Tag: Website Design

Website opt-ins

How to Effectively Use Opt-ins on Your Website

Have you ever felt that you’d like to improve your opt-in rates on your website?

Opt-ins remain an important tool for business websites. They get subscribers onto your email list so that you’re able to stay in touch with them and help to progress them through your marketing funnel.

While email marketing can be super-effective once you have people on your list, the first challenge you face is actually getting them there. How do you entice someone to hand over their email address and opt into your list?

Know your audience first

We know, we’ve said this before! However any marketing activity worth doing needs to start with a thorough knowledge of the audience you are targeting. You need to understand what appeals to them and the problems that seem urgent in their eyes.

In terms of website opt-ins, you need to be able to connect the desire to opt-in with something that matters to them or is part of their character. For example, let’s say you have a target audience that largely consists of busy executives. You decide to create a “lead magnet” – a free giveaway in return for their email address. What should you create? 

Considering the description of your target audience and the fact that they’re always busy, in this case you might choose something that is quick to consume but provides them with value. Something like “10 Quick Tips to Improve …”, may be more likely to get read than a 50-page eBook. Of course this isn’t always the case, but you get the picture – you need to create something with broad appeal for your defined audience.

How to create an enticing lead magnet

According to Marketo, 96% of people who arrive on your website aren’t yet ready to buy. This means that capturing their details on that visit is very important. The exchange of an email address becomes the transaction you are looking for.

To get something of value (the email address), generally you need to give something of value. In most cases, this will be a lead magnet – a free piece of useful content – however if you run an ecommerce business, a quick strategy is to offer a discount in exchange for the email address. Here’s an example of a pop-up form from kid’s clothing retailer, Primary, below:

Website opt-ins

The immediate discount offer might work well for products that tend to be everyday needs or of lower-price, but it’s usually not going to work right away for more complex products or services. For example, if you sell a cloud-based software, consulting or something big-ticket, people often want to do more homework before committing.

In terms of devising an effective lead magnet, it can be anything that you like as long as it provides real value to your target audience. This is why you define them first! In fact, step two is to identify a specific value proposition for your lead magnet. Your value proposition will answer to a need of your audience, such as “how do I fix X problem?” 

The most effective lead magnets tend to aim for a quick solution to a very defined problem. They are ultra-specific which helps the target audience to get results more quickly. For example, if you run a business that sells disaster preparedness kits, you might give away a printable checklist that people can mark off before evacuating. It’s simple and it’s directly related to the products being sold.

A lead magnet can help you to demonstrate commitment to solving and a true understanding of a problem. This helps you to build the trust of the target audience. If you can get them some kind of quick win, they may trust your paid products or services.

We like how Jon Morrow puts it here:

“On an opt in page, you want the copy to be as short as possible. One litmus test is if what you are offering requires more than a headline to explain, it’s too abstract. It’s not familiar enough, it’s not obvious enough!”

Lastly, when we talk about effective lead magnets, we have to talk about format. Yours may take any format that you like, but it’s important that you play to your own strengths, particularly if you’re creating it yourself. If you’re not great at writing but love video, then look at a video format, and vice versa. 

Aiming for rapid consumption tends to also be effective. So if you’re producing a video, keep it short and punchy, serving a clear purpose in a small amount of time. Think about those buyer personas and whether or not they are likely to spend a lot of time consuming a piece of content.

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How to get that email address

You’ve created a lead magnet (or other type of offer), but now you need to actually get your website visitors to sign up for it. This is where presentation is everything.

Think about what entices you when you’re choosing something. The saying goes not to “judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is we do. When a visitor arrives on your website, they usually can’t see the valuable content inside your lead magnet, only the outer packaging which is only unwrapped once they opt-in.

Website visitors will either get to your lead magnet via an opt-in form that could be placed anywhere on your website, or via a dedicated landing page. This second option is usually useful if you’re trying to get opt-ins from paid ads or from social media posts. It makes sense to direct them to a purpose-built page rather than straight to your website where there are all sorts of other distractions.

Whether you have a website, landing page or both, there are some key elements to include that help you to get that email address:

  1. Attention ratio
  2. Enticing copy
  3. Attractive design

Attention ratio

Unbounce defines attention ratio as “the ratio of the number of things you can do on a given page to the number of things you should do.” Any landing page should have a 1:1 ratio, denoting one key goal of the page. When you’re talking about an opt-in form on your home page or anywhere else on your website, your ratio might be more like 10:1.

Your aim is to keep that attention ratio low and guide visitors to taking the action you want – opting in. Too many distractions can impact your opt-in rate negatively because people don’t pay attention to it.

