Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

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 I learned to LOVE making mistakes and being wrong

At one point in my life I was a 21 year old male and it might be fair to say I was a bit, uh, cocky.

One of the reasons was because I had a blast racing the Formula racecar my college buddies and I built to do 0-60 MPH in 3.2 seconds and pull over 1 lateral G. (For the non-engineers, that means it took turns faster than a Z06 Corvette.)

It was about that time that a little software program taught me the power of being wrong.

You see, my responsibilities for our Formula SAE racecar as Engine Team Leader were to make sure our car was fast AND reliable. (Learning the reliable part was a humbling experience but a story for another day.)

Kettering University FSAE 2004 Dyno Run

Dyno run of Kettering's 2004 FSAE Car - I'm on the right in the backwards hat holding the laptop.

At the start I knew very little about engine design as my upperclassmen Chris, Tim, and Jason could fully attest. I bombarded them constantly with questions. I also raided our school library to find anything I could about engine operation.

My university made some very sophisticated software available to me to simulate how various changes to the engine would result in more or less power.

Based on the help of my more senior team members, and the books I’d been devouring, I now had enough basic theories about engine design that I could start plugging various design parameters into the software.

You see, the way the software worked was a bit tricky… You couldn’t just say, “Make me the most powerful 600cc engine possible,” and let the software spit out the answers.

You had to actually tell the software exactly which part of the engine to change. So, for instance, you might have to change the size of the exhaust to determine which diameter would result in the best performance. (FYI, bigger is not always better.)

Think of it this way… Right now you’re sitting at your computer. Let’s say it starts working slowly and web pages aren’t loading up real well. Well there’s no software out there that will just “fix” that problem.

It might be your web browser, the website’s servers, your internet connection, a virus, spyware, or another program running in the background and you have to try each one to see which is causing the problem. It might even be several problems at once.

That’s kind of how you design a car engine. You know you want it to go faster, you just have to figure out which areas to tweak to speed it up.

Ok, so I’d put in these various parameters for intake and exhaust design and then the software would test out one configuration and then report back to me how much power and torque that particular configuration would produce.

Over time I’d run hundreds and hundreds of different configurations to find the best combination.

And here’s the thing…

My idea of what should have produced the best combination of performance was often wrong.

Now as our Team Leader, Travis, used to say, “we’re engineers not scientists.” Which meant, we work in the real world not a perfectly controlled lab, so my computer simulations weren’t the final word – they were just the starting point.

To get the full picture, we actually had to get an engine, strap it onto a dynamometer (device used to measure engine power kind of like you use a scale to measure your weight), and build a test rig to test our simulated ideas in the real world.

You know what happened?

The real world taught me once again the beauty of being wrong. The dyno testing showed that some things that worked really well on the computer (like a large intake plenum) had serious limitations (like horrible throttle response) in the real world.

Ultimately the result of being wrong, admitting it, and then quickly moving forward was a phenomenal engine package.

Our primary race was an autocross-style road course for 30 laps that required even power delivery over a large RPM range.

At competition when we were on the dyno testing our car in front of the other teams, a bystander remarked, “that’s not a torque curve, that’s a torque plateau!

That was EXACTLY what we were looking for!

That appreciation for being wrong and getting better because of it, is exactly how my internet marketing business approaches website design.

  1. Strong Base theory with the Marketing RoadMap – Just like I had to know what parameters to put into the engine software, marketing requires an equally strong base on how people think and interact with websites, Google Ads, and search engines.
  2. Testing at every step in the marketing process – On the car engine we tweaked every item air touched from entering the engine till leaving the muffler. In internet marketing, we test and optimize every step from the words your target customer is typing into Google, to the ad we show them, to the page they land on, to the places they click on the landing page, to the contact form that generates the lead. Every place your prospect visits is monitored, tested, and improved.
  3. Real world feedback – The first month that we launch a new website is the absolute worst for performance. Why? Because at that point everything is theory. Some of it can be based on what has worked in the same industry in other parts of the country however no 2 markets are the same so what works in one city very often doesn’t work as well in another one. So we start with our best guess at what will work and then slowly but continuously improve. For your market we learn exactly what is important to website visitors by analyzing search terms, clicks, and online surveys.
  4. Mistake Loving – Maybe I’m not quite as arrogant as I may have been at 21, however we do know our process is the absolute best available. The way we know this is that we openly admit when we make mistakes. When we make a mistake, we analyze WHY our theory was wrong and then we improve your website or advertising the next time around. We even tell you what we learned so you can apply the same lessons into your offline marketing.

