Category Archives: Essays

Crafting compelling surveys and questionnaires [Opt-Ins and Conversions]

Client reconnaissance. Cool phrase, right? But what does it mean? “Preliminary surveying or research” is the strict answer, of course. And now that we’ve said that, you are likely to already know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you should be learning as much as you can about every lead that enters into your sales funnel. That may tempt you to put surveys allover your various webpages – and you no doubt see lots of businesses doing that. Buy something; hit with a survey. Complain about something; offered a survey. Read a FAQ entry; treated to a survey. Take a

Five Examples of Profitable Marketing with Micro-Commitments [Conversions]

Marry MeA good friend of the Preneur family, James Tuckerman, founder of Anthill Online and Not So Freaky University, has a great little anecdote about building profitable customer relationships. James explains the core of the relationship-building as follows:

You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you before you’ve shared a cup of coffee with them.”

James is spot-on about this. Though he’s making a point about starting out baby steps when it comes to earning sales, his philosophy brings to mind a slight caveat.

Building a profitable customer relationship is really about getting them to follow-through on a series of micro-commitments, before taking on the comparatively big, scary commitment of conversion.

While much is said about those broad, macro ideas about the sales process, what are the little steps along the way? The answer: those micro-commitments that constitute the interactions that lead up to the glorious sale at the end.

This essay focuses on micro-commitments. That is, small actions you ask your customers to take leading up to (and sometimes in lieu of) a big conversion step.

In this essay we’ll look at the following concepts:

  • An explanation of the psychology of micro-commitments
  • Buyer-identifying micro-commitments
  • Social sharing micro-commitments
  • Free-trial offers as micro-commitments
  • Payment micro-commitments
  • Customer feedback micro-commitments

These concepts aim to increase conversions (and sometimes opt-ins) by asking your customers to take small, non-threatening steps.

Let’s get started!

Engaging Alternatives to ‘Can I Help you?’ [Increasing Retail Opt-Ins by Asking Better Questions]

retail storeIf you’ve spent much time working in a face-to-face sales environment, you know that asking “Can I help you?” is the best way not to get a customer to take you up on your offer. In stores, the customary response to that greeting is “I’m just looking.” Generic questions like “can I help you?’ do nothing for encouraging the retail opt-ins you need to grow your business.

You need better questions to ask your prospective customers. It goes without saying that “How can I help you?” is a closed-ended question – one that can only elicit a yes or no answer. And when it comes to parting with money, people are inclined, by default, to say “no.”

A little basic psychology can help you overcome this challenge and win more sales just by asking more effective questions. Specific, focused, questions that urge interaction are the kinds of questions that will help you get your customers’ attention and make subsequent sales.

That means alternatives to “can I help you?” become a huge part of your marketing strategy.

In this essay, we’ll take a look at the following ways to help you skirt around the dreaded question, “can I help you?”

  • Understanding why “help” isn’t wanted
  • 25 Alternatives to ‘can I help you?’
  • A note on the importance of context
  • Establishing credibility
  • Following the steps
  • Why sales is about engaging, not interrogating

Asking the right questions will go a long way toward helping your double your profitability by pulling one of our 7 Levers of Business, Opt-Ins.

Let’s delve into the most profitable types of questions to ask your customers.

Expanding Revenues + Transactions Every Period by Selling Nothing but Air

 

skyYou’ve heard the old saying “the best things in life are free,” right?

Well, the spin we put on those timeless words of wisdom is “the best things to sell are free – or pretty close to it”.

What we’re talking about in this essay is how you can sell the relatively low-cost intangibles peace of mind, time, and personalization. These items, as you have probably already inferred, have the highest profit margins of all – as their cost is next to nothing!

Selling nothing more than air is not as hard as you think. In fact, many types of businesses have been at it for years. You can get in the game of selling intangibles by implementing the best practices outlined in this essay.

Before we get started, one thing we should clear up right away is that selling nothing but air (that is, intangibles) is all about connecting benefits with customer problems – even if the customer in question has never encountered the problem at hand.

All of the marketing tactics we are going to talk about today require a little action on your part. Namely, you have to know what can go wrong for your unique customers post-sale. Do you sell a product that could break? Is it a high theft item? Does the manufacturer’s warranty on the items you sell have unfriendly steps like shipping the item abroad, which you could absorb for your customers by offering an extended warranty or insurance plan?

Whatever the case may be, you can leverage selling intangibles like warranties and insurance to grow your revenue and increase profitability dramatically.

