website vs marketing

Is Your Website Working Against Your Marketing? 5 Tips to Fix It

If you’re the marketing manager responsible for your company’s website, I’ll go out on a limb and say you have some issues with it. You’re doing everything right, but for one reason or another, your website is the last remaining bastion from “the old days” of your company.

So what do you do when your website — which should be the hub of your entire online strategy — betrays everything good you’re doing around it? Today, let’s take a look at five different ways your website might be working against your marketing efforts, and more importantly, what can be done about it.

Culprit #1: Poor Messaging:

I’ll tell you a dirty little secret that most web designers don’t want you to know: Bad messaging will kill a website much faster than a bad design ever could. With my design background, it pains me to say this, but it’s true, and countless A/B tests have confirmed it.

The words you use matter.

Consistency of message

If your marketing efforts send traffic to your website, how closely does that driving message correlate with what visitors will see once they get there?

If people click on a headline promising a special offer, or important information, and this isn’t presented — front and center — there is a disconnect. Therefore it is important that every time a potential customer clicks through to your site from a specific message, that same message is confirmed and expanded on once they get to your site.

This counts for social media ads, PPC ads, as well as organic search engine listings within Google.

Keep it customer-focused

Is your website all about your company, and what you do? Even what makes you so unique or special? Unfortunately, this misses the mark, and here’s why: Your potential customers don’t really care about what you do. They only want to know how you can help them. So by turning the conversation around to specific benefits you deliver to your customers, you’ll connect much better.

The right message at the right time

A well written page should take your customer on a bit of a journey, giving them the exact right information exactly when they need it in order to make a decision. One of my favorite copywriting frameworks, the PAST method does exactly that, and it works in almost every case.

  • Problem: Begin by addressing the one big problem your potential customer is experiencing.
  • Agitate: Make them really feel that problem, by examining it a bit closer. What are the symptoms of the problem? How does it impact their life?
  • Solution: Now is the right time to step in and show why your company is the solution to their problem. Keep it focused on benefits rather than features, and on how your prospect’s life will improve.
  • Testimonials: We will talk more about this later, but it is generally a good idea to follow up the solution with real stories from real people, and how they have benefited from your company.

Culprit #2: You’re not optimized for conversions

One of the biggest disconnects between a company’s marketing efforts and its website is paying to send traffic to a website that isn’t optimized to turn that traffic into customers.

When I say “paying for traffic,” that could mean an ongoing SEO campaign, social ads or PPC ads.

So let’s say your company is spending money on this type of traffic, and you successfully get them to your site. But now what? If it isn’t immediately clear what you can offer them, and how they can get that ball rolling, it’s just a big waste of money.

When I look at a potential client’s site for the first time, I go through a checklist, and ask myself:

  • Is it clear what they do?
  • Do they have a clear CTA? (call-to-action)

Without being able to say yes to both of those questions, you have some work to do. The first question goes back to messaging. You need to break down what your company can offer your customers in plain, simple terms.

For the second, think of the one action you want people to take on your site. (And please don’t say “to get more information!”)

You probably really want them to get in touch with you. So make it very easy for that communication to happen, and place the corresponding button in a very obvious place, and make it stand out.

Another consideration here is making conversions a frictionless process.

If the goal is to get prospects to schedule a consultation, don’t make them fill in any more form fields than absolutely necessary. (Unless you’re deliberately trying to pre-qualify them, which can be quite valuable in some cases.)

If you’re trying to sell a product, make the checkout process as smooth as possible. It all comes down to offering a good user experience.

Culprit #3: No trust signals

When is the last time you bought something online without reading a few reviews first? Same with trying out a new restaurant. My point is that social proof is a big deal, and if you aren’t providing any, it will be much more difficult to persuade your audience.

Trust signals can come in many forms, including:

  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Social shares/likes
  • Comments

Depending on the nature of your business, you can use any combination of these to show your prospects that you have helped people just like them in the past, and those people loved doing business with you.

One of my favorite ways of doing this involves video. A video testimonial/review connects exponentially more than a standard written review. Why? Because they’re hard to fake. Real customers, speaking candidly will always come across as genuine, just as a fake one will always come across that way. Think about every commercial you’ve seen where an actor plays the part of a real, satisfied customer. It’s pretty easy to spot.

And the good news is, you don’t really even need any professional equipment or training to get these videos. Sure, you could hire a crew, and make it look 100% polished, but the truth is, even amateaur-looking testimonial videos are convincing. In fact, sometimes they’re preferable, as the rawness often comes across as even more genuine.

Culprit #4: You’re not mobile optimized

You’re probably aware that mobile traffic now accounts for over 60% of all browsing activity. And if you’re in the B2C space, that number can be higher than 80%. So one of the worst things you can do is drive traffic (especially from social media) to a website that isn’t well optimized for mobile devices.

And by well-optimized, I’m not just talking about sizing down to fit the screen. There are many things to consider when designing a mobile site that will perform for your business. Depending on your target audience and your industry, you might even want to go with a “mobile-first” design approach.

Here are a few factors that can make or break a mobile website:

  • Page load speed. Are you using the same images on mobile as desktop? If so, they might take too long to load, resulting in visitors quickly bouncing from your site.
  • Mobile-specific conversion flow. We went over the idea of a frictionless conversion process earlier in this article, and mobile requires this even moreso. Just remember, if you don’t make it easy to convert, you’ll lose out.
  • General user experience. People browse differently on mobile devices, and this needs to be accounted for. Make use of horizontal swiping, reduced vertical scrolling, and intuitive menus for example.

Culprit #5: No plan to recapture lost traffic

Did you know that only 10-20% of website visitors are actually ready to buy today? That’s why playing “the long game” is so essential.

Here are some ways you can continue marketing to your prospects throughout the buyer’s journey:

  • Install a Facebook tracking pixel on your site. This allows you to show highly targeted Facebook ads (or sponsored content) to those who have already been to your site, increasing the liklihood that they will remember your brand when they are more serious about converting.
  • Build your email list. Create a secondary CTA on your site designed to capture basic lead information, such as names and email addresses in exchange for access to content, or a special offer. You can then target them through an email campaign, and even create a “lookalike” audience on Facebook to market to.
mannaquin challenge marketing

How the Mannequin Challenge Can Help Your Marketing This Holiday Season

How long can you stay frozen in time? That’s the challenge people everywhere are taking up, producing fun videos that are going viral on social media. If you haven’t noticed #mannequinchallenge on your social channels  — or read about it online — you probably will soon.

The videos are everywhere. At least everywhere that younger people (Millennials) are spending their time online. What they have in common is people — sometimes in crazy poses — holding as still as a mannequin while a camera pans the scene around them. There may be background activity and likely will be music (many feature the song Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd), but the challenge is for players to hold perfectly still for as long as possible.

So what’s it all about? Actually, it’s just for fun. This hot new craze became popular with high school and college students in early October 2016 and soon spread around the world. Then sports teams, celebrities, and brands began having fun — and attracting attention — by making videos and posting them online.

But just because this is a fun trend doesn’t mean you can’t use it to get your brand out there and get some potentially viral traffic this holiday season. You just need to keep it fun, and above all else, authentic.

Some Examples of Mannequin Challenge Marketing

If you haven’t encountered the videos via social media, you can find many examples of #mannequinchallenge online. Even Time magazine ranked the 23 best Mannequin Challenge videos. The Time picks include a 17-second clip tweeted by Paul McCartney and shared on his Facebook page.

Hillary Clinton even got in on the fun the night before the election, urging voters not to “stand still” on election day. Regardless of how that turned out, the message was clever.

The cast of the upcoming Hairspray Live! on NBC (seen above,) stood still for a video sure to attract attention to the live musical adaptation of the Broadway musical and earlier film. And Sesame Street played along for fun, producing a 1:38-second  #mannequinchallenge video noteworthy for the Muppet Ernie blowing it by moving and talking when the camera got to him.

Of course these are examples made by television pros, but yours don’t need to be as elaborate to be just as effective.

