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“In the past, marketers … would sit in their armchairs and philosophize about what would drive business, but today, the standards are higher.”

Tyler Young helps small businesses build deep, sales-driving relationships over the Web, without spending their staff’s time. He’s found that the best customers for a small business are those to whom the company has given the most value. For that reason, he’s passionate about creating free, valuable email courses that businesses can use to educate consumers about the benefits of their offerings. These emails delight the prospective customers that receive them, and they turn those prospects into raving fans of the company.

Conversion Insights, Inc. helps small businesses get more leads from their Web site. By attracting more high-quality visitors and turning more of them into customers, they help businesses increase sales by as much as 50% within 3 months. The company’s philosophy is that data should drive decisions wherever possible. In the past, marketers & small business owners would sit in their armchairs and philosophize about what would drive business, but today, the standards are higher—there are a wealth of tools that small businesses can use to figure out what’s working and what’s wasting their resources—as a company, that’s where Conversion Insights’ passions lie. They want to take their ideas about what works for their clients—what turns visitors into customers—and put them to the test, so that when they’re through, they are confident of the improvement to the client’s bottom line. John Wanamaker is famously quoted as saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Conversion Insights specialty is in finding that “half” so that small businesses can focus their efforts there.

Conversion Insights

BusinessInterviews.com: How do you separate yourself from the competition?

Tyler: It’s all about ROI! It’s funny, but a lot of Web marketers still focus on things that can’t be measured… brand perception, or prestige, or “the sale after the sale,” that sort of thing. Those are really appropriate goals if you’re a billion-dollar, global brand, but if small businesses have to be much more judicious about the way they spend their marketing budget. When I take on a project, it’s because can I conservatively estimate a ten-fold ROI for the client in the coming year. Anything on top of that—brand perception and the like—is just gravy. Those results are what business owners want to pay for.

BusinessInterviews.com: Are there any easy ways that our readers can help their web site turn more passive visitors into “converting” users?

Tyler: Many, many small business sites make the same mistake: they don’t suggest a “next step” for visitors (or, if they do, the next step is simply “buy now”). For instance, suppose you’re selling widgets on your site. If I’m a visitor to your site reading your article “How to choose the right widget for you,” you know a lot about me—you can guess that I’m probably in the market for widgets, but I’m not quite sure what I want. In that case, “buy a widget now” is totally the wrong offer to make—I’m obviously not ready for it. Instead, the “next step” you might suggest is to take a free questionnaire that will determine the exact right widget for my situation. Then, at that stage, it might be the right time to suggest I buy.
Ideally, each page on your site will have a big “call to action” button to suggest a next step that’s appropriate for a person reading that page. You don’t want to bombard people with “buy now” messages, but if your offer is genuinely helpful—offering education, for instance—people will be happy to move down the path to buying from you.
The action step here, then, is to make an inventory of the most important pages on your site, and ask yourself “If I was in the shoes of a person reading this page, what would I need to read/learn/do before I was ready to buy?” Then, craft an offer (and put up a big, shiny button) that invites visitors to take that step on that page.

BusinessInterviews.com: We all know that SEO has changed dramatically over the years and it’s now virtually impossible to “game the system” any longer. What are some ways that you help your clients improve and maintain their ranking?

Tyler: It always amazes me when people try to pull a fast one on Google! Even if you’re successful in the short term, you’ll always have to be working to stay a step ahead of their (brilliant) engineering team, and in the long run, you’ll be working harder than you would have if you had just done things right in the first place.

The fact, is Google is getting better and better at preferring content that humans prefer. So, if your business is constantly churning out articles (or white papers, blog posts, etc.) that humans like, you’ll be rewarded in the long run. Great content isn’t the whole story—you need to be promoting it in places where people will appreciate it—but content is always where I start with my clients. That means figuring out what people are looking for, and what kind of “holes” exist in the stuff that currently available on the Web—the search engines love to fill a hole with your new content!

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk a bit about the process behind developing a series of industry-specific products and what you hope to accomplish?

Tyler: To be honest… I got tired of having to sell my services—tired of having to educate people about why they should be making more money! But, when your target market is “any small business that can write a check,” that happens—many people in my “target market” just didn’t know that they needed help.

