Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?

 
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Old 11-17-2008, 07:09 PM   #1
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Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Hey,

How come most of the sites I see on here don't collect email addresses?

I see so many questions about leads and more than 90% the people who land on your websites are still in the research phase.

And if you think they're going to "bookmark" you might be wrong.

I'm just sick of reading people say "my website doesn't do sh*t!" when...sure your website might suck but you've gotta be able to bring those people back somehow.

I'm not saying collect email addresses so you can send spam or crappy emails. But why can't you send an informative email once or twice a month to keep in touch with these passive visitors?

I'd like to hear your reasons.

Greg
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Old 11-17-2008, 07:11 PM   #2
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Aside from them filling out a contact form, how do you plan to get their e-mail address? I see some sites using the "free report" or "free buyers guide" but I'm not sure about the results.

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Old 11-17-2008, 08:13 PM   #3
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Free reports work if the offer is good enough.

"Ten Things You Should Know Before You Hire a Painter" would work in a local market. Of course, you work the report in your favor.

A closet designer could do organizing tips, ezine, free report on how to choose the right closet system.

A lot of sites do "sign up for my free newsletter" and that's getting a bit old. I know the email boxes are getting full. But you can always mix in some printed info if you can get their mailing address AFTER they're comfortable with your expertise.

You can get the service for $10-$20 a month. It's not like it's easy but I see so many complaints about "the internet sucks for my business" and it's really not the internet's fault :-)

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Old 11-17-2008, 08:19 PM   #4
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


by "the service" I mean an email service where you can create your campaigns, have automated responders, sign-up boxes, etc. Not someone who write anything for you. From reading a lot of posts on this site I'd say a big chunk of folks here can do some "informative" writing to prospects without a problem.
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Old 11-17-2008, 08:41 PM   #5
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg P View Post
by "the service" I mean an email service where you can create your campaigns, have automated responders, sign-up boxes, etc. Not someone who write anything for you. From reading a lot of posts on this site I'd say a big chunk of folks here can do some "informative" writing to prospects without a problem.

I looked into this last year and found a content writer who writes the auto responders (generally a string of 2-4 of them), for some reason I forgot about the idea. The guys on sitepoint.com if you want his contact info.
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Old 11-19-2008, 02:01 AM   #6
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


The reason people say there website doesn't do sh*t is because they don't fully understand marketing a website. It isn't the good ole days where if you build a site they will come. The number one problem most of us on here face is that we are not "nationwide" businesses, we are local to a certain area. As a generalization the web does not cater to us. It takes LOTS of money to bring people to your site. It is important to include your website on your truck, advertisements, estimates, etc. but do not expect it to be a HUGE sales generator unless you advertise it properly. Google adwords, and Yahoo seach marketing work well, but not perfetly suited for a "local" business. For example, if you pay to have your add listed when someone types "exterior painting" you will lose LOTS of money. What are the chances someone in YOUR area seached for that term. Now "Exterior Painting, Timbuck2, OH" might get you a click to your site, but how often is a term like that seached.

I think in this day and age you NEED a website to explain you business, for potential clients who got your advertisment in the mail, and also for your existing clients to contact you. Some find email an easier way thatn the phone call.

Just my 2 cents, and hopefully some of you agree.
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:26 AM   #7
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


An email autoresponder with a free report, a newsletter, or email tips or something is very effective.

The key is to create a valuable offer, rather than just fluff.

If you don't know what type of report to offer your prospects, do this:

1. Come up with your three best ideas for headlines for a free report or newsletter.

2. Run it by three past clients who you trust.

If you're open and honest about it, they will most likely be happy to help, especially since you're asking them for their "expert opinion."

Do a good job with this, and you'll convert, like, a squillion percent more than without it.

Good content is key.

Oh, and so is traffic.
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Old 11-19-2008, 07:21 AM   #8
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg P View Post
Hey,

How come most of the sites I see on here don't collect email addresses?

I see so many questions about leads and more than 90% the people who land on your websites are still in the research phase.

And if you think they're going to "bookmark" you might be wrong.

