Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools you’ll ever have at your disposal.
Because it’s easy to say great things about yourself. Anyone can do that. But with a testimonial, you’ve got someone else doing it. And bear in mind this is someone else the reader can identify with, simply because they are in the same position as the person giving the testimonial was before they bought your product or service.
And virtually everyone who’s studied even the most basic courses on marketing knows this, which is why they’re used so often (although not nearly so often as they ought to be).
Now, one big advantage of having a testimonial on your web-page as opposed to having it just in print is the choice of media you have.
There’s no doubt at all video sells better than anything. This is no big surprise because face-to-face human interaction is the key to persuasion, and video is the next best thing to actually being there – meaning a video testimonial is the next best thing to actually having your past clients and customers sit down with your prospects and tell them how great you are.
And it doesn’t have to be difficult intrusive or expensive: a simple hand-held video camera you can slip into your pocket and plug straight into your computer will cost you less than £100 if you shop around.
Even getting the testimonials doesn’t have to be hard: if you’re running a local business, you can drop in on your customers and clients (by appointment!) or even get them to do it while they’re in your premises or at the sales meeting – wherever you are, it doesn’t matter too much.
Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask… and ask before you’ve done the work or made the sale in the same way as I encourage you to “set the scene” by asking for referrals in advance of the sale, using a form of words like, “I grow my business with testimonials, and if I do a great job for you I hope and expect you’d be willing to say a few lines into the camera here, just so I can help other people just the same way I’ve helped you”. This is a very nonthreatening and low-key way to ask for a testimonial. And because you’ve asked for it upfront, if you do do a great job for them, then the Rule of Reciprocity, and the Rule of Consistency & Commitment mean they’ll almost always follow through with it.
You can do a similar thing if you’re a solely on-line trader: set up the expectation of a video testimonial in advance, both in your marketing emails or on the sales page or even on the confirmation page with a check-box already ticked. Don’t underestimate the power of Reciprocity and Commitment & Consistency.
Then it’s simply a matter of uploading them to your website and you’re done.
But it gets even better than this: a video testimonial is actually three testimonials in one: you can transcribe it for your static media (along with a still-photo from the video); you can extract the audio (again, with a still-photo); and you, of course, have the video itself.
Video is big… and growing bigger. Video testimonials have the potential to be absolutely huge but as yet, few people are using them.
I strongly encourage you to give it a go before your competitors do.
If you sit down and have a conversation with your average website-designer, you’ll hear phrases like “creative design”, “eye-catching” and “state of the art”.
They’ll tell you that the use of lots of whitespace, fancy graphics, and all the latest technology is going to turn your website into a money-making machine.
They’re probably well intentioned. They probably believe this themselves. But they’re wrong.
The truth is that most web-designers are really graphic designer, often with some software-programming thrown in. Don’t get me wrong: they do an important job and they do have a place in the business world.
However, that place is not as marketers, even if that’s how they position themselves.
And you can always tell when a web-page has been designed by a web-designer and not a marketer because it looks fabulous but does nothing to move the visitor into taking any action, whether it be buying something, submitting their email address, or some other response.
Every single page on your website must have a purpose and at the end of your message, you must have a call to action. You need to be saying to the visitor, in effect, “This is what you need to do to get the benefits I’ve showed you, and I want you to do it now”
For the call to action to work, for your visitor to want to take action and get their hands on whatever you’re offering them, you’ve got to sell them on the idea. You’ve got to get as close as you can to giving them a direct experience of what you’re offering. You have to tell them everything they need to know to make that decision. You’re not going to achieve that with a couple of lines of copy and some smart graphics.
On a web-page, whether you’re doing it in writing or with a video, you’ve got to tell the whole story because you can’t know in advance what each visitor is going to want to know.
And that takes time – and more content than your average website-designer is going to be happy with. They’ll be telling you to keep it brief, spaced out, and uncluttered.
But the truth is, the more you tell, the more you’ll sell. And the real truth, which will have your web designer reeling in horror (one of my favourite activities) is that ugly web pages normally work better than smart ones.
Remember: your marketing is too important to be left in the hands of people who don’t understand it. And (unless you’re one of the fortunate ones) that probably includes your web designer.
Businesses are always searching for the Holy Grail of Online Traffic.
The more traffic you have coming to your site, the more prospects you can convert into customers, which means more money. One of the most effective and cost efficient strategies to drive targeted traffic to your website is ‘Article Marketing’. Not only does this strategy increase your customer list, it provides links from other sites which are great for SEO, and it establishes YOU as an expert in your line of business.
Article Marketing is a powerful way to create relevant, quality inbound back links. When your articles are published in newsletters, this creates a highly relevant link back to your site, which will in turn increase your page rank and listings.
