There are many misconceptions when it comes to websites that tend to focus on the wrong things. The common thinking is that your landing page should have detailed menus and copy that convinces people that your company has accomplished much and is worthy of being chosen above competitors. A website should market your company, not by talking about yourself but by focusing on the customers. It is about them, their problems, their needs, their desires. Once you hook into those, your product or service should speak for itself.
To better target your website there are six big categories you should focus on:
1. Simple Design
2. Amplify your credibility
3. Power of the Blog
4. Mastering Landing Pages
5. Call to Action Necessities
6. The Art of Lead Capture
Number One: Simple Design
The first step to creating any great website is design which is less about how a site looks and more about how it works. Letting your web designer dictate your site is a mistake, they know how to make a site functional and attractive but that’s it. A site that’s created and setup by a strategist or somebody that’s good at marketing will be more effective.
Major points to take away when it comes to design is that you need to keep it simple, create intuitive navigation paths, use targeted menus and always adhere to the golden rule:
Your site is not about you.
A common problem with many websites is that they tend to talk about a company’s achievements, vision or mission statement. It is understandable, as business owners are passionate about those things and they believe that showing that passion will attract customers. However, that isn’t the most effective strategy. Instead, your website should focus less on you and more on the customer’s needs, their pains, their problems. So you speak to those.
A good example of proper messaging is from Photographer Cole Joseph on his tutorial site, Cole’s Classroom. On the home page, the copy reads “What can we help you with? Over 200 high quality free photography tutorials are waiting for you, pick your path.”
When looking at your own website read through your copy and strip it down so it better serves the visitor. Look at the language and find ways you can flip it. A good starting point is to look at any time you have used the words ‘us’ or ‘we’ and find ways you can change it to ‘you’. “We have 200 high quality free photography tutorials’ becomes ‘Over 200 high quality free photography tutorials waiting for you’.
In addition to the language of your site, it also needs to be designed to be simple to navigate. If somebody can’t find what they need quickly, they will bounce off your site fast. Your site should guide or handhold a visitor down navigation paths which lead to the goal you are trying to achieve (makes sales, collect leads etc).
We are all very busy people nowadays and we like to click on images so this is a good starting point. A strong image with visitor-focused language will act as the start of a navigation path on your site. These are known as junction boxes as they are like a junction in a road.
The excellent example of Junction box usage is Elka Yoga, a wellness centre in San Diego. Their original website had a standard homepage a beautiful image and a navigation bar with ‘what we do’, ‘how we can help’ together with an opt-in box and the latest three blog posts which saw low success.
They redesigned to include junction boxes with six clear and distinct navigation paths which gave visitors immediate knowledge of what they had on offer. In just over 60 days they doubled signups in their classes and tripled bookings for the use their spaces. They also went from a subscriber list of 1,000 people to 6,000 within six months. This was achieved simply by using these junction boxes and also having opt-in boxes included on landing pages. Pretty cool, huh?
The last point to think about when designing your site is to keep the menus simple. If you are using a navigation bar menu, make it clear where the visitor will end up if they click on the menu item. Each item should create a navigation path of its own and lead to a landing page with a call to action (sign-ups, sales etc). Using single words for your menu titles tends to be direct and look less-cluttered so try and think of words that will describe where you are sending your visitor. You can also include a call to action button on your front page using the targeted language discussed earlier. These have been proven to be quite successful marketing tools.
Using these design principles, your site moves away from being a brochure and instead becomes a series of landing pages, each of which focus a visitor’s attention on what you want them to notice about your business. If you setup your junction boxes correctly, use evocative language and keep it simple, you will have a gorgeous site that’s going to convert and actually get you sales and traffic.
Number Two: Amplify Your Credibility
We have less than three seconds, sometimes less than that, to make an impression and show somebody straight away what’s in it for them when they come to your website. A big part of that is showing off your credibility which can be done in three ways:
2. Social Proof
3. Media and Awards
There tends to be sceptism from business owners about testimonials but it has been proven time and time again to be effective, especially when accompanied by a photo of the person. Video testimonials are even more effective but far harder to acquire from a customer.
Testimonials can come from a variety of places including customer feedback, online reviews, social media comments or even direct from your emails. The other way of receiving good testimonials is to simply ask for them. When talking to a client ask them if they are happy with what you are doing for them. If they are, ask them for a quick 30 second testimonial. Most will be glad to.
The thing is, you also want a picture of them to go with it. How do you do that without having to hassle them to get it? Easy, ask the client if it is okay to use their LinkedIn or Facebook profile image. If they want to you do use a different image they will get that to you but if not, you can get the image right away and have it quickly up on your site.
A way to show credibility in a more visual way is to use social proof where you create a gallery of images showing people actually using your product. You first need to find a way to get your customers to provide you with the images you need which can be achieved in many ways.
A great example of this is BOOM by Cindy Joseph which has a huge gallery of happy women showing off the products. It is a powerful marketing tool to see other people overjoyed at using the products. To collect those images, the company made it a competition, saying ‘Take a Selfie With Your BOOM Products and Tag #BOOMbyCindyJoseph on Instagram for Your Chance to Win!’.
Another way to acquire images for your gallery is to take them yourself if you have people visiting your office, of if you are at an event etc. Ask you customer if you can take a photo of them for your a customer gallery on your site. You can get really creative, perhaps use like a backdrop with your logo on post it to your social media galleries as well. That way you can cross-pollinate content with your website and social platforms. Visitors don’t have time to read much on a website so if you can show images of a community that use your products then you’ve done a lot of the hard work already.
The final point for credibility is media and awards. If you’ve been in business for a certain amount of time, you probably have some awards or media coverage which you can show off but if you are only at the beginning of your journey, what awards can you possibly have? The secret is that the awards themselves, while impressive, don’t really matter. What truly matters, for marketing purposes, is the logos. Again, it is about being visual. Visitors will look at a large collection of logos as impressive.
It may be logos of awards you have, partners you work with, software packages you use, media coverage etc. There are loads of ways to get creative. No matter how long you have been in business or what you do, it doesn’t make a difference as long as you can tell a compelling story with your collection of logos for added credibility.
Number Three: The Power of the Blog
Blogs are extremely powerful as they have a three pronged effect on your business. First, they add instant Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to you website. Second, they give you compelling content to add to newsletters and second, they provide great content to use on social media.
SEO is the big one though. A regular website might contain about 10-20 pages each of which you will have optimised for keyword phrases. By adding a blog you are increasing your keyword count exponentially and increasing your SEO, thereby making it easier for customers to find you. Each article in your blog should specifically focus on a keyword phrase that people may be searching for online. Whether it is your latest company news, a piece of content, a podcast, video or tutorial, it should still be optimised with keyword phrases to increase your site SEO.
However, your blog is also a highly optimised landing page focusing on a keyword phrase or a problem in the market that you’re educating or giving a demo on. This is an opportunity to also sell your wares. You can get mailing list opt-ins from your blogs too, especially if somebody is finding you because they’re interested in the topic or the headline or the title of your post. If you content is even more optimised, you can even use it as a landing page to achieve sales as well. Hardcode opt-ins to your CRM to make sure that that is always there so you never have to think about it. You should never have a blog article that ends without giving readers a place button to click, whether to opt-in or to visit another relevant landing page.
If you plan out your content and know your market well, each article in your blog opens another path to your website from search engines. Not only that, because they are so targeted at specific topics, that visitor is more valuable than someone only hitting the homepage. Blog visitors know what they want and have purposely clicked through to your content whereas homepage visitors need more convincing. If your blog posts are well constructed, they can definitely lead to conversions.
Blogs are also a great way to reach out to existing customers to let them know about new services by coupling great content alongside your usual marketing. If you can give some great articles to read, subscribers will be more willing to open the email.
Blog posts are also easy content to share on social media. However, in order to optimise the chance that others will share your content, the title needs to be made more social media savvy. This is where a little social know how can impact your keyword optimisation. One easy trick is to make your content a list as people love specificity. Social media users love lists and are more likely to share them. Adding ‘5 easy tips’, ‘10 unbelievable facts’, ‘8 essential tools’, etc are the best ways to frame your content to enable easy sharing.
Number Four: Mastering Landing Pages
Treat your landing pages as sales tools and craft them in a way that guides visitors to become customers. To achieve this you should first focus on benefits rather than features. When working on the copy of your site, remember to think from a point of aspiration. If you can talk the benefits of your business and how somebody’s life will change if they work with you, the more likely you are to attract a customer. Also, avoid framing your business as a step to self-improvement but instead frame yourself as an opportunity to achieve a dream. People don’t want to improve in small increments, they want the fast track.
A great example of this is the Hello Fresh website where the focus is all about benefits. When talking about the service, all the really say is that they deliver a box with recipes. The rest of the site talks about how the service benefits you and how your life is going to change as a result.
The next point about landing pages involves looking at your site and finding ways to limit distractions. When a visitor hits a page, they should immediately know what they should do to interact with it. If you have a page with too much text, too many menus or even too many images, it can feel like clutter and draw attention away from the goal of that page. An excellent example of a page done right is for the pet food company Ivory Coat. Immediately upon hitting the site the first three things to click on are ‘free samples’, ‘purchase online’ and ‘find a store near you’. You know exactly what to do to interact with the site and the information that precedes it is crafted to convince the visitor further.
