talking about.
  5. Promise not to sell their email – Unless of course you do plan to sell their email. But I don’t really recommend that.

Now some of the great internet marketers have learned that providing a PDF in exchange for an email only gets you so far. Instead they setup automatic email responder campaigns with the help of sites like This basically tells your visitor they’re going to receive some level of your expertise once per week for the next 4 weeks or something along those lines. This keeps you in touch with them constantly and helps you get closer to Jay Conrad Levinson’s claim that it takes 9 communications to make a prospect a customer. This is the reason gathering an email address is so important to begin with. If Levinson’s research is accurate, your chances of gaining a customer because of one visit to your website are pretty slim. However, if they visit your website and then you keep in constant contact with them via email, now the tide has turned in your favor. 😉

To your success in gaining a commitment with your website, Bryan

Internet Marketing for Small Business – Your Website

In my last 3 blogs we reviewed the 3 pieces of your small business’ online presence:

Chichen Itza - the 7th Wonder of the World. Is your website this complex?

  1. Traffic
  2. Website
  3. Commitment

We then discussed the 3 primary ways to get Traffic (Search Engines, Online Ads/Google Adwords, Viral Marketing) and of course reviewed videos explaining some basics of Viral Marketing and Search Engine Optimization for Small Business. We then looked at some of the best tips for optimizing your Google Adwords campaigns in my last blog.

This time around we’re going to take a closer look at your website. From my last 3 blogs you have a lot of great ways to get people to your website, but how do you know your website is any good? Let’s break this into 3 sections:

  1. Goal of your website
  2. Content
  3. Layout
  4. Tracking or Analytics

1. Goal of your website – This is so important to understand as I think most people never even consider this point. For most people they have a website because they’re supposed to have a website and then they leave it at that. That’s not at all true, the goal of your website is to sell something! Since my small business is service-based, my goal is to sell an appointment or, in other words, get the potential customer to contact us. For other businesses the goal is to sell a product directly online. If you fail to sell your product or appointment via your website your secondary goal should be to collect your visitor’s contact information for future marketing. We’ll discuss basic ways to do that in the future.

2. Content – Since your goal is to sell your visitor something, the content of your website should be geared to do just that. How do you accomplish that? You answer all the questions that might prevent them from buying from you. That’s what your content MUST do if your customer is ever going to make a commitment to purchase from you. Here are the basic points you must cover in any marketing to earn a customer. I call these the 4.5 points of successful marketing:

  1. What problem can you fix for me? – Address and detail their problems to demonstrate that you understand their needs.
  2. Is your solution the best? – Explain how your solution to their problem is the best solution available.
  3. Why should I work with your company? – Compare your business to your competition to show how ONLY your business can meet their needs and requirements.
  4. Why do I need your solution now? – Dollarize their potential losses by not having your solution so they understand that every month, week, day or hour that they wait they’re losing money by not working with you.

4.5. What am I risking? – Make the process of either buying from you or contacting you for an appointment as risk-free as possible.

The biggest negative business owners point out to me when addressing these points is that now their competitors can see their whole “sales pitch”. My response to that is firstly, so what? They’re going to find it one way or another anyway. Secondly, if your business and product can’t highlight enough advantages, benefits, and differences to make it IMPOSSIBLE for your competitors to steal your sales pitch then you need to go back to the writing board and come up with better copy and/or a better business plan.

