Until recently, it seemed most articles focused on online marketing talked about SEO in some form. Conversion tactics weren’t the hot topic.
That has completely changed.
I’m not suggesting that no one addressed the art and science of conversion in the past, nor that the conversation about SEO has stopped. But the ability to address conversion in a more compelling way has evolved, so it’s become a much hotter subject.
Maybe it’s time you take a look at how your online marketing strategy should evolve, too?
SEO, SEO, SEO
Neil Patel has been an incredible source of wisdom for the most savvy of marketers over the years, in terms of acquiring web traffic through search engine optimization. Brian Dean has been right there with him. Rand Fishkin and Moz are absolute experts when it comes to Google ranking.
It’s not that what they’re teaching is any less relevant today. They know far more than I ever will about traffic generation and domain authority. SEO is evolving. Not just because mobile has taken over our lives, but because voice searches are adding a whole new dimension to things. You need to stay on top of what the experts are espousing (and more importantly, what they themselves are doing.)
But there’s a new sheriff in town.
The New Sheriff in Town is Conversion Tactics
Bonus points if you get the image reference.
Converting the traffic that you already get, no matter the volume, is the new hot thing for online marketers. There’s no question about it.
I already mentioned on this blog the latest approach that will prove this out: website personalization. I’ve implemented Logic Hop here at the site and will begin implementing changes here to test it out. But I’ve also seen a demo of RightMessage and it’s nearly mind-blowing—and I’ll have more to report on that front within a week.
Optimizely is also on the new personalization bandwagon. They’ve always been a key tool for testing conversions on your site, but the personalization product is a new one for them.
But it’s not just about personalization. Look at the lineup of marketing services that are exploding in growth with one primary purpose—to help you engage your site visitors while they’re on your site in order to convert them:
While live chat on websites isn’t brand new, this lineup of providers has burst onto the scene and made it nearly ubiquitous, giving on-site chat new CRM and behavior-tracking superpowers.
And there’s an entire Medium publication dedicated just to the rise of chatbots, where you can make your site visitors’ experiences feel more warm, engaging, and useful, though they’re fully automated.
Why the change in focus to conversion tactics?
Sujan Patel agrees with me. In fact, he agreed with me a full three years ago. Chris Keller put it succinctly, too: More conversions almost always lead to more sales, while more traffic doesn’t necessarily increase sales.
Marketers needed some time to come around to our way of thinking, though.
As with many things, the change came about because new tools debuted. Our eyes opened to possibilities when Intercom hit the market. I’m not even a customer, but it was easy to see that they were introducing a new way of thinking about engaging your website visitors in real-time. A multitude of clones copied their basic functionality.
Drift expanded the thinking on what a live chat session can entail, and how automated it could be, and yet still be warm and engaging.
Autopilot has a really cool approach to how you engage your website visitors—focusing on the ‘customer journey.’
Overall, the change in focus to conversation tactics for smart marketers comes down to how affordable it is to talk to people when they’re at your site.
The idea that a three-person consulting business can spend just $49/month and have a pretty compelling tool for solving peoples’ problems was unheard of about five years ago.
So, what should you do now about your online marketing strategy?
Everyone’s budget is different, but let’s say you’re a small business that has a measly $500 to spend each month on your online marketing. I can’t break down the multitude of ways you could spend that $500, because you might only generate leads from your site vs. actual e-commerce sales.
But there are a few ‘musts.’ For example, you must invest in paid search. Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc. You’ve got to send people to your site in a targeted way. You can’t just work with the people who get there organically. How much you invest, I can’t say.
The four core tools you must invest in
1. You must invest in refining how your site is structured and your overall search engine plan of attack. SEMRush is the most-recommended tool of choice for this. Plans start at $99/month.
2. You must invest in refining what content you create for engaging readers and search engines. BuzzSumo is the tool of choice here. Plans start at $79/month.
3. You must invest in an email marketing tool that allows you to segment and target. Yes, of course MailChimp does this. But ConvertKit is the tool of choice here for creative types —bloggers, podcasters, consultants, freelancers, etc. Plans start at $29/month.
4. You must invest in a way to acquire email addresses. While ConvertKit can do this on its own, there are more robust tools like OptinMonster or Thrive Leads. Plans start at $9/month for OptinMonster (limited functionality). Thrive Leads will run you $19/month at a minimum.
These are your core marketing essentials. You’re at $216/month at a minimum with these.
Beyond these four, you must invest in conversion. Then, you primarily have one of two routes: the engagement and conversation route, and the personalized-content route.
Where’s your money going to be spent in 2018?
You’ll spend some more money in 2018 on converting your website visitors than you did in 2017. It’s too affordable to ignore.
Side Project Plan launched in 2017 and I’m building my strategy for engagement and conversion as we speak, and I know which tool(s) I’ll be using to make it fun and rewarding.
The real question is: With this greater expectation for engagement and personalization, will you finally launch a personal marketing platform? :)
I think the lesson is clear here. Customers and clients who are kicking the tires, looking for possible solutions to their problems, want to feel like solution-providers speak their language, understand their industry, and are likable and trustworthy.
These emerging tools for engagement and personalization make that possible. But building an authentic, personal brand—a personal marketing platform—is the one thing your competitors can’t duplicate.