In this lesson, we’ll look at selling nothing but “air” as follows:

  • Selling extended warranties
  • Adding insurance onto the sale
  • Selling time and personal attention

Selling intangibles helps you pull two of our 7 Levers of Business (Items per Sale and Profit Margin) and that’s exactly why we are putting these tactics in focus in this essay. Let’s dive right in to see how it’s done!

5 Ways To Increase Profits with Adds-Ons, UpSells, CrossSells & Downsells

 mcd

“Would you like fries with that?”

That phrase is the most familiar example of upselling in the world. As cliché as the phrase made famous by McDonalds may be, it still strikes at the heart of the add-on issue. A report from Forrester Research states that on-page recommendations create 10 – 30% if eCommerce revenues, and as much as 35% of online retail titan Amazon. You might say add-ons are a big deal!

The basic concept is that while selling your big ticket items, once you’ve clinched the sale and you have the customer in “buying mode,” you offer him or her something else.

Of course, there’s a good chance you are not selling hamburgers, so your best add-ons may not be quite as obvious a fries. What’s more, McDonalds’ French fry offer is actually a bad sales manoeuvre, as it uses a closed-ended question, leaving customers able to say “no” with great ease.

You can add a wide variety of items to customer orders to increase your profits – much more than simply obvious add-ons, like fries. You see, the reason McDonalds offers the fries isn’t just because they go so well with “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions – on a sesame seed bun.” Fries are cheaper to make than burgers, thus they have a higher profit margin.

McDonalds does not release its costs as public information, but you can assume that the company is driving down the cost of the items it sells whilst leveraging its massive selling volume in a way that simply won’t apply to most businesses.

That’s why, in this essay, we are focusing on how you can add high profit margin items to your sales to increase your profitability exponentially.

Although all of the types of products we’ll discuss in this essay loosely qualify as “add-ons,” we’re going to break it down further and sort them into five distinct categories.

To help you make the most of add-ons in your business, we’ll cover the following in this essay:

  • Traditional add-on offers
  • Upselling
  • Down-selling
  • Cross Selling
  • Upgrades

Let’s dive right in a find out how using add-on tactics can increase profitability!

3 Ways to Use Risk Reversals to Increase Opt-Ins & Conversions

As amusing as the scene from the classic comedy movie Tommy Boy shown above may be, it nevertheless boasts some seriously potent busy know-how. If you have ever wondered why companies put guarantees on the packaging of their products, often seemingly to their own detriment, it’s because the guarantee acts as a type of risk reversal.

As you might recall from our recent essay on guarantees, a risk reversal is any strategy or tactic that reduces or removes the actual or perceived risk a prospect has about investing in your product, service or solution. In other words, for your prospective customers, the risk rests on your shoulders. For you, the advantage is that you make a sale that you might not have otherwise had the chance to close.

Ryan Healy has this to say about risk reversals on his website:

Risk reversal goes over and above other proof elements like testimonials and cases studies.  A prospect may very well believe anecdotal proof (testimonials)… and he may believe the scientific proof (if there is any). And yet he will still think, “That’s all well and fine. Clearly, it worked for them. But will it work for me?”

In this essay, we are going to look at three types of marketing risk reversals to increase opt-ins and conversions, including:

  • Free-Trial Offers
  • Guarantees
  • Easy-Return Policy

Our goal here is to give a firm tug to two of the 7 Levers of Business (Opt-Ins and Conversions) to help you on the path to doubling your business’s profitability. Let’s dive right in!

A Look at What Really Matters for Conversions & Happy Customers

Todays guest-essay is from Tommy Walker, editor of one of our favourite CRO blogs ConversionXL.com  Enjoy! (and check out my comments below) .Pete

Most of the businesses I’ve spoken with in my almost 10 year history as an online marketing professional think the process for getting new customers goes something like this:

  1. Get Traffic
  2. Get Users
  3. Make Money

But it’s not so simple, is it?

I mean, honestly, when was the last time you personally handed over your money so easily?

According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth report, the average shopper consumes an average of eighteen pieces of information about a company or product before making a purchase decision.

Eighteen - that includes promotional videos, blog posts, testimonials, user reviews, comparison guides, expert opinions, podcasts etc.

Like Mattan Griffel’s excellent Slideshare says, the magic to making money isn’t in acquiring traffic or users, the magic is in what happens in between each step of the customer journey.

