The elements of your website (i.e. structure, messaging,
calls-to-action, design) are strikingly similar to those of
your email campaigns. In fact, you can apply website expert
Mat Greenfield's advice to any email campaign and get great
conversion. That makes this week's Hints & Tips a one-two
part one, we discussed identification of site goals
and understanding your target audience. Armed with that
knowledge, let's explore how to design an effective web
presence. (This is where the rubber meets the road.)
In addition to identification of site goals and
target audience assessment, there are 4 key areas for
consideration when creating a high-conversion website:
- Site Structure
- Graphic Design
In essence I would suggest that you build your
website backwards. What I mean is: begin with your site
goal (i.e. a conversion) and create a site structure
that effectively leads up to it.
For example, instead of creating a very open
navigation structure with many clickable links, consider
reducing the number of clickable links in order to drive
visitors down a specific path. Let me tell you why I
think this is important. Imagine you have the
opportunity to sit down with a potential client to do a
sales presentation. My guess is that you have a 'story'
you tell in a specific sequence. In other words,
layer-by-layer you build the intellectual and emotional
reasons for owning your product or using your service.
I believe that effective websites use the exact same
strategy, guiding visitors down a specific path that
builds an understanding of the value of your
In many ways, your messaging is the single most
important element of your website. The key is to speak
to your target audience in a way that they really
understand. Just like an effective email newsletter,
promotion or any other marketing copy, your web text
needs to be concise, clear, and compelling.
- Concise: We're all busy, so
don't use 57 words when 7 will do.
- Clear: I understand that some
target audiences are more technical than others, but
if your message requires a PhD or a technical manual
to be understood, then you've probably lost most of
your visitors in the first sentence.
- Compelling: You need to appeal
to emotion as well as intellect. Tell me why I want
it before you tell me what it is.
Remember, your message is what highlights your unique
value in the marketplace. It's what sets you apart from
your competitors. Give people a reason to do business
with you. Get them excited about the benefits of working
There are really two types of calls-to-action on the
web. The first type is what I call the "next best
click." This is basically a 'signpost' that shows your
visitors the ideal sequence to browse your site.
Essentially it says, "if you like what you read here,
then go here next." Examples are "click here for more, "
or "next" links at the bottom of a web page. This type
of call-to-action is used to guide visitors through site
information sequentially, rather than letting them click
around at random. It's one of the elements that turns a
website into an effective sales presentation rather than
an on-line brochure.
The second type of call-to-action is your 'offer.'
When visitors accept your offer - that's a conversion.
Here are some examples:
- The visitor purchases a product in an
eStore (conversion = dollars in exchange
for a product).
- The visitor signs up for an email
newsletter or other email contact
(conversion = permission to email the visitor in
exchange for valuable information).
- The visitor signs up for a free trial
(conversion = permission to follow-up with the
visitor in exchange for a free test of the product).
The key to an effective offer is that it must be of
high-perceived value to the site visitor, and low-cost
to the company. If you use this measurement, you'll find
a "contact us for more information" isn't terribly
At the risk of being stoned by an angry mob of
graphic designers, I'm going to commit web-heresy and
tell you what graphic design is actually for.* The truth
is that graphic design only accomplishes 3 things:
- Graphic design provides AFFINITY.
That is the instant recognition that you've arrived
on a site that was built with you in mind. If you're
25+ and have ever visited a website designed for
teenagers then you know precisely what I'm talking
- Graphic design creates CREDIBILITY.
This opens the door for the visitor to make a buying
decision. It makes the visitor say, "this is the
sort of company that I'd consider working with."
- Graphic design provides FOCUS.
Good design makes your message clear and easy to
read, it can illustrate benefits and spotlight your
calls-to-action, etc. If your design is so cool that
it actually distracts from your message, however, it
will harm your conversion rate.
Anyone that tells you that graphic design can do more
than these 3 things is probably trying to sell you
graphic design services...
*If you're a graphic designer and would like a
full-color photograph of me for your company dartboard,
please feel free to email me at:
Remember to consider the four areas of Structure,
Messaging, Calls-to-Action, and Graphic Design against
the backdrop of your site goals and target audience. As
you tweak and refine your website presence to align
these elements, you'll find that your conversion rate
increases and your revenues grow.
Mat Greenfield is the founder and CEO of
Faster Marketing, a consulting firm that specializes
in developing high-conversion websites.
P.S.Mat is extending a great offer to the
first 100 Hints & Tips readers who respond! Mat
will give you a conversion analysis of your website -
absolutely free! Just
fill out the short form and Mat will get back to
you! Remember, this offer is good for only the first 100
respondents, so act now!