How does it work?
You write or hire someone to write articles on your products or service, then submit them to various article sites online with your contact information link. Your prospective customers surf the net looking for a solution to a problem, they read your article, they like it and click on your link, which takes them back to your site or sales page. Other publishers may want to re-publish your article on their blogs/sites. They can do this as long as they keep your contact links intact, which helps you to reach an even larger audience.
How to Get Started:
-Do your research and find out what your customers need and want. Do they have problems to solve? Find the solutions and make a list of articles to write.
-Write an article on each solution – make sure your articles are original, good quality and show a bit of personality. Don’t write an epic – 400 – 450 words is a decent length.
-If you hate to write, or would rather outsource this task, hire a freelance writer. Reputable freelance sites include www.elance.com and www.guru.com. Be sure to ask for previous samples of work.
-Remember your Keywords – Research which keywords are used by your customers when they search for your business and put them in your article title and body. Don’t over use them – 4/5 mentions in one article should work.
-Write a great resource box – Each article must have an ‘About Author’ box at the end, which links back to your site or sales page. Write a compelling offer to entice the reader to click the link.
-Submit your articles to Ezine and Article directories – This takes some time, because there are hundreds of them, but you can also use an automatic article submitter that will send out your articles to thousands of directories at once.
-Measure which articles get read more often. This will give you some clues on what your customers needs are.
-Continue to write articles on a regular basis. Having more content on the web that points back to your site, means more potential customers.
Article Marketing is one of the tried and Proven strategies to build your list, become known as an expert and offer value to your target market. The more articles you have out there, the more links you have, which raises your page rank in the search engines which means more traffic. It’s a win-win!
Search Engine Optimisation -or SEO, is a multi million pound industry in the UK alone. There’s no shortage of ‘experts’ eager to take your cash to assist in the task of getting you high up in the Free listings on Google and the other search engines.
These experts have a couple of key things in common. First, they virtually all refuse to be paid on results, or at least results that are worth achieving (I once offered one of the world’s ‘best’ SEO companies $50,000 if they could get me a number one listing for the keyword ‘Marketing.’ They politely declined.)
The other thing they have in common is that they want you to think that getting high up on the search engines is complex. The more complicated it is, the less likely you are to do it yourself and the more likely you are to hire them for this online rocket science.
Actually, I would not rule out bringing in outside help for your Search Engine Optimisation, particularly link building. But it’s not complex. Or to be more specific, most of it is straightforward and where it can be complex (in dealing with Google changing its algorithm) there’s a limit to what you can do to beat the system long term.
So here are the key principles of Search Engine Optimisation.
1 Your page title is very important. Google sorts by pages, not websites. The title of your page should be the main keyword or keywords for that page.
2 The content of your page has become increasingly less important. Filling the page with keywords will only make a difference in un-competitive markets.
3 The key factor is incoming links (other websites with a good reputation linking to you).
4 Two way, reciprocal links may well be devalued by Google (but they won’t do you any harm).
5 The words that are used to link to your site are very important. They need to relate to your main keywords.
6 Google gives every page on the web a score out of 10. This is called page rank. Use the Google toolbar to discover your page rank and the page rank of sites linking to you.
7 New websites may not rank as well as well established sites.
8 Small sites may not rank as well as larger sites.
9 The first step is to make sure that Google can easily find all of your pages. Include a site map that’s linked to from your home page.
10 WARNING Even if you’re doing well on the free listings, never become dependent on them for new customers. The smartest people on this planet work at Google and one of their jobs is to spend Google’s billions improving the search engine so that it becomes increasingly difficult for you and I to artificially create good listings. Focus on doing well on the search engines – but think of any customers it brings you as a bonus.
If your website conversions are poor and you’re confident the traffic you’re driving to it is qualified, the first thing to look at is your copy. Nothing kills a sale quicker than stuffy, boring, formal web-pages.
But before you go out and hire an expensive copywriter, stop a moment and think. Because while persuasive copy on your web-page is important, it’s not worth a bean unless the people reading it like you and trust you.
Liking and trust is fundamental to selling anything. And the way to get people to like and trust you is to be open, sincere and honest.
In short, simply by being yourself.
You see, the most natural thing about you is your personality; and it’s the most powerful, compelling and effective sales tool you have. The reason for this is simple: liking and trust is the basis for the relationship you seek to cultivate with your clients, customers and prospects.
The big mistake business owners make when they come to write copy for their web-pages is they slip into the horribly pompous and formal kind of language you expect from a lawyer. They often teach you to write like this at business colleges, too.