Finally, when thinking about landing pages, think about ways to create offers for new customers that reduce risk. Take a look at Koala who offers a 120 night trial on their product or The Iconic who has a free return policy that ranges from 30-100 days depending on the product. Everyone has heard of a 30 day money back guarantee, those work well, but you can also talk about less tangible things as well. If there is another type of guarantee you can confidently offer, like a satisfaction guarantee, go for it. You can get as creative as you want as long as you can back it up.
Whatever you decide on, ensure that the placement of your risk reduction mechanism is near to your call to action. If you have a ‘buy now’ button, make sure the ‘money back guarantee’ is right next to it. The idea is to remove the inner sceptic of your customer and have them continue the actual process of buying. In addition, simply displaying your phone number on your website can give a purchaser more confidence and existence of live chat (even if it is not available 24/7) can have an impact as well.
Number Five: Call to Action Necessities
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. So how do you ask on your website? The best call to action messaging can be achieved through language, colour coding, targeted exit intent pop-ups, site banners and cross-linking.
When thinking about your call to action, always try and use language that lets the visitor take ownership. Instead of ‘buy now’ perhaps try ‘I’m ready’, ‘I want this’, ‘I am in’, ‘I am so excited’- all those brilliant call to actions. Also, settle on a single colour for your call to action button and stick to it throughout the site, even if the text changes. That way, you train the visitor into knowing what to click.
Pop-up has become a dirty word in web design and deservedly so. Traditional pop-ups are intrusive and frustrating and should be avoided at all costs. However, a certain type of pop-up, called ‘exit-intent’, is quite useful. This is a pop-up that only shows up when a visitor leaves your site, giving you one last shot at converting. ‘Hey before you go, did you get your free gift?” Suddenly, the visitor is interested again. If you have a WordPress site want to try out exit-intent popups for yourself you can install a plugin called PopupAlly. You will be amazed at how quickly your signups will grow.
Site Banners are also tried and true call to action methods. These can be site banners, side bar boxes or even your junction boxes. Any space you can put a bar that will persist throughout the page and that has clear call to action messaging. It shouldn’t take focus away from the actually message of the landing page but instead be an option to click on when needed.
Cross linking is a way to keep visitors engaged with your site and more likely to make a purchase. The idea is that you are having a conversation with the visitor and you gently push them in another direction. If you like this page, you will love this other page. Within an article you would hyperlink keywords to other articles or pages on your site or to different services or a sales page. When you hyperlink those keywords it creates more threads through your site and also let’s Google know that those keywords are important to your site content so it better ranks you. Not only is it good for Call to Action but also a neat SEO trick as well.
Number six: Art of Lead Capture
After everything is said and done, the whole point of a website is capturing leads that you hope to convert to customers but there is also an art in understanding how to talk with those leads once you have them.
The first step is capture and that responsibility stands squarely upon the shoulders of the opt-in mechanics on your page. You can use buttons, banners, exit-intent pop-ups or whatever method you wish so long as you find a way to get someone to sign up to your mailing list. This can be a competition, it can be ‘become a VIP’ or whichever way you want to frame it. Once you have that list of emails the next step is to communicate with them and convert them to customers (or repeat customers). Another advanced little insight or tip is that quizzes work really well for opt-in.
Email newsletters tend to have a low open rate but are still worth doing as they are directly marketing to a portion of your list. However, don’t send a newsletter too often and don’t send newsletter with no value to the reader or you will find people unsubscribing quickly. Use your blog content as the main part of the newsletter and make the keywords the subject line of the email to entice them to open it. Even if you are lucky to have 30% of your list open your email (usual rates are closer to 15%), how to you market to the other 70%?
You can remarket your list by targeting ads specifically to them. Have you ever been shopping for shoes online and then found that suddenly the ads on your Facebook are all about shoes? Similarly, you can create ads that remarket to your list, whether it’s on the Google network, doing banners on other people’s websites or using Facebook ads. Ad targeting is important because relying solely on email is a lot of wasted potential.
Lastly is content marketing which is essentially finding ways to use your content to either keep your business in the mind of current customers or convince your list to become customers. Find creative ways to deliver your blog content to your list. It can be in newsletters or a simple one line email letting people know that a new blog is up. A more personal email, perhaps written as though it has come from the CEO of your company, saying “Hi, just wanted to say thanks for supporting us and to let you know that we put up a cool article this week that I thought you might be interested in. Click here to check it out.”
Another option, once you have enough content in your blog, is to collate older content that is still relevant into an e-book which you offer for free. This can also be used as a tool to get new opt-ins as well.
There is a lot to take in here and a lot of things to look at when it comes to your own site but by properly wielding tools, you can improve your messaging, keep visitors on your site longer and increase opt-ins and conversions.