Phrases like click-through rate can seem like another case of “black box syndrome-” the feeling that internet marketing is an incomprehensible mystery to businesses who don’t have an entire IT department.
The black box on an aircraft is actually bright orange, so why the misnomer? There's no ironic or clever
story to it, simply that in the early 1950's, rudimentary flight data recorders were actually housed in a metal box onboard the airplane that was painted… black. Aircrews, whose job it was to keep the machine flying, referred to it as "the black box" as a way of indicating that it did something electronic and mysterious.
The term has now expanded its territory while keeping some of it's original intent. Now we think of almost any gizmo that does something technological as a black box.
"The term… has since come to mean any device or process whose purpose or effect is clear to the user, but whose actual means of operation are a mystery. Television sets, for instance, are “black boxes” to most consumers (that “no user-serviceable parts inside” sticker on the back drives home the point).
For many small or medium businesses, inbound marketing campaigns are a black box- a mysterious, magical tool that works without anyone really understanding how. The wonders of the internet are involved somehow, in that people are using their computers to research and buy products and services. The problem comes when we try to determine how we're doing.
The old ways of measuring have gone the way of outdated outbound marketing practices.
Measuring success is a rather important part of doing business. For a brick and mortar store, it's pretty easy to calculate the number of people who buy something divided the number of people who came through the door, and that's going to be vastly different for an ice cream shop versus a jewelry store.
An important question we get from our clients centers on this issue. They ask, "When people visit our site online, what percentage should we expect to convert to a lead?" It's akin to asking "How was Saturday's game?" The losing side will have one answer, the winners another, the referees a third, and coaches will have still other viewpoints on it.
There are good answers to the question, though. Let's see if we can open the black box and explain.
So here's the question: What percentage of my organic search traffic should I expect to become marketing leads?
Let's start with an AVERAGE figure. That number is 16%. Now average isn't always helpful, like the old adage: Most people have a higher than average number of fingers, toes and a higher than average IQ. But it depends on your sample. Are you counting all vertebrates? All mammals? All humans? Are you including newborns up through the very elderly?
To narrow it down a bit, here are some organic traffic-to-leads conversion percentages broken down by industry categories:
Written media / publishing- 20%
Retail, e-commerce, wholesale- 11%
Manufacturing, construction- 15%
Education, nonprofits- 18%
Marketing agencies- 20%
Electronic technology- 18%
Professional offices- 14%
If you aren't an inbound marketing user, these numbers don't mean a thing. But if you are sold on the idea that selling in the twenty-first century and beyond takes new approaches centered on digital media, you are right now looking through your online analysis tools to determine what your visitor-to-lead ratio is.
Are you close to 16%? If not, there are a number of factors that can affect your lead flow. The most common are as follows:
Where you Appear on a Search Results Page
Before reading further, do you have a Google + account? If the answer is no, stop reading and go set it up.
Great! now your business will appear in local search feature just below the paid ads and above the organic search results on the Google SERP (search engine results page). This is important because it's not a simple process to get your link to the top of organic search results. It's entirely possible, but it takes time and effort to get there.
Where your result appears on the SERP affects click-throughs. Consider these statistics.
The question asked here is "When an internet shopper sees a page of search returns, how many click on each link according to its position on the screen?"
Position 1 on a SERP– 44.64%
Position 2 – 28.92%
Position 3 – 28.52%
Position 4 – 19.50%
Position 5 – 20%
Position 6 – 14.62%
It's not hard to see that clicks decrease for the most part as you scroll down the returns page. 44% to 14% is quite a drop!
What can you do to get your listing ranked higher, and get those conversions? There are quite a few building blocks underneath this one, all of which can affect your lead flow.
Rank higher by publishing better content
Can't you just have a page on your website that repeats the same keywords over and over? No. Google's robots are now waaaay too smart for that. With every algorithm update, the gap closes between real humans and stacks of digital memory.
Develop a customer persona or two or three. Produce the right content for them based on what questions they are asking, their interests, the typical "journey" they take when buying. Become a trusted expert by offering truly helpful content. Keywords are still important, so use them liberally. Station a Call-to-Action on almost every page that gives the consumer an opportunity to take a next step.
Rank Higher by Publishing MORE content
How many pages does your website have? Are you blogging weekly and building up a library of articles on your industry? It has been shown past a doubt that blogging companies continually bring in more leads that those who don't. So how many is enough?
Find out how many pages your competitors have attached to their website domain. Common sense tells you that if Google looks a competitor's site with the same keywords as yours but contains 500 pages, your five-page site isn't going to garner more clicks.
Rank Higher by More and Better Landing Pages
Businesses with 31–40 landing pages get 7x more leads than those with 1-5 landing pages.
Businesses with >40 landing pages get 12x more leads.
57% of companies have acquired a customer through their blog.
Leads acquired through SEO have a 15% conversion rate.
Other ways to get that Click-Through rate up:
Lowering your price is always a good but risky way to grab attention. Offer free shipping and say so in the blurb people see on the Google returns. If you can play the longer game, this is a great way to build recognition and rise through the ranks by getting clicks a-plenty.
Rewarding loyal customers
Do whatever you can to stay in touch with your best customers. Shower them with special insider offers, include them in webinars or forums. Make their day, and make sharing your largess with the world, which brings us to the next technique…
Your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram links should be on most of your website pages, and any or all of your emails to customers. While it's a bit tricky to word it correctly, incentivize reviews on popular sites like Yelp or Google. There's a world of attention to be gained through the creative use of social media, so resolve to take some time to learn it and get involved.
It should be clear by now that customer service is one of the best marketing tools you have. You know the difference between a pleasant phone conversation with a business and one that's straight out of Soviet Russia. First impressions matter, and could be the difference between you and your competitors.
In the old days marketing was simple: Get in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Now, it's attracting a few already interested eyeballs to authentic, helpful marketing that's aimed squarely at their needs… And it would be a lot more difficult if it weren't for an array of digital tools to help.
In short, what's really inside the black box?
A lens that impels businesses to focus on their customers more sharply than ever. It really is like an arms race: competitive threats increase, but so do the digital weapons it takes to win. Inbound marketing as a concept has helped innumerable businesses make the leap to growth and higher revenues in this digital age. Are you ready?