Writing from Lonavala at Mr. Z’s resort reserved for our meetup. Its 10:00 AM. Its raining heavily and the Khandala valley is looking absolutely stunning drenched in rains and greenery. Am evaluating a website for one of our business customers on my laptop and enjoying super hot tea and pakodas.
I am startled by a hand on my shoulder by Mr. X. “Has everyone arrived?” he asks.
“I think Ms. Y and couple of other entrepreneurs are on the way and expected to arrive shortly. We can start as soon as they are here?”.
“Sure. What are you doing?” he asks. “Something interesting on this website being reviewed”, I replied, “You see two telephone numbers (one mobile and other a land-line) put up here as contact numbers?” showing him the ‘Contact Us’ page on the website. “Yes, so?” Mr. X asked quizically. “I always start my review here.. email and phone number tests. I send an email to the Id provided to see if it bounces or gets delivered? Then I proceed to call up contact numbers shown to test if someone picks up?”
“Why?? … ” he blurted, “Those are contact points on the website, they ought to work. Anyone will know that. Right?”
“Indeed so. But that’s my starting point for a reason. A whopping 65% websites’ contact data is unverified and or non-functional. This includes phone numbers, email IDs and physical address. This is perishable data. Numbers change. Addresses change. And yet business owners or website managers FORGET to update or validate this data regularly.”
In this case, both phone numbers are non-functional. The voice at the other end says – ‘this number has been permanently closed’. WOW.. and we are looking at fairly large SMB here. Am not sure if the email I sent out has reached its destination either. If someone responds to my email or acknowledges email receipt, I will know.”
“Result??”, I continued ,”Loss of massive business opportunity. And yet this is one of the most overlooked aspect of business websites. Mind boggling. And it’s so easy to do this yourself. This elementary thing has baffled experts over the years!” I groaned.
“Hello, Hello Smita … is that you? Ah .. OK .. good. Am checking our website phone number to see if it is working well”, Mr X is on the job already, connecting the contact number on his website. He sounded triumphant. “All working. Smita is our front desk exec and she handles this number.”
“Good”, I explained, “and these are simple tests a business owner or concerned team member can perform independently. Clearing these small blockages in itself can open business pipelines online. I got paid handsomely for identifying this issue with a multi-national company website few years ago. My wife was shocked when I showed her the pay-check.”
A couple of other guys of our group immediately followed up on their website contact phone numbers. They were relieved to find out, their numbers worked well and someone from their admin/sales team was answering them.
“Any other quick test?” Mr. Z chipped in, as his staff brought us some sumptuous upma and chutney.
“Quite a few … but let’s go by our agenda?” I checked with the group.
Just then, Ms. Y and two others walked into the lounge.
“Sorry, everyone … the GPS didn’t work. This place just doesn’t show up on Google Maps. Drove a couple of km ahead, enquired turned around and drove here.”
“Mr. Z, we’d need to look at your Google My Business account to fix this problem. Many of your customers may be facing the same issue and business opportunities may be lost.” I looked em-pathetically at Mr. Z who nodded in the affirmative.
After everyone had assembled, I asked,
“We had decided to complete an exercise from last week. Let me recall it for convenience of everyone…
Write down your top 3 expectations from your website? They should be measured by YOU, not your team or hosting company or SEO provider or any other consultant. This is strictly about you.
What according to you are your customers’ expectations from your business? Why do they choose you over others in business deals?
Try to correlate these two sets of expectations
The ever-ready Mr. X whipped out his pad and started,
“My top 3 expectations, considering we are a industrial printing equipment company:
a. Build around 200 relevant business enquiries in the next 6 months. This is in line with my marketing spends.
b. Convert 50% of them into sales
c. Maintain post sale connect all with them via website for future business
I think our customer’s expectations from my website would be
a. How established brand am I?
b. What’s my pricing compared to others?
c. Whether I can provide good service support?
We have a proven track record there. So, we are good on these three aspects.
If I were to correlate these sets of expectations, I would do it this way:
Since I am a brand, I will see higher traffic on my website leading to sales.
When it comes to service, we have been outstanding for the last 20 years.
We price it right. All we need from our website is the right business and person to touch base with. Thats it …”
“Impressive indeed sir”, there was a mini-applause to that expectation statement prepared by Mr. X.
“Am sure, everyone will have listed out their statements too. But, as an indicative case, can we take up Mr. X case for discussion?”
Everyone nodded in affirmation.
“Right. Very well drafted, presented and correlated sir.
Lets break up the correlation for discussion.
Statement 1: “Since I am a brand, I will see higher traffic on my website leading to sales”
Implication: If you rank high on Google for search phrases that represent your customer’s requirements and buying intent, higher and relevant traffic will reach your website and connect with your business.
Explanation: Google ranks websites based on their content value, fresh updates and user experience.
“What about keywords? I thought you needed to optimize keywords to rank on Google?” quipped in Ms. Y
Yes but the context of keywords has now changed to search intent. This implies, Google is smart enough to understand what you are trying to search and establishes what content should be shown to you. This is a very powerful change. Earlier you could stuff in keywords and get your pages up on their search but 2013 changed all that after they revamped their algorithm for search click volume, quality parameters and user experience. I have a separate presentation for that and we can take it up for discussion along the way. For now, please note that Google is smart and it can map user’s intent with his search term. So, make sure you optimize your websites based on user’s intent as opposed to keywords.
So, to become an online brand you need to – have an updated, quality content oriented and user engaging website. This site should hold your visitors with its content flow, knowledge and fulfil his search requirements. This sends a signal to Google that people enjoy being on your site, more so if the visitors start coming back to the site or subscribe to your site. All this translates into improved search positioning for your site.
Statement 2: “When it comes to service, we have been outstanding for the last 20 years”
Implication: That’s awesome. Now show your customers how?
Explanation: Online customers/visitors will not be able to establish your brand and service values just by landing on your site from Google search. Most of them may land up accidentally while surfing on the web or while they are comparing different companies for their requirements. How do you stand out?
A well envisioned and designed website can make this happen and that’s why this game-plan. Be creative. Use effective communication to showcase your business case and brand values. Avoid comparisons. Address pain points of customers. Showcase your experience. Connect with the customer. Let your existing customers talk about you. Show your progressive attitude towards changing technology and market demands. Provide exemplary support to visitors through phone/email/live chat. Basically, give them a feel of completeness visiting your website as if they have walked into your offline business unit.
Statement 3: We price it right. All we need from our website is the right business and person to touch base with.
Implication: Relevant leads are generally value driven rather than price driven. If they see value, they will pay the right price.
Explanation: We want to ensure relevant leads show up in our lead/sales queue. This has multiple benefits.
A. Improved Conversion Ratio
B. Improved Quality of Conversion (Value over Pricing)
C. Cost Optimization for Sales Team (Time invested in sales, Reduced number of sales calls, Lower effort in orientation of customer)
“What if I sell online .. B2C … my objectives are completely different. My expectation is online sales…” remarked Mr. O
“For B2C, the approach changes slightly and we’ll discuss that separately” I replied.
“Sounds interesting … but I have different objectives than just business. My company needs to rank high on Google search just to show our management that we are investing wisely online.”, Mr. T mentioned. A big hush.
“Well, Mr. T .. this is indeed an important management metric for Fortune 500 and Forbes 50 companies for their investor valuation. We can take this up for discussion in a separate meeting with your management.” I suggested.
“Let’s break for lunch and continue?” Mr. X suggested.
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