In part 1 of this series, I hinted that in this post I was going to outline a system we are working on that helps capture data from visitors in a way that traditional methods are either missing or lacking. I decided that before I devolve the system, I should add a little context as to why it's so important and needed. So, this will now be a 3 part series.

I also mentioned, your website is kind of like a mousetrap. It has food for thought and attracts creatures who sneak in and out. You may be able to see them scurry, but it's hard to trap them (meaning their data).

The goal is not to just capture information and badger people, but to follow their journey, to understand their needs and wants better, and how they go about using your website to investigate answers to their questions.

A Little History Lesson

The World Wide Web (which is what www. stands for) was originally developed by CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) from 1981-1991 to share information. CERN made the Web protocol and code available royalty-free in 1993, enabling its widespread use. Prior to September 1993, the World Wide Web was entirely indexed by hand. The first popular search engine on the Web was Yahoo! in 1994. Google adopted the idea of selling search terms in 1998, That sparked the idea that every business needed a website if they wanted to be relevant and found on the internet.

Then, shortly after, social media made the internet more communal in the 2000s. LinkedIn (2003), Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), and Twitter (2006) remain the top four with others trying to jump into the mix with mixed results.

In 2007, the iPhone changed the game with apps. But the underlying driving force is still IP (internet protocol) based and HTML-driven internet feeds.

Email was a separate thing starting in the 1960s with Compuserve being the first commercial service in 1978. SMPT (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) was released in 1983 and started to decentralize email use. AOL was the first real consumer platform in 1991. HTML email began to grow and expand from 2007-2011 and has since peaked with the release of the free Gmail. It's what allowed hyperlinks in emails to redirect back to web pages and such.

The Squirrel Trap

Squirrel is a term I use for distraction and short attention span theatre. If you searched the internet for ‘successful online selling', you will find plenty of gurus pitching their take on it…

  • Search Engine Optimization Increases Web Traffic
  • Build Your Email List for Success
  • TikTok Marketing
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Google Business Basics
  • YouTube Dominance
  • ChatGPT

I could keep going but you get the point… or do you?

The Promise

All businesses have one main goal, to make a sale. In the B2b world, that generally requires interpersonal communication (a conversation between a salesperson and a prospect). All of those tactics can generate leads, data, and sales, but there is a caveat. It all assumes that someone sees your stuff at the exact time they are deciding to buy. I believe that the best method to really achieve that is through relationship building.

The appearance of a relationship is what social media is all about. Yes, you can have friends, groups, and connections, but it's more of a mirage than a miracle. Social media companies are selling connections (mostly in the form of ads). You can have up to 5000 friends on Facebook, and 30,000 connections on Linkedin, but the platforms throttle (and choose for you) who sees your content and how often. We think that the world of 2 billion users can see our Facebook posts but in reality, it's only 1-2% of our connections.

Could you imagine if you saw posts from all 5000 (or even 500) of your friends when you log in? Your brain would explode, and you probably wouldn't use the platform (as often). Add to that the messenger app which blends social with personal.

The same goes for Google. When we search, it ranks relevance for us and serves up what it wants. The biggest players win. If your website had the exact same text as a bigger player, it would choose them because they're more popular. You can buy ads to improve the chances, but it's a bidding process that makes you compete with deep-pocket competitors.

Email is the only internet option (aside from your website), that you actually can control and own. You gather names (in-person or online) and you choose what to send, how often to send it, and what you want them to do (call to action). Even better is the user can choose to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Businesses use websites and social media to get people to subscribe to their email lists. You might think this is the holy grail of marketing, and it can be when carefully nurtured and targeted.

Final Thoughts

There are basically three phases of pre-sale that have to be considered.

  • The unknown/unknown – People who are just scurrying, and prodding around your website. With that, analytical but no personal data is collected.
  • The known/unknown – People who have given you their contact info via email, but you can't track when they return or what they do.
  • The known/known – These are subscribers where you can watch what they do and when they do it.

The third is generally available when you get someone to create an account and repeatably sign in, but, privacy laws and common decency prevent us from demanding this. The next best thing you can do is get people to sign up for your email and keep them coming back until they are ready to buy. So how can you encourage people to sign up?

A “Join Our Newsletter” pop-up on your website rarely works. Email works better to guide people to the answers to their questions. Then you can prompt them to trade their information for a deeper dive into what's on their minds at the moment the iron is hot.

In the final part of this series, I will share how you can use data to track, capture, and prompt conversations that will improve your visit-to-sales ratio (of both emails and your website). And yes – social media plays a huge part in this system.

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
– Confucius

Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about capturing user data. Do you have a data capture plan in place? Are your email, social media, and website a system? How could you entice people to keep engaging even before they are ready to buy?

To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast