8 Website Elements for Strong Marketing ROI

There are many elements that go into creating a great business website. Any list of the most important is bound to leave a few worthy contenders off, but I’ll take my chances with this list of what I think are the elements worth paying attention to first.

Many elements go into creating a great business website. Any list of the most important of these is bound to leave a few worthy contenders off, but I’ll take my chances with this list of website elements I think are worth paying attention to first. (And I’d love to hear what you think should be on the list but isn’t, and what you’d remove to make room.)

1. Informative Content

Prospects aren’t browsing your website because they have nothing better to do or because they’re in a procrastinating mood — that’s what Facebook is for. They are on your website, or looking for a website like yours, because they have a problem to solve.

So, one element I’m not likely to remove — or even move down the list — is informative content. No matter what else your website has going for it, you’re not going to attract an audience or keep their attention if you don’t have content that helps them solve the problems they are facing. It’s just that simple.

2. A Prospect-centric Perspective

One way you can make your website content more attractive to your prospects is to present it from their perspective. That means writing from their perspective, rather than yours, discussing the problem from their perspective, and even organizing your site from their perspective.

(If “About Us” is the first thing on your website’s main menu, you’ve got some rethinking to do.)

3. SEO Awareness

The right tone and perspective will help keep prospects interested, but you’ve got to get them to the site first. Building a site that is SEO-aware is critical. Whether or not a full-blown SEO campaign is a good fit for your services, target audience and competitive market is another question worth in-depth analysis.

Either way, you want to make your site as easy to find as it can be.

4. Frequent Updates

Once you’re comfortable with the SEO requirements for the content most attractive to your audience, keep the content taps open. Update the site on a frequent and regular basis. Not only is this helpful for SEO, it’s also the fuel for powering many other aspects of your marketing — email marketing, social media, even more traditional marketing channels like direct mail.

You have to have something of value to share. Your website should be the central gathering point for this content.

Don’t overlook evergreen content, though. Its value is, of course, in its timelessness. But you can add more value by updating it, adding similar content from a slightly different perspective or tailoring it more specifically to a particular audience segment.

5. Calls to Action

Getting prospects to your site doesn’t magically turn them into customers, even if your content has them quietly nodding their heads in agreement. You have to provide a way for them to take the next step.

From newsletter signups to worksheet downloads to appointment booking tools, your site must have calls to action that encourage, yes, action! Get them to take the next step; invest a little bit more in the relationship until picking up the phone or setting an appointment seems like a natural next step, rather than an intrusion from a salesperson.

5 Ideas for Creative Facebook Videos

Who doesn’t like a great video? YouTube knows this better than anyone. From babies to cats, amazing physical feats to how to put on makeup, everyone seems to be seeking out and watching these videos.

facebookcover Patrick blogWho doesn’t like a great video? YouTube knows this better than anyone. From babies to cats, amazing physical feats to how to put on makeup, everyone seems to be seeking out and watching these videos.

Now Facebook has grabbed onto the video idea, but in a different manner — in your News Feed. So even if you are not looking, you’ll see video from your friends, advertisers and news outlets. And what’s really cool is they start to play when you get near them … but without sound. Then simply click on the video to hear the sound.

Most likely, you know this already. The question is have you USED video yet? Have you uploaded any videos? Do you have any to upload? This leads to random idea No. 1 …

1. Create a Video From Pictures

Okay, we’re not all videographers. Nor do we know a videographer. Or maybe can’t quite afford one now. So how can you take advantage of video on Facebook? Use a slide show!

Creating a video slide show is very simple. Choose “Share a photo or video” when you go to your page. Then choose “Create Slideshow” and have three to 10 photos ready for upload. Just remember one thing: They will be automatically cropped to a video size and proportion.

Next, you’ll choose the duration each photo stays on screen and if you want them to fade or cut from picture to picture. You can also rearrange the order of photos, too.

The last step: Add music. You can choose from selections Facebook has or upload your own. (Just remember, you must have rights to any music. No uploading your favorite Stones, Sting or Ed Sheeran songs.) The good news is there’s lots of “rights-free” music on the Internet.

Then all you do is hit “Create Video” and once it’s ready, Facebook emails you. Viola! You now have a video on Facebook.

You can use this for products, real estate, entertainment or just about anything where up to 10 photos will get your message across.

facebookslideshowvideo Patrick's post

This slideshow video created for Sleep Woodstock Motel was made from 10 photos and a Facebook music selection
This slideshow video created for Sleep Woodstock Motel was made from 10 photos and a Facebook music selection

2.  Add Text to the Beginning of Your Video

Wait, it’s a video. Why would I want to add text to it? The simple answer is there’s no sound unless someone clicks on the video. If you want them to get your message right from the start, add text. This could be the difference between zooming past it or actually clicking on it.

