5 Keys to Leveraging Sales Spikes

Spike! Sample demand chart for tax industry

Cyber Monday’s recent passing got me thinking about the pressure involved with trying to complete a ton of sales in a short period of time. Cyber Monday is super important to online retailers for lots of reasons. The main reasons are revenue generation (i.e. profitability) and inventory control. So that means that those sites can’t afford to mess up. They have to get traffic and convert it at a high level in a very small window of time. Failure affects the bottom line for the entire year.

When I helped run FileLater, we had very similar pressure. Over 80% of our revenue was generated the last 72 hours before the tax deadline. And 40% came within the last 12 hours before the deadline! (see the Google Trends chart to the right)

The reality was simple – if we didn’t produce, we were cooked until the next tax season because tax extensions can only be filed from January to April of each year. That’s extreme pressure.

We described the business as being hyper-seasonal because it’s basically a seasonal business on steroids. And let me say that we learned a lot. We failed enough to help us succeed and grow to the point where the company was acquired in late 2010.

Here are the biggest takeaways I always share with businesses in similar high-pressure industries.

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Why Social Media Doesn’t Make Sense for Your Business

social media strategies
Does 500 million users = automatic success for your biz?

Here’s the point I’m going to try to make in this post: don’t allocate your precious resources to scoring new business on social media until you’ve perfected the art of converting relevant traffic on your own website.

Bear with me while I step into the time machine to get things started…

Remember 1o-15 years ago when companies starting including their domain on TV commercials and magazine ads? The “Information Superhighway” was so new that addresses included “http://www” at the beginning and some instruction like, “type this into your browser. Blah. Blah.”

In the last 18 months or so we’re starting to see a similar trend happening. Brands are including a Facebook and/or a Twitter logo in their ads to tell consumers they can be found on the world’s most popular social media sites.  I’ve even seen some Foursquare references as well.

I’m here to say the following: Resist the urge! Don’t blindly follow the trend!

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5 Ways to Create Trust to Improve Conversions

trust icon
Which icons best promote trust?

Conversions. There’s a lot to discuss. So I’m going to try and keep this simple and stick to one small contributing factor.

A couple of the most recent Internet Marketing consulting gigs I’ve been involved with have been focused on improving conversion rates. Both are websites that don’t struggle getting a decent amount of traffic. The problem is that too many people leave without converting (in both cases the goal is to get people to sign up for a free trial of their service).

In each case there were multiple culprits contributing to low conversion rates. One of the biggest mistakes was the failure to gain people’s trust. Nothing, on either website, told users that the site was legitimate, safe, and could be trusted.

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Three Keys to Being a Subject Matter Expert on Twitter

not a perfect tweet
Status updates don't equal quality for SMEs

I’ve talked about my take on Twitter before. My biggest complaint/knock is that there are millions of people Tweeting but far less people listening. Bottom line: too much noise and not enough value compared to other ways to invest time and money in Internet Marketing.

That being said, I’m not totally against Twitter. I’ll agree that there are some ways to put Twitter to use effectively (more on this in a second), but just a very small percentage of Twitterers use the tool effectively.

Up to this point in time, one of the best uses of Twitter is to establish or enhance a brand’s perception by playing the role of a subject matter expert (SME). For example, a real estate broker in a crowded marketplace could differentiate him or herself by avoiding the temptation of tweeting endlessly about their own listings and instead offering helpful content to homebuyers and sellers. Twitter users in that marketplace who subscribe to the broker develop a sense of trust about the broker, making them more likely to be clients. That should result in more business for the broker (a nice ROI).

The benefits of being an SME depend on the specifics of the industry, but the universal benefit is differentiation. And differentiation usually equals more business. For example, it could mean more leads or the ability to charge a higher hourly rate for consulting, speaking, or training.

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