The Profitable Website Manual: Quick Start Guide

Is Your Website Getting The Results You Want?

Think about this for a minute: if you turned off your website tomorrow would it be detrimental to your business? Would it shut off a rich source of customer enquiries? Would it jeopardise the pipeline full of prospective customers you’ve built up? Would your profits suffer?

If you’re like most business website owners in Australia, shutting down your website would have no detrimental effect whatsoever. That’s because most business websites simply don’t work.

They don’t generate any customer enquiries. They don’t help convert prospects into buyers. They don’t add to the bottom line in any way.

Here are the brutal facts about the failure of business websites: According to a report by Sensis on small to medium business websites:

  • Only 10.4% of sites delivered additional sales, orders, bookings and customers, and
  • Only 8.5% produced an increase in enquiries.

What this means is only one in 10 websites delivers a profit-generating benefit to the business. In other words, 90% of websites just sit there and do nothing! That’s right: no enquiries… no new customers… absolutely nothing.

If this sounds like your website you’ve got two choices:

1.       Ignore the situation and struggle on, or

2.       Take some inspired action to fix your “do-nothing” website and enjoy the increased customer enquiries, improved sales and additional profits that a good business website brings.

If you’re up for option number two here are my top 10 tactics for rapidly and cost-effectively improving your website results.

If you want to create a stream of targeted customer enquiries, turn browsers into prospects and prospects into customers, and boost sales and your bottom line, then make the following 10 improvements your first priority when you update your website:

1. Build Your Website Around Your Most Wanted Response

The single most important element of your website is the “most wanted response”.

The term “most wanted response” or MWR was coined by e-commerce guru Ken Evoy. It refers to the one action you most want website visitors to do. Examples of MWRs include order a product, subscribe to an e-newsletter, call you to arrange a consultation, fill out a form, or send you an email.

Determining your MWR should be the very first task when you plan your website. Just ask yourself, “What is the ONE thing I want my website visitors to do?” You need to be very clear on this. Once you’ve set your MWR you should design your entire site around encouraging visitors to take that one action.

For some companies making a direct sale from their website is their MWR. Especially if they’re selling products that are commonly bought online such as computer hardware and software, travel and accommodation, clothing and accessories, or information products.

However, most businesses don’t want to make sales online. The goal of most business websites is to generate customer enquiries and/or qualified leads that the sales team can follow up.

Ideally you’d love people to pick up the phone and be ready to buy after they’re viewed your website. And this can happen for some businesses (plumbers and pool cleaners for example).

But many buyers use the web to research purchases they plan to make in the future. Usually these buyers aren’t ready to pick up the phone straight away. But they’re often willing to exchange their email address for some useful information.

In this case you should encourage visitors to register their contact details in exchange for a valuable freebie such as a report, newsletter or trial. Once you have prospective customers’ email addresses, you can follow them up to maximise sales conversions.

No matter whether it’s sales, enquiries or sign-ups, a well thought out MWR is the NUMBER ONE tactic for creating a profitable website.

Getting Feedback from Past Customers

As business owners we put a lot of thought into getting new customers. That means we spend a lot of energy on our current and potential customers, giving little thought to those who are no longer doing business with us.

Market research professional Sarah Dobson points out that that approach may be short sighted. As she says, “Obtaining feedback from past customers can help you to enhance your offer, retain current customers, entice new ones and win the old ones back.”

Flash Back? (It Never Went Away… Unfortunately.)

flashI dug up some old research from my filing cabinet the other day. According to a 2003 study 80% of Consumers Hate Flash Intros. At around the same time this research came out I also discovered a hilarious parody of the odious Flash intro. But despite this public bollocking the Flash intro persists to this day.

At the risk of biting the hand that feeds me I have noticed some of the worst offenders are web designers and developers, interactive agencies and graphic designers. By all means showcase your Flash design prowess on your website. But why not let me actively choose to view it if I’m interested, rather than forcing me to click “skip intro” to get to the content I want to see?

“Skip intro” is an acknowledgement that many people find your Flash intro a waste of time. So what’s it doing on your site? There’s no need for an intro at all. Just tell me what I need to know on a normal, fast, efficient, well-designed website. If I decide I’d like to spend my time looking at Flash animations, then I will.

Flash is very effective when used properly. It’s great for Internet-based applications. But I really think it’s time Flash intros went the way of the Betamax video.

PS: Sorry about the pulsing orange button. I know it’s annoying, but I think you get the message!

Discussion on Foreign Language SEO

Much of the SEO industry deals with the English-speaking market; however, there’s quite a huge demand in the foreign language market as well.

As SEO morphs and develops, the foreign language market is only going to expand.

Zeph Snapp, President of Not Just SEO, offered a great Q&A recently at SEOmoz, and you can get the full “Mozinar” here: So, You Want to Know about Foreign Language SEO?

