By Amanda Crangle

Imagine, for a moment, a sales representative who works for your company struts into an appointment with a prospect. They sit down at the customer’s table, open a few brochures, look up and say, “Well, Mrs. & Mr. Smith, I’m a water expert and have been at this job for 20 years. Here are a few systems that would improve your water. All the information is right here. I’ll give you a minute to read them and then you can tell me which you’d like to buy.”

Mr. and Mrs. Smith would likely exchange “Can you believe this guy?” looks and politely ask the rep to leave, right? The entire premise of selling is to make a connection and it only takes seven seconds for someone to decide if they like you or not.[1] On your website, it only takes 50 milliseconds[2] for them to decide whether to keep reading or hit the back button.

Whether you’re selling a massive industrial solution, a simple under-sink filter or just trying to get your three-year-old to eat their peas, selling is part of being a human. So, why is it that when we build our marketing strategies, campaigns and materials, so many of us fail to make a personal connection? We’re much like the salesman in the first scenario who plops down at the table, doles out a few brochures and asks for the sale.

Our websites read like product manuals, void of conversational tones. Our ads, landing pages, blogs and brochures promote products and yet fall short of connecting on an emotional level. We forget that when people search online, what they’re looking for is an honest answer to their questions. So what questions are they asking and are you effectively answering them? Do you know what questions are being asked that directly pertain to your products, services and water quality?

With sites like Wikipedia and a barrage of affiliate and content rich sites that fill people with water treatment information that may or may not be accurate, it is more important than ever to define yourself as the trusted advisor in your area for water quality issues and treatment. This is especially pertinent now that we have research stating 57-90 percent of people have already made a buying decision before speaking with a salesperson.[3]

Do you see the value in understanding your audience, knowing what questions they have, understanding their wants and needs, and providing them with the answers they seek when they’re looking for them? After all, every market is different and water quality can vary greatly. Some markets may have a high demand for arsenic solutions, others for chlorine removal – that is precisely why taking the approach of listening to your audience is imperative.

Our goal should be to convert our marketing into a consultative sales approach – a humanized extension of our team that listens, educates, analyzes and does more of what people like and less of what they don’t. In the last article, we discussed the Traffic section of the Traffic, Conversion, Economics segments of your marketing. This article is about converting that traffic at a higher rate through the L.E.A.D. method: Listen, Educate, Analyze and Do (more of what people like and less of what they don’t).
In order to understand others’ perspectives, we must first ask questions and listen to their responses. What problems are my ideal customers facing? What search terms are they using to find answers? What kind of effect is their problem having on their ability to live a quality life? Does my marketing address these issues in a way that is trust-building, educational, honest, transparent and personable?

Stop for a moment and pull up your website. If you’re alone, read it out loud like you’re having a conversation with someone about your business. If you’re with someone, have the conversation while reading verbatim off the homepage of your website or a product page. Does it flow like a normal conversation with questions and answers? Does it sound like a person or a product brochure? Do you have pictures of your team, videos or testimonials to personalize your brand? What tools are on your website to help you ask questions to better understand your audience? Are you using surveys, polls, live chat, or heatmaps to understand your visitors better?

These are all excellent ways to discover why people have come to your site, if they’ve found what they’re looking for and to get ideas on improving your site to reflect more of what your audience wants. Your front office team, salespeople and technicians all answer customer questions day in and day out. They’ve likely heard every objection under the sun from “reverse osmosis causes too much waste” to “just tell me what a water softener costs!”

Tap into your team’s brain trust and have a dedicated person on your team help write down the answers to these common questions. Then have a marketing person on staff or your marketing agency craft articles that can be added to your website, shared on social media and even made into videos. You can use tools like Google Trends, AnswerThePublic.com, or Google’s Keyword Planner to get ideas of search volume and search queries outside of your team.

Once you begin to answer questions, educate and overcome objections, you’ll be able to add clarity to the buyer’s journey that will earn you a lot of brownie points, while also helping your site rank better. Ultimately, it will increase your site’s conversion rate. A conversion rate is the rate at which people contact you. For example, if 100 people visit your site and 10 people submit a form or call the number on the site, your site has a 10-percent conversion rate. By improving the site, we can improve the conversion rate.

How do we know what we should change or add to win more friends and influence people? Test it! The best way to validate a hypothesis is to employ the scientific method. If you’ve ever been to one of my classes, you’ll know our team loves testing. We’ve discovered that a culture of testing truly is at the heart of success in marketing and sales.

Testing on a website is not as complicated as it sounds. You can use free tools like Google Optimize to test two different versions of a page on your website and monitor form submissions and phone calls (using a call tracking number) to see how many people contact you from each version. Or, if you’re in the e-commerce space, you can monitor add-to-carts and sales.

Here are the steps to the L.E.A.D. method:

  1. Listen. Listen to your target audience by researching what they are asking online. Use polls and surveys to ask them questions once they’re on your site and tap into your team’s expertise by asking them to write down the most frequently asked questions, concerns, objections and preconceptions they encounter
  2. Educate. Craft educational content answering questions through articles, videos and even podcasting or live streaming
  3. Analyze. Analyze which pages on your site need the most improvement. Typically, these are the pages with the most visitors as increasing the conversion rate will get you more leads versus lesser-visited pages. Have your team or marketing agency brainstorm how to improve the page by analyzing the way people have answered your questions and what they’re trying to learn about your products or services. Then create a hypothesis and have your marketing agency or internal marketing team test it using split testing software like Google Optimize. Be sure to define the goal for the experiment. If, for example, it’s to increase calls and form submissions, ensure you’ve got the proper tracking capabilities in place. You’ll also want to make sure that you only declare a ‘winner’ if the statistical significance is above 90 percent (ideally 95+percent)
  4. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t: If your hypothesis is proven true and your idea improves results at a statistically significant level, update the site with the new version. If not (meaning 89 percent statistical significance or below), keep the original version and go back to the Analyze phase to understand why your idea didn’t perform as well as you hoped. Either way, you’ll learn valuable lessons and will avoid the trap of making random updates to your site without knowing if it works or makes things worse.

Improving the rate at which your site converts people into leads is one of the most potent forms of marketing and surprisingly, only 17 percent of marketing agencies in the USA use this tool. It’s one of the few ways you can get more leads for less money. Pretty awesome, right!? If you have questions about the L.E.A.D. method, feel free to reach out to our team. We’d love to geek out on your questions and help you develop ideas to humanize your marketing and improve your site’s conversion rate.

References
1. Gibbons, Serenity. “You And Your Business Have 7 Seconds To Make A First Impression: Here’s How To Succeed.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/serenitygibbons/2018/06/19/youhave-7-seconds-to-make-a-first-impression-heres-how-to-succeed/
2. Lindgard, Gitte; Fernandes, Gary; Dudek, Cathy and Brown, J. Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression! https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01449290500330448.
3. Gillam, Rosie. Study: Half of B2B Buyers Make Up Their Minds Before Talking to Sales Reps. https://www.millerheimangroup.com/resources/news/study-half-of-b2b-buyersmake-up-their-minds-before-talking-to-sales-reps/

About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.

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