10 Guarantee Templates You Can Swipe to Instantly Increase Conversions

Guarantee_Boxes

 You are under no legal obligation to offer a refund if a customer…

“…simply changed [his or her] mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided [they] did not like the purchase or had no use for it.”

However, offering an explicit guarantee in your marketing can do wonders for your increasing your conversion rates.

In fact, tests have shown that adding a 30-day money back guarantee, you are able to increase sales by 21%.

And in a study by Suwelack, Hogreve and Hoyer published in the Journal of Retailing titled “Understanding Money-Back Guarantees: Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Outcomes,” they found:

The results of two experimental studies show that in addition to cognitive effects, Money-Back Guarantees evoke a positive emotional response, thereby increasing consumers’ purchase intentions and willingness to pay a price premium.

The reason? A guarantee is a form of risk reversal.

A risk reversal is any strategy or tactic that reduces or removes the actual or perceived risk a prospect has about investing in your product, service or solution.

As a risk reversal, a prominently displayed guarantee lessens the risk for your customer, which helps them more readily make the decision to buy. The risk stays the same for your business – after all, you are already obligated to guaranteeing your product or service anyway, despite the fact that most consumers don’t know to what extent.

As an article by Dean Rieck at CopyBlogger points out, guarantees are excellent tools for reducing risk because they help you accomplish the following:

  • Assure customers that you believe in the quality of what you are offering
  • Spell out terms and conditions clearly
  • Specify a generous time period for evaluation
  • State what you will do if the customer is dissatisfied

More importantly, guarantees are required by law. So why not pivot and make it part of your marketing arsenal to help you increase conversions?

Plus, if they’re good enough for Denzel to offer in every movie, they are good enough for us.

In this essay, we will provide you with explanations, examples, and swipe templates of the following 10 guarantee types:

Let’s take a closer look at 10 guarantees and templates that you can SWIPE and DEPLOY right now.

How I Plan to Give My Son, Eli, a Million Dollars

“If only … ”

If only. As far as I’m concerned, those two words represent the single most painful realization in all of personal finance and business.

It’s something that came to me when I first started to assemble this Wealth Foundations Series, and it’s something I wanted to touch on in great detail before we really got too far along.

At first, it will seem like a slight detour from the strictly entrepreneurial-sword-sharpening topics we’ve covered so far in the series, but I think succession planning, and instilling the right wealth foundations in our children is just as important, as fixing our own finances.

It starts with learning the value of deferred gratification, of making time work for you, not against you, and not being the guy stuck saying “If only.”

Because the worst thing about this lesson is that it’s so often only learned in hindsight, meaning that your single most valuable asset—time—has already been mostly depleted.

That’s the real cost of “If only,” the price in wasted years.

Well, today’s article is about how I’m attempting to prevent “if only”.

It’s about how you can start your own succession planning by following along, and how doing so can prevent key members in your business and family from having to endure some of life’s most painful lessons.

Basically, we’re talking about imparting the perfect amount of financial wisdom at the perfect time.

How you can start your succession planning by playing along, and prevent loved ones from having to endure those same painful lessons by imparting the right amount of financial wisdom at the right time …

In my case, I’ve chosen to start building my “Family Succession Plan” with our part time Blog Editor, my son Elijah—or Eli for short—and I’ve decided to do it by setting him on course to become a millionaire …

Mystery Shopping… City Beach

It’s amazing how much your perceptions change as you grow older.

Back during those late night shifts at Athlete’s Foot, prior to Spotify and listening to the homemade mixed CDs, the mystery shopper was the one thing we all wanted to avoid each month. “What a waste,” we thought. “How does this help?” we groaned.

The funny thing was that we always seemed to be able to remember who the mystery shopper was, after the fact… when the report came back with our “review”.

They always seemed to behave in the same strange way, asking the same silly and annoying questions — yet no one ever was able to be present during that moment, realise who they were, and subsequently up their level of customer service.

I guess at that age, hindsight was still far overshadowing foresight. (In fact, I think it still is.)

Either way, as I progressed through my journey I began to realise what you don’t measure you can’t manage, and began to see the immense value in mystery-shopping your staff. A small tweak in the way they approach a casual shopper can easily increase the number of shoes people try on (opt-ins) or the number of upsells sold at the point-of-sale (items per transaction).

No wonder the industry in 1999 had $750 million annual revenues in the USA alone!

So I thought we should all get a lesson in retail mystery shopping… and invited Kristian Mahony, TheRetailGuy, to contribute a review of a major brand’s retail presence.

about-pete
Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

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