Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Online Sales Funnel-Understanding the concept

The concept of the online sales funnel

We should start to explain the very nature of the online sales funnels with the basic idea staying behind online marketing. Online marketing has one primarily purpose-to create an impact on web visitors and consumers and make them take actions like buying a product, filling some fields with required information in order to register at your website or incorporate the services your company provides.
When consumers take actions such as these mentioned above, they simply engage in this process and we as marketers are supposed to recognize the buying signals that consumers pass through while looking at an e-commerce website. Based on the buying signals left by consumers when they go though their process of taking a decision to purchase, we become able to discern and measure them and their importance. The buying signals your web visitors or customers show when passing through the content of your site, in general, create a “path” consisting of buying steps or said in other words, they build a “funnel” which is called “online sales funnel”.

Online sales funnels
The online sales funnel does almost the same which the traditional sales funnel does. The people visiting your website are being collected, qualified, tracked and after that, in the best possible situation, converted into customers. Your online sales funnel shows the steps and actions they take on your site by giving you precious information about what actually is happening there.
We all should keep in mind that the more we understand how the funnel works, the more effectively we will be able to test it and optimize it.
The online sales funnel shows a summarized “road” of the buying process. If you remember the last time when you purchased a product from an e-commerce website, probably you were in an online sales funnel. Lets say that you saw a Facebook add, got yourself interested in it and did some research about the company and the company products,  then you decided to visit the website and went through looking different pages of it, educating yourself with information about the products provided there, and finally you took a purchasing decision. This is just one example situation but obviously, we all sometimes find ourselves participating in an online sales funnel.

In Details
The Top of The Funnel 
The largest part of the online sales funnel, is the top of the funnel. This is where all the web traffic is being collected from various sources like:
  • Organic search
  • PPC ads
  • Banner ads
  • Social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
  • Email marketing
  • Online PR
  • and others

The engaging process
The traffic has to be qualified which is happening at the next step of the funnel. When qualifying, we should keep in mind that a considerable part of the traffic who was on the top of the funnel will drop off and only one small part of it will continue to browse. The main goal here is to make as many visitors as possible go to the next stage of the funnel and avoid losing them (bounce rate).
Proactive live chat, automated chat triggers and even lead scoring are useful tools and strategies to engage better with your visitors and effectively encourage them to continue with their visit.

The last step of the funnel is where the traffic left from the other levels of the funnel is being engaged, convinced and at last converted into new customers. Strategies like email marketing automation, banner remarketing are developed and designed with the idea to automatically convince and convert traffic. Which is also highly related to the term  ‘online sales funnel’ and what stays behind it.

Understanding your online sales funnel will help you understand how to use tools such as conversion rate optimization, email automation, live chat triggers, email marketing and social media marketing and how to optimize them and in some cases will open your eyes about new effective marketing trends.  Knowing the concept behind an online sales funnel will help you strategically use online marketing tools to strengthen your funnel and therefore achieve and exceed your digital business goals. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Web Sales Funnels - Introduction

Web Sales Funnel

The Sales funnel takes a significant role of the e-commerce website a company uses as a online sales channel. 
The better you understand your online sales funnel, the more you will be able to see what in your marketing and sales activities is not working in the way you expect to.
The focus of the sales funnel is on the core reason why you want visitors come to your website. Apparently, marketers do some great efforts to generate traffic to company websites. Once the people land on the sites, they are being supposed to take some specific actions and achieve our website goals.
By saying “website goals” clearly we mean actions web visitors make on your website and you are interested in seeing them being achieved. Site registration, placing a product in the shopping basket, sending a request for more information via the web contact forms published on the site and buying a product can be good examples for website goals.
Depending on the structure an online business has, websites have 2 step funnel, 3 step funnel, etc. 

How Sales Funnels work
As we mentioned above, the better we structure our sales funnel, the more efficient our efforts will be.
In most of the cases, e-commerce company websites have their sales funnels divided into three logical levels. 
On the top of the funnel is the stage of the “Visit”-when people just land on your site. They may come from traffic building campaign, from Google search, facebook, etc. At that level they decide if they will remain on your site or switch to the next one.
The second logical level is the “Browsing level”. At this stage, people decide to go and look through different pages on your site. 
Finally, comes the level where your website goals are being accomplished.

In order to realize better how sales funnels operate, we should add that web-sales funnels are also divided into two flows: organic flow and campaign flow. The organic flow represents traffic coming from organic, SEO search. The campaign flow shows traffic coming from any marketing campaign you launch over the Internet: from clicking on Google Adwords adds, Facebook adds, PR materials published on online media channels, email marketing campaigns.

