Driving on Two Wheels

A Saudi Daredevil’s Quest for the Impossible Reveals New Insight on How to Optimize Your Website for Free

Driving on Two Wheels

You may have seen him on YouTube — Captain Al-Mustaheel — otherwise known as “Captain Impossible” with his “Impossible Group.”

He and his stunt team perform an extremely dangerous vehicle maneuver known as, Sidewall Skiing.

The essence of the stunt is to balance and drive a vehicle, whether it be a car or SUV, on two wheels for a considerable distance without flipping over or worse.

The “Impossible Group” has perfected this drift sport in ways that defy imagination — going so far as to change tires while “skiing” desert highways on two wheels.

It’s jaw-dropping footage to watch.

Shift Your Mindset

Now think for a minute how this albeit crazy stunt could benefit race car drivers if they never had to pit to change tires. They could simply stay out on the track, continue to do laps, and maintain position all while their team added a fresh new set of racing slicks to the vehicle.

Although highly unlikely, the point is this … what once seemed impossible — that of changing the tires on a vehicle while driving — is now reality. Captain Al-Mustaheel and his “Impossible Group” have done it.

But what if you could do the same kind of thing for your website?

By Christopher Batt – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1408267

A New Approach to Website Optimization

Consider your latest RFP (Request For Proposal).

What was the standard response you received from agencies courting you to help?

All too common their approach is based on “Waterfall” methodology. A strategy focused on the completion of project related tasks in sequence, flowing downstream like a waterfall.

There is little flexibility this way and few opportunities to know whether your website will successfully perform until the very end.

This puts extraordinary pressure on you and your team to guess what will work on your site and what won’t.

If you were piloting a race car you’d have to pull off the track into the pits to undergo this extensive kind of overhaul.

This is the routine approach that many follow. And while there are certain situations when the “Waterfall” model may serve for a time, it often has limitations related to website development and maintenance.

But think if there was a new approach to rebuilding your website.

One that didn’t require you to “exit the race” in order to make the changes necessary to throttle your digital marketing race car to the front of the line.

What if rather than pulling your site offline to improve it, you could change its “tires” — IE optimize its pages — all while keeping the site live and working for you to sell and generate new leads.

This idea is simple in nature … yet powerful when applied.

It is an approach that could enable you to completely overhaul your website while investing little out-of-pocket and maintaining positive cash flow.

Consider the following to guide you on a journey of what’s possible…

What Do You Really Want to Happen?

Before you begin any work on your website, it is important to think through the main changes that you would like made.

Consider how long your website has been in service. Has it accomplished what it was designed to do? If your answer is yes, what were the key elements that enabled it to accomplish this purpose? If not, what was missing from your site that caused it to not perform well?

Is your website designed to sell products or generate sales leads? Is it intended to be more of an online business card or blog news outlet?

What elements of your website do you think could be most easily optimized to better accomplish this purpose?

Write this information down and refer to it often as you continue working through your website improvement process.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/landrovermena/29611023698 Some rights reserved: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Begin With the End in Mind

Next, decide what the “goal” page should be on your site. This is the page to which you will drive traffic in order to convert them into email subscribers and paying customers.

Is everyone on your team in agreement that these totally unique and separate pages are how you’re going to track conversions — how your going to know whether or not the changes you’re making to your website are successful?

Keep in mind, there are very real and definable ways to make these determinations. Each of your product and service offerings are likely to be different and therefore should be approached in a unique and special way.

Thus, it is important you take the necessary time or get the appropriate help to identify these key factors at the beginning of your project. It will make a big difference down the road as you compile messaging and imagery for your website.

Go for the Easy Wins First

Just like climbing a fruit tree, go for the low hanging fruit that’s easily within grasp. Don’t try to pick the apple at the top of the tree without picking the lower apples first.

This will make a significant difference in your approach and in the amount of money you’re able to generate starting out. Make the obvious changes to your website that you know will lead to conversions before tackling the more challenging revisions that will take longer for you to see a return.

Think about it this way … you want to change your tires on the racetrack NOT your engine.

Rework One Page at a Time

Optimize only one page for success at a time. Do this before you begin moving on to the next page and the next.

The reason for this is if you begin to optimize one page, and then fail to complete it before moving on to the next, you will not learn about your audience, their messaging, and what’s working that engages them to sign up and buy your products and services.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/landrovermena/42765707894/in/photostream/Some rights reserved: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Create Value-Based Content

When it comes to creating content, the most important thing you can do is to make sure it’s infused with value for your target audience.

Does your content address their fears, uncertainties, and doubts? Is it easy to read and to navigate? Does it pull your reader through the copy like a needle pulls thread? Does it compel them to take action? Is it entertaining to the point they will want to share it on social media?

All these things contribute to the value you are providing your audience. So work on it or hire a professional to help you.