To counteract that, I wanted to find a “vertical” that already knew they wanted my help and really focus on serving them. This is “niching down,” plain and simple. It’s advice I’ve given to a lot of my clients, but the problem is a lot easier to see in other people’s business than in your own. (The cobbler’s children go without shoes, right?)

To that end, I’ve had to take a hard look at where my interests and expertise lie, and then find a match between those and a few, very specific markets’ expressed needs. After talking to a number of people across a swath of industries, I’ve decided to target law firms and accounting firms—companies that are quite accustomed to paying outside help to handle their marketing, with a lot of opportunity for someone to shake things up by adapting tactics that work in other fields. (How many law firms have you seen with a blogging strategy that actually appeals to normal people?)

There’s one major advantage to choosing a niche like this that goes beyond making my own marketing easier—it allows me to really systematize the process, meaning I can serve many more customers with a lot less of my time. It also allows me to hire really specialized people to work for me, so I can offer a true done-for-you solution (with articles written, email campaigns created, and so on without taking up my clients time) at do-it-yourself prices. That overcomes one of the biggest challenges I’ve had with clients in the past: they say “let us take care of that part of the project” as a way of saving money, but months down the line, they still haven’t done it—they’re too busy running the business!

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Tyler: There’s one trend that’s been building for years that people really need to pay attention to, because it’s becoming more relevant every day. It’s been expressed in a lot of different ways by people like Jay Baer (in his book Youtility) and Seth Godin (in Permission Marketing), but the idea is this:

There’s an ever-increasing amount of marketing noise, and people are getting better and better at tuning it out. So, to stand out, you need to build a relationship with prospective customers and get them excited to hear from you.

Now, the best way I know of to do this is to deliver value to your prospects, for free. Email campaigns are an ideal medium for this, because you can be in their inbox every couple days, offering them more and more great stuff. Blog posts or YouTube videos are other candidates—if your blog answers people’s questions, or gets them excited about something, or is valuable to them in any number of other ways, you can get them coming back and seeking out your marketing materials, because they’ll no longer think of them as marketing.

One of my favorite examples of this is Geek Squad’s YouTube channel—they have a series of videos that teach people how to fix small problems with their technology. You can bet that after I’ve gotten their help solving a few problems on my own, they’ll be the first people I call when I encounter a problem I can’t solve.

BusinessInterviews.com: What is a lifecycle campaign and what types of businesses should consider implementing into their marketing strategy?

Tyler: A lifecycle email campaign distills down a lot of the ideas we’ve talked about—providing value, and building a relationship, and so on.

The key insight behind these email campaigns is that you can think of the way people go from never having heard of you to becoming a fanatical customer as a “lifecycle.” The “birth,” if you will, might be when they discover your Web site, and at some point along the way, they learn about your offerings, you persuade them that you can solve their problems, they visit the sales page, and so on.

At each step in that lifecycle, your would-be customer has specific needs. So, if you can offer them an email course tailored to those exact needs, you’ll be perceived as being extremely helpful (just the kind of company people want to do business with!).

A lifecycle email campaign is designed to meet a prospect where they are, and move them down the path to becoming a customer.

This is easiest to understand with an example. Let’s again suppose you’re selling high-end widgets from your Web site. When someone reads your article “Choosing the right widget for you,” you might offer them a free email course with everything they need to know about buying their first widget. Since this meets their exact need, they’re very likely to sign up, and from there, you can send them six to ten emails over the course of the month educating them—and setting the buying criteria. By the end of that course, a sale is almost a foregone conclusion.

These emails are an absolutely ideal situation for companies with high-touch sales processes—any industry where your customers would benefit from having an expert salesperson sit down with a prospective customer for an hour. In that case, you can use email as a (pretty good!) substitute for that in-person sales conversation—you get all the benefits of building trust, educating, and so on, without spending your staff’s time.

At the same time, companies with low-touch sales can benefit as well… they just have to be a bit more clever about it. Amazon is really good at this—I might not want to sign up for a month-long email course on the $10 item I looked at, but when Amazon sends me a reminder that I added something to my shopping cart but never checked out, I might say “oh, I meant to buy that!” and do so immediately. Similarly, Amazon emails “related” items—they know that if you recently purchased a rake and a garden hose, you’re at a point in your life (not just your customer lifecycle!) where you’re looking for lawn tools. So, when they suggest you also buy a shovel and a Weed Eater, you’re very likely to take them up on the offer.

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