I would LOVE to tell you a marketing story that ends in triumph.
A tale of campaign ingenuity that culminates in record sales, client laughter, and the incessant pop of uncorked champagne as celebratory confetti descends upon the victorious sales team.
But this is not that story.
This, I suspect, is closer to your story.
That is, if more often than you would care to admit, your struggle to generate a profitable ad campaign typically ends with you hiding from everyone you love and respect the disappointing results of your latest efforts…
Listen, I get it.
Nobody willingly owns to the kind of damaging admission about the state of their business that I am suggesting you entertain here.
Because, let’s face it, stepping up to a hard reality isn’t just emotionally discomforting.
A sudden wake up call can lay you out like a sucker punch to the gut.
But as much as it might hurt now to admit this marketing gig is FAR tougher than you thought it would be, I’m betting you’ll gladly take the hit if it could mean you avoid the alternative…
I’m talking about the pain of one day years from now slowly wading into the realization that you’ve risked everything for your dream, and you have come up short…
The 401K nest egg that was meant to soften the blow of retirement.
The college fund you vowed on your eldest’s fifth birthday that you would make your top priority (say, isn’t he a teenager now?).
Even the small loan you promised to repay your parents after they unstintingly sold the family boat just so you’d be able to meet that first post-honeymoon mortgage payment…
Yeah, that’s what’s really at stake here.
It’s not just another friggin’ failed Adwords campaign we’re talking about.
It’s staring out your window and realizing all the leaves are brown, the chill of winter is upon you, and you’re not the least bit prepared for it.
That ticking sound, like a clock, that seems to be growing louder?
Those are the doors in your life slamming shut behind you, and they’re getting harder to ignore with every passing day.
All of which is to say – this stuff matters.
So, if your stomach is beginning to knot at the thought that I might be about to confirm your worst fears about the health of your online business…
Then stay exactly where you are.
Because if I am right – and you are currently suffering from an inability to generate online leads and/or CONVERT those leads at a rate that allows your business to grow (when you’re ready to see it grow) – then this article may prove to be the much needed antidote to the current sickly state of your faltering personal economy.
- You DO offer a high-end product or service that seems to make customers happy
- You DON’T have a high-converting sales letter on your web site
- You’re NOT clear on just why visitors to your site aren’t buying (even though you know you’re offering EXACTLY what they want)
- You’re NOT actively building a database of fresh leads (prospective paying clients)
- You have NO IDEA HOW to efficiently build such a database (and rightly suspect that it may be KEY to your eventual success)
- You’re currently using paid advertising campaigns to generate shockingly high-cost leads that your business simply CANNOT sustain
If any of these statements seem to closely characterize where you stand with your business today then keep reading.
Because I’m about to explain how to generate a constant and affordable stream of fresh prospects ideally matched to the product or service you have to offer.
I’ll even tell you how to convert them WITHOUT the need for a sales letter.
Yup – minus the requirement of a sales letter (but there IS a catch and I’ll fill you in on it in just a moment).
AND THE AWARD FOR LEAST SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS OWNER GOES TO…
Got your speech prepared?
Relax – if you actually implement the information on this page there’s a damn good chance you’ll never have to make that walk of shame to the podium.
That’s not to say anything of what I’m about to describe is necessarily easy to pull off.
Dumb as a rock simple to comprehend, sure.
But if it was easy to figure out the best possible approach for your own business you wouldn’t have made it past the headline for this page.
You’d be rolling your eyes at me as you back-stroked happily like Scrooge McDuck through your nine story-high pool of business-income-derived cash.
OK. Back to reality.
So let’s agree that you’re not crazy for feeling as though the deck is stacked against you.
In fact NINE out of every TEN online business owners will be experiencing exactly the same frustration that you’re feeling.
Nor is it a problem affecting you alone – my copywriting friends and I are finding it harder and harder to make a difference in the lives of our clients.
That’s because no amount of good copy can help the owner of a business that is unable to reach and repeatedly engage with its target audience.
If it ever was possible in the past to reasonably expect to be able to put up an online sales page, drive prospects to it, and reap the benefits of consistent sales, those days are rapidly disappearing if not already gone.
Today your prospective customer requires far more coddling than ever before.
They are less trustful of your business, more sophisticated in their awareness of products, and in most cases have a great many more options to choose from than your offering alone.
In short, to have any chance of success, you have to work harder to earn their trust, match their level of sophistication, and sharpen the distinction between you and your competitors.
To do this you must first learn how to engage and then RE-engage your audience.
Only by doing this will you have any real chance of getting your message across to the degree needed to establish your business as the ONLY choice in the mind of your prospect when finally it comes time to invest in a solution to their problem.
So I have written this article to help you help us (the copywriters) improve our chances of helping you make the sale.
GOOD COPY IS IMPORTANT – BUT NOT NEARLY SO IMPORTANT AS THIS…
My goal is simple.
I want to show you how to put your business on a solid foundation BEFORE you get to thinking about bringing in a copywriter to solve a problem that, quite frankly, we’re not equipped to do – and that’s produce sales out of thin air…
If you do not have a SOLID system in place for generating fresh leads, worrying about how to convert them (for example, with a sales letter) is a waste of everyone’s time.
That’s because you’re already dead in the water.
Your business is like a sail-less boat, bobbing aimlessly – and even if the wind should pick up (at last you add that marvelous sales page) you won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
You are well and truly stalled – you just haven’t figured it out yet.
The good news?
If you have been worrying about the idea of having to find a high-priced copywriter to write you a top-dollar sales letter capable of persuading your high-income prospects to part with their money – the low-risk strategy outlined here may prove to be PRECISELY what you have been looking for.
A CAUTIONARY TALE – OR How to
safelybypass select portions of the advice offered on this page…
The client wanted to sell his luxury bathroom renovation service to online prospects.
Comfortably well-off prospects who could afford to pony up between $15,000 and $25,000 to realize their vision of a dream bathroom.
