The 5-step marketing plan to turn your website into a growth machine

If your website is getting more traffic but your business is not growing, it's time to rethink things. This guide will show you 5 steps you can take to turn your website into a growth engine for your business. Convert more visitors into leads, and nurture them into customers by following these steps.

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There are a million and one guides to getting more traffic to your website, but tell me—what does that traffic actually do for your business?

If you:

  • Have a bounce rate north of 80%
  • Are growing your traffic and not your subscriber list
  • Haven’t been on a demo call in weeks

Then this guide is for you.

It doesn’t take long researching on Google to get a few generic pieces of advice like "blog more” or “network with influencers”. This is not productive advice—but you already know that. And don’t get me started on conversion advice—we all know that no one is filling out that blog newsletter form.

You may be wondering if this “marketing” thing is really worth it. I’m here to tell you that it is.

Marketing is hard work. There are people who spend decades to become “great” marketers, but most of us don’t have decades. Some of us barely have months.

In this guide, I hope to not only show you that marketing can work for your business, but also to provide a framework that can be applied to your business to write great copy, nurture your audience, and sell whether you are a seasoned marketer or not.

Don’t believe me? Put these 5 principles to practice and see how they can transform your business in the next month.

Does marketing still work?

I see this question all the time.

I get it from marketers and founders that I coach. I see it in online forums and on social media.

I’ve spoken to a lot of marketing doubters, and while I firmly believe marketing does work (and hope to show it) I don’t blame them.

I began my career at HubSpot, a marketing Mecca that promises amazing results—except it’s easy for a company like HubSpot to succeed at marketing because they’re HubSpot!

Who wouldn’t fill out a form on their website? HubSpot has a 100+ content team flooding Google with content and a ridiculous amount of cachet.
When no one has heard of you, I find it’s next to impossible to get them to subscribe to your blog and still quite hard to get them to pay attention on your website.

I’m sure it won’t take long for you to spend time on Google Analytics, HotJar, or your analytics tool of choice to agree.

So, where does that leave us?

The folks no one has heard of and need a lot of convincing and reassuring to hand over sensitive info like an email (or a phone number!).

A while ago, I was very good at SEO—driving people to my website—but I wasn’t quite as good at converting that traffic. After reading dozens of generic blog posts full of useless tips I realized that I needed to dig deeper, and that’s where a year of research and testing has led to this 5-step framework.

This 5-step framework is deceptively simple, but it works. It’s an approach to your website that will turn it into a lead-generation machine rather than a simple online brochure. It will help you build an audience, nurture that audience, and sell to that audience.

I’ve seen firsthand how this framework transformed our business and the businesses of our clients, and I know it will do the same for yours.

The 5-step framework to transform your website into a growth machine

You need to think differently about marketing.

Marketing is not just “write a blog post each week, have a subscribe button on the page, and hope for the best”. That was marketing circa 2006, but we’re well past that now.

You need a framework for marketing that will work, whether people have heard of you.

You need an approach to marketing that draws visitors into your website, builds trust, keeps your brand top of mind, and shows them that you are the answer to what they are searching for.

Over years of testing and research, I’ve developed a framework for marketing that we’ve used in house and taught dozens of our clients to turn their traffic into real, sustainable business. This framework is deceptively simple, but don’t be fooled. It will take some creativity, work, and testing—but if you follow it, it will work.

I break our approach to marketing into 5 core steps:

  1. Tell a story with your copy
  2. Make it easy (and attractive) for your audience to convert
  3. Develop a compelling sales offer/training (for high-ticket items, and B2B)
  4. Build a series of marketing newsletter emails
  5. Write a sales letter

I’ll examine each of these principles in-depth to show you how to apply them to grow your business.

Tell a story through your copy

I used to think that I needed either an innate talent for copywriting, or serious practice to write copy that sells.

You do need practice—good writing demands plenty of practice—but the path to writing compelling and effective copy is much clearer than you’d think.

You don’t have to join the “mad men” to write copy that sells. In fact, you’d be surprised how far you can get by being clear and telling a good story.

Why tell a story?

Since I worked at HubSpot for over 6 years (and we’re a proud HubSpot customer) let’s pick on them for a second.

HubSpot does plenty of things right, but they (and companies like them) get away with clever and non-compelling copy.

HubSpot uses “Grow better” as their main headline.

While that sounds interesting and unique, it tells me next to nothing about what HubSpot does. The image does the heavy lifting here.

There are plenty of other big brands though that don't really say much about what their website does:

(Guess who this one is).

Big brands get away with this. People buy from them because they are the big brands. Smaller brands, though? People don’t know who you are, so you need to convince them that you can solve their problems and that they should buy from you. The best products don’t win, the best explained ones do. I’m a firm believer of that, so here’s how to explain your products better and write more compelling copy.

Tell a story.

