Announcing! The technophobe’s guide to getting better website results

The Website Owner's Manual is written in plain English to help small business owners get better results online.

The Website Owner’s Manual is written in plain English to help small business owners get better results online.

Imagine for a moment that you’re selling your house, and your real estate agent has just organised the first Open Home.

It’s exciting, and nerve-wracking. You’ve spent days cleaning and tidying and doing those little maintenance jobs to make a good impression.

After all, you want the visitors to fall in love with your home, just like you did when you first saw it!

Imagine the shock you’d get if every single prospective buyer walked out shortly after entering the front door…

You’d be horrified! Embarrassed! Disappointed! Wondering what on earth went wrong!

What if you have a similar problem with your website?

What if your website visitors aren’t staying? What if they’re leaving your site without making an enquiry? Or without buying anything?

If you’re not making any online sales, chances are that your website visitors are hitting the ‘back’ button on their web browser and going to your competitors instead. Horrors!

How do you keep your website visitors on your site – and encourage them to buy from you?

Getting your website visitors to hang around is all about building trust – and quickly.

So how do you build trust on your website?

Isn’t it time you found out which simple tweaks could help you get better results online?

Wouldn’t you prefer it if you could grow your website’s sales and enquiries  levels – instead of your prospects going to your competitors?

Find out more details at this page and judge for yourself!

http://wordsbycornelia.com/products/website-owners-manual/

Cornelia Luethi at The Leaky Bathtub wants you to stop being confused about website jargon, so you can start getting better results online.

Cornelia Luethi at The Leaky Bathtub wants you to stop being confused about website jargon, so you can start getting better results online.

Kind regards,

Cornelia

Cornelia Luethi

– Author of the Website Owner’s Manual

PS. There’s a brand new bonus with this eBook that’s well worth having…

My consulting clients often ask, “How should I track the performance of my website?”

The bonus is my very own tool that I’ve developed to help you with that.

Be sure to check out the bonus:

http://wordsbycornelia.com/products/website-owners-manual/

 

How to build trust online with your signature

Adding your signature onto your website is a simple way to build trust - and quickly.

Adding your signature onto your website is a simple way to build trust – and quickly.

Do you remember the last time you had to sign a document? It may have been a contract, or a form, or something authorising a payment (e.g. a cheque or Direct Debit).

Signing your name makes something feel quite official, yes?

Even if you didn’t read all the small print in detail, you just know that when you sign something, it had better be correct. You know for sure it’s something serious and binding.

What does signing your name have to do with websites?

Websites are tricky beasts, in that a potential prospect will decide in 7 short seconds whether they’ll read your site further, or if they’ll hit the ‘back’ button on their browser and go to a competitor’s site.

Therefore you have mere seconds to communicate that your business is trustworthy and reputable. Adding a signature to your website is one of the tools you can use to help with this: it’s a powerful, visual way of building trust.

What does a signature on a website do? A signature tells us that:

  • There is a real person behind the business.
  • This person is willing to sign their name to what they say… which in turn ads gravity to what it says on the website.

… and it does these things within a very short space of time.

What’s more, a signature is also very unique. A signature can even become a brand element that will let your business stand out against your competitors. It’s a very powerful branding tool – and also a very inexpensive one!

Example of a signature on a website…

Yep, I use the ‘signature on a website’ tactic myself:

Signature on website example: Notice how the signature adds a friendly and personal touch the website.

Signature on website example: Notice how the signature adds a friendly and personal touch the website.

Now that you can see what you’re aiming for, here’s how to implement your own website signature…

Tips on adding your signature to your website

1. Sign your name in a good quality, black pen on a clean piece of plain paper

  • Do not use your “official” signature, e.g. your credit card signature!
  • Use a good quality, black pen. My personal preference is for a pen with gel ink, or a fountain pen, as this makes a good, solid line. Ball point pens don’t have a smooth ink flow, so the result can look blotchy. And a thick pen (like a marker pen) will look too chunky and overbearing.
  • Your signature needs to be legible, or you won’t succeed at building trust. (Illegible signatures make it seem as though you have something to hide.)
  • Use your first name and last name, or just your first name. Do not use initials. Initials look too formal, or though you’ve got something to hide. For example:
    • Good: Joanna Smith, Joanna
    • Not recommended: JS, J Smith.

2. Scan your signature to digitise it

You’ll need the signature in a JPEG or PNG image file.

3. If necessary, enhance your signature in image editing software

Make sure the black is nice and crisp; the white background clean. If necessary, rotate the signature so that it is level.

Then save your signature in a website friendly format. Your signature graphic should be a small file size, so it’s quick to load, but still good quality so that it looks crisp and sharp.

4. Add your signature onto your website

You can add it onto as many pages as your like – the list below is a minimum:

  • Home page
  • Sales pages
  • Contact us page, as it is important to humanise this page: all too often, Contact Us pages are very abrupt and not very compelling! Adding your signature – and your photo – makes the “contact us” message more personal and thus it’s more enticing for prospects to contact you.

5. Type your details under the signature

Underneath your signature, type your name in full and any recognised qualifications you may have.

Then on the next line, add your job title and company.

6. Add your photo

Use your photo, too – like I did in the example above. (See some tips for cringe-free business portrait photos.)

Is this signature-on-a-website tactic relevant for all businesses?

In my view, adding a signature onto a website is a worthwhile tactic for all small business, whether you’re a solopreneur, or have a handful of staff. After all, why wouldn’t you want to build trust on your website? It’s simple, deceptively powerful – and very cheap to do!

Also, it’s a tactic that’s relevant for all types of industries, whether you’re business-to-business, business-to-consumer, selling products, or selling services.

Even large corporations can benefit from this approach. Just look at how Richard Branson has plastered his name over his various Virgin companies (encompassing airlines, trains, telecommunications/internet, record label, wine merchant, radio stations, financial services – and a whole lot more besides).

By adding his name (and the flamboyant personality that goes with it), the Virgin Group has a unique brand. The Virgin Group of companies have a very different vibe to their clinical-looking, staid, corporate competitors.

Why looking “corporate” stifles your business

Some of you reading this article will be appalled that I’m suggesting adding a signature to personalise your business. A common objection I hear to this tactic is, “but I want my business to look serious and corporate. Adding a signature and photograph just makes my business look small and amateurish”.

Here’s my view on the desire to look corporate…

During my time as a Marketing Consultant in the UK in the late 1990s (a time when the economy was strong), I met many business owners who did not like their business being called a “small business” or an “SME”… even if that’s exactly what they were.

These business owners thought that it was all about size. Indeed, such business owners considered the use of the word “small” was an insult to their ego; to their stature in life; to their importance.

Consequently, these size-challenged business owners wanted their marketing materials to emulate the corporates. Yes, they actually wanted their materials to be faceless! They wanted to focus on the “brand”, and not on people.

