In last week’s column we explored how your website should be thought of as a selling tool and with some planning and vision,  you can use it to move a prospect through the know + like + trust = sales funnel and earn their business.

This week, I’d like to dig in a little deeper and look at the first stage of the funnel (know) and what you can do to catch the interest of your web visitors and encourage them to get to know you a little.

At the top of the funnel we have people who’ve never heard of you and may have no idea they need or want what you sell. They might discover you by clicking on a link in a blog post or after reading about you in the newspaper. They might have a problem and be Googling to find a solution and your site is listed in their search results. They may see a Facebook ad or type in your URL off your business card that they picked up at a trade show. But at this point, you’re a stranger. They don’t know, like or trust you. And we know we have to earn their trust before we can earn their money.

At that moment, your website has to be helpful or relevant enough in some way that they spend a little time on it so they begin to get a sense of you and how you might matter to them.

This is a do-or-die moment. If the visitor pokes around the site and then leaves, they might never return and you’ll never know who they were or if you could have served them. That’s how it works on most websites. If I asked you to show me a list of people who were on your website in the last six months, could you do it?  

One of the appealing aspects of using the web to pre-shop is the anonymity of it. To get someone to introduce themselves to you, you have to either give them a compelling reason to keep coming back or better yet, you have to create the opportunity for an information exchange. You have to offer them something that is valuable enough that they’ll give you their email address in return. While it sounds simple, think of how many websites you visit and how few  capture your contact information.

What does that look like? You want to offer something that’s a low barrier to entry. It doesn’t feel too intrusive. It could be any of these:
• Sign up for our e-newsletter or regular tips
• Get a copy of a how-to report, white paper or cheat sheet
• Take an online course via email
• Get access to unique content behind a firewall
• Join a discussion group/closed forum
• Be notified when new content/information is available
• Download an e-book or watch a short video series
• Sign up for a webinar or phone conference

Once you’ve made that initial connection and you have a way to stay in touch, you can continue to be helpful, which will keep the conversation going. At that point, one of two things is going to happen. As they get to know you and your company, they’re either going to decide they like you or they don’t. Both are great outcomes.  

If they like you, they’ll stay in the conversation and get to know you even better. If they don’t like you, they’ll go away. Now you don’t have to waste any energy on someone who was going to be a bad fit.

Next week, we’ll explore how to move an identified prospect into the like part of the equation.