If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. –Donald Draper, Mad Men
Your brand is your message. When customers see your logo or hear your company name, what’s the first thing that pops into their mind? Do you know? If they spend 30 seconds on your homepage, will they know what you’re all about? Can they access your site through their cell, on their tablet or via their laptop and be met with the same levels of service?
First impressions matter—especially when your customers are coming to conclusions about your business within the first minute or two (or less). Our future is dictated by customer satisfaction and reputation. When things are headed in the wrong direction, it can be hard to recover, redirect and right the ship. If things have already gone awry, it might be time to hit the reset button completely.
In the show Mad Men, Don Draper, a man who’s constantly reinventing and redefining himself throughout the series, offers up one of the best pieces of marketing advice. When his client is faced with the conundrum of how to direct a campaign that’s received some negative PR, Draper offers up this advice: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”
Even if you aren’t facing resistance from the City of New York over the prospect of demolishing Penn Station, you might have your own dilemma: how to present your message in the way you WANT it to be received. Craft your message, make it clear and steer the conversation in the direction YOU want it to go. Here are some tips…
- Is your brand unwittingly spreading an unintended message? Perhaps it’s time to get back to the basics. Brand colors are important and brand consistency is vital when crafting the brand message you want to spread.
- Review these 4 ways you may have missed out on connecting with leads and customers.
- No one wants to think about it, but brand crises happen. How the conversation is directed from that point forward makes all the difference. Chipotle’s recent crisis could actually strengthen the brand if handled correctly. On the other hand, Volkswagen’s recent missteps might prove detrimental to their brand in the long run.
- One of the secrets to directing conversation is to steer it away from you or your company and move it towards the audience—your customer. Think of it like a cocktail party: the most interesting conversationalists aren’t droning on about themselves.
- Conversation is two-sided. To ensure your customers are interacting with you in ways that meet their needs, choose responsive design for your website. Responsive design ensures your website renders beautifully and works great on any device.
- Still looking for ways to shape the conversation? Study these 12 Greatest Marketing Campaigns of All Time for examples of simple messages engaging customers to change the conversation.
For more ideas on how to craft the conversation you want to have with your customers, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.
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Web design is a combination of function, form, and beauty. A beautiful website that doesn’t work will chase away your visitors, as will a website loaded with garish or clashing colors. You can’t neglect content either. Great, effective website design pulls it all together and your customers will appreciate your effort.
In effect, your website is your company. You can’t just design a website that looks good, it has to be informative, well-laid out, mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate. Here are 5 ways to turn site visitors into customers.
1. Avoid Bad Design Trends
Website trends come and go, so it’s important to ensure your site design is built to benefit your company over the long haul.
Certain assumptions are dangerous, such as:
- Your site visitors are web savvy and will recognize icons (and know where to look for them).
- Your site visitors know who you are and what you do.
- Your beautiful photos will have more impact on visitors than words.
One of the most important elements of design is ease of navigation. Visitors who can’t find what they’re looking for will bounce in seconds.
2. Identify Yourself
When a user visits your site, they aren’t always sure they’re in the right place. Meta descriptions will help qualify before they click over to your business from search engine results—and when they arrive on your website, your home or landing page should be specific. Offer a value proposition statement that clearly defines exactly what you do.
For example, if you search Google for “food distributors,” you’ll find Gordon Food Services. The meta description is masterful. It describes exactly what they do, the areas they serve, and what to expect on the website.
You’ll also find KeHe Distributors, LLC:
What do they do? Where are they located? Are they even in the food industry? Hard to say.
Meta descriptions are short, but they can be incredibly informative. Identify your purpose and your value proposition on every page to attract the right visitors. Then deliver what you promise. Don’t make customers dig for information.
3. Plan the Look and Feel
Your brand colors and company logo must be consistent across your marketing materials and social media—and that includes your website. Color choice is a critical component of brand identity. Strategic planning includes establishing a color palette to be used across all channels.
Other design elements include font choices, spacing, and layout. Typography choices also improve (or ruin) readability, so be sure to keep the big picture in mind when planning the details.
4. Make It Mobile Friendly
Every website should be mobile friendly nowadays, especially since Google’s April 2015 algorithm update. Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use the free and easy Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out.
Did your site return a “Not mobile-friendly” result? Then now’s the time to go mobile, but how? Check out this handy and comprehensive FREE guide to making your website mobile friendly.
There’s just no excuse for not adopting responsive design. Planning for mobile design from the start saves you from extensive (and expensive!) retooling later. Learn more about responsive design and other mobile-friendly design options by downloading this free mobile-friendly website guide.
5. Fill Your Website with Content
Content might prove your most difficult challenge. Know the difference between copy and content and always choose quality over quantity. You’ll be better off building an authoritative source slowly than filling your website with hastily written fluffy crud.