What’s the result of “corporate-looking” marketing?

All of these corporate-looking marketing materials were dull, faceless, bland and interchangeable. The copy was jargon-riddled nonsense. The photographs were generic stock library images.

You would have struggled to tell one company’s marketing materials from the other!

In these days where many small businesses are still struggling with the after-effects of recession, competition for your prospects’ share-of-wallet is tougher than ever. What’s more, with increased use of technology, many small businesses now have to compete against overseas suppliers (who are often able to supply at a lower cost), as well as local competitors. Business life is tough!

So, in these days of hyper-competition, do you want your business to look dull, faceless, bland, and unmemorable?

Or do you want your business to stand out; be unique and memorable; and start building meaningful relationships with your customers?

It’s your call… but I know which approach is likely to yield the better results.

Summary

The benefits of adding your signature to your website are that:

  • Using your signature on your website is a visual tool that instantly builds trusts and adds credibility. (Signing your name = a commitment to what you’re saying.)
  • Using your signature helps you stand out from your competitors. Based on my experience, I’d say that most of your competitors won’t have the balls to add a signature in such a public way, so that’s another thing in your favour!
  • It adds personality and depth to your message, in a way that a logo by itself will never do.
  • It lets prospects and customers know that there’s a real person behind the brand. Not only does that build trust and credibility, but it’s also the beginning of forming closer relationships.
  • This is ridiculously easy and cheap to do!

 

AuthorRank: Google is now ranking you, not just your website

AuthorRank: Google is now ranking you, not just your website.

AuthorRank: Google is now ranking you, not just your website.

Yes, you read correctly… Google is now evaluating you (specifically, the content you write) – and not just your website.

After all, many website owners write content (or have content written for them) for not just one website, but they may have multiple websites. Or maybe you guest post on other blogs. For example, I own more than 4 websites that I write content for, and sometimes I submit articles to other sites as well.

With so much content being developed, Google needs to develop new ways to filter, sort and make sense of it all. So that’s what’s given rise to what’s been nicknamed “AuthorRank”.

What are the benefits of AuthorRank?

For people like me, who write lots of quality content, it’s exciting that Google will join up the dots, so to speak. It will help me grow my personal brand and should increase my exposure on Google. (More exposure and better rankings = more visibility = more click-throughs = more newsletter subscribers = more sales… in theory!)

Also, my photo will start appearing in Google search results. (This can take a while; it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. It most likely depends on where your sites are in Google’s crawling cycles, and how often you post.)

Here’s an example of how Google search results look with a photo added… notice how it stands out much more than non-photo results?

Notice how the search result with the photograph stands out more than the text-only results? This is one of the benefits of AuthorRank.

Notice how the search result with the photograph stands out more than the text-only results? This is one of the benefits of AuthorRank.

 

Having your photo alongside the search results gives you more visibility, and adds credibility. This should mean higher click-through rates to your website… i.e. more website traffic.

Notice too the “By Brian Clark” link. This links to the author’s Google+ profile and helps readers discover other online articles you’ve written. So it’s a good idea to post to your Google+ profile every so often, with status updates, links to content you like (yours and other people’s), and so on.

NB: To get those perks, (a) you need to be writing good quality, unique content, and (b) posting new content regularly.

Another benefit of AuthorRank helps with some duplicate content issues…

Google loves unique content, and will penalise websites that use duplicate content. (“Duplicate content” refers to both content across different websites, as well as content that’s duplicated across a single website… it’s kinda vague and complex at the same time.)

AuthorRank should help content writers with the “across different websites” content issue, because AuthorRank will identify you as the original creator of a piece of content. This should help to cut down on plagiarism; and also reduce the risk of copied or plagiarised copy ranking higher than the original article.

What about the website content Words By Cornelia writes for clients?

My clients own the copyright of materials I’ve written for them (unless there’s some special agreement), so effectively the client is the author.

I’d encourage all of my clients to take advantage of the benefits of AuthorRank, so they can start building up their own rankings.

How can you take advantage of AuthorRank?

In simple terms:

  1. You need to set up a Google+ profile, if you don’t already have one. Make sure you use a good, recognisable headshot of yourself as your profile picture.
  2. In the code of each web page, you need to include a link to your Google+ profile. This needs to be done in a very specific way (your website developer may need to do this for you).
  3. Go back to your Google+ profile and add the website address under “Contributor to”.
  4. Test that this has been set up correctly using Google’s Rich Snippet Tool.
  5. Do this for every website you write for or post on. So if you’re a contributor or guest blogger on other sites, ask the site administrator to ensure that the “rel=author” tag links to your Google+ profile. (And check that this is done.)

The specifics of how that works will depend on how your website has been built, so you’ll probably have to get your web developer to help with some of this. Generally speaking, once it’s set up, it’s good to go, and shouldn’t need much (if any) tweaking thereafter.

Instead, you can focus on writing lots more quality content!

Summary

  • Google is now ranking website authors (if you have a website, that’s you!)… as well as individual websites.
  • This helps website content writers grow their personal brand and increase their visibility on Google… provided they write unique, good quality content, and do so regularly.
  • Having your photo showing in Google search results draws attention to them. Not only does this draw extra attention to your posts, but the photograph adds credibility. It’s likely that you’ll see an increase in click-throughs once you have your photo showing (though it can take several months till your photo starts appearing).
  • The way that AuthorRank works is that you need a Google+ profile that’s linked to all your content. You may need your web developer to help set this up for you: once it’s done, it’s done.
  • It may be worth updating your Google+ profile with status updates and links from time-to-time.

How to get more email newsletter sign ups on your website

The key to getting more email newsletter sign ups online is to appeal to both Tentative Tom and Decisive Dan.

The key to getting more email newsletter sign ups online is to appeal to both Tentative Tom and Decisive Dan.

One of the questions I get asked a lot by clients is, “how can I get more email newsletter sign ups on my website?”

The very first thing I do is to look at the client’s website to see if the sign up process will appeal to both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom.

I’ve written about Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom before, and how they behave differently online. In previous articles you’ve seen how you need to take both user types into consideration when structuring your website content, and also when creating sales pages.

But you also need to take both of these website user types into consideration when you want more email newsletter sign ups.

Here’s how you can get both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom to sign up to your email newsletter.

Both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom need to be enticed to sign up

It seems that eeeeeveryone is offering email newsletters these days. And you have to earn (a) your place in prospects’ mailboxes, and (b) getting your newsletters read, rather than trashed.

