Any gym goer will tell you that the first month of the year is the worst.
Like clockwork, the treadmills and ellipticals are suddenly flooded with eager newbies looking to kick start their new look.
As marketers, we've seen this "new year, new you" mentality carry over to businesses just the same. However, rather than working on their beach bodies, businesses are breaking a sweat trying to roll out total website redesigns.
(If you haven't started thinking about it yet, consider this a PSA, because it's likely that your competitors have.)
So if you're planning on relying on that outdated website to support your marketing efforts this year, you should know that you might actually be throwing website traffic away.
To help ensure that you're giving people a reason to stick around, we've detailed 5 signs that you are, in fact, throwing website traffic away, alongside the tips you need to right the wrongs.
1. Your navigation is unruly
When a visitor lands on your website they have two options.
Either they can start scrolling down your homepage, or they can hit the navigation bar to make their way to a different page.
If your navigation lacks clear direction, it won't take long for them to become frustrated and bounce off your site.
Rather than simply wave goodbye, we've come up with some tips to help you rework your navigation:
1) Place it at the top of the page
According to usability and persuasion consultant Todd Follansbee, when a visitor lands on your website, their brain automatically begins to search for patterns it recognizes. Considering most website employ a navigation bar at the top of the page, most visitors will look their first. Be there.
2) Put a cap of the number of items
According to Simply Psychology, the short-term memory has a limited capacity and can only retain about 7 items at a time. With that said, you don't want the number of options listed in your navigation to exceed 7, so focus your efforts on staying somewhere between 5-6.
3) Place important pages first (& last)
Did you know that people are more likely to remember items that appear first and last on a list? According to the principles of primacy and recency, items that appear first make their way into our long-term memory (primacy) while items that appear last are remain in the short-term memory (recency.)
2. Your blog is stale
Most of the time businesses put a blog in place because they know it's a best practice, they've seen their competitors do it, or one of their friends told them they needed one.
While we're not here to argue the importance of business blogging, it's important to note that having a blog that you don't update is almost as bad as not having one at all.
Think about it. If a visitor goes looking for resources on your website and the last article you posted was over six months ago, it's only natural that they're going to have some doubts about your level of expertise and commitment to delivery.
So if you're feeling like you've fallen off the saddle, start by identifying where and why your efforts dropped off.
We've found that often times the trouble arises in the planning stage, where marketers set unrealistic goals in terms of publishing frequency. As a result, they quickly come to the realization that they can't keep up, and soon after, they simply stop trying to keep up.
To bring your blog back up to speed, consider the following:
1) Employ a blog editorial calendar
The project management tool, Trello, offers users a digital bulletin board to organize projects, visualize tasks, and collaborate with others. Utilizing a project management application like Trello to create a blog editorial calendar not only helps you stay organized, but it actually helps in the idea generation process as well, allowing you to create the overall structure of an article prior to sitting down to write.
2) Use a blog title generator to come up with ideas
Designed with busy marketers in mind, BlogAbout is a blog topic brainstorming tool that does more than simply propagate titles. Created with the understanding that brainstorming requires cross outs, backspacing, doodling, song skips, and a changes of scenery, we created this tool to help you actively participate in the creation of awesome content ideas to fill up that calendar you just created.
3) Prioritize evergreen content
What makes a piece of content evergreen? As opposed time-sensitive content that requires constant updating, evergreen content has the ability to remain relevant over a long period of time. So while your article on the latest Google Algorithm update may be irrelevant in a few months, evergreen content has the capacity to sustain the needs of your customers over time. In other words, it helps to keep things feeling fresh.
3. There's no "next steps"
You scored a website visitor. Great.
Trouble is, that visitor will never be anything more than a visitor if you don't give them a reason to take action.
In order to up your conversion rate, you'll need to enlist the help of multiple conversion points that appeal to different personas and different stages of the sales funnel.
A variety of calls-to-action will help to communicate what it is that you actually want your visitors to do.
While there are a ton of effective CTA tips out there, we ran some tests and uncovered the following:
Call-to-action buttons that contained “contact sales” had 0.3% click rate, and even worse, a 0% click-to-submission rate. However, a CTA promoting the same offer with the words “request assessment” fared much better, with a 0.9% click rate and an impressive 6.8% click-to-submission rate.
Calls-to-action that contained colors consistent with branding generated a 2.1% click rate, while CTAs that contained completely different colors jumped up to 4.1%.
After moving our blog subscribe CTA moved to the top of the page from the sidebar, we saw an increase in conversion rates of .02%
4. You lack credibility
Before making a purchase, consumers are known to do a little research. With the Internet at their fingertips, it’s easy for them to shop around and sift out the good, bad, and ugly thanks to online reviews and ratings.
This should come as no surprise, considering you're probably no stranger to reading up on a product or service just the same.
To ensure that your visitors find the evidence that their looking for, you must include case studies and testimonials designed to demonstrate what you do and how you do it.
Here are 3 things to consider when implementing case studies & testimonials:
1) Measureable Results
Utilize numbers, charts, graphs, and pictures to display measurable results that are easy to understand.
2) Real People
Photographs of customers are powerful because they work to reassure the visitor that the quote is legitimate.
Depending on the product or service that you offer, you’ll want to provide examples or links to your work. Sure, words are powerful, but real-life examples carry even more weight.
5. Your visuals are laughable
"Smiling Executive Holding Notebook."
"Confused Business Man Itching Head With Pen."
"Confident Smiling Corporate Woman."
Nothing says, "Check out my new blog post!" quite like a "Smiling Boss Communicating with Client", right?
When a visitor lands on your website, it's likely that the first thing their eye is drawn to is the visual content. You see, the imagery you employ is critical, as it's seen before your visitors have a chance to explore or read anything.
So if you're greeting them with a collage of cheesy, over-used stock photos, you're running the risk of scaring them off before they have a chance to uncover how perfect you are for each other.
While finding high-quality imagery isn't always easy, we've found 3 resources that are just plain awesome:
All of Picjumbo's images are available for commercial and personal use courtesy of the creator and web designer, Vicktor. With new photos added daily, there is a wide selection of high quality images to fit a variety of different topics.
Unsplash is a awesome resource for free images because they serve up 10 new "do whatever you want" photos every 10 days. With everything from nature, to technology, to architecture, Unsplash covers a ton of different visual subjects, making it easy for you to find one that best suits your business needs.
3) Death to the Stock Photo
Death to the Stock Photo is an awesome resource that delivers 10 high-resolution photos to your inbox at the beginning of every month. While they do require you to sign up, it's totally free. However, if you're looking to tap into even more photos, they offer a paid membership for just $10 a month.