I'm just sick of reading people say "my website doesn't do sh*t!" when...sure your website might suck but you've gotta be able to bring those people back somehow.
It used to be commonly taught by Internet Marketing gurus that a website should always be "sticky" (i.e. - easy to navigate and full of content to maintain the attention of a visitor as long as possible) and also have something to bring visitors back again and again. The underlying needs of the average Contractor's website actually conflicts and contradicts with much of that. In my opinion this is major part of why some contractors are extremely dissatisfied with their websites:

(1) They had idealistic (and often unrealistic) expectations while the site was being built and once the site went live they were fed even more bull**** by people like Freelance Internet Marketeers and Search Engine Optimizers.

(2) They were never taught how to "think" about their website before before production on it started.

Unrealistic Expectations:
I can't tell you how many times a week I get calls and emails from some fast-talking jacks who are promising to get my website to the top of the search engine results pages. Unfortunately for them I did web design from 1994 to 2005, in it since before there were search engines. I know the game. But what I'll do is sometimes play along to hear what promises they're going to make to get me to sign up. The claims have gotten ridiculous but the scary thing is that I know there have to be people out there who will buy into the bullsh*t and spend their hard-earned money for 3-to-6 months before realizing they're not getting a Return of Investment on it to make it worth while. Don't get me wrong; search engine optimization is not a bad thing at all and it has its place but it's not the Magic Bullet some of these so-called Internet Marketing gurus portray it as. Where Internet Marketeers might get excited and brag about 30,000+ visitors a month, to a contractor that doesn't mean anything unless those visitors send an email or call the office to set up a appointment.

How to Think about a Website:
Speaking strictly on what I've seen since I entered the Contractor's World, the most commonly held perspective about a website is that it is a high-tech paperless advertisement. The problem is that if you think about it that way, that's all it will be, and you'll treat it as such -- a square on a page with a slogan, a phone number, some text and sitting on a page where it might get looked at for a few seconds. With that mentality, it might as well be a tattoo on the side of an elephant at the circus.

A much more effective way to approach your website is to think of it as three dimensional, as if it is an extension of your physical office space -- almost like your own call center minus the "overseas apathy" and funky accents. And just like opening up a new location for your business:
  • It needs to be promoted properly (both online and offline to direct traffic to it).
  • It needs to have someone to staff it, ready to respond in a timely fashion. The difference is that whoever in your company responds to the inquiry will be more than just a phone jockey. They should be able to answer questions and make things happen.
  • It needs to have its own 'inventory' where it can be reasonably self-sustaining. The difference is that this inventory is fresh, useful information that can be both supplied on-demand to the visitor as well as received from them.
Keeping those bulleted points in mind during the planning phase of a website will usually keep it from "sucking" once it's finished and the "new car smell" has worn off. The site would no longer be just a monthly fee for a dead weight. Instead it would be a living part of your company that helps educate your potential customers, shows them samples of what you can do, provides a streamlined means of them getting in contact with you and vise versa -- all of which helps win customer confidence which helps close the sale.


Quote:
I'm not saying collect email addresses so you can send spam or crappy emails. But why can't you send an informative email once or twice a month to keep in touch with these passive visitors?

I'd like to hear your reasons.

Greg
Aside from landscapers and working with property managers, when a good contractor has done a job right s/he probably won't return to that location for months or years (if they even return at all). That said, it's borderline unreasonable to expect people to return to the average contractor's website on a regular basis. Outside of maybe looking up some basic care and maintenance tips, what else is there for the visitor after the contractor's work is done? Most of us don't need fan clubs, just new business and more customer referrals. I can see keeping and maintaining an email list that you'll send a newsletter out to but I can't see doing that more than once or twice a QUARTER (if that). Because a customer has given you their email address at some point, they already know who you are and if they didn't use your services you must have been up for serious consideration. Blasting them with emails once or twice a month won't help win them over.

Just my half-a-nickel... Hope it helps.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:16 AM   #9
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


thanks for all the opinions but I'm really interested in a discussion sticking to why people in this industry don't use email or collect contact information from visitors.

Please include the negative stuff!

One point...I'm not talking about making a site "sticky." I don't want people sitting on my site all day long. It does nothing.