How do you do that? With a free enticement of some sort. This freebie needs to be something that:

  • Recipients receive immediately. Instant gratification is key; if there’s a delay they’ll have forgotten about you. Therefore delivery needs to be automatic and automated (which is why email newsletter software such as AWeber and MailChimp is so neat, it does all that for you).
  • Is in some kind of digital format… after all, the computer will be delivering it for you. This digital file is something that people can either read, view, listen to or watch on their computers. It could be a written report; or an audio file; or a video… or for best effect, a mixture of these. (Why a mixture? Not everyone likes all formats – some people are visual, some are auditory, some are kinesthetic. The more people your offer appeals to, the wider the take up.)
  • Encourages foot traffic. Digital content isn’t suitable for all business types. Or you might want to do something a bit extra. For example, if you’re a retailer you might want to offer a digital “buyers’ guide” – but you might want to supplement that with a time limited offer to receive an in store consultation.
  • Adds value to what you do. The freebie should be something that helps to answer a problem that all your prospects share. It’s something that’ll help them in their lives, and establishes you as a credible expert.
  • Has enticing packaging. Packaging sells! Even though you’re sending something digital, get a graphic designer to make it look like a real product. There’s special software (for example Cover Action Pro PhotoShop add-on) that can mock up books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, and a whole lot more.
The business cards above aren’t real. Neither is the DVD case. Nor is the magazine. They’ve all been created by someone using Cover Action Pro.

The business cards above aren’t real. Neither is the DVD case. Nor is the magazine. They’ve all been created by someone using Cover Action Pro.

Both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom will love this enticing packaging. There’s not much point in having a great freebie on offer, but it doesn’t look enticing. Give it some zing!

That’s where Dan and Tom’s similarities end… from now on, they want different things from your website. Yes, you can please them both – here’s how to do it! We’ll start with Decisive Dan…

Decisive Dan will want the minimum fuss and hoopla

To entice Decisive Dan to sign up to your newsletter, you need to make it easy for him. And the best way to do that is to have a sign up form right there, on most pages of your website.

(How do you get a sign up box onto your website? If you use an email newsletter system such as AWeber or MailChimp, it gives you a code that you or your website developer will need to add to your website.)

This sign up box should be in a prominent position, rather than tucked away somewhere down the bottom.

Very often, a Decisive Dan kind of person won’t scroll down the page, so you need to make it obvious!

How to make the sign up box obvious

A good way to make the sign up box obvious is to feature it prominently on every web page. My preferred space is at the very top of the right hand column (side bar), so that people can see the sign up box without having to scroll.

For example, on my own site, the sign up box appears at the top of the right hand column of most pages, as follows:

To attract as many email newsletter sign ups as possible, this box appears on most pages of my website.

To attract as many email newsletter sign ups as possible, this box appears on most pages of my website.

My sign-up box is quite subtle (I’m not into garish colours!).

But the email sign up box on this website, below, is brightly coloured to make it stand out:

You can spot the email sign up box on this website very easily! (Hint: it's the bright yellow box on the right.)

You can spot the email sign up box on this website very easily! (Hint: it’s the bright yellow box on the right.)

It’s not the prettiest looking website (or sign up box), but Randy Ingermanson has more than 30,000 email subscribers, so it definitely works for him!

Other techniques to get more email newsletter sign ups from Decisive Dan

There are other techniques you can use to grab Decisive Dan’s attention. These include pop-up boxes, which can be programmed to appear immediately when someone visits your site, or after a set amount of time.

I was happily starting to read a website article when this pop-up sign up box came up, blanking out the rest of the page. Many websites use this as a ploy to capture more email subscribers.

I was happily starting to read a website article when this pop-up sign up box came up, blanking out the rest of the page. Many websites use this as a ploy to capture more email subscribers.

Personally I don’t like these pop-up boxes, they really annoy me… though apparently they do work well. I don’t want to inflict them on my readers, seeing as I dislike these pop-ups myself!

But there’s a subtler way to grab Decisive Dan’s attention, and that’s with a Hello Bar.

The 'Hello Bar' is the bright horizontal strip across the top: this is an obvious but still subtle way to get users to take action, e.g. sign up to your email list.

The ‘Hello Bar’ is the bright horizontal strip across the top: this is an obvious but still subtle way to get users to take action, e.g. sign up to your email list.

The Hello Bar lets you use any call-to-action you like (be it a newsletter sign ups, or whatever). You can use colour to make it stand out, yet without being too garish. And it can stay at the top of the screen even when people scroll.

For example, here it is on my website:

The Hello Bar is visible at all times, even when people scroll down the web page.

The Hello Bar is visible at all times, even when people scroll down the web page.

I’m trialling the Hello Bar at the time of writing this; it’s early days yet, but it seems that my subscriber numbers have increased since I started using it. Yes, mine is quite subtle in colour, but garish colours aren’t for me. 😉

So there you have it: Decisive Dan wants it to be as easy as possible to sign up. He likes the sign up box to be attention-grabbing and with no excess information or blurb to hold him up.

What about Tentative Tom? Oooh, I’m glad you asked…

Tentative Tom will want more information before committing to signing up

That’s hardly surprising, that Tentative Tom wants more information before giving you his email address. He wants to:

  • Be assured that your newsletter is worth receiving – and including testimonials from other newsletter subscribers will help to sway him.
  • Get an idea of how often you’ll email him. Of course, you can change the frequency, but it’s nice for people to know if you’ll be emailing them daily, weekly, fortnightly, quarterly, etc.
  • Know that you won’t spam him, or use his details in an underhand way (e.g. sell or give the database to other people or organisations)
  • Be reassured that Unsubscribing will be easy, if he does change his mind
  • Want to know more about the freebie, to be sure he’ll like it (even though it is free!)

Wow, that’s rather a lot of information! Far too much to fit into your sign up box. That’s why it’s worth having an extra web page with more details.

Notice how I have a little link in the sign up box on my website?

The newsletter sign up box on the right-hand side bar of my website includes a link to web page with more information on my newsletter. This is for Tentative Tom!

The newsletter sign up box on the right-hand side bar of my website includes a link to web page with more information on my newsletter. This is for Tentative Tom!

That link is there especially so that Tentative Tom can find out everything he wants to know. The link goes to a special page that answers all his questions; gives some reader testimonials; – and yes, there’s another sign-up box there too.

Another benefit of having such a page is that you have a website address (URL) that you can link to easily, for example from other websites, or social media updates, and so on. In my case, I mostly point people towards http://wordsbycornelia.com/marketing-newsletter/

If you don’t have a special newsletter page, it’s harder to drive people to your site for the specific purpose of signing up. So there’s two-fold benefit for having this separate page: it encourages Tentative Tom to sign up, and you have a page that you can link to.

Anyway, here’s a visual of the web page that the link leads to:

This is my main email newsletter sign up page: it's a very good idea to have a dedicated page you can link to.

This is my main email newsletter sign up page: it’s a very good idea to have a dedicated page you can link to.

