Increase Sales On-line

People say don’t sell by price; sell by perceived value. How much does this product/ service improve the current situation? How much is that worth?

If you can get that right, you will have the basics of a sales pitch. What else is there? This is my non-exhaustive list based on my experience of being a non-salesperson trying to sell my products:

– Knowing your competition and your unique selling proposition compared to them;
– “…..” (Insert name there) is using the product eg. Add credibility;
– ‘pre-selling’, which is to make people like you or your company, or that you talking in the same tone, with same viewpoint as them. That you understand them. Put pictures up oc yourself and a non-selling About Us page;
– removing friction from a sale- eg. Spelling errors, bad use of language or anything that puts a doubt in peoples mind about the quality of the product. Another point here is one that works for us, but not sure how many others- we took down our free trial – of which we had a 1/20 conversion rate, and experimented with static pages, text and images. This not only increased revenue (curiosity? Less distraction from the selling process?) over time, but it also meant I had more time to get on with my other jobs. It is likely we will put a trial back up when we have more resources to properly follow up the leads;
– awareness of what stage your product is at in terms of its life cycle, eg. Beta, early stage, full product- this will help you speak the right language to the type of customer you are dealing with (innovator, early adopter, mass etc), who all have different requirements from the product.

Hopefully I will add more here as I learn them.

Please give me some more tips!

TimeMaps makes its tv debut

The TimeMap of World History, my companies website, was mentioned on BBC Click today. Although it was only given about a minutes worth of footage, we got a nice spike in traffic, of about 4,000 new visitors, all of whom seemed to have a good poke about.

TimeMaps on the BBC

The TimeMap of World History was featured on BBC Click

With this bump, our traffic went over 60,000 visitors this month and the wind certainly seems to be behind the sails at the moment, as our traffic is climbing month on month. It was only 20,000 a month a few months ago.

This is still only one tenth of my target for my first target for the website, as I believe it has real value to anyone who wants to understand more about history- a user base who create millions of web searches everyday. But I am happy with progress as we could not claim to have promoted the website with any real effort yet.

I did contact the journalists who make this program. This is what I did. I did a bit of background research into the presentor/reporter, and found out that she was a really cool, interesting person (she can be found on twitter @katerussell). So when I approached her I made my email short (opening emails must always be short- 2 sentences max!) but funny. I appealed to her fun nature. She replied to me saying that she would take a look at the site. A month or so passed and I thought the contact had fallen into a black hole, so I prompted her and quickly let her know how the site was of benefit to people. That was it, we were on the show. To be honest, I think the product did the selling. It does help to have a unique and super cool website. But still, its not for everyone and you have to get yourself noticed.

In about February of next year I am hoping to dedicate a lot of time to promoting the website in a real way. I am very much looking forward to this. I’ll let people know what is effective.

What is your on-line influence?

Klout.com is really interesting. It is trying to give every person on-line a score about how much impact they have. How much klout. When you access it and link up your social media accounts it tells you who influences you and who you influence.

It is obviously not using a good algorhythm as it says I am influenced by people I’ve never even heard of – and my top 3 terms am influenced by are “games”, “iPads”, and “queens”!!???- but maybe thats because my activity is so low I barely register. I weigh in at 42 (.26).. Which is 2 above the median level. So basically I hold no sway at all ūüė¶ (Tell me something I dont know).

If you have a klout of 70 or above thats really strong. 80+ and you is da’man. 90+ you could more or less run for government and stand a good shot a the top job. In terms of popularity at least.

I have heard stories about klout- such as people going to hotels in the US and being upgraded because they have a high klout score. These people will say good things about the hotel and lots of people are willing listeners.

I am doing some research on who are the influential people in my social network for a campaign I am about to run and have found it captivating. It must be not accurate- as from my example- but it does show that if you always click on the most influential person from someones “influencers” and repeat, eventually you get up to some massive on-line presences like O’Reilly Media (80), the NY Times (99), and on to Mitt Romney (91) who I was surprised to find takes most of his influence from Barrack Obama (99). Obama takes his from Joe Biden and also FLOTUS. She takes hers from Beyonce among others.

So yeah, its not accurate and doesn’t represent real influence over a given time period but in general terms it does show influence. And it is very addictive and fun.

(Nefariously Cute) Google Panda Help Sheet – SEO

Panda

Google is clever. They use names like “Ice Cream Sandwich” and “Panda” to make us think they are cute. And then make us into slaves that are forced to work hard on the way our content is presented to fit in with them – never mind the initial concept or quality of the content.

I blogged recently about how lame Google is for dealing our fair search engine results.

I have since found out that Google basically recognised that fact and have included big changes in the way it ranks websites. As usual it has not done a good promotion job to those webmasters who are not selling commercial products (directly) by not making this information widely and easily available, unless you are totally on the pulse about SEO, which most people aren’t because of how ineffective “search” has previously been for them.

The new updates, ‚ÄúPanda‚ÄĚ (awww your so cute Google how can we despise you for being rubbish and ineffective when you have make names like Ice Cream Sandwich and Panda or -____- as my girlfriend would put it), is attempting to implement usage statistics such as time spent on the website, pages per visit and bounce rate to effect search rankings. This is expected to raise the quality of sites in their results based on user engagement. Hopefully it will be it seems to me to be just as easy to game and will be even better for established companies who get masses of direct traffic to benefit from.