I want them to act. Either call me for an appointment or give me your email so I can be in touch and show you I know my sh*t...

I'm talking about having a way to follow up with visitors who may not be ready to buy. Or to followup with customers so I can increase referrals.

One point I'd like to touch on is the fact business people make harmful assumptions based on their own personal beliefs.

This one specifically...

"The internet doesn't work for a local business is just plain wrong."

I use adwords for 95% of my business. Local only...within a 45 mile radius of my office.

However, if I tried to convert every single visitor in one shot to call for my in-home appointment...it wouldn't work very well.

But when I offer them a free report so they are more informed while trying to find the right "guy," they see my expertise, my honesty, my customer testimonials "Hi XX, I just got this email from a custom and thought you'd like to read it."

Then...they come back and fill out the form for my in home consultation.

All after they've received my emails. Sometimes 10 or more. (Don't they say 7 touches to close a sale?)

I use this one where I present an offer:

"Hi Joe, I hope you found my report informative and helpful. I'd love to help you create more space in your home and I've put something together I think you'll..."

I follow up again and again -- automated (no, I don't need a single sales person to "man" my site).

My emails are not pushy and mainly informative but every now and then a little push is required.

Sometimes the sales cycle is 3,4, or 5 months but without emails...they'd forget me and especially my domain. If I'm not following up (the way we would even before the internet when someone walked into our showroom) they might lose the paper they wrote my number on. Or they simply think of somewhere else to spend their money.

Adding one more point to Seth's post...I'd also add spending a few bucks on a survey to get some topics if you go the free report route.

However...this works for me and I can't say for sure it'd work for everyone.

So continue with your assumptions but I'd like to hear something backed up with some data.

Like if you've tried to setup some kind of emails and it just didn't work. Or maybe you really did send too many messages and what did your prospects tell you?

Has anyone hired someone from Sitepoint like DougChips mentioned? (And got something good or crappy?)

I'd be helpful to me but also to anyone in our business these days who need to put aside assumptions and start putting as much effort into online marketing as possible.

I study the gurus too and most seem to be clowns to me. Our business might be different...but that's probably another dangerous assumption because people are people.

Greg
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Old 11-19-2008, 01:13 PM   #10
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Greg,

If I'm understanding what you're asking to read about, another issue is that most people who may have learned about promoting their website often don't connect it with anything dealing with Advertising psychology. The two usually have to go hand-in-hand to get the maximum effectiveness from Advertising and Promotional spending, including the web site fees.

For the sake of this thread, there are two basic types of ads: one is strictly geared toward branding a company or product name (e.g. - an iPod commercial or an an IBM commercial) and the other has a call to action (e.g. - a car dealership offering limited-time only rebates or a fast food chain like Subway running a special where they're selling foot long subs for $5). Whether it's in print, on TV or radio, or online, every promotional piece can be classified as one or the other. In this case, no matter how much of a promotional slant an email might have, if it doesn't have a call to action and it doesn't incorporate something called Prospect Theory to motivate the recipient then there's a good chance that recipient will look at the message and do nothing.

Call to Action: pretty self explanatory. "Call today to get your free estimate". Believe it or not, yes, it does work at an almost subconscious level. That's why you'll see it constantly if you pay enough attention to the ads you're exposed to.

Prospect Theory:
to sum up all the psycho-scientific jargon, this refers to the principle that "The Fear of Loss is Often Greater than the Sense of Gain". It's one of those weird quirks about human nature that Advertising Agencies have been tapping into for decades. I saw an extreme example of this a few years back; it was a day before Hurricane Isabella hit here in Virginia Beach. One of my aunts had gone to the supermarket to stock up on water and such and came back with a trunk full of Ice Cream cartons of all flavors. She sounded almost like a kid on Christmas Day as she bragged about how it was Ben & Jerrys and "marked down 50% for one day only" and she couldn't pass up the offer. I wasn't trying to rain on her parade when I reminded her that our area was probably going to lose power (happens every time a hurricane or tropical storm comes through). With that reality check suddenly her smile melted, faced with the probability of over a dozen containers were going to turn to hot stinky milkshakes before electricity was restored. Yeah, she likes Ice Cream, but in that case she was so driven by the fear of losing out if she didn't take advantage of that offer that she went against all logic and made that purchase anyway. Incidentally, the power did go out but that's another story.

