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5 marketing mistakes you MUST avoid for better conversion rates and sales

Posted in How To on November 30th, 2011

Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Jeremy Reeves, who is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant who has produced millions of dollars in excess profits for his clients. To learn more about Jeremy and how he can grow your business, head over to www.JeremyReeves.com or download his FREE special report “The 3×3 Formula For Doubling Your Profits In 60 Days Or Less” at www.3x3Formula.com

The world of Internet marketing and conversions is changing as we know it. Consumers are getting more savvy. Places like Google are putting a stranglehold on how you can market your products. Competitors are popping up in every nook and cranny.

In short, conversions are plummeting and it’s getting increasingly harder to grow your business online.

Because of this, it’s more important than ever to take a stroll through your business and remove any weaknesses in your marketing funnel.

This article will show you how to do just that.

Mistake #1: Not Showing Your Core Value Proposition

The first marketing mistake you’re making is that you aren’t displaying your core value proposition to customers both immediately and throughout your entire sales process.

Your value proposition is what makes you stand out from your competitors and what gives your customers and prospects a reason they should buy from YOU instead of your competitors.

(It can also be called a USP)

When I look at most websites, I don’t see the #1 reason WHY I should be on that website. Instead, the big mistake people make is saying things like…

…“we’re the best at X”.
We’ve been in business for 10 years.
Our product is more reliable than our competitors.

Uhhh… yea – SO WHAT?

Those things don’t matter to your customers. They’re SURFACE level benefits. They don’t make you stand out. They don’t immediately give value to the person looking at your website.

If you get it right – your customer should be able to walk away from the computer… go on vacation to the Bahamas and remember your value proposition while sitting on the beach sipping rum n coke’s.

That may sound a little far-fetched… but it’s the truth.

Here’s an example.

My value proposition can be stated like this.

“I help businesses maximize their sales funnels and increase profits by 20% – 100% or more without increasing expenses.

On the other hand – a weaker version would be something like “I help small businesses increase profits”.

That’s what MOST people say.

But it’s not specific.

HOW do I help increase their profits? I do it by maximizing their sales funnel… and I also do so without increasing their expenses.

Let me give you one of my favorite USP’s of all time.

Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or it’s free.

This is what Domino’s Pizza used to jumpstart the business into what it is today. Unfortunately they can’t use it anymore because of legal issues (too many people were getting in car accidents) but the value proposition was so strong that they’re still a very successful business today… even though I personally hate their pizza.

Now here’s what I love about value propositions.

You really DON’T have to rack your brain for months trying to create the “perfect” value proposition.

What you do instead is come up with 3-5 of them and TEST them. Usually in PPC ads.

Mistake #2: Letting Your Own Ego And Biases Get In The Way

This might seem insignificant but you need to trust me on this… every single website has assumptions of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve worked with dozens and dozens and dozens of different clients over the years and every single one of them had conversion-killing assumptions on their website that they didn’t even know about.

For example… the vast majority of people these days still don’t think that long-form salesletters work.

But here’s the truth.

They DO.

Awhile back I wrote a guest post on this blog called Anatomy Of A Long Salesletter.

Because of that blog post, SOME of the readers kept an open mind and got in touch with me to create long-form letters for their websites. And lo and behold… I gave them big increases in their conversions and profits. One client right now is already looking at a 200%+ increase in leads.

Those who didn’t? They’re still losing thousands of dollars each month because they’re assuming longform letters don’t work.

Another assumption people have is with videos. Some people think they work for EVERY audience. Some people hate them. Some people think only autoplay works, while others can’t stand autoplay.

One of my clients thought that a video wasn’t going to work for his audience and that we’d create both a video and a text salesletter. The plan was to show the video to cold visitors, and the text to his warm prospects that were on his list.

We did this because in previous tests, text won over video. So we assumed text was going to work again for this particular product.

The funny thing is… the VIDEO actually won. And it won by about 30%. So if we assumed that the text would win – this client would have lost about 30% of his revenue.

The point is this.

TEST EVERYTHING. (And use Visual Website Optimizer!)

Here are a few things you can test that most people have assumptions about.

  • The length of the copy
  • Video or text
  • The type of language (corporate vs. personal sounding)
  • Colors
  • Aggressiveness in the copy (soft with “easy” calls to action vs. a little more direct)
  • Layout of the page
  • Price points

That’s enough to get you started.

Marketing Mistake #3: Not Understanding Your Prospects

Remember… your prospect is the one who is putting money in your pocket. Not you. When you do ANYTHING on your site – you have to mentally be transporting yourself into the mind of your prospect and adding what THEY want you to have.

This means that your language has to be congruent with them… your pricing has to be congruent with them… your bonuses… and your product. The funny thing is, most people develop products that THEY want to have out in the marketplace.