And he wanted me to help him do it.
The good news was that the client’s business was perfectly suited to meeting this market need.
The client himself was a craftsman with ten years of hard-won home renovation experience behind him – the result of which was that he could now glance at an existing bathroom and re-imagine it in a completely new and startling configuration.
It would then be transformed into an equivalent digital plan of execution.
Finally, the handful of quality tradesmen in his employ would skillfully turn this *conceptual hologram* into a gleaming bathroom interior worthy of a fashion shoot for a home-modeling magazine.
In short, the client was not having any difficulty satisfying his customers.
What he WAS having trouble with was finding enough of them to maintain a steady cash flow for his business…
Those he did manage to engage he was already converting into customers at a reasonable clip without the use of a sales letter.
He was selling face-to-face, traveling to the home of his prospects and explaining his vision of the new bathroom as they huddled in the often cramped and dank surroundings of a substandard bathroom environment.
No sales letter can match the immediacy and intimacy of a craftsman pitching with exuberant hand gestures and excited utterances his vision of a bathroom transformed…
A sales letter may not strictly be required for you to generate sales.
Depending on the nature of your product or service, you can pitch with or without one.
The important thing is to be able to find promising leads and then hang on to them until such time as they are READY and WILLING to hear that sales spiel – in whatever form you have to offer it.
Most new leads appearing on your web site are NOT ready for this.
This is especially true if you offer a high-end product or service.
Nobody whips out their credit card, picks up the phone to call your company, and commits to spending $10,000 or more without doing a significant amount of research into who you are and what exactly it is they will be getting from you for their money.
They have arrived at your site looking for information only and your sales pitch (if you have one) is repelling them from your site.
Before they can buy your product they need to feel as though they buy into YOU.
That takes time.
And it’s your job to find a way to help them with that.
When you fail to recognize that it takes real work to build the level of trust needed to make a sale you’ll end up paying a STEEP price to acquire a new customer.
Speaking of which…
“You’re spending HOW MUCH to acquire a new customer?”
The client was driving Google Adwords search engine prospects directly to his home page and hoping they would then search for the phone number on his site, dial the number, and schedule a bathroom inspection.
By the time he had made a sale he had spent around $500 in ad costs.
Fortunately the profit on a $25,000 bathroom renovation is significantly more than that. But why pay $500 to acquire a SINGLE new customer when, with a finite amount of extra effort, you can bring in perhaps three new customers, or even five new customers?
No. Going from one customer to just three was conceivably going to add one million dollars in annual revenue to the client’s business.
So, if there was a better approach to generating leads he was open to it.
And of course there is a better approach…
In the remainder of this article I’ll spell out for you the essence of a solid lead generation strategy.
I’ll also discuss the advantages to adopting this approach, then provide you with a downloadable detailed plan (including a template for a landing page) to help jump-start the process for your specific business.
LEARNING TO LOVE YOUR AUTO RESPONDER
It is tempting to think that the surest way to make a sale is to show your prospect your offer as quickly as possible.
After all, they came to your site in search of a solution to a specific problem and you just happen to offer such a solution. Problem solved!
But according to Google Adwords specialist Perry Marshall, if you follow your natural impulse and try to make an immediate sale you could be leaving money on the table.
Possibly a LOT of it.
Rather than send your prospects to a sales page, says Marshall, it is often better (ultimately more profitable) to show them an immediate incentive to opt into your newsletter.
That way you can follow up with an automated series of email messages that build your credibility (show that you can be believed) and authority (demonstrate proof of your expertise) BEFORE you make your irresistible offer to them.
An auto responder is the means by which this automated series of messages is managed. Example providers of this service include Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, Aweber and GetResponse.
The power of the right auto responder strategy, says Marshall, is that it has the potential to turn your business around in as short a period as just a few days.
Once you have captured a prospect (now a lead) onto your newsletter you can contact them REPEATEDLY and drive them back to your sales page (or call center) as often as is needed, until either you make the sale or they unsubscribe.
If you employ a sales page on your web site you may elect to send your new lead directly to your offer immediately after they have opted in. But not before that time.
Or perhaps your sales pitch is conducted in person. In that case it may be a telephone number that gets your lead to the next step in your sales funnel – for example, a scheduled appointment for a free consultation.
But what is the proof that going to the trouble of setting up an auto responder, and filling it with messages designed to slowly warm your leads to the point that they’re receptive to your sales pitch, is worth all the extra effort?
THE OYSTER AND PEARL THEORY OF HIGH PROFITABILITY AUTO RESPONDERS…
The proof, says Perry Marshall, can be found in the graph shown below which presents the average daily visitor value as a function of campaign duration for two separate campaigns designed to sell the same product.
In the campaign depicted in orange prospects are driven directly to a sales page.
In this case there is NO option to opt in to receive follow up emails which promote the product – if they don’t buy immediately there is a very good chance they will leave the site never to return again.
In the second campaign (green) the prospects are offered an incentive to get onto Marshall’s newsletter before they see the sales page.
They are then directed back to the sales page repeatedly in the days that follow – in particular, after several days of using the messages to develop credibility and authority, on the fourth day they are directed back to the sales page to buy.
And buy, they do.
As Marshall discovered, the latter campaign involving the auto responder was soon doing significantly better than the other.
But it wasn’t a slam dunk win. Not initially.
In Marshall’s experiment (even if we accept that his “virgin audience” responded particularly well on day one) the direct to sales page approach beat the auto responder hands down for the opening portion of the campaign – exactly what you might expect because he’d thrown a big ol’ FILTER in front of his sales message.
Whoa there, he was saying to prospects seeing the auto responder campaign, let’s slow the pace a little so that I can better introduce myself to you first and properly frame my offer…
And it worked. As the week progressed, his audience was slowly indoctrinated, and they began to convert…
By DAY EIGHT the number of sales coming from the combined stages of the auto responder sequence were almost DOUBLE those being generated from his ongoing direct to sales page effort.