3. Layout – In the online world you basically have 4 types of websites:

  1. Complex – You have graphics and videos and Flash programming and javascript drop-down menus and somewhere amongst the entertainment you may even address some of your customer’s questions or needs.
  2. Simple – You list your business name, phone, address, a short About Us, a Contact Us page and maybe even a bit about your products. These websites do nothing more than provide contact information for people who already want to do business with you. Most visitors, however, don’t care about you until you educate them on how you can make their life better.
  3. Corporate – Every major corporation has one of these. It has all the standard pages for Contact Us, About Us, Investor Relations, Products, Store-Finder, etc. etc. It answers a few questions of the 4.5 points of successful marketing but often is bordering on the too Complex described above.
  4. Long-winded – These are those scrolling 1-page sales pitch websites that you just hate to visit. However the truth is, these are some of the best tracked, best-designed, best-selling websites in existence. Millions upon millions of dollars in internet fortunes have been made through this style of website. These designers have often done their homework and tweaked their website sales-machines to perfection so don’t write these off as unprofessional or ineffective. An unprofessional website is the one that doesn’t generate sales – nothing more.

So how do you optimize your site to generate the best results without getting too far off-track like the site descriptions above?

  1. Make it EASY to contact your business. Their should be a phone number, email, and/or contact us button on every page so that it’s visible at all times.
  2. Never make anything more than 2 menu’s deep (unless you sell millions of products). This is a lesson learned from the “Long-winded” guys. You can’t direct people through the 4.5 points of successful marketing if you have too many clicks. People want their questions answered right away and in a logical progression and if they have to click through more than 2 menus deep to get those answers they’re much more likely to leave.
  3. Relate your pages to each other. I was just searching for car parts for my 2008 Mitsubishi Evolution X on a performance parts website. The website had some awesome Youtube videos of their 10 second Evo with a listing of the parts they sell and used on that car. Only problem was the list of parts didn’t link back to the spot where I can buy the parts. After 30 minutes of navigating around I’m still not sure if the parts I found were the same ones they used on their own car! The point is, don’t make every visitor have to go back to your home page to find what they need. If you reference another product, idea, or reason to do business with you on an individual page, you better have a link to your reference.
  4. Provide testimonials. You can say all you want about your solutions and business however that never has the same effect as third-party testimonials from your customers. If your website doesn’t have those, start gathering them right away. Gathering testimonials is literally as simple as asking for them so be sure to ask!

4. Tracking or Analytics – Since we’re all looking for the simple answer let me give you just that. The most important performance number for your website is your conversion rate. This is the number of customers created divided by the number of visitors. In other words, if you have 100 visitors and 4 bought from you (or scheduled an appointment for a service-based business), your conversion rate would be 4% (4/100). Some benchmarks for conversion rates by industry are available courtesy of where the current internet average conversion rate is 4.3%. It’s also helpful to talk to other people in your specific industry if possible. As a point of comparison, my conversion rate in the 4th quarter of 2009 was 6.5% for my local service-based business. In a future blog we’ll discuss ways to really analyze your Google Analytics stats to determine how to improve your conversion rate.

To your website’s selling success, Bryan

P.S. Here’s another short article about website design by Barry A. Densa at that I think is very appropriate.

How to fix your business FAST – Part 4 – Improve Marketing and Sales

For most businesses I’ve encountered, the greatest improvement in marketing would simply be to start tracking your ROI. In other words, you need to know your cost/lead and cost/sale for each marketing project. I address this concept in detail in my blog on Scientific Advertising.  Keep in mind that simply asking your customers “how did you hear about us?” can be somewhat futile (though it’s better than nothing). Michael Corbett suggests simply watching your sales to see if they go up with your current marketing or stay flat. To me that seems like a rather unscientific approach since that doesn’t tell you which marketing produced the results and there are  more factors than marketing alone that can affect sales.

There are a handful of marketing books in my Recommended Reading section, in addition to My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, so I’m not going to directly address the difference between good and bad marketing. After all, no one knows exactly what will generate the best response until it’s tested and measured.