So Where’s the Marketing Value?

PR Week reported that a number of national brands are engaging with social media via Mannequin Challenge videos. These include Denny’s, Target, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Pixar, and Shopify.

As with anything that people are paying attention to, the question for digital marketers is whether there is an advantage to playing along.

It’s hard to say how long #mannequinchallenge will be popular, but it’s a safe bet that it provides an opportunity for some holiday season promotion and can be worth your time, especially if you’re trying to reach the highly valued 18- to 34-year-old demographic.

But the flip side of that is that if you’re trying to reach Millennials, you need a very subtle touch. If you can produce a short, fun video that will entertain them and come across as authentic, you win. Look like you’re trying to co-opt something that was supposed to be fun for commercial reasons and you lose.

So for marketers, it’s a double challenge. Can you strike a pose, have some fun, get your message across and be perceived as authentic?

Fortunately, these videos are relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, so don’t be afraid to try. Even the smallest business can join the fun and attract attention with #mannequinchallenge.

Shooting Tips

mannequin challenge marketing tips

To put together your Mannequin Challenge creation, you need a device capable of recording video, a group of people to participate, and a theme.

As with any project, you’ll have best results if you have good equipment, but you can even use the video camera on your smartphone. You may want to have music playing in the background or add it later; in either case, be sure you have rights to use the music.

So what might your theme be? Many popular Mannequin Challenge videos have featured people doing whatever they usually do, but holding a pose throughout the shoot. Whoever is taking the video should move about the scene, showing it from different perspectives.

Since we are going into the holidays, why not play up that angle? Subtly announce a Black Friday sale, show off some new products, or just go with a general holiday theme.

If you operate a restaurant, for instance, you might have your kitchen staff fully involved in preparing food, but frozen in time for the duration of the video. Be sure to encourage some dramatic flair. Your chef, for instance, might be holding a knife in the air. And the more people, the better.

Take a look at the video produced by The Pancake Parlour. The entire staff — and patronage — are frozen in time as they go about their shift. It might give you some ideas for how your business can join in the fun.

Get others involved in planning your video. After all, it’s supposed to be fun, so turn the production into a party and serve refreshments before, after, or between takes.

Sponsor a Contest

If you don’t want to make your own video, you might sponsor a social media contest and ask people to submit their Mannequin Challenge videos featuring your brand. You can offer prizes or just feature all of them on your Facebook page or website.

Undoubtedly those who have submitted videos will share them with their friends, increasing your reach. And just the fact that you’ve recognized and are participating in a popular trend will score some points.


How to Use Your Video

Once you have video — whether you create it yourself or have contest entries — there are lots of ways you can use it:

  • Post to your existing social profiles. This can include Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. You can also send it out to your email subscribers.
  • If you want to reach a broader, targeted audience, try sponsoring your post on Facebook. This is an excellent way of getting it in front of your exact target market.
  • Stay in fron of your current customers by making a mannequin challenge “digital holiday card.” Then you can post it on social, and send it out to your email list. The sentiment will be appreciated, and (hopefully) entertaining.
  • Be sure to use the hashtag #mannequinchallenge when you post your video. This identification will make it easy for people to find your video across various social media channels.

Wrapping Up

Savvy digital marketers know that attention spans are increasingly short. There is growing competition for an audience. Being prepared to adjust your plans to appeal to a niche audience is essential. And opportunities like Mannequin Challenge are particularly good for businesses striving to connect with Millennials.

Millennials are more likely to trust their peers than brands. More than 70 percent of them are engaged with social media every day. If you can connect with them in their space, and earn their trust, there’s a good chance that they will share their good feelings about you with their friends.

Joining the Mannequin Challenge can be a great way for you to participate with this key demographic and have some fun at the same time.



web designer questions

Video: 5 Questions Your Web Designer Should Be Asking You (and why it matters)

Video Transcript

If you’re working with a web designer or agency, there is certain information that can make or break the project, so you’re going to want to make sure your designer is asking you these five questions.

