Insights Inspired by “The Conversion Code” (Ch. 1)

At least for most of the clients we work with, it’s not just “need more leads?” (the title of this chapter). It goes well beyond that, because leads are life (at least the life of the business).

Smith claims that people buy because they trust you or your business, and that on the web, great design builds trust. He then gives three sources for his assertion. I think the jury is out on whether great design builds trust specifically, but I’ll agree that clean, effective design conveys a sense of quality, professionalism, and competence. Assuming potential customers want (or even demand) quality, professionalism, and competence from the companies they buy from (and it’s fair to say they do), sure, design can increase a prospect’s trust in your company’s ability to deliver quality products and services.

Next, Smith discusses landing pages. Writes Smith: “a critical component of cracking The Conversion Code is to understand that for online lead generation and conversion, landing pages are a much better option than websites.”

AGREE! Full stop! Landing pages or microsites that are targeted at industries, segments (companies of similar sizes), and roles or personas convert significantly better than general websites created for all prospects. When a prospect lands on your website, you want them to feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Targeted landing pages or microsites enable that conversation.

Referencing a study by Elizabeth Silence, Pamela Briggs, Lesley Fishwick, and Peter Richard Harris ( Smith quotes participants in that study who mentioned things they liked or didn’t like about websites. Good advice to follow for your own site includes:

  • Don’t clutter the screen. Keep it from looking busy.
  • Don’t be too sales-y.
  • Follow design best practices in terms of colors, text, and layout.

Smith also references design guidance from CodeCademy ( Click on the link for detailed guidance. In summary, CodeCademy recommends:

  • One column sites.
  • Let your customers tout your benefits. Use testimonials and quotes.
  • Less is more from a color perspective.
  • Reduce the amount of information you ask prospects to give you when filling out forms.
  • Limit calls to action to one per page.
  • Focus on content on pages. Don’t clutter pages with extraneous buttons and other objects.
  • Use white space and a clear organization of data on a page (titles, headers, etc.)
  • Convey information via visuals.
  • Make buttons and fields bigger.
  • Make new users feel welcome.

From websites, Smith discusses live chat. If you work for a company with at least a few salespeople, you likely will always have someone available to enter a chat with prospects if they initiate them via a live chat option on your website. Some live chat tools can also notify employees that someone wants to chat even if said employees aren’t in front of their computer. Increasingly, companies are also using chatbots. The success of chatbots can be hit or miss all based on design and the organization of the content on the backend that enables the artificial intelligence (AI) of a chatbot. We’ve built chatbots for Microsoft and others. For an overview of chatbots, view our upcoming blog post on that topic (search using the tag ChatBot).

Insights Inspired by “The Conversion Code” (Introduction)

Following are reactions, insights, commentary, and notes from the Introduction of Chris Smith’s The Conversion Code. To quickly access the other blog posts with my notes from other portions of the book, search our blog using the tag ConversionCode.

After extolling his virtues, Smith writes:

“I truly believe marketing automation is greatly overrated and is being used too frequently as a crutch. Technology and software have become an excuse not to do the real work of picking up the phone and talking to people about what you sell and whether it is right for them. If you want to make more money by closing online leads, you have to pick up the … phone.”

Smith’s comment echoes that of Jeb Blount in Fanatical Prospecting where Blount also touts the need for phone-based sales in addition to social, email, and other forms of digital marketing. All those things are important. They can generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and tee up an easier close, but usually you’re going to need to talk with someone to secure the sale—especially in business to business (B2B).

