To be successful with online marketing, a business needs two things:
- A single primary conversion goal of sales leads OR e-commerce revenue.
- A website that fully supports that single conversion goal (via messaging, calls to action and conversion funnel).
After those two things are in place, a marketing company can do its job of driving targeted prospects to your website.
E-Commerce or Lead Generation, But Never Both
You must choose a single primary conversion element for your website: sales leads or e-commerce revenue. If you don't do this, each conversion goal will cannibalize the other.
It is the job of the website (not the marketing campaign) to properly message products/services/offers/etc., and then move visitors from their entry page through a conversion funnel to the final conversion goal page.
We continually have prospects asking us to run marketing campaigns with the conversion goal of sales leads, but the business has an e-commerce website. For example, a client in financial services with an e-commerce site came to us for SEO, but its goal of that campaign was to increase the number of applications for financing.
Again, it is the job of the website (not the marketing campaign) to properly message products/services/offers/etc., and move visitors from their entry page through a conversion funnel to the final conversion goal page.
The question is: If a new visitor lands on your site, would you rather have him/her buy something immediately or fill out a financing application? Whichever your primary choice, your website needs to make sure the messaging/CTAs and conversion funnel follow that single goal.
Another client, in the high-end, custom jewelry business, worked with prospects wanting to see and try on these products in person prior to making payment to a company with which they've never done business. For custom pieces, a prospect needs to schedule a meeting with the company.
The best option for this company is to change the entire focus of its website from e-commerce to lead generation, work to get store visits booked, and set up ongoing email marketing campaigns to those leads. These conversion activities would completely replace the e-commerce functionality.
Do You Have an E-Commerce or Lead Generation Business Model?
We also see instances of prospects asking us to run marketing campaigns with the conversion goal of e-commerce revenue, but either what the business sells or how the business sells is not favorable to e-commerce.
One client in food processing thought it would be a good idea to sell its products directly to consumers. However ...
- When a manufacturer launches a direct-to-consumer e-commerce site, it sends a negative message through its distribution chain.
- To ease this type of message, the manufacturer decides to price its products higher than what a consumer can buy it for from retailers (and makes you pay for shipping!). Why would anyone want to pay a higher price for these goods?
- Most consumers don’t buy these types of products through an e-commerce site like this, and instead will buy these products either at a brick-and-mortar grocery store or via an online grocery delivery service.
This client is an example of a company building an e-commerce store before it figured out a successful marketing strategy to generate and grow e-commerce revenue. It thinks … if you build it, customers will come and buy. This is seldom, if ever, the case.
The desire to have your website produce more ROI is an excellent business goal. However, if you are fundamentally in a lead generation business, the way to achieve that goal is to improve the lead generation focus and effectiveness of your website. Tacking on an e-commerce component without a clear, single-focused strategy is really only grasping at straws.