Notice how the sign up box is visible without scrolling; this is for Decisive Dan’s benefit, in case he ends up on this page.

If you scroll down, you’ll see the blurb that will answer Tentative Tom’s questions:

By scrolling down, Tentative Tom will be able to read more about the email newsletter subscription to put his mind at ease - and entice him to sign up!

By scrolling down, Tentative Tom will be able to read more about the email newsletter subscription to put his mind at ease – and entice him to sign up!

Sneaky bonus tip to get more email newsletter sign ups

I actually have two email newsletter sign up pages on my website. Notice how the one above talks (unsurprisingly) about the newsletter?

Well, sometimes I don’t want to promote the newsletter; I want to promote the free eGuide.

For example, the reverse of my business cards talks about the free eGuide. If I pointed these people towards the page above, they’d be confused, because the connection between the newsletter and free eGuide isn’t obvious at first glance. (Well, not to Decisive Dan, anyway.) Because the connection isn’t instantly obvious, it would make people scratch their head. And that’s dangerous, because while they’re scratching their head with their left hand, their right hand is hovering over the mouse to hit the ‘back’ button and navigate to some other website. Therefore we need to avoid that head scratching! And that where this second page makes a useful landing page.

So when I want to promote the free eGuide, I have a second (hidden) page, that only people with the link can find. It’s: http://wordsbycornelia.com/free/

It’s same-same but different to the other page, in that the prominent message is the free eGuide. Sure, it mentions the newsletter too (I don’t want to be misleading!), but the emphasis is different:

This sign up page has more emphasis on the free eGuide, than on the email newsletter. This makes it a useful landing page for when I'm promoting my eGuide.

This sign up page has more emphasis on the free eGuide, than on the email newsletter. This makes it a useful landing page for when I’m promoting my eGuide.

I’ve found it incredibly handy to have two different newsletter sign up pages, and I suggest that you do this too. You can even start measuring to see which page gets the best conversion rate, and learn from that.

Summary

There are many things you can do on your own website to increase the number of email newsletter sign ups:

  • Offer an incentive for signing up. And ensure that this incentive is
    • in digital format
    • delivered immediately
    • adds value to what your business does (it must appeal to all your prospects)
    • attractively packaged
  • Decisive Dan will want the sign up box positioned prominently on the website
  • Tentative Tom will want a detail page that gives him more information
  • Have two slightly different detail pages (one focusing on the newsletter; the other focusing on the incentive) give you extra flexibility in your marketing.
Once you’re sure that your website is set up to maximise email newsletter sign ups, your next task is to drive more traffic to your website so you can start growing your list in earnest.

 


Next step: like these website tips?

At last! Easy-to-read and plain-speaking tips to help you get to grips with your website.

At last! Easy-to-read and plain-speaking tips to help you get to grips with your website.

Then you’ll love the Website Owner’s Manual eBook I’ve written. It’s designed to rev up your website… and for less than the price of a tank of gas. It outlines in clear English:

  • Website updates: How often should you update your website? And what on earth could you possibly add to it?
  • Conversion: What tweaks could you make to your website to turn more visitors into customers?
  • Links: Why is it important to have quality websites linking to your website? And how can you go about getting these links?
  • Communication: How can you communicate with your customers online? And what sort of content could you use?
  • Measurement: What exactly should you be measuring? And how?
  • Real world strategies: What can you do in the real world to encourage people to visit your website?

Discover more about the Website Owner’s Manual eBook →

 

Does your website have Calls-To-Action suitable for both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom?

To maximise your website's conversion rate, you must have calls-to-action that'll appeal to both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom. Here's how to do it.

To maximise your website's conversion rate, you must have calls-to-action that'll appeal to both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom. Here's how to do it.

Last time we looked at how Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom behave differently online.

Tentative Tom will want to read almost every page before making a purchasing decision.

Decisive Dan, on the other hand, wants to skip to the important stuff, and now!

How do you give both types of website users the information they need?

Let’s say you have a sales page of some kind on your website, and you want it to appeal to both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom. This sales page could be for just about anything:

  • Your service that you sell (be it building, copywriting, beauty therapy, and so on).
  • Physical products, such as cosmetics, books, dog food, and so on.
  • Online products, such as eBooks, online courses, audio, and so on.

… in short, just about anything! We all have a sales page of some kind on our website (well, you should do anyway).

How would Tentative Tom read your sales page?

Tentative Tom will read everything on your sales page, and at least once. In fact, he’ll want all the information and then some more. For example:

  • For a service, he’d like to read reviews and testimonials, to see what other clients think.
  • For a product, he’d like reviews as well, but also an ingredients list.

Making Decisive Dan read through all this stuff would drive him nuts!

So how can you make your sales page appeal to both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom?

Here’s how you can make a sales page appeal to both types of website users.

This assumes that you want to give Decisive Dan a quick and easy route; in my last article I gave some examples as to why you might not want to do this.

But in this instance, let’s assume you want to give your website wide appeal. Here’s how to do it.

1. Write a few paragraphs with the most pertinent information

These initial paragraphs will give Decisive Dan all the information he needs: just a short, sharp, concise summary.

Then give him a prominent call-to-action: which brings us to point number 2…

2. Provide multiple calls-to-action

Decisive Dan will want a prominent call-to-action (such as a “Buy Now” button) that’s easy to spot. This highly-visible button should show on your web page without him having to scroll to see it. (The technical term for this is “above the fold”.)

Here’s an example from MailChimp email newsletter software: there’s a big, prominent call-to-action button above the fold. Notice too how the button is in a bright, contrasting colour so that the call-to-action really stands out. That’s another technique that Decisive Dan will love.

It's easy to spot the brightly coloured call-to-action - you don't even need to scroll down the MailChimp web page to see it. (That's called being "above the fold".)

It's easy to spot the brightly-coloured call-to-action - you don't even need to scroll down the MailChimp web page to see it. (Content that's visible without scrolling is called "above the fold".)

But do you see what else they’ve done? Right underneath the button there’s a hyperlink, “Need convincing?” Here’s a close-up:

.Here's a close-up of that above the fold call-to-action. Notice the link underneath the "Sign Up Free" button? That's there for Tentative Tom!

Here's a close-up of that above the fold call-to-action. Notice the link underneath the "Sign Up Free" button? That's there for Tentative Tom!

 

Tentative Tom will be very happy about this link, because it will take him to a long and detailed “Why MailChimp?” page:

Tentative Tom will love this long and detailed sales page!

Tentative Tom will love this long and detailed sales page!

 

Best of all, at the bottom of the page there’s another prominent call-to-action. This is vital; you don’t want website visitors reaching the bottom of the page and then wondering what to do next, and deciding if it’s worth scrolling back up to the top. You need to give them a prominent call-to-action there and then.

