Why Do I Still Need a Website?

A website is the essential foundation on which all successful online marketing plans are built.

Free options like Blogger, Wix or WordPress.com are great options for personal websites, but not recommend for three important business reasons:

When you use a free service, your domain name will almost always be an “extra” extension to the service provider’s own domain. For example, if we created GWMO on Tumblr, the web address would be http://gwmo.tumblr.com instead of https://www.gwmo.com.

You have fewer customization options for design, functionality, and revenue. For example, with free WordPress.com sites, you are limited to using only certain plugins and themes; you aren’t even allowed to advertise.

When you build your business on someone else’s platform, like Facebook, your business is vulnerable to any changes they might make. For example, if Facebook crashes again, you would lose your business entirely.

These three reasons alone are precisely why professional companies use self-hosted websites. You have more control, it looks more professional, and you can truly call it your own.

WordPress: R.A.C.E. for Online Marketing

Online marketing tools like Hubspot can be expensive. Facebook,  and most other social media, is free but out of your control.

Executing an online marketing strategy with WordPress

 

When it comes to an online marketing strategy, business owners look for tools to help them execute their strategy. Often, the tools are expensive, especially an all-in-one application such as Hubspot.

Hubspot is a great set of tools for those that have the budget, but what about smaller businesses and solopreneurs?

There are many options available to those are our customers without breaking the bank, and those options are directly tied to what we know best, WordPress.

Online Marketing Strategy

To execute an online marketing strategy, you need to, at least, have two things.

First, you need a strategy. using a framework can help you develop a strategy. Obviously, the strategy will vary from business to business based on needs, etc.

The second thing you need to have are the tools to execute the strategy.

It is important to note that marketing automation is a big part of your online marketing strategy. Marketing automation refers to the automation of tasks involved with online marketing and often handled by a more comprehensive, all-in-one, type of solution such as Hubspot or Marketo.

Those tools have their place as long as there is a budget.

But what about the small business? They can execute online marketing with a strategy and the tools to help.

Online Marketing Frameworks

Let’s take a look at three frameworks for an online marketing strategy

ACT Methodology

The first was put together by Shama Hyder from the Zen Marketing Group in Dallas. She first mentioned it in her book The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue.

Shama uses three words to identify her framework: Attract, Convert, and Transform. The three words make the acronym ACT, and she calls her framework the ACT Methodology.

Attract is what the business does to attract traffic to their website. Some of those things include social media and engagement with customers and potential customers in various online forums.

Convert is the technique of converting the traffic into both leads and customers. This is accomplished via various methods such as lead magnets, landing pages, and well-placed contact forms. In addition, businesses will use email marketing to help nurture those leads.

Transform is where the business transforms their leads and customers into fans who then help drive referrals back to the business.

Hubspot

Hubspot coined the phrase Inbound Marketing. Inbound marketing is a terrific term to describe online marketing as businesses work to create traffic into their website, hence, inbound.

Hubspot’s framework is very similar to Shama’s.

The Hubspot Inbound Marketing framework includes Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.

Attract, in the Hubspot framework, also refers to the process of attracting visitors to the business website using blogs, keywords, and social publishing.

Convert is the term that Hubspot uses to describe the second part of the process. The framework uses calls-to-action, landing pages and forms to convert visitors into prospects.

Close is a term that defines an additional step in Hubspot’s framework. Utilizing email, workflows, and a CRM, businesses “close the sale” turning those leads into customers.

Delight is the final part of the framework process. Using social monitoring, surveys, and smart content, the customers become promoters.

The process of the individual moving through the framework, or the funnel, includes stranger, visitor, lead, customer, and promoter.

As you can see, the framework leads the individual through the process giving direction to the strategy.

RACE framework

One last framework is proposed by Smart Insights. Smart Insights is a UK based digital marketing training website. They do a terrific job and have loads of good information.

The Smart Insights framework is Plan – RACE: Reach, ACT, Convert, Engage.

Smart Insights covers their framework in depth on their website:

The terms are different, but the idea and the actions are closely aligned with both Shama and Hubspot’s framework.

They created a terrific Infographic identifying and describing their framework.

