Prospect relationship secrets…the key to online marketing.
In fact, most marketers know getting a sales message in front of their ideal prospects is critical to growing their online business. But it can be an overwhelming—and sometimes mysterious—challenge.
It starts with understanding the one major difference between marketing online and offline. And that is, how much control the prospect has over your sales message.
Historically, offline business owners typically took the shotgun approach to marketing their products and services.
Most located their brick and mortar store where they projected getting more foot traffic…advertised in local newspapers and on TV or radio stations…and mailed flyers or coupons to a rented or purchased list.
And often targeted a broad audience, without regard for interest in receiving their sales message.
Yet, failure to get a prospect’s permission to market to them could never work online. Why?
It has to do with the origin of the internet. You see, the internet wasn’t made for commerce at all. It was developed explicitly for its users…and created as a place for people to connect and share information or viewpoints that interested them.
Even today, its focus is still on giving its users what they want…a forum to find relevant information, to network and socialize, and to share opinions on the things that matter most to them.
Because of this distinction, internet searchers are now in charge. And understanding why is key to your survival—and growth—online.
If you’re a marketer looking to take your business online—or accelerate your growth—you must embrace the following…
3 key prospect relationship secrets
1. Narrow your target audience to make them feel more special…and inclined to do business with you. In the online world, the most successful marketers know they cannot be all things to all people. Nor do they want to be.
Now, maybe you’ve carved out your own product or service niche. Yet growing your business online has been slow at best.
Likely, your sales message is trying to appeal to an audience that’s too broad. Or, who no longer are interested in your sales message.
This is a sure-fire way to produce fewer ideal prospects…convert fewer prospects to buyers…and waste your marketing dollars.
If you’re concerned about missing out on a ton of business leads…don’t be.
Because the cold hard truth is, it’s more profitable to target “quality of leads” rather than quantity of leads. A highly-targeted message sent to prospects that want and expect to hear from you will make marketing feel easier.
And help you increase response, boost sales and improve ROI.
First, you must get clear on who your ideal prospect is. Populate your list with qualified leads only. Or, review these proven ways to refresh an existing but outdated email list.
Because only prospects that have opted-in to receive your communication are worth nurturing and spending your marketing dollars on. They like what you’re doing…believe what you’re saying…and tell you they want what you’re selling—just not yet.
Second, online prospects have complete control over their search actions. If you don’t make them feel special, your competition will. They came to you voluntarily, but they had countless options from which to choose. Yet they picked you. So show them you care.
“People will never remember what you say or do, but they will ALWAYS remember how you make them FEEL.”
— Mayou Angelo
Speak to them directly about things that concern them. Help them find what they are looking for, simply and quickly. Make them feel appreciated. They’ll know that you care and feel like they’re not just another customer. More importantly, they’ll eagerly help promote your business to their friends and business associates.
2. Warm your prospect up before the sale. Once you have your e-list of qualified prospects, segment this list so you can send more relevant content and sales messages. This is an easy task in today’s email management software.
Called lead nurturing, this strategy involves getting your leads ready to buy from you.
Don’t make the mistake of neglecting this relationship-building secret. Because according to analysts at Gleanster, 50% of all leads are qualified—but not yet ready to buy.
So it’s important you build a relationship with your qualified leads over time. You do this by sending them plenty of free content they’ll consider valuable. By providing relevant content—consistently and in a timely manner—they begin to trust you as a credible source they can return to again and again for finding solutions to their problems.
In fact, research shows that consistent, well-timed, relevant free content creates 50% more “sales-ready” leads at 1/3 the cost-per-lead.
But why is free relevant content so important? For a couple reasons.
First, web searchers are looking for information to make decisions or solve problems. The internet was made for that purpose…and the search engines make it their priority to accommodate them.
Second, there are so many people and businesses publishing free content, web searchers now expect to find what they are looking for free of charge.
In fact, today’s most effective method for marketing online has at its core a content-publishing background. You can read more about it here.
Why is content marketing so effective for businesses in building an online relationship with prospects?
Because web searchers know it’s not whether they’ll have a relationship with an online business or not, but whether that relationship will be a beneficial one or not.
So prospects use free content as a way to evaluate the credibility and expertise of solution providers.
Simply put, nurturing your leads with targeted, relevant, valuable messages converts more leads into buyers—creating bigger profits and increased ROI.
3. Be proactive about managing our online reputation. This is where it gets a bit concerning for online marketers.
It’s one thing to create your sales message and publish it online for all to see. And though you still control your message on your website…the search engines crawling millions of pages of web content don’t care about accuracy…only relevancy.
For example, you develop a state-of-the art program for weight loss. Then, you create a compelling sales message for your audience. And sales explode.
But a handful of customers didn’t experience the success they were promised. So they decide to spread a negative message about you…or your company, product or service. Web searchers can easily find this badmouthing online, and it becomes a competing message about your value—or lack of—to other prospects.
Suddenly, you realize how little control you really have over how others might view you, your products, or services online.
When dissatisfied customers market negatively online on your behalf, you risk suffering damaging publicity that you may never recover from.
Is there anything you can do to protect how others view you online?
Absolutely! It starts with being proactive in your communication with prospects and customers. Follow these tips to prevent—even head off— negative publicity from destroying your online reputation.
- Only make claims if you can back it up with proof.
- Present plenty of testimonials from satisfied customers.
- Apologize quickly and sincerely—including asking directly for forgiveness—when you make a mistake.
- Involve your customers in your business by doing opinion polls, running contests, requesting feedback, asking for referrals…you get the point.
- Work to satisfy an unhappy customer quickly and decisively. Even if your best attempt falls short, ask them what it would take to make things right. Short of outrageous, take them up on their offer. Otherwise, they could easily and quickly spread negative messages online—a cost you cannot afford to pay.
- Always offer an unconditional, no-questions-asked, 100% money-back guarantee. Longer guarantees pull more sales, despite most marketers’ fear of having the opposite effect.
This is not an all-inclusive list, but a good place to start.
And granted, you can’t please every prospect or customer. But you must proactively manage your online relationships so they do not become a distraction—or worse—the reason you fold up shop.
There you have it! Three key prospect relationship secrets that you can apply immediately to write more effectively for your web prospects. Strategies that can help grow your relationship with online leads…and turn them into first-time buyers or repeat customers.
About Jerry Bures
Jerry Bures is a direct-response web copywriter and marketing consultant. Since 2010, he has helped natural health, self-help and business opportunity clients—as well as local small businesses—become more visible, credible and profitable online.