Google has created a list of guidelines for webmasters that can be found HERE. I suggest you take a look or you will be penalised for not spending massive amounts of time tweaking your website.

Note: I am very sceptical in this post and being very sarcastic (am pretty irked at Google at the moment but am usually more upbeat – infact, this was just an off the cuff blog but I did a good one earlier which I will post later. I actually think it is the best one I’ve written to date..), but all this being said I do understand that a top rank for a well typed search term is highly sought after due to its impact of being like a marketing campaign ran for your site every day. I also believe that the extra power that search offers is that people find you, which makes them think that they are in control, as opposed to being cornered by telesales or other direct marketing campaigns. My main concerns are the nature of how difficult it is for small businesses to compete with the large budgets of corporations. In order to be competitive we have give up our time to hone our website in-line with a single companies web guidelines, which in the end take your bright concepts and make them dim.

Google inhibits innovation and Search is not a strategy for small businesses!

Don't be evil, just don't be good either?

Our company receives about 30-40,000 visitors per month to its website. The vast majority of these, about 75% come from search engines. Our top ranking key word brings us about 450 visitors, which is about 1.75%! And that word is, you guessed it – the name of our website: timemaps. Pffft – according to Google we are only good for appearing near the top of the search engines for the name of our website. The rest of the search traffic comes from long tail results.

The next highest words that bring us traffic are “world history timeline“. This brings us 0.63% of our traffic; about 180 visitors. Using Googles Keyword Tool I¬†can see that there about 27,000 monthly searches for these words and using Webmaster Tools I know that we have appeared 6,500 times in it’s results and have a click through rate of 3%. So we are near the bottom of the page, underneath the fold.

The problem I have with Google is that we easily have the best world history timeline on the internet. Surprise surprise, Wikipedia is number 1 and barely contains anything, rather it just directs peoples away to further content. There are a few wall charts you can buy in the other top slots – who will be undertaking highly targetted SEO work to ensure people find them; and there are some very old websites that contain list of dates and events – these will have many old websites (the older the better for Google) linking to them who have accumulated a strong page-rank over time.

We knew all this from the outset so we created a highly innovative product that provides a visual way of looking at world history. Since we set off on our journey 4 years ago, the web has changed significantly and people have stopped creating websites, and now more often contribute to others (web 2.0), or just curate the content of other sites (social bookmarking) . But none of this provides enough strong link content to individual websites to appear high in search terms.

OK, the obvious point I have to deal with here is that, maybe our website is just not good enough to make it go viral. But infact we have got significant traffic and every now and again someone adds us ta social book marking site such as StumbleUpon or Reddit and we get thousands more extra users. But the small number of actual links created from peoples own domains are is not enough to improve our position in the search engines. Our website IS awesome. We were invited to present our website to the National Council for Social Studies in the US due to how useful it is for education, and one other factor that makes me believe we have a good website is a story from my friend. He was in Thailand working as a teacher. While at a random beach party he overheard some people having a conversation about history and the name of our website occurred. He spoke to them to ask if he heard it correctly, and was told from this guy about how amazing our website is. We get comments like this all the time from all around the world.

CONTENT IS NOT KING ANYMORE!

Recently, an SEO company called me up to offer me a free report. After they had taken a look at the competitive landscape they ran a mile. They said it would take a year of constant sustained effort to begin to rank for the terms we are suitable for – they knew we couldn’t pay for that. What is the answer here, Google?

I know very well that some very inferior products to ours make 6 figure sums each year from adverts alone by ranking high for the search terms we want – one of these sites was even featured by Google as a success story. They plough in enough resources to maintain these positions, and should everything change, then with all this profit, they could innovate over the top of us.

In a nutshell, Google fails small businesses. More precisely, “search” is not a business strategy for small business as Google inhibits innovation with their current search ranking mechanisms. Google – who’s motto is “don’t be evil” – is really, actually, not that good!

Increase Sales with your “About Us” page

Increase sales with About Us page

I recently wrote a blog about how the price of your products should be lower when you first start out because you simply don’t have the case studies and the brand leverage to make you the “go to” company in your niche. Seth Godin promptly blogged (un-relatedly) saying there are many factors that should be looked at to better market and sell your products – lowering price should be avoided if possible. He made some excellent points.

The blog post can be seen here: Selling Peace of Mind

I have since been experimenting with my About Us page on the TimeMaps website (HERE). The differences between my original and my test was enormous! It was the difference between 1 or more orders a day and 0 orders per day.

It’s hard for me to show you what I changed because I deleted it, but by literally adding a couple of lines of text, people seemed to be turned off. When I removed those lines of text, people started purchasing again. This page is not even linked to from the sales page, only the website navigation menu at the top. But it shows so very clearly just how much investigation people do into the business, as much as the product. It also shows just how¬†sensitive¬†your website is and you need to be constantly tweaking and A/B testing EVERYTHING, to ensure it works towards its primary goal of making sales.

The ironic thing for me is that I tried to make the About Us page more “salesy” when it all went wrong. This ¬†suggests that people do not want to be sold to on a sales page, they want to know your simply About You. Of course, this forms the foundation of a study..

I will now begin further tweaks:

– I will try adding a photo of our team,

– I will add more personal histories and how it all began,

– I will make it longer against making it succinct.

These kind of tests will help me learn more about what my user want on this page, and how it influences their sales decisions.

Comments welcome..