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How to Segment Your Buyer Personas and Create Unique Content for Each

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When you run a business, you want to seek out the customers who are the best fit for you. These people are not only the ones most likely to need your goods or services, they’re also the people you would most like to work with.

For a lot of businesses, though, they have more than one type of ideal client. That’s where the concept of buyer personas comes in. It can help you define each type of customer you hope to target, which in turn allows you to create content that speaks specifically to their needs. When you marry great, meaningful content with the right audience, you can generate hot leads and drive them down the marketing hourglass quickly.

Let me walk you through everything you need to know to build your own buyer personas and create content for each of them.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Essentially, a buyer persona is a composite sketch of your ideal customer. Based on research and interviews with your existing best customers, you can begin to create a portrait of your fictional ideal client of the future.

Buyer personas should include demographic information, like age, location, and gender, as well as patterns of behaviors, goals, and motivations.

How Do I Establish Personas?

Creating detailed buyer personas takes a little bit of legwork, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Check the Data

Start by taking a look at the data you already have on existing customers. In today’s digital world, most businesses have a lot of data stored up across their CRM and email marketing tools, social media and website analytics, and sometimes even via good old fashioned methods like hard-copy sign-ups for a mailing list in your store.

In looking at all this data, do you notice any trends? Are there people with certain attributes who tend to buy certain products or services? Are there actions that most buyers take on your social channels or website before they become customers? Establishing patterns among the demographics and behaviors of existing customers is the first step to creating meaningful personas.

Ask Your Team

Your team is interacting with your customers each and every day. Why not get their feedback on what they see? Often, they can quickly identify patterns in behaviors that you might not see based on data alone. Maybe your sales team gets the same set of objections over and over again from customers in a certain age bracket. Or perhaps your in-store associates have been chatting with customers and noticed an uptick in traffic from your neighboring town.

Go Straight to the Source

Once you’ve done some digging on your own, it’s time to reach out to your customers to see what they have to say. Hopefully by this point in the process, you’re already starting to see some strong persona categories emerge. The number of personas you have really depends on the size and type of your business. Some businesses will only have one or two personas, while others might have dozens.

When you begin talking to customers, you want to do so either in person or on the phone, rather than relying on a survey. You should aim to speak with a handful of customers that represent each persona, and go for a mix of happy and not-so-enthused people. Speaking to similar customers who have differing opinions of your brand allows you understand what pain points you might not already be addressing with your goods or services.

Your interview questions should cover a variety of areas, from demographic information to their thoughts on interactions with your brand. Come up with a list of 10-20 questions for each interviewee. Consider the following categories:

  • Who are you? Ask your customers to tell you more about themselves. This can be demographic information like age, location, annual income, job title and role, number of children, or marital status. Hone in on the categories that are most relevant for your business (i.e. if you run a B2B, things like job title will be more relevant; if you’re a wedding photographer then age could be important).
  • How do you shop? You want to better understand the process your customers take to discover and interact with new businesses. Where did they first learn about your business? What was their journey like leading up to their first purchase with you?
  • What keeps you up at night? People come to your business because you solve a problem for them. What is it that worries your customer, and how does your offering eliminate that worry?
  • What is a win for you? Your best customers who will go on to buy from you again and again go to your business because you provide win after win for them. Ask them what that win is, and why you’re able to provide it.
  • Anything else? Give your customers the chance to share any additional feedback they might have on your business. Sometimes you’ll hear a comment repeated a number of times that you wouldn’t have thought to ask for.

Bring it All Together

Once you’ve analyzed the data, spoken to your team, and interviewed your customers, you’re ready to create your personas! It’s likely that you’ll have a handful of personas, although some very niche businesses will have less and some bigger businesses will have more.

If you’re unsure what constitutes a clear persona, start by grouping together like behaviors and attributes. Hopefully a clear pattern emerges. For example, let’s say you run a lawn care business. Maybe your first persona is young professionals who are busy at work and don’t have time to tend to their yards. Another persona might be retirees who are not well enough to handle the heavy-lifting of yard work on their own.

Now with your personas in hand, it’s time to move to the next step.

Next Up: Content Segmentation

In establishing your buyer personas, you’ve identified different segments within your larger customer population. Armed with this information, you can begin to create content that speaks to each of their needs.

Take the lawn care company example above. The way that you market to a harried 30-something looking for assistance keeping their lawn in check will be different from the way you approach the senior citizen who needs a helping hand with their yard.

For the busy professional, ease of scheduling is probably a concern, so your marketing messaging might highlight things like your online calendar, which makes it easy to book and confirm appointments with your team. The older folks likely living on a fixed income might be worried about the cost of your services, so you can target them with messaging that allows them to bundle services—say, leaf raking and lawn mowing—for an overall 10 percent discount in pricing.

You can use these personas to segment your content everywhere. Create blog posts and explainer videos that speak to each segment of your audience. Use your CRM to direct different email campaigns at appropriate customers based on their attributes and behaviors. Tailor your calls to action on your website to speak to the most pressing needs that each of your personas expressed in interviews. Create ad campaigns that speak to each individual persona, and then build customized landing pages that cover the pain points addressed in the ads.

Understanding your customers is the critical first step in marketing to them successfully. But it’s also important to acknowledge that you might not have just one type of customer. Creating buyer personas helps you to better understand what your business offers to all of your best customers, and helps you create messaging that speaks to customers and prospects alike, no matter what segment of your audience they fall into.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

5 Tools Every Business Needs to Create an Amazing Website

Your website is the heart of your online marketing efforts. Every other tactic that you undertake should drive visitors back to your website. It’s the one corner of the internet that is all your own. It’s where you can share your brand story in the way that best represents who you are and what you do.

