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Coming home from the gym earlier this week, I pulled into the parking lot of a local grocery store that was on the way. I needed to grab some cleaning supplies really quickly. And although I knew they would cost more there than at WalMart, it was convenient.

Except it wasn’t. The store was entirely out of the four things I went in for, and I left. Not only was I empty handed, but a bit annoyed as well. Instead being a convenience, it cost me time and meant I would have to venture out again later this week.

We may never know why a potential customer comes to our website and leaves without buying anything. We do know that, as of the latest data, people rarely if ever buy on their first visit to your site. And in fact, 70% may never darken your virtual doorstep more than their first time.

So what can we do to keep them – engaged, aware, educated and customers? It all starts with a transaction.

The Price is Right

As the saying goes, this is where the rubber meets the road. Or, at least the start of it. Ideally, you’ll want customers that are taking the car out a lot, to drive the metaphor into the ground, so to speak. But even before we look at how to manage that, we need to make sure we’re speaking the same language.

For starters, a transaction isn’t simply an exchange of money for goods and/or services. The legal definitions of transaction are:

  1. An act of carrying out some form of business between two persons, typically involving an exchange or trade of ideas, money, goods, etc.
  2. A business agreement or exchange, and
  3. Any activity in which two or more persons are involved.

My simplified definition with the marketing world is an exchange something of value for something of equal or greater value. So, yes, exchange of cash for goods and services are included in that concept. But it can also be agreeing to sacrifice your autonomy for the benefits of a business relationship. Or volunteering your contact info (email, phone, physical address) for a Lead Magnet (white paper, pdf, template, checklist, etc).

Each transaction should be evaluated, if you can, to ensure that it is, ideally, benefiting both parties. Since I’m speaking primarily to business owners, I’ll point out that what you’re offering had best be worth what the customer is giving or – or exceed it, if possible. This sets a positive precedent right off the bat.

Just like the Bible says, whoever is faithful in a little will be faithful in much. Potential customers feel more comfortable giving you more value and even money, because they got valuable information in exchange for their email.

To Tell The Truth

Another important factor in these early, non-financial transactions, is managing awareness. The more your business identity is kept top of mind in potential customers, the more likely they are to recollect it when they’re ready to spend money.

Remember, a huge percentage of website visitors are there to do research. They want to find prices, learn about options, approaches and the like. The more information you can give them on this, the more likely they’ll have positive memories of the interaction.

But two factors come into play. Many people feel compelled to shop around – they may even feel guilty if they buy from the first place they stop. It’s too easy. That’s taken even further in our current world. We’re much less likely to trust that one site is telling us the truth about itself and other companies, even if we’re recommending them.

Additionally, emotion fades quickly. Emotion is the main factor behind buying and we sell to people. BUT, the more time between how a person or company made you feel, the less likely you are to remember that feeling.

But wait, I hear you saying, I still remember, even sense, how it felt when my college sweetheart dumped me and that was years ago. Yes, exactly. The mitigating factor is that you had multiple emotional experiences with that person that reinforced both the positive and raised the stakes of the negative when it ended.

Let’s Make a Deal

The same principle can be applied in strategic marketing. This is why the early transactions can be SO important. A potential buyer arrives at your website and learns what they came there to find. Then they have an opportunity to download a free pdf or get an email sequence that will help them better address this issue in their business.

So they give you their email and get the free offer. And, because you’re doing it right, it does help them! Or it doesn’t, and you don’t need them as a client. Both create an emotional reaction that serves your purpose. And you have their email to continue to reasonably keep in contact with them – with more relevant information.

All of this adds up. They know they can trust you. You’ll provide the solution they need. They know that you already offer more value than the apparent cost. And they’ll have already made several small transactions with you. Every time they take the time to open and read your email is another transaction. All leading them down that proverbial ladder of small yesses, tiny, easy to agree to commitments.

So when the time comes that they’re ready to spend money, they love you, trust you, and are willing to accept your proposal of marriage, er, business.

Match Game

Knowing a lot about the transactions your customers take on your site and how they move down the sales funnel – or get wedged somewhere higher up – is another great way to narrow your focus. You can create an even more detailed profile of your ideal customer. And make sure you’re keying in their specific decision making process.

Few do this better than Amazon. Yes, that Amazon.

We’ve all been on Amazon, buying something we need or want. In the midst of the purchase – or even just adding something to your wish list – Amazon throws a series of lists at you. If you liked this, maybe you’ll like this other thing? Based on your purchase history, you might like this. Other people who bought that also bought this. Buy? Add to your Wish List?

Amazon also does something revolutionary. Instead of just letting you delete items from your shopping cart, the company offers you the chance to “Save it for Later.” It keeps it on your list, in your queue, and top of mind when there’s a price change, which inevitably will happen.

Amazon bases the whole sales process once you get to the site on targeting the transactions you’re likely to make. Personalized for you by one of the largest companies in the world.

The $64,000 Question

The reason we here at Grow the Dream focus so much on content blogs is manifold. Google loves consistency and regularity. So periodic scheduled posts teach Google’s automated bots to reindex your site a lot more than a static site. Weekly is what we recommend, although I’m sure daily is even better.

Numbers don’t lie. Google’s algorithm gives preference, along with consistency, to sites that have more authority. While it’s not always a direct correlation, your SERP position will almost always grow as your site does. The more pages and posts you have, the more Google indexes them. If, at the same time, those posts offer solutions to otherwise unanswered or underanswered questions, that’s going to put you ahead of your competitors.

At the end of last year, SemRush did an extensive study on top performing blog posts and articles. It found that larger, longer content not only did better on search engines, but also in social media sharing instances.

TL:DR nonsense aside, in real life, content blog posts with 3000 or more words get three times more traffic and are shared 4 times as much as posts fewer than 1000 words. That’s impact you can’t get from ads or paid leads.

The $100,000 Pyramid

Of course, the most important aspect for most businesses is that final question. When and how do these prospective customers translate into sales leads. Better yet, when do they convert into sales – money I can use to grow my business and help more people.

I don’t often use the term “sales lead,” because it has a lot of baggage. Visions of used car salesmen, cold calls, pressure to buy now, and early morning telemarketers. And I’m not the only one who thinks that way. But since that term is ubiquitous in statement and question, I’ll use it to explain further.

See, even though I hate the term sales lead personally, the clients we currently serve and hope to in the future search for that phrase – because it is used everywhere.

But it’s not just about keywords. It hasn’t been for a couple decades now.

I’m going to make a bold promise to you: Doing the proper strategic work, applying it, and choosing to make the strategy the core of your marketing makes almost every person that contacts you a viable, qualified sales lead.

Making the most of those leads and what they’re looking for is the subject of the next few posts. We’re going to look at the value and costs for customers. Then wrap things up with the crucible of strategic marketing – and the hardest aspect to follow.

I hope this series is helpful and informative. If there are any questions I’m missing or clarifications you’d like to see, drop them in the comment section. If you’re ready to move forward now, and want to use Grow the Dream to help build your business with our fully customized strategic marketing solutions, please reach out to us. We have small business plans for all budgets and levels of involvement.

If you missed any of the other articles in this series, the links to them are included below.

7 Questions Your Small Business Should Ask to Focus & Track Key Performance Indicators in Your Marketing Strategy

Where Are Your Customers Coming From?

How Are Your Customers Finding You?

Are Your Customers Looking for Long Term Solutions or Quick Fixes?

What’s The Cost to Get a Customer?

What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer?