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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Consumers today want it all. Their relentless demand for a more satisfying online experience has forced many integrated marketers to reevaluate—and increasingly, overhaul—website look, feel and function. If such an website redesign is in your future, share these seven steps with your developer and creative team to simplify and streamline the process.  web design

  1. Define your goals. Work with key stakeholders to create a list of relevant, actionable goals that clarify strategic reasons for a re-do. Good reasons can include: increasing site traffic; boosting conversions; and ranking higher for certain targeted keywords or phrases. Reasons to give you pause? “Our competitors are doing it,” or “I’m tired of the look.”
  2. Audit and secure your assets. A redesign is an opportunity to improve site performance. So it’s fine, even preferable, to jettison outdated or under-performing assets. Just make sure that proven content, high-ranking keywords, and quality inbound links don’t disappear in the process. Use a favorite spreadsheet to track and manage these items.new web design
  3. Improve your homepage. Work with your developer to simplify design and navigation. Strive for faster page loads; re-optimize homepage content, page titles and description meta tags with recently added or updated keywords.
  4. Refine your content. Before initiating the redesign, identify content gaps and commission your creative services provider to help develop new assets, especially video and a blog. Consumers (and search engines) love video, and sites with blogs garner 55% more traffic. Add search-optimized news releases, case studies, and white papers to increase your new site’s value, authority, and searchability.
  5. Emphasize conversions. A conversion is any action you want readers to take, including downloading, purchasing, requesting, or subscribing. Conversion rates soar when bold, clear calls-to-action work harmoniously with landing pages to spur readers into action.
  6. Optimize for mobile
    Mobile device usage continues to skyrocket. So many integrated marketers recommend Responsive Web Design for these benefits and others, such as how one site (not several) can accommodate all visitor types, including smartphone and tablet users.
  7. Measure your results. To quantify the effectiveness of the redesign, track (at minimum) key metrics such as: visitors (who’s coming to your site and from where); leads (how many visitors became leads); and sales (among those converted, how many purchased).

smooth web design

On the surface, landing pages seem simple, right? They’re one page with one form. They have a paragraph or two of copy, and an accompanying image. If you have all the elements of successful landing pages, you should be good to go … right?BAD LANDING PAGES

For a bare bones landing page, that is enough — but you could lose out on valuable traffic, leads, and customers if you’re just shooting for bare bones.

Think of this post as the first step of your game plan to optimize your landing pages. We’ll walk you through some of the most common problems people have with landing pages and outline ways you can fix them. Keep in mind that there isn’t always one *right* way to fix a landing page problem — you may have to keep testing to see what works best for you.

So if you want ideas on how to improve your landing pages, keep on reading.

Landing Page Problem #1: No Traffic

Did you put together a landing page and have only your mom check out the page (and she didn’t even bother to fill out the form)?

If you want to send more non-mom traffic to your landing pages, check out which channels are sending you traffic now, and see where you could improve — either by improving poor channels or doubling down on channels that seem to be working. Here are few ideas you can try:

Work on your SEO. 

You don’t need to stuff your landing page with keywords — instead, make sure that your landing page is about the right topics people are searching for, and is written in the same language your audience uses. Use similar terms to describe the offer behind the form on your landing page that your audience would use when searching for information on the topic. Besides just tweaking your landing page to be topic-focused, not keyword-focused.

Create more blog posts to promote your landing page.

If you have a decent blog readership, you can try including more calls-to-action leading to the landing page throughout your content and/or create more blog posts featuring those same calls-to-action. More quality blog posts means more potential opportunities to be featured in search results and get found on social media — which means more traffic coming to your website.

Build your social media following. 

It’s possible that your social media audience is pretty small, which means that it can be harder to get people to your site from that channel. That audience could not only convert on your landing pages in the future — they could refer new traffic to those landing pages.

Keep in mind that landing page traffic is only one piece of the pie — you could have hardly any traffic to your landing page but the people who are visiting your page are converting and they’re great fits for your business. Sure, more traffic means more opportunities to convert visitors, but looking at the whole picture helps you make a more informed decision on what to fix first.

Landing Page Problem #2: Poor Conversion Rate

LANDING PAGE TIPS

Getting people to your landing page but not getting them to complete the form? You’ve got to get creative if you want to get better results.

If you’re stuck on how to fix this very frustrating problem, here are a few things you can try:

Find your proper form length. 

If your form is really long, you may be deterring people from filling it out. Run A/B tests to see how short you can get the form so you’re still getting quality leads and making your sales team happy, but you’re not putting your landing page visitors through too much to receive the content on the other side of your landing page.

If you’ve never run an A/B test before, here’s a guide to show you how.