But having a great website goes beyond creating great content. There are some technical elements that you need to nail in order to keep things running smoothly, give visitors a great experience, and easily keep track of leads. Here are the five tools that every business owner needs in order to create a website that works wonders for them and their customers.

1. A Tool to Host Your Website

First thing’s first: You need a way to get your website out there! There are a lot of web hosting services, but they are not all created equal. A bad host can hurt your website. Bad hosting can slow down load times on your site, which drives prospects away. In fact, a one second delay can result in a seven percent reduction in conversions!

Security is also a major concern nowadays. Having an HTTPS certificate for your website is an essential part of trust-building. Google now calls out websites that aren’t HTTPS by labeling them as “not secure” in big red letters in the address bar. If that’s the first thing a customer sees upon clicking on your website, chances are they’ll think twice before handing over any sensitive information to you on your site. Some web hosting companies include HTTPS certificates at no additional charge, while others will try to upsell you for this necessary element.

For my part, I swear by Pressable WordPress Hosting. They provide super-fast and secure web hosting, and their customer service team is on hand 24/7 so that you’re never left in a lurch if you have issues with your website.

2. A Tool to Design a Beautiful Site

As much as we may hate to admit it, looks do matter when we’re browsing websites. Sites with outdated designs and hard-to-read formatting are a major turnoff for customers. And if your business isn’t big enough to have a full-time web designer on hand, it helps to have a tool that allows you to make changes to your website so that you can keep information current and include all the elements you need in a modern site.

A tool like Thrive Architect can help you get it all done. They have simple drag-and-drop layouts that allow you to control the content and design of your site without a computer science degree. And it’s about more than just adding texts, images, and video; they have conversion-focused elements that you can easily incorporate into your pages.

3. A Tool to Generate Leads

Speaking of conversions, a great website needs a way to collect and generate leads. You can have the fastest, most secure, and beautiful website on the internet, but if you don’t tell visitors what they’re supposed to do once they get there, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Yes, your website should include your promise and story, but you also must tell visitors what you want them to do next. Do you want them to sign up for your mailing list? Register for a free trial? Providing a call to action, where you ask visitors to take one specific move, is the first step in the process of generating a lead and moving them down the marketing hourglass.

Thrive Leads is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you do just that. It allows you to create forms using simple drag-and-drop design so that you can capture the information that you need from your visitors. Getting this information is step one to building a relationship with a prospect. Without that information in hand, you can’t possibly move forward with other tactics to move them further down the hourglass. And the Thrive Leads plugin has advanced testing, targeting, and analytics so that you can measure the success of each lead generation effort.

4. A Tool to Integrate Email and CRM

Once you start collecting these leads, you have to do something with them! Housing all of the information in one centralized location is an important first step—that’s where a CRM comes in. I love ActiveCampaign, which brings together CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing tools all under one roof.

Having all of your prospect and customer information in one place allows you to begin an effective email marketing campaign. You can also design targeted search and social media marketing campaigns, with messaging designed to speak to various segments of your audience.

5. A Tool to Design Custom Landing Pages

Once you begin to undertake marketing efforts beyond your website, the end goal is still to drive traffic back to your online home. But you don’t want to send paid search and social media ad traffic back to your homepage. It’s far more effective to have a custom landing page for each and every campaign you run.

Landing pages allow you to tailor the information to the specific offer that’s featured in the ad. When your audience clicks through and finds only the most relevant information on your website, conversion rates go up, and you get the greatest return on your advertising investment.

A tool like ClickFunnels can help you create these highly customized landing pages. Like the other tools I’ve recommended, they have a drag-and-drop design feature that makes it easy for you to build a page with the layout and messaging you want. Their focus is on lead conversion, and they have the strategies and tools on hand to help you create the most effective landing pages possible.

Building a great website means incorporating a lot of different elements—from superficial things like design elements to behind-the-scenes pieces like proper security. Fortunately, there are lots of tools out there that make it simple for any business owner to create a strong, effective, secure online presence for their business.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

The Role of Your Website in Guiding the Customer Journey

This post is brought to you by Design Rush. The role of a great website includes responsiveness and speed. That can be quite difficult to achieve so getting help is always an option. One of the best web design companies in New York can help you with more complex things on your website.

Today’s customer journey is more complex than ever. From social media to paid search to offline marketing, there are dozens of ways someone can discover your company. The main role of your website in this twisting journey is to be a solid central point.

While prospects may discover your brand anywhere, you want to be driving that traffic from those disparate points back to your website. Your website is the one online asset that you have complete control over, and a well-designed website is the key to taking the reins on guiding the customer journey.

Let me walk you through the role that your website can and should play at each stage of the customer journey.

Know and Like

Prospects discover brands through all sorts of channels, and it’s entirely possible that your website is not the first place they’ll encounter you. It might be through a local listing service like Yelp, or on social media, or maybe they see a truck with your logo driving around town—who knows! But every other channel where you are present should include your website’s URL, so that it’s easy for prospects to go there and learn more.

Additionally, there are steps you can take to give your website the best shot at being the first point of contact with your brand. Undertaking keyword research allows you to see the real terms that searchers use when looking for the solution your business offers. Once you know that information, you can optimize your website so that it ranks for those terms. Couple keyword research with some effective, descriptive metadata, and you’ll be well on your way to generating more website traffic through organic search results.