Maybe some advertisers, web designers, or internet marketers you’ve chatted with believe they just know what will work to convert your website visitors to customers.

Well don’t be too hard on them.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I used to think I knew what would work too.

Now I know better.

To your mistake-loving success, Bryan

P.S. If your business could use some help improving internet lead-generation and you appreciate our unique approach, contact us at

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.

The Top 19 Myths of Internet Marketing for Small Businesses

Whether it’s SEM, SEO, or website design, there are a lot of Myths about internet marketing that just don’t hold up to testing so let’s tackle the top 19.

Keep in mind these myths are for service-based small businesses with the primary goal of generating leads. For e-commerce, current customer portals, forums, blogs and other types of websites the answers will be different.

  1. You need to be #1 on Google. In reality, the cost/click to be #1 for all pertinent keywords is generally not cost-effective. My recent blog on Adwords Marketing addresses this in detail.
  2. The goal of a website is to get people to spend time on it. For a service business the goal is to generate a lead and you have about 90 seconds to do that. Sites that get paid based on the ads they show have different goals and lots of time on site is one of them. But you’re not Facebook.
  3. You can save money by putting a phone number in your Google Ad. There’s plenty of proof that this a myth. Google only makes money when you CLICK on an ad so why would they let you put a phone number in an ad if that meant they were going to lose money? They wouldn’t because they test these things.[Edit: In June 2013 Google banned ads with phone numbers so, like all internet marketing, never stop testing. The results may change.]
  4. Google Adwords and SEM is easy. Of every topic I mention in this post, without reservation I would claim that GREAT Google Adwords marketing is the most complicated and time-consuming thing you can do. Not only do you have to choose keywords, you have 5 different types of keywords to work with and 4 different ad types. You have to choose where to market, who to market to, what sites to market on, what problem a customer typing in a certain keyword is actually trying to solve. Dr. Glenn Livingston did studies showing a person searching for “guinea pig”, “guinea pigs”, and “guinea pig care” are all looking for vastly different things and are at different levels in the buying cycle. Then of course you have to understand how to setup scientifically sound tests to actually determine what’s working and what’s not. That’s just the beginning…
  5. You need to invest in more traffic (SEO and SEM). For most websites you first need to invest in converting more visitors to leads. For instance, if your current website converts 3% and you bump that up to 4.5% that’s the equivalent of getting 50% more traffic at no extra cost. (Our best sites in 2013 were converting over 25% in their target market.)
  6. The best way to increase conversion is with a better offer. This could be true however our testing indicates that this is rarely the case. When we create a site with multiple calls-to-action such as “contact us”, “schedule an appointment” and “special offers” almost always the “special offers” gets the least traffic. Your site could perform differently, though.
  7. A video on your website will increase conversion. Generally this is true, however a company that helps people organize their closet space did tests on a lead-capture page with and without a video and found a 439% increase in conversion WITHOUT a video. Does this mean video is bad? Of course not. It just means that there are a lot of other factors to consider.