This is the power of what Marshall calls the relentless drip, drip, drip of a well-structured email sequence. One that wears the prospect down over time like “Chinese water torture”.
Another analogy for what the astute email marketer is attempting to do involves the pearl culturing process, or seeding.
This is where a small irritation, like a grain of sand, is introduced into the living flesh of an oyster.
For the pearl harvester the hope is that over time the oyster will put down layer upon layer of an insulating substance called nacre that builds upon the sand grain over time to produce a valuable pearl.
Or better yet, a metric sh*t ton of them…
The truth is that almost anyone can learn from a technician the basics required to perform the seeding operation, but for the pearl harvester it takes years of practice and dedication to perfect this skill and produce high quality pearls.
The same is true of your email marketing efforts.
Lead nurturing is a slow and steady, and invariably hit and miss, process. Not every grain of sand produces the sought-after treasure. But as you’ll see shortly, when it does the potential payoff can be huge.
“BUT I’M NO EMAIL MARKETER. CAN’T I JUST IMPROVE MY SALES LETTER?”
If I seem to be going to a lot of trouble spelling out the potential benefit of including an auto responder in your sales process it’s because it is by no means obvious to those who have not used one before.
For experienced marketers the auto responder approach is almost second nature.
But for others encountering it for the first time, the suggestion that they build an auto responder into their sales process can induce reactions ranging from fear to hostility.
“I don’t want to constantly be annoying my prospects. It will drive them away.”
“Everything I have to say about my product is already there in the sales letter. Can’t I just improve it?”
“Here’s the thing – I’m not really good at writing email messages. It seems horribly personal, and that’s just not me…”
They will look for ANY alternative to buckling down and doing the hard work of constructing a suitable high-persuasion email sequence.
The idea of tweaking their sales letter will seem like an appealing alternative strategy to them.
But what they fail to appreciate is that there is no more valuable place to apply your efforts of persuasion than in a regulated series of follow up messages.
Word for word, the value to be derived from your efforts is MUCH better spent proving the worth of both you and your product over an extended period of time.
That’s because your leads are usually not interested in simply solving their problem as quickly as they can.
They’re just as vested in making sure they are spending their money with the right service provider – someone who they’ll be able to depend on if things don’t pan out the way they were supposed to once the bill has been settled.
They’re also looking for a provider to whom they can establish loyalty, so that they will not have to go through the same vetting process in the future.
Do your job well, convince your lead that you are the one, and you may have a client for life.
All that from a well-structured follow up email sequence that establishes credibility and authority in the eyes of your lead?
Absolutely. Just think back to the last time you invested in a product that required some critical evaluation beforehand.
Did you buy it outright – or did you allow the vendor to use a well thought out follow up sequence to slowly persuade you that there was simply no one better to serve your needs?
OK, so now that I’ve managed to convince you that there might indeed be a potentially very strong incentive for implementing an auto responder, how do you actually get these prospects onto your newsletter?
How do you seize their attention and compel them to provide and trust you with their email address – all within seconds of them arriving at your page?
TO FORCE INVISIBLE LEADS TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES TO YOU – USE A LEAD MAGNET
The surest way to turn a prospect into a lead is to use a lead magnet – the promise of a free offer of some type in exchange for the prospect’s email address.
This could be ANYTHING that gets the job done.
For example, a free evergreen (automated) webinar that allows the lead to experience what it is like to be on a webinar with you and then receive follow up messages that reinforce and expound upon the ideas presented in the webinar.
It could be a trial introduction to a membership site, a video, an audio, an ebook… or even a mobile app that goes on to push promotions at you daily.
Your lead magnet can be anything that promises to solve one of the most pressing problems your prospects are facing right now – and generally speaking is going to be closely related to the search for problem relief that brought them to your page.
The lead magnet should be so compelling to your prospect that the idea of leaving your page without it is more troubling to them than any concern they might have about the risk of trusting you with their email address.
But there is one more consideration to keep in mind when choosing the best lead magnet to offer.
Dean Jackson, author of Email Mastery, advises offering a lead magnet that “self selects” the EXACT kind of lead you want to communicate with.
This is especially important when your desired leads are, as yet, “invisible prospects” in the market and there is no well-defined handle by which they can be identified and addressed directly.
Says Jackson, “If you can tap into an existing desire someone has that would make them an ideal candidate for you… and COMPEL them to identify themselves… now you’ve got all the time in the world to CONVINCE them to let you help them get the result they want.”
In other words, the job of the lead magnet and any supporting copy on the opt-in page is to simply REAFFIRM the idea that they are in the right place to receive from you a missing piece of the puzzle (which your lead magnet provides).
The lead magnet promises information they can use immediately to move closer to their goal by solving the specific problem that brought them to your page in the first place.
The nature of your lead magnet alone should COMPEL them to act.
Attempts to CONVINCE them of its worth are not likely to increase your opt-in rate, so should be avoided in the copy appearing on your opt-in page.
THE IRRESISTIBLE OFFER – WEIGHT FOR WEIGHT, MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD ITSELF
Let’s consider an example lead magnet designed specifically to generate leads in the cosmetics industry.
Suppose you offer one of the world’s most expensive face and neck skin moisturizers.
I am thinking of the Japanese beauty product company Cle de Peau Beaute which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012 by releasing a very limited-edition moisturizer, La Creme.
It was priced at $13,200 for a jar weighing in at less than two ounces.
Not quite ready to write a check of that size to satisfy your beauty needs?
No worries – their $795 “mass market” version of the cream is popular too.
Now, you might think that a sub one thousand dollar item isn’t exactly high ticket – until you remember that this jar of cream might only last three months and a loyal five year customer is therefore worth around $16,000 to you…
That’s a pearl worth culturing.