Don’t. It’s horrible – it’s stilted, impersonal and won’t do a thing for your sales. So the trick is to put personality – YOUR personality – into your business and onto your website. Make it lively and fun. Here are 4 simple tips:
Practice writing as you speak. You don’t speak like a robot, so why should you write like one? We humans have all the persuasiveness we need already wired in at birth, and we learn to use it as children. So forget what they told you about being “professional” in your writing and write your web-pages as if you were having a cosy chat, one to one, with a friend over a cup of tea. Write the pages from “I” and address them to “you”. Sometimes you might have to use “we” and “us”, and that’s OK so long as the message itself is from YOU, an individual. Remember, your conversions will increase when people like and trust you, when you have a relationship with them – and relationships grow between individuals, not groups or companies.
Tell your story. People will like you and trust you when they know a bit about you and consider you a friend. So don’t be afraid to reveal a little bit about yourself in your web-pages. The more you tell… the more you’ll sell.
Make your pages entertaining and fun. The fastest way to lose sales is to bore people – and stuffy formal web-pages do exactly that. Keep people interested and they’ll keep reading. And the more they read, the more likely they are to buy.
So here’s something you can do right away on any pages you feel are under performing: go over them with a fine-toothed comb and make sure your personality is coming through and the pages really are building those all-important relationships. Do this, and I guarantee your
conversions will increase.
Until now, I’ve actually been quite guarded in my comments about Pay per Click Advertising (Google Adwords)
(If you’re new to Pay per Click or PPC, it’s paying to appear at or near the top of Google’s listings when people search for words and phrases related to your business.)
The reason I’ve been guarded is that Pay per Click has been so successful in the accounts that I’ve worked on, I’ve hesitated in just assuming that everyone else will experience the same success. But I’ve seen a clear trend emerging over the last year that can no longer be ignored.
Virtually every business owner I meet who is defying the Recession and doing extremely well (and there are many of them) is doing PPC and has become an expert at it.
At a recent meeting of my Platinum Group in Florida (Platinum is a small group of elite business owners who I work with personally throughout the year) only one person in the room was not using PPC – and the only reason for that was, he’s doing so well he could not cope at the moment with the flood of extra customers that Adwords will bring.
So this month’s Internet Profit Strategies has a simple message but a profoundly important one.
If you’re not currently doing PPC, or you’ve tried before with no success, please make this year the year you get serious about it. It seems to be the most important development in Marketing for many decades – and for those willing to master it, it also seems to be offering the potential for stunning profits.
And the Recession offers another golden PPC opportunity. Because most business owners have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to internet marketing, manyare pulling back from their online Advertising. Which means you can get better positions for less money.
There is an art and a science to PPC and this year it’s going to become an increasingly important focus in the VIP Inner Circle. I hope that by the end of the year, you will become one of the success stories and one of the increasing number of smart Entrepreneurs I meet who are using PPC to just shrug off the recession
The Internet is such a cool one way delivery system (you send your customers info for free via email and websites) that it’s easy to miss out on the real power of the Internet as an INTERACTIVE media.
The internet enables you and your customers to have a two way conversation. Not just that, it enables you to have that conversation with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of them at the same time.
There are several ways to do this – but one of the best is Surveys. If you’re not using online surveys, you’re losing out.
The use of Surveys taps into an absolute fundamental of good selling – that sales is ultimately about meeting your customers’ needs.
Now if you own a store and your customer walks through the door, it’s fairly straightforward to establish their needs. (It’s equally scary how few stores employ people who know how to do that)
But online, it’s a different story. You end up guessing what their needs are and in business, that can be dangerous.
Online surveys solve this issue by asking your customers any question, and as many questions as you choose. You can subscribe to a good online survey system for 10-20 pounds per month and trust me, the information your customers will give you is gold dust. They’ll always surprise you.
The best part is, customers love filling them out. People really enjoy the interactivity of the internet and many will jump at the opportunity to answer fairly deep, probing questions.
By establishing their needs it’s pure win/win. Your customers feel recognized and you’re able to sell to them in a way that pinpoints their need with laser like precision.
Here are the two survey systems that we use:
IMPORTANT: If you’re starting a new business or only have a handful of customers, you can still tap the power of surveys without using a formal survey system. Just email your questions to them. You’ll be surprised how ready people are to respond and their answers will be invaluable to you in growing your business.
The homepage (front page) of your website plays a key role in your online strategy. Get it right and it will entice visitors in and encourage them to stay and build a relationship with you. Get it wrong and they will be gone forever. Here are some key homepage tips to make sure that the entrance to your site helps, rather than hinders your online performance:
1 What’s it for? Many people (particularly web designers) concentrate on the visual elements of the homepage. But before you begin playing with design, you need to be very clear what you want visitors to do when they arrive at your homepage. Do you want them to buy from you immediately, make contact with you, give you their email address or just browse your site. Whatever it is, you want your entire homepage and the words and graphics on it to lead people to your desired action.
