Today’s content marketers have to be ready to change direction at a moment’s notice, based on the newest technologies and trends. And it’s going to get even more complex in the coming year, according to industry prognosticators. Any growth strategy for the year ahead undoubtedly will involve embracing the key technologies across the entire business and its operations and satisfying digital behaviors of a business’ consumers or audience.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition (and budget appropriately), you’ll have to prepare for the following 8 upcoming changes and adapt your content marketing accordingly. Continue reading
Hail ye, oh great call to action (CTA)! You are the rock star of any response-driven promotion, whether online or off. We hold you in the highest regard, knowing that even a teeny lift in click-through rate can mean significant gains for a business in terms of eventual leads or sales.
A terrific CTA is essential for good reason. You could write the most effective, emotional, response driven copy, and it might not amount to anything more than a lot of hot air, unless your CTA is clear. You absolutely have to tell readers what task(s) you want them to perform. Good call to action phrases act like a trail of breadcrumbs leading potential customers directly to what you have to offer.
Yet, when I did a Google search for “CTA,” not once in the first three pages of search results does this little rock star come up among a slew of other results (from Chicago Transit Authority to Chandler Traditional Academy to California Teachers’ Association). So, I think that it is high time to delve deeper into making your own calls to action more inspiring, even though we did touch on this topic in a previous post.
I propose that you put a stop to crappy, weak, blah CTA’s and squeeze every last conversion or sale you can out prospects and customers, by adding more value at this important stage of the sales pitch. So here are 9 tips that will help make it easier to do just that: Continue reading
Practically everyone has heard this warning, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” While the source of this bit of wit is unclear (some credit Oscar Wilde, others say Will Rogers, Mark Twain, or even a 1960’s advertising line), the message is very clear, especially when it comes to your website’s Home Page.
It’s your virtual front door.
Your Home Page is generally the first page visitors see, the one through which they enter your site. To make your Home Page do its job most effectively, there are some content elements that go into making it user-friendly and inspire people to do business with you. If you’re thinking about a web redesign or want to get more leads and sales from your website, it’s a great idea to start with the Home Page.
Your Home Page wears a lot of hats. That’s why it should be designed to serve different audiences, coming from different origins, instead of treating it like a dedicated landing page built around one particular action. To do so effectively, it needs to incorporate elements that attract traffic, educate visitors, and invite conversions, including: Continue reading
In case you didn’t already know (I didn’t!), November is National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). It’s a great time to end the month and join the conversation with a post on blogging.
NaBloPoMo celebrates the millions of weird and wonderful blogs on the Internet. To give you an idea of the astonishing number, statistics show that the cumulative total blogs on Tumblr.com from May 2011 to October 2015 had surpassed 260.5 million blog accounts, up from 207.3 million in the previous year. Wow…that’s a lot of people talking about a lot if things!
There are a lot of good reasons blogging is so popular. Mainly, it’s one of the most valuable tools that businesses have to engage with customers. If you’re not blogging, it’s high time to get started or get left behind. If you are blogging sporadically, you should consider doing it regularly…and, perhaps, more frequently. Here’s why: Continue reading
Time and time again, clients have to be reminded to take a break from their website design or redesign efforts and get content done first. Sure, they want to see all the pretty design stuff instead of dealing with time-consuming content strategy and working their way through lots of words. But the simple truth is that those very words are critical to the success of the site. You must get the words done right before working on the design elements.
Doing copy first may be a paradigm shift in the way we think about building websites. But, it has to be done. Because you know what they call things that are beautiful, but have no function? Useless!
We all know that content comes before design in alphabetical order. Now we also have to understand 7 reasons why it’s important that content comes before design in website development, as well.
- You make it easier for people find stuff
Content helps convert visitors into customers. Developing content first will ensure that a web site is purposefully designed to help users find the information they need. This same content guides visitors towards desired actions, as opposed to designing the interface first without knowing what content will be displayed. That’s simple logic!
- You make sure the design fits the words
If you design before you have content, you effectively create the packaging before knowing what’s going to go in it. And if the content doesn’t fit the package, there are only two options: start from scratch or try to jam the content into the existing package. No one wants that. Suddenly, the design doesn’t work so well. Truth is: content should inform design…and tell the designer how much space to devote to what. Doing the content first means the design will ultimately work with the words…and fit them to a tee. (And your designer won’t have to try and shove 50 lbs. of sh*t into a 10 lb. bag!)
- You can be more strategic
When you start with content, you have the opportunity to start with user and business goals, and make sure your content meets those goals. Content is not just a commodity, but instead is the starting point…the foundation and basic building blocks of a website. That means you start building the website like you do a house. The content tells you how much room to allow for what, just like the blueprint for a house tells how many bedrooms and bathrooms it needs and where they go.
- You answer the most important questions
You need to have a handle on critical website questions before you can proceed, including: Why are we doing this? What message are we conveying (and why is it important)? Who is the audience? How are we going to convey the information?
- You speed up production
Content usually goes through several rounds of reviews, and each one typically means revisions. As it goes up the approval ladder, more comments trickle down, leading to further iterations. It’s much faster and easier to fix content in manuscript form first than it is to fix content in the final design.
If it’s already in the design stage, changes and revisions slow things down, and can cause problems with versioning and record keeping. After all, every time someone asks for a revision to content that’s already in a design, you’d have to update the manuscript copy document—and the designer has to update the source file, etc. Plus, every step in this process increases the chance for miscommunication, errors, crossed wires, and, in the worst-case scenario, the wrong content getting published.
- You design after you know what to say
Design is communication. And you cannot communicate anything through the design unless you already have the words to say it. That’s the content (which comes first).
- You encourage a beautiful creative partnership
While I said that content comes first on a website, the even bigger message is that there should be a working partnership in website development between the designer and the writer. These two creative forces are masters of their respective crafts—they take complex ideas and convey them in ways that express a particular meaning, emotion, and effect. Good design will bring out the best in quality content, and strong content will enhance great design.
If you want to launch or redesign a website that incorporates the best of content and design, give the Solamar team a shout.
Everyone knows that e-newsletters create and build relationships with customers and clients. Plus, e-newsletters provide you with a vehicle for ongoing one-on-one messaging and communications. When people subscribe, they are giving you permission to contact them, and in turn, expect reliable, useful information.
Instead of helpful content, unfortunately, I often see e-newsletters that are only about the senders’ businesses and selling their stuff. All the “me, me, me” material can be a major turn-off to readers, who want more about how you can help “them, them, them.” Remember, it’s not about you…it’s about how you help them!
A great newsletter that people look forward to and really want to read lets the good stuff shine through. So, consider these 9 points to keep your e-newsletter more helpful, useful, and valuable to your targets. Continue reading
The one part of business website design and development that puzzles every entrepreneur is the content development. They just don’t know what pages they need to include in their website—which are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves. So, they confuse people with too many pages or forget important ones.
Sure, there are some spectacular websites out there. But unfortunately, the Web is full of atrocious sites (and we’re not just talking about really, really bad design and dreadful content). There are many other elements besides how your website looks and sounds that go into making it customer-friendly—not to mention something that actually inspires them and makes it easy to do business with you. And, the most important part of making it easy to use is having the right pages and delivering information people really want. That’s called usability!
Is usability (or functionality) important to a website? According to one web authority, “…great web design without functionality is like a sports car with no engine.”
The most basic step in assuring website functionality is organization and, at the very least, having the right pages. That’s why there are standard pages that every business website needs. The way the content is presented on these pages may change from site to site and the page order can sometimes vary, but the basic pages remain the same.
Below is a list of the top 5 standard web pages and some information on what should be included on each one. Continue reading