So – how best to attract into your slow-drip persuasion funnel exactly the kind of lead who might ultimately be convinced that they simply cannot live without your luxury offer?
If your prospect has come to your landing page looking for the best moisturizer on the market, what might compel them to want to stick around to hear more?
How about a report we’ll call:
“How To Pick The PERFECT Moisturizer For Your Skin: Cle de Peau Beaute’s own skin care experts identify the 7 highest-rated anti-aging moisturizers and explain what makes them so sought after”
There is nothing in the title of this lead magnet to suggest that YOUR product might be one of the discussed moisturizers (but you can bet it will be).
This is what Jackson calls a NEUTRALLY CHARGED solicitation for the prospect’s interest. A simple offer of information that they are likely to find highly useful – something which appeals to their immediate desire to resolve their problem or achieve their goal.
There’s something else going on in the title for that lead magnet as well. Can you spot it?
We’ve made sure that our prospect knows there is nowhere else in the world they can get the information offered in our report.
That’s because we’ve used a tag line to let them know the information was compiled by the company’s very own skin care experts.
So our free report carries a unique selling proposition that makes it MUST HAVE content that our competitors simply cannot touch.
In fact, this is just one of the three criteria your lead magnet should aim to meet every time – which is to be USEFUL (offer an obvious benefit), UNIQUE (can’t be found elsewhere), and ULTRA-SPECIFIC (address just ONE thing and do it well).
There’s also a fourth criteria your lead magnet title will benefit from when the situation allows for it, and that is to be URGENT (the information won’t be available forever).
For example, if your lead magnet is an upcoming never-to-be-repeated webinar, or the information you are providing pertains to a market condition that will soon expire (like financial advice about an upcoming initial public offering).
Keep these 4U’s of attention-getting goodness in mind the next time you have to make someone sit up and take notice of whatever it is you want to put in front of them.
Will you be making THESE costly mistakes when you renovate your bathroom?
Fortunately it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what it is that your prospects are likely to find highly COMPELLING when it comes to preparing your lead magnet.
My bathroom renovation client already knew that clueless prospects were apt to spend a lot of money on the wrong choices when it came to building their dream bathroom.
Righting the wrongs of a poorly renovated bathroom can be hellish expensive and he was going to play to that very real fear by offering to not only IDENTIFY the most costly mistakes but also explain how to AVOID making them.
If YOU were thinking of spending $25,000 on your bathroom renovation project, wouldn’t you want to know how to avoid an expensive but entirely avoidable blunder?
Of course you would.
In general, simply by asking yourself “What is the greatest challenge facing my ideal customer?” you should be able to come up with an idea for a lead magnet that offers to help them sort through the main issues so that they can come to an informed decision.
But it would be a mistake to assume that their decision will be made quickly…
EMAIL MARKETING TORTOISE OR HARE? WHY SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE…
Like Marshall, Jackson knows that when it comes to email marketing a little PATIENCE can really pay off.
In his book Jackson mentions a study carried out by a company whose business it is to track the purchasing habits of millions of prospective consumers who request product information from companies that have somehow managed to get on their radar.
The lead tracking company discovered that 85 percent of sales are made more than 90 days after the first request for information.
So while Marshall may be delighted to report that an auto responder can double return on investment within about a week of implementing a strong series of follow up messages, he is also fully aware that the long-tail effect can offer HUGE rewards to those patient enough to allow the lead-nurturing process to do its work.
Marshall likes to tell the story of one lead who sat dormant on his newsletter for three full years. In all that time she never spent a dime – then within a period of four months she poured forth $7,000 at his cash register.
Eventually her dam broke. The persistent layering process finally produced the gleaming pearl. Marshall received his payoff because his follow up sequence worked year after year to maintain some level of mindshare in his lead.
And that’s the real power that a well-crafted auto responder gives you, the ability to be a background presence in the life of your lead until the day something happens that TRIGGERS a sudden need for whatever it is you have to offer them.
This is not something you can pull off if you are simply sending new prospects straight to the sales page.
“BUT I CAN’T WAIT 3 YEARS. HELL – I CAN’T EVEN WAIT 90 DAYS!”
At this point, especially if your business is struggling to maintain its cash flow, you might be thinking to yourself, “Sure. This lead collection stuff sounds interesting. But what I really need is a quick way to generate cash to keep the lights on. How do I do that?”
Easy, advises John Logar, a specialist in online marketing for offline businesses. All you need to do is write an email to your prospect and customer lists and make them an offer they cannot refuse.
“What lists? You’re not listening to me. I don’t HAVE any lists yet.”
Yes, I DO hear you. But this is EXACTLY the kind of conversation you’ll find yourself having with your expensive marketing consultant once you get around to hiring them.
You’ll complain that you’ve sunk all your money into building the infrastructure for your business. You can’t afford to be allocating time and money to long-term marketing strategies based on building auto responders.
The trouble is, today you cannot afford NOT to do it.
Especially if mining the web is part of your long-term strategy for lead generation.
But don’t worry. While a marketing coach can be an invaluable aid in keeping you and your business on track, you don’t need one to figure out how to get started with an automated lead generation process.
You’ll find all the essential elements spelled out on this page.
Just print it out and go to work. I’ll even provide you with a strategy to attract free prospects and a fully fleshed out landing page template for capturing leads into your auto responder (look for the link at the end of this page).
A BLUEPRINT FOR KEEPING YOUR BUSINESS AFLOAT IN TOUGH TIMES
Logar knows that step number one in his playbook for maintaining cash flow is to build an email list, and that offering a lead magnet to get people to opt into that list is how you go about it.
We’ll get to the subject of optimal opt-in landing page design shortly, but let’s take a moment to better understand just why Logar is so keen on the power of a list to keep your business afloat when the power company is threatening to dim the lights.
One client, says Logar, had just one hundred customers on their list – so few that the client had completely overlooked them as a potential source of revenue.