Camtasia used text in its video very effectively below.

camtasiawithcta Patrick post

3.  Use CTAs IN Newsfeed Videos

Make sure to add a call to action (CTA) to your Facebook video. Make it easy for the viewer by taking them to a Web page where they can learn more, watch more or even buy.

Examples for the CTAs include: Book Now, Learn More, Sign Up, Download, Watch More, Shop Now and as the MasterCard video below uses very effectively, Apply Now. Choose your CTA wisely as your selection can help or hurt your engagement and clickthrough rates.

mastercardblackcard_cta

4. Use the Cover Image ‘Watch Video’ CTA

Your cover image can become a powerful tool to feature a video. If you’re introducing a new product, promoting an upcoming event or featuring a new service, the Facebook CTA button on your cover image brings powerful attention to a video hosted on a micro-page or website.

HGTV teamed up with Ellen for a design challenge. The cover image CTA button takes viewers to the video on their website.

ellen-call-to-action-button

8 Considerations for Planning a Google AdWords Campaign

Ready to make a splash in Google AdWords? If you’re marketing your small business, then you may have first-hand knowledge about the ease of using Google’s ad platform. But don’t be fooled — it takes more than hastily written ad copy and keywords to be successful in AdWords.

TM0810_searchglobe copyReady to make a splash in Google AdWords? If you’re marketing your small business, then you may have first-hand knowledge about the ease of using Google’s ad platform. Anyone with a Google account and a credit card can get ads up and running within minutes. Online marketing can be an intimidating concept, but AdWords distills the creation of ad campaigns into a simple, step-by-step process.

But don’t be fooled — it takes more than hastily written ad copy and keywords to be successful in AdWords. Much like cooking isn’t as simple as throwing food into the oven, creating profitable campaigns in AdWords requires knowing your target audience, analyzing competitors and defining goals for your advertising efforts. Do these things, and your campaigns are far more likely to hit their desired targets. Neglect this pre-launch research, though, and your ads may never flourish.

Here we’ll review eight important steps when planning your Google AdWords campaigns. Whether you’re new to AdWords or have some experience, these easy steps can strengthen your advertisements right out of the gate.

1. Define Who You’re Targeting

Think of your AdWords campaigns as radio stations. If you wanted to attract the most listeners, you wouldn’t play the same music on all of your stations. Some stations would play the current pop hits, while others may play rap, classical or country. Each unique station would resonate better with specific groups of people.

So when creating your campaigns, think carefully about who you’re trying to reach with each one. If you’re marketing a shoe store, do you want your newest campaign to target male or female shoppers? Are you marketing formal shoes or sneakers? Are you trying to appeal locally or attract nationwide online orders? Or perhaps you’re selling to a niche market, like people with unusually large feet? Any information you can gather on your target audience will help you build your campaigns.

2. Find Relevant, High-demand Keywords

Building quality keyword lists is essential for all your campaigns. However, good keywords need to be more than relevant — they also need to be in high demand. In search marketing, demand is measured by how many people are searching for various keywords. Keywords that garner little attention from Web users aren’t going to help your advertising campaigns.

Fortunately, Google makes it easy to find relevant, high-demand keywords. Simply enter your keyword ideas into the AdWords Keyword Suggestion Tool, and Google returns lists of similar keyword terms along with their estimated monthly search volumes and various other metrics. Estimated costs per click are shown, but these figures are often incorrect. Definitely pay attention to the level of competition for each keyword term; keywords with higher levels of competition are being bid on by more AdWords users, which pushes up the required bids for premium ad placements. You’ll maximize your reach and make your budget go further by finding relevant, high-volume keywords with less competition from other advertisers.

3. Make a Focused Sales Pitch

Knowing how to blast your ad to the masses is important, but reach doesn’t matter if your ad isn’t interesting. What exactly are you selling, and why should your campaign’s target audience care? What makes your business or your product special? Are you offering a deal or discount that your customers shouldn’t be without?

Your sales pitch must be short and sweet. Pay-per-click ads don’t leave much room for making your point, which is why it’s so crucial to zero in on one or two selling points for each of your campaigns. Choosing the sales pitches for your various campaigns goes hand-in-hand with knowing your target audiences.