Most businesses put themselves at the center of a story. It’s natural, as founders and marketers we all have our story to tell. How our brand is great and maybe has a unique origin story. There’s also how we’re fighting against fierce competition, and trying to survive… except your customers don’t care about that.

Your customers care about **their** story. That’s what matters to them, not you.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but once you do swallow it your copy will be transformed forever.

So, how do you tell a good story? Follow the framework below.

The story-based framework for copy

There’s a framework you can follow for copy that will draw people into your site rather than push them away. It’s the same framework that storytellers through the ages have followed.

There are distinct rhythms that all good stories follow—they have a hero who has a desire and faces a challenge which causes them to undergo a transformation.

Nearly every movie and book follows the framework I’m about to show you.
_Star Wars_ does one of the best jobs in following this framework.

You have the hero, Luke, raised by his aunt and uncle who is mucking around a bit in life until the evil empire kills his adopted parents! Fortunately, a mysterious wizard, Obi Wan, shows him his true identity—he is a Jedi knight—and leads him on a quest to find himself, save the princess, and the galaxy.

This is the classic story framework. From _The Odyssey_ to _The Godfather_ the best tories have:

  • A hero
  • Who has a problem
  • And meets a guide
  • Who shows him his true identity
  • And calls him to make a choice

Now that you have the framework, let’s apply it to your business.

How to tell your business’ story

A good story starts with a hero, so who is the hero in your story?

Most founders I talk to will put themselves in the role of the hero. It makes sense, they are courageous entrepreneurs with a dream and a vision.

Except your customer doesn’t care about any of that.

So many businesses think they are the hero, when in reality your customer is the hero and you are the guide.

Take us for example.

You are our hero. You are a business owner or marketer on a quest to do something that 99% of others like you fail at: successfully grow your business. That is hard though—really hard. There are obstacles in the form of your competition, and “best practices” that do not work.

We’re here to serve as your guide, we’ve worked with dozens of companies to help them grow their traffic, and turn that traffic into customers. So, we give you a choice: continue trying what you have been to see if maybe it’ll work, or schedule a free strategy session where we’ll teach you our framework for growing your business.

Now isn’t that a better pitch than “Hi we’re Centori, we’ve been in business since 2018 and were founded by people who are passionate about marketing. We love marketing and helping businesses grow and we’d like to help you grow”

Of course it is! Because it’s about **you** and not about us.

Take a brief look at your homepage right now and ask yourself: who does this speak to? Is it telling a story about your customer, or is it telling a story about you?

We’ve included a fillable section in the eBook download where you can write out your story in these 5 chunks. This will give you a framework for talking about your business in a way that gets your customers’ attention rather than puts them to sleep. You can use this framework for your homepage, as well as landing pages, sales calls, and even networking events!

Once you’ve mastered clear and story-based copy, it’s time to turn those customers into leads.

An example home page

Here’s an example from our home page that you can steal:

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Make it easy (and attractive) for visitors to connect with you

Your website is your best asset to growing your business… if you set it up to convert correctly.

CTAs (calls to action) are not a new concept—but websites have gotten crowded with them and savvy buyers are getting better at tuning them out.

You need to think strategically about your CTAs.

The CTA is not just a button on a page, it’s an inflection point for your visitor—will they accept the call from their guide? Or continue on their way ignoring the call?

Each CTA is an opportunity and an invitation for the visitors to your website, the more you treat your CTAs this way the more compelling they will be and the more often they will work.

There are three keys to creating effective CTAs:

  • Make it an invitation/opportunity
  • Make the value clear
  • Make it contextual

Make your CTA an invitation

Few people subscribe to blogs anymore. Our blog subscription rates are depressingly low, as are most around the web.

That goes for newsletters, weekly tips, and the like.

People are savvy enough now to know that subscribing to a blog means a barrage of emails in their inbox. I’m not saying that’s what you’ll do, but who among us hasn’t had their inbox flooded with updates from a company?

CTAs can still be effective, while blog subscriptions are down we’ve personally seen great success with CTAs to download an asset, guide, or template.

When you invite a visitor to your website to act, this invitation must put them (and not your business) at the center.

Few people want to “talk to sales” but they do want to be transformed. If your calls to action are to be effective, they must be an invitation for transformation rather than an obvious first step in your funnel.

Make your CTA’s value clear

Just as your call to action must be an invitation to transformation, it must be clear that this is exactly what the step is.

If your CTA is a painfully obvious first step in the funnel (talk to sales, for example) hardly any people will be inclined to take that step. Deliver value to the visitor to your website, and make that value crystal clear.

If you confuse you lose, and if your CTAs leave too much up to interpretation or the action does not seem valuable, then visitors to your website will ignore them.

Make your CTA contextual to the page

When websites were still new, having a button to do anything was enough to garner attention.
But now? Your website’s visitors are savvy and expect more from you than a generic button to click.