Once prospects land on your website, you want to greet them with messaging and design that helps them come to further know and like your brand. Your homepage should include a promise to visitors, front and center. The promise should demonstrate that you understand their pain points and know how to solve them. Follow that up with a call to action; something that drives them to take a logical next step with your brand. This can be something like signing up for your newsletter or a free trial—nothing that includes too big a commitment. They did just meet you, after all! You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you at the end of your first date.

There are a number of other elements I recommend including on a homepage, but what’s most important is that you share what it is that you solve for your customers and how you can help others solve those same problems, too.

Trust and Try

Once a prospect has your brand on their radar screen, your website can help to strengthen their trust in you, until they finally decide to give you a try.

There are many trust-building elements that you can and should include in your website. Testimonials and case studies are a great way to demonstrate the value you’ve brought to other customers. They help to build an emotional connection with the prospect, who can see themselves reflected in the needs and struggles of your existing customer.

Content is also a critical element in building trust. Blogs, podcasts, and videos are all ways to share meaningful content with your audience. Your website should be the central location where all of your content lives, so that anyone interested in learning more about what you do can discover the wealth of knowledge you bring to the table. I also strongly advocate for the creation of hub pages. These pages bring all of your content on a centralized topic together on one page. They establish you as an authority on the subject (and they’re great for boosting your SEO, too!).

Once those trust elements have won over your audience and they’re ready to give you a try, you want to greet them with an appropriate call to action (CTA) that guides them to the next phase of the customer journey. Include relevant CTAs on your trust-building pages. At the bottom of your hub page, offer free access to a paid report. At the bottom of your testimonials page, include a CTA to schedule a free consultation.

Buy

You’ve reached the moment of truth! Your prospect is ready to become a first-time customer, and it’s again up to your website to help you make it happen.

At this stage, it’s about reducing friction in the purchasing process as much as possible, to ensure that you don’t lose any interested prospects at the last minute because of a frustratingly complex purchasing process. If you have an e-commerce shop, reduce the number of clicks it takes to add items to a cart and to complete check-out. Ask for as little information as possible to complete the sale. When customers feel bogged down with long forms or a circuitous route to check-out, it’s possible you can lose them at the moment of truth.

If yours is a service business, create a simple online sign-up form, so that prospects can easily make an appointment. Use a platform that doesn’t require them to register for an outside app or service to schedule. And including thoughtful touches, like a system that automatically adds the confirmed appointment to your customer’s calendar app of choice, is a nice way to make the buying process as seamless as possible.

Repeat and Refer

Once you’ve won over a new customer, your website’s work isn’t over! There are opportunities to turn that one-time customer into a lifelong one—someone who refers friends and family along the way.

A well-designed sitemap can help to encourage repeat purchases. When you’re building your website, think about the best way to showcase related product and services. Driving customers who have already made a purchase to another area of your website that covers a complementary offering is a smart way to drive upsells and repeat business. A CRM tool that’s synced up with your website is also a great way to keep track of past purchases so that you can use email marketing to send related offerings to interested customers straight to their inbox.

Your website can help you to collect feedback and reviews, which can in turn generate referral business. Through your site, you can link out to your profiles on Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook, making it easy for your existing happy customers to share positive feedback about your business on these other platforms. You can also solicit testimonials from your existing customers, which you can feature on your website.

Your website is the heart of your online presence. It needs to be ready to work for you and your customers at any stage along their journey. Whether they’ve just discovered you via a new search or are coming back to make their 100th purchase, your website should make it easy for them to find all of the information and support they need.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design and the Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

Website Mistakes Businesses Often Make

Website Mistakes Businesses Often Make

What makes a great website? A lot of business owners are at a loss when it comes to what their website should be to best serve their business and their customers. And web designers sometimes have their own ideas about what’s most important, which don’t always best serve their clients.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most common mistakes that business owners make when designing their website, and what you can do to correct them if you’ve made them yourself.

Forgetting about SEO

Before you begin thinking about the design elements of your website, you need to start with a solid foundation. SEO is the bedrock of any well-designed website, but a lot of business owners tend to skip over the critical steps of keyword research and solid SEO strategy.

If you’ve raced past keyword research, you’re doing a huge disservice to yourself and your prospects. When you don’t know what search terms people are using to find solutions that line up with your business’s offerings, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with valuable prospects. When they’re not able to discover your company, you’re not able to make revenue from them.

If you’ve never undertaken proper keyword research, check out this guide for a step by step approach.

Focusing on Style Over Substance

Everyone wants to build a spiffy-looking website. And it’s true that a website’s look does matter to a certain extent, but it shouldn’t be your primary focus.

Your business offers great solutions and a lot of knowledge to your customers and prospects—you want to be sure that message comes across loud and clear on your website.

The first step to focusing on substance is making sure you have a clearly defined value proposition, and that it’s displayed front and center on your landing pages. If prospects come to your site and are greeted by beautiful visuals but no clear description of what you do, they’ll quickly move on to one of your competitors.

The next step is thinking about storytelling as the driving force for your web copy and layout. When you let storytelling guide your web design, you ensure that you’re addressing the needs of your customers and laying information out in a way that guides the customer journey.

Hiding Your Contact Information

Have you ever been to a website, decided that the business offers a great solution for you, and then had to spend five minutes searching page after page for a simple way to get in touch? It’s a frustrating feeling!

Whatever you do, don’t hide your contact information! Make sure your phone number, address, and email are clearly displayed on each page. Consider incorporating a chat element into your site. Make getting in touch with you a completely seamless process. When a prospect wants to do business with you and give you their money, make it easy for them to do so!

Taking a “One Size Fits All” Approach

Through the power of marketing automation, you’re able to customize landing pages for each visitor. You can ensure you’re greeting prospects and customers with information that’s most relevant to them, based on prior interactions they’ve had with your brand.

A huge part of user experience is making your prospects feel special. People want to feel seen and understood by brands from their very first interaction through to the repeat and refer stages of the marketing hourglass, so being able to provide visitors with relevant, tailored information from the start is a way to make a great first impression and start building trust right away.

Ignoring Trust-Building Elements

Trust is hugely important to building a lasting relationship with customers. If you don’t win a prospect’s trust early in the game, they will never convert. And if you do something that makes a customer question your trustworthiness, they will not come to do business with you again or refer you to their friends.

There are some quick fixes you can take to make sure your site is set up to build trust from the second a visitor lands on your page. Having a website with an HTTPS certificate is the first step. HTTPS encrypts any information you’re gathering on your website, so if you’re asking visitors for their personal information or are collecting payments on your site, you have to make them feel confident their information will be kept safe.

Chrome is now alerting users when the site they’re visiting is has not migrated to HTTPS, so your site is being labeled with “not secure” in the URL bar if you haven’t made the switch.

Including badges for SSL is also an important trust-building step. Research has shown that people are more likely to trust and do business with sites that display trust badges.

When you’re designing your website, it can be easy to get caught up in focusing on the wrong elements. Making a pretty site is not the same as building a solid one, but if you don’t know what makes a truly great site then it’s easy to miss the mark. Knowing these mistakes that business owners often make allows you to identify the issues you see in your own site, and pivot to build a stronger site that empowers you to outpace the competition.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

Why Your Site Must Have an HTTPS Certificate (And How to Get One)

Why Your Site Must Switch to HTTPS (And How to Do It)

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on HTTPS

Every website in the world is carried across a protocol known as HTTP. Recently, though, we’ve seen more and more websites switching over to HTTPS, which is the secure version of that same protocol.

A site that is carried on HTTPS is encrypted, meaning that all of the data and information on the site itself is protected from hackers. Not only that, but the sensitive information that you gather from prospects and customers—whether that’s their email or credit card information—is encrypted, too.

Why Should I Switch?

Every website owner should be migrating their site to HTTPS. Google has put incredible emphasis on ensuring that sites are secure. They recently made updates to their Chrome browser so that HTTPS sites appear with a lock symbol in the browser bar. Those that are just HTTP display the words “Not secure” in red next to the site’s URL. Having warning text associated with your website does not make a great first impression on visitors.

Not only that, Google is making HTTPS a ranking factor, so if you want to ensure that your site is well positioned in Google results (and you do), then you need to be thinking about securing an HTTPS certificate.

Even if you don’t collect any customer data through forms, your site is still vulnerable. Every time someone visits your website, there is a transfer of information between their computer and your site. If your information is not encrypted, it’s there for hackers to see and attack on the backend.

How Do I Switch?

Fortunately, it’s really easy to make the switch to an HTTPS site. WordPress offers a number of plugins to make the change, and most web hosts offer HTTPS certificates to their clients (either for a fee or, more often than not, for free as part of their service).

Hosts like Pressable and WPEngine, who work specifically with WordPress sites, offer HTTPS certification to all of their customers.

If you have a particularly old site that’s built in HTML it might be a bit more work to migrate, but there are plenty of consultants who can guide you through the process.

What Happens After I’ve Switched?

Once you’ve made the switch, you’ve essentially created two versions of your site: one that is HTTP and the other that is HTTPS.

Most hosts will automatically eliminate the HTTP version, so that even if someone types your site’s URL into their browser with “http://” as the start of the address, it will convert to the HTTPS version. However, if both the HTTP and HTTPS sites remain active out there, then you’re still leaving some content vulnerable, and you’re also confusing Google, leading them to believe you have two identical sites.

After you’ve gotten your HTTPS certificate, go to your Google Search Console and update your sitemap in order to instruct Google to look only at your HTTPS site moving forward. Within a week of the switch, Google will have moved away from your HTTP site and will only show the HTTPS version in results.

While this is a technical topic, it fortunately doesn’t take a lot of technical expertise to do the right thing and acquire an HTTPS certificate. A quick call to your web host and an update to your Google Search Console is all that’s needed to get your site compliant and ensure that the valuable information you hold about your business and your customers is all secure.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

Klaviyo logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.

Tips for Getting Your Audience to Stay on Your Website Longer

Tips for Getting Your Audience to Stay on Your Website Longer

You put a lot of time, effort, and money into developing a website for your business. So you want to be sure that it’s capturing people’s attention and giving them the information they need to feel good about doing business with you.

But no one can learn what you’re all about in a second or two. You must hold visitors’ attention long enough for them to learn what they need to learn about your business. And while you can’t control a stranger’s attention span, there are things you can do to encourage your audience to stay on your website longer.

Put Your Value Proposition Front and Center

Prospects are coming to your website because they have a problem. The most important thing for them to learn when your page loads is, “Can this business solve my problem?”

If you make it hard for visitors to determine what you do, they’re going to quickly lose interest. Google turns out thousands upon thousands of search results in an instant. A confused prospect can and will easily find another business who’s clearer about their value proposition and how they can fix the issue at hand.

