In a recent broadcast, we explained how companies can identify which digital marketing tactics they should be using on using the Attract > Engage > Convert framework.
Doing the right things at the right time can make all the difference in successfully generating leads online. A company with very little website traffic should prioritize their digital strategy very differently than a company with much higher traffic but a very low conversion rate. And should companies wanting to improve their results across the board focus on tactics for every stage at once, or focus on one area at a time?
I think this is one of the most important topics that we've covered in quite some time. This is all about doing the right things at the right time, and trying to avoid doing the wrong things at the wrong time.
What we're going to be talking about today is what we call this AEC framework or attract, engage and convert. When you generate leads online, three things need to happen. You've got to attract the right people, you've got to make sure that they get engaged in what they're looking at, and then ultimately, you want them to convert. That's ultimately what you're trying to do. You're trying to get that conversion. And we're not talking about closing the sale, we're not talking about nurturing a lead, this is trying to get that lead into your inbox, somebody who says, "I'm interested in talking to you guys. I'm interested in hiring you guys."
The reason that we break it up this way is that different tactics work at different stages. Not every digital tactic is going to be appropriate for each one of those steps, so it's important that you understand, first of all, what your biggest need is as it relates to this framework and then what you can do to try and elevate the results that you're getting within that.
I want to stress that no digital tactic is a silver bullet that's going to do all of these things at once. No digital tactic is going to win you all this attention, get people to really engage with your platform or website and then get them to convert. And the problem is, that's usually the standard that a lot of people hold digital marketing or any kind of marketing to. They think, "I'm going to put this out here and it's going to do all of these things at once." It's just not the case. It's probably going to move you one or two steps down that funnel, but then you need other tactics to work within it to get it all the way through and to get that conversion ultimately in your inbox.
So again, attract, engage, convert. We’ll give you a few examples that a business might find itself in when it's trying to diagnose where they are within this model.
If you have a website with very little traffic, that's really our first step, we're going to start with attraction tactics and methods to grow that traffic. And that's what is going to be our focus. We experience that all the time with your smaller businesses. We deal with alarm and security companies and local service companies, and that happens all the time. They have little or no traffic and that's really got to be our starting point.
Then there are the more established businesses, usually slightly larger businesses or businesses that have had a web presence for a little bit longer. We deal with a lot of manufacturing companies and community banks and credit unions who would fall under this category. They get plenty of traffic, but when you talk to them about how their website performs they say, "I get very few leads from my website." So then, you know, they either have an engagement or a conversion problem—more often than not an engagement problem.
And then lastly you have really well-established companies, who get plenty of traffic, they have lots of content, they get good onsite engagement. People are viewing their content. They're navigating throughout their site, spending time on their site, but they're just not getting the leads. That would fall under the conversion problem.
I think that first example, which is a company that doesn't really have a lot of traffic is one that we see a lot but the biggest problem that we see in those situations is that a client or prospect brings up some kind of flashy new way of doing things and we say, "Look, that's not really what you need right now." Maybe they heard from somebody, "You should be testing everything that you do, so you need to be doing A/B testing." Yes, you do need to be doing A/B testing at some point, but if you don't have any attention on your site there's nothing to test against. So the focus needs to be on winning attention, first and foremost, in a situation like that.
We're going to get into each of these three steps briefly. Let's say there's an attraction problem. We walk in, you look at the site and you say, "All right, this is a site that just really doesn't have anything going on right now. It's got very little traffic, it maybe has just hundreds of visitors a month," something like that, so what do we do in that stage?
Well, all of the advertising tactics are obvious ones. Facebook advertising, Instagram, display banner ads, search advertising, affiliate advertising. Local SEO, which is getting ranked in the local results when you do a search and you see the map pop up in Google. Content marketing is a big play—it's one of our preferred ways of winning attention. That includes writing blogs, creating new content on existing pages and more.
Then finally there’s just good old SEO, which is trying to rank your product pages, trying to rank your service pages, whatever the case may be. That's what we do if we're trying to win attention, those are maybe the top six or so different tactics that we use when we're trying to attract more eyeballs to the site.
So, if we've done that successfully, if we have attracted people into the site and now they've got maybe hundreds or now thousands, tens of thousands of visitors on the site but the bounce rate is super high, it's 80%, 90%. Very little time on page. We have an engagement problem. So how do we tackle that?
Some tactics that we would use are making sure your content is easy to scan, easy to view, your user experience is solid, your pages load quickly. And that's a lot of technical things. And then we get into your content quality, your depth of content, and then there are a number of tactics and tools you can use or do to measure some of the engagement and then kind of carve out action steps from that.
We can do user testing, we can do onsite surveys, we can do user experience tests and try to figure out, what is driving people to leave the page. One of our favorite tools is surveys, specifically asking if a page or a piece of content matches with what the visitor is looking for.