In marketing, A/B testing is a simple randomized experiment with two variants, A and B, which are the control and treatment in the controlled experiment. It is a form of statistical hypothesis testing. Other names include randomized controlled experiments, online controlled experiments, and split testing. In online settings, such as web design (especially user experience design), the goal is to identify changes to web pages that increase or maximize an outcome of interest (e.g., click-through rate for a banner advertisement).

As the name implies, two versions (A and B) are compared, which are identical except for one variation that might affect a user’s behavior. Version A might be the currently used version (control), while Version B is modified in some respect (treatment). For instance, on an e-commerce website the purchase funnel is typically a good candidate for A/B testing, as even marginal improvements in drop-off rates can represent a significant gain in sales. Significant improvements can sometimes be seen through testing elements like copy text, layouts, images and colors, but not always. The vastly larger group of statistics broadly referred to as multivariate or multinomial testing is similar to A/B testing, but may test more than two different versions at the same time and/or has more controls, etc. Simple A/B tests are not valid for observational, quasi-experimental or other non-experimental situations, as is common with survey data, offline data, and other, more complex phenomena.

A/B testing has been marketed by some as a change in philosophy and business strategy in certain niches, though the approach is identical to a between-subjects design, which is commonly used in a variety of research traditions. A/B testing as a philosophy of web development brings the field into line with a broader movement toward evidence-based practice.

Tighten your headline and body copy. 

It’s possible that your landing page visitors aren’t completely convinced they’re going to get anything of value if they give over their information to you. If you’ve created compelling content that lives behind the form, you should spend time sprucing up your landing page to better reflect what people will get. Tell them exactly what is behind the landing page form and how it’ll benefit them — in the most concise way possible.

Tweak your promotional elements. 

You’ve got to promote your landing pages somehow. So ask yourself — do your promotional elements accurately represent what’s on the landing page? People will get annoyed if they expect the landing page to be one thing when click on a call-to-action on a blog post, and then when they get to the landing page, they’re shown something completely different. Your promotional elements should never try to dupe people into clicking on them — not only is it shady, but it’s not going to pay off for you in conversions.

Landing Page Problem #3: Poor Funnel Conversion Ratesfunnel-landing-page

You already track the conversion rates on your individual landing pages, but you shouldn’t stop there. Let’s say you’re using a landing page to generate leads. You should see how many people who come through that landing page turn into customers — that’s your end goal, after all. If you can keep the business in perspective when optimizing your landing pages, you’ll be able to make smarter marketing decisions that’ll benefit the whole company.

You can try improving your overall funnel conversion rates by doing these things:

A/B test form length and fields on the initial landing page. 

It’s possible that your form is way too short and you’re getting a lot of “junk” leads into your system. If you want to improve overall conversion rates, you might have to lengthen your form. Warning: You’ll most likely get fewer leads into your funnel, but they should convert at a higher rate later on. You might also consider testing different form fields entirely to see if more in-depth questions bring in higher quality leads.

Investigate the offer behind the landing page.

Sometimes, people fill out a form on a landing page, get the offer behind it (for this example, an ebook), and then are really disappointed in the offer. Maybe they expected the ebook to be a really advanced, in-depth book dozens of pages of content, but it’s really a 5-page starter guide. They won’t trust your content in the future if this happens — once burned, twice shy, right?

You can avoid that disappointment and future hesitation by better setting expectations on the landing page — or you can take a hard look to see if the content behind the page should be there in the first place. Ask yourself the hard questions, and don’t be afraid to come to a hard conclusion: Is it worthy of someone’s information? Is tailored to the audience who is filling out the form? Would I ever want to download something again from my company?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of those questions, it might be time to re-do that offer.

landing_page_traffic.485Launch tailored nurturing campaigns.

It’s also possible that the rest of your landing pages are too far down the funnel from the initial offer to convert anyone. For example, the initial landing page was something very top-of-the-funnel — an industry how-to guide. If you have no landing pages for middle-of-the-funnel offers — content that talks about your company’s place in the industry at large — it’s not surprising you’d have few people converting to customers. They simply haven’t had enough information to advance to that stage of their buying process.

If that’s happening to your landing pages, you can implement a lead nurturing strategy. This won’t be on landing pages — you’ll have to use a combination of email, social media interactions, and smart content on your website to help people move on to the next stage in the buying process.

Landing Page Problem #4: High Bounce Rate*

If you peeked into your landing page’s analytics, chances are you’ve seen this metric before. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who viewed a page, then left your site. They didn’t fill out a form, nor did they click to find out more about you.

Sounds kind of similar to the “poor conversion rate” problem, right? That’s because they’re related. If someone’s leaving your website without interacting with it at all, they’re probably not going to fill out a form. That being said, you can have a low bounce rate and a low conversion rate if people are going to investigate other portions of your website. Since they’re similar, a lot of the same solutions can be applied to both poor conversion rate and high bounce rate.