But the average sale order for that business was $35,000 to $55,000.
So those customers had proven themselves, and when the client asked Logar for ideas on how to generate some “quick cash” his answer was the same he always trotted out when asked this question: “What do you have that you’re not using that you could offer for sale today?”
As it happened, the restaurant supply business had six air conditioning units sitting around unused just taking up space.
They sent an email out to their tiny list offering the equipment for about half it’s retail cost and within two weeks had sold six units at $60,000 a piece.
One person on the list bought half the inventory and spent $180,000.
This is the power of a list – in this case one that was not even maintained.
Another client sent out an email message with an offer for a yacht.
And sold it for one million dollars.
So… how many visitors have you allowed to escape from your web site without first collecting their email address?
Well, maybe it’s finally time do something about that.
ANATOMY OF THE PERFECT OPT-IN PAGE
Over time it has become better appreciated by business owners that having an email newsletter may not be such a bad idea after all.
I have provided you with a number of reasons why this might be.
For the most part though, the establishment of a newsletter and the accumulation of new subscribers is a secondary consideration – an opt-in form tacked onto the home page in some non-obtrusive spot as a kind of afterthought.
But this is very often the WRONG way of looking at the opt-in process.
Rather than treat it as an afterthought, what I am noticing is that the smarter direct response marketers today are inclined to the belief that lead collection should be viewed as the PRIMARY consideration when putting your site together.
This usually means that your home page needs to be completely reworked.
Marketers like Megan Macedo, a direct response copywriter who also runs a web site design company, believe the home page of your web site should usually focus SOLELY on getting the visitor onto your newsletter.
Or if your business supplies more than one high-ticket product, then your goal should perhaps be to build dedicated opt-in pages – minisites, if you like – each one focused on a separate product, to which carefully targeted traffic (interested prospects) is driven using a lead magnet as an incentive to subscribe.
For many business owners who cram a bewildering number of different elements onto their home page, this opt-in centric focus may seem to be completely the wrong approach.
After all, why hide all of the content that you have gone to such trouble to develop?
But if you have been following the logic of this article, you now know that the odds of a new visitor to your site becoming a customer are very small indeed.
Your initial goal is therefore NOT to make a sale, but to acquire a subscriber.
Sales will come later when the lead is finally ready to make use of your services.
That means your opt-in page, your home page in most cases, should be optimized to get the sign-up.
Therefore the purpose of every piece of copy on that page should be to push the prospect closer to a decision to sign up and receive the lead magnet.
If you are not prepared to replace your home page with what amounts to a suped-up opt-in form, then at least create a separate dedicated landing page to which you can drive traffic for the purpose of acquiring new leads.
Not everyone takes to Macedo’s approach right away.
Her brother Conor Heaney runs a styling opticians business in Manchester.
It took him some time to come around to her way of thinking, but he’ll be the first to tell you just what a difference going for the newsletter subscriber has made to his business.
Today his average sale price on a pair of custom glasses is £800 – or roughly FIVE TIMES the industry standard.
His business offers clients a wide variety of frame and lens options, but do you see any indication of this on his home page?
What you see is a short video in which Conor introduces himself to his audience, before offering them his free book “The Definitive Guide To Choosing Glasses That Make You Look Good”.
Is his lead magnet title USEFUL, UNIQUE, and ULTRA-SPECIFIC?
It sure is.
- useful because it helps the prospect figure out how to decide on pair of glasses that will be right for them.
- unique because it is the “definitive guide” prepared by Conor himself, the owner of a leading styling opticians business.
- ultra-specific because it is about how to determine the criteria for eyeware selection that “makes you look good” – not be the most comfortable, or longest-lasting, or the most cost effective, even if the glasses may ultimately check all those boxes too.
Conor does something else in his video which is smart.
After establishing that he has invested fifteen years learning how to help others find the perfect eyewear for their unique situation, he offers existing customers a chance to extol the services of his business for the second half of his four-minute video.
This leaves no doubt in the mind of the viewer that Conor is both credible and an authority on the subject of styling optometry.
To exit the site without opting in for his book is to declare that you’re just not overly concerned about how your new glasses might make you look to others – making you a rare bird indeed!
Does the copy on the home page work to do anything other than try to get the sign-up?
No – the home page has but a single purpose and there is NO confusion about what to do next.
That’s worth keeping in mind when you are tempted to telegraph to the prospect what it is you ultimately want them to buy from you, because at this stage that would be a mistake.
The purpose of that opt-in page is NOT to sell the product, it’s to sell credibility and authority only.
Or at least, that’s what I would have you believe…
“Did I get that right? You want me to put these heavy tiles on the ceiling of your bathroom?”
My client was not at all convinced that my copy for the opt-in page would compel anyone to exchange their email address for his lead magnet.
I had focused on establishing him as the expert – someone who had learned hard lessons from a decade of experience in the home-building and bathroom renovation industries.
I had demonstrated his skill set with carefully selected images of awe-inspiring bathroom interiors that his team had crafted.
Finally, I had culled excerpts from glowing customer testimonials that left no doubt he was someone worth listening to when it came to the subject of bathroom renovations.
If anyone knew how to avoid making costly “first-timer” bathroom renovation mistakes it was this guy.
But my client did not think I was presenting him in a sufficiently positive light and he had ideas about how to fix this…
As I studied his long list of suggestions I was reminded of the story told by Jonathan Shapiro in his book “Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling”.
A handyman hired by a Californian couple was taken aback when he learned that his clients wanted him to tile their bathroom ceiling.
But these ceramic tiles are not designed to stick to the ceiling, he warned them. They’re too heavy. They will eventually fall off and somebody may get hurt.
His clients smiled politely, but insisted he need not worry.
Despite not being experts in the art of bathroom tiling, they felt confident they could ignore his advice.
