I’m a big believer that for any product with any audience that we’re only in “Buy Now” mode 3% of the time.
In fact, I think that 3% might be even overestimating for many products.
Let’s think of common items.
Coffee. Some people stop at Starbucks every morning. The transaction takes maybe 10 minutes. That’s about 0.6% of the day. Even if you take it by the amount we’re awake you get about 1% of the day that a person is thinking and engaging in Buy Now mode.
Maybe there are several examples where it’s more than 3%, but the point is that we spend very little time thinking about and actually buying something.
Online Business: Sell, Sell, Sell
Yet in the business world, especially the online business world, the focus is sell, sell, sell.
When you visit a website you’re often hit with a popup asking you to subscribe to something. Some sites even hit with you with multiple popups. Perhaps one to subscribe to an email list and another to get an ebook and another to view their product.
When you view a business profile on social media and read through the stream you’ll likely see posts asking you to view a product or service page. You’ll see things like, “Do you have this struggle? We can help!”.
Obviously the point of business is to sell, but it seems to be overdone. Many businesses forgo marketing and are in selling mode 100% of the time. Every person they interact with online gets a sales pitch.
At best you’re hitting home with 3% of your audience, but you’re irritating the other 97%.
Business Website Selling
I’ve already mentioned a few examples of selling on a business website, but there are many more.
And I’m not saying that your site shouldn’t sell.
I believe that your website is your online salesperson, but just like a human salesperson your website needs to use the entire sales process to win over customers at every stage of the cycle.
The best salespeople have a keen understanding of the sales process. They ask questions. They listen. They learn where the customer is in the cycle and provide the appropriate information accordingly.
For example, if a customer comes to the salesperson and says, “I need a product like yours, but I’m not sure which is the right option.” the salesperson will know that this customer is deep into the sales cycle already. Just about ready to purchase. They’re ready to discuss product details.
But if a customer comes and says, “I’m struggling with this…” the salesperson knows that this customer is early in the process. They might need some general educational information.
For the second customer the salesperson probably wouldn’t begin the conversation by asking the customer to signup for a newsletter and they probably wouldn’t present a dozen different product options.
Example: Content Marketing
Obviously at Ghost Blog Writers we’re a blogging company and in the content marketing world. The content we provide is aimed at audiences that are not in Buying Mode. I tell our clients that the posts we write aim to attract the attention of their customers before those customers even know that our client exists.
The customers aren’t searching for the client’s brand name. They’re not searching for the products or services they sell. They’re searching for other information. They want education and/or entertainment about their life. Possibly their personal lives (hobbies, interests, etc.) or their work life.
Identifying the questions your target audience is asking is a great way to earn their attention and then earn their trust. But that process can be thwarted with overselling.
One of the biggest irritations in content marketing is getting interrupted with a popup asking to signup for something before the reader has even had a chance to view one word of the content they intended to view.
Another issue is doing too much selling within the content you create.
Let’s say someone asks, “How is coffee made?”. A great blog post would answer that question, maybe including some research and statistics.
An overzealous blog post would include things like, “Try our coffee. Or try this coffee that we offer.”
There is a balance. Maybe after the blog post you would want to include a link to the company’s homepage or to the about page, but doing so earlier risks irritating the reader.
Sales has its place on your website. Start by mapping out your sales cycle. Then map out the likely path your customers will take through your website. A common one might be blog post -> about page -> homepage -> product page -> checkout.
The key to it all is patience.
Another item to remember with online marketing is not to overwhelm people with too many options. Once they are ready to buy you want to give them the appropriate call to action. If someone is on your homepage they’re probably researching your product. Asking them to signup for your newsletter doesn’t make sense at this point in most instances.
Map your sales process. Then check your content marketing. Remove sales pitches. Also check the rest of your website and remove calls to action that don’t make sense for where the customer is in the sales process.