Marketing podcast, PreneurCast, is for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
Pete and Dom discuss a framework for improving the conversions of any website by focusing on the needs of the visitor instead of what you want to tell them. This framework comes from Pete’s free “VD Report” that he originally published on this website.
We’re Looking for Case Studies
Pete is looking for people to feature as case studies here on the Blog — e-mail support [at] preneurgroup [dot] comand let us know how you have applied the 7 Levers to your business, and the results you’ve got.
Pete and Dom talk about improving the conversion your website by focusing your visitor’s needs
http://preneurmarketing.com/essays/vd-report/ – the original report
http://preneurmarketing.com/essays/updated-inside-world-robert-kiyosaki-full-rich-dad-poor-dad-story/ – Robert Kiyosaki Profile
http://preneurmarketing.com/essays/got-8-5-opt-rate-25-14-social-share-ratio-increased-list-39-9-one-simple-bribe/ – List Eruption Case Study
http://preneurmarketing.com/essays/the-art-science-of-using-testimonials-to-increase-opt-ins-conversions/ – Using Testimonials
Book Yourself Solid – Michael Port
Beyond Booked Solid – Michael Port
You can try out a lot of the books we recommend in audio format with Audible:
http://audibletrial.com/preneurcast – Free trial with a free audiobook download for PreneurCast listeners
Previous PreneurCast Episodes:
Episode 37 – Preneur Hierarchy – http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast037-the-self-indulgent-preneur-hierarchy/
Episode 52 – 7 Levers Redux – http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast052-7-levers-of-business-redux/
Read it now.Hide it.
7 Steps to Higher Website Conversions (The VD Report)
Pete Williams: Hello, everybody. Pete Williams here for another edition of the PreneurCast podcast with my usual partner in crime, Dom Goucher. How are you doing?
Dom Goucher: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the show.
Pete: How are things, mate?
Dom: They’re good, very good. I’m so glad to have you back. It’s a little bit lonely talking to myself out here, as it were.
Pete: It was only one week. I only missed one week with a bit of an illness, but I’m back on track again this week.
Dom: Yeah, just goes to show you, all that healthy exercise stuff is not necessarily all that good for you, is it?
Pete: Well, mate, I haven’t been exercising for about three or four weeks, so it could be that that actually caused me to get sick.
Dom: Oh, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Pete: I’m back on the bandwagon this week. I’ve got about nine weeks until my next race, so I’m back training again.
Dom: Oh, dear. So, have you actually managed to do anything between your illnesses then this week? What have you been up to?
Pete: Yeah. Probably the biggest stuff I’ve been doing is getting a couple new posts up on PreneurMarketing.com, a couple new essays up there which I think have been well received so far. I got into Rich Dad’s, Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow board game again recently with my godson who’s 17. He comes up and hangs with us, and plays with Eli and all that fun stuff. I try and mentor him a little bit, and he started enjoying playing Cashflow.
I’ve gotten back into that Rich Dad, Poor Dad world again recently. He [Kiyosaki]’s got a very interesting story, and he doesn’t reveal who or if Rich Dad is real. There’s a lot of contradictory information out there on the Web about his history, so I started to Google him, do a bit of investigation. I couldn’t find a decent online biography about him that I thought covered everything I’d read over the years. So, myself and a couple of the team spent a lot of time researching everything we could about Robert Kiyosaki, and wrote what we think is the definitive biography of the man, and we put it up on the website.
So, if you’re interested in finding a bit about Kiyosaki, about his days in the army and his two failed businesses and his education company before Rich Dad, Poor Dad — it’s something a lot of people don’t know. He had a book called If You Want to Be Rich & Happy, Don’t Go to School?, but that book was published as part of a company called Excellerated Learning. He did a whole range of seminars and all that sort of stuff around the world, prior to writing and funding and starting the Rich Dad Group.
Then he teamed up with Sharon Lechter, who was the co-author of all the books. She was the wife of the patent attorney that he used to patent the board game, and that’s how they first met. There’s some interesting stuff about their history that we were able to uncover and put together in this bio.
Dom: You want to slow down there, mate, before you give the whole thing away. But it sounds like there’s a lot more to it than a lot of people know, though. Interestingly, Rich Dad, Poor Dad was probably the first entrepreneurial-business-self-development book that I ever read.
Pete: Ah, very cool.
