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The Life Cycle of a Successful Sale on the Internet

Courtesy of Wikipedia
By Hector Cisneros

Millions of new products and services are launched for sale on the internet every year. Some become profit makers for their respective companies. A few become big profit makers, and a very small percentage become mega-hits generating millions of dollars in profit. What are the elements that produce mega-hit sales? How is it that many great products never achieve much success and some products of mediocre quality take off and soar to sales heights? In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will look at four very important elements that control the life cycle of successful sales on the internet. We will explore many of the aspects of a sale that include; “Good Internet Products and Services,” "How to Get Found," "Increasing Conversion" and "Creating a Positive Image." So, take notes and share this with your friends as we delve into the Life Cycle of Successful Sales on the Internet.

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Both my business partner and I have over 20 years’ experience in internet marketing. We have had many inventors and entrepreneurs come to us with great new products and ideas that failed. We have also seen hundreds of mediocre me-too products and ill-defined services come and go as well. During this time, we have seen hundreds of companies fail and succeed in selling their products and service. In very few instances the failure or success has been accidental. In every case, the success or failure was determined by how they implemented the above mentioned four critical elements. In fact, it is usually the absence of one of these four elements that end up delivering the coup the grass to these internet sales ventures. On the other hand, mega-success has always included all four elements. In some cases, the mega-success spawned whole new supporting industries, other new successful products, and even new companies. The best example I can think of is the Apple iPhone. Not only was this product a mega success, but it also spawned a whole supporting industry of third-party products. There are whole companies that owe their entire existence to the widespread acceptance of the Apple iPhone. Hopefully, this article will give you a glimmer into how that success story took place.

Element #1 - A Great Product or Service.  If you look at any long-lived success story, you will see a product or service that fits the phrase “Whose Time Has Come.” This product or service filled a pent-up need. I found the roots of this phrase in an article in the Wall Street Journal by Barton Swaim. It stated; “No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come,” remarked by Sen. Everett Dirksen on the floor of the U.S. Senate at the height of the debate surrounding the Civil Rights
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Act of 1964.
Since then, this phrase has been used thousands of times to describe new products and services launched on the internet and old-school media. If you look at the Apple iPhone, its success was not based on coming out with a smartphone. There were lots of smartphones already on the market. It wasn’t because it provided a touch screen, or graphics, or video or had a built-in personal assistant. It succeeded because it made it easy for the average person to take advantage of all these high-tech features without being a high-tech geek. It solved the problem of making high technology easily accessible to the masses, at a price point affordable to many. It did this in a very elegant way that leap frogged the competition by several years. Soon after iPhone sales took off, competing products like the palm pilot died off and the iPhone accessory industry was born.

This one product has done more for boosting the mobile online sales industry than any other smartphone. And today mobile sales and traffic account for more than 60 percent of all internet traffic.

To have mega success, your product must be at the top of its class. However, to be successful, you don’t need mega success, you just have to provide perceivable value at a price that is affordable. It must provide a value-add over the competition whenever possible. Ten years after its introduction, the iPhone is still the best-selling smartphone on the market. However, the marketplace has evolved into a multi-segmented arena delineated by price and features. Today there are dozens of successful smartphones that don’t compete head to head with Apple entries. Smartphones, in fact, have become commodities.  Many wireless providers give away a smartphone when you sign up for their service. However, the iPhone, which was the first to make it easy for the average person to take advantage of technology, is still the leader in its field.

Also, there are some items that lend themselves to internet sales more readily than others. For
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example; small, unique, products that also need consumables lend themselves easily to internet sales because shipping cost is low and delivery can be performed quickly. It can also spawn additional sales for accessories or add on products. The iPhone definitely fits this model. On the other hand, products that have a lot of legal caveats and shipping restrictions, or are large and heavy, won’t sell as easily or at all. An example would be flammable liquids, stocks and bonds, heavy equipment, travel trailers etc…

There are lots of products that have achieved massive success which are not at the top of the food chain in their industry. Take commodity items as an example. I liked to talk about the sale of bottled water because not long ago, people would laugh if you said bottled water is going to be big! In fact, if you had predicted that people would be drinking bottled water in the 1980s, you could have become a billionaire today. Bottled water has been around for a long time, but the average consumer in the US was not buying bottled water. Then in the 1990’s bottled water sales took off as consumers became more health and convenience conscious. Today 50 billion bottles of water are consumed each year. In the 80’s the average consumer did not perceive the value of bottled water over that of tap water. Today's health-conscious consumers rarely drink from the faucet unless the faucet is filtered in some way. Having said this, the bottled water market is widely segmented with bottles coming in all kinds of sizes, flavors, purity, and enhancements. And yes, there are people selling bottled water on the internet based on price, quality, special ingredients and
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more. The convenience of internet sales and delivery is a concept whose time has come!

The last point I want to make in this section is this. No product or service has had massive long-term success unless it filled a need, provided a useful service and came with perceived value. Useless products or services are called scams, frauds, tricks, and people who sell them are called crooks, con artists or worse. Now let’s move on to the next important element.

Element #2 - Getting Found. It’s not good enough to have a great product or service. Your product or service must be found! So, what does it take to get found today? Is it top notch SEO? Do you need tons of great authoritative content? Do you need a large audience? The simple answer is YES to all three. However. the first thing it takes is a budget (no matter how small, even if it’s you’re time). Rarely do products or services actually get found because a video goes viral. Even when a promotional video goes viral like the Orabrush or the Dollar Shave Club, these items still had a small ad budget. On top of that they reinvest their profits to engage in a lot more advertising once they got found! Most successful marketing campaigns are multifaceted which in turn gives them synergy.