Tips for improving attention ratios include:

  • Having one clear call to action
  • Using elements that draw attention to the sign-up form, such as pictures or an arrow
  • Using pop-ups or top bar forms
  • Reducing the number of elements on your page

Enticing copy

The written copy you produce plays a vital role in enticing people to take the next step. Whether on a landing page or as part of a sign-up form, the place to start is with your headline copy.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” David Ogilvy

Successful headlines tend to tell the visitor what they’ll get out of taking action, stand out and compel them to take action. Depending on the complexity of what you’re offering (and remember, the idea is not to be too complex), you may include a subheadline as well.

Melanie Duncan’s “4-U” formula provides a simple way to craft compelling headlines. The basic elements are shown in the image (borrowed from her website) below:

  • Useful = it solves a problem the target audience has (“Get More Opt-Ins With 5 Simple Steps”)
  • Urgent = language that indicates time or avoidance of a serious pain (“This Common Household Cleaner May Cause Asthma in Your Children”)
  • Unique = use of words that are interesting or novel
  • Ultra-specific = you hone in on the specifics. For example, instead of just “8 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses,” you might have “8 Killer Email Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.”

Any other copy you use should only be support the “big why” for visitors to opt-in. It comes back to that attention ratio – rambling won’t help you to keep people’s attention. 

Attractive design

Your visual design plays a big role in enticing people to opt-in. To start with, you might use contrasting colors that, while they still go with your overall look, help your opt-in form to stand out. For example, perhaps you use a contrasting border color, or fill color.

Another design element might include directional clues, such as arrows pointing to your form. A person’s eyes will naturally follow to the point of an arrow, drawing them in. Think also about your button design, using contrasting colors and stand-out shapes to make them obvious.

The type and placement of your form is also important. This is something you can test to learn more about what appeals to your audience. “Behavioral marketing” is the term used when you set up marketing strategies based on behavior you have observed (such as with Google Analytics). 

To give you an example, pop-ups can be very effective – they can also be very annoying! Timing tends to be the key. If visitors are hit with a pop-up the second they get to your website, that’s when they tend to get dismissed immediately. Waiting until they’ve had an opportunity to look at what they came for can be a better strategy.

A floating bar is another way to display your opt-in form that can be quite effective. Sidebar forms can work too, however, they’re also prone to people’s “banner blindness.”

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Final thoughts

Opt-ins can form a key part of your lead generation strategy, allowing you to build an email list as well as grow your visibility and trust with your target audience.

The key with any opt-in is that you must be giving people a good reason to subscribe and you must “package” the opt-in enticingly. For example, you should solve a specific problem that they have, giving them a quick win, and making it obvious how they should proceed to get your lead magnet.

Play to your strengths and showcase what makes you wonderful. This way you can make the best use of opt-ins on your website.

Website user experience

7 Reasons Your Website User Experience Sucks

Do you feel your website could be giving you better results?

If your website really isn’t delivering what you’d expect and you’re getting plenty of traffic, it’s time to cast an eye toward your user experience. Does your website user experience truly suck?

User experience (or UX) refers to the experience a user has when interacting with your website. UX design aims to enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty, usability and ease of use. It is something that often evolves over time through user testing and website updates.

The thing is, if user experience is bad, no amount of marketing will repair your results. People come to your website, they get frustrated and they leave. The bottom line for small businesses is that you can waste a lot of money if a poor user experience isn’t fixed.

So, what should you be on the lookout for? Here are some common user experience issues:

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#1. Missing the point upfront

Have you ever landed on a website then been thoroughly confused over what they’re actually about? Perhaps you make the effort to scroll or click a little further, but many website users will not.

A lot of businesses absolutely flood their websites with text, imagery and multimedia elements, but that’s not necessarily what someone wants to see upfront. They want to know the bare bones. “We build WordPress websites for small businesses,” or “We create Facebook marketing campaigns for B2B companies” – these are examples of getting right to the point.

That other content – the videos, the text and imagery is useful in a supporting role. This means that once people understand what you do, they then look for the how’s and the why’s.

A related UX mistake is when companies try to be a bit too clever with their messaging. Maybe they’re trying to be cute and unique, but this often gets lost in translation. The key to remember here is that a complete stranger should understand what you’re about within seconds. In fact, an assessment of the visual appeal of your website can be made within 50 milliseconds

#2. Confusing layout or site navigation

Every person who lands on your website takes some type of journey with it. For some, it will be to almost immediately click away, while others may try to go further. Importantly, you want people to take the path that achieves the goals you have for the website.

A key tip is that if you want people to take that route, it should be obvious! If we take landing pages as an example, the best pages have one goal and are set up to effectively support it (“sign up here” or something similar).

Your website as a whole will be broader than a landing page, but it should make it clear where people are supposed to go and where they can find the information they need. Confusing site navigation or even too many choices can overwhelm people and lead them away.

This is an area where user testing a website can provide valuable insights. Do random users go exactly where you’d expect them to? Can they find what they’re looking for or do they end up confused?

A second tip is to monitor which pages on your website are the most popular and ensure you optimize those pages. For example, this Hubspot article emphasizes the importance of Home, About, Blog and Contact pages. These represent some of the most popular pages on any website.