That being said, here are a few marketing pointers in addition to knowing your numbers:

  1. Have a Unique Selling Proposition that sets you apart from all of your competitors. In other words, create a niche only you can fill.
  2. Know and understand your target audience. You can have the best offer, and the best advertisement in the world, but if it’s directed to the wrong audience you’ll get zero results. Spend the most marketing time on getting your message to the right people!
  3. Keep a detailed customer database so you can cross-market constantly. If someone has bought from you once before, they are MUCH more likely to buy from you again. If you don’t have a database (or your not using the one you have) change that immediately!
  4. Offer a guarantee. If your products are either more expensive than most, or can’t be touched by the consumer prior to purchasing (such as with internet sales) you MUST have an iron-clad guarantee to assuage their fears. This must demonstrate that you’re the best and the customer has nothing to risk.

Since we’re looking for quick fixes, I’m going to stop the list there. If you do those things, you’ll notice results almost instantly.

On the sales side, you need to again, learn your numbers. Am I getting that point across fully yet? 🙂 Whether you realize it or not, in your sales cycle, there are many steps. Let’s take a retail clothing store for example. What are the steps a shopper takes?

  1. Window browsing – How do we get them to actually walk into the store? A lot of retailers put up blinds behind the window manequins so people have to actually walk in to see what else is available.
  2. Entering the store – How do we get them to spend time looking around? Depending on your clientelle, music can make a huge difference as to whether they hang around a while or not.
  3. Perusing certain racks or aisles – How do we get them to see the most we have to offer? Most retail stores put the clearance and discounted rack at the back so you have to walk all the way through to find the great deals.
  4. Trying clothes on – How do we get them to go to the dressing room? Keep in mind, people can only try on or buy as much as they can physically carry. Make it easy for customers to carry more with helpful sales associates and people will buy more. Paco Underhill addresses this in magnificent detail in Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.
  5. Buying – How do we get them to come back? Are we getting their name and email address for our database?

So why do we break that up into so many steps? Because if you don’t, you have no idea which steps you need to improve. I’ve heard of a retail store that learned that around 80% of people who try something on will buy it. So they didn’t work on directing people to the cash register, they worked on getting potential customers to the changing rooms.

Every business has a series of steps in their sales cycle. You need to learn and track each of those steps for your business and then systematically improve the conversion rate for each one.

That was  a retail environment, so let’s consider a service based business. What possible steps do we have for them?

  1. Inquiry – via phone, web, or walk-in
  2. Service Pitch/Presentation – Are you skipping this step? If people call your plumbing business and ask what it costs to unclog a toilet, do you just tell them or do you first tell them why you are their best option with your guaranteed time, flat-rate billing, and professional staff?
  3. Price Quote/Estimate – Are you building value along with this quote (particularly if it’s in writing) to back up your pricing?
  4. Commitment to Purchase – If the commitment isn’t made immediately are you leaving them PLENTY of information to convince them you’re their best option? My business has a 24 page “leave-behind” packet for just such instances.
  5. Delivery of Service – Are you delivering exactly what you said? Particularly if you only get paid once your service is complete.
  6. Payment – Do you have simple payment options and are you asking for payment immediately upon completion so as not to tie up your office staff trying to collect money?
  7. Follow-up – Did you get their name, phone, address, and email for your database? Did you call or visit them again after completion to make sure they were completely satisfied? Did you ask for testimonials or referrals?

As you can see, there are a lot of steps in this process as well and at any step along the way you can lose potential clients. That’s obviously why tracking the number of customers who make it to each step is so important!

A couple of things you can do to help improve each step in the process:

  1. Have excellent training for each person involved in sales including detailed scripts, role-playing, and NLP training.
  2. Incentivize and develop some competition. People like to know someone else notices that they are the best at what they’re doing.
  3. Have an outside company shop your business and report back what they find.
  4. Record phone calls, conversations, and customer interactions (after checking with your lawyer of course) to look for opportunities for improvement.
  5. Provide on-hold and/or in-store marketing over the speaker system. I know the “blue-light” specials weren’t enough to save Kmart, but I’m not claiming that’s all you need to do for your business either. 😉
  6. Create your story portraying your commitment to customer service, quality, community involvement, and excellence. Make it available in your store, restaurant, business, and on your website. People love buying from places where they feel a part of something.
  7. Include testimonials everywhere! Put them in your store, on your website, in your marketing, on your thank you cards… heck, you can even put them on your receipts.