When visitors pass through the sales funnel’s levels-when they purchase, engage or make a call to action-this is where we already have the ability to visualize their path as they look at a PR article advertising your services, for example, as they visit your website, see the information they search for and convert into customers.

A well-developed sales funnel gives you the opportunity to find answers to important questions like:

  • Why are people staying just few seconds on my site after landing there?
  • Why am I losing visitors at that specific page?
  • Why am I losing visitors between the sales funnel stages?
  • Is the user experience people have on my site poor?
  • Is the way people find how to contact me on my site not well-structured and a lit bit complex?
  • Does my website structure influence consumers to take action?
  • And much more.

What a company we work with says about their Sales Funnel insights 
“Our company provides nanny services. After starting working with Deskgod, we were able to literally see our own web-sales funnel right in front of our face.
We see the traffic coming from campaign and organic search and we are able to track who proceeds to the next levels of the funnel.
At the end of the day, we can track and successfully interpret how the website goals, registrations in our own case, are being or not being reached. We can work on creating strategies for better customer engagement and avoid high abandonment rates. This gives us precious information what is working and what is not and where is the broken piece of our business and customer strategy so we can adjust to what the visitor is searching for and expecting to receive from the interaction with the website.
You are logging in your account and the information is waiting for you to see it right there! At the dashboard!”

Johnson, Chl.,
Customer Relations Manager

Saturday, December 21, 2013

When you are a newbie in blogging, where to start from & what is important to know

Inbound marketing has gained a lot of attention because it simply can help a company earn attention and create an audience especially when it is done in the right way.

In comparison with outbound marketing, the essence of inbound marketing doesn’t interrupt someone’s flow of activity in order to get attention. There is no pushing to make a specific person become interested in what you are offering to him which usually happens with cold calling, pop-ups, pop-unders, etc. 

Inbound marketing is all about earning attention organically, without interrupting anyone’s activity or workflow.

In order to find your audience on the web you should be well familiar with the family of inbound marketing techniques and strategies:

What's included in inbound marketing

As you can see blogging is also a part of the inbound marketing strategies. 

The purposes to create company blogs and do blogging are to drive more organic traffic to your website, position your brand, increase your SEO, improve your customer relations and attract more of them especially with word-of-mouth advertising.

When you are a newbie in blogging, what is important to know?

1.      Choose a proper platform to manage your content (Content management system):

WordPress is a good choice to create your company blog with.
It is pretty understandable, absolutely manageable for people with no technical background and it's free.
In addition, it has hundreds of themes to choose from and can be customized in the way you want your blog to look like.

Another option for your blog content platform is Blogger
Blogger is also a free platform for managing content. Posts published with Blogger are indexed almost instantaneously. 
Compared to WordPress, Blogger does not provide abundance of ready-to-use templates to choose from. However, the option here is to develop your own template and apply it.

2.      Layout & Design

When you choose the content platform, the second step you should take, is setting up the layout and design of your blog. 
Keep in mind that just publishing an article will not bring quality leads to your company website. What will happen to those leads if the layout of your blog is not set properly?
Take this for granted if you want, but disordered sidebars, archives and blog posts frames will not bring you the result you wish.

Another thing you should consider is that it is necessary to keep your blog alive
Blogs without published articles and posts during the last few months do not make a good impression.

Be active, write as much as you can. There are thousands of topics you can choose from. However, if you want to achieve good results, better write about the problems your customers face and cope with. 
Write about the questions they have especially such kind of questions that your own customers and prospects ask you and your team.

3.      Develop unique style of writing

When your blog layout is already set, you should choose your style of writing and exposing ideas.
In order to attract readers and followers, you have to be original in your writings. Do not create posts just to publish some content.
Instead, get involved in the issue you are writing about. The themes you write about and the posts you publish have to be educational, to give information or to be at least funny. It is important to remember that no one likes to waste time reading something which does not bring value.

4.       Be social

The last newbie step you should take and not at least at all, is to make your company blog social. 
To do that, you should connect your blog with all social media platforms your business is being presented on. Give your readers an option to become your followers by sharing your content on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. 
Be social, it matters!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Something more to consider about Google AdSense network

It’s not surprisingly to anyone that Google has recently stopped providing the keyword data from organic search. The step Google has made had impact on many companies especially these with smaller marketing budgets. And one of the possible explanations about the motive hidden behind that action could be that Google wants from us to advertise more.

We cannot say that with 100% certainty but still it is a fact that in some cases the percentage of not provided organic keyword data has reached even 100%!

