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Web Strategy

Three keys for a website that converts

by Randall Craig on August 7, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Blogging, Communication, Content, Web

Tagged as: , ,

What makes a web site great? What might come to mind is great design, easy-to-find information, and intuitive functionality. These may have made the top of the list in 2003 (or even 2013) , but are, at best, merely sufficient today.

Many professional marketers now understand where the web fits into the mix: it is the hub that every marketing initiative (ads, media relations, direct mail, Social Media, etc) drives to. When the user arrives at the site, they experience great design, easy-to-find information, and intuitive functionality. Then nothing happens.

Today’s websites need three critical ingredients to justify their existence and warrant their investment:

1) A clearly defined goal: If indeed the web is a step in the user’s “journey”, what must the website accomplish in order to move the user to the desired next step? Is it to transact? To call a phone number? Subscribe to a newsletter? Without a goal the website has no purpose: at best it is a meal of empty calories.

2) Audition: With the overall goal in mind every page must audition for a place on the site. Why is the page needed?  What is it supposed to accomplish?  Pages that don’t have a purpose aligned with the goal are superfluous, and get in the way of achieving it.

The concept of  “audition” is equally relevant on each page: every graphical element, every paragraph, and every bit of functionality must also pull its weight.

3) Call to Action: When a user gets to a specific page, there are two key questions that must be answered:
a) What might the user want to do next? If they can’t do it easily, they will abandon their journey: they’ll go elsewhere.
b) What do you want them to do next? If you don’t make it easy for them to do this, then your marketing goals will never be realized.

Every page – not just the transaction pages – must have a Call to Action (CTA) that satisfies both requirements. Here are some examples of CTA content:

  • Phone number/contact details at the top/bottom of each page
  • Related links on a sidebar
  • Lead generation form
  • Video with an embedded message
  • Action message embedded within editorial content
  • Click-to-chat functionality

This Week’s Action Plan: Examine your three most visited web pages: they probably have great design, easy-to-find information, and intuitive functionality. But if they had to audition for their spot on the site, how would they do? And how strong is the CTA?  If you’re not satisfied, then do something about it.

Marketing Insight:  Interested in making your marketing collateral, presentations, and social media more successful?  These three ingredients (Goal, Audition, and CTA) are just as relevant here as on the web.

Marketing Insight #2: Goal/Audition/CTA also applies to blog posts. Here’s how it works with this one:

  • Goal: the long-term goal of this blog is to credentialize me and my firm (108 ideaspace) as critical thinkers and thought leaders in our space. A secondary goal is to keep in front of our readers, so that when they have a need, they think of us and call.
  • Audition: Re-read this entire post, and you will find very few zero-value sentences or words. (If each paragraph didn’t provide value, the reader would likely move on.)
  • Call to Action: Look at the sidebar, the text at the bottom of the blog, the This Week’s Action Plan section above, and even the name of the Tipsheet (“Make it Happen”): they are all focused on action. That being said, here is another call to action: Are you looking for a speaker for your next event, or are looking to re-do your website with great design, easy-to-find information, and intuitive functionality – and with goals, auditions, and CTAs?  If so, please call me at (416) 256-7773 x101, or via email at


What have been the most transformational marketing innovations in society?  TV and Direct mail/database marketing rank up there.  Email, the web, and social media also do.  And so does mobile – but why?

It is too easy to think of mobile as nothing more than a small screen.  Web designers and developers work hard to ensure that their sites are responsive – a web design that automatically reformats itself for the desktop, tablet, or cell phone screen.  And then the effort stops.

Mobile is unique not because of the screen size, but because it keys into two critical marketing triggers: location and urgency. Yes, it is true that a flyer outside a retailer’s shop meets these criteria, but the flyer is a one-way broadcast. There is no interaction, there is no user identification and there is no tracking.  And because of this, there is no “big data” that can later be mined to encourage a later transaction.

While the possibilities for mobile marketing range from text, to location-based emails, to location-based social sharing, to who-knows-what, there are several principles that are critical for mobile marketing using the web, whether it is a mobile app, or a mobile-responsive website:

1) The principle of location Because a user is only using the mobile when they are either looking for something, or they have already arrived, the device needs to take this into account.  Directions “from here”, the local location’s phone number, the currency, local spellings, and local-only deals should be front-and-center.

2) The principle of just-in-time:  If someone is checking their smart phone, it is likely because they are in the midst of a specific customer journey.  Yet once they leave the location, the likelihood of them transacting quickly diminishes.  Time-bound deals and up-to-the-minute dynamic content are urgency triggers, and a powerful call to action.

3) The principle of simplicity:  Most mobile sites have the exact content as the main site, but accessed through a revised navigational structure.  It is far less likely that a user will use their smartphone to drill into the depths of your site to read several pages online.  Strip away the less relevant, and give the user what they need up front: drive them to action.  If the site is 80% less complex, you’ll have that much more activity.

This week’s action plan:  Take a look at your website, but do it from your smartphone.  Does it take into account your geographic location?  The principle of Just-in-time?  Simplicity? If not, perhaps you should build a new mobile site… into this year’s marketing plan.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
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Insight: Omni-channel experience

by Randall Craig June 28, 2013

How often do you research a product online, and then purchase it at the store?  Or, check out the product at the store, and then use the internet to make the purchase?  If so, you’re not alone. These newer consumer behaviors are both the new reality for retailers – and a special challenge.  It even […]

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