Online Brochures Up, Sales Down

If a customer walked into your showroom, store or office today, you would hardly start rattling off prices before you had even formally greeted them! Yet surprisingly, this is the way the majority of businesses approach online.

The approach goes something like this: “Hi customer, here is deal A, B & C – which one do you want to buy?”

Despite few customers being converted by the price orientated approach typical of most business websites, the assumption that this is ‘as good as it gets’ means businesses rarely seek out a more effective online model.

It is a myth that if you are a retailer with a website, you need to advertise to attract customers to it. By advertising, I refer to the ‘outbound marketing’ practice of interrupting audiences with advertising messages in the hope that a portion of this audience finds the advertisement sufficiently relevant to take action on it.

Like a retired midwife, outbound marketing rarely delivers.  When your message is only relevant to a small percentage of the audience you are advertising to, you need to advertise to a very large audience and this is the problem. With new media channels popping up faster than corn in hot oil, there are more screens vying for the consumer’s attention than ever and large audiences are in short supply.

The response to decentralised audiences for most retailers has been to cease advertising with old media channels and invest that money online. This move has delivered mixed results for businesses with many channels simply not worth the money. Google search advertising remains the star performer amongst all of the options, but a change is in the air.

Five years ago, many businesses had barely heard of Google Adwords. Today, it is the largest part of most online advertising budgets. Over $121,000,000 is spent on Google advertising every day – a figure which represents a third of the total estimated online spend for advertising. If you have been finding your Adwords is under-performing lately, it might be because all of your competitors are doing the exact same thing as you.

What can you do?

A few well written articles can dramatically improve the relevance of just about any Adwords campaign. A website full of such articles can attract customers to a website for free. This approach, well known but rarely executed, is called Inbound marketing and the philosophy is simple. Differentiate your business with remarkable content that gets people talking and advertising becomes an optional exercise.

Ditching your brochure styled website for a design that promotes news and information over products and prices is a dramatic departure from convention but many businesses will see the chance to build an audience early and leave the competition behind – a temptation too good to resist.

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