These concepts aren't anything new. They're pretty much a staple in any Advertising Theory or Graphic Design class. Trying to promote your business without them is like making BBQ chicken by broiling it in the oven then pouring BBQ sauce on top instead of putting the chicken on an outdoor grill and cooking it that way.
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Old 11-19-2008, 02:11 PM   #11
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


I have a question for the contractors who are tech savvy. More specifically, those who are able to track the flow of visitors through their website with tools such as Google Analytics.

What is the percentage of unique viewers who sign up for "The Top 10 things you need to know before hiring a ******XX" type newsletters?

Another good metric may be how many people go from front page directly to the samples or past project pictures?

I suspect, although its best to be skeptical until the real data comes in, that most site visitors just want to see samples. This might help some contractors understand what the key pages on their site are. More importantly, take some time to design a good page.
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:13 PM   #12
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Meyer View Post
I have a question for the contractors who are tech savvy. More specifically, those who are able to track the flow of visitors through their website with tools such as Google Analytics.

What is the percentage of unique viewers who sign up for "The Top 10 things you need to know before hiring a ******XX" type newsletters?

Another good metric may be how many people go from front page directly to the samples or past project pictures?

I suspect, although its best to be skeptical until the real data comes in, that most site visitors just want to see samples. This might help some contractors understand what the key pages on their site are. More importantly, take some time to design a good page.
Scott,

Although we're speaking in generalities here, I'd bet that if we studied the logs of 100 contractors on this site we'd probably find that your assessment is pretty much spot-on (give or take a bit depending on each unique company). With some industries like, say, Publishing, it's much more common for people to sign up for free newsletters. These are industries that customers get involved with for various reasons plus it can take years to get a fix on how it all works together. With Contractors it's all about Residential or Commercial development, renovation or installation and regardless of how complex the contractor's discipline is, basically it doesn't change much. When it comes to installing tile, aside from the occasional stronger thinset and grout or a more efficient wet saw blade, it's basically the same as it was last year and ten years ago. The same tile maintenance tips I might provide in my newsletter won't vary much from the hundreds or thousands of other tile company newsletters out there run by people who had the same idea.

Although we're going to add an app that allows people to opt-in or opt-out to our email newsletter once it's ready to go, most of its recipients will be customers in our Quickbooks archive that have either used our services or received quotes from us.

As a side note, if you want verifyable data on what people are doing on your website (accurate to within a few percentile), what site they were using before they logged onto yours, and so on, then you might want to look at either buying a package like 'Webtrends Analytics' OR hosting your website with a firm that provides WebTrends analysis as value-added part of their service package.
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Old 11-19-2008, 05:40 PM   #13
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


" do you collect visito info? No
.
I prefer to buck the trend. When they contact me, the sale has already been made, so to speak. I try to put enough info out there to turn them off or on, nothing in between. I have no interest in 'drumming' up sales by e-mails, or otherwise. That said, I'm not supporting a crew and their families either.

This has been a good informative thread guys.
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Old 11-19-2008, 06:14 PM   #14
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


The consumer is by far wiser today than the marketing guru’s of yesteryear. Because I am looking in the window does not make me a customer. If the consumer wishes information on my product and they email me a request for information, this does not make them a customer, collect email address and sending virtual paper out with no regard for the receiver puts the sender in the eyes of most as a spamster. To reiterate, just because I receive an email does not make that email a suspect, prospect or a customer. It has the same value as the information that is listed in the phone book. A competitor can go to hotmail, Gmail or who ever and create a email address and request information for the sake of gathering information to use when bidding against you in the future….information is useful providing it is useful…otherwise it is just a bag of addresses you can sell to spamsters to make it useful to the collector or the addresses. And that really is not useful.
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Old 11-19-2008, 07:31 PM   #15
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


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" do you collect visito info? No
.
I prefer to buck the trend. When they contact me, the sale has already been made, so to speak. I try to put enough info out there to turn them off or on, nothing in between. I have no interest in 'drumming' up sales by e-mails, or otherwise. That said, I'm not supporting a crew and their families either.

