Section A. How to Target Your Customer Base
Step 1. Determine What You’re
Step 2. Check Out Your Competition
Step 3. Put Yourself in Your Customers’
Step 4. Create Your Customer Profile
Step 5. Find Out Where Your Customers
Section B. How to Grow Your Online Business
Step 6. Test Proven Methods of
Step 7. Turn Your Website into
a Marketing Tool
Step 8. Build Credibility
Section C. How to Turn New Customers Into Loyal
Step 9. Use Email as Your Main
Direct Response Tool
Step 10. Reward Customers with
Step 11. Give Great Customer Service
Step 12. Find More Products to
understate the case, your chances of succeeding in business are
greatly increased by knowing what business you’re really in. So
here’s the test question: If you have a commercial website, what
business are you really in? Multiple choice makes it easy; choose
one of these:
While any of the first three choices are true
enough to be said, "none of the above" is the right answer. Why?
Because we’re after an answer that’s even more fundamental.
(b) a virtual storefront
(c) an online catalog
(d) none of the above
Doing business with your website is a new form
of an old business: mail order. From the marketing perspective,
it’s Direct Response Marketing. In an article in Fast Company
(April-May’98), Seth Godin, the CEO of Yoyodyne, described it
as "the finest direct marketing medium in the history of mankind."
Godin is right, and the right answer to the question is that your
website puts you in the direct sales business.
What if you’re not actually processing orders
on your website, but sending your prospects elsewhere to buy?
Where the orders are placed is essentially irrelevant. You’re
still in the direct sales business.
Success in the direct sales business requires
that you do direct response marketing. The plan that follows is
based on the fundamentals of direct response marketing, adapted
to the Internet.
1. Determine What You’re Really Selling
Define exactly what your prospective customers want to buy from
your company. When you can explain the benefits in two sentences,
you’ve achieved your goal. In general, companies tend to talk about features
of their products and the company. But your prospects are primarily
interested in the benefits. "If I buy this product," they want
to know, "what will it do for me?"
This step is about your benefit statement(s).
Look at your products as solutions to your prospects’ health problems.
Explain how your products can solve those problems in two sentences.
Our associate, Declan Dunn, calls it,
"the elevator presentation". He says, "Imagine that you get on
an elevator with your target customer and you only have until
they get off on the next floor to describe exactly what your product
will do for them."
Energy, immunity, longevity, less fat,
more muscle—be as specific as you can.
2. Check Out Your Competition
To be familiar with the choices your prospects have on the Internet.
You’d be surprised at how often companies skip
this step. They know what their competitors are doing in the physical
world, so they assume they know about the virtual world too. Not
necessarily. The Internet is a special medium, and it makes a
big difference whether or not your competitors understand it or
not (chances are, they don’t, and you can take advantage of that).
And don’t forget that the Internet tends to level
the competitive playing field. A start-up can look just as formidable
as a fifteen-year-old company. Also, you might find competitors
you didn’t know about—there are companies doing business on the
Internet and nowhere else.
3. Put Yourself in Your Prospects’ Shoes
To position your website through your marketing so that your prospects
know why they should choose you over your competition.
Shopping on the Internet, the competition is
not blocks or miles away, they’re only a few keystrokes away.
So at this point you can take advantage of the fact that your
competitors are probably using their websites like electronic
brochures or magazine ads, not like the superb direct response
sales mechanism it really is. Reacting like your prospects, you
would probably choose to favor your website if:
Key words in the above points are "easy", "clear",
"quick". Remember that the number one reason people choose to
make Internet purchases is convenience. To do a better job of
solving your prospects’ problems, you must to it conveniently!
||There is a clearly stated Unique Selling Proposition
(USP; see How to Determine Your USP).
||There are clearly stated and motivating benefits.
||There is an immediate reward for visiting,
like a free report or subscription to your online newsletter
||You are an excellent information resource
for your niche(s).
||Your site loads quickly, is logically arranged
and easy to navigate.
||Your sales process is simple and quick.
||You provide easy-to-use email interactivity
to answer questions and fulfill customer service.
4. Create Your Customer Profile
know who you are selling to so that your communications address
their needs and interests. Who is being addressed by your marketing communications?
"Everybody" is the wrong answer. You can’t sell to everybody in
general, it has to be somebody in particular:
Get a sense of the identity of your typical buyer
by asking such questions, then address that person—not everybody.
Once prospects becomes customers, you can begin
to learn specifics about them. You will establish trust and they
will willingly answer questions in the "tell us about yourself"
category. (At the outset, it is best not to ask for more than
name and contact information.) Be prepared to organize this information
in a contact manager or database. In time, you’ll be able to address
specific segments of your database, or even address customers
their 30s? 40s? 50s?
degree? Professional person?
income? Above average?
problem are they trying to solve?
Step 5. Find Out Where Your Customers Congregate
target the best places for your marketing messages.
are millions upon millions of health seekers endlessly surfing
do the same thing on the Internet that they do in the rest of
the world. They find a limited number of places—typically between
ten and twenty--that appeal to their health interests and they
tend to go to those places repeatedly. People "hang out" on the Internet—this step is
about discovering where they do it. Where do they go to keep up
with the topics that interest them? Where do they go to communicate
with people of like interests? Those are the places to target
with your marketing messages.
PR factor: Press releases give you the opportunity
to broadcast news about your health-related website. And, because
of email, sending press releases is far simpler than the traditional
hard copy method. But the fundamental rule is the same: Make sure
your press release is truly news-worthy, don’t abuse media contacts
6. Test Proven Methods of Web Marketing
To make your marketing cost-effective by focusing on what works
best. One of the great advantages of online marketing
is that testing is so comparatively inexpensive and fast. And
the availability of tracking software, statistical software, and
the statistics available from most Internet Service Providers
makes it simple. You can and should track whether your visitors
come via search engines or the various other parts of your marketing
Calculating the conversion rate from these various
sources will show you where your marketing dollars are best spent.
from your opt-in list
from other lists
7. Turn Your Website into a Marketing Tool
ensure that your site is fully integrated into an effective direct
1. Establish as many points of contact as
possible on your home page. Use it as a place to generate emails,
phone calls, faxes, and snail mail enquiries. Set up autoresponders
||fulfill requests for free reports and other
||send sales letters and announcements
Gathering email addresses is really the name of
the online marketing game.
2. Place your offers in the hot spots. Because
we read left to right, top to bottom, the hottest spot on a computer
monitor is the upper left hand corner. Because people tend to
scan websites rather than read them, the hottest areas are the
top, the left hand margin, and the bottom. (A survey found that
banners placed at the bottom did 200% better than the same banner
in the middle of the screen.)
3. Make sure your visitors see a clear ordering
process early in their visit. On average, people visit successful
business sites for seven minutes, during which time they see no
more than 20% of it. (These numbers tend to be higher on news,
entertainment, games, and chat sites.)
4. Bring people to your site via "portal
pages", not just your home page. You can appeal to a micro-niche
with a specialized product, bringing them to an internal page
which, of course, is linked to the rest of the site.
5. Employ tried and true direct response
techniques. The average customer makes his or her first purchase
on the fifth visit to a website. The more you can shorten this
cycle, the more profitable your website will be. Try:
Step 8. Build Credibility
1. Develop the promise
behind your offer. Your offer and the way you present it will make
or break your online business. Use headlines and bullets to quickly
establish what you’re promising.
Build curiosity, get your prospects clicking
on your headlines and hyperlinks, get them exploring. The more
they look, read, email you, ask questions, the more qualified
to buy they become.
Develop your promise in content pages—this is
where you build towards closing the sale. Headlines and bullets
get them involved, content leads to the sale.
2. Give your customers
the chance to tell you what problems they want to solve.
Your customers are looking for a solution to
a problem, even if they haven’t consciously identified it. By
helping them define what they need, you drive them to the solution.
The key is asking the right questions and listening to the answers.