Getting Guest Blogging Right

Content marketing is going to be big this year, and that means many marketers are looking to build links through guest bloggers.

The problem is, Google will quickly chastise poor quality posting, so marketers are going to need to put some real thought and strategy into their efforts. Pratik Dholakiya, Lead SEO Strategist at E2M Solutions, offered some valuable dos and don’ts for those looking for guest post opportunities.

Head over to the SEOmoz blog for The Ultimate Guide to Advanced Guest Blogging.

How to Find Out if Everyone Thinks Your Website Sucks

FailureThis is a guest post from Google AdWords and Analytics maven Melinda Samson. Take it away Mel:

The recent series, Your Website Sucks, covered ways that you can improve your website which will:

  • Help you get more visitors
  • Help those visitors stick around reading your website for longer
  • Help you generate more leads or sales from your website.

After reading these posts you might be thinking…

I hope my website doesn’t suck…I wonder if my website is one of the ones that suck…. Gaaaah…..How can I find out if everyone thinks my website sucks?

Today we’re going to help you find out. And on a positive note, you don’t actually need to care if everyone thinks your website sucks. You only need to care about what your target audience – your clients, prospects and business contacts – think.

Google Analytics can help you discover if your website sucks

Never heard of Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is Google’s free web analytics tool. Once installed on your website, it provides all kinds of useful information.

Don’t have Google Analytics set up yet?

Go to www.google.com/analytics and follow the steps. If you’re not techie, send the code to your web developer and they should know what to do.

Once you have Google Analytics set up, what next?

Start by going to the Audience Overview screen. You’ll see a graph and some key stats underneath.

 

Here are some issues to look out for:

Visits and Unique Visitors are similar numbers

The first stat is the total number of people who visited the site. This may be a few people or a lot.

Visits counts the total number of visits, including those who visit more than once. If your website sucks, people won’t come back for a repeat visit, so the number of Visits will be similar to the next stat, which is Unique Visitors.

Average Pages / Visit is low

This is the average number of pages that each visitor looks at.

If this figure is low, it shows people don’t want to read more than one or two pages of your website.

Average Visit Duration is low

This stat measures the average amount of time that a visitor spends on your website.

You want the Average Visit Duration to be as high as possible. I’d aim for at least 1 to 2 minutes.

If this is zero, or close to zero, there’s a definite possibility that your website sucks!

Bounce Rate is high

Bounce Rate measures visitors who leave your website without even clicking on one single thing. That is the percentage of people who visit, click nothing, and then hit the back button.

This stat is a key indicator of how engaged your web visitors are with your content.

If your Bounce Rate is 100% or close to it, seek professional help!

Having said that, it’s always important to view Bounce Rate in conjunction with Average Visit Duration, especially if you have a blog.

For example, as a blogger your aim is to attract visitors back to your site to view your latest piece of content. People might visit your site, read your content and then leave.

Effectively they’ve bounced but yet they’ve done what you wanted and spent time reading your article. In this case, the Bounce wasn’t all bad.

No Goals Tracked

In Google Analytics you can set up “Goals” to track actions that you would like your visitors to take, like confirming an order or submitting a form. You can also set up Goals to track a minimum average visit time or minimum number of pages per visit.

Set your Goals realistically. But, if you don’t achieve them, then you’ll need to make some improvements.

Does your website suck?

If you check these stats and find your website is on the suckier side of the norm, revisit the Your Website Sucks series to see how you can improve it.

Fast Websites & Viral Content: The Web Content Roundup

Here are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). Are You Making These Common Website Navigation Mistakes? http://buff.ly/WXDgLI Great analysis and advice

2). Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof http://buff.ly/X7Duk7 Solid research and insights

3). 5 Landing Page Headline Formulas You Can Test Today http://buff.ly/WFoSYC

4). Infographics are Dead.  Long Live Infographics. http://buff.ly/VUppHy

5). Which social media platform is best for your business? http://buff.ly/YormBB Not everything works for every business

6). Why You Need a Seriously Fast Website http://buff.ly/UvnwQt Hint: high Google rankings!

7).  The Seven Pitfalls of a Modern-Day Brand http://buff.ly/TyOuJDWebContentRoundup

Copywriting Video of the Week: The #1 Copywriting Skill – Dramatising Benefits

“Your real challenge, as a copywriter, is to bring the benefits derived from the features to life,” says B2B copywriter Steve Slaunwhite in his e-book, 7 Secrets of Highly-Successful Copy.

This 1962 TV commercial for Super Shell petrol, purportedly written by advertising great David Ogilvy, is a great example of how it’s done.

In this case the feature is the additive Platformate. The benefit is increased mileage.

How to demonstrate that in an attention-getting way? Take 10 gas guzzlers into the Mohave Desert for a mileage test.

