Are you doing any testing on your web site? You ought to be. The testing, in fact, can be outside of your side whether through email marketing, social media or a variety of other options.
I subscribe to Which Test Won (www.whichtestwon.com) and I learn something new each week. This week I was sure I had it nailed. They ran an email campaign for an ecommerce store and I was sure the “On Sale Now” heading would draw attention and close the deal.
Nope. Wrong again. The subtle approach wins. But here is what the folks running the test did that I want to talk about: The contents of the email were identical except for this one part (the call to action). So they were pretty confident in the results.
Because the “subtle” approach took less space, this also pulled up the video link beneath it which may have made the whole thing more visual and drawn attention first to the video link and then to the call to action.
And the other key thing is that the company is testing to see what is more effective. If you aren’t testing, you’re not learning what works. Simple A / B testing can be done on your web site very easily through Google Website Optimizer. Most email marketing programs have this built in as well.
So what can you test?
- Sales Copy
- Button colors
- Image colors
- Calls to action
- Position of elements on the page / email
- Subject line
- Bulleted text vs. free flowing sentences
What do you need to get started? Simply an understanding of how much traffic you have to the page or email and one item to test.
Been testing? Don’t stop. Once you figure out what “the winner” is, keep that and test some other aspect.
Need help? Let us know.
With the explosion of the web – from new sites to new friends / pages on Facebook to new followers on Twitter and new connections on LinkedIn, there are distractions and sites screaming out for our attention all over the place. So how does a professional website design agency do it right? Well here are five mistakes we avoid:
- Not having a call to action
The biggest problem we see is web sites that don’t have a clear call to action. Without a next step, people will visit, view and leave. Without contacting you, buying from you, becoming your customer. Sometimes the next step is to click to the next page – that’s ok. The key is to have a next step and many very reputable sites don’t have this crucial feature.
- Having too many calls to action
Having too many calls is just as bad as not having any call to action. Two to four choices is best. If you cram 32 calls to action (I know a site that has that many), you lose people. Divide those 32 calls into four groups of eight each and present four calls to action on the home page and then perhaps give them all eight on the next but you’ll also likely see that you can combine two or more of the items into one, giving your visitors fewer choices. Remember the key is to not make the visitor have to think.
- Making the site all graphics
Print designers make beautiful web sites. But they are often all graphics or flash which might make the website less usable and will definitely leave it ranked lower in search engines. The dirty little secret is that search engines index content and the best content to index is text. Putting the text into the graphics give you (or your designer) complete control over the look of the site but also makes it highly likely that Google won’t index that text, thus hurting your search rankings.
- Not providing context – navigation or breadcrumbs
Many web site owners envision their site as all visitors starting on the home page and navigating through from there to the next level and the next is a logical progression. However with search being what it is, visitors coming through search may end up deep into your web site as their first page. Therefore it is incumbent on website owners / developers to clearly show the context of what page you’re on. This can be done through navigation devices such as highlighting the page you’re on in the navigation or even through breadcrumbs – displaying towards the top of the page where you at and the way back “home”.
- Providing too much or duplicate information
Just last week I was on a site that looked like it was a lot bigger than what it was. There were lots of different calls to action but they all took me to the same form – a basic contact form. Having all kinds of differently labeled links going to the same place is not useful. Providing a lot more information than is necessary is not useful. Cut down on the prose and shoot for bulleted or numbered lists to get your point across. In the same way that you don’t want lots of different links pointing to the same place, you don’t want to have the same information in more than one place on the site. We see businesses making this mistake frequently. It becomes embarrassing when one section of the site mentions a conference on Thursday and Friday and another refers to the same conference but says it is on Friday and Saturday. People don’t know which to believe and it ends up hurting your credibility. Remember to Keep It Straight & Simple (KISS).
If you can avoid these five mistakes on your web site, your visitors will be much more likely to have a productive and enjoyable experience and you will be much more likely to capture their business.
Sometimes that is all it takes. Click and all the pieces fall into place. In our case that is usually what happens. We intentionally go after those “Click!” moments as that is when we know that we’ll be working with a new customer / partner.
Click happens when your internet marketing goals converge perfectly with your web site design. For each industry and even for each business the click is something unique that occurs when we connect what they want to accomplish (more customers, bigger customers, “stickier” customers, etc.) and the plan we have for designing their site come together just so.
While usually the “Click” seems to be an intuitive thing, there are steps you can follow to help you focus on what will click for your web site.
- Determine what sets your business apart from the competition. NOTE: Superior service is not what sets you apart. EVERYBODY says that. Consider niches or vertical markets that you work particularly well with.
- Ponder or brainstorm with others how you can leverage your unique selling proposition (what sets you apart) be highlighted or leveraged through your site. We recently did this with a tourism related site and came up with a unique trip planner that fits very nicely with their business goals. When we came up with the idea, we could almost hear the “Click” as everyone realized that happened.
