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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 request@108ideaspace.com

About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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