So when the heavy tiling came loose months later and took a chunk of flesh out of the husband’s forehead, knocking him out cold as he stepped from the shower and necessitating emergency medical intervention to keep him from bleeding to death, who exactly was to blame?
The ignorant clients? Or the expert handyman who acceded to the wishes of the clients and went against his own best judgement on a matter about which he was arguably reasonably well-qualified to render advice?
My own sense of what worked and what did not when it came to copy told me in no uncertain terms that my client’s extensive rewrites had the overwhelming weight of lead slabs piled one on top of the other.
Was I supposed to let him happily bury himself in the rubble of his own ego, or should I have put my foot down and convinced him to take the advice of the professional he’d paid to write persuasive copy?
What would you have done?
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR PROSPECT – OR THE SPY CRAFT BEHIND WINNING CAMPAIGNS
At the end of the day we are in business to make a dollar.
To do that it is essential we know where we are wasting both time and money chasing low-quality prospects.
People who are very unlikely to convert into customers, but whom we have somehow lured into our funnel.
To reduce their numbers, and alternatively to increase the numbers of those who ARE likely to convert, we have to TRACK these people.
In other words, to OPTIMIZE our return on investment we need to spy on our leads from the moment they enter our world until the time they leave it.
We need to be able to identify the campaigns that are losing us money and cull them – then increase ad spend or other resources on the campaigns that are turning a profit.
This task translates to data collection – storing away information about your prospect until such time as you are in a position to decipher the meaning of it.
Obviously, at a minimum, you need to collect a legitimate email address from your lead so that you can communicate repeatedly with them. This is the NUMBER ONE GOAL.
But there is quite a bit more information you might collect depending on the circumstance, all of it useful to varying degrees.
You might ask for a name, but it’s not essential.
If you are keeping track of the lead through follow up emails, and passing their identity through to an online sales page each time (perhaps as a contact record ID), then you can collect their name at the time they make their first purchase from you.
In such cases there will always be a link between a sales transaction and the record of the lead created at the time of the initial opt-in.
This is what makes automated email and customer record management (CRM) platforms like Infusionsoft so popular – used correctly, the tracking of leads is relatively straightforward.
But if the ultimate goal is to get someone to pick up a phone and call your business to purchase a service then the tracking becomes “air gapped” (the automated flow of information is interrupted) and now depends entirely on the skill of the person picking up the phone to maintain the lead tracking thread.
It goes from being an efficient automated tracking process to a much less reliably-implemented manual process.
So if that’s you, if you are depending on your call center to close the deal, what instructions should you be giving your sales people so that you can monitor your advertising return on investment?
MA’AM, PLEASE SPEAK SLOWLY INTO THE PHONE AND BEGIN BY PROVIDING ME WITH YOUR 16-DIGIT CONTACT RECORD NUMBER…
Hello, how are you?
Have you been alright through all those lonely
Lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely nights?
That’s what I’d say, I’d tell you everything
If you’d pick up that telephone, yeah, yeah, yeah…
– Electric Light Orchestra
If you can get a lead onto a call with a skilled sales person your odds of making the sale go way up because you can tailor your pitch to their precise concerns.
But how do you link that sale to your advertising campaign?
That’s where it pays to have already collected a name at the time of the opt-in.
For example, suppose you know the lead is in your database because they called a phone number that is only provided in your follow up messaging.
The lead may be on record as a simple auto responder profile, or they may be represented as something more sophisticated, like a contact record in a CRM system.
In either case, attempting to locate the lead in the database might be difficult if all you can use for the look up is an email address (you may not be provided over the phone with the same address that was used for the opt in).
A name on the other hand is almost certainly going to be unique.
If a name was captured at the time of opt-in it will allow you to associate the person you are speaking to with the record created when they first entered your sales funnel.
A name lookup in your lead database therefore allows the phone operator to associate the sale with a pre-existing contact record, and by extension, with the initial opt-in event and the campaign ultimately responsible for the sale.
Maybe the sales person will modify the customer record then and there by adding a sales entry.
Or maybe they simply jot down on a piece of paper the details of sale and the identity of the lead so that the lead record can be updated at the end of the day.
Either way the end result is that the sequence of events from the initial opt-in to the eventual sale (even if it happens months or years later) has been faithfully tracked.
Why is this important?
BECAUSE WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW (ABOUT YOUR LEADS) MIGHT JUST KILL YOUR BUSINESS
In addition to their email address and their name we can often collect several other pieces of information about our leads at the time they opt-in.
Information such as their gender, the age bracket in which they fall, their interests, the geographical region in which they live, their income bracket…
All of these demographic markers – and more – are available, for instance, to Facebook advertisers.
Even the particulars of the advertisement you ran to acquire that lead can be passed along to the opt-in page and captured.
If knowing any of this information might help you better market to your prospects, then capturing that information into the auto responder profile of your lead, or a separate tracking database, could prove to be HIGHLY useful in the days ahead.
At the very least it helps you determine which are the under-performing ads so that you can stop running them.
This is especially true of the 10 to 20 percent of leads who will buy from you within 90 days of entering your funnel (a time frame short enough to be of relevance to your currently running ad campaigns – whether free or paid).
This is the key to long-term campaign profitability.
So when you prepare your opt-in page ask yourself just what information about the prospect is available to you and try to capture the parts of it that might be used later to determine where it is that you should be focusing your marketing efforts.
“And if your campaign should FAIL – what’s the plan?”
So I had made the case that TESTING the copy first, before drastically rewriting everything, was the way to go with my bathroom renovation client.
And take it from me, if you hire a copywriter who is at all good at what they do, and you ask them to significantly revise their copy before placing it even one time in front of a real source of potential leads (and not your significant other, your family, or your friends) you aren’t ever going to be working with that copywriter again.
Imagine for a moment that you hired a professional to renovate your bathroom and then once they had finished their work, before even bothering to check that the water was flowing from the facets, you suggested they hand you their hammer and chisel so that you could go to work correcting their “design mistakes”.