Your value proposition should be one sentence at the top of your landing page that simply and elegantly highlights what you do. And it should be something that speaks specifically to your ideal customer—it won’t be something that everyone can relate to. For more on how to find your ideal value proposition, check out this post.

Write Better Copy

Part of keeping people engaged is presenting your information in an interesting way. There is a right way and a wrong way to write website copy. Long, jargon-filled paragraphs and wishy-washy headlines are a great way to confuse and alienate your audience.

Stick with short, punchy headlines that clearly demonstrate what a reader can expect to find on any given page. Paragraphs should be no more than four sentences, and those sentences should be concise.

Focusing on how the copy can serve your value proposition and your calls to action on each page can help you to define exactly what you need from your writing.

Create Informative Content

The best way to build trust and keep your audience on your site is to prove that you have the expertise to solve their problem. And the best way to do that is to fill your site with informative content.

Blog posts that provide rich information and actionable steps for readers are a great place to start. Once you’ve created content that’s meaningful for your audience, consider grouping it on hub pages. These pages allow you to centralize information on a given topic, which is helpful for visitors looking for answers, and also boosts your site’s SEO.

Outside of written content, you want to mix things up. Varied content keeps people engaged. Work to incorporate video into your strategy. Think about infographics and other ways, beyond website copy, to present relevant information. People have different learning styles, so creating content in various forms allows you to capture the attention of all your prospects.

Think About Structure

How you structure the information on your website can help to keep your audience around. Think about it from a storytelling perspective. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. For brands, the beginning of your story is your offer to solve a prospect’s problem. The middle is the specifics on how you do it, and the end is the prospect converting to customer.

When you think about it that way, it allows you to get smart about how you structure your website. Your landing page should address the prospect’s problem. Pages below that in the hierarchy should support your initial value proposition, and provide visitors with more specifics about how you can fix their issue. Finally, this leads them to a place where they can make a purchase or speak to your sales team.

Get Smart with Calls to Action

Calls to action are not only a way to keep your audience on your website for longer, they’re a great way to build trust and drive conversions.

Set a goal for each page of your website, and have a corresponding CTA that drives a related conversion. That conversion could be the collection of an email address to add them to a mailing list or to send them a relevant white paper. It could be setting up a call with a sales rep to discuss your product offerings. Or it could be something as simple as sending them to a relevant blog post on your site.

When your calls to action are tailored to the information on each page, then you’re ensuring a higher rate of conversion because the visitor to that page is interested in the topic at hand. The CTA provides you the opportunity to give them the additional information they crave, proving your authority and trustworthiness as a brand. Plus, you’re able to learn more valuable information about your prospects that you can use to greet them with additional tailored offers in the future.

Don’t Forget Technical Elements

While it’s important that you’re providing prospects with the information and elements they need to see on your website, it’s also critical that your site holds up behind the scenes. Things like a quick page load time are critical for keeping your audience on your website. How many times have you sat staring at a blank page for a handful of seconds before clicking back to Google search results to check out the next site down instead? If you’re worried about how your site loads, check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how you stack up.

Having a mobile friendly site is also a must. The majority of searches nowadays happen on mobile devices, so if your site doesn’t look good on a phone, that audience will be passing you over quickly.

The longer you can keep your audience on your website, the greater shot you have at winning their trust. When you undertake the steps above, you’re setting your business up to impress visitors and hold their attention, which in turn will have positive results on your conversions and bottom line.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

10 Things You Need to Consider About Your Website in 2019

10 Things to Consider About Your Website in 2019

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the 10 Things to Consider About Your Website in 2019

You’ve started a business and created your website. But that doesn’t mean your work here is done. Behaviors and trends change, your needs shift, and your website must continue to evolve so that it’s meeting your goals.

The first step is to think about what it is that you really want your website to do. Are you trying to get more readers or subscribers, make more sales, or generate more calls from prospects?

Before you go through the process of updating your site to best serve this newly identified goal, you want to begin by understanding how users currently experience your website. Consider using a tool that tests user experience. Something like Neil Patel’s Crazy Egg allows you to install a code on your website that produces a report of heat maps for each page. These maps show how and where people consume content on your site—where they click or hover, how they scroll, and what they’re really trying to do on each page.

Once you understand the basics of what you want accomplish and how your users want to interact with your site, you can go about planning and designing a website that serves both of your needs. The following ten tips will help guide you through the process.

1. Kill the Sliders

Carousels and sliders became incredibly trendy in web design over the last few years. They may look pretty, but the thing is: They’re bad user experience.

Web designers may push for them because of their ubiquity, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best way to showcase what your business does. Even if the web design expert recommends it, do not fall into the slider trap!

2. Start With a Promise to Solve a Problem

Customers aren’t looking for a product or service, they’re looking for a solution. What is it that you’re solving, and how are you doing it?

The problem you’re solving represents the starting point of any customer’s journey. They didn’t come to your website for a casual scroll through all of your products and services, they want to know—from the second they land on your site—that you understand their issue and have the means to solve it.

3. Bring Whitespace Back

Like any fashion, web design trends come and go. Your website can certainly look dated if there are stylistic elements that were popular in the past decade but are less so today.

The thing is, websites aren’t just about looks. They should be more able usability. What allows a visitor to consume content and move through the journey you want them to have in the easiest manner?

