A successful online marketing system includes methods to promote your products, acquire qualified prospects, convert prospects into customers, and retain customers so they will buy your products again.
I've been told by some industry insiders that many machine shops have yet to adopt an an online marketing strategy. In fact, that may be a good thing, as it indicates they haven't picked up any poor online marketing habits. So, before you put down your hard-earned money in building or improving an existing website, here is a chance to learn from the mistakes of companies that have already spent millions of dollars learning how to marketing online.
Chance are that by now you've received a call or two from someone trying to sell your business a website. Unfortunately, a website alone is not going to help your business any more than a standalone drill press. A website, much like a drill press, needs to be used as part of a system. So, just as your drill press is part of your manufacturing process, a website is just one part of your online marketing process.
Marketing system basics
At the most basic level, a marketing system includes methods to promote your products, acquire qualified prospects, convert prospects into customers, and retain customers so they will buy your products again. Now, look at your website, or one of your vendors’ or competitors’ sites if you don't have your own website, and see how it accomplishes these four goals. What you will notice, is that even the best-designed website cannot accomplish these four goals by itself.
A well conceived marketing system has four components:
1. Promotion: How are customers going to find you online?
2. Acquisition: How are you going to use your promotional methods and website to filter out qualified prospects from the rest of the herd.
3. Conversion: Building enough trust with the prospect so that they buy your products.
4. Retention: Now that someone has bought from you, how do you keep them as an ongoing customer.
In most cases, your site itself only plays a part in the second and third steps, and even then it doesn't do it alone. There are other pieces of internet technology that play a big part. The situation you are trying to avoid is investing in a website that is nothing more than a billboard along the information highway that simply screams “BUY ME NOW”. This sort of promotion is useless to all but the largest, most established companies. What you need is a way to allow prospects and customers to use your website as a business tool. Do this properly and your website will be part of a business generating magnet. Mess it up, and you are just another billboard along the side of the road.
Take away point
Don't build a website with the expectation that it is somehow going to start throwing off new leads; it needs to be part of an integrated online marketing system. Also, understand that generating online sales leads cost money. However, done properly, it costs your company much less money than other marketing channels, so when you set invest in online marketing be sure to account for all four steps of a proper marketing system, not just a pretty website.
Josh Kerbel, MBA, the is Managing Director of Sales Funnel, a digital marketing agency that specializes in sales lead generation and prospect management systems. For a copy of his free white paper, 8 Steps to Internet Marketing Success, email [email protected].