Call to Action: If you don’t ask for the sale, you’ll never get it.

buy now ask for the sale call to action

I’ve been designing and developing website for many years. I have built static portfolio sites all the way up to completely customized content management and ecommerce systems. Over the years I have learned a lot of lessons, some easy, some by trial and some lessons came the hard way with errors. One thing I can say definitively and universally:

If you don’t ask for the sale,
you will never get it.”

What does that mean? You have to have a good call to action (CTA). A CTA can be a button (like the BUY NOW above), it can be banner ad and it can just be text or text link. In all cases and no matter which method you use, a CTA is meant to help a visitor understand what you want them to do. The simplest example is an ecommerce website. At some point you want the visitor to purchase your product. Hopefully you’ve clearly defined the purpose or goal of your website (that helps). Hopefully you’ve done all the search engine optimization to get good quality traffic to your website. And hopefully you’ve have used best practice design/navigation/search to help funnel those visitors to the products and services that they have need for. So assuming all of those things and a customer makes it to the page they need to be on, a good CTA gets all up in their face and say’s “right here dummy, click me”. You shouldn’t hide the “buy now” or “add to cart” button. Use a bold color that sharply contrasts the color palette that you use on the website. You don’t have to use red or orange. If your sites primary color is one of those, it wouldn’t standout at all. Use text that is clear and binary, “buy now” and “purchase” for example. You can’t get more clear than those.

Ecommerce is not the only time you might need a good CTA. Every website should have a goal. In many cases the end goal or conversion is not an ecommerce transaction. Many times the purpose of a website is to encourage visitors to download something. Maybe you just want them to complete a form or sign up for a newsletter. Sometimes you just want to encourage visitors to call for more information. In all of these situations, you need a CTA. “Sign up for our Newsletter”, “Download Specification Sheet”, “Contact Us for More Information” or “Register to Win” are all great examples. If this is the purpose of your website, you need to drive the visitors eye to them. Again, using contrasting colors, bold and clear text and in the case of banner adds animation all accomplish that purpose.

Probably don’t use images like this though.Moving-picture-blue-down-arrow-animated-gif

If you have any question about CTA or agree or disagree with me, let me hear from you in the comments below.

Some of you are doing social wrong.

double_facepalm
I don’t generally like to judge people about how they choose to do social media. I think there are way too many “Social Media Gurus” and experts that do that much better than I could. I will share this one case scenario, however, that makes me judge you.

  • You follow me.

  • I follow you back.

  • You immediately unfollow me.

  • I unfollow you.

A week or so later.

  • You follow me again.

  • I don’t follow you back.

  • You unfollow me.

#Uck

Are You a Twitter Snob? Why I am not following you.

Sad how all these years later, this article is still very relevant. Sad.

web|aggression.blog

twitter-bad-profile

The popular and much talked about micro-blogging site Twitter has received a lot of main stream publicity recently. Whether you have been on Twitter for years or just joined you may wonder why someone follows you on Twitter or why someone doesn’t reciprocate your following them. Well, I certainly have no clue, but below I have listed some criteria I look at to determine if I will follow someone.

Don’t have the default profile image.
Twitter Default Profile/Avatar

There is no faster turn off then to have your first impression be this lovely avatar. Don’t tell me you can’t find ONE decent picture of you. At least put something up, a logo or SOMETHING. Seth Godin (marketing guru) agrees on the importance of the profile picture in his article “The power of a tiny picture”.

Have a description of yourself or business.
You get a chance to tell me a little…

View original post 352 more words

There Are Lots of Forms of SPAM

“But I don’t like SPAM!

Sure, we all get email spam in our inbox. Spam filters have eliminated some, but we all still get it. How many other forms of spam do you get? What do you consider spam?

I use the term spam for any unsolicited attempt to offer me something. That definition opens up a whole other list.

What about telephone spam, don’t you just love those. Especially the robocalls, those are awesome. I’m to the point, unless I recognize the number, I don’t pick any of my phones, home, office or cellphone.