 

It's vital that there's a call-to-action at the foot of every web page. You should never leave your website visitors wondering where to go next!

It's vital that there's a call-to-action at the foot of every web page. You should never leave your website visitors wondering where to go next!

 

What’s super cool about this MailChimp example is that there’s another, more subtle, call-to-action underneath for the Tentative Tom who is still in research mode. They’ve made it easy for him to read the testimonials.

Every single page on your website should have a call-to-action:

  • Above the fold (if you want to attract the Decisive Dan type of person); and
  • At the bottom of the page. Even Decisive Dan will be frustrated if he scrolls down and doesn’t know where to go next!

3. Provide your contact details in case of questions

Think that your job’s done there? Nope, not quite yet.

Chances are that Tentative Tom might still have some more questions lurking in his mind, so encourage him to contact you. Provide your email address, so that Tentative Tom can easily get in touch with any questions.

Even if he doesn’t get in touch with you, Tentative Tom will be reassured by the very fact that your email address is there. It makes your business look real, genuine, helpful.

Decisive Dan will appreciate having your contact information on hand too. For his benefit, you should put your contact details on each web page (for example in the header or footer) so he doesn’t have to go searching for it.

Hint: Even if you have a contact form, you should still include your email address. Here’s why.

Wow, that’s a mighty long web page – is there any way I can shorten it?

If the thought of such a long page makes you shudder, here’s how you can shorten it. It’s a technique used by many ecommerce websites. And that is to use “tabs” for the information, like this:

This product sales page has clickable tabs, instead of presenting the information in a long, linear format.

This product sales page has clickable tabs, instead of presenting the information in a long, linear format.

This means that all the information is there, but without a long sales page… what a great way to keep both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom happy!

And if you can keep all types of website users happy, your website’s conversion rates will be maximised.

Summary

To encourage both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom to take action online, your website should provide:

  • A short summary of what you do (for Decisive Dan’s benefit).
  • A prominent call-to-action above the fold (for Decisive Dan’s benefit).
  • Detailed information on your product or service, either on the same page or using tabs. And link to other pages when necessary. (This is for Tentative Tom’s benefit.)
  • A prominent call-to-action at the foot of every web page. (This is for everyone’s benefit.)
  • Full contact details, including your email address, on every page of your website. Again, this is for everyone’s benefit.

 

How to make your website appeal to both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom

How to deal with different customer types online: Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom want very different things from your website!

How to deal with different customer types online: Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom want very different things from your website!

Have you noticed how some folks like to take the motorway (or highway, or freeway, or Autobahn, or whatever you call it in your country)?

They just want to get to their destination as quickly as possible, no messing around.

Yet other people will avoid the motorway as much as possible. They prefer the meandering back roads, where they can enjoy views of fields of cattle. Or admire the flowers in the gardens of the cottages lining the streets. For these people, the journey is there to be savoured and enjoyed, rather than merely tolerated.

Your website visitors are similar

You’ll get some website visitors who just want to get to the information quickety-quick, thank you very much. They want the whole experience to be speedy and with minimum fuss. If they like what’s on offer, they’ll want to buy from you right away; they’ll make a quick, snap decision based on what’s in front of them. This is a Decisive Dan kind of person.

But here’s the thing: not everyone’s a Decisive Dan

Many people like to think about things a little longer, and will often read every page on your website before taking action. Even then, they may just sign up for your email newsletter rather than actually buying anything… they want to suss you out first.

That is a Tentative Tom kind of person

Decisive Dan and Tentative Toms are two extremes; but the extremes do exist. And for your website to have the broadest possible appeal, it needs to address the needs of both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom, and that’s not always so easy.

The problem is that your own style of buying behaviour is probably reflected in your website

For example, if you’re a Decisive Dan, chances are your website will be brief to the point of being abrupt. There won’t be many pages on the site; and each page might have just a paragraph or two of content.

A Tentative Tom business owner will have quite a different website: expect lots of pages, with lots of copy on each page. (Assuming, that is, they’ve been able to make a decision about their website… maybe they don’t have a website at all, because they’re still deciding!) 😉

You need to wear the opposite shoes for your website to be successful

To get maximum results online, your website will need to address the needs of both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom. After all, if you don’t, you’ll be losing out on a significant number of prospects.

Therefore if you’re a Decisive Dan, you need to look at your website through the eyes of a Tentative Tom. That means putting yourself in their shoes to see what your website might be missing.

Not sure what on earth these frustratingly hesitant and dithering people might want?

Let’s be clear: Tentative Tom has money to spend, and is researching your industry to find his perfect supplier. But he is looking for total reassurance that your product or service will meet their needs. And it’s up to you to (and your website) to convince him to spend.

Tentative Tom has money to spend too: you just need to work a bit harder to convince him to spend it with you.

Tentative Tom has money to spend too: you just need to work a bit harder to convince him to spend it with you.

Here are the kinds of things Tentative Tom will look for on your website:

  • About Us page: Your About Us page should include personal bios of key staff, ideally with photos alongside them. Tentative Tom wants to know that he’s doing business with real people (and a real company) and not some kind of scam set up.
  • Full contact details: Another way to show Tentative Tom that your business is ‘real’ is to include full contact details. That means a landline phone number, address, and email address as a minimum. Personally, I will not buy from a site that only has an email address or a cell phone number… it’s too risky!
  • Guarantee: A risk-reversal mechanism of some kind. The Tentative Tom doesn’t want to take you up on the guarantee; what he’s looking for is that you stand by your own products. A lack of guarantee will deemed to be suspicious – especially if your competitors are prepared to offer a risk-reversal mechanism such as a guarantee. It’s also important that your guarantee appears genuine, rather than vague. Therefore you should outline exactly how the guarantee works; any conditions; and what the guarantee procedure is.
  • Testimonials: Tentative Tom wants to be sure that you have other happy customers. It’s not enough to have a Testimonials page; these testimonials must be believable. The best testimonials will directly tackle the major objections people have to your product or service. And adding a photograph of the testimonial giver makes their statement far more plausible.
  • Case studies: A good case study will go deeper than a testimonial, as it outlines the problem (the “before” situation); the solution (the “after” result); and the specific steps taken to achieve these results. The more specific you can be, the better: just be sure you have your client’s permission to share their information. And make sure you do use your own case studies (or “before and afters”) rather than generic ones; your own stories will have much more impact.
  • Good amount of detail on products/services: Tentative Tom will want to know exactly what he’s buying – so be sure to spell it out in some details. Provide photos or other graphics where possible, for added authenticity.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page: A good way to give Tentative Tom all the information he needs (but without cluttering up your product/service pages too much) is to provide an FAQs page – or even a number of FAQs pages. (For example, an FAQs page for each different product or service.) These pages are a great idea anyway, as they can cut down the amount of time you spend answering the same questions over and over: they are great time savers!
  • Value-added information: Things like informational articles and videos go a long way in demonstrating your expertise in your industry. It shows that you really know your stuff, and elevates your status versus your competitors who aren’t doing this. You can put this kind of info into a Blog, or else have a section called Resources or Articles. (Use whatever terminology you’re comfortable with, and that will resonate with your customers.)
  • The buying process: How do people buy from you? Don’t just assume it’s obvious, especially if you’re a service-based business. Have a dedicated page called “The Process” or “How it Works” and outline the steps of the buying process. That way, Tentative Tom will begin to picture himself taking these steps.
  • E-commerce sites: If you have an e-commerce website, be sure to have a page called “Customer Service” (or similar) with detailed shipping and returns information.
  • Invite contact: Make it easy for people to contact you on your website. Tentative Tom will often have a pre-purchase question; and the speed and tone of your reply will impact greatly on whether he buys from you or not.