Test for Conversion

In true conversion optimization fashion … your mantra should always be to “test.”

In this business, it is the data that tells you whether or not a message is resonating with your target audience.

You can continue to make ongoing adjustments once you have dialed in the basics and know with some level of certainty that the page will perform as desired.

If it does not perform in this way, go back and continue working to refine it as best you can.

You should begin to recognize specific ways in which your targeted personas engage with the visuals and messaging on your website.

You want to be keenly aware of these things and implement what’s applicable on subsequent pages.

This is where the power of an “Agile” approach pays off and you start to build increasing momentum over time.

Cash Flow Your Project

Remember, as you continue to move forward you are optimizing each page so that it contributes to your bottom line right away. It’s like a Prius commercial, everything begins to bloom and grow as you “drive” past it.

This success happens one page at a time — like changing tires Saudi Arabian style — and you don’t have to pit or be pushed back to the garage to achieve this level of transformation.

Hopefully, by this point, the pages you have optimized will be generating money for you — and you’ll know why. Ideally, you’ll have broken even with your initial investment achieving what could be considered a new website for “free.”

If you had taken the more traditional “Waterfall” approach you would just now be getting to the point of testing your site for the first time and hoping that you “guessed” right as to what your audience likes and dislikes.

This would have been a very scary place to be and a cause for great alarm should things go wrong. But because you’ve learned from a Saudi Daredevil how to shift your mindset and change your website’s “tires” on the racetrack, you have given yourself the advantage and the ability to move past your competition as they sit idly by waiting for service.

By Jas07c – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17128155

Reap Your Reward

Congratulations. You have now worked through all the major hurdles with your site as they surfaced in real time.

Don’t stop here and think that your work is done.

Keep being a student of your market and learning and growing in relationship with them. Speak their language time and time again and you will eventually reach that place where you realize it was all worth it in the end.

Does Your Website Lead to Conversion or Lead to Confusion?

We help drive traffic to websites, but that isn’t why people hire a digital marketing agency. They hire us to get more revenue from the web. And they don’t want to waste money and effort to get it.

There are a lot of digital marketing and SEO firms promising that they can bring higher rankings in Google, and more site traffic, which will lead to more conversions and more money. And that is basically true. Just like the truth that eating right and working out leads to a better body.

But just like a lot of weight loss promises, many digital marketing promises end up falling short of expectations.

Perhaps you are one those that has been on the short end of that stick. Maybe you have given up on your web site as a sales machine. You have been disappointed by the hype. Maybe you have redesigned your website three times in the last ten years and each time you do that, nothing really happens.

Not that the results have been bad. Just sort of “meh.”

But here’s the thing: “better SEO” and a top Google position might not be the answer. More traffic to your website might not even be the answer.

So what is the answer?

Your website is one of the most important touch points you make with a new customer. Often it’s the first contact you make of any kind.

Lots of new website visitors are people who have never heard of your company and are only looking at your site because they typed a keyword hoping you can solve their problem or answer a question. Many times they scan your web content and then leave, never to return. Certainly they never convert to a lead or a sale.

Obviously you won’t catch every single fish that wanders past. But why does it seem like so many fish get away?

There’s no one-sentence answer that will really satisfy this complex subject. But here are some ways that K6 Digital and our partners work to really, truly drive new revenue out of the web for our clients.

Stop Looking for Quick Fixes, and Accept that Long Term is the Key

Please understand something very important: turning your website into a sales machine is going to take some thought, and time, and most of all…WORK.

Nobody gets the perfect body by working out a few times a year. And nobody gets a website that works really well simply by redesigning it.

So you have to stay with it. If you do, this solution just might have the highest ROI you have ever experienced from a business development activity.

The key factors are really trying to give your customers what they want, testing your delivery of messages and content, constantly making changes to improve, and consistently building more value into your entire digital footprint.

Start Realizing That It Doesn’t Matter What You Like

The business world spends billions of hours and dollars designing websites and landing pages, writing copy and writing ads. But much of that effort is focused on pleasing the wrong people. We try to make the Executive team happy. We try to make Marketing happy, and make Sales happy. We might ask a few of our customers what they like or want, but they don’t usually tell us the truth and anything they say normally gets drowned out by a cacophony of internal voices.

When we finally get done redesigning the website after a year or more of effort, on average we are all left feeling basically “OK” with the design we came up with.

We launch. Then we step back and wait for the new orders and leads and sales to pour in.

And most of the time, nothing earth—shattering happens.

That’s because we spend far more time trying to please internal stakeholders and ourselves, but not nearly enough time focusing on who we are trying to reach: the customer.

To really focus on the customer, we have to let go a little bit. We have to start caring less about what we want. In other words, we have to give up something to win.