Dom: So, that’s an extra bit of history for you with that one. But that sounds interesting. Because, as you say, there’s a lot of people out there that have this mythological thing, or people just don’t know who they are. They maybe recommended the book, and they think the book’s good. But yeah, there’s very little out there, certainly about him. And a good piece of work that the team did there, done all that research and put it together.
Pete: It took quite a while.
Dom: Yeah. You could be the definitive source of Robert Kiyosaki.
Pete: To be honest, I didn’t sit down and write this all myself, so I’m not going to take credit for it personally. But I think the team did a great job because it is probably the biggest, in terms of word count and depth, of a biography that’s out there about him. It could almost be an e-book, it’s that large. It’s really cool and in-depth. There’s some video footage that we were able to find that I’d never seen before, and some amazing pieces of information. It’s ridiculously well-researched and referenced as well. That’s one of the things we’ve been publishing.
The other thing we published this week, which I think listeners to the show would find interesting, is an essay that I wrote, typos and bad grammar included, called How We Got an 8.5% Plus Opt-In Rate, a 25.14% Social Share Ratio, & Increased Our List BY 66.4% With One Simple Bribe. The essay goes through an entire campaign we were testing recently around the 7 Levers Report, and the stats we got, and how we structured the campaign, and the promotion, and the tools we used. It’s very transparent. That’s been well-received as well. I think it’s a good read if people want to build a list online of opt-ins from some report or things like that. It’s a cool thing, definitely worth testing. We break down exactly what we did, and it’s up there over at PreneurMarketing.com as well, for a good read.
Dom: Sure. I’ll put links to both those in the show notes because we do get a lot of good feedback on the behind-the-scenes stuff. I know we do more of it inside of our Platinum Group, and they get to see a lot more detail about how we do things. But when you do write it up and put it on PreneurMarketing.com, we get a lot of great feedback on there. I do recommend looking at that, by the way, because it’s, as you say, great stats and a great story, the whole campaign end to end.
Pete: And I think a lot of people will be able to swipe it and deploy it for their business, which is the whole idea of what we’re doing there on the blog.
Dom: Yep. I’m glad you crammed in swipe-and-deploy there, because you haven’t said that for a while. Talking of behind-the-scenes stuff, I’ve been busy on the new business myself, and I reflected, just before we came on, that I find myself, because I’m starting a new business and we’re bootstrapping this business, so we’re starting to get it going quite quickly, and from nothing.
I find myself reflecting that I’m applying a lot of the lessons that we’ve talked about in all the previous shows when we talk about running businesses and organizing yourself. Things like minimum viable product, but also outsourcing, building a team, training people, communication, stuff like that. It’s interesting to go full circle, having talked about you’ve done it, and how I was working through it in my previous business, and now applying it, with all that background knowledge, to the new business. It’s going so smoothly because I’ve done it once. I’ve been mentored by you on that topic, a lot of those topics, and I’m applying it now and it’s going really smoothly.
What is interesting, if you’re looking at it from a 7 Levers point of view, at the moment, all of our traffic is via referrals, which is a topic I’m hoping to bring out in a show later on in the year, about how we developed that traffic source and how we’ve progressed it through the referral base. We’re literally only talking about bringing the Preneur Hierarchy into it as well—only talking to clients that we’ve already got and direct referrals from those clients, and just working that network of people we’re already in. So, we’ve got no marketing budget, as it were. We’re not spending on traffic at all at the moment, which is great.
Pete: Brilliant. That’s a fantastic place to be, and that’s exactly what the whole Preneur Hierarchy, which we’ve spoken about before, is all about — getting those foundations right for your leads and your prospects and your traffic sources, so you don’t have to necessarily move up the pyramid and start wasting money.
Dom: Indeed. And I’ll pop a link to that episode in the show, actually, because I think, if people haven’t listened to that, I do recommend it. It’s a great framework, just to give you some perspective on getting that traffic and targeting your marketing efforts. So, in your convalescence, did you manage to get any reading in?
Pete: Not a whole lot, to be honest, in the last week or so. Also, our service manager at the telco has had to go in for an emergency operation, which is not fun but successful today, which is good, so nothing too crazy. But that threw a few things out all over the shop in the telco the last couple of weeks, with a few other people being sick and had holidays. It’s almost like you have a semi-trailer, and four or five wheels fly off at the same time, with holidays and people being sick and things like that.
