If your ecommerce site is like most on the Internet, people visit your site, and they either buy what your selling, or they don’t, and in either case, they go away and don’t come back unless they’re interested (maybe) in buying what you sell. Or perhaps your site is one of those precious few that features a blog so potential customers have some other reason for visiting your site.
If you do have a blog it is IMPERATIVE that your blog is not simply some commercial for your stuff, but is instead a reasonably objective set of articles regarding your entire market space. This way, visitors have some reason other than buying your products for visiting your site AND for staying there a little while.
Doing that will mean you get the opportunity to build a relationship with your visitors and for them to see your site as an authority. Once you have that, they will be MUCH more likely to buy from you over a competitor no matter what your respective search engine rankings.
But even those few sites which do have good blogs with good content still trip up BIG in one area, and in doing so leave thousands of dollars on the table that they could otherwise get.
You see, the problem is that what I call “blog adoption” is still relatively low. What I mean by that is only a small percentage of the total Internet community (something like 20 percent of US and Canadian citizens, which make up the bulk of blog readership) actually takes the time to read ANY blog on ANY subject with any level of regularity.
This means that even if you have a blog, 80 percent of your visitors will take the time to actually read it only once or twice. Now, don’t think I’m arguing against blogs with that statement. Remember the 80/20 rule, which means that 80 percent of your profits will come from 20 percent of your customers. You’ll find that that 20 percent will also be your blog readers.
However, ignoring the 80 percent population is just stupid, especially since catering to them is so easy.
You see, for those 80 percenters, you have to be “in their face” to keep your company in their mind. Further, you must provide those folks with a good reason for why they should take the time to actually read your entire blog in one sitting (yes, there is a way to do this). The longer you can get these 80 percenters to read your stuff the more likely they will be to buy from you REPEATEDLY.
So the question then becomes, “how can you be in their face and have them LIKE IT?”
While a few sites do have blogs, they require that the person do something. They have to take the time to open their browser, type in the address, and then read your site. At the very least they have to be running their RSS reader, open that, see your latest posting and then decide whether they even want to read the full article or not.
So what you need is a reason, a very good reason, why as many visitors to your site as possible will give you their email addresses. Now you can send them an email, and most folks keep their email open almost all the time.
Let me caution you right now, if all you’re going to do is send “special offers” or some other such junk your mailing list will be a gigantic waste of time.
So, what you need to do first is have some strong compelling reason why a visitor should get onto your mailing list. Fortunately, that one is easy. If you’ve been blogging for any length of time at all, and you’ve been using my “article blog” concept, then you have a fair amount of content. The problem from the point of view of a new visitor is that they have to wade through it.
So what you do is take those articles, put them in chronological order, and give it as a free giveaway to people that subscribe to your list. There should be tons of good stuff that can now be read from start to finish and it’ll all make sense.
Now, you put a form on your front page letting people know about it and asking them to sign up. Once they do that, send them the ebook and you’ve taken the first step to maximizing your web site.
Before I go any further, let me say this: an email list (that isn’t spammed) is THE most important asset an online business can have. However, to truly “take care of it” you have to regularly (at least once a week) send the list some good, strong, relevant content. Once a month you can also send a “special offer” to that list.
This works so well simply because you are contacting the people on your list with some regularity. This means you have a constant “relationship building” process going on. The people on your list are regularly getting your content delivered to their door without them having to go out of their way to get it. They don’t have to visit your site (but they will when you send an offer), they don’t need an RSS reader, nothing like that.
At this point I think it’s also important to say that the information (other than that first ebook) absolutely SHOULD NOT be the same thing that goes in your blog UNLESS it is a particularly good blog posting. The reason for that is simple: you don’t want you blog readers to unsubscribe from your list as a result of too much content duplication. By having some differences in the content from your blog to your mailing list, you make it significantly more likely that someone will be a regular blog reader AND will also be on your mailing list.
Now, I know I’ve said that an email list is important, but the question becomes, why? Why is it such an important asset to build and take care of?
Most well put together websites find that AT THE VERY BEST, traffic from a search engine will get you one sale for ever 200 unique hits delivered from the engine. Most sites get more like one sale for every 2000 hits.
However, sites with mailing lists (that are well cared for) often find that when they send out an offer, the traffic from people from their list will get two sales for every 10 hits — and that’s being conservative. I’ve seen offers go out to lists where 30 percent of the entire list responded, not just 30 percent of the traffic the list brought to the site.
So let me ask you, how much more money do you think you can make if you change your conversion ratios that much?
At this point however, I think it’s important to talk about “mailing list logistics.”
First of all, there are a number of companies that sell “autoresponder” software packages that will let you run and manage your mailing list right from your own site. After doing this for a lot of years I can tell you that it is often a bad idea. The process of sending out emails to your list is often hard on your web server.
Secondly – and this is something you’ll want to test on your specific list – it often happens that the very best day to send an email is Tuesday or Thursday during working hours for the bulk of your list. This tends to coincide with the busiest times for your site as well, so bogging it down by sending out a bunch of emails really isn’t the best thing to do.
Instead, the way to go is to a service such as Aweber or GetResponse. The benefit to services such as these is that you still have control of your list, but it’s being run on their high speed servers, which are optimized for sending mail. Remember, YOUR web server is optimized for web traffic, not sending mail.
Not only that, but it becomes easy to simply put each new message you want to send to your list in as an autoresponder message. Now the messages get delivered to your mailing list without you having to do anything beyond posting the initial message.
A lot of people hear about how an online business can “make you money even while sleeping” or while “on vacation.” Well, this is really how that happens.
Imagine setting up an auto responder with 52 messages, one delivered each week of the year. Someone subscribes, and they get your messages delivered to them automatically. Now, in those messages, about once every four weeks is some offer to induce them to buy. A good percentage will. In short, you are automating your entire marketing process.
Now, if once every five days you add a new message to the end of the autoresponder sequence, every person that signs up for your list will automatically be signed up to receive messages from you forever. They will also be running through a marketing process that you have complete control over.
You could even take several weeks off knowing EXACTLY how much money you’ll be making during that time (based on historical averages). You’ll literally continue to make sales while sitting on the beach sipping a mimosa.
This is why I say that sites that do not have mailing lists are making a mistake that’s costing them thousands of dollars every single month.