5 CTA Button Design Best Practices

Take a close look at your call to action (CTA), particularly the design of the CTA button. It’s an element that many designers do not give enough attention, but they are one of the most important elements to consider. If you get them right, your results will improve.

The Art & Science of Writing Calls to ActionYou’ve designed the perfect landing page, product page, email or home page. Are they converting leads, sales or generating incoming traffic? Could they work harder?

You need to ask questions like these every time you review the results of your marketing efforts.

One way you may be able to improve these results: Take a close look at your call to action (CTA), particularly the design of the CTA button. It’s an element that many designers do not give enough attention.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal template or design style that works across the board. What works for one email or landing page site may not work for you.

But there are some elements that have been tested which may be able to help you improve your results. The key word here is “tested.” I present this information for you to consider, but like anything, test everything as it relates to your CTA buttons.

After all, there are a many factors that contribute to improving results. CTA buttons are just one ingredient among many. Effective web pages and emails don’t depend on the CTA button alone, but upon a lot of factors, both in the realms of design and copy. If you get them right, your results will improve.

Parts of a Button
There are two parts to a CTA button — the design of the button itself and the copy within the button. Both have a critical role to play.

Button design is all about directing a viewers eye and answering the question: Where should I click?” Button copy, on the other hand, answers the question: “Why should I click this button?”

I’m going to focus more on the design aspect of CTA buttons, but you need to think clearly about these as a team and they must work together.

1. It’s a Button
Pay attention to convention. No need to reinvent the wheel here — CTA buttons are buttons. Make it clear that it is a button. The call to action is so important, you should not attempt to make anything but a plain button. It can be different shapes, but remember, it must clearly be a button.Try It Today CTA ButtonSave My Seat CTA ButtonSubscribe CTA Button

Join Now CTA Button2. Make It Stand Out
Contrast and position are the key words here. No matter how wonderful your product, your information or your offer, if your CTA is not easy to find it’ll be lost. The two things to do:

• Use contrasting colors: I’ve read that green and orange work better, but in reality there’s no magic color that works better than another. Every page, email and site are different, and testing your button color is critical.

Critical Mention website
Example of good contrast
Evernote website
Example of poor contrast

• Place in an obvious place: This may seem logical and obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times people place their buttons poorly. Even though your button my have contrasting color, if you place in the wrong place, it’ll be difficult to find. Even Apple makes this mistake.

Hubspot CTA
Example of good call-to-action button placement
Apple CTA
Example of poor call-to-action button placement

3. Make Your Copy Active
Many designers don’t pay much attention to the copy on a button. That’s a big mistake. Making your button say more than:

REGISTER
SUBMIT
ENTER
FOR MORE INFO
DOWNLOAD

can make a dramatic difference.

8 Simple-Yet-Brilliant Copy and Creative Tips That Make a Huge Difference

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Copywriter/Copy Coach Pat Friesen speak on several copy-centered webinars in the last few years, so I knew I needed to make time for her session: Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook.

Hey hey hey, happy March, people of the marketing sphere! The month has been great for me so far. Among other things (cut my Comcast bill in half, SCORE!) just last week I got to spend my day at the annual Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Virtual Conference. Did you get to check it out? It was live on March 10, but is available on demand in its entirety starting today, so I’d highly recommend heading over there if you couldn’t make it!

Target Marketing snagged some seriously top-notch speakers (VP of Marketing at Cirque du Soleil, for one, daaang) to share their expertise on a whole slew of helpful and fascinating topics like marketing-first companies, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, and of course — copy and design.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Copywriter/Copy Coach Pat Friesen speak on several copy-centered webinars in the last few years, so I knew I needed to make time for her session: Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook. Pat, along with President and Chief Creative Officer of DM Creative Group Patrick Fultz, went through some of their tried-and-true design and copy tips to boost conversion and sales.

All the content presented at the show was fantastic, but since this is a copy/creative blog I thought I’d just speed through some of the key takeaways from Pat2‘s copy/creative session. (Hope they won’t mind I just deemed them Pat2.)