Web design means crafting a functional and attractive interface that guides your visitors where they want to go—and where you want them to go. Design strategy is identifying your website, sales and marketing goals, then setting a clear direction to tie together every aspect of layout, look, feel, and function to make it happen.
Plan well and your website will support your marketing strategy and increase your conversions. Searchers will know what to expect before they click your link and when they arrive at your page they’ll find what they were searching for right away. In-depth information and well placed CTAs will guide your visitors and encourage them to stay, explore, join, and tell their friends.
In marketing circles, gated content is an often debated concept. Why? Let’s start with how gated content works …
Placing a “gate” on your website content refers to the practice of requiring your website visitor to enter specific information to gain access to specific content. For example, you might require a client to log in to your website to retrieve client-specific reports. Another example: requiring a prospect to enter their name and email address to download an eBook. This second example is the type of gated content we’re talkin’ about.
So when does gated content make sense for your website?
The Problem with Gating
Building a mailing list is essential for growing your business. It’s your single most valuable asset. By requiring people to log in before viewing your website, you capture every visitor who doesn’t immediately bounce. Sounds like a fast way to build your list…but is it effective?
Gating turns a lot of people off. When asked for personal information, or worse, for a credit card to “verify” age or location (or whatever justification you’ve decided to use), most people will get the heck off your website, pronto…and they might even complain.
Additionally, website visitors who DO fill out your form may provide false information. A mailing list full of fake email addresses or spam-catcher addresses is worse than useless: it can be costly.
When Gating Works: Generating Earned Leads
Let’s face it: there’s a LOT of ungated content out there. So, in many cases, if you haven’t earned your prospect’s loyalty, they’re probably not going to go the extra mile to give you their information in exchange for your content. However, there are situations where gating is both acceptable and accepted.
The school of thought on how to generate quality leads has changed considerably. Today, marketers are abandoning the idea of a huge untargeted mailing list in favor of a focused list containing only qualified leads: people who signed up out of genuine interest.
Earning an engaged prospect and customer base is a more involved strategy—but boy, does it pay off. Effort is required on many fronts: engaging in active participation on social media, providing valuable and unique content, and engaging consumers via both direct and indirect channels.
Your end goal: build trust.
An engaged audience will willingly hand over their contact details to acquire valuable assets, enter a contest, or participate in a live web presentation.
Gating only the most valuable content you offer, as opposed to all content, means qualifying leads at the beginning, before the buy cycle even begins. Your sales team will spend less time weeding out uninterested, unqualified, or simply false leads, plus they’ll have more time to engage people who are more likely to become customers.
Selective gating saves you money and helps you avoid productivity losses associated with a large, messy contact lists.
Content for Every Stage in the Buy Cycle
Potential customers, people ready to buy, and existing customers are all looking for different content at different times. Your content plan should include graduated content, from general industry and product information for site visitors in the exploratory stages of the buying cycle to content that answers specific questions to close the sale or retain the customer.
Which content you gate should depend on its value and potential appeal to interested buyers and it should be targeted to a specific stage of the buying cycle. Today’s marketing is customer focused. To get and keep their attention, it’s important to gate only content with a clear benefit to the reader.
Gating and SEO
Gating content poses serious issues in respect to SEO. Bots can’t fill out forms, so gated content is invisible to bots. Be sure to add SEO value with a summary of the gated content on a detailed landing page. Summary pages provide search bots with information while still guarding your value proposition.
If you do choose to gate content, make sure it’s worth it. Customers who give up their details only to receive mediocre content that does not deliver as promised are likely to become annoyed. It’s easy to break the trust you tried so hard to build. Don’t risk it!
Today, the decision to buy is no longer a moment–it’s a process. To learn how to engage with your prospects and customers at EVERY stage in the buy cycle, download our free guide to Growth Cycle Marketing.
- 14 ways to engage your prospects to drive home the sale
- How to influence your customer’s decision to buy
- Why your current customers are your biggest asset
- The exact type of content your prospects and customers want
- How this proven, 5-stage process attracts new customers and grows your business
Your website is your most powerful marketing tool. It’s where you meet, greet and impress your customers enough to buy your products or engage with your services. It should be a lead-generation machine: a hotbed of activity, delivering a steady stream of qualified leads to your sales team…or it can just sit there and stagnate.
If your website isn’t helping you close sales, here are 9 great ways to ramp it up.
- Spruce up your homepage. Unless they’re following a link to a targeted landing page, most of the time your site visitors will land on your homepage first. Is yours welcoming, informative, and easy to navigate? If your homepage is crowded, outdated or confusing, your visitors will bounce. Figure out why potential customers are coming to your website and make sure what they want to find is prominently displayed.
- Check your contact information. Sounds simple, but be sure your contact info is correct and easy to find on every page. Customers want to know you’ll respond. If a form on a contact page is your only option, you may lose business to more accessible companies.
- Communicate clearly and quickly. Is your language friendly and conversational? In the interest of professionalism, many business owners choose wordy, formal language delivered in dense paragraphs. Informal language, larger text, and shorter sentences and paragraphs appeal more to web users.