The biggest thing that will make your website project successful is whether or not it’s based in strategy. The only way to get the strategy that’s going to work for your business is to know enough about your business before we even start. At the deep end, we ask a ton of questions. We actually split it out over into a few meetings, because we want to know as much about your business as possible. We want to know about your business. We want to know about your competition, and most of all, your audience. Who are your customers?

Let’s get right into a few of the most important questions your web designer should be asking you. If he’s not, then they’re not going to be fully prepared for the battle ahead of them. The first thing is, “Do you have Google Analytics installed?” This is actually something they should be able to figure out. Just going on the source code of your website, they should know whether you have it or not. Then, they should be wanting to monitor that as quickly as possible. Looking at your analytics is crucial so we can see a baseline of how your website is performing right now. We can insights to what’s working well, what isn’t, what kind of content we should be coming up with. The sooner that your web designer has access to those stats, the sooner he can start coming up with a strategy that’s going to move the needle.

The second question is, “Do you currently have a sales funnel in place?” A sales funnel is, think of all the different ways you get customers right now. The different ways they come into your business, they find out about you, then they whittle down into becoming customers. It’s important we know where people might be breaking off, where people are finding you. This is extremely important so we know where your website is going to fit into that sales funnel. Number three question is, “Who is your #1 customer?” Your website and really shouldn’t be all things to all people, so you need to develop the look and feel, the strategy, and the content to really please that #1 fan. If you don’t already have a customer persona in place, ideally your web pro should be able to help you out with that to develop that. This is really important because when you try to design something right down the middle, it oftentimes won’t speak to anyone. It can only be so persuasive that way.

Building on number three, the next question is, “What is your #1 customer’s biggest problem and exactly how can you help them out with that?” By knowing what this problem is and how you can help solve it for them, we can start to develop a strategy around content that will speak directly to that problem. They need to know that you’re the answer to everything they’re looking for, and your website has to be really clear about that. Number five, “What is your ultimate business goal?” A lot of web designers will stop short and say, “What the goal for this site?” The thing is, that should be our job as web pros to figure out how that fits into your ultimate business goal itself. Your web agency should base the entire strategy on how they can best use the website to help you fulfill your business objective. To focus on something as small as the goal of just the website upfront can really limit the results, and it might actually end up focusing on the wrong goal.

It’s very important that your web pro knows that answers to all these questions because without it, all we can really focus on is the superficial stuff like making it look pretty, making it look good. Basically, to really get the results you’re looking for which is to grow your business, get you more leads, more customers, and all that good stuff, we need to know the answers to all these questions.

website content creation tips

Video: Where is Your Website’s Content Coming From?

Video Transcript

You’ve got a brand new project in the works but where is your content coming from? Whenever we take on a new web project one of the biggest hurdles to the process is always where the content is coming from. It happens all the time. We come up with a very clear web strategy including all the different types of content. Testimonials, images, landing pages, overviews, staff bios, you name it. The client says, “No problem, we’ll take care of all of that content on our end.” There’s two big problems with this.

The first is they don’t have the time to come up with the content very quickly and we do need that content in order to start the design process. The content is really what drives the conversions and the design is only meant to support that. The second part of the problem is they don’t understand how to write web copy that sells. Along similar lines if we’re talking about images they’re not exactly professional photographers. What happens in this case?

The project stalls until our client has had enough time to write and gather all the content in order for us to even start. As you can imagine this is a huge productivity problem. It can take a simple process that should take no more than a month stretched out into multiple months and we’ve waited as long as a year before before a project was actually ready to go. In some of our cases the project is just abandoned altogether. This is really sad because our client came to us wanting something new but then once they saw the work involved they decided whatever they had originally was preferable to actually having to come up with that kind of content on their own.

When we do get it it’s usually focused on the wrong things because again they’re not well versed in writing persuasive web copy. We end up getting copy that will talk a lot about them as a business and not putting it into context that the customers care about. The easiest solution to this is to work with a copywriter who specializes in writing web copy. You might be thinking, “We’re a start up. We can’t really afford to work with a copywriter.” The point is it pays for itself very quickly because it’s written in such a way that persuades people to actually buy from you. You get more customers, you get more leads, so basically it pays for itself over time.