  • Specificity makes a difference! “Save $478.88 each year” has much more credibility and impact than “save money” or even “save hundreds of dollars.”
  • Numerals appear more impressive at a glance than numbers spelled out. Tip: Include decimals in money amounts for an extra kick:Ten thousand” vs. “$10,000” vs. “$10,000.00.”
  • Reverse type considerations! This requires the visual they gave, check it out:

reversetype

  • When it comes to photo captions, “features describe, benefits sell.” “Sewn stars and stripes” doesn’t mean as much to a reader as “Sewn stars and stripes look classic and add durability”.
  • Better CTAs stress immediate satisfaction (“Get it now,” “Download now,” “See it in action”) and are clear about what the action is (“Sign up” vs. “Submit”).
  • A/B test your CTAs! Don’t underestimate the difference every element can make, from button copy to text color to button color and shape.
  • Use an email pre-header. When viewing an email with no pre-header in the preview pane, a reader will see something like “To view this email in a browser …” etc. Instead, include a pre-header that briefly elaborates on the subject line or gives a hint what the email is about! They’ll be much more inclined to open and read.
  • Place offer above the fold. A great offer, like “Receive a free _______ for signing up,” should be in the upper half of your email; shrink or eliminate graphics if necessary to pull the offer up.

This is just a quick n’ dirty rundown of what was a fantastic session, I actually had to limit myself to eight so I wouldn’t just post the entire session transcript. Definitely carve out 40 minutes, register and check it out. Once you sign up, you’ll instantly have access to the rest of the show’s sessions and content on demand too, from now until June. It’s all can’t-miss material.

I will see all your shining faces back here in April. À Bientôt!

Google AdWords Audit Checklist: How to Optimize Your Campaign

Google AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. However, like anything else, it must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Google AdWords logoGoogle AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. It allows you to focus your advertising budget on customers who are ready to buy, giving you a steady stream of eager new prospects. It also allows you to start with whatever budget you’re comfortable with, making it a tremendous resource for small businesses.

However, many business owners are not maximizing their campaign performance, so they are leaving money on the table month after month. Like anything else, your Google AdWords campaign must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Keywords
Keywords commonly trip up both new and experienced AdWords users because there are so many factors to consider. To optimize your keywords, I recommend using three distinct tactics, each of which addresses a common problem.

  • Pruning: The goal of pruning is to remove unprofitable keywords from your list, including those that are irrelevant and those that, for whatever reason, simply do not perform well for you. To start pruning, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report from the Keywords tab of your account. Any keyword that does not show solid performance should be removed or paused. Also consider adding negative keywords, which tell AdWords not to display your ad if a particular word appears in the search string.
  • Fishing: The goal of fishing is to find new keywords that will be profitable for your campaign. Again, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report and look for keyword phrases that are performing well, but are not yet in your Ad Groups.
  • Replanting: Replanting is a process to optimize your top performing keywords while limiting your budget for new or unproven keywords. Move your top keywords into their own campaign, and focus on tweaking your ad copy and landing pages to tightly match those keywords. Likewise, move unproven keywords to their own campaign and reduce their budget until you get more data on them. Replanting allows you to improve your quality score, increase your click-through rate, and maintain better control over your advertising dollars.

Ads
Your ad copy is an excellent place to optimize your AdWords campaign, since it is virtually impossible to write perfect copy on the first, or even the tenth, try. Here are a few ways to optimize your ads.

  • Split testing: Never allow just one ad to run in an ad group. Always run at least two ads so that you can compare their performance.
  • Offer: No matter how good the rest of your ad copy is, a weak offer can sink your AdWords campaign. Remember that a great offer minimizes customer risk and overcomes the tendency for procrastination. Review your competitors’ offers, think through what would appeal to your ideal customer, and split test different offers in your ads.
  • Extensions: Ad extensions factor into your quality score, and also play a role in improving your click-through rate, so make sure you are taking advantage of all of them. The Review extension, with a third party endorsement, is particularly useful in building credibility.
  • Other factors: Other areas of your ad copy that should be audited include your headline, display URL, and description. Make sure that each section is clear and succinct, focusing on how you can solve a problem or fulfill a need for your prospect. Ensure that your entire ad is internally consistent, easy to follow, and has a strong call to action.

Landing Pages
Your landing page is your opportunity to close the sale, turning visitors into leads and customers. It must be laser-focused to match the ad, reassuring the prospect that she is in the right place and explaining what to do next. Optimizing your landing page is not easy, but it’s critical to your campaign performance.

  • Dedicated landing pages: One of the most common mistakes that business owners make is using their homepage as a landing page for ads. A secondary mistake is using the same landing page for lots of unrelated keywords. Make sure your landing page is 100 percent congruent with the keywords and ads in each Ad Group.
  • Congruence: As mentioned above, your landing page must be fully congruent with your ad. This means that the landing page copy should match the keywords, and the landing page offer should repeat the offer made in the ads.
  • Call to Action: It sounds crazy, but I have reviewed countless landing pages that do not explicitly explain what the visitor needs to do to start the buying process.  As a consumer, it’s frustrating when it’s not clear what to do so most prospective customers will leave rather than try to figure it out.  So make sure your landing page has a clear call-to-action, ideally above the fold so the visitor does not have to scroll to find it.