In my experience with over 100 small businesses, I don’t know of anyone, myself included, who is doing all of these things well. In my defense, I do know what I have to do and one-by-one I’m crossing them off of my list.

We’re on Part 4 right now so you should have quite a long To-Do list written down, right? If not, go get a piece of paper and a pen, review my last 4 blogs and start writing. After I post my last blog on this topice (Part 5) you’ll now have a complete list that you can prioritize and start addressing.

To your sales and marketing success, Bryan

Shopping yourself – The best way to improve your business' conversion rate?

By shopping yourself, I simply mean determine exactly what your customers experience, record it, and review it to determine areas for improvement.

Paco Underhill actually wrote a great book titled, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, that talks about much of what he has learned through his Mystery Shopper business. His book and experiences are all geared toward improving retail closing ratios or conversion rates. In other words, he wants to figure out how to get the highest percentage of people to buy the most often. He doesn’t help with marketing or lead-generating in the sense that he helps get people into the stores, his business simply specializes in converting those people who have made a trek to your store into customers (or repeat customers).

Why do you NEED to invest so much time and money into your conversion rate? Because leads are expensive! In my business, leads cost around $78. In other words, to get someone to call me and be interested enough in our products to provide their name and contact information costs me $78 per call ($159 per call for Yellow Page contacts).  To convert those to sales costs me around $268. So right now I’m converting 1 out of every 3.5 prospects who call me into customers. As you’ll learn, these numbers are never perfect and this doesn’t include people who call me for service of existing equipment or to purchase ancillary products. This is simply the people who don’t have anything I offer right now and want it.

Now what do I stand to gain from increasing our conversion rate? Potentially thousands of dollars in revenue and profit. Since some of my new customers are rentals (or equipment leases) and some are sales it’s hard to get an exact “average dollar sale” of my new customers however here’s how it breaks down for new customers in 2009:

  1. Average new sale – $3798
  2. Average new monthly rental/lease – $52.78

Roughly 24% of new customers are rental/leases but let’s ignore that for a minute to keep the math simple. If I can increase my conversion rate for sales by 10% so that 1 customer buys for every 3.15 people who call (instead of every 3.5) that would have added about $32,283 to my business this year. In addition, though my cost per lead would remain the same at $78, my cost per sale would drop to $249 ($241 if I assume a 10% increase for both sales and rental/leases). To say that an even simpler way, increaseing my conversion rate by 10% results in a direct increase in gross profit of 10% on all of my sales. Not bad. And don’t forget we just increased our top line revenue at the same time so my actual Net Profits just increase by much more than 10%.

In the past I’ve reviewed how to increase your conversion rate. Since I’m always looking for new ways to do that, I’ve bumped into Paco Underhill’s book and into a company called teleXpertise. teleXpertise does the same thing that Mr. Underhill’s company does except they do it over the phone. They’re phone mystery shoppers and I must say they’re very good. Their recorded calls with your sales people will tell you a whole lot about the efficiency of your sales process. My business model requires onsite inspections before quoting prices so our process can be quite lengthy from the first call to a closed deal. Keep in mind that every interaction with the customer is a potential step where they can be lost forever however each step does not result in a sale… So each and every step has to be improved. To clarify what I mean by “steps” you’ll want to check out my blog on increasing your conversion rate.

