During the last few years, digital media has surpassed radio and print in terms of audience size and engagement frequency. And national TV advertising is now smaller than digital media advertising.
While watching TV remains a popular pastime, we are spending more and more time online. Baby boomers now spend 19 hours a week online. The internet is their top source for information gathering, and far outpaces TV and print as a source for information.
The decline of traditional media in favor of digital media presents challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs trying to build a stronger internet presence.
I think many business owners get it. They’ve heard the stats: We conduct an average of 12 billion searches each month and 61% of global Internet users research products online.
They know social media presents opportunities too because on average, 28% percent of time spent online is on social networking websites – an average of 1.72 hours per day!
Why are business owners still so hesitant to implement a digital media strategy?
I come across so many entrepreneurs who only want to do the bare minimum, or just get their feet wet when it comes to digital marketing. Perhaps a new website, but that’s it. They don’t want to take the time to blog or create social media profiles and update them.
While this puzzles (and frustrates) me, I realize it’s because they don’t fully understand how this process works. They are confused about the purpose of their website and how they should be using it to generate business.
I hear this all the time: “my internet leads aren’t as good as referrals.”
Of course not! Your referral business is coming from a trusted source who had great feedback about your services. Your internet-based leads are in a completely different stage in the buyer’s journey.
They are still gathering information and educating themselves about their options. It’s your job to move these leads through the buyer’s journey and convert a percentage of them into paying clients.
No, you won’t convert them all and that’s OK. You actually don’t want to! You want to convert the leads who will turn into the best and most profitable clients for your business.
The Buyer’s Journey
Your website is there to educate and start to build trust – not to actually do the selling and closing.
How to make internet leads more profitable for your business.
Most consumers aren’t ready to make a purchasing decision the first time they click on your website. According to the Pew Research Center, 86% of consumers stated that using a search engine allowed them to learn something new or important that helped him/her increase his/her knowledge.
With this in mind, you need to develop a digital marketing and sales strategy that:
- Immediately positions you as the industry expert so you start to build trust.
- Captures the lead’s contact information so you can follow-up with additional information.
- Guides them through the process of buying your services.
- Eliminates the leads who aren’t serious buyers so you only spend time with the leads who are truly interested in your services.
Inbound marketing is the best way to take advantage of these leads and ensure your website is a source of profitable new business. Inbound marketing includes many of the digital marketing strategies you’re probably familiar with – blogging, social media and email marketing.
But inbound marketing takes these concepts a step further by considering every step in the buyer’s journey. The goal isn’t simply to generate dud leads who are price shopping. By providing content that leads them through the buying process, you’ll be speaking with individuals who are serious about hiring you.
What about the people who are just price shopping?
Sure, you’re going to generate inquiries from people who are only shopping on price. It’s up to you to set a policy about giving prices over the phone or via email. Perhaps you’re comfortable giving a price range. Or maybe you stay firm about needing to meet with the person to gather more information before quoting the work.
The key takeaway here is that internet leads have a completely different mindset than your referral business. And while your website is an important sales tool, it’s not going to do the selling for you. You need a system in place to nurture these leads through the buyer’s journey.
Have more questions about internet leads or inbound marketing? Leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond!