The Symptoms and Remedy for Homepage-itis

The Symptoms and Remedy for Homepage-itis

Are you suffering from homepage-itus? The symptoms include:

  • The belief that visitors always enter your website through the homepage
  • You send all of your traffic PPC, SEO, or Ad traffic to the homepage
  • Promoting products, content, email newsletters, or promotions only on the homepage
  • The belief that the “wow factor” is the most important impression to a customer, so you make your homepage do a flash based song-and-dance
  • A disproportionately large amount of your web design budget goes to redesigning it obsessively

The truth is that visitor behaviour has changed drastically. Homepages don’t matter as much as they used too. First-time visitors enter deep into the site courtesy of Google’s more accurate search results. Repeat visitors enter through landing pages from email campaigns or bookmarks to specific pages that interested them. If you take a look at your analytics, I bet you’ll be shocked out how many of your visitors never even pass through the homepage.

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3 Ways to Sabotage your Website

3 Ways to Sabotage your Website

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. Below I’ve reflected on 3 ways I’ve sabotaged my websites in the past. Hopefully you won’t follow my example.

#1. Completely redesign it – If you redesign your site from scratch, you’re probably throwing out the baby with the bathwater. No matter what your web design firm tells you, very few websites are so bad that it must be completely redesigned. When you do this, you end up distrupting features that worked perfectly fine just to fix features that didn’t. Instead, redesign your site incrementally around business objectives and customer needs, not the design whims of you or your company.

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Unnecessary Detours on Your Website

Unnecessary Detours on Your Website

About Us. FAQ. Customer Service. Contact Us.

Odds are you have these pages on your website. Last week I raised a question about the value of site if your products disappeared. But here’s another consideration, what if the above pages disappeared?

If your About Us page was gone, would customers still be able to learn about your company, your beliefs, your values, your unique offering, throughout your site? Or is the About Page the only place you communicate who you really are.

What about an FAQ page? Is this the only place you answer common questions? If they’re really so “common”, why not answer them in context instead? In other words, it doesn’t make sense to answer common questions about your shipping policy on an entirely separate page, it makes sense to answer them with a popup box or mouseover in your shopping cart when people are actually choosing their shipping option.

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Copying Success vs. Fixing Failure

Copying Success vs. Fixing Failure

So much of our day revolves around putting out fires.

404 pages. 500 errors. High bounce landing pages. A low open rate on a marketing email. I’m going to suggest a radical solution to these problems: ignore them.

Why should you ignore them? Because sometimes fixing a failure isn’t the best use of your time. That new landing page with a 70% bounce rate, maybe you can optimize it down to 50%, but it still sucks. Maybe you can increase sales on that failing product 50%, but it still isn’t going to make a dent on your top line.

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What if your products disappeared?

What if your products disappeared

Imagine that all your products disappeared from your website. Would anything of value remain? Would your customers still come back?

If your answer is “no”, than you’ve successfully commoditized yourself.

If you’re truly passionate about your business, your site should be overflowing with content and community, both of which should be natural by-products of your real products. Content and community will endure, even if your products were gone.

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Creating Remarkable Touchpoints

Creating Remarkable Touchpoints

We spend a lot of time on obvious customer touchpoints such as our website, products, call-centre, and marketing creative. But what about these not-so obvious ones?

Packing lists/invoices – Most packing slips are cold and formal. What if the person who picked and packed the order took an extra 10 seconds to write “thank you [customer name]” and sign their name with a red marker?

Email notifications – Most shipping and order confirmation emails look like the digital equivalent of vomit. What if you added pictures of your staff and answered common questions regarding shipping and returns? What if you made it send from an actual person, instead of “donotreply@company.com”?

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10 Secrets of a Winning Facebook Fan Page

10 Secrets of a Winning Facebook Fan Page

The rapid popularity of Facebook fan pages isn’t surprising considering the failure of many websites’ to accommodate conversations with customers. As a result of the inflexibility of many corporate sites, some brands have even begun pushing their Facebook pages over their own website.

But now that everyone’s on the Facebook fan page bandwagon, how can you ensure your page stands apart from the fluff? Here’s 10 must-do’s for your Facebook fan page.

#1 – Give People a Reason to Fan You

People won’t fan you just because you have a page. (who doesn’t by now?!) Smart businesses tell fans exactly what they’ll get. Walgreens does a nice job of this with a teaser landing page. Give your visitors a preview of what your updates look like. Will they get discounts, exclusive news or content? Be specific so you set expectations appropriately.

#2 – Offer Fans Exclusives

If you’re using your page to regurgitate news and content from other company channels, think again. Your fans will see through this sham. Make it a priority to break news or offer exclusive promotions only to your Facebookers. They’ll show their appreciation by eagerly staying tuned to future updates.

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Back to the Fundamentals of a Successful Website

Back to the Fundamentals of a Successful Website

These are all worthy causes. I’m going to suggest to you however that they aren’t the most fruitful pursuits. I’m going to suggest to you that we often bypass the quick-wins in favour of sexier options that we’re more familiar with.

If your email marketing program is entirely focused on determining that right moment to send an email for maximum impact, you’re wasting your time. Not because optimizing open-rates is stupid, but rather you should be asking, “what makes people want to open in the first place?)Similarly, you could endlessly test colours, wording, and placement of your add to cart button in your shopping cart. You’ll probably inch up a bit in conversion. Yet fundamentally you haven’t added any value to the customer experience.

Resources are limited in every organization. Therefore we must always ask whether our optimization efforts are worth their opportunity cost. What else can we be doing that more effective?

I was recently reminded of this. For years, customers have been telling us to show the pictures of clothing on real people, rather than mannequins. For years we ignored the advice due to the impractical task of always having models on stand-bye when new products arrive. In the meantime we optimized the heck out of everything we knew how. We starting hitting the point of diminishing returns. All those a/b tests weren’t as effective as they used to be.

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5 Anti-Resolutions for Marketing Success in 2010

5 Anti-Resolutions for Marketing Success in 2010

The not to-do list is often as important as the to-do list. As you begin planning your web strategy for 2010, consider making these new year’s anti-resolutions:

1. Stop relying on discounts: Pretend that for the next year your business had to survive selling only full price products or services. Would you survive? What does your answer say about the health of your brand? Kevin Hillstrom reminds us that “discounts and promotions are taxes placed on brands for being unremarkable”. What truly sets your business apart? Why would a customer choose you over a competitor? If you’ve been overly reliant on deals during last year’s economic debacle, ask yourself when enough is enough. The sooner you start weaning customers off discounts, the sooner you’ll begin cultivating healthy, long-term business.

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Unlearning your Website: Thinking Like a Pre-Customer

Unlearning your Website Thinking Like a Pre-Customer

Many would consider their industry expertise to be a competitive advantage. What if I were to suggest that your knowledge about your products and services can be the greatest hindrance to the success of your website?

Tappers and Listeners

Consider this fascinating study, highlighted in the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

A group of people are divided in half. The first group, the tappers, are assigned with the task of tapping the rhythm of a well known song, such as Happy Birthday to You or The National Anthem, on a table. The listeners are assigned with the task of identifying the song that is being tapped out by the tappers, based on the rhythm.

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Getting Personal with your Customers

Getting Personal with your Customers

Most online transactions are fast, efficient, and completely lacking human contact. Why not shock your customers once in a while with a truly personal online experience? Below are 13 ways to get personal (in a good way) with your customers.

1. Shock your first time customers by calling them within a day of their order. Ask them for feedback and thank them for their support.

2. Post online profiles of everyone at the company, but ditch the boring executive bios. Instead post profiles from the rank and file, the people who actually interact with your customers on a daily basis. The profiles will remind your customers they buy from people, not an “organization”

3. Take one day a month and answer the phones yourself. Tell customers who you are and get their feedback first hand. Customer’s love to opine when they know they’re talking to a decision maker. (I guarantee you will walk away with loads of new ideas from this tip).

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Website Redesigns: Breaking the Cycle

Website Redesigns Breaking the Cycle

Website redesigns are expensive, time-consuming, and hugely popular. Why? Because unlike website optimization, they’re tangible and exciting. You clearly see the end result. In my observation, companies redesign their website’s quite frequently, typically following a predictable pattern:

The Website Redesign Cycle

1. Company creates website
2. Company grows tired of website, and realizes it doesn’t meet all of their needs
3. Company redesigns website, addresses some of the weaknesses, but damages features that worked perfectly, annoying customers accustomed to the old site
4. Repeat (endlessly)

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What Offline Can Teach Online

What Offline Can Teach Online

In the early days, online retail built itself upon the foundation of convenience and value. It was easier to buy online, and many times cheaper. With the astonishing growth of e-commerce, and the unique combination of an always on store with relatively low overhead, some online store owners would assume they’ve got a leg up on their offline counterparts.

On the contrary, I would argue we can learn much from the offline world. After all, with hundreds of years of experience, traditional retailers are in many ways much more polished than their online counterparts. Here’s 7 pointers we can take from the brick and mortar world.

Merchandising Matters: Countless hours of research have been performed on product merchandising. Grocery stores make a killing off selling prime locations on their shelves. I believe we are just starting to learn how to effectively merchandise online. How much thought have you given to how your products are ordered on your category pages? What about the way you order your categories in your nav? It kills me every time I see products or categories ordered alphabetically. Should accessories really be listed first if you’re known for your jeans? Probably not.

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6 Lessons from 1600% Growth

6 Lessons from 1600% Growth

For the last several years, I’ve had the privilege of personally helping the directors of an e-commerce site acts as a portal to an online clothing store. In the last 3 1/2 years, we’ve been fortunate to experience a 1600% increase in sales.

I’ve recently been reflecting on lessons I’ve learned through this exciting but tumultuous experience. What follows is a list of 6 lessons I’ve learned, often the hard way. I hope these lessons are helpful to your business as well.

Lesson #1: Serve your Customers Offensively

All businesses give lip service to good customer service, and yet few are known for the truly remarkable kind. I believe this is due to a defensive rather than an offensive approach to customer care. Too much emphasis is placed on serving customers who initiate contact with the company rather than the company initiating contact with them. Would you be considered a good friend if you never called? Probably not. Your customers aren’t impressed that you answer the phone with a friendly voice, that’s an expectation. Do the unexpected. Call or email them first. Actually listen and respond to all feedback. Publicity recognize them. You can’t win in sports if you’re always on the defence. Neither will you win the hearts of your customers if you never go on the offense.

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The Internet Marketing Toolbox

The Internet Marketing Toolbox

For those not mechanically inclined, looking through a toolbox can be overwhelming. It’s frustrating when something is broken, but you’re not sure which tool to use.

Such is the problem for many online business’ when gazing into the vast array of tools available in internet marketing. As with any tool, the internet marketing tactics are best when used for their intended purpose. Despite what any consultant says, there is no one web marketing tactic that works for everyone, in all situations. Below is a guide to help you choose the proper tools for your unique marketing needs.

Search Engine Optimization

When to use it:

When you have time, and can patiently wait for results
When people are already searching for your product/service
When you serve a local market (competition is much less)

When not to use it:

When you need results fast
When people don’t know they need your product (more often than not, extremely innovate products with little competition fair poorly with SEO, because no one is searching for them)

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