What about sneaky upsells? Godaddy comes to mind. I just want the domain name, dang it. Please don’t ask me if I want anything else. I cringe when a client is hosting with them or wants to buy their domain name there.

What about auto selected items in forms and download? These are the worst and I definitely consider that spamming. Adobe (especially with Flash downloads) and Oracle (Java downloads) are the worst. NO, I don’t what McAfee something or other software. Please do NOT pre-select that option then de-emphasized or even hide it all together, it drives me nuts. Oh, and what about when you complete a form or place an order and you get pitched a newsletter or “other communications”. Always pre-selected or worse the verbiage is confusing. “Check Yes, if you do not agree to not get our future spam”. What?

What is your most hated spam?

 

adobe-fail

 

Content is King in website marketing

content-is-king

For a long time now, most web folks have known that “Content is King”. What does that mean? Great content can get visitors to your website. Great content can keep people on your website. Great content gets people to link to your website. Great content can get search engines to rank you well. Keeping content fresh can help maintain your good search engine results (SERPs).

What do I mean by content?

The content I’m referring too can be text, products, photos, videos, social media, blogs, white papers, comments, polls, rankings and anything else that adds something to your website.

What makes content so important?

As a search engine optimization (SEO) geek I know, right after the very basics like meta information, the most important thing to consider in trying to rank high is content. The search engines love text, especially when it is relevant and supports the rest of the websites content. By relevant I mean, adding a chocolate chip cookie recipe to an architecture website probably won’t help your relevancy. Adding an article about computer aided design (CAD) might.

Google will tell you that one way to get better rankings on search engines is having quality inbound links to your site. You can hire a link building person to scour the web looking for opportunities, or you can develop content that someone might be interested in linking too. I hate the term but “Link Bait”, or creating content with the intent to encourage links, is a great way to increase where you rank in the SERPs.

Besides the search engines, believe it or not visitors to your site like good content. Using the example above, let’s say a visitor comes to your architecture website and the first page they come across is an article on chocolate chip cookies. The likelihood of the visitor staying on the site is low; the likelihood of them turning into a conversion is even lower. Alternately, if you have content the visitor is interested in, they are much more likely to stay or comeback.

Where can I get great content?

The biggest problem with great content is getting great content. Most companies don’t have the resources such as technical writers and content marketing specialist on staff. It can be expensive to generate and maintain content. In an article I came across on eConsultancy entitled, “Your company is awash with great content” they demonstrate all the resources companies can leverage. Below is an exert from that article listing resources you might not have thought of.

Hiding in powerpoint decks. Sales decks, investor presentations, process-focused slides…

Inside the heads of your people. Not just your smartest or most senior people; your front-line sales and support people too; and your product people.

In customer communications. Your customers are a prime source of Grade A content. Almost every interaction has at least the germ of a blog post.

In sales proposals. The things you use to get people to take out their checkbooks.

In promotional bumf. These days, marketers discount all those data sheets and product brochures and case studies as ‘old-school’ content. But there’s gold in those pdfs (if you’ve got the pan to swish it out).

In what other people say about your world. Journalists, bloggers, analysts and experts are all paid (in one way or another) to secrete content. Get your paper towels out.

In everyday working docs. Those banal process documents meeting reports, project summaries and status updates.

In emails. Your email store is absolutely packed with content ready to discover and unleash. In your In box and your Sent folder. Internal emails. External emails. Marketing emails. Viagra spam. (Okay, maybe not Viagra spam – although I did once write a post on it).

In your social channels. Stop tweeting and just listen to every one else’s tweets for a few hours. Dig under the self-promotional layer in every LinkedIn group. Peel back the social veneer of Facebook. Shine a light into the darker corners of YouTube, Slideshare and Pinterest.

What makes great content?

That is a difficult question to answer. The short of it is, it’s different for every website, company, market, etc. My suggestion is do your research. Figure out what your customers are reading, viewing, liking, retweeting and do more of that. Posting one article will not help, be consistent. Ask your sales people or heaven forbid, ask your customers what they might be interested in seeing. Having great, relevant content is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it.

