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3 Steps to Sell More from Your Small Business Website

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3 Steps to Sell More from Your Small Business Website

3 Steps to Sell More from Your Small Business Website

Digital marketing is becoming more and more competitive.

According to Census Bureau’s data, almost 5.5 million new business applications were filed in 2021, which is a 53% increase from 2019.

Hit by global lockdowns and deprived of most traditional means of attracting customers, most of those businesses turned to the Internet in an effort to build traffic and sales.

This resulted in a higher than ever digital marketing competition.

How can a small business compete with that?

How can you generate sales from your small business website in this competitive environment? 

Here are some solid ways to do that.

1. Formulate a Plan

Successful planners often make successful entrepreneurs, laying out detailed (yet actionable) goals every step of the way. The fact of the matter is that if you have numbers you want to hit, you’ll be much more likely to have them in mind and aim to reach them constantly. 

Write them down and keep them somewhere so you can continually reference them throughout the year.

Create a Sales Plan

A sales plan is designed to outline your goals, tactics, audience, and potential hurdles. After laying out a sales plan, you’ll come away with concrete, measurable goals, including revenue targets and deadlines for hitting each metric. 

You’ll also spend time identifying your target audience, which will be crucial for success in marketing. Creating a sales plan is a necessary first step in meeting your overall business goals.

Create a Prospecting Plan

Think of your prospecting strategy as a guidebook for your sales team (even if your sales team is just you). It should cover all of your preferred sales methodologies, as well as information on who to target. 

Ask yourself which form of selling most closely aligns with your business and its goals, from cold-calling to trade shows, to a 100-percent-digital strategy.

2. Market Your Business

Building a good marketing strategy really comes down to two crucial factors: 

  • Understanding your audience 
  • Getting your product or service in front of your target audience. 

Anything you can do to gather information on your target demographic and then to effectively, affordably market to them will get you ahead in marketing.

Leverage 360-Degree Digital Marketing

Depending on the type of business you operate, you can probably get away with a fully digital marketing strategy. Focus on the most affordable methods first, such as building out your social media  and local business profiles. 

Social media is the best option for connecting with current, and future, customers. Consider pay-per-click and performance-based marketing options, such as affiliate marketing. This will help you get your product or service in front of a bigger audience for a much lower up-front spend.

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Make Sure You Have a Loyalty Building Plan in Place

It is hard (and in many niches impossible) for small businesses to develop solid and consistent traffic generation methods.

So focus on retaining those customers that did find you and turning them into brand advocates.

There are many ways to achieve that, so create your strategy based on your business and product specifics:

  • Set up a dedicated spot for your customers to become part of your community
  • Use a solid CRM solution to organize customer relationship management process and identify steps where it may be failing
  • Reply to comments and reviews when your customers are discussing your product or asking questions
  • Encourage user-generated content by offering perks in exchange for sharing an unboxing video, a photo review of your product or a tutorial on making the most of it.
  • Offer exclusive deals and packages. vcita offers a “Packages” feature that allows small businesses to bundle several services together and sell them as a package deal online at a discounted price. You can use vcita to create unique packages for your return users:
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Research Niche Gaps and Competitors’ Fails

What are your competitors missing? Which features or products are they seeking and failing to find? You can actually turn the poorest experience into a business opportunity, if you learn to identify that opportunity.

Researching niche gaps is a great way to find a sweet spot for your business to stand out. SE Ranking competitive research tool allows you to identify your competitors’ strongest and weakest side. 

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You can also use its keyword research tool to find searchable keywords that don’t have much competition (this is a great way to find what’s on demand but without a solid offering).

Social media listening is another great way to find customers who are dissatisfied with your competitors and identify what your competitors are doing wrong (and how you could fit in):

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Make Sure People Can Find Your Business

Start by implementing the basics, including a well-optimized website and a detailed listing on Google’s My Business Profile platform (if you are operating a local business).

Optimizing your website through proven search engine optimization (SEO) tactics—such as including relevant keywords and building out detailed, useful pages—is an easy way to ensure that people can find your business. 

Plus, besides the time you spend writing the copy, it’s free! This is also extremely important for small businesses. Text Optimizer is a great tool to help you create a highly-relevant copy:

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Encourage Cross-Business Collaboration

As a small business owner, you may not have a ton of employees but it is still important to keep them excited and motivated. Encourage your employees to submit content ideas, feature your team members on your social media profiles, let them contribute to your social media channels, etc.

Keep your team together even if you don’t have an office. Your employees need to be part of the family, and an effective communication strategy is vital for any business. Nextiva offers affordable small business communication solutions which will keep your team together:

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3. Analyze & Adapt

Too often, businesses funnel big money into marketing and development without investing in detailed tracking and analytics. But you need both to thrive. 

Why does data matter so much for boosting sales? Because it allows you to measure—usually, in concrete numbers—exactly what’s working and what’s not working, and then it forces you to adapt accordingly. 

Be sure to track your results over time, so you know what strategies are working or if you need to pivot your plan. It is important to keep in mind seasonality, or any other factors, that naturally fluctuate your business, so you can accurately predict results.

Invest in Analytics Tools

Luckily, many digital marketing platforms include built-in analytics, but what about when you’re trying to track something that’s not single-platform based? Often, you can add tools and plug-ins to your website or store to keep track of where sales are coming from and other metrics. 

Using a comprehensive Rank Tracker that can connect many data points (rankings, traffic, conversions, etc.) is also essential:

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Track All Demographics

As long as you have permission from your user or consumer, you can gather as much demographic information as possible. Pay close attention to patterns that emerge with regard to age, gender, geographic information, income, and education level. 

This will help you figure out exactly where to funnel your promotional dollars, including which social media platforms to advertise on and which affiliate websites or blogs to partner with.

Put Your Data to Use

What good is a fleshed-out set of data if you don’t put it to use? Make sure you’re using every single finding to keep your business agile, adjusting as needed to different consumer preferences and market trends. 

Be patient with your analytics, keeping a close eye but not being obsessive. In time, you’ll have a solid bank of information that will tell an obvious story about where you should take your business next.

Ask for Feedback and Focus on the Customer

A good sales strategy is one that serves both the seller and the consumer. As you’re going through your first year or two in business, make sure to always keep your ears open to feedback, focusing on specific ways you can improve the customer experience. 

Remember that happy customers tell their friends when they’re both satisfied and dissatisfied with a business, so keeping them smiling can help you grow your sales exponentially without you having to do anything at all!

User experience is a vital part of business success both on the web and in real life. If a customer had a positive experience and can leave a review, that will be invaluable when others are looking for similar products.

Positively interacting with customers and ensuring their satisfaction, will not only encourage them to return but also recommend your products to others.

Even though the Internet is getting super competitive, there are still a lot of opportunities to start a successful home-based business and set up a small business that will stand out. All you need is a plan, a solid technology partner and a good team!


Why Content Marketing is the Only Marketing Left

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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