*That being said, bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing … unless it’s correlated with a short time on site, no conversions, or it’s only happening on a certain device. Here’s what you can do to address a real high bounce rate problem:

Decrease page load time.7-levels-of-landing-page-optimization

If people are bouncing quickly from your page, there could be lots of reasons why. Most of them were covered in the “poor conversion rate” problem. But one wasn’t: Your page may be loading really, really slowly … so visitors clicked away. There are lots of little ways you can improve your site load time, such as changing the file size of your landing page images.

Show certain content to just mobile visitors.

If you find that you have a high landing page bounce rate on mobile — not desktop — you’ve got to do something about it. More and more people are using their phones to access your content, and you don’t want to lose out on valuable traffic and conversions because of it. On a large scale, you can fix this by making sure your website is completely responsive. But that may not fully fix the problem — you can also try displaying certain content only to mobile visitors. Special mobile-only landing page features could help them better convert and consume your content.

Landing Page Problem #5: Internal Disagreements 

It’s much easier to defend yourself to your boss if you have a hard number saying something does or doesn’t work. So if you’re getting a lot of internal back-and-forth over what you should put on your landing page and what you shouldn’t, let people put the data where their mouth is.

Is one person dead set on removing the top navigation on your website and another dead set on not doing it? Run an A/B test to settle that dispute — and pretty much any other one that comes up. Only through testing will you figure out what works best for your audience on your landing pages.

Landing Page Problem #6: Driving Traffic to Another Site Page

Did you notice your landing page is showing up as a large referral source to other parts of your website? That’s not always good. If your landing page is sending traffic to something further down your funnel — contacting sales or starting a free trial, for example — it could be great. But if your “about” page is getting all the traffic, you might want to consider doing something about it.

If this is happening to you, I’d take a guess that the page getting the referrals happens to be in your top navigation — it’s easy to access and might be distracting for a first-time visitor on your site. To combat this, try removing your top navigation from landing pages altogether. You might find that it helps increase conversions.

And that’s all we’ve got, folks. These are just a few ideas for you to get started on the path to optimizing your landing pages in the face of common problems.

smooth web design

Now’s the time to roll up your sleeves and try some tests out.

When you hear the word “trend,” your mind probably jumps instantly to fashion. Every spring and fall, designers pack the runways with models dressed in what is considered to be the latest and greatest in hair, makeup, and clothing. These trends set the tone for what will pop up in stores throughout the globe. However, when it comes to other types of trends, current technology trends can significantly help improve the success of your organization.tech trends

Trends can help identify what customer’s desires may be, what the current and future markets are like, as well as identify what competitors are up to.

But just like those skinny jeans hanging in the back of your closet, or that iPhone 4 that you bought last summer, trends come and go. They change. And, just like fashions that may look great on supermodels but don’t look so great on you, what works for someone else may not work as well for your company.

After reading this you don’t have to go out and become an expert in all of these trends, or even apply them all to your current web design. The key is to learn a little about each one and see if there’s a way to integrate some of these ideas into your own organization that makes sense with your goals and objectives for success.

Advancements in mobile technology have brought mobile-friendly website trends to the forefront of 2013 trends. Here are a few trends that you should definitely pay attention to:

Parallax Scrolling Sites

Parallax scrolling sites have long been used in video games, but the trend is catching fire in the web design arena. Parallax scrolling allows designers to control the depth of design objects on the website that they are designing. With the help of HTML5 and CSS3, it helps the developer to use animations that look great and cost almost nothing. 3D images are possible as well as faster page speed. It is a cosmetic tool that can impress visitors that have never seen your site before. It’s your “wow” factor.

Large Buttons  

You have heard it before: “Bigger is better.” But it’s true, small buttons can be frustrating. Customers want to be able to see the same images on their mobile device that they do on their laptop at home or work. It shouldn’t be hard for them to see what’s on your website. Make it easier for them by not only making the buttons big, but use color to make them stand out even more. Convenience equals more return visits to your website, and therefore more business.

trends in techVertical Scrolling 

Scrolling typically can be vertical or horizontal. However, vertical scrolling is important for mobile device users. It allows them to scroll down a page and be able to see the menu so they don’t have to scroll back up. It may seem like a no-brainer because it is. It is simple and it saves time.

But, if you’re like me, you feel like 2014 is already knocking on our door. So what are some upcoming trends that you should keep an eye out for in the next year? Here are a couple of design trends that are likely coming to a website near you very soon:

Flat Web Design 

Flat web design focuses on typography and the use of color. Typography has normally been used in the print world and now web designers use it to give their websites a much cleaner look. Imagery is used only when needed. This type of design tries to make the website easier to understand, with cleaner lines. Choosing the correct font type and size can help make the website stand out.

My typography professor in college would ask us to explain why we chose the font we did in our project, trying to get us to articulate why a certain font spoke to us, and what that said about us. The same deliberation should apply to your company with regard to flat web design. Make sure the type of font you choose reflects your company and its values.

