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1 ½ Ways to Make More Money With Online Selling

luxury carOnline selling is just like selling in a brick-and-mortar store.  In both the digital and material realms, you are dealing with real people who need real solutions.  When you work to find out what those potential customers really want, you also find additional opportunities to match your solutions with their needs and interests.  This why we recommend 1 ½ ways for you to make more money with online selling.

We chose the number 1 ½ because our two suggestions, upselling and cross-selling, are not entirely distinct.  These tactics for online selling are very closely related, and the ways in which you want to deploy these tactics are similar.

Upselling is when a business takes the opportunity to sell a customer an upgrade or a more expensive item that better suits their needs.  Sure, tons of customers need a vehicle that gets them from point A to point B, but every day customers buy what they want, which is a vehicle that has air conditioning, power windows, and a built-in foot massager.  Okay, maybe they don’t spring for the foot massager, but offering a luxury version of a car is a perfect example of upselling.

Cross-selling is when you sell additional, related items to a customer, which increases their spend.  This tactic is most successful when the products you offer your customer are related to a product they are already about to purchase or a product they already purchased.  For our example of the luxury vehicle, items such as floor mats, car wax, or future service packages (such as maintenance and oil changes) all represent opportunities for cross-selling.

While these are very common practices offline and in auto dealer showrooms, many companies neglect these practices when it comes to online selling.  Ignoring the potential for online upselling and cross-selling is a huge lost opportunity because the technology of a great ecommerce solution actually makes these tactics easier!  For example, Dynamicweb’s All-In-One Ecommerce solution tracks what products your customer looks at on your website, and it also integrates with your ERP system to “remember” your customer’s past order history.  You then use this information to make suggestions for the most relevant products at the most relevant time, which is the essential philosophy for both offline and online selling.

By using your customers’ interests and past orders as a guiding light, you have a distinct advantage in relevancy over competitors that just make blind offers and hope that their products strike a chord.  And this relevancy matters.  You want to do your best to make sure that your recommended products and services to potential customers are actually of interest to those customers!  Intelligent technology that allows you to categorize products by type or kind gives you better opportunities to group these products together for bundles and discounts.  In online selling, just as in offline selling, there are opportunities to make more money by increasing the average order value of each customer.

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Our Top 10 Lead Generation Ideas

Lead GenerationWhat do you want?  Leads!  When do you want them?  Now!  The best lead generation ideas are designed to attain contact information and permission from your prospect for you to reach out.  In short: To get the email, gate the content.  That’s the philosophy we covered in our previous blog post.

Blogs, infographics, and fun memes are all content that engages your website visitor, and they’re useful when given away for free. For higher-value content (that takes higher effort from you), you want to get something in return.  What content do you put behind the lead form, though?  What types of content entice prospects to hand over their precious email address?

There is no #1 best piece of content to offer behind a lead form.  That depends on who you are and who your customers are.  There are ideas with a record of proven success though.  Here are our top 10 lead generation ideas (in alphabetical order):

  1. Case Studies

Although Dynamicweb gives away a series of case studies for free on our site, potential customers do give their email addresses out for long-form case studies.  This type of content is great for someone who is further along the funnel and wants to delve into how your business works and how you solve specific problems.

  1. Digital Tools

One of the primary concepts for lead generation ideas is that whatever you are bartering for your prospect’s email address has to be valuable to that person.  Branded digital tools related to your business such as templates, checklists, and calendars all have a functional use, which makes them desirable objects.  There’s a reason that promotional pens disappear so quickly at tradeshows!

  1. eBooks and Whitepapers

We’re combining these two because they serve a similar purpose.  Whitepapers are more authoritative documents about your business or industry while eBooks, split up into smaller chapters, are more casual and interactive.  Both are long-form content, though, and they take time and effort to research and create.  For this reason, eBooks and whitepapers hold unique value that is worth putting behind a gate.  And according to Pew Research, 3 in 10 adults have read an eBook.

  1. Free Trials

Especially useful for software companies, free trials acclimate potential customers to the solutions you sell.  When a lead downloads a free trial, you definitely want the ability to follow up with them.  Ensure a good user experience by asking if they have any questions about the product.  For the consumer, the value of a free trial is that they get to try before they buy.  Free Trials make a perfect offering for lead generation.

  1. Podcasts

Everyone loves podcasts.  Whether Serial or This American Life or Joe Rogan or Marc Maron, podcasts are taking over.  So if you have a relevant podcast that your prospects want to listen to while doing their groceries or gym exercises, then you have a very valuable commodity.  Just put those downloads behind a gate and email your customers to see if they want more information on any of the topics you cover.