Adopting a framework will help you set goals. I like the ACT Methodology because I think it is easier to remember and contains everything the other two contains.

All strategies should have measurables built in. Consider adding that to your strategy and the ability to adjust.

Tools

The second thing that an online strategy should include is tools.

Viktor Nagornyy has been training WordPress business owners in the art of online marketing for several years now. He has helped several business owners successful switch to WordPress from using Hubspot.

He found that these business owners did not need the entire Hubspot tool.

One of the things that Viktor does so well is to explain what tools you need to run online marketing.

  • Here are some of the tools Viktor says is needed:
  • Landing Pages and Lead Capture Forms
  • Lead Nurturing/Autoresponders
  • Email Marketing/Email Blasts
  • Social Media Updates/Monitoring
  • SEO Tools and Optimization
  • Personalization
  • CRM

Each one of these different tools is available to use with WordPress either as an integration with a third party tool or a WordPress addon.

One thing to understand about tools is that they do not generate leads. They can, however, help you generate leads. This doesn’t just apply to online marketing, but it applies to anything.

Of course, in order to generate leads, you need to have traffic. Traffic takes time unless you have the money to invest in some highly targeted online ads and a few TV commercials.

We are going to take a look at some WordPress tools which can be used to help generate leads from the traffic you have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Resources More Profitable than Sales

You can treat the Internet like some print advertising medium and base your success only on sales but a sales-only approach will undermine your efforts. A Web site is an investment that should gain value each year; unlike print advertising, which loses value quickly as time passes (how long is your one month magazine ad valuable?), A Web site increases in value through Six Revenue Streams.

The choice is clear; either adapt to what the Internet has to offer, or try to force your way down the throats of those visiting your storefront on the Internet. If you force, you will fail and you will complain. If you learn about the Internet business models, which have more to do with the evolution of business than technology, you’ll discover the real secret; keeping in contact with your customer base, expanding it, and giving them more and more reasons to conduct business with you.

Create an advantage for your business by thinking about how you will save and generate revenue now. Not five years in the future, and not in a few months,but right now. We can show you the business models that are working online, with case studies of sites that are applying these techniques and making money. Some are making tens of millions of dollars, like Industry.net; some are small entrepreneurs adding significantly to their bottom line and building a long term business. In such a young market, you should know the business models that are working and apply them to your own venture. Start building your Revenue Streams by focusing on results.

 

Revenue Stream 1: Lead Generation

Generating leads is the most realistic and immediate source of benefits online. If you are selling products and services to consumers, measure how you can expand the reach of your business from a local to regional, regional to national, and national to international audience. How can you keep in touch with your audience? Most of all, how can you use your website to generate more leads?

Many businesses with catalogs add them to their website. We ask them directly, what do you want to do with this expensive, four color, catalog? Incur more expense by putting it online immediately or generate leads by getting your catalog mailed to target customers? The answer is simple; we can easily generate new customers and inquiries for the products.

Do you care if they buy online, from an 800 number or by fax? Money is money, no matter where it comes from; leads are leads, and the Web is a terrific place to generate them for your business and for related businesses. What’s a lead? Contact by telephone, fax, or email which the business can close. The Web site can be a central referral point for a group of businesses, with success measured by leads generated. Compare the costs of generating leads for a business and offer cheaper leads online, at least testing to see if the medium is valid for that business.

Charge by the lead or charge by the actual sale. Whatever you do, track it well. Find out where the orders are coming from. If they are getting leads from you, ones that buy, they’ll pursue the Web with you. If not, they’ve been able to try out a business online based on the simple model of lead generation. One Web seller actually guarantees leads because they are the most immediate and measurable response from a Web site.

Check out (www.edmunds.com) for a site that not only has customers, but no product. That’s right, they generate leads for other businesses. They have an incredible book of automobile information (that’s been published since 1966). Instead of selling the book, they’ve given away the content and base their business on generating leads for the leading online auto insurance dealer, Auto ByTel, and an automobile parts store. Sounds like a free magazine with advertising doesn’t it? Adding customers and lowering lead costs can contribute at least $5,000 for a business in a calendar year.