But if you really want to not only boost your conversions but really gain traction in your marketplace, the products you create should come out of a want and NEED… not what you “think” they “might” want.

So the question you’re probably asking yourself is… how do I figure out what my audience wants?

Let me tell you a personal story which describes this personally.

When I first started my career… I was only a copywriter. These days I do a lot more than just copywriting because I realized everything in marketing is linked together, but back then I only wrote copy.

In probably my third month, I had a client who asked me if I knew how to create html. I said no. He was upset because now he had to find someone else who could take the copy I wrote in a word document and transfer it online.

The next client came to me… and the SAME thing happened.

At that point, the lightbulb went off in my head. So what did I do?

First – I learned html and basic CSS so that I could create salesletters for my clients and hand it back to them in “ready to test” shape.

Second – I started LISTENING to my clients more. These days I actually create new services based on what my clients NEED… not what I want to have out there.

For example I have a service where I create automated webinars for my clients and they have to do nothing but read the script I give them. Normally creating automated webinars takes weeks or even MONTHS of their time… but now I can save them probably close to a hundred hours of time because I do it all for them.

Now… that’s how I do it in my own business. But if you’re selling products and not services, here are a few more options you can use.

First is surveys.

This is a GREAT way to do it. There are dozens of survey companies you can choose so just pick which one you think is best for you.

When you’re setting up your survey you have to make sure to give them some kind of gift for filling out the survey. It doesn’t have to be much. Maybe a $10 gift certificate for your website… or a free report… whatever.

Another thing you can do is simply CALL your customers personally.

First of all it’s going to make a huge impression on them because nobody ever just calls clients or customers anymore and simply asks how they’re doing, how you can help, etc.

But more importantly… people LOVE to talk. They’re going to spill the beans – especially if they know you’re genuinely trying to help them.

And a third way to do this is to have a contest on your blog.

First what you do is put a contest on your blog (as well as send them emails)… and ask them what they need. Whoever gives the best response and comes up with a product you come out with… gets it free.

Now I just want to stop for a second and make sure you realize JUST how important and valuable this is. This is what separates “good” companies from companies who blow past their competition year after year and dominate the market place.

When you understand your customer better you can start getting to know their wants and desires on a DEEP level. And when that happens, you can start to fill in your marketing back-end – if you haven’t already. And if you already have then of course you can make it even bigger and more profitable.

But the real value from having a well thought out back-end is that you can then start optimizing sales funnels, instead of just pages.

Marketing Mistake #4: Optimizing Pages Instead Of Sales Funnels

Let’s first get a clear look at what I’m talking about when I say “sales funnel” instead of a single page.

There are various different sales funnels you can have, but one typical one we would see online is something like this.

Landing Page > Salesletter > Upsell > Downsell > Thank You Page

Now let’s add in some numbers to each of these pages. Again, I want to make it crystal clear that YOUR numbers are going to be very much different than the numbers I’m about to show.

I just want to show you how powerful this can be.

Let’s start with conversions numbers.

For this example, I’m going to leave out your landing page for simplicity… since for many people reading this, you may not have a step before your salespage.

So in terms of your “conversions”… we’ll assume your salesletter is converting at 2%. Your upsell is converting at 20%. And your downsell is converting at 20%.

Now let’s look at traffic.

We’ll say that you’re getting 5,000 visitors per month to your salesletter. That’s a little under 200 people per day, which is definitely possible.

Ok, next, let’s look at prices.

Let’s assume your front-end offer is priced at $97… your upsell is at $197… and your downsell is at $67.

Now that we have all the “base” numbers – let’s add that up to get your “before-testing” number. Then we’ll give just a 30% increase to each of these numbers and see what it turns out to be.

Salesletter – 5,000 visitors X 2% = 100 sales x $97 = $9,700
Upsell – 100 visitors X 20% = 20 sales x $197 = $3,940
Downsell – 20 visitors x 20% = 4 sales x $67 = $268

Ok… so now we have our base numbers. That means right now you’re making $13,908 per month.

Now let’s look at what happens when you increase EACH of those funnels by just 30%… which is absolutely possible and really not that hard at all.

Salesletter – 5,000 visitors X 2.66% = 133 sales x $97 = $12,901
Upsell – 100 visitors X 26.66% = 26.6 sales x $197 = $5,252
Downsell – 20 visitors x 26.66% = 5.3 sales x $67 = $355

That gives you a total of $18,508 in monthly gross profit… which is an increase of $4,600 per month.

That $4,600 increase per month could EASILY buy you a new employee who can get you more traffic… become your affiliate manager to dramatically increase your affiliate base… or any number of things.

And remember, this is for a SINGLE product. Plus it’s not including customer lifetime value. And I’m not including what happens when you increase the TRAFFIC you get to these pages when you start split-testing landing pages, emails, banners, PPC ads and everything that actually funnels traffic to the money pages. That’s when it REALLY gets exciting and the numbers start compounding.