The answer is whitespace. Several years ago, the trend was to cram everything above the fold. Now, long-form scrolling homepages are very popular, and it’s because users don’t want to click anymore. They want to scroll through a journey and find all of the relevant information on one page.

When I talk about whitespace, it’s not a matter of having big blocks of it. It’s more about creating room for your content to breathe. Adding space between the lines of scrolling information allows you to draw more focus to the most important elements and information on your site.

4. Provide Fewer Choices

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. What is the intent for your business and your site? What do you want people to do?

Find your core difference and how it speaks to your ideal client, and go from there. Plus, you’ll want to understand how to feature the products and services that not only speak to this audience, but are also most profitable and provide the greatest opportunity for your business.

Creating a site that is vague and broad only wears people out and turns them off to the value of your offerings.

5. Put Strong Calls to Action in a Number of Places

While you’re not trying to be everything to everyone, you can also vary your calls to action slightly within the framework of your well-defined value proposition.

These calls to action should be specific, and you should be touting their value. Generic calls to action like “sign up for updates” don’t cut it anymore. What is an update, anyway, and why do your customers need it?

Focus instead on calls to action with concrete benefits. “Get a free quote” or “Get a free report on XYZ” are offers that can have real value for prospects. And if the call to action doesn’t speak for itself, put some text around it that emphasizes its value.

You can and should have three or four different calls to action. Some people are just looking to contact you, so a “call us today” call to action is right for them. But you also want to have calls to action that allow those looking for a deeper dive into your information the opportunity to learn more.

6. Build More Landing Pages

Landing pages are not necessarily built to rank for a key phrase. But they should be built for each of your ads, locations, products and services, so that you can drive people to things that have a specific intent or need.

When people are greeted with specific, relevant information when they land on your site, they’re more likely to trust you and want to learn more.

7. Create Hub Pages

We’ve been talking about the importance of creating content for many years, and some of you have taken that message to heart. But more often than not, the content is created, distributed on your blog, and then mostly forgotten about.

In order to put all of this content to work for you, it’s time to start internally linking the content you’ve written over the years. And to take it a step further: Start creating hub pages that are centered around your most important and relevant themes.

Not only does this create more value for your audience, who can then find all relevant information in one place, it also makes Google’s search rankings happy, providing you with significant SEO value.

8. Consider Mobile First

For most businesses 70 to 80 percent of views of your site are on a mobile device. If you want to see where your business falls, go into your analytics and check the device report. That will tell you how people are viewing your site.

If most of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, doesn’t it stand to reason that your website should be optimized to create the best experience on mobile? Designers sometimes lose sight of the focus on mobile—they work on desktops with giant screens, but that’s not the way the majority of people are consuming your site. Be sure to remind your designers not to forget about how to best serve your prospects and customers with your site’s design.

9. Assess Load Speed for Pages

How quickly your site loads is a significant ranking factor for Google. Not only that, but slow-loading sites are irritating for your users and create a bad first impression.

If you’re not sure where your site stands, check out the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool will provide information on how your site loads on both mobile and desktop devices. If you’re not getting a green rating for both, speak with a programmer who can get your speeds up to where you want them to be.

Often the source of the problem is a technical issue that can easily be fixed by a professional.

10. Address Security Concerns

People are becoming increasingly worried about security these days. If you do not have HTTPS in front of your URL, you’re immediately eroding trust in your brand. An HTTPS certificate ensures that your site and the data you collect there are being properly encrypted and are protected from hackers.

All websites should have an HTTPS certificate, but this is particularly important if you’re collecting sensitive information from visitors, like their contact information or credit card numbers.

Google is now informing anyone on a Chrome browser whether the site they’re visiting is secure or not, and your rankings in Google search are being affected if you don’t have that certificate. Plus, when the first thing visitors to your site see is “Not secure” in the browser window, it doesn’t make for a great first impression.

Fortunately, most web hosting platforms are now including HTTPS certificates with their hosting services. If yours is a WordPress site, Pressable is a great hosting option. Investing a bit more in a high quality web host is worth it in the long run.

If you want to get better results from your website in 2019, it’s time to start thinking about these ten factors.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

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Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

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Why Your Website Must Be Mobile Friendly

Why Your Website Must Be Mobile Friendly

When designers approach creating a website, they do it from behind the giant screens of desktop computers. When they show it to you, you scroll through at your desk and are impressed by how beautiful it looks. You’re a happy camper, so you pay them their fee and go on your way!

If that scenario sounds familiar, it means you’ve forgotten about a very important factor in website design: your mobile site. Creating a website that is mobile friendly is more important than ever before, and so if you haven’t checked your site’s mobile layout and performance recently, it’s time to do so.

Today, we’re going to discuss why your website must be mobile friendly, and what you can do to make sure you’re providing users with the best possible mobile experience on your site.

You Need to Meet Users Where They Are

You created your website for prospects and customers to use. And the fact of the matter is that, today, most searches are originating on mobile devices, not desktop computers. According to a recent report from Brightedge, nearly 60 percent of all website traffic is coming from mobile.

If your site isn’t mobile friendly, the majority of people coming across your website might be experiencing slow load times, a jumbled layout, or missing information. None of these issues make for a great first impression, so you need to clean up your mobile site so that users are instead finding information about your business quickly and easily.

Google Prefers Mobile

In 2018, Google announced that they would begin to rank search results based on mobile, rather than desktop, sites. This decision was driven by the fact that most users are searching on mobile devices, and so Google wants to ensure that the results they’re displaying first are going to be high quality and really meet the needs of the majority of searchers.