A web writer also knows how to write for search engines. They can put your key words that you want to rank for very strategically within the body copy. Really it’s a twofer. You’re getting more sales and then you’re getting more sales again because you’re actually being found for the terms you want to rank for when people search within Google. The moral of this story is it’s not really an expense if you get a good return on your investment. If you either don’t have the time or aren’t skilled at coming up with the type of content that’s going to make your website as persuasive as it can be, then you’re probably going to want to work with a professional copywriter.

If you’re working with a web design agency you’re going to want to ask if they work with a copywriter and if they don’t you’re going to probably want to find one on your own that can work in conjunction with your web design agency to give the best possible product in the end. If you’re wondering how is this copywriter going to know our business well enough to actually write about it? That’s easy and it’s actually a pretty interesting process where they will actually sit down with you and interview you and talk to you. Pick your brain all about your business so at the end they’ll have a really good sense of how to frame it and even better than that they can establish a tone that complements your brand identity.

All of this goes for your images as well. Basically you’re going to want to hire an agency that has either access to a large library of photos or you’re going to want to spend a few extra dollars to hire for some custom photography, which you’ll definitely want if you’re doing staff photos or any kind of photos within your office or product photos, anything like that. You’re going to really want to hire professionals to do that. Working with a pro would really make your site look that much more credible which is half the battle here.


how to write web copy that sells

Video: 1 Single Tip to Writing Web Copy That Sells

Video Transcript

If you’re stuck for writing about your own product or service on your website, you’re not alone. We’re going to go over one simple trick to writing effective web copy that sells.

When businesses get a new website they tend to focus really heavily on the design element. I come from a background of web design, so I understand that, but actually the most important thing that’s the most underrated is web copy. The truth is well crafted web copy can make the difference between getting a lead, or making a sell, or not. If you can say only one thing on your website, what would it be? You’d probably want to talk about what makes you, or your product, or service, or your business so amazing, right? Absolutely wrong. The harsh reality is your potential customers don’t care about you at all. They don’t even care about what you do.

People come to your website because they’re having some kind of problem and they’re hoping that you’re the solution. This can be a very real problem like they just had a pipe burst and they need a plumber out there right now. Or it can be something as simple as just trying to find a place to eat, but you need to put it in terms your customers care about. How can you help them and make their lives better?

I know you probably think that by talking about what makes your business so unique or so good is going to imply what the customer gets, but it really doesn’t work that way. By saying you’re the number one rated plastic surgeon in Chicago, that’s really only an implied benefit. Here’s how you should be focusing on, why are you number one rated? Who rated you number one? You should be speaking to what your customer or patient in this case, gets and more importantly what does that do for them? Something like, “Trust your face to Dr. Smith, he’ll turn back time and make you look 20 years younger.” Then you might want to have a few bullet points to support this and add a few more details.

Something like, “Dr. Smith is rated #1 plastic surgeon in Chicago by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. You can trust that you will achieve the look you desire.” Now, you’ve still gotten your point across but you’ve put it in terms that mean something to your customer because if you don’t give them those reasons why they should choose you they’re going to come up with their own reasons. It may be completely off base and probably weaker than what you’d have come up with on your own. To write more effective web copy you want to clearly state what your customer will get.

Also, how that will benefit them, how it will improve their life. Whenever you think it’s a good opportunity to brag a little bit about your business and talk about what makes you so great, resist that urge and turn it back around on the customer.

website grow email list

Video: How to Use Your Website to Build Your Email List (and why you should)

Video Transcript

If you have a website and you’re not getting your prospects e-mail addresses, you’re leaving money on the table. Lots of businesses don’t actually sell anything on their website so what’s the goal in that case? What do you want them to do when they get to your site if you’re not actually selling them anything? Maybe you want them to call you? Maybe you want them to make a reservation or schedule an appointment but what about for the more casual browser who’s not actually ready to do any of those things yet? If it isn’t your primary goal, it should at least be your secondary one and that’s to build your e-mail list.