That’s why not.
When the novice suddenly assumes the role of expert in the service provider relationship the odds of the project going off the rails goes up dramatically.
As part of the testing process, I explained to my client, it would be a very good idea to TRACK the source of the leads and the advertisements he had been using to send prospects to his web site.
He had been paying for leads using text advertisements appearing on Google search engine pages.
But he had also been talking about Google display advertising (banner ads), Google consumer audience ads, and Facebook ads.
At the same time he seemed fairly resistant to the idea of tracking his results.
He felt that keeping a watchful eye on precise performance of his ads was more of a marketing luxury – something we could come back to and look at “once things are working and the money is coming in…”
But if it doesn’t work, I pointed out (and you just know I’m going to tell you that nothing works right the first time), then you’ll have spent all that advertising money and you’ll have absolutely no idea what went wrong or what to do next. You’ll be back to square one.
As he continued to retreat on the tracking front I suggested that perhaps we could use a “quick and dirty” approach to tracking… something that even the most spend-thrift and tech-averse marketer ought to be able to implement if they would just allow themselves to consider the possibility of it.
CONNECTING THE DOTS… AND THE BETTER-THAN-NOTHING APPROACH TO TRACKING
It is easy to scoff at marketers for failing to track the profitability of their campaigns.
But in fact tracking is an inherently difficult task to perform.
To do it well requires a great deal of thought PLUS the use of specialized tracking software designed to intercept click events (such as the click that takes a prospect
from an advertisement to a landing page) and record those events without the prospect ever noticing what is going on.
To do a top-notch job of tracking your lead generation process you will generally need help from someone with considerable tracking expertise.
Years ago I resolved to use a well-known piece of tracking software to determine the exact “average life-time dollar value” of a customer who passed through my auto responder.
The result was an elaborate system of tracking that promised to do precisely what it claimed…
Alas, ingenious as it might have been, in practice it was very difficult to implement.
Only the most technically-minded could have enjoyed the challenge of setting up such a tracking solution.
On the other hand, it is not so difficult to capture information about the demographics of your prospect, and the advertisement responsible for their visit
to your page, right into the auto responder record, where you can find it later when needed.
You can do this WITHOUT having to implement fancy tracking software.
The trick to doing so begins with the recognition that good auto responder platforms offer the ability to use CUSTOM FIELDS, the purpose of which is to allow you to capture more than just the name and email address of your leads.
So let me tell you how to track your leads using the better-than-nothing approach.
It begins with constructing a smart ad destination URL.
This is the URL that ferries your prospect from advertisement (blog post, guest article, podcast or whatever the lead-attracting platform might be) to landing page.
Often marketers will implement Google Analytics as a means of passing ad information to their landing pages and then recording it with the Analytics platform so that a report can be generated showing WHERE your prospects are coming from.
The variables that carry this information are known as campaign parameters, or UTM parameters because the variables are prefixed with the string utm_
So for example, utm_source carries information on the nature of the source of leads.
If using paid ads the value of this string might be adwords, facebookads, sitescout and so on.
If leads are arriving in response to an email solicitation then the string might be the newsletter name, and the value of the utm_medium variable would be email.
The complete list of UTM parameters:
- utm_source – where the prospects are coming from
- utm_medium – the nature of the medium carrying the ad
- utm_campaign – the ad series identifier
- utm_term – (optional) keywords if using search ads
- utm_content – (optional) ad differentiator for split-testing ads
It’s important to realize that Google Analytics provides a simple way to see where prospects are coming from, but NOT what they do after hitting your landing page.
If you want to track what happens next – like a decision to make a purchase 30 days later – that’s going to require a more sophisticated “conversion tracking” set up that involves adding conversion pixels (event spies) to your pages (or else someone manually updates the contact record with sales information as discussed above with sales taken over the phone).
So you may already be in the practice of passing some advertising information to your landing pages, especially if you are using Google Adwords or Google display advertising.
The point to keep in mind is that regardless of the ad platform you can pass advertising and/or demographic information to your opt-in page by tacking it onto your ad destination URL.
It may be in the form of UTM variables, or it may be in some other form.
Let me emphasize this – any information you can pass to your landing page, be it ad-triggering keywords, the identifier of the ad copy or display banner, demographic markers that characterize your audience, the day of the week and the hour the ad was shown… ALL of this information can be passed into the auto responder profile (as custom fields) when the lead is acquired.
This is the basis for connecting the dots using a “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to tracking.
We just toss the information into our lead database when we create their contact record and we worry about getting it out later when a sale happens.
It’s primitive, it involves no tracking software, and with a little care on our part, it works.
We can determine which lines of marketing bring in money, and which simply burn a hole in our pocket.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR IMPECCABLY-DESIGNED FUNNEL FAILS… MISERABLY
And it very likely will.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article the odds of success are slim when you begin a completely new campaign.
Because it is territory you are treading as a stranger you are bound to get a little lost.
Knowing this right from the start helps, because it is at this point (when you begin to redirect prospects from your advertisement to your landing page) that everything goes to hell and people up and quit.
I’m talking about you, dear reader.
“This online lead generation stuff simply doesn’t work,” you holler at the screen showing your campaign numbers. “I’m not wasting my money on this!”
So what actually goes wrong here?
It could be a dozen different things.
You won’t know what until you begin the testing.
But here’s a few clues to increasing your odds of hitting it out of the park the first time – keep it simple, don’t try to do everything yourself, and for goodness sakes do perform a sanity check or two before you go for broke.
Because not everyone does…
“I got the results back. I’m not happy with them.”
What results? I thought to myself.
I’d patiently waited one full week to hear back from my bathroom renovation client on whether I should implement my “quick and dirty” approach to tracking.
Because without it we would have no idea which ads or keywords might be generating conversions on his Google Adwords campaign.