If your site is not ranking well on Google, that is a serious concern. Google is the number one search engine, and if you’re not showing up on their first page of results, it’s likely you’re not being seen at all. A study from Moz indicated that 71 percent of users will click through to sites on the first page of search results. So if you’re on the second page, you’re only getting noticed by about 30 percent of the people who might need your goods or services.

How to Improve Your Site for Mobile

So now that you understand why mobile is so important, what can you do to make sure your site is hitting the right marks?

Take a Look for Yourself

The first step is to see where you stand right now. Pick up your phone and go to your business’s website. Does it take a long time to load? Once it’s up and running is everything laid out properly? Are there elements that don’t load? Are things overlapping? Is the type too small to read?

You can also ask a few of your friends to check out your site. What do they notice? Do they find it easy to learn what you do and how to contact you? If you or your friends find any issues with the site, then you’ve got work to do.

Check Your Site’s Loading Speed

Now that you’ve experienced your website from a mobile device, you’ll want to get a formal score for your page load speed. That’s where Google PageSpeed Insights comes in. Google will give you a separate score for both your mobile and desktop sites. If you’re not getting a green light on both, you need to contact a developer to work on increasing the speed.

Usually increasing load speed on mobile is a pretty easy fix for a professional developer. Sometimes it’s big, bulky files that are slowing you down. Other times, your site is designed on an old, out of date theme. Whatever the issue, a pro can usually diagnose and solve it quickly.

Eliminate Unfriendly Elements

Some things, like JavaScript and CSS images, do not load well on mobile. You should eliminate those elements from your website and instead replace them with simple images and blocks of text.

You’ll also want to think about using responsive design and selecting a font size that’s legible without zooming in. Not only are these elements important for user experience, they’ll affect how you rank on Google

Similarly, you’ll want to be sure that content is not hidden in images or other types of files that Google cannot crawl. When Google decides how to rank sites for certain search terms, they’re looking for those keywords on your site. If the keywords are tied up in images rather than simple text, Google isn’t able to see that your site has relevant information. For more on best practices for ranking on Google, check out this article.

Having a mobile friendly website is critical in terms of serving your audience and getting found on Google. If you haven’t thought about your mobile site in a while, or have been meaning to update in for years, now is the time to take action! A few simple changes can make a huge difference in your Google ranking and the experience for your users.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website

Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website (And How to Do It)

Your website is the heart of your online marketing efforts. So it stands to reason that it should be built with marketing, rather than aesthetics, in mind. Yes, there is something to be said for having an appealing website, and you should certainly aim to design one that has both form and function. But the mistake that a lot of small business owners make is focusing on form exclusively, and that is where they miss a major opportunity.

Your website can be the most beautiful one in the world, but if you don’t focus on its function, then it’s all for naught. If you want to build a successful website, you need to start with a solid SEO framework to build a site that is easy to find and works seamlessly with your other online marketing efforts.

Why SEO Matters

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what gets new prospects onto your site. If someone does a Google search looking to solve a problem that they have, and your business is capable of solving that problem, you want your website to be the first one that they see. Think about your own browsing habits: How often do you look at the second, third, or fourth page search results on Google? If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of results, you’re not being seen by the majority of people.

Start with Keyword Research

Ensuring high rankings on search results is why it’s critical to begin the website design process with keyword research. Start by brainstorming the terms you would search for if you were looking for the good or service your business provides. This can and should be a long list—write everything down and don’t self-edit. Google Search Console can also help you identify the terms that are already driving users to your site, which might help you reframe your own thinking on the list.

Then begin to winnow the list down to 12-20 terms; some that speak to the fundamentals of your business and some that speak to a specific intent a user might have when searching. These keywords will inform all of your website design choices from here on out.

Think Like a Search Engine

The way that a human sees your site is very different from the way Google sees it as it crawls through sites looking for information relevant to a given search. You want to make sure that as much of your content as possible is in HTML text format. Images, Flash content, and Javascript are often not seen by search engines as they’re crawling sites, so if all of the important information about what your business does is displayed on your page within these dynamic formats, it’s possible that Google is skipping right past your website when looking for relevant words or phrases.

Using a tool like Google Cache Checker will allow you to see what your website looks like to Google. If your pages are showing up mostly blank, you know that search engines are missing out on crawling the majority of your content, so you’ll want to restructure your site to be more HTML heavy.

Consider Website Structure

In addition to thinking about the way a search engine will see your site, you want to make sure you’re building a structure that makes sense for SEO and for visitors.

Creating a site map can be a helpful way to think about content and flow. What information do you want to group together? What is the logical path that visitors will take when navigating your site? How can you make it easy for users to get from one relevant piece of information to another? And how can you structure your website in a way that enriches the customer journey and encourages users to move down the marketing hourglass?

Once you’ve thought about the user experience aspect of your site, it’s time to think about structure from an SEO perspective. Creating a site with crawlable link structure is critical to making sure that all of your content is seen by search engines. There are a number of reasons why your links might not be crawlable, including if they’re for pages that are hidden behind submission forms, if the links are within the aforementioned Java content that search engines aren’t able to see, or if there are hundreds of links on a given site (search engines will only go through so many links before hitting a limit).

Create Rich Content

Of course, this effort you’ve put into creating a site that’s easy to find, functional, and appealing will all be useless if your site has sub-par content.

