December 14, 2012
From a customer:
After reading Convert! by Ben Hunt, I was wondering about the site and would it be beneficial to start over with WordPress or get a program like Dreamweaver and reformat on the website we have now? Thanks!
Answer #1: Dreamweaver Sucks
Great question! Although not really related to WordPress, Dreamweaver is not a fun or really, a useful tool to use for building websites. Never use it.
I do recommend starting over with WordPress or WordPress.com, though. In doing so, try to focus solely on keyword/awareness ladder marketing and sales writing. Your writing doesn’t have to be boring, but it does need to be strategic.
Answer #2: Invest in Strategic Landing Pages
You’ll likely want to create landing pages (these can even be blog posts) for every topic you can successfully pitch to (decent search volume and low competition), making sure each landing page either leads to the next step in the awareness ladder or collects user info in exchange for something of value.
Here are a few additonal landing page resources:
Note that the reason you’re starting over is to get rid of everything on your site that doesn’t lead to a sale–basically replacing YOU information with CUSTOMER information. Really, everything on your site must be geared toward your ideal customer. Talking about the business by itself will turn your customers away immediately.
Always ask yourself: Is this page solving my customer’s need? If not, what can I do to help them? Also, the bonus element of investing in strategic landing pages is that you now a highly-testable target to send your advertising traffic.
You can see that this is not your typical web design advice. Instead of focusing on the business biography or something superficial–such as the look of the website–I suggest that Jen invest in sales marketing and advertising to increase her business’s traffic and conversions.
If this sounds like something your business could use or if you have any questions about these tactics, please let me know. I’d also be happy to refer other professional marketers and writers. Thanks!
November 22, 2012
If you were a plumber, would you let your customers dictate how to install piping? No? Then, why should a web marketing allow an advertising novice to dictate how a website looks and behaves? That sounds like a disservice to both parties.
Damn You, Mr. Right.
I read an article in Freelance Advisor today that mentioned a freelancer type called, “Mr. Right”. I admit that I fall into this category more often than not. Do I need to listen to my clients more? Absolutely–and that’s a quality I will continue to improve. That doesn’t mean that I’m beholden to my clients’ opinions once the project begins, though.
Although it’s rarely acknowledged, the test of a web project’s success (or that of any advertising endeavor) is whether the new medium attracts and converts into revenue at a better rate than its predecessor (that’s why advertising has a cost to begin; it is supposed to have inherent value). Every other aspect of the project must lead to this end–including functionality, usability and especially design (or lack thereof).
I’m sorry if conversion rate is a lot harder to sell than “fun and attractive”, but it doesn’t make the above statement any less true. If you understand this idea, then guess what? You are the one responsible for leading the marketing project!
Opinions Are Like Assholes. Everyone Has One.
Too many client vs. developers arguments center around bike shed color arguments. No, the color of the site’s background probably doesn’t matter. Even if it did, how do we know which one converts best without first testing? Assumptions and best guesses have no place in a high-quality marketing campaign. Forcing opinions down your marketer’s throat is also a great way to strain your delicate relationship and tank your project.
Web developers and other marketers owe it to themselves and the client to explain this fact up front. If you start with a quantitative goal, nine times out of ten, the client will gladly get out of your way. You’ll both know the project’s objectives (and be able to measure them analytically) and best of all, you won’t have so many bike shed arguments, either.
You Are a Professional. Act Like It.
Quantitative revenue goals might be a tougher road (they actually require results, after all). They’ll probably also cause you to take on less clients; you’ll be less likely to take money to advertise a product or service that is unlikely to succeed.
In the end, though, you’ll undoubtedly land repeat business and you’ll actually have a portfolio that you can sell to future clients. You’ll also be able to charge for the value of your work (which is only limited by the amount of money you can make for your client), rather than a static hourly rate (which is highly limited by your peers and the marketplace).
Of course, therein lies the fundamental difference between an advertising professional and an outsource (and the difference between a rich developer and a poor one). At the end of the day, which one would you rather be?
September 24, 2012
A few weeks ago I began taking dance lessons at a local dance studio in Chicago. I loved what I was learning so I volunteered to put together a list of online marketing suggestions and notes my instructor could use in growing her business.
Know that by undertaking the coaching process, you are saying that it is time to move your life forward with absolute commitment and confidence. Be prepared for change. Coaching will have positive impacts on many areas of your life, not just the area you are working on. Be open and willing to change. Don’t hire a coach because someone has told you that you should or because it sounds good. Do it because you are ready to change and take full responsibility for engaging in the process.
Don’t forget that Item-9 offers one hour WordPress and marketing coaching sessions. Sign up for one today!
Understanding landing page, email collection and affiliate program best practices has been a huge part of improving my marketing skills. Below I provide some of the resources and articles that were the easiest to understand and helped me most reach my marketing goals.
Landing Pages are the Keys to Improving Conversion Rates
Lately, I’ve been studying the illusive art of improving conversion rates on my clients’ websites. Here are two great infographics I pulled from the Landing Page Rehab Program article I recently read on SEOMoz:
I think that these graphics prove that a webpage always has room to improve.
Translating Conversions into Sales
That’s a tough one.
Since it’s not always possible to make the sale the first time around, an additional goal of almost all websites should be to collect customer information (specifically, visitor names and more importantly, email addresses). Without that information, those visitors might be lost forever. With an email address combined with marketing permission, though, you have a variety of opportunities to:
- Solicit feedback to improve your products,
- Make future sales,
- Build a community,
- Encourage your community to sell your products for you.
Historically, bloggers and other web workers have given away their knowledge without asking for anything in return. I say you should always ask for an email address before giving visitors access to the most valuable information on your site. Even better–make them tweet or post on Facebook using Cloud:Flood from ViperChill. That will certainly alleviate a lot of the time and energy you spent working on building something interesting and useful.
Those are just a few little ideas and thoughts, but you want to go deeper, I suggest The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (another beautiful SEOMoz/Oli Gardner infographic-based novel of a guide). It’s insanely thorough and would provide your team of marketing interns at least two or three years of projects to increase visitors, convert customers and ultimately, make your company more profitable.
Products and Affiliate Programs are Key to Monetization
The final resource I’m suggesting is the Site Profit Domination learning package from Michael Dunlop. Although it’s a $47 product, I consider it an investment to learn how to begin moving from a service-based firm to one that’s more product-based (and hopefully, better at making sales).
A big takeaway from the first of Michael’s six SPD videos and accompanying literature is that compared to services, it’s much, much easier to create affiliate programs for products. To note, affiliate programs are absolutely crucial to monetization because they:
- Create a motivated and inexpensive sales force for your products
- Exponentially grow sales due to affiliates creating affiliates, creating affiliates.
On the flip-side, too, affiliate programs offer easy sales opportunities for products that you didn’t necessarily create but do endorse. It’s supplemental income for something that might have come up in normal conversation anyway and they fit right in with your email campaigns and blog posts.
I made a goal one year ago to begin focusing on improving my marketing skills. Understanding and applying the above three elements has been a huge part of that goal.
There is so much information available on the internet (how meta!) but unfortunately, a lot of it is either poorly written, poorly synthesized or just plain inaccurate. I’m going to keep weeding through the junk, though, to find the good stuff. If you have any special resources you’d like to share, feel free to post them in the comments. It takes a community to learn, and I would definitely appreciate your feedback. Thanks and good luck!