We wouldn’t know the detailed conversion rates for the opt-in page, and we wouldn’t know the corresponding conversion rates for sales (if there were any).
Without this information we would not be able to optimize his ads.
It had not occurred to me that he would go off and secretly begin testing the page without confirming with me that it was ready for that.
He wasn’t the only one keeping secrets – I had one of my own.
If he was going to be showing a well-written ad to Google Adwords search engine prospects and directing them to our opt-in page I was expecting at least 50 percent of those prospects to opt in for the lead magnet.
But I wasn’t going to tell him that and get his hopes up before everything was in place.
Instead what he got for his clandestine efforts was a paltry 10 percent conversion.
I was surprised he’d done so poorly.
Until I learned how he had gone about his “testing”.
I had told him earlier that it would be a good idea to test initially with the source of leads he understood best – his Google Adwords prospects.
Yes, it was the most expensive type of paid advertising available to him, but it was known to convert.
That made Adwords an excellent place to dial in the copy appearing in the ads and on the opt-in page.
Once we had figured out how to make it work there he could try the same messaging elsewhere.
Instead, he had decided to test ALL advertising platforms at the same time – Google Adwords search engine, Google display (banners), Google consumer audience, and Facebook.
Without tracking anything.
I probed for more details and learned that he had got SIX opt-ins in total, and FIVE clicks on his Adwords ads.
Numbers so small it almost did not make sense to try to infer anything from them.
But it was all we had to work from…
Because he had not tracked, I pointed out, for all he knew FIVE of those opt-ins were Adwords leads and his opt-in rate for that source was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.
Or it might be ZERO PERCENT – who was to say?
It got better.
It turned out that most of his Facebook prospects were viewing his ads on mobile devices.
Not only had we not got around to optimizing the page for mobile traffic, my client had not even checked whether the page displayed on mobile.
It did not.
Between the time we had built the opt-in page and the time he began running ads to it he had switched his site from secure page loads to non-secure and had not thought to mention it to me.
The change from secure to non-secure protocol meant that one of the files controlling the formatting of the mobile page was no longer loading.
The opt-in page on mobile devices was a mess.
What kind of things can go wrong during the testing phase that you cannot easily foresee?
As I hope this example makes clear, quite a lot of things can go wrong.
But as bad as his test had been, the news was actually encouraging.
The page load problems could be fixed.
The ad sources could be tracked individually.
All this BEFORE even beginning to dial in on the best performing ads.
But we will never know how well it might have worked or whether my client could have made that extra one million a year in income.
Because he quit.
After that day I never heard from him again.
But quitting at this stage is like a hurdler bowing out of a 300-meter race after encountering the first hurdle.
Even if you get over the first hurdle there’s another seven waiting for you.
Your successful competitors know that.
In fact they are counting on those hurdles to keep you from catching up with them at the finish line.
You WILL be tested at every stage of putting together your winning campaign.
Contrary to what a lot of other marketers might tell you, I am confident that there is NO Law of Attraction working to bring success your way.
It’s hard work, the willingness to forge on without results for periods of time that far surpass the point when others have suggested maybe you ought to give up and move on, and the vagaries of Lady Luck that determine whether you finish the race or not.
No one can help you with that third factor, but you do have some say on the other two.
IN SUMMARY: IS THIS EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW TO SELL A HIGH-TICKET ITEM?
No, but it is an excellent start.
In this article I’ve laid out a very solid, very standard approach to acquiring leads which can then be nurtured to the point they become high-value clients of your business.
I have not discussed HOW you go about the nurturing phase which is no trivial matter.
How to engage with your leads so that they come to know, like, and trust you – or relationship marketing – may be the MOST valuable skill you will ever acquire.
No surprise then that you won’t find me tackling it here (another day perhaps).
What about the simplicity of the opt-in process itself – could it be improved?
Yes, it could, but not without significantly complicating the lead generation process and substantially increasing the work load associated with putting together the funnel.
The opportunity to really improve such a funnel arises when you know or suspect that your product or service appeals to multiple market segments so that your conversion rates could be substantially improved by tailoring your marketing message to each separate segment.
In this case you might put a survey in front of the opt-in page and ask a series of questions to have the lead qualify themselves first, by expressing their direct interests, before they are ever added to your newsletter.
This allows you to put the lead onto the newsletter, or email message sequence, that best speaks to their desires, needs, and frustrations.
One such implementation of this approach is the ASK Methodology developed by Ryan Levesque.
If your business is making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in profit and you are already well-versed in the construction of the simple funnel outlined in this article, then moving to the level of sophistication offered by the ASK method may be the logical next step for you.
But if you have yet to get your first lead generation page in place, start with the simple opt-in approach laid out in this article, the steps of which can be summarized as follows:
The EIGHT STEP Plan To Sell A High-Ticket Item
- Decide that you are going to BUILD A LIST OF LEADS and use an automated email management system to slowly win them over to your way of thinking.
- Create an irresistible LEAD MAGNET that promises to help solve one of the core problems faced by people you’d ultimately like to have as clients.
- BUILD AN OPT-IN PAGE dedicated solely to getting your prospects to provide you with their email address in exchange for that lead magnet.
- Learn how to drive your IDEAL PROSPECT to that opt-in page using (scalable) paid advertising platforms.
- Create an initial series of FOLLOW UP MESSAGES that work to convince the 10-20 percent of hyper-responsive leads who will buy your product or service within the first 90 days of being on your list.
- Over time, optimize the front end of your funnel by TESTING to see what message resonates most strongly with your audience.
- Continue to BUILD OUT the follow up sequence in your auto responder for your “not ready to commit yet” leads. That way, when they are finally ready to pull the trigger and solve the problem for which you have demonstrated expertise, you’ll be foremost in their mind.
- BRAG to your friends that building a profitable online business is no big deal.
For some business owners, this approach to lead generation is all they ever implement and it works like a charm to attract a steady stream of high-paying clients.