The best companies use contextual and relevant CTAs on each page. Look at HotJar and HubSpot for inspiration on this.

HubSpot goes so far as to use unique CTAs for each blog post linking to download an offer directly related to that blog post. What’s more, the CTA at the top of each blog post, in the middle, bottom, and sliding in from the site are all the same. There is one action HubSpot wants you to take on each blog post, and they do their damndest to make sure you take it.

An example CTA and lead magnet

Here’s an example from our home page that you can steal:

And here’s an example of how HubSpot offers conversion opportunities from their blog:

Develop a compelling sales offer/training

I’ll preface this with the fact that this step is dependent on your business and price point. If you work in B2B, or have a high-ticket product then this makes sense. This won’t work for e-commerce businesses, or B2C businesses at low price-points.
We need a better process for sales.

I’ll rephrase that, we need a process for sales that works whether you are a sales person.

Goodbye demos, hello trainings

I don’t know about you, but I never want to “talk to sales”. I certainly don’t need a demo of a software product.

It’s not just that I can find my way around a piece of software to know if I want to buy it. I also don’t want to be schmoozed for half an hour by a sales rep and feel like I need to take a shower after.

That’s the impression that sales leaves on me, and probably you, after all.
When you’re a known entity you get away with sales processes like these, but if no one knows you then you need to make the value more clear.

I remember when my wife and I bought our first house and had numerous contractors come through to make their pitches. I remember plenty of terrible pitches (we’re great, we’re awesome, and this will be $10,000 more than you hoped it would be), and one **great ** pitch.

It was a window company (of all things) where the sales rep came in with an iPad and a binder and he spent 30 minutes teaching us just about everything there is to know about windows. I learned about how windows are made, the best materials, how they are installed, and the issues that pop up with cheaper models. My wife and I were sold.

This isn’t a process just for contractors though, the late Chet Holmes wrote out his sales philosophy in _The Ultimate Sales Machine_ on education-based marketing as a sales tactic.

According to Holmes, around 3% of people are ready to buy at that any given moment. This means that if your sales process is entirely focused on you, your product, and your business then you are missing out on a huge potential market.

Remember, your customer cares about themselves and not you. Rather than appeal only to those ready to buy now, consider those who need a bit more convincing. Few people want to talk to sales, but a larger percentage of people will be open to a free training for their team.

If you want to jump-start your marketing and sales process, consider a freebie like a training as an offering to visitors to your website.

Try this instead of a generic “talk to sales” CTA

This is the same process we follow for every inbound lead, and it has worked wonders.

We offer a free strategy session, it’s a 45-minute call with 15 minutes of discovery and chit chat and 30 minutes to walk through our SEO strategy framework and how you can apply it for your team. This invariably leads to the “wow this is great! But what now?” And the next step from there is to book a follow-up call to talk specifics.

I’ve had someone start the call saying they are not interested in buying, and end up making a pitch to their CEO about why they needed to work with us. I guarantee you if we had a “regular demo” it would have ended with “wow that’s great, let me get back to you”.

Take this process and run with it. What is a unique training that you can offer? An area of expertise that you have and can share? Win customers over by creating value for them, and positioning yourself as the solution to their problem.

Appear in your audience’s inbox regularly

Is email dead?

Every year people ask that. And every year they are mistaken.
Email is alive and well, and it will be your very best friend as a marketer trying to grow your business.

I doubted the power of email. Sure we had an email list which gradually built up subscribers, but in the early days of building Centori I did not take it seriously. We’d send a newsletter email here and there. Sometimes twice in a week, and then sometimes once every two months.

When we started emailing consistently once per week though—that’s when the magic started to happen.

It did not magically give us 10 customers, but emailing regularly did show us who our biggest fans were and where our best opportunities slay.

How many things do you have on your mind on any given day? As a founder (and often a marketer) I have Centori on my mind, our customers, our current marketing campaigns, what I’m going to cook for dinner, whether I want to go to the gym tomorrow morning… you get the picture.

Your customers are busy, and they have a lot on their minds. We all do. As a result, you need to appear in their inbox as consistently as possible. Not every day, but at least weekly.

This does two things:

  • It keeps you current
  • It reinforces that you are the expert on this topic

Both of these are critical to playing the role of the guide in your customer’s journey, and mastering these will lay a foundation of success for your business.

They key to email working for you though is to write a damn good email that gets read. Here’s how.

How to write a good newsletter email

Over the years I’ve learned a few secrets to writing a good email newsletter that actually gets read. I’m talking 20-30% open rates, and if we really got into targeting for our list I’m certain that would go up.

Writing a good newsletter doesn’t have to be hard or require a ton of time. All it requires is a bit of empathy, and decent writing.