Revenue Stream 2: Mailing Lists and Testing Print Materials Online

When all the big companies test their latest products, they find some rich suburb to test the approach on. You can do the same thing online. The Web is like a rich suburb (how many poor people have $2,000 computers?) Test your headlines and sales letters online first and find which ones work.

If you did a direct mail test, you would likely run several different mailings, each one costing you money and, even worse, time to see which ones worked. This is a time intensive approach, based on costly print materials for each individual to be reached. Why not try it out online, seeing which sales letters work and which do not?

If you were to start a newsletter with a headline like “Web Letter’s Guide to The World Wide Web”, it may only receive 100 downloads. Changed the headline to “How To Create a Web Page”, and that may resulted in over 16,000 downloads. The point is, if you try this only in print, you would spend thousands of dollars and months of mailings. From your website, it would only take you a month and only cost you time. It will help you focus your business on what works and allow you to save time and money when it goes to print.

An excellent example of testing direct mail pieces online and building mailing lists is Jonathan Mizel’s Cyberwave Media Online Marketing (Email Traffic Academy) site (www.cyberwave.com). He gives away free reports and samples of his newsletter in exchange for email and physical addresses. Not only has he built up an enormous mailing list for his products and services, he has tested it and knows what offers work. Now he can use this as a valuable business asset year after year, offering joint ventures or endorsed mailings to a group of people who value what he does.

Another example is Amazon.com (www.amazon.com), a bookstore generating over $10 million in sales (read about them in the Wall Street Journal); their direct sales (you can’t measure success today in only sales, it’s the ongoing contact and development of your audience base that counts) aren’t as important as their mailing list. They sell books and ask you for your feedback on the books. They give you ways to get email about what you are interested in. Let’s say you search for a particular subject; you can be notified about all new books relating to that subject automatically, via email.

What they are developing is a continual base of contact and a way to keep reminding people to come back for a visit. But even more importantly they are asking you to judge them on their merits and give them feedback, along with your email address. Publishers are busting down Amazon’s door for this list. Think of it like Microsoft; are they powerful because they sell software, or because they own the most amazing computer mailing list in existence, the Windows operating system? If you want to reach most computer users, you have to go through Mr. Gates.

The moral of this revenue stream is, if you don’t ask for an email address and keep in touch with your customers by offering monthly tips, special reports, news from your Web site, updates, special bargains and offers, you are cheating yourself and them. If you don’t give away something to mail to them physically, so they can hold it in their hands, you’ll never know where they live. The more you know about your customers and the more they want to keep in touch with you, the more powerful you are. Testing direct mail and print ads online, along with mailing lists, are an untapped resource of long term revenues.

Revenue Stream 3: Market Research

Imagine if you were to find a focus group to study. You’d have to pay them and set up a time to get them in a physical location. You’d have to hire a professional to run it and study the results. What you study are generalisations of one expert about a group, drawn by a scientific cross section. Online you can find people interested in what you are selling and ask them what they need, adapt your approach to their likes and dislikes, and make your customers an active part of building your business.

Why not visit the online discussion groups and conduct your own market research? Or even better, start contests and surveys that make your site a center for market research? I don’t mean studying the trends that exist, but listening to your audience and having them give you the trends. Let them guide you to what they need. Use this to create products and services, or even better, adapt your current approach to fit their needs.

By being in direct contact with your customers, you learn the trends as they are happening. They provide the ideas via email feedback, you create the product. Compare the cost of this to a focus group study or hiring a market researcher to cull through numerous publications trying to figure out what the competition is doing. Online, you can find that out immediately and even better, stay ahead of the competition by watching what they do as well.

Market research will save you money, not only by keeping up with your competition, but by letting your business set the trends subject to what your customers want. Think of the Netscape model; they built a browser and developed it around what people wanted. A bunch of academics sat around a table with another browser, Mosaic, hoping to build standards over time. Meanwhile the market demanded, and built, the standards; making Netscape the premier browser of its time.

Revenue Stream 4: Public Relations

A Web site is an important public relations tool. A company’s image is enhanced by simply having a Web site address. Talking to print media, radio, and television becomes easier when you talk about what you are doing online with your business. You could receive thousands of dollars in free publicity by being interviewed, having articles published in different trade journals, and focusing that publicity on what you do online. Press releases may get read and followed up on; the Web is a way to open up doors to markets just because of what you are doing online.

A Web site is an excellent starting point for any marketing campaign. Use it as a central referral resource, such as “For more information visitwww.writething.com 24 hours a day. We’re always open.” Free publicity is still available; don’t forget to include your Web site and email address on all promotional materials, like business cards.

Revenue Stream 5: Customer Service

This boring word is fast becoming the most important part of any business. Trying to start your own customer service department is difficult. Depending on a telephone limits access because of busy signals and the inability of personnel to be able to address the vast number of questions. Customers want 24hr access, which is beyond most small businesses. Training, evaluation, and overhead costs with managing such an operation can easily go into tens of thousands of dollars.

Online customer service is the wave of the future because it’s always open and subject to email for inquiries, with the benefits of an 800 number but not the costs. When people write, they have to focus their questions; you can respond in a few minutes, rather than a twenty or thirty minute phone call where money is being paid for simply communicating (your phone charges you by the minute, online it’s usually one flat fee for access). What could be quicker than writing a note? Compare that to a telephone call, where the talk continues and it’s tough to save time. When people ask questions via email, they are brief. Use this to your advantage.

Revenue Stream 6: Relationship Marketing

With so many Web sites around now, this niche will quickly become the most profitable way to create and maintain a site. Many companies have groups of businesses they work with, such as vendors. The Web site should be a focal point for their network, their circle of influence. The hardest thing for people to do now and in the future is find specific Web sites. Set up alliances, almost like mini Chambers of Commerce, where people can visit and get referred to related businesses that fulfill their interests.

A company could use the Dell Computer model and use its site as the central meeting place for a network of agents nationwide or worldwide. Franchises can use it as a central reference center for all their franchisees. Advertising and promotions can be shown at the site from allied businesses. Joint ventures with other countries, other businesses, distributors, and consumers are becoming the fastest growing business model online.

Off-line, the fastest growing markets worldwide are now in Asia. Online ventures can penetrate those markets, possibly create joint ventures, and expand the influence of any small company to a multinational level simply through cooperative agreements and a Web site. The cost savings and revenue generating possibilities are limitless.

Bonus Benefit 1: Barter
Trading space online for print advertising is a sure fire way to generate advertising dollars. Exchange empty space or even a Web page as an advertisement with a newsletter or trade journal. Use space as a way to introduce people to the online world. One Web publisher on the West Coast created a website for a radio station in exchange for radio advertising and a link from their heavily trafficked home page. A roughly $5,000 investment of time and resources to create the website was multiplied exponentially into radio ad time and Web advertising time.

Trade value for value online, not only with other companies online with whom you might exchange banner ads, links, or even content, but with companies who are not yet online. Ask them for content and a small fee to test promote their efforts on your site.

Bonus Benefit 2: What About Sales?
Notice how sales have yet to be mentioned? That’s the mysterious eighth revenue stream that is a trickle right now. It is growing. In the short term,,focus on what is really saving and generating money. Savings increase revenue. Sales will come, but these Seven Revenue Streams can create immediate returns.

Many people come online thinking they will just hawk their wares. The Web is much more than an advertising medium, it is a means to keep in touch with your audience, to offer them more products and services, and to give them reasons to keep in touch with you. Why waste your time on one revenue stream, sales, like everyone else? You can use the Seven Revenue Streams to generate money now and when the sales come, it will be another stream.

The true goal is not to think of your business in terms of one product or service, but to diversify so you have alternative revenue resources. If one dries up, another compensates. A Web site offers a multitude of values that can solve a variety of problems. The Seven Revenue Streams are also a consulting tool to teach people how to use their website. What better way to open doors than to counter the traditional online approach of selling technological tricks no one understands and the advertising aspect of the Internet. Why not sell the real benefits that can help people start making and saving money right now?

The World Wide Web is moving beyond the pioneer stage. We’ve seen the brave leaders jump into the business, crash and burn. How many companies have you read about losing money? High tech is a business based on losses for a few years. But online, the entrepreneurs making money don’t look at it that way. We apply the Seven Revenue Streams to milk our sites for money. You should too. We’re not high tech…we’re for profit.