As I’ve said before, the goal of this content should be to establish your business as a leading authority in your field. This valuable content will serve you across the board. It makes prospects come to trust you and moves them to the try and buy portions of the marketing hourglass. When you continue to generate new, rich content, it drives existing customers back to your site for more information, keeps you top of mind with those customers, and makes them more likely to repeat and refer.

Not only that, but when your website is filled with valuable content, and you continue to add more on a regular basis, you generate a stream of information that you can use to drive users to your site. You should be housing all of your content—blog posts, webinars, case studies, podcasts, white papers, and infographics—on your website. Then, as you share links to all of this valuable content on social media or via your newsletter, you’re directing all traffic back to your site.

A website, no matter how good it looks, is nothing without a solid approach to SEO. Your website is the most important piece of your online marketing strategy, and so investing the time, energy, and money in creating a site that ticks all of the boxes for form and function is a worthwhile endeavor.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust

Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust

It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new online security breach. From mega-retailers like Target to tech giants like Facebook, online security is a major issue and giant concern for consumers.

Building trust is a critical part of the marketing hourglass for any business, whether they’re a global conglomerate or a mom and pop shop. What can you, as a small business owner, do to build a site that not only engenders trust but also incorporates legitimate security measures? I’ll share some tips below for creating a website that users trust.

1. Looks Matter

This may sound shallow, but the easiest step in creating a website that looks trustworthy is building one that looks appealing. While I’ve written before about the importance of starting with a focus on SEO—a sentiment that I still stand by—there is something to be said for putting eye-catching trappings on top of that solid SEO foundation.

The way your site looks is important because people do judge books by their covers. Think about how you feel when you go to a website that has typos; inadvertently overlapping video, text, and photo elements; or is just plain black text on a white background. It makes you question the business immediately. Is this a legitimate company, or a scam site? Surely a real business would put effort into presenting the best version of themselves online—so why is this site not up to par?

If someone showed up to job interview in a wrinkled t-shirt and ripped jeans, you might think twice about hiring them. Same principle applies in web design: A sloppy-looking site immediately introduces doubt about your business’s legitimacy and competence into your prospect’s mind.

2. Message Matters, Too

Just as important as a clear, consistent visual presence is a clear and consistent message. Part of establishing trust with a prospect is giving them a sense that they really know who you are, what you do, and why you’re driven to do it. These are all of the questions that a good value proposition will answer. That’s why it’s critical that you take the steps to find out what motivates your existing customers to do business with you and hone in on the themes that they indicate are important to them.

Once you’ve established what it is that makes your business unique and have decided how you want to communicate that message, you want to trumpet that messaging everywhere. Your website’s homepage should highlight the value proposition front and center, and then provide visitors with a call to action that encourages them to learn more about your business.

All other online marketing, including paid ads, social media, newsletters, and emails, should be grounded in that value proposition. It is the North Star for all of your messaging.

And it’s not just what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it. Each business must embrace a tone that makes sense for what they do and who they serve. A local credit union and a children’s bookstore are targeting very different demographics, and so their marketing tones will be very different. While the credit union wants to convey stability and trust, the bookstore is likely aiming for whimsy and adventurousness.

If your business’s tone is all over the map, this again introduces doubt into your prospect’s mind. If you don’t seem to have a clear handle on what your business does, how can a prospect trust you to really step up and solve their problem?

3. Switch to an HTTPS Site

So the first two steps were about putting your customer at ease by creating a site that seems secure. But with that, your work is far from done; you now need to implement tools to build a site that actually is secure. Your first move here should be converting to an HTTPS site.

HTTPS sites are encrypted and protect you from hacking. This is important for you as the business owner, because you can guarantee that all of your business’s information remains secure. It’s also vital for your customers; if you’re going to be asking them to entrust you with their credit card information and personal contact details, they are going to want assurance that you can keep that information safe.

While in the past you may have been able to sneak by with a regular old HTTP site, starting in July of 2018 Chrome began announcing to users when they were visiting unsecured sites. Users now see a red “not secure” label in the URL bar any time they visit an unsecured site, which is a literal red flag that your site is not trustworthy.

And if that isn’t enough incentive for you, unsecured sites are also punished in Google’s search rankings, so an unsecured site might be lowering your standing in organic search results. Switching over to a secured site is a quick fix to maintain your first-page search results standing.

4. Employ Further Site Security Measures

Once you’ve made the switch to an HTTPS site, there are a few additional steps you can and should take to further enhance your site’s security, which is especially critical if you’re collecting payment or other sensitive information online.

Acquiring SSL certification is a good place to start for those running e-commerce sites. SSL sites establish a secure connection for sensitive information to be transmitted. Sites with SSL also display badges to indicate their added security, which research has shown increases conversion rates.

Aside from relying on HTTPS and SSL tech to boost your security behind the scenes, you should be making efforts from your side to ensure that you’re not inadvertently opening your site up to vulnerabilities. We’ve shared about the role that out-of-date WordPress plugins played in the massive data leak at a law firm, which got international press coverage.

When you incorporate plugins from third-party developers, you open your site up to any errors in their plugin code. These developers are good about checking their work and pushing through updates to correct for any potential issues, but if you’re still running the original version of the plugin, it’s possible that you’ve left your site open for hackers to get in through the vulnerabilities there and then move into other elements of your site.

Creating a website users trust is an important part of moving your prospects through the marketing hourglass and converting them to customers. Incorporating security elements is the key to establishing a site you know will guard your customers’ personal information, which will keep them coming back to do business with you time and again.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.