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.

MK Fundraising Services and web|aggression launch redesigned website.

Fund raising services scGreenville, SC – MK Fundraising Services offer a wide variety of products that help school and Church groups and other organization raise money. MK has many trusted fundraising products to choose from like: Maestro Pizzas, Worlds Finest Chocolate, Mixed Bag Designs, Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies and much more. The redesigned website features a custom content management systems, search engine optimization, a much more pleasing aesthetic and easily navigable information.

Learn More 

Step one in designing a website: Define the purpose.


Many people may think this sounds so rudimentary, right? Duhhh…but do you REALLY know the purpose of your website.

I work with business owners small and large and it amazes me how many don’t have an answer to that seemingly easy question. So many think, “well, I just need a website” and for the most part I’ll buy that. However, without defining a purpose up front how can you ever determine success or failure? I don’t want to just build a website for a company, I want to help their business grow.

Do you want your website to generate leads or sales? Do you just want the site to help publicize your business or service? Start off with a simple goal, “I want my website to increase sales”. Maybe that is over simplified but at least it is a goal. In 6 months or in a year you can look back at your numbers and see if your sales have increased. (You would want to factor in what the industry numbers and if your vertical is cyclical, but you should be doing that anyway.)

Web Developers, IE6 Sucks, Get Over It!

browsers
So you developers, coders and Mac people don’t like Internet Explorer (IE) and you REALLY don’t like IE 6. I see it on Twitter, I see it in the media, I see it every where [http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/save-the-developers-stop-using-internet-explorer-6/]. I know some of you don’t like it because you prefer Safari or Firefox (I prefer Chrome). Some of you point out legitimate technical issues with IE6. Maybe it’s not as compliant as other browsers or maybe it doesn’t have as many cool plug-ins or the performance isn’t as impressive. Maybe you just don’t like The Man (Microsoft). Whatever the reason you hate IE or IE6, GET OVER IT.

Personally, I am not a big fan of IE6. Although I use IE8 on a daily basis, it is not my default browser. I also use Chrome, Firefox and Safari every day. I say all that to point out that I am a seasoned browser user and I don’t have any hidden agenda here.

The push to “ban” IE is humorous. For you all that are promoting the ban…I love the big banners on your websites (attempting to force users to upgrade) and the little icons attached to your profiles (with the line through the IE logo). That’s all real cute. You seem to think that the visitors to your websites (your customers) need to change (are wrong), “let’s force the upgrade”. <sarcasm>That is a great customer service attitude people.</sarcasm>

I know that other browsers are gaining market share. I have read articles that IE only has 50% of the browser market now. What market are you looking at? Most likely a tech site with a more tech savvy customer base. I maintain the analytics for well over 50 websites and while browsers like Firefox have gained ground Internet Explorer on average still has 75% of the traffic. Of IE’s 75% on average I would say IE6 is about 17%. That is a pretty large segment of your market. So do you want to ignore them because they have a crappy browser? I bet the clients you are developing the website for do not.

In a perfect world, everyone would have an updated browser that is fully compliant. We don’t live in a perfect world. Many of my clients still get traffic from IE5. Am I saying you have to support every browser forever…NO! But if you are getting significant traffic from the browser no matter what version, you need to support it.

What I am attempting to say here is…bite your lip, put in the IE exceptions and make the site work across all browsers. You may not like it, it may be a royal pain in the butt, but if you don’t you WILL risk losing a customer/client.

Web design should be like a turkey and swiss sandwich.

The other day, like most days, I was in a hurry and had no time for lunch. On my way back to the office I stopped by a local grocery store (Publix, BTW rocks) and grabbed a pre-made turkey and swiss sandwich. As I was devouring it I thought, this doesn’t have chipotle-ranch-bacon sauce, no horseradish mustard vinaigrette, no jalapeño cheddar cheese, it wasn’t toasted, really it was nothing special and yet it was awesome. Filling, tasty, quick, easy to eat. It was everything I needed and no more.