Tracking
Tracking is the only method you have for determining how well your AdWords campaign is performing. Make sure that each of the following forms of AdWords tracking is set up properly in your account:

  • Webform conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete your webforms
  • Shopping cart conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete online orders
  • Website call tracking to measure how many visitors call after clicking on your ads
  • Call extension tracking to measure how many people call using the number displayed in your ads
  • Offline sales import conversion tracking to measure how many sales are generated offline via phone calls or in-person

Optimizing and maintaining your Google AdWords campaign is an ongoing, never ending process. A regular audit procedure will determine which portions of your campaign are working well, and which need some attention. Although it may seem lot a lot of work, following an audit checklist like this can be completed quickly if you break up the tasks over the course of a week or two.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my complete Google AdWords checklist.

This Is a Callout Post! (It’s a Post About Call to Action Buttons, Okay.)

I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes the trickiest part of creating a good email is actually one of the smallest details — the call to action. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for new and creative ways to grab the readers’ attention, and draw them in for that all-important click.

I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes the trickiest part of creating a good email is actually one of the smallest details — the call to action (CTA).

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I have a little bit of a complex when it comes to not doing the same thing over and over in my copy. So I always flinch just a little bit giving instructions to the art department for the same, basic “REGISTER NOW!” or “BUY NOW!” button in its usual red or orange rectangle.

That’s why I’m always on the lookout for new and creative ways to grab the readers’ attention, and draw them in for that all-important click. Join me on this journey to find CTAs with interesting, eye-catching designs and/or clever phrasing sure to serve its purpose.

Here are a handful I found, in no particular order.

Modcloth
Modcloth is always solid in their emails — they have a recognizable aesthetic and tone that resonates well with their young, quirky female target, and their CTAs are no exception. I included a few here because I couldn’t choose one that was “best”!

1

2

(This one was part of an April Fool’s themed email.)

3

Jetsetter
Here’s one that made good use of content in its CTA, in addition to the offered deal itself. This email included savings on trips to various major cities, with articles on why they’re great destinations, to entice the reader. Links for the promo codes come right after.

5

A.C. Moore
Here’s a cute, playful CTA for artsy folk, from A.C. Moore.

6

Road Runner Sports
These Road Runner Sports buttons aren’t too fancy, but the bold color is eye-catching and I appreciated the very clear, easy-to-navigate categories. Often email promos will have different links to several sections of the website, but they are spaced out and require a lot of scrolling to see. If I already know what I want to shop for, I’m much more likely to click when it’s laid out for me right at the start like this.

7

Adidas
How fun are these? No further commentary needed.

8

Zumiez
Might as well stick with the shoe theme! This comes from Zumiez. Just a simple, transparent rectangle with a bold, simple font and a bold border. While it looks fairly basic, it’s a change from the solid-filled box that I know I use a lot in emails. I’ve noticed this transparent style in a few other big-name retailers as well, like Abercrombie & Fitch and 6PM.com, as well as that April Fool’s ModCloth email earlier in the post. It does have a certain elegance to it, don’t you think?

 9

Birchbox
Birchbox, like Modcloth, has a fun, girly flair to it. I found two examples of CTAs that both definitely catch the eye, and use unique language.

10

11

Bed Bath and Beyond
I like these “clearance tag”-styled Bed Bath and Beyond links.

12

Lyris
Lyris had a simple spin on the typical webinar register button. These appeared at both the beginning and the end of the copy. It’s simple, as the look for a professional webinar should be, but the rounded edges, rich color and even the reverse type make for an aesthetically pleasing design. “Reserve Your Spot Now” gives a little more of a sense of urgency than just the “Register Now.”

13 14

Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2015 Growth Conference
Finally, for another non-retail example, here’s a little something from an email promoting Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2015 Growth Conference. Couple of elements I like: the promo code included in the CTA, the underlined emphasis on REGISTER TODAY, and of course the little cursor graphic that my eye went to immediately. (Don’t you always just feel the need to line up your cursor with it when you see something like this? Or is that just me?)

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That’s just from a quick sift through my own inbox and WhosMailingWhat.com. I hope you’re feeling called to action now … that is, inspired for your next email. As always, feel free to leave a comment and tell me any other great examples you might have for these tricky little guys. This blog serves as my own learning tool as much as anything else!

See ya in two weeks!