This isn’t just for blogs, any business can benefit from these kinds of leads. These are people that were interested enough in your service or category to come to your site. By getting their e-mail address you can stay in front of them for as long as it takes them to make their decision using either e-mail marketing or Facebook re-targeting. Hopefully I’ve talked you into at least seeing the benefits. Now here’s a few tips to really grow it quickly.

You’re going to want to add an opt-in form in a very prominent spot, either in the header or down the page in a single column. You don’t want anything to the right or left of it that’ll be distracting from the form. Here’s the thing. You have to offer an incentive for people to sign up for it. People are not interested in signing up for your newsletter. Think about your business and what would be enticing enough to get people to give over their e-mail address. If you can afford to give away something for free, do it, especially if it’s going to get them in your door.

Let’s say you’re a restaurant. If you offer to give away a free dessert, you get their e-mail address and even better if they actually come in to use that offer, mission accomplished. You’ve got them right where you want them. Here’s an important point. A lot of people ask me why does it have to be free? Why not offer a discount? One very simple reason. People will never expect something for free twice. Having said that, that’s up to you. If you would rather offer some kind of a discount or even the promise of future discounts can often do the trick.

If you say, “We’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest specials every month by giving us your e-mail address,” a lot of times that works really well. All right. Here’s a little pro tip. You’re going to want to split test this to really hone in on a winner. You’re going to run different promotions for two to three weeks at a time and see which one gets the best conversion rate. For instance, back to our restaurant example. You might test the giving away of a free dessert versus the promise of exclusive happy hour specials every week.

After you’ve run all your different kinds of specials, you’ve got some data, with your Google analytics probably, so you can see how many people came to your page each week and how many people actually clicked through. Whichever is the higher percentage is the winner and that’s the one you might want to stick with for a while. The last tip is an easy one, kind of a no-brainer. Make sure you put your opt-in form in a very clean, distraction-free zone. I mentioned earlier about putting it in a single column versus in a side bar because you really want people to scroll down the page and see it right there with no distractions.

website trust

Video: How to Build Instant Trust on Your Website

Video Transcript

If you get people coming to your site but they’re not converting, you may have a trust problem.

All right, I want you to think about something. When is the last time you bought anything online? Anything, it could be a product from Amazon, it could be just deciding on a restaurant or deciding on a movie to see. I’ll bet you went and did a little bit of research to find out some reviews and testimonials first, right? Well, your website is no different. With online reviews so easily accessible it’s easy to see why people have just become conditioned to seeking out this kind of information. Human beings always want to lower their risk. If they come to your website and they don’t get those trust signals in the way of a testimonial or a review, they’re going to keep going to one of your competitors who they deem to be a lower risk.

One really great way to combat this on your website, and it’s easy, are testimonials. But not just written text testimonials, I’m talking about video. Think about it, you’re on a website and you read a testimonial and it’s on a website that that business controls. How likely are you to believe that testimonial is true? It may be true, it may be a friend of the person writing it on their behalf, or it might be made up at all. The point is you just don’t know. But a video testimonial comes across as ultimately genuine because people can pick up on when people are being authentic on camera versus being fed lines to say or memorizing a script.

Okay, so how do you get a really great video testimonial? Well, first things first, you’re going to want to choose the people that you want to be in your testimonial. We’ve talked about user personas in the past. This is the time when you’re going to really want to dig into that and find past or current customers that fit that persona to a tea. If your ideal customer is a male sports fan between twenty-five and forty, you’re going to want to get that guy. If you were to get, and this is an extreme example, a woman in her sixties, that’s just not going to hit home with your target market. This is really important because you want people that are watching it, who are your target market, to say, “Hey, they’ve helped this person just like me. They could help me too.”