Part of our philosophy that drives us here at web|aggression is: “Clean. Simple. Functional. Websites.” Here is our definition of “Simple”:

“Simple” does not mean unsophisticated. In web design, simplicity is a key factor in clearly conveying your message to site visitors. Web|aggression uses techniques such as key word optimization and dynamic features to provide crisp and concise web design that helps drive your message home. We offer your visitors the most direct route to the information they need, in as few “clicks” as possible.

These days so many websites try to “wow” their customers with flashy animation, nifty menu roll-overs and confusing navigation. Sometimes that stuff is necessary and prudent, but if its not, don’t do it. In my opinion, simple is always better. Like that turkey and swiss, your website should fulfill the needs of your customers. No more, no less.

SEO Battle Part II: Traffic vs. Conversions

traffic-v-conversion
Using quality search engine optimization (SEO) most certainly will drive traffic to your site. My question is; once you get that customer to your site, do they convert?

Conversions
When you create or re-design your website you should always have a goal of what you are trying to drive your visitors to do or where you are trying to “funnel” them. I sure hope that you have a clear idea of the purpose or goal of your site by this point (fingers crossed). For the purposes of this post a conversion is whatever you are trying to get the visitor to your website to do. If you sell widgets then your goal might be to get the customer to click the “purchase” button or the “complete sale” button. If you offer a service then your goal might be for them to fill out a contact form or to call your office. Even if your websites’ purpose is to serve advertisements and the more traffic the more ads, I would still argue your goal should be a click on that ad.

Traffic
Many people look at SEO as a solution to drive traffic to their website, and they would be right. There is no doubt optimizing your site for the search engines will drive traffic, but is your SEO campaign driving traffic that converts? This is a really important question. As stated earlier the goal of most any site should be to convert. You can have 100 million unique visitors a month but if you are not converting that traffic you end up with a big hosting bill and empty pockets.

Let’s look at two sites selling widgets. The first site has 100 million monthly visitors and 100 conversions; the second has 1000 monthly visitors and 100 conversions. Which website would you choose? To get these numbers the first site targets thousands of keywords some convert to sale and some are really not even relevant to the company’s product. The second site only targets keywords that are highly relevant to their product and that convert.

In this hypothetical I would choose the second site in most cases. Why? Conversion rate and resources. The conversion rate of site two is exponentially better then the first. I would prefer to minimize the amount of resources (time, money, effort) I use and fine tune my optimization to only target keywords that convert. I can then use all those resources elsewhere, like improving my product or my websites usability.

Traffic vs. Conversions Conclusion
Obviously, without traffic you will have no conversions so traffic is important. In this scenario I would argue conversions win the battle. Lots of traffic takes lots of resources (all the things SEO people do). Targeting every keyword in your vertical even ones that are that relevant to your product not only won’t convert but can have negative impact. When customers come to your site and don’t find what they are looking for they likely won’t be back.

Sure, there is a lot of room for debating my conclusion but that is what’s fun about blogging. What do you think?

In the future SEO posts:
How do I drive traffic that converts using SEO?
How do I know what keywords convert?
What else can I do to convert web traffic to sales?

SEO: What kind of keywords should you target? Long Tail versus Short Tail.

seo, short tail keywords vs long tail keywords

Ideally in search engine optimization (SEO) you will target both long tail and short tail keywords, but which are more important and which should you target first?

Short Tail Keywords
A short tail keyword is usually one or two word combinations that your customers put into a search engine to search for your product or service. An example of a short tail keyword would be “computer” or “laptop computer”.

Long Tail Keywords
A long tail keyword is usually three or more word combinations. An example of long tail would be “windows xp laptop computer” or “apple Mac book pro laptop”.

Compared
Long tail usually generate much more traffic to your website but top rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) are much harder to achieve. Short tails generally provide less traffic but are much easier to establish in the search engines (SEs).

With all that said, which is more important and which should you target? In my opinion, you should start with the short tail especially if you are launching a new web site or product. The short tail keywords provide more qualified traffic (more to come in a future post) and are easier to target. Furthermore, by targeting the long tail keyword such as “windows xp laptop computer” you also target the short tail keywords, “laptop computer”.

This is the first post in a series of SEO “VERSUS” battles. Short tail wins this one!