Case Studies


It's important to always be learning.

It's just as important to act upon what you learn.

About Us
Marketing Tools
Spam Test
In The News

Improving your Website

by Keith Thirgood

One of my mentors, Tom Stoyan, Canada's Sales Coach, says that "selling is helping a prospect reach a buying decision." Looking at your website in this light will help you build a selling website.

Your website should be built around the goal of getting the sale. You don't do this with hyperbole, or hard-sell techniques, but by leading your prospect through the emotion and logic of the sales process.

First, chart out a path from where your prospect enters your website, through all of the steps required to sell your product/service. Begin with showing the benefits your prospect will gain.

Benefits, not features. Benefits relate to the buyer, not the seller. And they relate to a specific buyer, not some generalised buyer. For example: A manufacturer of airbags might try to sell them buying telling a driver, "Our passenger-side airbags are made of the latest, space age materials." This is a feature, not a benefit. They might also say, "Our airbags inflate in 1/1000 of a second." This is still a feature, not a benefit. If they then said, "Your passenger will walk away from a head-on collision",that is a benefit.

But that's not the whole story. That's a benefit for a driver. However, it's not a benefit for an automaker. A benefit the airbag manufacturer delivers to the automaker might be, "Our airbags are 25% less expensive and can be installed in 50% less time that our competition's airbags." For the automaker, that's a benefit. Benefits relate to specific target markets.

After you give your prospects the benefits, you endorse them with testimonials. Then you raise potential objections, which you knock down with facts, reinforced with testimonials. You repeat this pattern until all objections and benefits have been handled.

During this process, do not have any hyperlinks or other distracting side trips your prospect can take. If you must have certain distractions, like articles, case studies, demonstrations and the like, make sure that when they exit these areas, they are taken back to the point where they left the sales cycle to go on the side trip.

On every page, have a direct link to the order page. You can never predict when someone has seen enough and is ready to buy. On every page, even your homepage.

On the order page, don't collect information you don't need for the sale. The more information you insist upon, the fewer the people who will go through with the sale. If your product requires 'real world' shipping, design your site so that before your visitors begin filling their shopping baskets, they are asked for their province/state. This way your shopping cart software can keep a running total of shipping costs as well as order total.

For anyone selling services, your prospects will rarely buy them without further discussion. However, your site should still follow the same routine up until the 'sales page' (i.e. lead-generating page). Here, instead of a catalogue and shopping cart, you gather a minimal of appropriate information to begin the sales dialogue. Each service has its own informational need. Keep in mind that you want to keep it simple at this stage.

If you listen to a group of website designers and developers you will notice a sound coming from them that sounds suspiciously like a Mantra. "Content is king. Content is king."

If you believe what they pitch, all you need to do to succeed is to find a way to make your website "sticky". The idea is that your visitors will not be able to resist coming back, over and over, until they buy.

It's a great theory. But a little observation combined with a little knowledge of human behaviour puts the lie to their nice little theory. Look at your own behaviour. How many websites have you bookmarked in your browser? I have over 500.

Of these, how many do you remember why you bookmarked them? I know with my own, I'm lucky if I can remember 50% of them. And of the sites I do remember, I only regularly visit 5 or 10 sites. That's 5 or 10 sites out of 500. Those other sites were all "sticky" too. What happened to them?

Real life is what happened. Your target market doesn't have the time to revisit all of the sites that interest them. So what happens to the "sticky" site you've invested so much time making so? It gets forgotten by all those people who should be your clients.

There's a simple way to remedy the situation. Capture your visitors' e-mail address so that you can keep up a regular dialogue with them.

Now you have two questions: How do I capture my visitors' addresses, and what do I send them?

The answer to the first is found via the answer to the second. Offer them something they'll value, on a continual basis. This newsletter you are reading is an example of one of the most common items you can offer. People are on the Web searching for valuable information. If you offer to deliver it to them on a regular basis, many of your visitors will volunteer their contact information.

Newsletters work well for products and services that have depth and dimension to them. I could write on marketing issues for years and not risk running out of things to say. Nor do I put my business at risk by "giving away the store."

The drawback to producing a newsletter is that you must commit time to writing it on a regular basis. This proves to be difficult for many people. Some go to sites that offer free content for newsletters. Others hire professional writers to write or edit their material for them.

The advantage of the content sites is that their product is generally either free or very low cost. The disadvantage is that the content may not fit your market's needs.

The advantage of hiring professionals (Like Capstone: shameless plug) is that their material can be sharply focused on your target's needs. The disadvantage is they cost more.

Newsletters are not the only tool. Some businesses might find contests appropriate. Every month a contest form is e-mailed out to participants with a link back to the server for prospects to register their entry. This sort of contact tool can grow a database rapidly, depending upon the prizes and the target audience.

Periodic "special reports" can be offered. Contact is less frequent than with a newsletter, but the need to keep a regular schedule is diminished.

Another tool may be periodic "industry alert" or "industry news" bulletins. These don't demand the writing skills of newsletter producers, however they do require you to be up-to-date with the latest developments in your industry. (Or your target market's industry.) An e-mail alert can be simply formatted and consist of mostly bullet points, interspersed with comments.

Or for certain industries and businesses, people will sign up simply to receive notice of your latest special. I receive e-mail announcements from about 15 different companies whom I've given permission to send me their sale announcements. (But don't abuse your prospects using this privilege. You'd better send them *real* sales announcements, not just sales material.)

One of the beauties of regular e-mail contact is that it all can be automated! Through the appropriate use of autoresponders and listservers, your effort is reduced to just creating the e-mail that's to be sent. Maintenance is handled by the software.

You can set these systems up yourself, although it's often easier and more successful to have professionals (shameless plug #2) do this. There are some services out there, offering free listservers and autoresponders, but you pay for them by allowing other peoples' advertisements on your e-mail. For a professional business, this is not a very good option.

Some ISPs provide listservers and autoresponders as part of their basic business service. (Our own ISP provides these for free.) Most other ISPs charge extra for these items, or don't carry them at all and expect you to buy your own.

Keeping in regular touch with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of your prospects is good marketing in my books. If you want to make your web presence more effective, there are few things you can do that will return so much on such a small investment.

Article by Keith Thirgood, Creative Director Capstone Communications Group Talk to Keith if you are looking for marketing advice or materials that really work. Visit

Read more Articles.
If you like these articles, subscribe to Capstone' Marketing Tip, our periodical marketing e-zine.

services | articles | case studies | portfolio | about us | links
newsletter | marketing tools | spam test | in the news | home

Copyright .

Send snail mail to:

Capstone Communications Group
15 Wilson Street
Markham, Ontario
Canada L3P 1M9

or call 905-472-2330 between 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time.