Google points out the importance of having a synergistic multichannel approach for getting found in Google search. Watch the following short video to learn exactly what Google is looking for when determining a webpages organic ranking.

Learn what Google has to say about SEO Marketing.

I know several authors who have bestselling eBooks (so-called eBook millionaires) who still had to prime the marketing pumps with several thousand dollars to get their first books onto the bestseller list. Getting found strictly with guerrilla tactics like word of mouth, social media and networking is an uphill battle because of the number of new products and services launched every day. A minimal budget for launching a bestselling eBook is about 30k (which covers online marketing, travel expenses, interview services, your first printing, book giveaways and more). Also, to get found, you must do your research. Due diligence will make it much easier to get found if you know the precise target market, the best marketing venue – the best marketing message that works and so on. Market research can cost a lot. A shoestring research budget is about $500 to $1,000 is the least you should spend If you really want to glean valuable insight into what will work best. I see a lot of good writers who have good books, but aren’t getting found! Many have a great blog with lots of well written and valuable information, but nobody is reading it! This is because they don’t have distribution or a large following. We have spent a lot of time, energy and money building our 100k plus following. Having a large social following gives you a large distribution channel. Also, we don’t just use one social media network; we use multiple social networks and other internet channels to help build traffic. It’s also important to cover all your bases. Make sure your on-page SEO matches you content SEO for keywords and phrases. Create a
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diversified marketing approach which include several different marketing venues. Include social, video, blogging, good landing pages, possible PPC ads and a consistent deliver of the right message.

Your campaigns need to be synergistic, not one dimensional. On top of that, your research needs to be ongoing. Continuing to re-evaluate your methods and results is critical for long-term success. Getting found is not a one and done event because out of sight is out of mind. Check out these articles on how to get found. 
 Element #3 - Conversion to a Customer. A lot of internet marketing companies will tell you that
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getting found is important. In fact, that’s where most of them stop. They will help you get found, but they often ignore the next step, and that is, increasing the conversion rate. This is true whether you’re talking about organic or pay per click advertising. Truth be told is, it does little good to drive traffic to any web page if that page is not optimized for conversion.  That’s why sending traffic to a home page is usually a waste of money. Sending your traffic to a well-designed landing page is the best way to go. Your landing page needs to include elements to build trust, make it easy for the visitor to find what they are looking for and make it easy for them to make a decision to buy your product or service.  Easy to read relevant keyword text, a click on phone number, positive reviews, video testimonials, and a form that gives the visitor access to a compelling offer they consider valuable in exchange for their contact info, etc.…

The most common question I get about conversion is; How do you know if my product or service is working (i.e. converting) at its best or do we need to tweak the message, (the compelling offer or some other element of our internet sales). My answer is simple and almost common sense. Do research. However, most business people just seem to ignore this obvious answer and do nothing except advertise by the seat of their pants. We believe in pre-marketing research and ongoing evaluation and research. Not doing so, is just guessing, and you can’t achieve massive success by just guessing. Check out our articles on how to convert a visitor into a customer:
Element #4 - Creating and Maintaining Positive Image. The next step in achieving massive internet sales success is spreading your positive image! In most cases, before you can achieve massive long-term success, you must build credibility and a loyal following. I often hear people say that this is putting the cart before the horse. The fact is that these items are highly dependent on each other. Once you get found you must deliver the goods in a way that not only provides value from your product or service, the actual buying experience, become important as well. Then you must convince the new customer to sing your praises with positive reviews and testimonials. This is a little easier said than done since a happy customer is ready to go on their way where a disgruntled
Courtesy of Flickr

customer is ready to cry "off with his head!"

Here follow up is key and sometimes a little bribery helps as well. If the follow up of asking for a positive review is not enough, adding some small useful incentive will often help a reluctant (or lazy) happy customer to go the extra mile of providing you a positive review. You also need a way to handle unhappy customers in the follow up process. Always provide an easy way for an unhappy customer to get in touch with customer service and if possible listen to their complaints and resolve their issues. This is another easy way to make a new happy customer. A way of turning a lemon into lemonade if you will. Not making them happy will cause a lot more damage than you can repair by doing more future marketing. One negative review will kill the positive effects of 10 positive ones. Save yourself a lot of money and make them happy. Today the king wears no clothes in social media. Check out these articles on how to create a positive image for your product or service.
Once you succeed in making a happy customer, do it again with the next and the next and the next customer. Developing the right product or service is a great start, the rest is repeating items 2 through 4, over and over again.  Keeping this marketing wheel spinning will ensure the most success possible. Stopping on any one of the last three steps will quickly bring your success to a halt. Massive success requires that this cycle never stops.

It is my hope that you take the time do your research and due diligence before you begin marketing your next big online sales offering. I also hope you take the time to read the support articles listed on this blog and that you take the time to watch the video that features one of Google’s webmasters that I have included above. Doing so may not yield instant sales in your industry, but it will provide the best chance for sales success verses any other method for product or service Internet sales.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.
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This article explores the four elements involved in any highly successful internet marketing sales effort regardless of product or service involved. This four-step process will yield the best results possible. Included are additional links to additional reference material and videos to help the reader maximize their results.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, give us a call at 904-410-2091. You can also fill out the form in the sidebar of this blog. It will allow us to provide you with a free marketing analysis to help you get better online results. Our claim to fame is that we are one of a few companies who actually provide ironclad guarantees.

Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.

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