  1. Product Demos

Another lead generation idea that is useful for potential customers further along in the buying cycle, product demos engage prospects with a first-hand experience of how your products work.  And then, after watching the demo, those leads may even go for the free trial!

  1. Product Documentation

In the old days, you’d have to send out a box of CD-ROMs if you wanted your customers to have all the necessary product documentation.  Nowadays, you want to make it easy for customers to get the support they need with e-learning tools.  All that you require is that they fill out a simple lead form, and the documentation is right there for them.  Win-win for the both of you.

  1. Research Documents

If you’ve done research related to your industry, those reports are at the top of the list when it comes to lead generation ideas.  These documents inform potential customers, guide them to a purchase, and establish your expertise.  Many companies even outsource the actual resourcing to specific firms in order to get the reports for their own online lead generation.

  1. Video Series

Video is everywhere.  You can’t even escape auto-play videos on Facebook or website advertisements.  Fortunately, there are still videos that are helpful for customers, rather than irritating.  These include How-To videos, Instructionals, or even fun side projects.  Videos allow you to get creative, and as long as your videos hold a value for the end customer, you want to put a few behind the gate in order to get that email.

  1. Webinars

While free content such as blogs help establish your expertise, webinars are for potential customers who want their learning to go deeper.  Once you’ve established a baseline of trust, prospects sign up and invest serious time into hearing you speak about your business and industry.  This is your opportunity to prove you are able to solve their pain points.  The information you speak about is valuable enough that customers understand when you gate a webinar behind a lead form.

*** A Note on Getting That Email

Once you get the email, you want to be respectful of your leads and potential customers.  Don’t spam them and always give them an option to unsubscribe.  Not only is this the law in the United States and Canada, but you also want to leave everyone with a great user experience and a trust in the integrity of your brand.

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Get That Email: The Essential Tactic for Online Lead Generation

GateYou want more leads.  How did we know that?  No, we’re not psychic (although we do help companies use predictive technology to personalize websites.)  The truth is that online lead generation is a top priority for companies that do business online.  Even companies that don’t know how many letters are in the word “Internet” still want to generate leads online.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get that email.  Online lead generation is all about getting the contact information of your prospect in order to begin a conversation.  After all, conversation is easier when you have the ability to send them personalized emails based on information and interests they have shared with you.  But how do you get their email?  Beg?  Plead?  Grovel?

In order to get over your potential lead’s fear of spam or email harassment, you have to offer a mighty good piece of content.  Then you take that content and lock it behind a 12-foot-high steel gate called a lead form.  A lead form is where your prospect enters in their name and email address in order to access or download the content that you are offering.  Capturing leads to conversation.  (That sentence works multiple ways!)

Now, you are probably asking what type of content is the silver bullet for online lead generation.  The answer depends on who your target market is and what type of product or service you are selling.  Most important, that content has to be enticing.  It has to be something that is unavailable on your competitors’ websites.  You have to override the voice in the back of your prospect’s head that says, “I don’t want to give up my email because this faceless company is going to spam me with irrelevant messages.”

This content should be lightly branded, but it’s not meant for a hard sell.  The content you put behind the gate should help your customer.  Nobody wants to give up their email address in exchange for a sales pitch.  When your prospect asks “What does this content do for me?” there should be an answer.  This content, instead, is used to capture the contact information for you to begin a conversation that ends in a sale.

You’ve heard of the old game show trick of hiding a prize behind “Door Number Two.”  We don’t recommend trying prestidigitation for online lead generation.  You want your content to have an alluring title, a clear description of what is behind the gate, and a beautiful image to speak a thousand words.  Let your prospect know what they’re getting.  All of this is proven best practices to get that email.

We still hear you saying, “Okay, Dynamicweb, but WHAT am I supposed to offer?”  In our next blog post helping you to Get That Email, we’ll cover 10 ideas for content that works great for online lead generation.  Stay tuned.

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Prepare for Google’s New Gmail Block Button – 3 Email Marketing Tips

Gmail PictureWith some fanfare, Google recently announced that Gmail, on both mobile and desktop, now has a “Block” button.  Rather than sending specific emails to a spam folder, a simple two-click process now allows users to banish email senders, never to be heard from again.  In a continuing trend on the web, the new Gmail block button is yet another tool that puts the power in the hands of the consumer.

The process is pretty simple.  Right underneath the “Reply” and “Forward” options sits the new Gmail block button.  Users can undo their decisions, but the G-block gives email recipients the option to make a split-second decision on the relevance of your email marketing.  The path from email to conversion just got another hurdle.