So, I had to step back in and put on the old workman’s hat a little bit as well over the last week, as well as being sick, dealing with that a little bit. That’s been fun, doing some stuff I haven’t done for a while in the telco, which is always challenging but enlightening as well, which is important. I do believe that, as much as you want to work on your business most of the time, it is interesting and it’s very enlightening, as I just said, to go back and work in your business occasionally when you are so far removed from it day to day, generally. So, that’s been very interesting. That’s also taken up a bit of my time in the last week. So, I haven’t done a lot of consumption or anywhere near what I would like. But I think you’ve been listening to a couple of books, is that right?
Dom: Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been re-listening. We don’t talk about it a lot because we’re always talking about the new stuff that we read. But I make a habit of re-reading a few core books, or re-listening to a few core books, every year, just to see if I can get any more extra juice out of them.
And one of the ones (I talked about this a long time ago, I haven’t mentioned it for a while actually), is Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. It really is aimed at people in service roles and consulting, which is what the new business is all about, so I thought it was worth another listen. But I also was listening to his other book, Beyond Booked Solid, which is very, very different. It’s how you cope with the success, how you cope with being booked solid as a service professional, as someone who’s doing consulting. Then, you’re almost digging yourself into the whole of exchanging time for money, which isn’t necessarily the best plan in the long term.
So, Beyond Booked Solid is all about, well, really, it’s all about what we talk about. It’s all about getting yourself out from working in the business to go onto working on the business. It’s a slightly different perspective. We talk about different things like The E-Myth and things like that, which are all about that process, and even Built to Sell, to a point. But this takes a slightly different slant, but it dovetails exactly into this exact marketplace of being a consultant or a service professional.
So yeah, I’ve found it helpful to go back over Book Yourself Solid, and also, got a few extra little tips, but not a great deal. Because we talk about it a lot, not a great deal I didn’t know in Beyond Booked Solid. But it’s just a really good presentation of that material. So I can recommend both of those. I’ve been listening to them while I’ve been out walking the dog. Got them, downloaded them, and listened to the audiobook versions, which has been very helpful.
Pete: From Audible?
Dom: Yes, I did, in fact, get them from Audible. Well-slotted in with that sponsored message there, sir. Folks, as you know, we listen to an awful lot of audiobooks. And as Pete alluded to there, most of the things we talk about on here, you can get from Audible books. Now, if you’re a PreneurCast listener, you can get a free trial, if you’re not already a member of Audible, by going to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast. With that free trial, you can maybe try out Book Yourself Solid or Beyond Booked Solid, or any one of the other books that we talk about. It’s a huge library of books, because Audible is integrated into Amazon, aren’t they?
Pete: Yeah, they were bought by Amazon. I’m going to say a couple of years ago now, I think, from memory. But, yeah, they’re part of the Amazon family.
Dom: But there’s a huge platform of books, so many, many, many books on there that you’re never going to run out. So, go check that out, one of those. Pete, shall we get into this week’s core topic?
Pete: Sounds good.
Dom: Okay. I mentioned this last week because we had a bit of concern. Thank you, everybody, by the way, for the kind messages about Pete’s health. He is better, and I made an aside because the origin of what we’re going to talk about this week came from a little thing that you wrote called the VD Report.
Dom: Which, depending on your sense of humor, could sound a little bit unfortunate.
Pete: Yeah. Well, it does stand for Venn diagram, nothing of the disease nature. But it comes out of a conversation I had with a consulting client, mid to late last year. We were sitting down, and one of the sessions was to look at the website for the business and reassess how that’s doing from a conversion perspective. It was getting a little bit of traffic, and we were putting things in place to increase the traffic the site was getting. But obviously, we want to work on every one of the 7 Levers when I work with a client.
At this particular session, we were going through the conversion lever of the website because that was the primary lead-generator for inquiries and things like that. So, we sat down, and we drew a bit of a circle, and we started listing out some of the stuff that was on this default templated-website scenario. Like a lot of businesses’ first attempt at their website, it was very stock-standard in things. Like it had the big logo of the brand, and the history of the company, and talking about the founders and what they had done. Things with we’s and our’s, and we do this, and our history is this, and all that, and very technical. They’re in that technical space, so getting very technical with the wording and the language they were using for the products that they were selling.