Another thing we can say for sure is that this will affect SEO agencies and marketers. Now their job will be more challenging having in mind that it will be harder to create a content based on a specific group of keywords when it’s impossible to track the results which follow after content marketing.

However, Google still provides keyword data from paid search which is good to know.

Another thing marketers have to consider concerns Google AdSense network
Displaying ads with relevant content on our websites is an opportunity to earn from clicks and impressions. A large number of websites decided to get involved in the AdSense network relying on the fact that this would be also a way to generate leads.

Why is it important to know Google AdSense quite well?

First of all, when you advertise through Google AdWords, Google does not have a fixed price for a particular keyword. Because of the competition, one announces a price and from that point bidding starts. The person who bids the highest price may influence on the amount of traffic his ads receive, as well as the ROI they generate. It is right to think that the campaign you manage in your Google AdWords account is likely to receive more traffic if you make your bids higher but you also will spend more money. 
On the other hand, with lower bids, it is more likely to achieve some improvement in the campaign's ROI but in this way it will also get fewer clicks and conversions.

Another aspect to consider is on which websites your ads appear
Most of the website owners do not have a clue about that. It happens sometimes that an ad from one online shop can be seen on another fully competitive website.

I am giving you here a link from where you can see a random list of websites included in Google AdSense network. The list is created by Built With and it will ask you to create an account in order to have access to the data.

As it starts to seem, advertising on Google is not as simple as we wished to be. If we dig deeper, another question of importance will emerge.

Do we know how many places for ads on one particular website included in AdSense has? 

I do not think so. Therefore, if we have two advertising campaigns to manage at the same time, what guarantees us that our ads do not compete between themselves leading to the surprising idea that actually we are competing with our own budgets?

Possible ways to handle these issues might be:

  •         Based on that, decide whether it is more rational to manage only one campaign for a period of time and then the others, if possible according to the specific case you want to advertise

Advertising on Google AdWords and AdSense requires deeper understanding of how it should be done. As we already described, there a few minor aspects that should be well considered.

The importance to be “fast & furious” in the E-commerce world

Have you ever considered that the interest of a web visitor in the product or service range of an online store or so called prospect interest is extremely short?

Thanks to the abundance of online stores flooding the Internet space or because of any other reason, web visitors, including you and me, are looking at bunches of sources of information before finally making a purchase or even only taking a decision to buy.

Due to the existing multiplicity of effective tools for generating leads and traffic such as advertising campaigns, PR, SEO (SEM), etc., a web visitor lands on your website. He looks through pages providing information about different products and services and if interested, he fills up the contact form and sends his request about a price, delivery, possible discounts and anything else he might be interested in to know.

The worst case would be, if the particular lead closes your website and goes on looking at other competitive websites until he makes his request for more information again.

Few are the cases of today's practice, in which the purchase is done during the first lead’s visit. I do not mean that such situations do not exist. But I do say they occur rarely.

Most of the time, prospects want to educate themselves about the company reputation first, about its attitude towards clients and reliability of the services the company provides. Prospects search for feedback from others who have already bought from the specific online store.

To build strong positive assessment in the minds of potential clients contributes to their belief in the quality of the products and services the company offers. After you achieve to create this impression, then the next step can be taken which again does not include purchasing itself.

Usually a prospect sends his question or request to check if he will be treated with the appropriate attention and care and to see whether what he is searching for will be provided to him in a way that makes him feel content.

How exactly important is it to be fast in our responses? When it comes to E-commerce, is speed the thing that will distinguish us from the big competition game out there?

The time for answering a specific customer question has a great impact on attracting potential customers. The very nature of E-commerce is different from the usual buying and selling process in an ordinary physical store. In the Internet space, there is an access to anything. The possibilities to satisfy needs are endless.

To respond in a similar situation, as they say "in a heartbeat", will only increase the likelihood of attracting visitors and converting them in our customers. If it takes us more time to respond, then it is quite possible to lose the lead to competitors and to forget about this lead’s interest in our products.

According to an online survey made amongst more than 2 000 companies, around 40% of the companies that took part usually respond to a potential customer request within an hour and around 17% of them respond within a day.

However, the survey shows that the average speed of responding was more than 40 hours! What a loss!

Speed ​​is a way to distinguish ourselves from the competitors, especially in today's competitive market, in which each individual customer is vital for the business.

Meeting and satisfying the needs and interests of clients is a point of paramount significance for the key success and development of each company. Rapidresponsiveness and well-timed reaction of the company leave in prospects’ mind a good impression and also increases the probability that this specific prospect will come to decision to buy and at later stage to make a purchase exactly from our online store.