So how do email marketers contend with the new Gmail block button?  How do they avoid being blacklisted or “G-listed”?  This post isn’t going to give you any hacks or magic tricks.  What you need is some good ol’ fashioned quality marketing.

  1. Receive Permission

A quick path to the G-list is to send unwanted emails.  If you got a customer’s email because they ordered a product from your website, make sure they had the option to check (or uncheck) a box to receive email communications.  Your special offers and newsletters may have value, but if those emails are unsolicited or forced on an unsuspecting customer, they won’t be welcomed with open arms.

Permission also includes the ability for customers to unsubscribe from a given newsletter or marketing email.  The new Gmail block button shuts down a sender completely.  Rather than put a past or potential customer in the position to block all your emails, give them the power to opt-in and opt-out from specific email content.

  1. Make Your Emails Relevant

Personalize your emails!!  We put two exclamation points there because personalization is that importantUsers won’t hesitate to hit the Gmail block button on emails that aren’t relevant to them.  If you email a car dealership an offer for bicycle parts, you should expect to get G-listed.

On the other hand, when you tailor your emails to the end user, you have a much greater chance to engage them.  You want to identify users by whether or not they’ve made a past purchase, what their order history is, their demographics, their interests, and other data.  The list goes on.

How exactly you segment these groups and customize your emails is up to you.  Decide which factors are most relevant to the solutions you offer and base your groups on that.  What matters is that you use this information to target your email recipients and maximize the relevance of each email.

  1. Use Analytics.

Put simply, if you are using your gut instinct to determine which emails are working, you’re making a huge mistake.  And that mistake is costly when users have the Gmail block button at their fingertip.  You want to make the most of each tool at your disposal.  For email marketing, it’s best to utilize detailed analytics to determine which users are opening links and which links get opened the most. 

Analyze the pages that your emails are linking to as well.  Make sure these pages are relevant to the original links, so that users arrive at a page they feel is a bait and switch.  A/B testing is an especially effective tool to see which emails and pages convert more.  By using hard data rather than instinctual feeling, you improve your emails and increase the chance you don’t get blocked.

The new Gmail block button provides a new hurdle for email marketing to jump over, but it hasn’t changed the paradigm.  Users want relevant emails with information and offers that pertain to them and their interests.  And they demand full control over which emails they get and how often they get them.  When you have A-list email marketing, that’s when you avoid the G-list.

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2 Customer Experience Statistics You Should Know

MetersA long, long time ago, customers would walk their donkey into town and shop at the local bazaar.  Needless to say, in this consumer culture, the customer didn’t have much choice of either products or vendors.  Even their donkeys were powerless to help.  In the ferocious competition between e-businesses, however, the customer has tons of options, all available at the click of a button.  The power has shifted from the seller to the buyer, and the main differentiating factor is now the customer experience.

Great customer experiences lead to more conversions, customer retention, brand loyalty, and other benefits.  Frustrating customer experiences chase prospects away faster than you can spell CX.  (Note: CX is an abbreviation for customer experience.)  The huge impact of the customer experience on an e-business is shown vividly within the Econsultancy report called The Consumer Conversation.  Here are 2 important customer experience statistics that you should know:

  1. 81% of brands say they have a working holistic view of their customers.

The key word here is “holistic.”  Sure, lots of brands know something about their customers.  After all, it’s not hard to look up at a zip code from a previous order.  But do you have a holistic view?  Are you looking at your customers at the intersection of what they buy and who they are?  Their interests, purchases, demographics, and psychographics?

A holistic view of your customers is essential to giving them the best customer experience possible.  Every interaction with your customer, including form submissions, emails, phone calls, order history, what pages they visit on your site, etc. gives you a larger picture of that person.

Once you identify what makes your customer tick, you then have the opportunity to personalize their online experience.  A personalized journey guides customers through the buying process and makes it easier for them to find the most relevant content and solutions for their needs.

  1. Only 37% of consumers feel that their favorite brand understands them.

Wow.  Only 37% of customers believe that their favorite brand is able to respond to their needs and give them the customer experience they want?  And that’s the customer’s favorite brand!  That’s not even their third or fourth favorite brand.  That’s quite a drop from the 81% of companies that think they have a working holistic view of their customers.

This statistic puts doubt to the idea that those 81% of companies actually have a working holistic view of their customers.  And if they do, those brands are not using this view, this knowledge, to their advantage.  This is why online personalization is necessary for a great customer experience! 

Personalization lets online customers know you understand them.  A great customer experience is what differentiates business in the online sphere.  When you recommend products, suggest content, and use the data you already have about your prospects and customers, you not only have a holistic view of your customers, you act on it too.

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