That was the first part of this. I then drew another circle and made a Venn diagram-looking piece of terrible artwork. I started listing some of the stuff that the customers really cared about when they’re looking at someone’s website. We started brainstorming some of these things. A big phone number. A big call to action is what a customer wants. They want to make it easy for them to figure out how to take the next step. Very much benefit-driven information, not product-technical stuff. Very much about what are the benefits of buying these products and investing in these systems. Testimonials, big pictures, video, those things.
What we established was, in this Venn diagram, there’s only one element that was shared between both circles, and that was pretty much the business name. All the other stuff that clients want that help conversions were not listed on that current website. They had a beautiful-looking website because it was designed by a great designer, but this designer was not a marketer, was not a conversion expert, wasn’t really aware of what makes a website sell and increase opt-ins and get conversions. They want to win awards for beauty and things like that. That was where this all came from.
Off the back of that, we started to talk through exactly the steps that I go through when building one of our own websites, and we built plenty in the telco group and under the Preneur Group. I thought what we could do today is we get moving on this 7 Levers bus that I want to take the podcast, particularly over the next few weeks, is touching on each one of those seven levers. We’ll start with this particular conversation about the conversion elements of what makes a website effective. That’s where I thought we could take this conversation, Dom.
Dom: Cool. It’s funny. A long, long, long time ago, when you first put this together and talked to me about it — there is a post on the blog about this, I’ll put a link to it. It’s been around for a while. But I remember it resonating with me at the time. What’s funny is, in my new role, I’ve been drawing this diagram on the whiteboard in people’s offices because you’re absolutely right.
Designers design the websites to be pretty. Companies and businesses design the websites to say what they want to tell people, and that is—your typical Venn diagram is two circles or multiple circles that intersect at some point, when the shared content is in the overlap point. So, in your diagram, on the left-hand side of the diagram, you’ve got what they wrote, or what’s on their website right now, and on the right-hand side is things people are looking for, and you’re absolutely right.
Very, very few websites have much in that overlap area. And certainly, I’m finding that with all the consulting work I’m doing, all the websites I’m looking at for people. There’s the subtleties as well, which I’m hoping you’re going to bring out there because you mentioned, there’s an awful lot of the use of ‘we’ on there and I’m hoping you’re going to talk about that. So, yeah, great. It’s definitely topical for me, anyway.
Pete: People are often pissing all over their websites. Their websites are full of ‘we.’
Dom: Quote of the week.
Pete: But that’s really what it is. I think it’s a great, funny way of looking at it because it will make it memorable. But that’s the thing, you don’t want to fill your website up full of we.
Dom: That’s excellent. That is definitely quote of the week, Mr. Williams.
Pete: So, let’s go through this. This is basically the exact formula that we use in our business on the whiteboard in the boardroom when we’re developing out a new website, or if we’re going to rehash an existing website and I’m working with a client to rebuild their website. It literally is the steps that we go through. It’s a seven-step process. And I don’t know what it is with me and sevens, but this is the process we go through.
The very first thing we need to do — and hopefully, people listening either are near pen and paper, they can work through this themselves, or at least after they listen to this, if they feel like they need to do this for their website (which hopefully, a lot of people will), they can go to the blog and check out the actual episode. There’s a whole report based around this they can take action on. No opt-in, it’s just there to download.
But the first thing is to list out your niche-specific pages. I always like to start with this because people like to talk about themselves and feel that they’re special and all that stuff. So I always start with getting the ball rolling with, what is specific to this niche? What stuff do you need to have on your website because of the industry you’re in, the products you sell, the solutions that you offer and the problems that you solve. So, what are they?
These are the pages about each of the products that you offer, a list of all the different services you offer, the models of the products you have. So, maybe, if you sell a particular audio equipment, then each product that you sell, you want to have a unique web page for, because that way, that unique page can list in the search engines when people search for a particular information or buying information about that particular model.
So that’s the first thing I encourage people to do, is just take a moment and list out what pages of your website do you need that’s unique to what you’re doing. The way you can go through this is probably twofold. One is going, “Off the top of my head, these are the brainstorm ideas that we need to have put down on our web page,” and then also do some reconnaissance. Go and look at your competitor’s websites and figure out what do their websites have, what stuff do they have on their website?
Now, don’t assume they’re smarter than you, and that the decisions they’ve made have been made based on data and evidence and intelligence, because they may have their website designed by the same designer as you. It all looks pretty, but it’s not effective. But just go and do some research and think, what pages do these guys and girls have that we should be having on our web page as well? What are the unique reference points and articles and essays and topics and pages that we should be doing? So that’s giving a good starting point there, Dom?