The good news is that digital marketing has allowed us to deliver what our customers are looking for, without spending a ton of money. I will get to more of that in a bit. First….

Understand That You Sell a Dream

It’s an old sales concept but a true one: you don’t sell a product or service. You actually sell a solution to a need.

Or at the risk of sounding a little cheesy, you sell a dream. And if you have been in business long enough, you should have a concrete idea about what dream you sell.

For example, let’s say you provide cloud-based software that helps IT organizations process data faster. What you actually sell, though, is a dream: that the company will get more profits because they will get answers to problems more quickly, more effectively. Business analysts will look like heroes and get promoted. The IT staff can spend more time building value into the organization and thus become more valuable, and move up in the organization. And so on.

It’s just like a weight-loss plan. The plan isn’t what people buy. They buy the dream of looking better in public and feeling better inwardly. And we all want to feel good!

So, what is the dream YOU give your customers?

Perhaps you sell more profit for your downstream manufacturing client, because your streamlined process for delivering rolled steel saves 10% in cost and several days’ of delivery time.

Maybe you sell a stress-free work day to an HR manager, because of your easier method of finding and hiring top talent via big data software solutions.

Or maybe you sell higher profit margins to a managed IT services company by providing a simple method of server monitoring that requires fewer staff to manage.

Whatever that dream is, your company’s web content should be focused on showing your potential customer that you understand their dream, and you are at least one possible path to that dream.

In other words, content should focus on the VALUE of what you sell, the solution to a problem, rather than just the product itself.

How do you do this?

Translate Your Customer’s Dream into Web Content

Your company can try to convert online visitors to sales by simply posting your products and services.

But that’s really nothing more than tossing a catalog online. Something that a thousand other companies do.

Even if you sell a highly specialized product or service to a niche audience, you still have to clearly demonstrate the value – the dream – you sell. So, stop posting your catalog of services and products like everybody else. Instead, start putting together content that identifies specific pain points and your unique solution to those pain points.

I will give you an example.

A K6 client sells a product that helps aerospace manufacturers meet strict testing requirements for the parts they produce.

The dream they sell is more opportunity to make money, because the product automates that requirement.

So rather than just posting a list of features and benefits of the software (we did that too), our digital marketing team developed a method of giving the customer an immediate answer to their problem. A short-term realization of their dream, if you will. This results in a lead for the sales team to follow up, and close.

This approach is working. Big time. Here is a chart showing lead and sales growth the past 2 years:

Here is the point: we did not accomplish this by driving huge traffic. We have only brought incremental new traffic to our client’s website over the same time period.

In other words, we are greatly improving what our client really wants: leads and sales, but without a huge effort in merely driving new traffic.

But how did we ultimately get there? Through the final and most important step.

Don’t Just Blog for the Sake of Words. Do Something Different.

Blogging is tough. And just like a diet plan, it trails off and fails after a few months and you are right back to that same bloated “last year” person you swore you were going to change. I have just one piece of advice for business owners and marketing professionals that I think is most valuable: quit blogging about you and your product. Stop telling people how smart you are. Instead, blog about your audience and their stress. Give them something that helps them.

This means you have to think about your customer. A lot. Have you ever spent quality time with your customer? What about their customers? Have you ever really talked about them and their needs? Do you really know them?

The more you really know your customer, and the more you think about them, the more useful content ideas you will generate.

Test Test Test and Test Your Content

It is frankly amazing how few web designers, agencies and marketing folks actually test their content offerings.

Our digital marketing team is constantly being asked: “What should we do to make our site convert better? Or make our ads get more clicks?” My answer is usually: “I don’t have the slightest idea. Let’s try some things and find out!”

I have seen “Best Practices” fail miserably. I have seen web page layouts that look like they were developed in 1999 convert like crazy. I have seen content that has no business at all even being published, and yet it continues to draw in new customers. I have seen companies spend $250,000 on new websites, with UX specialists and focus groups, that only fail spectacularly.

And I have seen websites that succeed wildly, quite by accident.

The point is, nobody really knows what will happen until you get out there.

Just think about your customer. Get. The. Content. Up. Then monitor it and make adjustments based on what you learn.

There are a number of very effective tools on the market, some of which cost nothing, that help a web designer run multivariate tests on content. Even Google Analytics provides built-in “Experiments” for free.

Or, you can simply create pages in your favorite content management system by hand, and then watch what changes affect conversions. No need to purchase sophisticated software right away.

So let’s recap. If you faithfully follow this little routine, I guarantee you will have success – even if that success if simply learning more about your customers and their needs:

  • Gear up for the long term.
  • Change your thinking from “internal” to “external” and focus on the CUSTOMER.
  • Build content around what they dream about, and how you will help them realize that dream.
  • Test over and over until you see good results.
  • Repeat.

I guarantee you one thing: if nothing else, you will learn something new.