The key to sales success is to make sure people see value in your product. For online sales, it’s even more fundamental—to make sure people see your products at all. Below are five strategies to help your products get seen online and end up in the hands of customers.
SEO and Analytic Software
Ever wonder why buyers seldom visit your website? Have you checked your placement with any of the search engines lately? Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of improving the visibility of a website in search engines via the “natural” or “organic” (unpaid) search results. In other words, on what page of a search engine does your website fall when a potential buyer searches “buy material handling equipment”? If your website doesn’t appear within the first five pages, it’s likely you’ll need to consult an SEO specialist.
Specialists use a variety of methods to increase the prominence of a web page within the search results. Cross-linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to important pages may improve site visibility. Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrases, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries, will tend to increase traffic. Adding relevant keywords to a Web page’s meta data, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site’s search listings, thus increasing traffic.
Before beginning any SEO campaign, measure traffic to your existing website using analytic software. Most hosting companies offer a free basic tool for measuring traffic volume. Record traffic periodically to assess results and determine whether adjustments will be required. Re-member, high page rankings are not always guaranteed, even when using search engine optimizers. It takes time, persistence, relevant content and, depending on the specialist, money.
Staying in touch with customers has never been easier. Using direct e-mail marketing tools, senders have the ability to categorize and group e-mail addresses to reach buyers with personalized, relevant, dynamic messages. E-mail marketing is often reported as second only to search marketing as the most effective online marketing tactic. It is possible to reach substantial numbers of e-mail subscribers who have opted in (consented) to receive e-mail communications on subjects of interest to them. An example is to create a forklift distribution group and target off-brands to interested customers, eliminating the need to contact buyers by phone. By having e-mail groups categorized and ready, distributors can quickly and easily stay in touch with potential buyers using a paperless marketing strategy which can be tailored to a buyer’s needs. Postage and expensive printing solutions are eliminated, thereby increasing the frequency and quantity of campaigns.
In addition, senders can monitor read/unread messages, click-through rates, page views and much more through a control panel. An exact return on investment can be tracked—and has proven to be high when done properly.
Pay Per Click
So you weren’t able to make it to the top five on Google? Don’t despair, pay per click (PPC) is here. PPC is an Internet advertising model in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. Content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click rather than use a bidding system. Websites that utilize PPC ads will display an advertisement when a keyword query matches an advertiser’s keyword list or when a content site displays relevant content. Such advertisements are called sponsored links or sponsored ads, and they typically appear adjacent to or above organic results on search engine results pages.
Bid-based PPC — Forklift dealers wanting to attract buyers of used forklifts can bid on the search term “Used Forklift” along with similar keywords that will trigger their ad. The dealer determines the maximum cost per click he is willing to pay. When users search related keywords, an auction plays out in an automated fashion, in the background, and the bidder’s URL (Web page address) is prominently displayed within the search results page. Highest bidders generally show up first, though additional factors such as ad quality and relevance can sometimes influence positioning. Advertisers pay for each click they receive, with the actual amount paid based on the amount bid. Bid-based pay per click is the quickest, most effective way for dealers to reach top page rankings with little or no SEO efforts.
Flat-rate PPC — Flat-rate pay per click is generally used on websites rather than search engines, by advertisers with similar interests. In the flat-rate model, the advertiser and publisher agree upon a fixed amount that will be paid for each click. In many cases, the publisher has a rate card that lists the cost per click within different areas of their website or network. These various amounts are often related to the content on pages, with content that generally attracts more valuable visitors having a higher cost per click than content that attracts less valuable visitors.
|Lead services pay considerable attention to RFQ forms. Request too much information and buyers can leave incomplete forms and look elsewhere. Request too little and lead quality suffers.|
Want to skip all the hard work and just pay for leads? Lead generation services are on the rise in every category, not just material handling equipment. Here’s how it works: Lead generators set up web pages, links, e-mail advertisements and newsletters in an effort to drive users back to a main site. Using SEO, pay per click and other aggressive Internet marketing strategies, lead generators specialize in driving buyers to their websites. Once there, potential buyers complete Request for Quote (RFQ) forms and submit. The forms are verified by the lead generator, converted to a lead and sold.
A typical RFQ form for a forklift may request answers to the following questions: Do you want a new or used forklift? What type do you need? How soon will you purchase?
Lead services pay considerable attention to RFQ forms. Request too much information and buyers can leave incomplete forms and look elsewhere. Request too little and lead quality suffers. The science of RFQ form development varies from service to service, each having proprietary methods of capturing and converting data to be sold and ultimately converted to a sale.
Most services sell leads for around $20, depending on the type of lead and geography. Buyers of leads can purchase from specific geographic areas based on their needs. Multi-branch dealers can request leads for remote branches based on ZIP code, county, city or state. Leads are not sold exclusively; they can be purchased by up to five buyers within an area. In other words, your competitor down the road could be competing for that same buyer! Lead generators are highly skilled in the field of search engine marketing, link placement, banner ad positioning and pay per click strategies. The better the marketing strategy, the higher the quality and quantity of leads.
Perhaps the oldest and most effective selling tool online, classified listings continue to dominate online marketing. The Kelsey Research Group lists online classified ads as being worth $13.3 billion. Classified online ads work in much the same way that traditional paper ads work. The seller lists a product for sale, complete with a description, asking price and other valuable information. Browsing buyers searching classified sections find a product of interest, contact the seller and negotiate the terms of sale.
The Internet has dramatically improved the buying/selling process, making it easier and quicker to find specific products without browsing entire classified sections and also reaching a worldwide audience of buyers online. Additionally, detailed information, including photos and video, previously unavailable in print, increases the chance of selling, making the decision process easier for buyers. Realty websites can now showcase entire homes with complete virtual walkthroughs, allowing potential buyers to “visit” the home without ever leaving their own houses.
The use of online classifieds by material handling distributors has opened markets never before available. Distributors are able to sell equipment outside their established territories, creating opportunities that previously did not exist. Sellers establish long-term relationships with buyers and sellers locally, interstate and abroad. These new business relationships maintain distributors’ revenue in times of economic uncertainty. The competitive nature of online classifieds has reduced fees required to list equipment. Sellers can now list in multiple venues, reaching a larger target audience for a fraction of the price of traditional trade publications. More exposure means more sales—list your equipment wherever you can!
Combine any three of these five selling strategies and watch your revenue grow. Do all five and propel your business through the stratosphere! If you’re not using at least three of these selling strategies, it’s time to get on board.
|Meet the Author
Art Arellano is president of eliftruck.com, located in Tinley Park, Illinois, and on the Web at www.eliftruck.com.