We’ve discussed having an objective for every page on your website, and guiding a viewer through the process to reach that objective. One of the critical elements in this is the visual one, often referred to as the eye path. There’s a lot of good stuff on this online, such as the presentation titled No Unsupervised Thinking on Marketing Experiments. In my opinion, the most effective page designs strongly encourage the reader to start with the headline at the top, look at an image, read the text and take an action. The most obvious way to do this is to position them one above the other, with nothing either side, making it highly unlikely that the reader will do anything out of order, or get distracted. However, it can also be done in a two- or three-column layout if the reader can see the bottom of the page at first glance. This is the approach we take with the simple (but effective!) landing pages which we often set up for clients whose AdWords campaigns we manage. The advantage of this is that while taking in the page, readers see the whole process they’re about to go through. It’s unlikely that they’d do anything other than follow the eye path we’d want them to, which is headline, picture, text, action. Your website designer might find such simplicity a little uncomfortable, but the website’s effectiveness is what counts, not the designer’s desire to make things look more complicated than necessary.
Here’s a nice piece of landing page analysis, from the Marketing Experiments blog. In Landing Page Design: Eye Path vs. Thought Sequence, the author looks at those two concepts in relation to a real landing page. The confusion which might be caused by the eye path tempting the reader away from following the message is clear, and there are some excellent points made.
Despite the ubiquity of “social media”, from Digg to Facebook to Twitter, I don’t encourage our clients to spend a lot of time on it. That’s not because these various interactive web services aren’t of any use in the business world; far from it. However, there are more fundamental things to concentrate on for most companies before you get into the intricacies of using these services and sites to your advantage.
However, one social media site which I’ll make an exception for is LinkedIn, because it can be useful from both a company and a personal point of view. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you should take a few minutes to create one.
For those of you who have never seen it, LinkedIn is a professional networking system, and it long ago reached critical mass, so that you begin to expect to see people on it. I’ve been amazed at how many long-lost (and potentially useful) business contacts have reconnected with me through LinkedIn, and I’m also impressed with the amount of web traffic it sends to my websites. What’s more, there’s evidence that people are using LinkedIn to find suppliers, by looking up those which their own contacts use and trust. Finally, if you ever represent your company, there’s a chance that the people you’re meeting will look you up beforehand on LinkedIn, so it’s good to be there and to show your experience and trustworthiness.
Still not convinced? You might be the top result for your name in the Google results here in the UK. I am. But you probably won’t be in another country, such as the USA. Never mind: your LinkedIn profile might be.
Anyway, there are plenty of articles around the web talking about the benefits of having a LinkedIn profile and even how to set up your LinkedIn profile. But for those of you already on LinkedIn, the article which inspired this one was Connecting on LinkedIn: Quality or quantity? from Marketing Experiments, which has some interesting observations.
Now get networking! If you’ve joined, go to the group I’ve set up for readers of this blog and join us. Then visit my profile, and “add Chris to your network”. If we haven’t “done business together”, as they say, then choose “Groups & Associations” and choose “Article a Day” readers. I promise to link in with you!
Lots of people have said to me over the summer, “Chris, I love the idea of learning how to make my website work harder on your Insider Programme, but my company website is run by our American/German/Japanese (delete as applicable) parent, and all we do is to upload product information and news relating to the UK. So there’s not much we can do to improve the website, is there?”
If that rings a bell with you, it’s time to think again.
Firstly, I’d say the design of a website (the bit you tell me you can’t influence) represents no more than a third of the room for improvement. Just as important are the content – which you are creating – and the external factors, such as links to your site. So you’re in charge of two-thirds of what you need to be in charge of. Secondly, I’d say that the website itself is only a small part of online marketing: just as important is driving traffic to your site through email marketing, pay-per-click advertising and other paid or unpaid links. And then there are all the other activities you can undertake online, such as email promotion, customer surveys and the like. We can (and will) teach you about all of this on our Insider Programme.
Where does that leave the bit you can’t influence? I’d say it represents no more than 10% to 20% of the aspects of online marketing which you need to improve. That means 80% to 90% of your online marketing is absolutely under your control. Even if corporate HQ wouldn’t dream of letting you influence the web site design.
But hey, this blog is supposed to give you an article a day to read, so let’s have one which illustrates just what I’m talking about. When you write content for your website, there are so many important aspects to bear in mind, and just one of many is the headline on the page. So here’s some good background reading on just that topic: Optimizing Your Headlines: How changing a few words can help (or hurt) conversion on the Marketing Experiments Journal. As you’ll see, there’s a lot of science behind even this one small aspect of creating a web page. But don’t worry, because if you’re on the Insider Programme we’ll be here to help you improve every aspect of your online marketing. We hope that getting these things right will become second nature.
The Eppendorf video which I mentioned last week is not the only piece of video around in industrial marketing, just a particularly adventurous one. But should you be increasing your use of video? In What you need to know about using video online on the Marketing Experiments blog it’s suggested that you’ll have to test to see what your market responds to, but before you start testing, there are other questions to be answered about the context of your videos, as well as “friction” and “usability”. Read the article for more.