Let’s talk a bit more about how they can help you increase your conversion rate by evaluating what I’ve learned. Keep in mind that I have my sales phone calls scripted and have gone over individual training with all of my team members on how to handle sales inquiries and the following still came up:

  1. Answering questions that we didn’t know the answer to. (though we thought we did)
  2. Not asking for the caller’s name or contact information (including email).
  3. Answering questions that we shouldn’t (because they’re based on what information we gather from an onsite inspection)
  4. Quoting exact prices over the phone
  5. Not using proper NLP techniques
  6. Didn’t always ask about what prompted them to call us

And what we did right:

  1. Cross-sold products (i.e. they called asking about X and we told them about Y)
  2. Tried to set the appointment with the customer (several times)
  3. Returned the customer’s inquiry within minutes (our lead catchers don’t set appointments our sales people call the customer back to set the appointment)
  4. Upsold products (i.e. they called about a service we didn’t offer and we suggested a better alternative)
  5. Differentiated ourselves from our competitors

So you can look at this information in 2 ways.

  1. After all that training we still did more things incorrectly than correctly so we suck (me in particular as the Team Leader).
  2. After all that training we still did more things incorrectly than correctly so just look at how much more money we could make if we always did things correctly!

Obviously I focus on the latter. It’s one thing to do the right thing by training and scripting, but it’s just as important to constantly train and improve. What was most surprising to me was I didn’t tell a single person on our team that we were using mystery shoppers until after they were done.  When I did tell them their conversations were being recorded they weren’t at all mad about it, they were actually excited to hear themselves. This may be partially because I set the bar for myself to constantly improve so I’m not asking them to do anything they haven’t seen me do over and over again and I stressed that before I told them what was going on. I also let them know how much we pay for leads so they can get a grasp of just how valuable each and every call is. The best part, however, was that they were very receptive to improvements and looked forward to doing better next time. That’s right, I assured them their would be a next time… 😉

To your increased conversion rate success, Bryan

P.S. As an additional note, if you’re buying a business you should definitely Mystery Shop the business ahead of time. If they did more right than wrong you may want to look for a different business. If they have a LOT of room to improve that might be the perfect business for you. Keep in mind that you prefer to buy businesses that just need to tweak the front end.

How to increase your conversion rate by 10% in the next 30 days…

No matter what business you’re in, if people have to buy something from you, there is a sales process. If that process involves them walking past your store or entering, that’s a step in the process. If it involves them browsing through stock or trying things on, those are steps. The following material was used as a bit of an educational marketing piece for a company I worked for but it applies to every business everywhere. 🙂


No matter what you’re selling there is a step-by-step process that takes place from initial contact to completed install. Each step in the process presents an area where you can be losing prospects who are ready and willing to pay you, but unfortunately you haven’t done the best job of helping them learn that!


Here’s the idea. There are 3 main areas to improve in your sales process:

  1. The script

  2. The person

  3. The system (i.e. are we following up? are our materials effective?)


And each of those areas can potentially be improved for each step in your sales process… So if you’re sales process has 6 steps, then there are possibly 18 different areas you can improve. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t stop reading yet!



the ONLY way to determine your weak areas AND make an educated decision on how to improve them is through detailed tracking for at least 2-4 weeks.


Ultimately you should be tracking every lead with this level of detail FOREVER to make sure no weak-links pop-up down the road.


So here’s my 8 step process for plugging those holes and increasing your closing ratios to the best they’ve ever been in the next 30 days.

  1. Write out the steps in your sales process. From the initial phone call, email, or trade show contact to the post-install request for referrals write down every single step. Your steps may look something like this:

    1. Initial Contact: Telemarketing, Call-in, incoming email, fair/trade show sign-up

    2. Call-back: Phone call to set appointment, Email response to inquiry

    3. Confirm: Call to confirm.

    4. Appointment: In-home presentation

    5. Follow-up:

    6. Schedule Install

    7. Install:

  2. Write down the possible results for each step. “Cancel” is NOT a specific enough result. It’s better than nothing, but the goal is to determine “Why did they Cancel?” and address that issue. For instance:

    1. Initial Contact: We’ll call you back, Too expensive, Just gathering information, Appointment Set

    2. Call-back: Call me back later, I’ll call you once I check with my spouse/mom/dog, Too expensive, Appointment Set

    3. Confirm: X was here yesterday and we’re going to go with them, Too expensive, An emergency came up, We’ll be home and waiting!

