Everything you’ve ever known has changed

I’m sure that not all of you were convinced yesterday when I suggested that we should never hold information back in exchange for a prospect’s details. The key thing, I believe, is to reveal freely everything there is to know about your products or services, without human interaction, and to let the prospect decide when to contact you …but to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. There is research to show that this will result in just as many enquiries – and they’ll be much better quality ones too, because the prospect is actively asking to talk to you, not reluctantly giving up their details just to find out the full story. Let me explain.

Let’s look at the old way. You send people to a web page which contains limited product information, and says: “Give us your contact details and we’ll send you our brochure” (like it or not, this has the implied threat that you’ll also send a sales rep round). You spend a lot of promotional money sending 100 people to that page. Of those 100, I’m going to guess that 10 will say: “Alright, if I must, here are my contact details” and request the brochure. At the other extreme, 10 people who thought you might have what they wanted when they saw your promotion, now see that it’s not right for them. The other 80 think: “I can’t see whether they’ve got what I want or not, and I’m not filling in a form, so I’m off back to Google”.

So if you spend £1.50 getting someone to the page (which is what you’d pay using Google AdWords if you let us do it for you), with a 10% conversion rate, you’re getting ‘enquiries’ for £15 a time. And to be fair, compared with any other form of enquiry generation in the past decade or so, that’s probably quite reasonable. But these ‘enquiries’ are only the low quality we’ve come to accept from advertising. They’re not people who want our product – they’re people who want something like it, and need to read our brochure to find out if it’s right for them.

Now compare it to the new way – and this has probably only come into its own over the past three or four years, so you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if the old way still seems the natural course to take. In this new approach, you send people to a web page which says: “Here’s our brochure; indeed, here’s everything we know about the subject”, accompanied by a form which allows the prospect to request a sales call or initiate some sort of dialogue. Send 100 people to this, and I reckon you’ll still get 10 who’ll realise without reading any further that they’ve come to the wrong place; but you’ll get anything up to 90 who’ll read what you’ve got to say. Many more of these than before will now be able to see that you can’t provide what they need (from all that freely-accessible information), but at least they won’t be wasting your sales team’s time. Will that leave 10 people who’ll complete the form and make a sales enquiry? I’d contend it’s highly likely. And these are genuine enquiries from people who now know exactly what you’ve got could be right for them. These are not the low quality enquiries we’re used to.

What’s changed so much in the past few years to make the new approach so much better? To see the difference, go back to my description of ‘the old way’, where there are 80 visitors who think: “I can’t see whether they’ve got what I want or not, and I’m not filling in a form, so I’m off back to Google”. In the past, that figure wouldn’t have been as high as 80, because finding another supplier required so much more effort. A lot more people would have filled in the form, just to see. Now they don’t need to. There are plenty of other places to look (or more importantly, the prospects will assume there are plenty of other places to look).

The ‘old way’, which now gets you 10 low-quality enquiries, might have got you 30 or 40 in the past. The ‘new way’, with its 10 higher-quality enquiries, was always available, but even if they considered it, marketers preferred to take their chances with the 30 or 40 low-quality enquiries. Now that the 30 or 40 have collapsed to 10, everything’s changed.

And there’s more. And I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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