Like any other medium, content is king on the Web. You can have the greatest Website in the world, but if you can’t sell it, not much is going to happen except you lose money and maybe take the 10-year wedding march to some unknown destination.
I’ve seen local media companies try to shoe-horn in Internet sites -- local news content and radio stations tinker with selling their Websites, which are not different from the radio station across the street other than in their music (and that music can be picked up in a variety of ways by the consumer today).
Here are 10 things I’ve learned over the years consulting stand-alone Websites.
1. Separate sales department for your Website: That which you hunt and kill yourself, you will eat. In other words, dedicated sales reps who live off of selling the Internet will put more of their heart into it and make more money selling the Web only, than sales reps who can sell traditional GRP-driven media as their number-one source of revenue and sell their local Website as an add-on feature.
2. Creative: Having your own creative department is priceless. Same can be said with other media where the creative department is on-location. Being able to go back and talk to the creative director or the commercial production designers about a piece of creative -- where you actually can discuss the selling points with someone who knows the market -- is invaluable. I like “direct response” ads on local Websites versus the “branding” ads. At the end of the day, the business owner wants to know how many people are clicking through to their ads or where their traffic is coming from. You want “call to action” in your creative. Another thing: Keep your creative fresh. In some cases, depending on your Website traffic and your offer, you may want to change it up weekly.
3. Tracking: That’s the beauty of your local Websites: You can measure, source, and track the effectiveness of your ad campaigns. You have to provide the stats to the customer monthly. If you’re tracking specific pieces of creative to make sure they’re working, you want your eye on every ad you put up to see how “sticky” it is to the viewers and to make sure it’s working.
4. Learn the language: If you speak the language, your credibility goes up 10 fold.
· Hits – antiquated term for visits to a Website. One page can have 15 hits on it. If the Hilton Hotel has 45 hits in one day, it has an average of three unique visitors.
· Unique Visitors (UVs) – how many viewers with individual IP (Internet Protocol numbers assigned to individual computers) addresses visited a site over a designated period of time -- usually a week or month at a time.
· Gross Impressions – the number of views that an ad received based on the page views from unique visitors measured by automated tracking tools on the server.
· Click-Through Rate (CTR) – the number of times that viewers clicked on an advertisement expressed as a percentage against Gross Impressions. You are looking for 0.05 to 0.08 CTR for local ads.
· Action Rate – a number of actions taken by consumers expressed as a percentage that represents interacting with an advertisement, e-mailing questions or requests, placing telephone calls, online chats, or visiting the brick-and-mortar location that may or may not result in a sale. See conversion/action rate http://luceperformancegroup.com/Return-on-Interactive-Investment___633876744776487066_blog.htm
5. Know your product: Not every business owner is on top of their game on the Internet and you must distinguish what makes your local Website rise above the clutter. Be able to show how your site works to a customer. Take them through your site. It’s exciting to slide right next to a prospect or customer and show them on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone where the traffic to your site comes from and how many UVs you have weekly. Talk to them in terms of features and benefits, along with the results they will get by advertising with you and your Website.
6. Make it easy: Selling the Internet is not hard. You go through the same process in selling other local media as you do the Internet. You do a comprehensive CMP-needs analysis and come back and put together a program that will accomplish the objectives of your proposal. About the only thing that changes from selling radio or TV, or print for that matter, is the creative that you’re going to use.
7. Inventory management: This is a key to maximizing your profits from your Website. Everybody wants to be on the splash page leaderboard. For some sites, that’s not the most expensive real estate. Sometimes, the obituary section can be a dominant piece of inventory to sell. Be creative and sell other features such as an automall, real estate guide, your classifieds, and other unique content for your market. Sell deep into your Website.
8. Don’t give it away: Whatever you do, charge for it. Otherwise you condition your local market to look at your Website as an add-on to whatever other media they buy in the market.
9. Teach basics: With Internet sales, there’s always something changing all the time. That’s what makes selling the Internet so exciting. Nothing replaces the actual face-to-face selling of local media sales. We still have to get in front of the client and take on basic objections in Web sales that you would find with all media sales. You’re there to provide results to the business. So pack up your testimonials and show them what other successful business owners in your market are doing when they advertise on your Website.
10. A great in-field coach as a manager: Success breeds success. In my experience, I find that the best local sales forces have a great in-field coach in their manager who actually makes sales calls with the reps weekly. I think it’s mandatory versus a luxury. Great in-field coaches/managers show their reps how to do it versus just telling them how to do it.
Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.luceperformancegroup.com. Sean’s new book The Liquid Fire can be found on amazon.com.