Latest technology isn't always the right technology

Above is what I see now when I try to read an article on one of my favorite websites, Lifehacker. Lifehacker is an awesome resource, providing articles on all sorts of ways to improve your daily existence. I used to read almost every article on Lifehacker in Google Reader via RSS. Not so much anymore.

A little while back something changed. I am only speculating here so if I wrong feel free to correct me. It seems to me that Lifehacker’s parent company (Gawker) changed the way files were hosted. For example, generally website images are stored on the same domain as the website. If the domain is http://www.lifehacker.com, then the images might be stored at http://www.lifehacker.com/images/. A quick peek at their code shows me that their images are now being hosted at img.gawkerassests.com/img/. Normally, this might not be a big deal, after all Gawker and Lifehacker are the same company. The problem for me is, our corporate firewall software doesn’t like it, so the software blocks any files coming from that domain (images, css scripts, javascripts) and the results are what you see in the image above.

So why the the title? The experience got me thinking. In this case, Lifehacker has lost a reader because they changed to a “new”, “better” way of doing things. Many of us in web development and information technologies scramble to implement the latest thing. Case in point, Facebook’s mobile experiment, developing with HTML5 instead of a native application. Sometimes we should make sure what we are doing is best for our customers/visitors and not so we can play with the newest toys. JS.

I can still read Lifehacker on my phone, tablet and laptop, but I don’t look at it near as much as I used to.

Update: As of noon on 10/08/2012, whatever was broken with Lifehacker is now fixed. Yahhh!. Crazy that it is was broken for months before I wrote this.

Content providers and retailers, your mobile websites are pissing me off.

some mobile websites are pissing me off

First let me say:

  1. I love technology.
  2. I love mobile technology.
  3. I love my smart phone.
  4. I MUST have the latest and greatest smart phone.
  5. I do most of my personal web browsing on some sort of mobile device.

The mobile web is here and everyone is getting in on it. Retailers and content providers are launching mobile enabled websites and mobile apps as fast as they can and some of them are pissing me off. Why? It is because of bad user interface and auto redirection. We web folks are getting way too smart for our britches. Below are just two examples of what is wrong with the way many are using the mobile web.

Scenario 1
I made an online purchase and received an email to track the package. I clicked the email on my phone. The website identified my device as a smart phone and directed me to the mobile web version of their site. They are so smart right? WRONG! The functionality to track the package wasn’t on the mobile site. There was no link to “Go to Full Website” so I got stuck in an endless loop. I’m pissed.

Scenario 2
I’m thinking of what to make for dinner. I get on my smart phone and Google a recipe I’d seen in a magazine. Google shows me exactly what I was looking for in the search results, so I click. I am auto redirected to the mobile versions homepage. Brilliant, eh? Nope, I never could get the content I wanted. I typed in the title of the recipe in the mobile search box and got no results.

I back out of the mobile site and click the next link, a newspaper I think. They also direct me to a mobile website homepage.

I end up going back to the original link, scrolling to the bottom, clicking “Full Version”, typing in the search terms AGAIN on their search. I’m pissed.

There Must Be a Better Way
I know that having a mobile site and app is the cool thing to do. I understand the mobile traffic is growing exponentially, so I know why these companies are launching the sites. I know it is difficult to build all the functionality and content that a full website has into a mobile site that is compatible with most devices. I know, I know, I know. I’m not asking for any of that. I am just asking for better thought when redirecting. Here’s a novel approach, try asking your visitors what they want to do. How smart would you seem if visitors got this message when browsing from a mobile device?

“We noticed you are browsing on a mobile device. Would you like to visit our mobile website or continue to our full site?”

Or how about something like this:

“The content you are requesting is not available on our mobile website; would you like to visit our full website?”

Get to the Point
I have a crazy fast smart phone with a huge screen and great browser. At home and at work I am connected over Wi-Fi and when I’m actually “mobile” I have either 3G or 4G speeds. I can view any content that is on the “full web” and THAT is what I want to do. Don’t force me to use your mobile website, especially if it doesn’t have all the functionality or content that I want.

OK. Deep breathe.

Vent over!