    4. Appointment: Too expensive, Have to ask my spouse/mom/dog, Think we’re just going to go with X instead, I don’t think we need that right now, Sounds great sign me up.

    5. Follow-up: Credit was turned down, Sign us up!, Check Bounced, Credit Card denied, We changed our mind.

    6. Schedule Install: If you are losing leads at this step, look at the time from the previous step to the install date. You may need to look at working non-standard hours to get installs taken care of right away.

    7. Install: Looks and works great!, Emergency came up and we can’t be home, We changed our mind

  3. Make a flowchart of the steps. The flowchart is very helpful for showing everyone each step and to help you to setup your software for tracking. Notice that all of the items above in italics are reasons a step becomes a dead lead. All of the other results from above are what leads to the next step. Reference the Sales Flowchart example below:

    1. They sign up and you have to get “Credit Approval”
    2. They sign up and pay with cash, a check, or credit card so you “Schedule the Install”

    3. You have to “Follow-up” with them

    4. They’re not interested and it becomes a “Dead Lead”

  4. Example Sales Flowchart

    Notice how it can get a bit tricky. If you look at the “Appointment” step you have 4 options:

  5. Make a list of all of your lead sources. If you’re going to put all this effort into tracking your leads you might as well track the lead source to answer 3 questions:

    1. Did that lead source pay for itself with after sale profits?

    2. What is the acquisition cost of that lead/customer? (maybe it paid for itself but other sources have a lower acquisition cost and therefore generate better profits)

    3. Are there any steps in our sales process where we’re losing a lot of people from this source?

  6. Track every lead. If you have to, funnel every lead through a specific “Sales Coordinator” in your office or be sure to train everyone. Just make sure your tracking everything – Including those referrals that are going directly to your sales representatives. At a minimum, you NEED to track the following information for each lead:

    1. Name

    2. Phone or email (you need to be able to contact them somehow)

    3. Person in your office who spoke with the prospect (this is the only way to determine if your weak link is a person)

    4. How they heard about you (i.e. lead source)

    5. If they’re no longer interested, WHY NOT? If you believe you have a great product that you KNOW will help them you should be shocked that they’re no longer interested and ask.

  7. Make sure EVERY lead gets input into a spreadsheet or database so you can get quick/accurate results on each lead. This is where simple to use database can make huge improvements in your business! Let’s face it, the first 4 steps are relatively easy. You’re a responsible and effective owner or sales manager and you can put the steps, results, and flow chart together. However the people in your office who are tracking lead information may not be quite as dedicated as you… Therefore the process MUST be simple to track and input. Moreover, since you’re already wearing 10 hats, its very important that managing this process is simple for you. 🙂

  8. Analyze the data. Determine the weak step (i.e. from step #1). You determine the weak step by looking at the step prior to it becoming a “Dead Lead.” For instance, if after the initial “Call-back” they say they’re not interested, your weak step was the “Initial Contact” and/or the “Call back”. Now to determine the weak link (script, person, system) you have to look at the REASON they became a dead lead. Not Interested will never tell you the weak link! Too expensive, husband says our water is fine, we already bought from X competitor, are reasons that allow you to start addressing the weak link. Obviously, you also need to record which person handled the “Initial Contact” and which person handled the “Call-back” to determine if it’s a people-problem.

  9. Plug the hole. Improve the weak link. How do you do that? Simple. You make a change, test it for the next few weeks and measure the results. Be careful to only make ONE CHANGE AT A TIME PER STEP or else you won’t know which change made the difference. Your change may be additional training for the person, improvements to the script, or a better method for tracking follow-up within your sales process.


    Rinse and Repeat. Once you stop tracking each lead your closing ratio starts to go down immediately.

To your success, Bryan