* Write a succinct and engaging subject line
* Keep it short and valuable
* Make it human

Let’s examine these principles in a more depth. There is (obviously) more to email marketing than these three, but I’ve found that following these three guidelines will get you pretty far in writing engaging emails that people will actually read.

Write an engaging subject line

When I open inbox, it does not take me long to filter out what I need and toss what I do not.

We all do this, our brains are biologically conditioned to ignore information that is unhelpful to our survival.

The subject line of your email is where this instinctive behavior occurs. Writing an engaging subject line that clues me into what the email is about, clearly states the value that lies inside, and builds intrigue is a recipe for writing subject lines that result in email opens.

Generic, confusing, or spammy subject lines will be ignored.
From experience, I try not to worry too much about jamming the right words into the subject line. Instead, take a moment to think about the target audience for this newsletter and ask yourself what they would find valuable or what would give them attention.

Keep it short and valuable

Once your customer has opened the email, it’s time to win them over and get them to read it.

But how?

Keep it short and valuable.

The last thing anyone wants to look at is a wall of text in their inbox. Far too often I open and email and it just keeps going, and going, and going. I’ll be honest, I never read all of them—I can’t!

Most of your readers will skim the email, so keep every email short, sweet, and to the point. And give each email a clear CTA! Whether that is to read a post, access a guide, or buy something.

I shoot for around 250–300 words at a maximum for our emails. I’ve found that this gives us a 50%+ “read rate” and a 2%+ click-through rate.

As your list grows, that’s a lot of people who are keeping you in mind, and taking action when you email them every week!

Make it human

One of the best compliments I received when I first started taking our newsletters seriously was that they were very “human”. What this means is they did not sound like generic marketing-speak. Instead, they were interesting and—dare I say—fun to read.

You can make your newsletters human by putting away the ‘this needs to be perfect’ line of thinking in favor of ‘if I were talking to my customer right now, what would I say?’

I find writing with that frame of mind makes it far easier for my emails to appear personable, engaging, and still informative.

Here are our example newsletters

Just to show you that writing a great email is not too hard, here are a few examples of recent newsletters that performed well with our list:

Subject line: 3 Mistakes that are killing your keyword research, and how to fix them

Open rate: 25%

Subject line: Avoid this serious SEO mistake you're probably making after publishing content

Open rate: 22%


Write a sales script that gets attention rather than gets ignored

Now you may be wondering, “I’m building an audience, and emailing them… how do I get them to buy?”

This is where the sales letter comes into play.

Early on in building Centori as an SEO company I learned something powerful: by asking people who were qualified to buy if they wanted to buy, I could increase sales.

Mind blowing, I know. But take a look in your email list—how often are you reaching out to potential buyers and calling them to take action?

I know, sales skeeves people out. Here’s a non-sleazy way to approach sales email that will invite your buyer into a story (rather than put yourself first).

Put your  customer at the center of your sales process

I tune out 99% of sales emails that I get, and that is because nearly ever single sales email is all about the company, their product, and how they want my money and none of it is about **me**.

Remember from the story framework above, your customers are selfish and really only care about themselves. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the reality. Your customers have real problems that they are concerned about, and parting with their money takes a serious amount of effort—and the more expensive your product the more effort it requires.

As we’ve learned so far, brands that put the customer at the heart of their messaging, marketing, and sales are the ones that succeed.

Brands that don’t beat around the bush when it comes to selling also succeed.
Bearing both of these lessons in mind, I’ve found the following framework to be extremely helpful when writing a sales email.

A story-based approach to sales email

You can use the same story that you tell in your web copy in your sales email. There are a few slight adjustments to the copy for a sales email, though. Remember, you are the guide calling your hero to action. To do that, there are a few steps to take:

  • Start with your customer’s problem
  • Position your product as the solution
  • Provide a plan for action
  • Show them what is at stake
  • Call them to action

A key to success here is keeping your email succinct. Ideally, each ‘section’ is addressed with one sentence, maybe two for select ones. Any longer and you run the risk of your prospective customer ignoring the email and not making it to the CTA.

In the downloadable eBook there are fillable sections to draft a sales letter. You can use this with qualified buyers, active subscribers, and visitors who download your lead magnets.

An example sales email

Writing a sales letter can be daunting, but don’t worry! Here’s an example from one of our sales campaigns that we ran:


Ready to apply this framework and grow your business?

Congrats!

You made it to the end and are now armed with our 5-step marketing framework that will turn your website into a lead and sales generation machine.

This is not a list of growth hacks. These are real, actionable steps that you can take to invite visitors to your website into a story and call them to action.

The best thing is that these are not overly complicated changes, and they can be done gradually as you turn your website from a brochure into a money-making machine that grows your business.

You can download this guide as an eBook here, though we’d also love to walk you through it and show you how to transform your business with these 5 principles.

If you’d like to accelerate your growth, and turn your website into a lead and customer generation machine then book a free strategy session with our team.

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