When a web designer says, “Just get us your content,” many business owners mumble agreement, hoping a quick web search will deliver clear and easy answers. Here’s what to do next.
1. Accept that the website is no longer just a brochure. It’s an active sales person, offering lots of free swag in hopes of winning that precious lead: email address, phone call. The “home page” or “landing page” must give away great stuff to win the privilege of providing paid work either now or down the line. But don’t take my word for it.
2. Study the Pros: Bryan Eisenberg of Future Now and Tim Ash of SiteTuners in San Diego are two of the biggest names in “conversion optimization,” the analysis of the website elements most likely to prompt visitors to “convert:” call, buy, act, turn over an email address, download a free trial, free issue, free newsletter, whitepaper, etc. Not only do they headline the biggest “conversion optimization” conferences, they’ve worked with hundreds of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, both in the United States and internationally. Therefore, Eisenberg and Ash’s sites should be among the most optimized for conversion out there. If you copy from anyone, use their home/landing pages. Pay attention to these elements: – Neither site goes on and about what it offers. Both headlines focus on customer needs and problems. Ash: “How Can We Help You?” Eisenberg: “You work hard to improve your digital sales and marketing, but are you satisfied with the return on investment? Do you need to increase sales, generate more leads, get more subscriptions, or keep visitors to your websites more engaged than they are today.” – Both immediately define what they do. Ash: “Website Conversion Optimization – Landing Page Experts.” Eisenberg: “Digital Marketing Optimization.” While they’re competitors (and most likely pals), they manage to differentiate their businesses in the headline copy. – Both offer significant free information, also called “bait pieces.” Ash: “Free Resources.” Going deeper on the site, Ash provides a library of conversion optimization articles and white papers . . . all in exchange for an email address. Eisenberg: “Free Newsletter Sign-Up or RSS feed. Free Marketing Survival Guide.” Another click in and Eisenberg offers 9 free white papers, a free customer focus calculator app (which I use regularly, by the way) and more. After you’ve studied Eisenberg and Ash for the gold standard, hit up SmileyCat Web Design’s blog post: “50+ Examples of Highly Optimized Web Page Design.” SmileyCat did business owners a great favor by compiling this incredible 50+ list. Find another excellent guideline from Eisenberg’s site www.grokdotcom.com “A Strong Homepage Design Dissected.”Want more examples? Go to IWC Post: “25 Headlines and Lead Copy from Highly Optimized Websites.” I’ve simply taken the headlines and lead copy from 25 of the 57 websites at the Smiley Cat blog post mentioned above and listed them one after the other. Going over many examples will help you get a feel for the length, cadence and focus of those first crucial words so that you can craft your headlines and descriptive paragraphs.
3. Back Up and Get Keywords Use pages 23-30 of The Business Blog Start Up Kit to figure out your best keywords. Use those keywords on your landing page and in your blog posts. (Or get a search engine optimization specialist to get your keywords for you).
4. Stop Studying and Act: Write the headline and copy for your home page.
5. Write the “About” page: Focus on visitor needs while answering questions about yourself. Use your keywords. Depending on your industry and your position in the company, consider a video bio: it humanizes and familiarizes you. Check out some of the video bios at Zoomideo. – get links from other places on your site to your About Page – make sure to maintain a friendly, down-to-earth tone – convey accomplishments in a matter-of-fact way and back them up with evidence.
6. Write the “Services” page: Put client/customer needs first. Consider the different types of customers you have and segment service packages to fit their needs.
7. Consider a blog (insist on a blog?): The blog provides an easy way to connect with customers, gather leads, improve search engine rankings and humanize your company. Download The Business Blog Start Up Kit from Informed Web Content’s landing page. Download the free and fully customizable IWC Editorial Calendar template here (Excel).
8. Gather your testimonials. Consider putting the appropriate comments close to the product or service description it mentions. Pull reviews from Yelp, Kudzu or Angie’s list.
9. Eventually, test headlines and copyusing Google Website Optimizer (free), Optimizely (paid) or Monetate (paid). Get your own answers!