2 What’s the Headline? The headline is the first thing that captures the visitor’s attention when they arrive on your homepage. Ideally your headline will be words – an actual headline. But if the first thing visitors see is your company logo or a huge photo of your office building, that is still the equivalent of a headline. It’s your headline that will determine whether people stay on your site or go surfing somewhere else. This is extremely important. Research shows that 50% of people leave a typical website within 8 seconds. So the first thing people see on your homepage is proportionally significantly more important than anything else.
3 Make it easy to Read It may seem obvious but many Entrepreneurs are still sabotaging their online strategy by making their pages hard to read.
As a general principle, black writing on a white background works best and you need to be very careful when veering away from that. If your page is at all hard to read, a proportion of your visitors will give up.
We end up with strange, multi coloured websites because we feel that our site needs to be different. This is a dangerous myth. Different does not sell online. There’s absolutely no need for you to be different. Go look at how pages are designed on some of the world’s most popular websites, BBC, CNN etc. They’re simple, basic and they work.
4 A Compelling Offer As you know, I’m a strong advocate for encouraging visitors to your site to sign up for some type of free information, in exchange for their contact details, primarily their email address. You need to give this serious thought when planning your homepage. It can seem counter intuitive but you may want to actively discourage people from browsing your site, because the more they browse, the more likely they are to leave without doing anything. Make sure that you have a big, bold enticing offer on your homepage that encourages people to sign up to something of value.
Sometimes I go on about things so much, I bore myself.
But when I see an Internet Marketing Strategy that I know can make any business owner significant amounts of money – and then I see people not doing it – it drives me crazy.
Countless businesses have spent millions of pounds researching what works and what doesn’t on the internet. I myself conduct hundreds of tests every year.
The verdict is in – and it’s clear.
Using the internet as a ‘lead generation’ vehicle by offering your potential customers a compelling Free offer on your homepage or internal ‘landing pages’ (the pages you send visitors to) will produce a response that’s often 500% -1000% higher than just trying to sell to them straight away.
That’s a lot of %
It’s also a lot of money that you’re leaving on the table every month if you’re not doing this.
People say “Oh this does not apply to my business.” Trust me. It does, because it’s dealing with basic human psychology.
One of the reasons your website may not be doing as well as you want it to, is because it’s too much to ask someone who’s never head of you, who stumbles on your website, to immediately make a decision to spend money with you.
But it’s not too much to ask them to begin a relationship with you, by you offering something for Free in exchange for their basic contact information (at least name and email address) You could offer them a Free Report, Article, Sample of your product, Video…the list is endless.
I’ve been advising people to do this for several years and I’m still surprised at how few Entrepreneurs are actually doing it. By the way, a tiny box, hidden in the corner of your homepage offering visitors your newsletter doesn’t count! (Just offering a newsletter does not work any more. It’s perceived as boring.)
So please do this for me in 2008. Create a big, bold offer on your website, offering visitors something they can’t resist, for Free, in exchange for their contact information.
Then follow up with them in a sequence of emails and let your emails do the selling.
This one strategy can transform your results on the internet. Please use it.
Recommendations from your existing customers – Referrals – are one of the great ways to grow any business. They’re not only free (or virtually free.) They also tend to bring in the best, most loyal customers.
Many businesses do very well from referrals without pro-actively seeking them. But don’t just wait for referrals to come to you. Go out and get them.
There are dozens of great referral strategies. Here’s one of what I call “The Chris Cardell Favourites”. It’s simple but effective.
We all know that it pays to give your customers material to pass on to their friends, relatives and colleagues. This will normally be a brochure, flyer, maybe an offer or a voucher.
But think about it. If you can get a customer, who thinks you’re great, to have a conversation with someone about you – and get them to hand something over to them – surely it’s a great investment to make sure that what they hand over truly impresses the person receiving it.
My recommendation is that you move beyond brochures. Give your customers a GIFT to pass on to people – a gift that’s specific to your line of business. It could be a book on your core subject, or a sample of your product, or a DVD (maybe a physical version of the video you offer on your internet landing page)
Include your branding on the gift and a direct call to action to get them to contact you. It will impress them. It will show credibility and it will begin the relationship with the new customer on a great note. They’ll feel positive about you and that will directly influence how much they’re willing to spend with you.
It’s a shame that so many businesses spend so much on ineffective Marketing and Advertising, yet they’re unwilling to make small investments on these types of strategies. I’m sure you’ll be smart enough to think differently. To have your best customers out there in the world, armed with your material is the best (and lowest cost) sales team you’ll ever find.