"Top three" questions in a survey form often work well: you might
ask them to name the top three:
they see in your product
Or simply provide them with the opportunity to express
themselves. Use a form with a blank comment box for them to write
they would like to get from your product
they think your product might solve
3. Convince them
your product can solve the problem.
The two best tools for this are:
Both are good, but testimonials are best because
they are more human, less abstract. But don’t sign testimonials
"J.S. of San Jose, California; sign it "John Smith of .
. . " The person’s initials are much less convincing than their
name. Solicit testimonials with a bonus, such as a free bottle
of x for a usable testimonial--including the person’s name--about
- Third party literature from credible sources,
9. Use e-mail as your main direct response tool
use your opt-in lists to establish a relationship with your customer
that he or she values enough to tell others about you—the Internet
is a great instigator of word-of-mouth advertising. "Opt-in" means your customer has exercised the
option to be included on your email list. You have their permission
to communicate to them consistently over a long period of time,
or until they request that you stop.
Here are some ways
to use your opt-in lists:
Send your customers offers repeatedly, but be
wary of over-doing it. You don’t want to be so persistent that
you bug them, cause them to quit your list. Your goal is to find
that core of customers that take you up on just about every offer
you make—they pay your rent. It is 5-6 times cheaper to sell to
an existing customer than a new one.
10. Reward Your Customers with Bonuses
To make it clear that you truly value the relationship.
Examples of great bonuses for your customers:
Be creative. It’s not just good business to make your
customers feel appreciated, it’s fun!
- A password-protected "members section" for
special reports, discussion boards, and special offers.
- Samples of new products.
- Informational, product-related audiotapes.
- Free ads in your classified ads section. (You
don’t have one? Consider it—they’re a great attraction.)
- Attach a dollar value to a health report and
send it digitally—free.
11. Give Great Customer Service
To make it a pleasure to do business with you. Is the customer always right? You bet—even when
they’re wrong. Worried about losing money on a transaction? Don’t
worry, it’s an investment in a long term relationship; the longer
the relationship, the greater the return on investment.
Michael Dell of Dell Computers does not focus
on his sales volume, which is over $3 million per day and growing
rapidly. He believes that customer service online is what forges
a relationship and brings people back to buy again and again.
Surveys show that he is right. Your customers want the sense of
other human beings working with them, supporting their buying
decisions. Great customer service is not a bonus; it’s a necessity
for building customer loyalty.
||include some form of "thank you"
||deliver on all promises
||cheerfully handle complaints as quickly
as you fulfill orders
12. Find More Products to Offer
To make your website a more attractive place to shop and increase
your revenues. Shelf space is no problem on your website. Theoretically
at least, you could have a million products. Don’t try it, but
you get the idea . . . and that’s where affiliate programs enter
What products or services don’t you have that
would make sense for your customer base? Chances are, you can
find it available through at least one other company’s affiliate
How about increasing your revenues by setting
up your own affiliate program? You can do that too. Made famous
by the booksellers amazon.com, affiliate programs are an Internet
phenomenon that make joint venturing possible on an unprecedented
have gone through a mini-tutorial on Internet direct response
marketing, the kind of marketing behind successful websites. Are
we worried that you’ll just take the information and do it all
yourself? No. You don’t have experienced marketers with extremely
deep natural products backgrounds just sitting around doing nothing,
waiting to become instant experts.
You’ll probably recall that one of the principles
in the tutorial is that your prospects are looking to you to solve
a problem. Likewise, in the relationship between your company
and Fred Rohé Marketing Solutions.
You are our prospect. Your problem is either that:
Our purpose in taking you through the tutorial
is to show you how we’ll solve your problem. We’ve taken the mystery
out of the process--our two companies will be on the same page
during the process of solving your problem.
- You have a website that isn’t profitable, or
- You have a website that isn’t profitable enough,
- You will have a website and don’t know how
you’ll make it profitable.
One last point: You may feel that your company has
the resources in personnel and time to handle certain aspects of
your Internet direct response marketing. That’s fine, we’ll work
out a split of the responsibilities. Let’s work together to make
your Internet venture a real profit center!