Daunted by that list? You shouldn’t be; a professional website from a professionally-run business should have these things as standard.

Remember, it’s all about conversion: if you want your website to convert visitors into customers, you need to give your prospects all the information they need before they buy.

But what about Decisive Dan? How to make a website appeal to him?

Decisive Dan is a different beast altogether. The thought of having to read long pages of blurb will make Dan perspire with anxiety!

There are two ways you can handle Decisive Dan:

1. Make it easy for Decisive Dan to reach his destination

Just like the motorway-lover will keep an eye out for road signs leading them to the motorway, you can give Decisive Dan cues on where to go. That means letting him skip through the information, so he can get to his destination more quickly. There will be some specific tips on how to do that in the next article in this mini-series.

2. Force Decisive Dan to read through everything

Yep, in some instances you might want to force Decisive Dan to read everything, regardless. And that’s very much the approach I take on my website: the sales pages for my marketing eBooks are long. And the information on my Services is just as long.

Why? It prevents misunderstandings further down the track. Let me explain, by showing you two examples from my own business:

eBooks

I want people to know exactly what they’re buying upfront. That way, they will be happy with their eBook purchase, and more likely to recommend me to their friends and colleagues. It is a good way of keeping refunds to a minimum, and maximising customer satisfaction. It’s important to me to have happy customers who get value from my materials.

Services

Buying an eBook is a pretty low level of commitment compared to engaging my marketing consulting or website copywriting services. Before people contact me, it’s vital that they understand what I do, how I work, and how I can help them. I want them to be sure that I’m the right kind of person to work with them. The people who do not read my Services sales pages are invariably the people who turn into ‘problem’ customers, and who ask me to perform tasks that are not within my area of expertise. (It doesn’t help that “marketing” is such a vague term, so the expectations can vary significantly.) This ends up being frustrating for both the customer and for me, so I’d rather not get into that situation in the first place.

I now do my best to “force” people to read my Sales page. How? I ask them if they want the Basic or Premium option. (Most services have these two choices.) And the information on the Basic or Premium packages is right at the bottom of the sales page, so they have to read (or at least skim read) the whole page to find it.)

In short: I’ve set up my website so it selects-in the right kind of customer, and it selects-out the customers I’d probably clash with.

It’s all about creating a website process that achieves your business goals

As you might have gathered from these examples, I am very much a Tentative Tom, and I’ve adopted a well-thought-out technique to deal with my opposite, Decisive Dan. It really works well for me; it’s a system I’ve been testing and fine-tuning for a number of years now.

But that’s just me: for many businesses it makes sense to appeal to both Decisive Dan and Tentative Tom, or they’re missing out on valuable sales. So if you’re wondering how your website can perform better for your business, remember to think about your opposite personality type, and how want to deal with them.

And whether you mull this over as you’re zooming down the motorway or meandering through back-country lanes… well, that’s completely up to you!

Summary

  • To maximise your website’s effectiveness, it should appeal to all kinds of decision makers:
    • Decisive Dan makes quick, snap decisions with minimum fuss.
    • Tentative Tom will read all the small print and details before making contact.
  • Tentative Tom will want to see the following on your website:
    • About us page
    • Full contact details
    • Guarantee
    • Testimonials
    • Case studies
    • Detailed information on products/services
    • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page
    • Value-added information via a Blog, or else a Resources or Articles section on your website
    • Explanation of the buying process
    • Customer service page on e-commerce sites with Delivery and Returns information
    • Easy ways to contact you if there are any queries or questions.
  • Decisive Dan will want to be shown the quickest route possible to buy from you… and that’ll be covered in more detail next time.

Announcement: How to get better results online with the Website Owner’s Manual

Have you ever noticed how websites and cars have a lot in common? They’re both essential tools for business, and they can both cost a lot. And they both need maintenance from time to time.

Except it’s relatively simple to maintain a car

You can simply drive your car to your local mechanic, who’ll take care of it all for you. The mechanic does the work; you hand over the payment; and you drive home in your fixed car. (OK, so you may wince slightly as you hand over the payment, but that’s another story!)

It’s a bit more complex with a website…

Websites are more complex to maintain because there’s so much gobbledegook involved! And yes, there are certainly lots of people who say they can get you better results on line, but their promises are so vague or so jargon-riddled that you have no idea whom to trust.

Typical sales pitches you might hear include:

“We’ll get you to the top of the first page of Google” … um, yes, for which keyword? And is it even a relevant keyword?

“We’ve noticed that your website uses meta java and it’s affecting the page rank serialisation of the inter-web and makes your site invisible to dogs when there’s a full moon.”

OK, so I made that last one up, but you get the picture. 😉

The picture being that there’s a huge amount of jargon out there, as well as lots of vague (but impressive-sounding) promises.

How are you meant to make sense of it all? After all, you have so many other things on your To Do list!

That’s where the Website Owner’s manual comes in…

At last! Easy-to-read and plain-speaking tips to help you get to grips with your website.

At last! Easy-to-read and plain-speaking tips to help you get to grips with your website.

The Website Owner’s Manual is an eBook written by me, Cornelia Luethi, that’s designed to rev up your website… and for less than the price of a tank of gas. It outlines in clear English:

  • Website updates: How often should you update your website? And what on earth could you possibly add to it?
  • Conversion: What tweaks could you make to your website to turn more visitors into customers?
  • Links: Why is it important to have quality websites linking to your website? And how can you go about getting these links?
  • Communication: How can you communicate with your customers online? And what sort of content could you use?
  • Measurement: What exactly should you be measuring? And how?
  • Real world strategies: What can you do in the real world to encourage people to visit your website?

65% more content!

The Website Owner’s Manual has just had a huge update. After all, technology moves quickly, so I make sure that my eBooks are always up-to-date too.

