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ISM Article

Getting More Sales Online

1 Apr, 2012 By: Corey Smith, Dealer Marketing Systems imageSource

laptopFor as long as business owners have had a location to hang their sign on, they have tried to find more ways to get more and more people to buy from them. What usually happens is, businesses (even experienced marketers) will simply create a punch list of tactics that they think are important to do—and if they do them they’ll get sales.

As a dealership, your own punch list might look something like this:

  • Buy a yellow pages ad
  • Create a jingle
  • Send out direct mail
  • Build a website
  • Hire a sign shaker
  • Send out an email
  • Get on social media
  • Run a radio campaignsign guy

In reality, the strategies to market your business have never changed, but the tactics must be revised to reflect current market conditions. Looking at marketing as a punch list will never allow you to see success because you’ll not look at the most effective tactics when they are most effective. When you treat marketing as a series of punch list items it’s akin to throwing spaghetti on the wall hoping something will stick.

Web Marketing Overview

In my book, “Do It Right: A CEO’s Guide to Web Strategy” I break down your marketing into four key components. In parenthesis, I’ve indicated how I relate them to the Web.

  • Location (Web presence or website)
  • Brand Awareness (Search Engine Optimization – SEO)
  • Visitors (Traffic Generation)
  • Transactions (Conversion Rate Optimization - CRO)

On the Web, if you have a Web presence, there is no guarantee people will find you—this is why you need search engine optimization.

If you are high in the search engines, there is no guarantee that people will go to your website — this is why you need traffic generation. (Note that: sometimes people call this search engine marketing
or SEM; I usually leave SEM to be one of the possible tactics of
traffic generation.)

If you are getting a lot of traffic, there is no guarantee that people will buy from you — this is why you need conversion rate optimization.

What is Conversion & CRO?

Conversion – Getting someone to do something you want (e.g. go to another page, fill out a lead form or buy something).

Conversion Rate - The percentage of people that do the thing you want versus those that don’t.

Conversion Rate Optimization - Making changes on your website that help increase your conversion rate.

One of the biggest misnomers is that CRO or conversion rate optimization is lead or sales generation. CRO is not lead or sales generation. CRO is the process of testing and analyzing your website to hopefully, generate more leads or sales.

Think of it this way. We don’t know what people will do on your website until we observe it. We have certain goals, and we don’t necessarily know how to get there. CRO allows us to create tests to get a higher percentage of people to do what we want (fill out a lead form, buy a product or even just click on another page).

There is another, bigger part to CRO. That is getting the right kind of people to do what we want them to do. We can develop tactics that allow us to maximize the number of conversions we get. We can also develop tactics that will weed out all but the most serious. CRO allows us to figure that out. It allows us to analyze the results in such a way to know that what we do will produce the best results (however we define it).

The Offline Comparison

fingerLet’s compare CRO on your website to your regular sales efforts. When I was selling products both at a national dealership and a local, independent dealership, I practiced the concept of CRO on a daily basis. When I would talk to prospective clients about a piece of hardware, a document management system or a print management solution, I would find conversations that resulted in sales and conversations that resulted in being kicked out the door.

Over the course of the week, month or year, I would constantly modify my approach to net the best results. I would change words and try new ways of asking for the close. As I gained more experience, my closing rate went up.

CRO is the same thing. CRO requires us to make adjustments in our presentation of our website and test to see what happens with the website visitors. We change the home page a little to see if people will click on a link, call a phone number or fill out a form more than they did before.

How do we start? That’s the trickier part. While I won’t go into the tactics here because I want this article to remain more strategic, I will say that it requires a shift in our attitude about how things have to look. We must understand that our opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is what our website visitors do. If we get the conversion we want, but the website doesn’t exactly match our design preferences, maybe we should look at our design preferences and figure out why we are wrong.

With this in mind, your first step is to identify what your goal of your website is. You have to determine what you want your website visitors to do when they get there. Do you want them to browse, fill out a form or call you?

When you have determined your primary goal for your website, you’ll need to create a test that allows you to identify the rate at which your website visitors do that “one thing.” It might mean that you create a new Web form. It might even mean that you create a new phone number that only appears on your website and nowhere else. You must test the outcome to determine if it was successful.

Bringing it all together

Bringing this concept back to the beginning of this article: it is through conversion rate optimization that you can identify the marketing tactics that are actually producing the results. If, what you are doing offline or online isn’t producing stop doing it. Focus your efforts on the tactics that you know are working and your dealership will thrive in any marketplace.

About the Author: Corey Smith

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