  8. I need to let my web designer know what to update. That’s like your accountant saying, “hey just let me know how much tax you have to pay this year and then I’ll fill out the forms.” Huh? Your web designer should be saying, “Hey Bob, we just found out that <this> performs better than <that> so add <this> to your next postcard campaign.
  9. You need to follow “best practices” to get the highest conversion. Bottom line is that there’s no such thing. I’ve used the exact same website in the exact same industry in multiple areas in the US and got vastly different results. Sure there are things you absolutely don’t want to do (like riddle your page with typos), but overall, you don’t know until you test.
  10. A great website is all about great content. If you are Wikipedia, of course this is true. If you’re Bob’s Plumbing, then a great website is about giving the customer what he wants; his plumbing fixed quickly and at a fair price. He doesn’t need a video and step-by-step tutorial about how you’re going to do it. Remember, you only have 90 seconds.
  11. A website is going to cost me a lot of money up-front. This is an idea I seriously disagree with. Since great websites can’t be built, they have to be tested, then what in the world are you paying for up-front? A designer’s guess at what your visitors might want to see? Is that really a good investment?
  12. What works in one market for an industry will work in another. In other words, buying a pre-made website for your business doesn’t guarantee the best performance. Every market is unique because you have different income levels, education levels and competition. This basically falls under the category of “best practices” in #9 and they don’t exist.
  13. My website will some day be “done.” If by done you mean it’s now done improving so we’ll leave it alone and watch it’s performance decrease, then I guess it can be done. Otherwise it’s about as done as regular maintenance on your service trucks. Stop servicing your trucks and they stop working. Same thing with your website.
  14. Testing and optimizing for a small business is just too costly. Our plans start at $399/month. That’s dirt cheap for the value you get.
  15. You’ll never be able to fully track or understand how your marketing generates leads. This is what I like to call the “we don’t want to be held accountable” sales pitch. The human mind is indeed a wonderfully complicated thing that we are just barely beginning to understand. However it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out more visitors prefer Graphic A over Graphic B so chances are pretty darn good we’ll get a better response with our offline marketing if we also go with Graphic A.
  16. My business needs to be on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Pinterest. It only needs to be on social media if your customers are there and you know how to engage them regularly and professionally. It’s not easy. If you think your business could benefit from social media hire a professional.
  17. The best way to increase online leads is to improve my website and get more traffic. If you’re like most small businesses the absolute best way to increase sales is to do effective email marketing. A survey by Marketing Sherpa of over 1600 marketers agree with me on this one and your prospects are begging you to communicate via email.
  18. My web designer should be able to understand what I’m saying. Do you have a well thought out Marketing System including a clear understanding of your target customer, her problems, and your solutions? Ok, then yes, he should get it. If not, make a Marketing RoadMap first.
  19. A website will grow your business faster than any other marketing. Of course this CAN be true. However all different types of marketing work and what works for your business in your market will require some testing and measuring. One study by Marketing Sherpa demonstrated that up to 67% of a website’s traffic can be driven from TV. A well laid out marketing plan, with your website at the core, is often your most powerful approach to lead generation as a service-based small business.