When we're trying to move from attraction to, the first thing that we've got to ask ourselves is, are we even getting the right kind of attention? And this is something that a lot of businesses struggle with. They feel really good, they’ve got all this traffic. They have all this potential. But it's actually not qualified. Maybe they're coming in for some kind of random page that happens to be ranking well.
And really what we're just trying to understand is, are we getting the right attention? We know we're getting a lot of attention, but are we getting the right attention. So you put a little survey up there, a single question, asking, “Is this what you're looking for, yes or no.” And that'll give you a nice little barometer that you can use to work off.
The big thing for me is making it as good of an experience as you can, assuming that traffic is qualified. I'm always a big fan of surveys, whether “is this what you're looking for,” or “what can we do to make this page better,” anything like that. Just gather as much intelligence as you can and then try and make those pages as good of an experience as you possibly can. That's how we try and bump up engagement.
At the top of the list is worth mentioning we have content improvements. We didn't speak to that a lot yet. We've done a couple episodes on that before but once you have a piece of content that ranks and that gets traffic, it's definitely worthwhile to go back into that content and create more of it, either add to it or create other posts or articles or pages that can link to that and relate to that and can get users deeper into your site and hopefully further down the funnel as they're considering a service provider or a software company or, whatever it is you do.
There are a lot of ways you could do that. You can add more content, it's adding better headlines, it's adding bullet points, it's adding more images, creating a video, just saying, "Hey, look, this is our first pass at the content." I'm sure if you come back around to that a couple weeks later, you can think of more things to do with it, so invest that time into the content to make it better.
So we get to a point where we've grown traffic, we start to get some good engagement on the site, people are viewing our content, spending time, viewing multiple pages, but we're still not getting leads, we're still not getting sales. This is probably where people spend a lot of time really trying to figure out the online space, but what are some of the common ways that we've had success with getting people to convert?
We're talking about conversion rate optimization, which is a niche of digital marketing in and of itself actually. So, again, the premise is we've got a lot of traffic, we know that traffic is engaged, how can we get that traffic to convert? Because even if you can increase the rate at which they convert by 20%, your leads go up 20%. So this is a really powerful lever that you can pull.
One of the ways that you can do this is creating good landing pages. If you're hoping that people are going to flood into your site and then hopefully make their way over to the Contact Us page that doesn't talk about what they came to look at originally, that's not a great experience, right?
You could create customized landing pages that are related to the topics that they came in for. We can run remarketing ads to try and get that person to come back because you could get a lot of attention, you can get a lot of engagement on the page and they can have a great experience, but they're not ready to convert and then they leave. But if you have remarketing ads running and you stay top of mind, they can find their way back in and convert.
Messaging apps, chatbots, that's something that we've been experimenting with, and we're still gathering information on this but we're going to be doing a show on this probably in the next couple months. We've been seeing actually some really interesting results with chatbots, which you can install on your site. They can create almost an automated chat experience, so someone who would have otherwise left can engage in that and then you can get them to convert that way.
A/B testing: you have one version of the page, let's create another version of the page, but change some features of it, change some messaging, add some calls to action and see which one will perform better.
You can offer incentives, get this much off act now, that kind of thing. We promote our webinars, our Facebook Lives on our website, so if somebody came in, they read something they liked it, they're about to leave and we have a little pop-up come up says, "Hey, before you go, we've got this webinar coming up," or "We've got a Facebook Live coming up." So they'll say, "Hey, I might check that out." They click through, they sign up, now they're in our flow. They're not a lead yet, but now they're in our database and we can let our inbound marketing and our nurturing take it from there.
CTAs: free trials, free quotes, request information, download a brochure and there are probably hundreds of different CTA types and messages that you could test, but all of that is worthwhile if you've already grown your traffic, you have good onsite engagement, you're just not capturing leads. It's up to you to work through each of these tactics and start to figure out what's going to get those people to move.
Three phases that I want you to think about when you're trying to generate leads online: attract, engage, convert. You need to understand whether you have an attraction, an attention problem, an engagement problem or a conversion problem.
With an attraction problem, you'll find that if you have very little traffic. If you just have very few eyeballs on, your selling tools like your websites, you've got to address first. You have to get more qualified eyeballs on the site, you have to win an attraction and there are several ways you can do it.
If you're getting that attraction but you find that people are not sticking around, they're not looking at a lot of stuff, they're leaving, focus on engagement. Make that experience as valuable as you possibly can. Add more content, run surveys or little pop-ups that ask how can we make this better, solicit feedback from your visitors, implement video, implement more images, just make it a better experience for the user to get that engagement.
And then finally conversion. Once you have that engagement, you have all that attention, have offers, have CTAs, offer other things that are maybe not ‘Contact Us’ but lower bar offers that someone's a little bit more willing to do if they don't want to talk to you quite yet. Then just keep working those, A/B test those, and then start to get that conversion to incrementally go up.