Take a look:

Website Mistake 7: Your Site Isn’t Visible On Google

Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.
Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.

Your website is like a billboard in the desert. It doesn’t matter how good it is, if no one sees it, it’s absolutely worthless.

The most common way people find websites in Australia is via Google search engine. Therefore you can expect a large proportion of your website traffic to come from Google.

So you need a search engine marketing strategy to ensure your prospects and customers see a listing for your website when they’re using Google to find information about the types of products or services you sell. There are two ways to do this:

1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Wikipedia defines SEO as “the process of improving the visibility of a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid search results.” When people search on Google they generally enter two- or three-word key phrases, such as “buy laptop computer”. Google delivers search results based on what it considers are “relevant” web pages.

There are three important elements of SEO:

i). “On-page” factors are directly related to the content and structure of the website. Placing relevant key phrases in strategic positions on the web page – such as the title tag, meta description, headlines, and sprinkled throughout the text – helps the search engines know what your web page is about.

ii). Having a search engine-friendly site. Search engines catalogue the web using programs called spiders (or bots) which automatically index content. You must ensure the coding of your site allows the Google bot access to all your content.

iii). Inbound links. Google used the number of inbound links to a web page as an indication of its authority. The more inbound links a page has, the greater authority it has. All things being equal, Web pages with greater authority rank higher in the search listings. Google also gives more weight to links from better quality sites.

Inbound links is the most important factor. And it’s also the hardest work.

2. Google AdWords

AdWords is the alternative to SEO for getting your site listed on the first page of Google.

Google show small text ads on the top and right hand side (and sometimes the bottom) of their search results. The ads shown are determined by the key phrase the searcher enters.

For example, if a person searched for “pool cleaners in Sydney”, ads for pool cleaners servicing Sydney would appear alongside the free listings. When a searcher clicks on an ad they are taken to the advertiser’s web page. Advertisers pay only for “click-throughs” i.e. when a searcher clicks on their ad to visit their website. Hence the name “pay-per-click”.

Geographical targeting technology means your ad only appears in the regions you select. So it’s easy to target customers within, say, 20 kilometres of your business.

The fee for each click-through is determined by a bidding system. Generally speaking, to get your ad higher up the listings you must bid more. Obviously, the more people bidding on a particular key phrase, the higher the bids will be. Advertisers control their costs by setting a maximum budget.

The importance of search engine visibility

These days the web is a key information resource for most consumers and business buyers. As Ken Cassar, chief analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings observed, “Web users are conducting more searches not because they can’t find what they’re looking for, but because search as a utility has become deeply ingrained into people’s everyday lives.”

So not having a strategy for making your website visible on Google is one of the biggest mistakes you can make online. If your site doesn’t appear in the first two pages of search results (and preferably the first page) when customers are researching products and services to buy, it opens the door for your competition to steal your business.

Google bring qualified traffic to your site. That’s because people who find your site via Google are actively looking for information on your products and services. SEO and AdWords enable you to build brand awareness throughout the buying cycle – from initial research to purchase. And high search engine rankings create a good impression of your brand.

Things to do

  • Create a search engine marketing strategy for your website.
  • Use the free Google Keyword Tool to research the key phrases customers use to search for your products and services.
  • Develop strategies to get more inbound links for your site.

This post is part 8 of the series Your Website Sucks!

Website Mistake 6: Your Content Is Too Hard To Read

Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.
Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.

Writing for the web is not the same as writing for print. That’s because reading from the screen is hard on your eyes.

Rather than reading word for word, web users scan the page looking for relevant information (much like the way people read newspapers). Good web content is written to be scanned.

This is a fundamental principle that’s overlooked by many website owners.

You can’t just cut and paste your brochure copy and hope it will be read online. It won’t. You need to create original content that is specifically written to be read online. Here’s how.

Web writing guidelines

Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen has studied how people gather information from web pages and developed a web writing style. Its elements include:

  • Concise writing – get to the point quickly and cut any waffle
  • Simple and relevant page titles that clearly explain what a page is about and will make sense when read out of context in search engine listings
  • Inverted pyramid structure – start every page with a summary of its content (just like a newspaper story)
  • Facilitating scanning and skimming – group information into discrete sections with appropriate sub-headings, use short paragraphs and bulleted lists, and highlight key phrases, and
  • A simple writing style free of marketing fluff works best online.

Content that’s written for the web enables readers to find information quickly, improves memory recall and adds credibility to your site.

Good web writing drives action

The web is a highly action-orientated marketing channel. So good web writing motivates the reader to take action: sign up for our newsletter, view our product range, download our new report, ring us for a quote, click here, and so on.

People want and need clear instructions, so make sure you give them. Every single page on your site needs a call to action, even if it’s only to read another page.

Things to do

This post is part 7 of the series Your Website Sucks!