- Get your content on. Fill your pages with rich and varied content. Tell your brand story to engage visitors. If you don’t offer a wealth of information, instructions, training, and how-tos, your competition will. Win loyal customers with your expertise.
- Update frequently. Keeping your content fresh gives visitors a reason to return, plus, it boosts your search engine rankings. Add new press releases, start a blog, and ensure any current news on your site is, well, current.
- Create stand-out CTAs (calls-to-action). What do you want visitors to do? View your catalog? Sign up for your mailing list? Learn more about your services? Make your CTA bold, clear, and consistent on every page.A word to the wise: “Buy Now!” may seem like an effective CTA, but use it cautiously. You website visitors may be at any stage of the Growth Cycle Marketing process. In the early stages, they want to check out your products, compare prices, and find information. They may not be ready to buy. Others may be returning customers. Address visitors in different stages of the buy cycle with targeted landing pages and offer something valuable in return for their email address.
- Shorten your forms. In the early days of the web, IRS-length forms were common. Companies needed to collect everything. Today, you can cut it down considerably. Early in the process, many companies just ask for name and email. That’s all you need to build your email list. If you have a great CRM, your email list will link to your social media accounts. Once you earn their business, you’ll collect the rest.
- Evaluate your SEO. If you haven’t performed a comprehensive SEO audit in a while, your website may be buried deep in search page results. The rules have changed, so what worked just a few years ago may be hurting you now.
- Follow up. The Internet has raised expectations. Customers want a response in hours, not days…and certainly not weeks. When a lead is generated, a salesperson should get an alert, and follow up should happen as quickly as possible. Even in the digital automation age, customer service is your greatest asset.
Your website is not an online sales brochure. An optimized website can be an extension of your marketing department and a logical step in the buying process. By implementing the newest SEO and marketing techniques, providing information your visitors are looking for, and offering fast, personalized response, your website will become a lead-generation machine.
Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! A great content marketing strategy is a big way to make your website into lead-generation machine. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.
You’ll learn how to:
- Increase Your Referral Rate
- Increase Your Social Media Reach
- Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
- Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
- Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
The “call to action” (or CTA) is a fairly simple concept: just ask people to do something. In exchange, you’ll collect important lead information. Surprisingly, a lot of businesses fail to use CTAs effectively…and lose potential business as a result.
Let’s take a look at the what, the where and the how of compelling CTAs.
Defining Your Goal = The What
Your goal might be to gather information, sell a product, ask for donations, or get feedback. Regardless, each of these goals is part of a larger goal: to bolster your lead pipeline. So, ask yourself: What do you want viewers to do? Why?
The first step to crafting an effective CTA is to define your goal. For example…
- Want to build your mailing list? Okay, your CTA could lead visitors to a contest entry, a white paper download, or a newsletter signup in exchange for personal details like name and email address.
- Selling a product or service? Cool. Your CTA might be, “Buy now” or “Join for free.”
- Other goals might include enticing viewers to like, share, donate, retweet, or provide input.
Reaching Your Audience = The Where
Be aware that the language you use in your compelling CTA will differ on different channels. Even though your end goal may be the same (say, “build our mailing list”), how you accomplish it depends on where you’re posting.
On your website, your CTA is straightforward:
Download our FREE white paper: Growth Cycle Marketing: A Proven Process for Attracting and Growing More Profitable Customers.
This compelling CTA is detailed, specific and actionable. Visitors know what they’re clicking and why. Simple and straightforward—with zero deception.
On Twitter, while the end game is still the same, your real value might be in spread, so you need to go for the retweet. Social scientist Dan Zarrella analyzed Jet Blue’s tweet lengths and found the most retweets happen when tweets are short—just 50 characters. What can you fit in 50 characters? How about…
Want more sales? Click here to learn Growth Cycle Marketing: http://growthcyclemarketing.com/
It includes a dynamic enticement (Want more sales?) and a CTA (Click here to learn). Everything you want to say in a tiny tweet.
On Facebook, your goal is interaction. Engage your customers by asking for opinions.
Are you using Growth Cycle Marketing? Your opinion matters! Tell us what you think in the comments.
When your customers interact with you, their friends see the discussion. Direct engagement increases your visibility. Your CTA is the invite to comment…but you’ve also included a link to your site, of course.
In email marketing, there are a whole host of other concerns. Before your recipients even see your CTA, you have to entice them to open your email and the prevalence of mobile users adds a whole new dimension of complexity to email marketing design. Stick with an irresistible subject line to really pull them in, then keep your CTA short and sweet within the email body.
Be Succinct = The How
Crafting an effective CTA means using the fewest words necessary for the greatest impact. The best CTAs have a hook for WOW factor paired with a clear CTA. Here are some of the best:
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Each of these brilliant CTAs outline the benefits of signing up and then provide clear instructions for what to do next. That’s really all it takes.