Simplified website designs

It’s surprising for a company not to have a website, so having a website isn’t good enough anymore. You need to show visitors what differentiates your organization from others, and your website is a great tool to help you communicate that information. So make it crystal clear. Focus on your top priorities for your website and stick to them and that will help you in developing a simpler website. Keep the website layout as simple as possible, by avoiding unnecessary clutter that will distract the visitor from the message that you wish to convey.

As technology enables us to be more and more mobile, you should also make sure that your organization has a mobile version of its website for customers. The more your customers know about you and what you can do for them, the better.

These are just some of the web design trends that I can see taking off in the next year or so. Although some of these trends may fade, and future trends may not be implemented exactly the way people think they will, trends still provide some guidance to improve an organization’s Web presence. Many times, your organization’s website is the “face” of the organization, giving visitors and customers a clear first impression of your organization. Make it count.

After a year or two of hearing the biz-tech media trumpet consumers’ shift to the mobile internet, marketers are taking a closer look at responsive web design (RWD), the emerging technology that promises every user a simpler, more satisfying experience.

It Really Is What’s Next
RWD sites are specially designed and coded so that when a visitor’s device type is detected—smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop—they serve up content that’s appropriately sized for that specific screen size. This is exactly what visitors want. Benefits for you, the website owner, include: understanding-responsive-web-design-2

  • Not paying to create and maintain separate sites for desktop and mobile traffic.
  • Longer, more rewarding user engagement (think: greater trust, brand equity, and ultimately, sales, especially on e-commerce sites).
  • Gaining an immediate competitive advantage, because rivals are likely still
    asking “RW-what?”

Think Mobile First

More and more companies are recognizing the growth of mobile and its effect on the buying habits of consumers. Website viewers want instant access to information. So website design requires that files and graphic images are kept small to ensure all website pages load fast. It’s best to design your mobile website first and then the desktop version.

Get Set To Vet
When interviewing prospective web designers, before enlisting their services, consider the following:

  • Ask about experience. Given the expected demand, it’s possible that some overly ambitious designers may be tempted to fudge their RWD qualifications.
  • Request samples. Look for sites that have the look or functionality you want. Ask explicitly if the work was done in-house (preferred) or outsourced.
  • Probe a little. Inquire about projects’ specific strategies and challenges. If the designer is vague, impatient or put off by your due diligence, find another resource.

responsive-WEBSITEJump In Now
The media reports are true: mobile has tremendous momentum. And soon, says CNET, a third of Internet search traffic will come from smartphones and tablets. Amidst this explosive growth one enduring tenet will hold true: respond to the market’s needs and the market will respond to you. Having a responsive website might just be the place to start.

trend glass ballIt took so much time and effort to develop and launch your website; you were probably elated when the job was “over.” Little did you realize the process had just begun.

Yes, regular technology upgrades are vital to keeping your site secure, compliant and cross-browser compatible. But frequent updates with relevant, high quality content, are the lifeblood of your site’s overall performance, and indispensable to your company’s integrated marketing success.

The First Step to Better Performance

The more up-to-date your site’s content, the more likely it is to attract visitors and keep them coming back:

  1. Is more functional. The user experience makes sense. The buttons and scripts work like they should. Links are well managed and all check out perfectly.
  2. Performs better with search engines. This is especially true since the release of Google Hummingbird. Google ranks and returns webpages on many factors, including authority, intent and relevance. Now, more than ever, search engines deem new, quality content more relevant.
  3. Inspires customer loyalty. Customers reward sites that feature newer, richer content by coming back and/or spending more time browsing and exploring your pages. Information that addresses their needs and expectations are also more likely to be shared and linked to.

Some Simple, Stay Fresh Guidelines Competitive-Advantage

Truth be told, it takes discipline to keep site content current. Still, it’s an essential integrated marketing best practice that offers the potential for real, measurable returns. Following a few rules of thumb can help you achieve success:

  1. Create a systematic site content review process and appoint someone to take charge.
  2. Develop criteria for evaluating and updating functionality, quality and usefulness.
  3. Review aging, static content carefully. Products and services evolve. Prices change. Executives come and go.
  4. Explore new or better ways to improve and update content. For instance:
    • Add a blog to your site and post regularly
    • Frequently upload company news releases
    • Repurpose whitepapers, articles, presentations, videos and other materials and add them to your site. Do the same with FAQ’s, glossaries and checklists. As we’ve previously suggested, think like a publisher.
  5. Consider hiring a professional website writer or creative services provider. Creating good content is a specialized undertaking that requires writing skills and search engine marketing expertise.

Remember to follow up with your integrated marketing and/or web services team after each cycle. Thank them for a job well done. But gently remind them keeping a website fresh, flavorful and functional is really never really over.