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Common Website Mistakes To Avoid

Your website sucks

We all see a lot of websites these days. But how often do you find yourself on a new site wondering what the company actually does or wants you to do next?

It’s an all too common problem. In our haste to build websites, we often forget to look at the initial designs through our site visitors’ eyes and routinely fail to make it easy for them to do what we want.

This recent post from Socialmouths highlights five common website mistakes that dramatically impact the number of conversions.

Top of the list is the failure to state a clear value proposition, by demonstrating what makes your organisation special and different. In a nutshell:

you have to tell people quickly and simply what it is that you do, and why you’re great at it

And there are other design crimes like too many CTAs (calls to action), no single dominant CTA, and insufficient reasons to believe that also regularly impair the effectiveness of many websites.

Next time you visit a new website, think about the five common mistakes that Socialmouths has identified and ask yourself if they apply and how they could be addressed. Then look back at your own site, wearing your desired visitor’s hat, and ask yourself the same questions.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’ll bet you’ll instantly spot several things you can improve.

Web 2012: YOU are the product

Human For SaleJust in case you haven’t figured it out yet, when a shiny online experience is free to use, you are the product.

Everything you do and say, everything you share, in fact everything of everything that happens through that experience becomes the property of the people who provide the shiny online experience.

And the way those people get paid is by using or selling the information you provide. You may think that the social network or search engine you love is a great free thing, but in using it you may have to agree to become the product that’s actually for sale.

Of course, this doesn’t make shiny online experiences bad. It’s the only economical way for many to exist. But it does mean you need to take a few minutes to understand what information you have agreed to hand over and how you (the product) are being used and sold.

If you rely on those same shiny online experiences for your own marketing efforts, you also need to satisfy yourself that you’re happy for data about your customers and business partners to be sold the same way.

As the wise person once remarked, “you don’t get nothing for nothing” in this world.

Conversion Rate Optimisation for Beginners

Target Internet logoI’m a regular in-car listener to the Digital Marketing Podcast from Target Internet in which Ciaran Rogers and Daniel Rowles wax lyrical about a hot marketing topic. It’s a good listen and I recommend you add it to your MP3 player of choice.

The guys at Target Internet also have a blog where I found an excellent article about CRO, Conversion Rate Optimisation, for beginners. If you’ve not taken a recent look at how your online activity is performing, now would be a good time to look through some stats and figure out a path towards better results. You may not choose to use all of the techniques or solution providers covered in the article, but the simple act of reading this through and thinking bout how you can improve is the first big step towards devising your own CRO plan. Let me know how you get on.

A direct mail that worked

I received a direct mail letter today. In an envelope. Delivered by the postman. Now, this isn’t that uncommon an event; getting junk mail is a price you expect to pay when you’ve been in the marketing industry as long as me. What was less common was that I both opened and acted on the letter, and that hasn’t happened in a long time.

This is what I received: a cheap plastic magnifying glass and a piece of paper carrying the letters www.lookabitcloser.com/alistairfrost.

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The sender had spelt my name incorrectly, but that just told me they’d heard of me through word-of-mouth, not through a printed directory. I boldly entered the URL into IE9 and what I got was a series of simple, clean screens, with some very engaging copy:

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…and a final screen featuring a counting clock showing how long I’d spent on their site:

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The agency behind this? Fortune Favours the Brave (FFB) Partners of Glasshouse Street, London. Clever work, that just goes to show that a strong creative idea delivered through a traditional marketing route can work harmoniously with digital channels. And best of all, I received a call from FFB soon after I’d visited their site asking me how they could help further. The personalised URL had alerted them the moment I visited their site.

How could they improve? Show me you also understand the social web by making it easier for me to share this experience, not just by helping me e-mail colleagues but also by letting me connect your content to my networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. And make it easier for me to opt-in to future communications should I wish; you’ve given me a good first impression, don’t bale out so soon.

Nice work! How refreshing to receive a direct mail that works.

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