The Considered Purchase Pattern is a powerful model for a business-to-business website because so many businesses have flaccidly chosen to build their site on the brochure pattern. With the strategies outlined here, you will generate new leads and sales at a fraction of the cost of your competitors. Get these strategies right, and you have the opportunity to dominate your competitors on the Web.
This pattern is called the “considered purchase” pattern because it is designed to support prospects when they are considering what to purchase. A website built for the considered purchase must:
- Maintain mind-share during long sales cycles
- Engage multiple stakeholders
- Decrease the length of the sales cycle
You would build your website on the Considered Purchase Pattern if:
- It takes more than 30 days for a prospect to make a decision
- Buyers will not purchase your product online
- Multiple stakeholders will be involved in the purchase decision
Stakeholders typically include buyers, influencers, gate-keepers, approvers, committees, investors and the CEO’s spouse.
Sell the content, not the product
I covered the Portal Pattern in a previous column, recommending that the marketing department organize itself like a publisher. The considered purchase demands a more entrepreneurial organization in marketing. In this model, each communication —email, white paper, article, webinar—is looked at as a product. Prospects “pay” for the helpful information you provide with their attention and contact information.
The entrepreneurial marketer treats each new communication like a product launch:
- The marketing department must position content in the “prospect marketplace.” This includes targeting stakeholders in the decision-making process.
- Access to an audience must be built or acquired. The reigning champion for access is house list email.
- The communication must provide a way for the prospect to “purchase“.
- The content must be designed to fit the medium.
In short, each communication must have its own advertising and fulfillment strategy.
In terms of the website, this strategy requires the tactics outlined in my column on the ecommerce pattern. The home page has to really “work it.” Advertise your specific content offerings on the home page.
Each communication “product” must have a strong product page that entices the visitor to read and join your house list. It is important to organize this content —categorize it —in a way that helps each stakeholder find it.
Like the portal pattern, content development is a momentum game; it requires frequent “product” releases. I’ve seen many a marketer’s eyes glaze at the thought of producing a monthly newsletter, let alone a monthly schedule of communications products.
Realize that digital content is malleable. One bit of content can drive dozens of “communication products.”
For example, a conference presentation can be recorded and distributed as a podcast, which prospects pay for with attention. A transcript can be generated cheaply from the audio and laid out as a white paper, which prospects will pay for with their contact information. Each section of the white paper becomes a blog post. Each blog post is featured in your outbound email. Blog post quotes can also be Tweeted, Facebooked and LinkedIn.
Much of this transformation can be automated and outsourced. Do not be afraid of digital content.
Engage the biggest social network on the planet
My grandmother has been friending people online since the late 1990s. Now approaching 90, she’s been keeping up with friends and family, sharing pictures, links and anecdotes of daily life for years. Her social network of choice is email, and it is also the social network used by every one of your prospects.
This is one reason that house list email has been listed as the most effective online marketing strategy by businesses, year after year. It doesn’t matter who’s doing the survey. Despite this, email is in its infancy.
House list email entails getting permission from prospects to continue a conversation via email. The “house list” is direct marketing speak for the database of your prospects, their contact information, and their opt-in status. House lists may also contain some qualifying information to help with segmentation and targeting.
Almost every company I work with has a list of some sort that has been sitting fallow, while marketers are blithely experimenting with new social media sites.
“Our prospects don’t want to get email from us,” says the timid marketer.
Not true. Prospects depend on content rich emails to help them make decisions. The real problem is that they don’t find you’ve been sending valuable.
A marketer can send email messages as often as the content allows. If your prospects find your content valuable, you could send every hour. When the relevance of your content drops, prospects will start unsubscribing. Be valuable and relevant, and you will keep prospects’ attention during their consideration process.
A strong conversion-oriented house list email strategy is built on permission, frequency, non-promotional content and testing.
Permission. Don’t mail to anyone who hasn’t explicitly given you permission to talk to them. If you have an existing list, but didn’t get permission, it is appropriate to drop an email asking for permission. Use a bit of helpful content to increase acceptance rates.
Frequency. If you are sending less than twice a month, you are probably missing sales. Try dicing your next newsletter into two or three separate emails. Send each within the same week (yes, the same week). Watch your unsubscribe rates. If they increase, dial back the frequency.
Non-promotional content. If you embrace the content-oriented strategy above, email is going to be one of your best marketing channels. You can’t send product-oriented information with much frequency. Mix product info with educational offerings.
Test. Email is incredibly easy to test. Trying a couple of subject lines can help you find the recipe that maximizes visits to your site, consumption of your content and calls to your sales team.
Welcome visitors when they land. If you’re going to build a house list, you will need to convert more of your visitors to leads.
If you’re going to implement a content-oriented sales cycle, you need more people reading your content.
A set of strong landing pages is crucial to the previous two strategies I’ve discussed. Landing pages are designed to get a visitor to take action. Your marketing needs determine the action:
- Join the email list
- Download the whitepaper
- Register for the Webinar
- Call the sales consultant
- Read the article
The home page is for those just learning about your brand or offering. For everything else, build a landing page. To create a high-converting landing page do the following:
Maintain a singular focus. The page should talk about one item, topic or action. Your page should match the “offer” that brought the visitor there. High-converting lead-generation landing pages often remove any site navigation to reduce distractions.
Sell the action, not your product or service. The copy on the page should drive the visitor to take action. For example, if you want a visitor to register for a Webinar, keep the focus on the Webinar content, presenters and takeaways.
Ask for permission to send email in registration forms.
Measure your results. It is critical that you begin to understand which topics are of most interest to your prospects. Monitor page visits, time on page, downloads, completed forms or incoming calls to determine how effective any given page is.
If you’ve read this far, you may be reeling a bit. More content, more emails and now more pages.
However, these strategies play upon each other in synergistic ways, meaning the effect will be multiplicative, not just additive. Your increased investment in content will provide fodder for landing pages that grow your house list. Your email campaigns can expect higher click-through rates thanks to your excellent content, and that drives traffic to high-converting landing pages.
When it’s time for your prospect to pull the trigger on a purchase, you’ll be top of mind with them and the influencers they work with. Now that’s an effective conversion strategy.
My goal with this series is to explore three strategies that are conversion deal-breakers for five categories of websites. Get these strategies right, and you should be able to optimize your way to higher conversion rates. Get any of these wrong, and you will find yourself struggling to improve.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.