This eBook now has 65% more content… and it’s still at the same great price! The update includes 3 new chapters on:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics: You’ll discover the process I work through when I write SEO website copy for my clients… this is the first time I’ve revealed my ‘secrets’!
  • Social media: Find out how to leverage this on your website – even if you’re not actually using social media yourself.
  • Conversion factors: How to build trust online.

60 Day Money Back Guarantee

Easy-to-read layout!

The Website Owner’s Manual is packed with graphics, screenshots and checklists to make it practical and easy to use.

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what a customer has said about it…


“I didn’t really understand my website till I read this eBook”

“Although I have a website for my business, I don’t really know much about it or how to get it to perform better. I was hoping that the Website Owner’s manual would enlighten me – and it certainly did.

The eBook is written in a way that’s really interesting and is full of information that’s totally new to me. In fact, I found the eBook so absorbing I couldn’t put it down and even continued reading it at dinner in a restaurant!

I’d really recommend the Website Owner’s Manual to any business owner wanting to get the best results from their website.”

– Mark Barham, Auckland Plumbers Group


Cornelia Luethi will show you how to help stop your website visitors from leaking away in her Website Owner's Manual eBook.

Cornelia Luethi will show you how to help stop your website visitors from leaking away in her Website Owner's Manual eBook.

To find out more about the Website Owner’s Manual, and to buy online, visit:

http://wordsbycornelia.com/products/website-owners-manual/

And remember, it costs less than a tank of gas for your car, and it’s got a 60 Day Money Back Guarantee, so go check it out!

Cornelia

Cornelia Luethi BSc (Hons), DipM

– Author of the Website Owner’s Manual

Goods and services provided by FX Marketing Limited (New Zealand)

Your quick, 10-step guide to building trust online

Getting your readers to trust (and like) your website straightaway is vital.

Getting your readers to trust (and like) your website straightaway is vital.

When prospects visit your website, they will decide within 7 short seconds whether they want to explore your site further – or if they’ll hit the “back” button and look at a competitors’ site.

A big factor in whether they hang around (or not) comes down to trust: but how do you do that in such a short space of time?

Here are the top ten ways in which you can build trust online:

  1. Full contact details: include ALL your contact details – landline number, mobile number, postal address, physical address and email address.
  2. About us page: this is a vital trust-building page, and should include details of key people within the company (with photos).
  3. Memberships and associations: using logos of organisations you’re a member of (assuming you have their permission) is a quick visual way of building trust and credibility. This includes membership of business groups such as BNI and Chambers of Commerce, as well as any industry-specific associations.
  4. Professional website design: because professional companies need to look professional online. This is about having web pages that are well laid-out, and with an appropriate colour scheme and fonts.
  5. Professional logo design: your company’s logo should appear on the site, so make sure your logo has been professionally-designed. A poorly-designed or dated logo doesn’t help with building trust.
  6. Professional photographs: it’s not unusual to see small business websites that are generally quite decent, but then ruined with amateurish photography.
  7. Well-written content, with correct spelling, punctuation and grammar: when people look at a website, all they can judge your business on is based on what’s in front of them. So the smallest details take on a big significance… and that includes the accuracy of the writing.
  8. Testimonials: client testimonials are a vital tool in building trust. Make sure your website has a top-level page dedicated to testimonials.
  9. Up-to-date content: have you ever looked at a website, and wondered if it’s up-to-date? Don’t let this kind of doubt creep into prospects’ minds. A quick way of communicating that your site is current is via the copyright details in the footer of each page. For example:
    Copyright © ABC Company 1995 – 2012.
    This quickly tells readers that (a) you’ve been in business for a while, and (b) that your site is up-to-date. How easy is that?!
  10. Easy-to-use and logical navigation: make sure your site is easy to navigate. If your website is confusing to use, it may frustrate users and affect your company’s credibility online.

 

What’s the purpose of a website home page?

You’re wandering through the mall, in need of a new pair of shoes. Walking around, you check out the shops from the walkway.

Hmmmm, that shop looks like it only has trainers and casual shoes – that’s not what you’re after!

And that shop looks far too pricey; keep walking, keep walking, don’t get tempted by those expensive shoes!

But ewwwww, that shop looks really cheap and nasty. You want better than THAT. Heck, there’s even a funny plasticy smell coming out of the doorway! Gross!

You keep walking round the mall, and finally you find a shoe shop that looks just right, and you find the perfect pair of shoes.

Notice what you’ve just done?

You’ve been making judgements on the shops without even setting foot inside them. You were quickly able to guess whether a shop is suitable or not just by looking at their window displays and into their open doorways.

A website home page is like a shop window

The home page is there to entice the right customers to enter.

Think about it in terms of the website user: they’ll be wondering if your business is the right company for them, in terms of products, services, culture, personality, and price.

In short: can your business fulfil their need? Do you have the right solution? And can they trust you?

The reader’s attention span is short

Not only does your website have to convince the reader to hang around – it has to do it very quickly. Website users have short attention spans and make snap decisions. In fact, you have just 5 seconds or less for your website to make a good first impression and to lure the prospect to read on.

It’s a bit like the shoe shop in the mall: you might wander in, thinking that the shop is the right one for you. But then you see the prices, and you walk out again.

Thus your website needs to make a good initial impression, and then earn the reader’s eyeballs for the next 50 seconds.

Yikes, that sounds like a lot for a home page to do!

Yes, your website home page has to work very hard indeed. So make sure that it:

  • Clearly identifies who your target customer is.
  • Demonstrates your understanding of your target customer’s key challenges.
  • Begins to hint at your solution… but don’t go into too much detail. (That’s the job of your Products or Services page.)
  • Sums up what’s unique about your business (i.e. why should they choose you, rather than a competitor?)
  • Conveys that your business is trustworthy and reliable.
  • Looks professional; is easy to use; and has an attractive design.

If you manage to do that successfully, you’ll have an attractive shop window that’ll attract your target customers.

Leaving you to sit back and admire your new shoes when you’re talking to the new clients your website has attracted. 😉

 

What is SEO? A beginner’s guide in plain English…

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about making sure your website gets found online. And the way that most people find websites is via search engines.

Google is the biggest, most popular search engine with approximately 65% of traffic. Their competitors include Yahoo (approximately 15%), Bing (13-14%), plus some smaller players. *

How do search engines work?

We need to have a quick look at how search engines work in order to understand what SEO is all about.

In short, the goal of a search engine is to bring its users the most relevant results possible to their searches.

After all, if a search engine consistently gives you, the user, a load of bad results (e.g. poor quality websites, that don’t reflect what you’re looking for, or spammy websites), you’ll end up using a different search engine. The search engines want you to keep using them, so they want to give you relevant search results.

To give you relevant results leading to good quality websites, the search engines use complex formulae (known as “algorithms”) which look at a variety of factors when ranking websites. The higher the ranking, the more relevant the website is seen to be to the user’s search.