#3. Slow load speeds

The load speed of your web pages can have a real impact on users. A decade or more ago, we were used to having to wait for things to load. If there were just a few images on a page it could take a long time, but we waited because that was the norm back then.

These days, expectations of speed are much higher. We know how quickly a high-performing website can load, so we tend to lack patience for slow speeds. Many people will simply give up when a page doesn’t load as quickly as they’d like.

Google Webmasters emphasizes the importance of load speeds as a ranking factor. Google looks at factors that impact user experience because they want to deliver the best results possible to those searching. So if your website is slow, you can be hit with a double-whammy. Not only do people who find you leave, but Google penalizes your site in search results.

Some factors that can impact load speeds include:

  • Use of images that haven’t been appropriately compressed for the web
  • Poor website coding
  • Plugins or add-ons running cumbersome scripts
  • Overloaded servers
  • Website redirects

With regard to mobile page load speeds, Google produced the graphic below which is worth paying attention to:

Website user experience

#4. Poor mobile experience

Not so long ago, having a website optimized for mobile usage was optional – it’s now a necessity. The problem is that there are still a lot of business websites out there that haven’t caught up!

In 2018, mobile share of website visits was at 52.2% globally. In some regions, that figure was even higher, with Asia at 65.1%. You can see from Statista’s graphic below that mobile share shows a pattern of growth year after year:

Website user experience

If a mobile user lands on your website then finds that they can’t easily navigate it, or they have to pinch or expand screens to navigate, that creates a poor experience.

To check your website, Google offers a free mobile-friendly test where you simply enter the URL of the website you’d like to test.

#5. Important information missing or hard to find

Let’s say you’re looking to buy something – what information do you need to know before finally handing over payment? There might be things like warranties, guarantees, information on how the product is constructed, what it includes, whether you can return it…

Where important information is missing or hard to find, it creates a poor user experience. This can be compounded even further by not having good “help” or “contact” functions in place. For example, an ecommerce site might set up a chat system so that people can immediately ask a question as they go.

If we look at potential website goals other than making a sale, such as getting people to opt-in to your email list, they still need key questions answered. Critically, it’s about the benefits to the customer! “What’s in it for me?” should be answered on every business website.

To avoid this situation, take a step back and list the critical questions that a website visitor may need answered. Start with these when you’re piecing together the information required, and consider how you will make it easy to find. As an example, warranties or return policies might be linked on every product page.

#6. Opt-ins not used strategically

Did you know that the majority of first-time visits to a website do not end in a sale? One study found that around 92% of consumers will visit a brand’s website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase (for example, comparing products or services).

One of the best ways to get that sale in the future is to ensure you can follow up with the visitor. Having an opt-in form so that you can sign them up for email marketing from your company is a good way of doing that, and yet, many business websites don’t have one!

If you don’t have a way of opting people in, quite simply, you’re leaving money on the table. Effective follow-up is a time-honored sales technique and you don’t have that option. From a user’s perspective, people like to be kept updated on things they’re interested in!

The second part of this from a user experience perspective is where opt-ins are used, but they’re either hard to use, hard to find or far too prevalent! For example, barriers to using a sign-up form might include asking for too much information or a form that hasn’t been optimized for mobile use.

Some businesses go overboard with pop-ups all over the place. It’s not that pop-ups never work – they have their place when done right and can convert quite well. User experience falls down when those pop-ups are perceived as too invasive or spammy. There is nothing more irritating when you’re trying to read a piece of content than having a pop-up repeatedly in your face.

#7. Website content fails to engage

There can be any number of reasons for which website content is the culprit behind a poor user experience. Here are some of those:

  • There is so much content on key pages that it is overwhelming. Blog posts and articles are expected to be heavy on content, but on pages such as the Home page and other informational pages, people want to be able to digest information quickly.

  • Content formatting is difficult to read. Big chunks of text are hard to read and tiresome. The point is often lost somewhere in a sea of words. Be careful of layout too – some choppy layouts also make content difficult to follow.

  • The content is boring! One of the best ways to engage your audience through content is to understand who they are and what will appeal to them.

  • Lack of clarity about what to do next. Each page on your website should have a clear purpose. Calls to action should be clear and easy to follow. On landing pages, try to have CTAs “above the fold” so that people don’t have to scroll to find them.

  • The content is spammy. People are turned off by irrelevant ads and poorly written “fluff” content.

The underlying solution is that all content should be purposeful on your site. Consider the goals for your website overall and for each individual page, then craft content to serve those goals.

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Final thoughts

User experience is everything when it comes to having a successful business website. If your website is getting reasonable traffic but still failing to get results, it may be time to take a serious look at your user experience.

A website should be easy for visitors to use and visually appealing. It should serve up information that is clear, formatted well and easy to find. The website should also perform well technically so that the experience is smooth.

User testing is a handy way to figure out any issues with your user experience. It can be very much worth the investment to get better results.