Now… we’ve been talking a lot about numbers. Your number may be bigger or smaller than what I just went through, but either way it’s exciting.

Marketing Mistake #5: Not Knowing Your Numbers

Knowing your numbers is CRUCIAL to any online or offline business. The reason is because if you don’t know your key metrics, you have no idea how healthy your business is. You might think it’s doing well – just to find out something unexpected happens and all of a sudden the floor falls out beneath your business.

Now, I don’t know your business so I’m not really sure what numbers you need to know. However there are a few very common numbers which EVERY business – online or offline – needs to know.

So let me give you them and give you a brief description of each of them. Then I’ll tell you how to USE this information to grow your business.

My question is… do you even KNOW what your numbers are?

Value Per Visitor – This is pretty basic. You want to know how much each VISITOR is worth to your website. The cool part about this is it’s incredibly easy to figure out. Just divide the number of visitors you had over the past month/year/ or week… by the amount of money you made.

For example if your site had 20,000 visitors last month and you made $20,000… that’s an average of $1 per visitor.

Figuring out that metric is important, but even more valuable is when you break it down into segments such as traffic source, page, and possibly even further like gender, age, and other variables if you can figure that out for your business.

Lifetime Customer Value – This is one of THE most important metrics you can ever figure out. By understanding this metric, you can then determine how much money you can spend on advertising… employees… inventory… and everything else that makes a business tick.

But here’s the little caveat to this metric. Actually, there are 2.

First, you want to know how long it takes for the average person to complete his or her buying cycle. For example if you have a continuity program and are tracking the lifetime value of a person entering that program – you have to determine the average length that person stays in the continuity program… and if they buy other products while they’re in there.

So if your membership program is $50 per month and your average customer stays for 4 months… you have a customer lifetime value of $200 over a 4 month period. Then, of course, add in any extra back-end products they bought during that time.

And remember… you’re going for the AVERAGE of all your customers. So don’t calculate this for one customer… do it for about 100 or so. Or even more if you can. The more customers you average into this, the more accurate the number will be.

Now, the second caveat is that you want to determine a COMFORTABLE timeline in which to calculate this number. For example – some businesses have customers who stay with them for many years… or even decades.

However the reason you’re determining this number is to figure out how much you can spend to acquire a new customer, so you might not want to spend $500 to get a new customer if you won’t make that money back for 5 years.

Or maybe you will… it all depends on your business model and how short or long-term you are in your thinking.

Cost Per Conversion (or Cost Per New Customer Acquisition) – This one ties heavily into the 1st metric which was value per visitor. The reason is because if your value per visitor is $1 and your cost per conversion is $1.50 – you’ve just discovered that you’re losing money.


Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re doing SEO, PPC and affiliate marketing. For examples sake, let’s say each is bringing in $10,000 per month. That means you’re making $30,000 per month GROSS profit.

And let’s say that OVERALL, you’re spending $20,000 per month which means you have a net profit of $10,000 at the end of each month.

Now – what if you broke that down?

When you break it down, you might realize that you’re spending $2,000 on SEO per month and making $5,000 per month gross. That’s $3,000 net profit.

And your affiliate system is bringing you in $15,000 per month gross – and you’re giving away 50% commissions so your net profit is $7,500. now you’re up to $10,500 NET profit.

But whoops – wait – didn’t I say you were only making $10,000 net profit between all 3 channels? Yep… I did.

Because what you didn’t realize is that you’re making $10,000 gross profit per month on PPC, however you’re SPENDING $10,500 – which means you’re actually losing $500 per month on your PPC campaign.

Now that you have that information – you know EXACTLY where to focus your efforts. In this case you’d probably want to optimize your PPC campaign to get it profitable. Or, ditch it and focus on what’s making you the most money… which is your affiliate program.

This, of course, is a very simplified example. You’ll have to run your own numbers to figure out where you stand.

I hope you’ll take this information and apply it in your business. If you’ve read this far, you obviously care about your business. And that’s great! I suggest going back through this article and creating a “to-do” list based on what you think will have the biggest impact on your bottom-line.

Get ‘er done!

Paras Chopra

CEO and Founder of Wingify by the day, startups, marketing and analytics enthusiast by the afternoon, and a nihilist philosopher/writer by the evening!

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3 Comments
mindxstudio
December 1, 2011

I am agree with you regarding mistakes on marketing, all we should avoid those, so it will be good for us.

[...] tool (we’re fans of Google Analytics) to identify and patch up those holes. Eliminate these five weaknesses, and your marketing funnel will be stronger for [...]

[...] analytics tool (we’re fans of Google Analytics) to identify and patch up those holes. Eliminate these five weaknesses, and your marketing funnel will be stronger for [...]

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