These website  ranking factors include:

  • Keywords: does the website’s content use the same kinds of words as those that the user has input? If so, that’s a notch in your favour. Keywords are good! That’s leads onto the next factor:
  • Information-rich websites: search engines love good quality websites that are rich in unique, well-written content, which is regularly updated. It’s not just search engines that love it, but readers do too. And for the website owner, it’s an opportunity to use a rich variety of keywords, which will help rankings further still.
  • Inbound links: the search engines figure that a good quality website will be linked to from other good quality websites. Notice the word quality: if you have links to your site from spammy websites, it could count against you.
  • Bounce rate: have you ever followed a link to a website; didn’t like what you see; and immediately hit the “back” button to leave the site? That’s called a bounce. A bounce indicates that the website is irrelevant to the user’s search; and a lot of bounces for a particular website tell the search engines that the website isn’t a good quality one. So bounces are bad. (You can see on your website analytics what the bounce rate is for your website.) A high bounce rate is bad; a low bounce rate is good, and it’s one of the factors used by search engines when formulating their rankings.
  • Time on site: again, if users spend a good amount of time on your site, the search engines will figure that your website’s a good one. So the time users spend on your site is another factor addressed in the algorithms.

SEO means that a website owner is actively addressing these ranking factors used in the algorithms. It’s about taking a proactive approach to a website, and increasing its chances of getting good rankings for as wide a variety of search terms as possible. This might sound easy, but the goal posts are continually moving!

Things change over time

The list of ranking factors is a basic one, to give you an overview. But you should also be aware that these algorithms aren’t static – far from it. They’re continually being tweaked and fine-tuned.

So what’s a business owner to do with these changes in the SEO world?

There’s one strategy that’s never changed: and that is to have a well-built website, that’s full with good, information-rich content, and that’s updated regularly.

Don’t be tempted to try and “cheat” the system – it’s not worth it. It’s far better to focus on having a great site that real people (as well as search engines) will enjoy using.

 

* 2011 data from http://www.quantumseolabs.com/blog/seolinkbuilding/bing-google-market-share/

 

What’s best: a contact form or email address?

It's vital that a website's Contact Us page makes it easy for prospects to contact you.

It’s vital that a website’s Contact Us page makes it easy for prospects to contact you.

You’re working on your website, and you’re umming and ahhing about what to put on your Contact Us page. Should you use an enquiry form, or your email address – or both?

Let’s look at this from your prospects’ point of view

Why are they looking at your Contact page?

Um, probably because they want to get in touch with you, right? So it makes sense to encourage them to do just that, by making it as easy as possible for the customer to connect.

So what makes it easy for the customer to connect?

Well, that can vary from person to person. Let’s look at both contact forms and email addresses…

The case for and against contact forms

Contact forms (or enquiry forms) make it super-easy for customers to get in touch. Readers don’t have to launch their email software; they can easily just type in the info, click “submit” and bingo!

But contact forms aren’t perfect. Have you ever had the experience of filling in a contact form, and never hearing back from the company? And you don’t have a record of what you’ve just sent them, to follow them up?

Frustrating, isn’t it?

And most people will have had a frustrating experience with enquiry forms

Sometimes the frustration might be around the contact form asking you to select why you’re contacting them; and then a sub-menu pops up.

And the darn form won’t send until you’ve worked your way through all these “compulsory” boxes. Yet so often, none of the options seem to apply to you!

Another common frustration with enquiry forms is that you click “submit” and the message disappears into the ether. Often you have no record of what you said; and so often you never hear back from the company you’ve emailed.

If you want to use an enquiry form on your website, a simple (and very customer-friendly) thing to do is to add some words along the lines of:

Please contact us by filling in your details here – you can expect to receive a reply from our friendly team within 2 working days. If you don’t hear back from us by then, it means that something’s gone astray, so please give us a call on 123 456 as your enquiry is important to us.

That should encourage your prospects to submit their info.

The case for and against email addresses

The frustrations with contact forms give the benefits of including your email address: there are no drop-down menus; and you have a record of your message in your Sent Items folder.

The biggest reason you’ll hear for NOT including your email address, is that spambots might harvest your address and you’ll get bombarded with spam.

Um, what would you rather do: delete some spam emails, or miss out on an enquiry that could be worth thousands of dollars?

Most business owners quite happily put up with a bit of spam to ensure they’re not missing out on sales. After all, we’re in business to make sales! It makes no sense at all to miss out on enquiries by not including your email address.

And if you’re really that worried about spam, invest in a spam filter. If your email service provider doesn’t offer one, then look around for an add-on service – or change providers.

Summary

1. Make the contact form as simple as possible; don’t clutter it with lots of drop-down menus and other “compulsory” boxes.

2. Ideally, include an email address AND an enquiry form for ultimate customer-friendliness.

3. Put some friendly words alongside the enquiry form, to let prospects know how soon they can expect a reply, and what they should do if they don’t hear back within that time frame.

4. If you’re worried about spam, invest in a spam filter.

… In short, the most customer-friendly solution is to provide both an enquiry form AND an email address. That’s what’ll maximise your enquiry rate.

 

Are you using this little-known online trust building technique?

Imagine you’re looking for something online. You find a promising link on Google and click through to a company’s website. You quickly skim-read the home page and scroll right down to the bottom.

But uh-oh! You’ve just seen the Copyright date! And it says 2006! Immediately your alarm bells ring: is this company still in business? Is their website up-to-date?

All of a sudden, you’re not sure about the professionalism of this business, and you go back to Google to find an alternative supplier.

This example might sound extreme, but it’s surprisingly common online behaviour

When we’re evaluating a new supplier, and all we know of them is their website, every little element has an important role. And that includes the Copyright date in the footer.

You may not even have noticed this Copyright date before

If you haven’t noticed it, have a look at some websites, and scroll right down to the very bottom. There you’ll see some information, probably in a very small-sized font, along the lines of:

Copyright © XYZ Company Limited 2005 – 2012

The purpose of this information is to protect the company’s copyright of the content (i.e. they are asserting that the content is theirs, and that it is illegal to copy it). Copyright law applies internationally.

But this article isn’t about law, it’s about online trust building. So look at that example above again, and you’ll notice that there’s a date range.

What does this date range tell you?

The date range tells you two things:

  1. The business has been online since 2005, so the business itself has been around for a number of years. They’re therefore unlikely to be a “fly by night” operation.
  2. The last date is the current year. That means that they’ve probably updated their website recently, which indicates that the information on the website is up-to-date. Moreover, it tells you that the company pays attention to detail and is professional in its dealings.

Of course, that’s a big assumption to make

But it’s a very powerful assumption… and all from one little innocuous sentence at the bottom. It’s a small but very important (and easy) trust-building tool. And it’s one that you should be using.