We had some questions sent in before the show.
Q: One of the common questions and probably common mistakes is, can you do all of these at once or multiple of these or do you really just have to focus on one at a time?
A: The approach that I like to take with my clients is let's focus on one core thing at a time. So we run in sprints. Maybe for three months at a time we say, "We're just gonna really focus on this problem and we're gonna throw everything that we have at it." So I recommend going one at a time, figure out what your biggest need is and then just pour everything into that. Because if it's attraction, you've got to create a lot of content, you've got to set up a lot of ads, that takes time. If you're trying to manage engagement and conversion, all these other things, it's just going to get diluted and you're not going to see a stronger result.
I think there's probably two ways to look at this, especially if you're doing a lot of advertising on the attraction side, you've quickly got to get into landing page and conversion test, otherwise, you're just going to spend a lot of money and maybe not get the results that you want, so you have to be careful there if you're spending a lot of money in advertising. The other is that this is kind of a circular flow. You get to a certain point where you feel like you've done well with each of them, you go back to the basics and figure out, "Okay, what else could we or should we be doing to attract?" We just did this for ourselves the other day. We had a discussion about content, and what do we need to write for our blog and that conversation was rooted in who are we trying to attract and where do we think we're deficient currently and it's back to the beginning even though we've been publishing to the blog for 10 years.
Furthermore, we have tens of thousands of people on our blog every month. We get a lot of traffic, we get a lot of attention and we were sitting around here saying, "How can we get more attention?" Because we've addressed engagement, we've addressed conversion. And once we get more attention, then we go to the next step. So it is very circular, I think, it's a really important point, but start with the most critical, focus on that and then move down the funnel.
Q: What is the best way to get engagement for websites that are only when needed like heating and air conditioning?
A: In some cases, especially if it's heating and air conditioning service or any other local services, we might say that engagement isn't necessary. If you can get traffic and they convert, you're winning, right? Because it's a needed service, they're looking for a provider hopefully today, in many cases, and you want nothing more than for them to pick up the phone or fill out a form and request an appointment and request a quote. So I would be looking for ways to drive that.
If you are getting traffic that is not engaging, not converting, the first question there is why. And in service businesses, it's usually a question of, "I'm not confident this company can do what I'm looking for," or "I'm not confident I can trust this company." So it's either a content problem or a trust problem. And there's a number of ways you can build on both of those either through content, through highlighting reviews, local awards, accolades, things like that, and then driving people to call or request a quote.
I would say, engagement's a part of that. You see, engagement happens very fast. Because they come inside...I mean, if your AC is broken and it's 100 degrees outside, you're moving fast. I think what you just mentioned with some of those trust factors, that's both engagement and conversion, but it's when someone comes to the site they're going to give it that three-second test to say, "Is this what I'm looking for?" That's your engagement window. If you are what they're looking for, then it's okay, "How do I contact these people?"
So I would say what's the three-second test to win an engagement. Can I trust them? Do they do what I need? Do they service my area? And then I would go heavy on the conversion side, very heavy. And this is assuming you're getting all the attention. You have ads coming in for broken units or whatever it is. But I would focus heavily on conversion. How can we make this the easiest site in the world to get a tech out to my house?
I'll be going heavy at chat or chatbots, I'd be looking at that. I have would have very large, over-pronounced CTAs. I mean, if you have somebody who's on their phone, really think about the mobile site as well, so hold the phone. When you pull up the mobile site, can you hit it with your thumb in its normal position? Is the CTA aligned with that? Because, again, if they're trying to move fast, you want to make that easy. You don't want to have to flick all the way down to the page, hit a tiny little link to get to the Contact Us page and fill out a form. No, you're gonna lose people that way, right? Make it as easy as humanly possible.
Highlighting all of the factors of the decision point for those service businesses, can this company do what I'm looking for, can I afford it, can I trust this company, when can they do it? And that's actually a big one especially for our big needs based things, such as your water heater is broken, you don't have heat in the winter time, you don't have AC in the summertime. If you can, and this is hard for service companies to do, but if you can highlight, "We do 90% of service within 24 hours," or something like that, that's going to get me to move versus I pick up a phone, I leave a message…I'm not actually likely to leave a message, so answer your phones. A lot of companies struggle with that.
But if I can have confidence that I'm going to inquire either through a forum or a phone and I'm going to get a rapid response and that response is going to be satisfactory and affordable and all of those things, I'm very, very likely to convert.
The other advantage you have if you're in the type of business where things have to happen fast is people are searching for very specific problems, and if you're running ads with keywords about those problems, then those ads can direct somebody to a very, very focused landing page that's all about that problem.
So if it's water in basement, for example, the landing page could have the water in the basement and something that someone can really relate to. So, really empathize with the visitor in that case to make the experience as tailored as possible to their situation in that moment.
If you have any other questions about this episode, about the AEC framework, please leave us a comment below!