Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Website Orchard

Consider your online business or website comparable to a fruit orchard. With the right precautions, weed prevention, fertilization, irrigation and care, you'll have a healthy bounty of fruit, albeit, when the time is right. To taste the rich flavour of ripe fruit, you've got to pick it at just the right time, before the birds get it! Then you've got to handle it with care, nourish it with ambient temperatures and conducive storage as you watch it ripen. Enjoy the ripe fruit -- a result of your hard work. But stay on guard and don't lose sight of the next crop!

That was some "food" for thought. But here's the logical explanation of the metaphor used. Your business process must be geared to convert more inquiries into qualified leads and qualified leads into sales; i.e. Lead Nurturing. To make your website a fertile ground that will reap the best results, you need a strong foundation of Conversion Architecture™. The guiding philosophy of Conversion Architecture™ is to be aware at all times that a website of any nature must have a persuasive purpose.

To apply this as the blueprint of your website, you must start by defining your business objectives and matching these to your target audience. Keep in mind, that your audience is profiled primarily on their needs broken down into demographics, psychographics and where they are in the buying cycle (which decides their behaviour on your site). Your goal then is to ensure that every element of your website persuades visitors on your site to take the actions that lead to the delivery of your objectives (conversion). Monitor and measure your results to ensure that your efforts are driving results to your bottom line.

Take all the right steps to remove the weeds (unnecessary distractions) and rotting soil (broken links). Maintain a steady infusion of organic fertilizers (professionally written, SEO friendly content). Trim, prune and manage the online landscape to encourage positive reactions and call to action. Remember that every click on your site is a step towards conversion. Visitor satisfaction with every click on your site should build confidence until they reach the final click where they convert into a customer. That is time for harvesting. It is also the time to watch for dangers of going bad or turning away. Leads, like fruit, are perishable!

Conversion Architecture™ follows the 40/40/20 Rule – 40% Audience Targeting, 40% Offer and 20% Creativity. Whether or not you use diverse Internet marketing methods like pay-per-click advertising, landing pages, viral marketing campaigns, etc., you can always think of your website as your primary marketing vehicle. Build it using the 40/40/20 Rule where (a) every element of the website keeps in mind the majority of users and their varied profiles; (b) there exist multiple acquisition channels making a variety of offers and (c) aesthetic design and creativity offers unique and personalized experiences for site visitors.

Lead nurturing online can deliver some stunning results. Here's a real life example: A WSI customer went to a Marketing Conference and exchanged a 100 business cards. Taking care to get their permission, he added all his green fruit, i.e., leads, into his online CRM (customer relationship management) database. Two days later, he sent out an email newsletter to the 100 new leads. The email had a few links to his website, a button to download a free whitepaper and a coupon with an interesting offer for first time customers.

The morning after his email campaign had been delivered, he called one of the recipients on the phone to say, "Hello Bob, I believe you just read my email and downloaded the whitepaper from my website an hour ago. I was hoping to get your comments or initial reactions. Is there anything I could help you with in your business today." Needless to say, Bob was stunned and they met for coffee soon after to discuss what is today, an ongoing and profitable business relationship.

The WSI customer kept an eye on his email box and when notification arrived that Bob had downloaded the free whitepaper, he took the opportunity to contact Bob, at the best possible time to enjoy the fruits of his efforts.

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