All right, so once you know who you want to be in your testimonial video you’re going to want to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. You’re going to want to volunteer to go to them, don’t make them come to you, and, yes, you can film this yourself. People ask me this all the time, when we bring it up to clients. Do not ever let the fact that you don’t have professional film equipment stop you from getting a testimonial on video because they’re that powerful, and really all that matters is the authenticity, not so much the production value. Film it yourself, iPhones are great for this these days, they take really good video actually. Once you’re there, what you’re going to want to do is you’re going to want to ask them leading questions that will result in a very persuasive testimonial.

Here’s a few questions I like to ask. One, what was your frustration before you found us? Two, what were your objections to choosing us before you did? Three, how did our product or service help you? Then finally, would you recommend us to others? By asking these questions you lay the groundwork for a testimonial that shows how bad they had it before they found you, why they may not have chosen you, and how ultimately that was an unfounded objection. Then going into how you help them, and then finally a recommendation to others. Now if you just ask them a simple question like, “How was it working with us,” there may have been a rambling kind of answer that would be hard to really put into any kind of a context.

Then when you have this final video you’re just going to want edit out the parts where you’re asking the questions. Then you’ll have a really persuasive video that addresses and eliminates objections while building a lot of trust with your customers. You can put this almost anywhere on your site, think about those places like a landing page where people are really looking for a push over the edge before they can make a decision. You might want to have a whole page of testimonials, written and a few videos, and then you might want to put a video just in really key places around the site.

website customer personas

Video: Who Is Your Website For?

Video Transcript

Question for you. Who is your website for? Here’s a hint. It’s not for you, and it’s not for everybody.

All right. One of the biggest mistakes clients tend to make with their website is they want to be all things to everybody. I totally get it. The FOMO takes over, but your best bet is to make your branding and messaging appeal to your number one target customer.

Let’s put it this way. Walmart is a two-hundred-and-sixty-billion dollar company and they don’t try to go after everybody. They know that a Walmart customer is not a Target customer. They know they’ve got a niche.

Think about it. What’s more likely to appeal to you? A website that has a solution to the exact problem you’re having or a website that has a bunch of problems and a bunch of half baked solutions to go with them?

Your first step is finding out exactly who your number one customer is. An exercise I like to do with my clients is creating customer personas. This is going to identify your main customer segments in a very specific way. Not just types, but actual made up people that will use your product. This way you can focus all your website efforts on hitting those people where they live. You’re going to want to identity their age, their gender. Do they have kids? Are they married? What’s their socioeconomic status? What are their hobbies? Are they tech savvy? What is their biggest obstacle to becoming your customer and how can your product or service help them?

So the first thing you want to do is identify your number one customer persona. Who is the type of customer that you couldn’t live without? You couldn’t do business without them, and if everything kind of seems equal think about it this way. What kind of customer do you love working with the most? Give the person a name and a life based on the criteria. Write it down in a bulleted list and it helps to include a photo with it as well. Let’s call this first persona Bob. Bob is the exact person you should be designing your website for. So it’s not for you, and it’s not for everybody out there. It’s for Bob.

So if anything comes up in the web design process where you’re having trouble with something, you don’t really like the look of something, ask yourself this. What would Bob think? Does it fit his objectives? This removes a lot of the subjectivity from the design process because everyone’s got their own taste, and it will make for a much more targeted stronger message. When you speak directly to your potential customers, they’re much more likely to receive the message and become a customer. All right and Wes McDowell with the Deep End. Stay tuned for more helpful tips like this. See you next time.

things to remove from your website

Video: 5 Things to Remove From Your Website Immediately

Video Transcript

If your website’s a little cobwebby, you’re not alone. Today, we’re going to look at 5 things you need to remove from your website immediately. If your website was designed a few years ago, there’s probably a list of things on there that you can probably do without. Some just make you look outdated, and some are actually security risks. The first thing I want to talk about are social media icons in your header. Now, I know you probably want to get more followers. That’s a common thread I see with a lot of my clients. They’re very into their social media, and they want people to know that they’re a part of all those forums.

The problem with having them in such a prominent place as the header, is they’re really brightly colored, so you’ve got done all this work to get people to your website, and now you’re just inviting them to leave. When you put something in such a prominent position, and it’s colored so prominently, you’re really just inviting clicks away from your website, and onto your social media platforms, which you may think is a good thing. You may think it’s great that they go to your Facebook page, but what happens on Facebook? They’ll see posts from their friends. They’ll get lost in the world of Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or whatever it is, and they probably won’t remember to come back to your site.

