The Altra Marketing Bridge

Today, the smart marketers are paying attention to the marketing bridge between a prospect’s need for a solution and your company as the solution.  To get there, a prospect must move along the marketing bridge’s sections successfully.  If any section fails, its very easy to have that prospect fall into the stream of competitors and lose the opportunity.

Step 1: your prospect has a need to fill

The first step onto the marketing bridge occurs because a person or business realizes they need to solve a problem.  Now, they are your prospect.  And, they are the prospect of your competitors.  Your marketing job is to move them from a prospect at large, to a customer of yours.

Step 2: your prospect searches for a solution

This step, like the others in the marketing bridge, is critical to perform well.  When a prospect goes searching and they only find your competitors, your marketing has failed.  Today, most people use the major search engines to find a solution to their needs.

Your job as a successful marketer is to be in those search engines at the top spots.  It is important to realize that if your website is not found in the first few spots on the first page, your prospect may not even know you exist.  Did you know that in many cases the number one spot on the first page gets 43% of the clicks on that page?  And, the second spot only gets 16%, while the other spot’s numbers drop precipitously from there?  (It is important to point out that these numbers vary by industry and geography, but are a real rule of thumb that you must be aware of).

Failure in your Search Engine Optimization efforts means your site is not found in the top spots, and your prospect falls from the bridge and into the stream of competitors.  Your job is to make sure that your website is in the top spots so that your competitors won’t get those prospects.  When you succeed, your prospect travels on to the next step and closer to becoming your customer.

Step 3: your prospect engages with your website

Now that you have become successful in getting your prospect to find you in the search engines, the next step is to get them to look at your website and see if your company fits their needs.

Most people want to find that the first site they visit is the one for them.  They really don’t want to spend the time searching and reviewing and figuring out who to choose.  They are overwhelmed with their choices today.  So, if your website appears to meet their needs well, they stop looking.  They really want this because it saves them time and avoids a too familiar overwhelm they experience when searching the web.

As with Step 2, this step is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT to moving that prospect along the bridge to YOUR business.  Because when your website meets your prospect’s needs well, in most cases they will contact you and not your competitors.

For your website to have a high traffic-to-customer conversion rate it must meet the needs of your prospects.  What are your prospects hoping to find on your site?  Are they finding it?  Are they looking to find a company they can trust, a company that other people know and love, a company that delivers the exact product or service they are looking to buy and do they serve the prospect’s geography?  If this is what they are looking for, to be successful, your website must deliver or you lose them.

One super-easy, super-fast, friction-free button to failure…

When your company’s website doesn’t engage and connect well with that prospect, they click the back button in an instant.  Google calls this a “bounce.”  Your prospect shrugged their shoulders at your site and said “so what?” and chose to find a competitor instead.

What did you just do!!!  You paid for and created a site that helped your competitors get a prospect.  If your site is crummy, they use it as a comparison to the other sites they research.  In the end, you paid money to help your competitor.

However, if you’re successful, the prospect says “yeah, this is the company I want to deal with” and moves on to the next step in their travels across the marketing bridge.

Step 4 your prospect checks your online reviews

I want to stress that this is a somewhat optional step for your prospects today.  However, it may not be optional as the months go by in 2016.  And, there are some industries and geographies throughout the country today where prospects don’t check your reviews before calling you.

I also want to tell you that we saw an amazingly big change in 2015 where more and more people use Yelp! and Google+ reviews to screen the companies they do business with first.  Our industry believes this trend is growing at a very fast pace and you must be paying attention to it.

Prospects that research your reviews online before buying will grow significantly in the coming years!  The forward momentum on this is considerable and cannot be ignored for most small businesses.

Now that consumers have a taste of this awesome tool, there’s no taking it away from them.  They are conditioned to look for it more and more often.

Think about it from your prospects’ points of view and you’ll see it just makes sense.  Your prospect reasons “Okay, I need this service or product, how can I make sure my choice is the smartest one available to me, how do I avoid being taken advantage of and getting the best value for my situation?”

Online Reviews is good, old-fashioned Word-of-Mouth-Advertising on steroids!

WORD OF MOUTH IS STILL THE BEST MARKETING EVER!  In the past, when consumers don’t know who to turn to for a solution to their need, they asked a friend, or they simply just chose on their own.  But think about it, the topic of your business has to come up in conversation at the office, or a funeral, a wedding, a party, at chance encounters, etc.  Hopefully, that customer of yours that loves your business runs into the prospect of yours that really needs you, when they need you.  And hopefully, that customer of yours has a business card they can pass along to help that prospect remember who you referred.

Online reviews are so much better for the consumer.  Now a consumer that wants to know how well it serves its customers, can simply go online and find out instantly.  Now, your happy customer can be telling 100’s or 1000’s of THE BEST PROSPECTS IN THE WORLD!!!  That’s right, a happy customer telling someone at a barbecue about their awesome experience at your company may be falling on the ears of a person who doesn’t need your service today and is extremely likely to forget about you when they need you.

With online reviews, however, the people that are reading them are the ones that need you and need you now.  This is so much better than the old fashioned ways where your customer tells people randomly about your experience until the freshness of the experience wears off and they don’t mention you anymore.

If you haven’t yet mastered creating experiences that make your customers feel like they want to tell the world, you better start and start fast.  The cat’s out of the bag and there’s no putting him back.

Step 5: your prospect contacts your company

Congratulations, you have successfully moved your prospect along the marketing bridge and the felt you were the best company to contact for their needs.  Well, maybe.  Now, they want to continue the process and see how you interact with them when they visit your store, call your office, or email you a note of interest.  Just as with the other steps before, when you do this right you have success and they become your customer.

Do this step wrong though and your prospect drops right into that stream of competitors waiting to serve them.  Think about this, you paid good money to get your website up high in the search engines, the created a killer website that totally connects with your exact best prospect, you have scores of awesome reviews online because you give great service, and then your receptionist answered the phone with impatience and indifference.

What happened!!!???  I’ll tell you what happened, you paid someone to send the prospects that you paid dearly for to your competitors.  You paid them week after week, month after month to tell your sought after prospects to go away!

Just like your website, your company has a contact-to-customer conversion rate too.  And this rate must be monitored and improved regularly or you’ll just keep paying to help your competitors succeed.

How does your staff handle that inbound lead when a prospect visits your store for the first time?  How do your sales people care for that phone call of a first time prospect?  How do you respond to the emails that come in from your website?

In your communication, have you effectively connected with each prospect?  Did they feel valued and did they feel, again, that they are at the right place?  If you did, you move that prospect along the bridge and they buy from you.  SUCCESS!!!

Marketing bridge summary

When you’re serious about growing your business, it becomes critical to be successful at every step in the marketing bridge.  One misstep and your prospect goes to your competitor instead.  At Altra Web Design, we believe it is our role to help you succeed at the Search Engine Optimization and in Website Conversion Rate.  Those are the segments of the marketing bridge we can control.

When SEO is done properly, your site can be at the top of the search engines for the words and phrases that your prospects really use.  We’ve done this 100’s of times for our clients.  Almost all of our small business clients that attract business from their local geography are in the top spots in Google and most have remained there for years.  Today, though, more competitors are getting as serious as our clients and are giving them a run for their money.

When CRO (conversion rate optimization) is done well, your prospects arrive at your site and feel like they’ve found a home for their needs.  It is as if your prospect has an unconscious checklist they check-off when they review your site.  And, when your site keeps checking off those boxes, your prospect makes the decision that you’re the best place for them.  We are the experienced masters of this process.

If your marketing is in need of help, please consider our company to help you achieve your goals.  Call us at 805-765-1080 to start the conversation.