Am I missing any other common myths? If so, comment below or contact me.

To your internet marketing success, Bryan

P.S. If you are working with a website designer, print this out and use it as a cheat sheet when you interview him. Or just Contact Us for a comprehensive online marketing analysis.

How to write strong sales copy for your website

If you don’t currently have a sales pitch, or you’re trying to improve it, here’s a quick outline of how to put one together for your website.

The first thing I do when writing is start with an outline and I highly recommend it. Use an outline (or mind map) to just jot-down all your ideas and thoughts on the subject. It doesn’t have to make sense or flow smoothly. Not everything in your outline will make the final draft and a few things that weren’t in your outline will get added. From there, here are the steps to creating great copy.

Like catching this Yellowstone National Park geyser in action, finding quality sales copy is rare.

  1. Define your target customer. How old are they? What do they wear? Where do the shop? What do they drive? What motivates them? What do they absolutely love? What do they absolutely hate?
  2. Define what would you like the customer to do once hearing/seeing/reading your pitch. What’s the goal? Enter their email… Purchase a product… Contact you…
  3. Utilize the 4.5 Points of Marketing. Problem, Solution, Why us?, Why now?, Risk-Free
  4. Consider possible responses and questions. Don’t create a FAQ… With a FAQ you can’t control the dialogue. Step the reader through the 4.5 points of marketing while addressing all of their questions as they go along.
  5. Offer third-party testimonials and reference third-party resources. Those testimonials can be written or video. Include them along the side of your page so they’re viewable the whole time. Also, be careful when referencing third-party web pages. Generally you’re better to site the resource without a direct-link because you don’t really want someone leaving your web page to check out the resource and then never come back. However, in some instances it does make sense to provide the link; so use common sense.
  6. Pretend you’re sitting next to someone talking to them. Once you have that vision, take your outline and start writing sentences in the Conversational Marketing style as if you’re talking face-to-face.
  7. Highlight key points for the readers who will just skim. Also use numbered and bulleted lists as well as paragraph breaks, graphics, charts, and pictures to highlight important details that you don’t want the reader to miss.
  8. Test and Measure to determine which copy is most effective. In other words, have multiple landing pages and track your analytics to determine which page is achieving your goal from step 2 most often per visitor.
  9. Sign your letter, postcard, website, or marketing piece. People don’t buy from businesses. They buy from people. If you’re a small business use that personal touch to highlight how you’re different and therefore BETTER than dealing with a large faceless corporation.
  10. Include your most important part in the P.S. Whether you’re creating a newspaper ad, direct-mail postcard, writing an email, or direct-mail letter, studies have shown that people read the headline first; then they read the sub-heading; next they check out the pictures; and finally they read the P.S. or whatever is at the bottom of your ad.

Don’t forget to tell the truth! Which one are you more likely to believe and therefore respond to?

Everything must go!” OR “Our purchasing department made a mistake and ordered too much inventory so we need to clear out some stock.” Just don’t be that furniture company down the road that’s been having the “Going out of business! Must liquidate everything!” sale for the past 3 years. That’s not honest or ethical.

While we’re on the topic of ethics, your marketing should always be honest and up front. Don’t bait-and-switch… Don’t stretch the truth… Don’t tell little fibs that no one will ever notice… In the short term people will notice it and be put off… In the long run it’s toxic. It’s like a cancer lead by the marketing (or sales) department that keeps getting worse but that no one notices until it’s too late. It will eventually catch up with you and ultimately it’s never the most profitable way to run a business of any size.

To your success in writing sales copy, Bryan

P.S. My last 2 blogs were a bit long so I figured I’d shorten this one for you. My next blog on your Marketing Manual might exceed my 1,000 word limit, so consider yourself warned.

How to create the PERFECT website for a Service Business

Make everything about the consumer.

This blog is primarily targeted at service based businesses, however this can certainly work for niche Internet products as well. Once you get to the level of large e-commerce sites the rules for a PERFECT website will be a bit different. Even though quite a few would still apply.

Most importantly, your website needs a goal. The goal can be to sell a product through an immediate online transaction or get the customer to contact you via a web form or phone number. A secondary goal for all websites should be to collect the visitor’s email address to stay in touch and build a relationship. For some websites capturing that email may even be the primary goal.

Your website needs to address the 4.5 Points of Marketing.

  1. Is this your Problem? Did you know this problem also results in these other problems? This isn’t your problem? You’re on the wrong website, then. This can be relatively short and sweet. Don’t assume your customers know exactly what their problem might be.
  2. Here’s the perfect Solution! It will make your life easier, save you money, and make your love life better and here’s why. Most websites sorta start here. They often focus on a product instead of the actual solution (i.e. benefit).
  3. We’re the best company for providing the perfect solution. We’ve been around forever, have a unique business model, are experts at this solution, have a history of top-level support, you can get in touch with us 24 hours per day, and here are a BUNCH of testimonials from happy customers.
  4. Now is the time to ask us to provide the solution to your problem. If you wait any longer your competitors will take more market share, your wife will be frustrated, your kids will rebel, and your dog will pee on the carpet. Do you really want to wait for all that to happen before doing what you already know is the best option?
  5. Make the offer Risk-Free. Look, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain so take a minute and shoot us an email and we’ll get you on track to eternal happiness and bliss. If after talking with us you don’t agree that we can do that for you, no hard feelings.

