A number of the clients that hire me to do web writing are small web-based businesses. They ask me to write web copy to boost their search engine rankings and get people to click through from the search results to the site.
But I’m learning that for many of them, the train stops there…quite a distance from the station.
All the emphasis is on getting people to the site. It’s as if the conversion from site visitor to paying customer (or donor) will then occur by magic once visitors see what the business has to offer.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t generally work that way, and I don’t want any clients or prospective clients to think that it does. While a small fraction of site visitors make a purchase on their first visit, in the majority of cases conversion of a site visitor to a business customer requires getting that visitor to take at least one or two of several small but highly significant intermediate steps. Steps such as:
• Signing up to receive emails or subscribing to newsletters or blog feeds
• Calling a phone number, writing to an email address or filling out a form to receive more information
• Acting immediately to take advantage of a limited-time special offer or coupon
• Using an interactive section of the site to create or complete something (contest, quiz) that involves either signing up for something or inviting friends to visit the site
• Making a small initial purchase of a break-even or loss-leader product/service)
When I suggest that prospective clients consider developing some of these web features to create an ongoing marketing relationship with their visitors, they look discouraged and mumble something about not having any database capabilities to manage the electronic mailing list some of this work this would generate, and not knowing how to send out mass emails to a mailing list if they had one. Many say they don’t have time to blog, and others say they don’t want to get a lot of email. In many cases, it turns out they aren’t doing email/newsletter communication with existing customers, either.
Digging deeper it becomes apparent that often the only person who can do anything at all with their website is a web designer they talk with a few times a year. Simply putting up a weekly coupon or blog post would be a major (and costly) operation. And while the designer can create forms, and set up “mailto” addresses so someone in the organization can receive emails from the site, few web designers are in the database management business.
As the title of this post suggests, I can describe the problem, and posit a theoretical solution to it, but when it comes to identifying website-powered database marketing systems affordable for small businesses, I’m way out of my comfort zone. So if someone can tell me about a solution I can pass long to my clients, I’m all ears.