- Look at what the competition is doing on their sites. Look especially at what they’re doing well and brainstorm how you can do it even better.
- Consider every area of what your business does. Too often all the attention is placed on customer acquisition when customer retention or customer engagement may be a better use of web resources. For example if your existing customers can log in and check the status of their account, that frees up more man power to be out acquiring new customers.
- Look at what your web site does now. Is it clear? More importantly, is it easy for visitors to take the next step (whatever that next step is)? Obfuscation in the name of design is a common mistake we see in web sites. It doesn’t matter how pretty your site is if it drives people away. Consider how you can streamline it – thinking about what steps or pages can be eliminated or combined.
While sometimes “Click” happens while working on one of these steps, as mentioned in step 2, it is more often considering all of these steps together when it happens.
If Click hasn’t happened on your site yet, take some time to work through these steps and see what happens.
What do you measure on your web site? Do you measure the number of hits? The number of unique visitors? The number of visits from search engines?
All of those might be useful to you. The key is to take in the big picture. It would be a shame to be ranked number 1 in the search engines for your key phrase and drive hundreds or thousands of visitors to your site but not get any business from it.
After all, aren’t we all in business to make money?
So when you measure, make sure that you measure throughout the funnel. How many calls or sales or submissions do you get through your web site? These are measurables that create direct contact with a potential customer. Once the web site has accomplished that, then it is up to you and your processes to close the deal.
So if you see that your web site traffic has doubled or tripled, or perhaps had a 20% increase, that should translate into an increased amount of direct contact measurables. If it hasn’t, it’s time to re-examine your site.
Now you will want to measure things like bounce rate and time on site to see what is and is not working. If your home page has a really high bounce rate, for example, then you need to look at what isn’t working on the home page. Is it difficult to navigate? Is it unclear what the next step is?
By evaluating what you’re measuring, you get the big picture and can make meaningful changes that will positively affect your bottom line.
During the cold war, the key US phrase was “Trust but Verify”. When it comes to your web site, the phrase should be “Measure but Evaluate”.
What’s happening in your financial world? If you’re like most folks, you’re not sure whether we’re headed up or down or what is around the next corner.
In uncertain times it can be difficult to see a way forward and spending money is the last thing many business owners want to do. Yet here I am telling you to invest in your web site. What gives?
Here are THREE reasons you want to invest in your site now:
- Get better efficiency. There are several ways to accomplish this: Put more information on your web site so you spend less time answering the same questions over and over again; Qualify your customers better through your site so that those you contact are ready to do business; Reduce or eliminate your store front and sell more from the web site. These are just a few of the ways you can be more efficient with an investment in your site.
- While your competitors are giving up and going away, you can establish a firm or firmer foundation now on your web site without having to build a new building or sign an expensive new lease. Your site should look professional (good design), be functional (easy for customers to do what you want them to do) and be search-friendly (search engine optimization)
- Get more customers. Beat the rest of the crowd that is still stuck on search engine optimization – which means driving more traffic to your web site – and get started on conversion optimization – which means getting the folks who visit your web site to buy, register, signup, or whatever your call to action is. If you have any degree of traffic you should look at what those visitors are doing and if they aren’t contacting you to do business, optimize the process to make it smoother for them to do business with you.
Everybody is so busy. We have to – or at least we feel like we have to – multi-task throughout the day. But does it really work? This morning I realized that my fruit shake wasn’t going to keep me going until lunch time so while I was out and about I swung through McDonald’s drive thru.
First I heard a voice that was so soft I couldn’t hear what was said. I asked her to repeat what she said. She was ready for my order! So I ordered the breakfast meal I wanted and asked for coffee for the drink. A few seconds later she asked for my order. A bit confused I ordered again. She repeated my order and asked if that was all. I said yes. Then she asked what I wanted to drink with my meal. At that point I realized that she was not paying attention to me at all. She was so busy taking money from the customers in line ahead of me that she had no idea where I was in the ordering process. I pulled out of line and moved on.
Arriving at Starbucks I had to get out of my car but the staff inside were friendly and polite and they only paid attention to one customer at a time. I was struck by the difference as I ordered only once and got what I ordered.
So how does that apply to a web site? Too often web sites try to be all things to all people. In fact, it is not infrequent that a client or potential client will tell me, with a straight face, that their target market is everybody or at least every business.
If everybody is your target then you’re like the lady at McDonalds that is so busy taking money from customers that she couldn’t really pay attention to me as I ordered. She couldn’t figure out where to focus.
Take a look at your web site today. Think about it not as a business owner but as a potential customer. Are you paying attention? Is it clear what the next step is? Or in an effort to be all things to all people are you paying attention to no one?