Your website shouldn’t be more than 2 menus deep. If it’s more then that your customer is working too hard and you can’t lead them where you want them to go.

Your website should be cross-linked. In other words, on every page where you reference a widget, the viewer should be able to click on the word widget and be taken to the full product page.

For further explanation on any of those points, please reference my blog, Internet Marketing for Small Business – Your Website.

So now that you understand the rules of the game, what exactly does a website like that look like? Firstly the content of your website should be written in the vernacular of your target audience. You MUST talk like they talk. As they sit there at their laptop reading your words, in their head it should sound as if they are talking to themselves. I call this Conversational Marketing.

Highlight the important bits for skimmers. Whether it’s bold, underlining, ALL CAPS, or different colors, make the important points jump out.

Include a call-to-action and way for them to contact you on every page.

Capture their email address in exchange for some of your expertise and then build a relationship with an auto-responder email campaign. For instance, if you’re a plumber, you might say, “Input your email for a free report on the top 7 ways to get the best rates from your plumber”. Once they have that you can send them one email every other day for the next 2 weeks explaining why you’re business is the perfect one to solve their problems.

Make it personal. Sign off on every page as if you were writing a personal letter to the person reading. As a small business owner you can do that even though large organizations cannot. Use that to your advantage.

Constantly update your content. In the internet world, inactive=dead. Since I didn’t have time to write a new blog about my business on a regular basis I simply monitored industry news and then would post links to the articles. That links page drove more traffic then any other page on my site besides my landing page.

Utilize videos to engage your visitors. Whether from testimonials or your sales pitch, adding videos and text allows your readers to choose their preferred method of communication.

Provide great content and too many details. When people see a TV commercial or a magazine ad about a product that interests them what do they do next? They visit the company’s website. Why do they do that instead of just calling or going to the business? Because they want more information… So give it to them. In person you, of course, can ramble on and say too much… On a website, however, you cannot. Give the features, benefits, specs, warranties, side-by-side comparison with competitors and anything else they might ask. Of course no one is going to read all of it. You just need it there because each person is going to read some of it and, quite frankly, you don’t know which part they’re going to read.

So if you put all of this together what do you get? Here are a few examples from some top internet marketers:

Bullseye Marketing – This business is selling a service that requires a custom quote so their goal is to get you to contact them. Notice how they start with the problem and then engage you by making you click Next to get to the solution. Granted, their interface can use some improvement.

Perry Marshall’s Personal Coaching – I’ve been following Perry’s stuff for years and he’s one of the top guys out there at turning visitors to money.

Eating for Energy – Good example of a website with the goal of simply getting your email address and nothing else.

Front Sight Offer – I highly recommend signing up for his Free Gun reports via email just to get an idea of what building a relationship via an auto-pilot is all about. Even if you don’t want anything to do with a firearm, you can learn a lot from his email marketing. Just keep in mind he is talking to “gun nuts.”

Target Focus Training – This site does a great job of hitting the 4.5 points of marketing. Notice how they start with the problem? Did you know the problem was that bad?

Wait a second… I’ve never even heard of any of those companies, how do you know they have good websites? Because they can make money and sell a service without ever talking with or interacting directly with a single customer (with the exception of Bullseye Marketing since their web page is just about selling the appointment). Can you say that about your service business?

Here’s the bottom line. If you’re a huge international organization with $10-$100 million to spend on your web presence with the goal of increased “branding”, then copy from the mainstream websites of Fortune 500 companies. If instead you’re a small business who needs to market your business online to generate immediate and measurable income,if you follow even half of these suggestions you’ll be way ahead of your competition.

If you disagree, leave some feedback and we’ll hash it out.

Keep in mind that in the grand scheme of marketing, your website is the end game. It’s a lead-generator. You can only gauge it’s success if it matches your entire marketing plan. Everything from your Vision as a company, the USP for this revenue stream, target market, branding and positioning goal, budget, ROI, method of testing and measurement must all be established so when your website is finished, you’ll know if it is working or not. In other words, it needs to fit properly into your Marketing Manual.

To your website creation success, 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.