My career has predominantly been focused on marketing. But whereas there are both “brand” marketing and “demand generation” marketing activities, I feel fortunate that most of my career has been focused on demand generation. While at Microsoft, my primary focus was on helping Microsoft partners like retailers (think CDW, Best Buy, Staples, or Amazon), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs—think Dell or Lenovo), and independent software vendors (ISVs—think Adobe or SAP) generate leads and sales. That isn’t too say that brand marketing is bad. I’m just saying that demand generation marketing is usually where the proverbial “rubber meets the road” and if companies can’t generate demand (i.e., leads) that turns into sales, then they probably won’t keep investing in marketing. After Microsoft, that’s primarily what I’ve focused on. So, with that as a frame of reference, what Smith proceeds to say in the Introduction also resonates with me:

“Marketing can do a much better job of sending purchase-ready leads to sales. In fact, if most marketers actually had to call the leads they’re generating, they’d want to quit their job or fire themselves. It’s one thing to get someone to “Like,” “Follow,” or subscribe by email—it’s another to get their time. And it’s a whole other thing to get someone’s credit card number.”

Marketing (and by extension, marketers) need to be held to a higher standard. We need to generate leads that turn into opportunities that turn into sales, and if we don’t, we need to be replaced. Fortunately, we have more tools and real-world best practices at our disposal than we’ve ever had before.

Cloud modernization simplified: selling the Azure cloud with just four simple words

The landscape of modern business has become increasingly digitized and data-centric—and it only continues to advance by the day. This raises the stakes for companies to operate on more complex, agile computing environments, making it essential for organizations to modernize their infrastructures in order to stay competitive in this evolving landscape. With the unprecedented demand for businesses to obtain, store, and secure their data, the traditional on-premises infrastructure is quickly becoming a thing of the past, requiring a more modern, scalable, and flexible infrastructure like the Microsoft Azure cloud provides.

By now, most organizations realize the need for modernization, yet many still feel overwhelmed by the cloud, what it takes to get there, and which one to choose. When people are already overwhelmed or confused by options and information, giving them even more to ingest likely won’t help them make a decision. By instead focusing in on just a few key concepts and benefits of the Azure cloud, you can help simplify the decision for your customers.

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Driving enterprise social with Yammer for Office 365

The modern workforce, with employees more often telecommuting and working across different time zones, can present challenges to effective collaboration and communication.  This can manifest into a decrease in employee productivity and an increase in frustration. Fortunately, Microsoft Office 365 and Yammer have joined forces to create an integrated solution that will open up lines of communication and vastly increase collaborative efforts.

For Microsoft partners looking to demonstrate additional value to their existing or potential Office 365 customers, Yammer offers a premier enterprise social networking service that can help companies to connect and collaborate in a modern way. When teamed with the Office 365 suite, the Yammer integration offers a smarter and faster way to bring colleagues together while facilitate sharing and discussion.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key features of this solution that can help position it to potential customers:

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Swaying toward starting a newsletter?

If you have been entertaining the idea of creating and distributing a digital newsletter for your company, congrats! You are taking a big step toward embarking on a journey of commitment—to your craft, your company, and your customers. To make this journey as simple as possible, let Microsoft Sway be your guide.

Sway is a feature of the Office 365 suite you likely already have and use, which helps you create and share interactive content in minutes. Let’s take a look at how you can leverage Sway to create newsletters that wow audiences.

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Why Good-Better-Best Pricing Works, and How to Implement It

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, good-better-best pricing is everywhere you look. Also known as ‘tiered pricing,’ the good-better-best pricing strategy generally offers customers three options for a product at gradually increasing prices: the ‘good’ option, the ‘better’ option, and the ‘best’ option. Any time you go to a restaurant or a movie theater and they offer you small, medium, and large options, that’s good-better-best pricing. When you book a flight and choose between coach, premium economy, and business class: there’s good-better-best again. Every time you fill your car up with gas, ‘good,’ ‘better,’ and ‘best’ are represented by regular, plus, and premium options. With the prevalence of this pricing strategy, it stands to reason that this is an effective practice, so let’s take a closer look at how it works.  Read more

Why run a drip email campaign?

Part of the joy in building and running any business is the process of finding and developing a loyal customer base. If it were as easy as finding someone who instantly wanted your products or services, everyone would be a business owner. The reality is that most potential customers are not ready to purchase from you the first time you make contact with them. It is critical that you stay engaged with potential customers until such a time as they are ready to make a purchase.

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