What do you do instead? I recommend using social widgets instead. Basically, they allow people to like your page, or Tweet about you, or whatever it is, all within the environment of your website. They don’t have to go anywhere, which is brilliant. They’re still buttons, they’re just smarter. The second thing is obvious stock photos. Photos, especially really large ones, have definitely been shown to increase conversions and engagement, but if they’re not deemed as authentic by your audience, particularly with millennials who really value authenticity, they’re just not going to buy it.

I think you all know what we’re talking about when we say “obvious stock photos,” the corporate handshake, the light bulb, all these things that have basically become a punchline at this point. In fact, there are entire websites devoted to making fun of these kinds of stock photos, so just don’t use them. Now only are they cliché, but when people see them and know they’re stock, they’re going to lose faith, and they’re going to lose trust in your business.

Now, there’s 2 things you could do instead. One is a little more expensive. That involves custom photography, so if you have a budget for that, it might be a really good use of your resources, particularly if you’re showing the interior of your office, staff members, that kind of thing. That is really hard to fake using any kind of stock photos. The second thing you could do instead is still use stock photos, but choose them very carefully. There actually are quite a bit of newer stock photos that do not seem nearly as cliché as the old ones do. They can still be corporate, but they can be a little quirky, as well. There’s actually whole websites devoted to Instagram-y type, authentic-looking stock photos, if you’d want to go that route.

The next thing to remove from your site are email links. If you have staff bio pages, anything like that, a very common thing used to be to include a little link to send them an email. Now, there’s a few problems with this. First one up is, they actually attract email spam. People will go in, they’re on the lookout for this kind of thing, and this is how you get onto some pretty bad lists. The other thing that’s bad, just from a more user-experience point of view, think about when you click on one of those. It opens up some kind of native email program on your computer.

For me, it opens up the Apple email program, which I don’t use, so then I have to go and right-click, and save the email address, then go back to my Gmail and type it in there. It’s just a really poor user experience. What I definitely recommend doing instead are using email forms. Email sent using forms are great because they’re trackable, you can route them into different folders and sub-folders with your email program. Just for me, through my website, I can filter out intern requests from client requests so I know what I’m looking at.

The next thing up is a little more under the radar. You may not even know you have it. If you use videos anywhere on your site, you’re going to want to disable the YouTube suggested videos. What happens is, when a YouTube video plays, at the end of it, it makes some pretty interesting “suggestions” for other videos you might want to watch. At best, they might just be unrelated, and at worst, they could actually be showing videos of your competitors. Either way, it just clutters up the look of your site, and it gives people way too many options that have absolutely nothing to do with what you want them to do once they’re on your site.

Now, here’s an easy fix. From the video player on YouTube, click the share option, then click embed, then click show more, which will open up more options, scroll down, and uncheck the show suggested videos when the video finishes option, then grab the new embed code, and you’re all set.

All right, the next thing to talk about is PDFs. PDFs used to be a work-around for non-content managed websites, so if you wanted to add a new menu or a new document of some kind, you wouldn’t have to change the code in your website, you would just make a new PDF, upload it and replace the other one, so that people could download and get whatever newest information you were offering. These days, nearly every website is content-managed, meaning WordPress, something where you can log into the back end and quickly change information without having to actually touch the code.

Basically, these PDFs are irrelevant at this point. I found restaurants to be especially guilty of this practice. They love to change out their menus using a PDF, rather than actually changing it on the website. There’s a few other problems with PDFs, as well. They’re hard for search engines to read. They’re not directly editable by your content management system, and your visitors can’t really share them easily.

With WordPress or a similar CMS, you can put all of this information into a content managed website to where you can change the information by simply logging in, changing the text, clicking save, and you’re ready to go. All right, I’m Wes McDowell with the Deep End, and stay tuned for more helpful tips like this. See you next time.