This has been a good informative thread guys.
Tinner,

Your comment about not being interested in drumming up sales by email brings up a whole new aspect of this subject that hasn't been discussed yet, one that makes a profound difference to each contractor's approach to this subject. All Contractors fall into a spectrum that some would call "Luxury" on one end and "Necessity" at the other end. I prefer to just call the two extremes "Want" and "Need". What I've learned is that the closer you are to one extreme or the other is going to greatly affect how you approach your market. Generally speaking:
  • The closer your contractor business is to the "Want" side, the more work you have to put into turning your services into a "Need" and
  • The closer you are to the "Need" side, the less you have to do anything to appeal to a customer's "Wants", granting you the luxury of being able to pick and chose how to promote your business.
(I'm sure some expert out there has probably worded that much better than I have but you get the idea)

As a roofer, you're much closer to the Need side. Homeowners with money to burn generally don't call a roofer out of boredom to price out some renovation ideas. Most of your inquiries are probably either preventative maintenance at best or "Help me -- my roof is f***ed up and I need it fixed NOW before everything under it gets damaged!". When dealing with those kinds of customers, there's little need for fancy sales tactics since your services and price basically sell themselves. No need for alot of fancy marketing techniques; customers often come to you like a doctor -- heal my problem right now. And if they're confident that you're competent and your price isn't too far beyond their expectations or budget, they won't bother shopping around... you've got the job, now Git'er'Done!

On the other hand, my company specializes in Custom Tile installations, particularly Kitchen and Bathroom renovations. We consider ourselves Artisans moreso than just guys who slap mud and tile down haphazardly. Although occasionally we'll get some jobs that are repairing damage or renovating spaces that haven't been touched in decades, our services fall much closer to the "Want" extreme. Someone wants that pimped-out steam shower with the all-glass doors and Terra Cotta tile. Someone wants to put a granite countertop on that island in the kitchen. With all that said, the competition is much higher; we have to bid up against everybody from the unlicensed "Jackleg Handymen" who might be doing tile one day and chopping wood the next and on up to other licensed contractors with varying degrees of experience and labor costs. As a result, a big part of my job on our team is to study the market along with our competition and come up with new ways to separate ourselves from the pack, positioning ourselves in such a way that if the customer wants the best craftsmanship on this type of job done they need us and not the competition. That makes things like email newsletters, flyers, brochures and various other types of print and digital solicitations something that we don't have the luxury of overlooking. For us at this stage in the game, if we're not utilizing a means of reaching our target market, our competition is.

When it's all said and done, I guess that's what keeps it all interesting, eh?
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Old 11-19-2008, 07:47 PM   #16
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Thanks Max Nomad. You just reminded of somehting I had forgotten when i started this business. I started it with the intent and purpose of providing a need. And as my artisan nature improved and I got more specialized, I still only provide a need and specialize in doing a service that will outlast most other's roofs. A niche that has a large referral basis, and many internet leads from historical groups.

I read so many threads about Sales and Closing that I was starting to forget what I'm about. Many thanks for the reminder.

I really am about something else and was starting to feel kinda lost.
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Old 11-19-2008, 09:20 PM   #17
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


very true. keep yourself distinct from the masses. quality will beat price everytime
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:04 AM   #18
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Re: Do You Collect Site Visitor Info?


Quote:
Originally Posted by dougchips View Post
Aside from them filling out a contact form, how do you plan to get their e-mail address? I see some sites using the "free report" or "free buyers guide" but I'm not sure about the results.
One of our manufactures does the "free whatever report", and they have absolutly killed it. To the tune of record growth, and revenue for their 3rd quarter. They represent one of only a handful of stocks that are up over the past few months. I seriously doubt all of that is because of a free report, but they do get a ton of sales from it.

However, the thing with them is they are selling a newer technology that most people do not understand, it has the potential to make the customer a lot of money, and it is very expensive so people are looking for all the info they can get their hands on before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Personally, we have never tried it, but maybe I should. If I run any type of campaign like that in the future, I will let ya know the results.

JJ

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