Dom: Yeah, and this, I think, sets the direction you’re going to go. A lot of people think, “Oh, yeah, we’re going to tell people about all our products.” But one of the things I just want to pick out there was that you are always thinking that your services or your products should be on individual pages, so that they have the ability for people to find them as a discreet or a single object. Because one of the things that does happen is people go, yeah, we do this, this, this, this, and this, and they might think that that’s doing what you just said. I listed nine products and services and solutions, all in one go. There you go, it’s all on one page, but that’s not the answer.
Pete: Yeah, you list them all on one page to start with in your planning session, or on your whiteboard. But when you build out your website, every unique offering, whether it’s a product or a service or something in between, should have its own particular web page, which is just solely targeted around that, and we’ll come to the reason why in a moment.
Dom: The great point there was to look at your competitors, but look at it with the knowledge that they may have had the same original design advice as you.
Pete: Exactly, exactly. Just think of that, because often, you’ll find, oh, that’s a good idea. We should have a page about that. Or, oh, we should have a page about that. It’s a good way to just get this specific niche list of pages out of your head and onto some planning document.
The other thing that I think is worth taking into consideration, maybe a little less than it was a few years ago, but at least the SEO element. Go off and do some research. This podcast probably isn’t the right time to go into how to do SEO research, but looking at what are some of the things that people are going to Google and searching for when it comes to your products and services?
So, when someone is aware of a problem, and they’re going, “I’m going to open my wallet and my purse, and I’m going to try and spend money to solve this problem, what are they typing into Google when they’re doing that search? What are the keywords they’re using in that search algorithm? Because what you want to try and do, for those who don’t understand SEO, is make sure that you’re incorporating those key phrases, those keywords, into your website, so Google can identify that your website is about solving this problem. So, when someone is trying to search on Google to find that solution, they (as in Google), can go, “Ah, this is the perfect solution to your problem,” and make your website appear at the top of the results pages because your keywords match the search people are doing.
So, it’s important to go at it, not just go from your perspective as the supplier of the products, the solution and the services, but also from a customer’s perspective. What are they looking for? What do they need to see from an individual page perspective on your website, site mapping, and breakdown? That’s the important part to consider when you’re doing this Step One of working out what are these niche-specific pages that you need to have on your site.
Dom: Definitely. You definitely need to look at it always. I mean, you said it at the beginning, but always look at it from the point of view of the person visiting the site rather than your own perspective. Because they may be looking for what you do, but they may not use the terms you use.
Pete: Yep. Cool. So then we also want to talk about this a little bit more, the whole one page, one focus. It’s important for a number of different reasons, and Dom alluded to this recently or earlier. The one page, one focus, one outcome is really, important. It’s important from an SEO perspective so Google can say this particular page is about offering A, B, C about product X, Y, Z. This page is about this. So, if someone searches it on Google, they can match your page to their search and make your website appear on the search engine.
From an SEO perspective, it’s important to have one page, one focus, one outcome. But also, from a conversion perspective, it’s important, too. You need to figure out — and this is a question that I absolutely love, and Ed Dale, a good friend of both of ours, I think he termed, or I think he’s the one who brought it to my attention — was what job does this page have to do? What’s the job this is meant to do as a web page?
The page’s job is to do something. It’s to get them to pick up the phone and call you. It’s to fill out an opt-in form. It’s to give the person confidence in buying from you if it’s a page about your satisfaction guarantee. Everything you do, from a marketing perspective, has a specific job. You need to be very clear about what that job is, because that helps dictate the layout, the design, the headline, the copy, the call to action, all the elements of the page should be supporting that particular job of that web page, or if you’re going to take it broader, that direct mail piece or that e-mail or that tweet. Whatever it should be, what is the job of that to do?
So this whole one page, one focus thing is very, very important for a number of reasons. That’s why you want to break this list out as big as you can and say, this is all the stuff we want our website to cover from a specific niche perspective, and so we know each one of these things has that individual job, that individual focus.
Dom: Yeah, and there’s a lot of scientific research about giving people too many choices, so they don’t make any. There’s all manner of reasons for the one page, one focus, one outcome guide.
Pete: Yeah, exactly right. So, once you’re on that first-level step of breaking that down, we want to go in and start listing what I’ve termed them in the report as ‘conversion pages.’ It’s probably a bit of a misleading term, but these are the pages that every website has to have to ensure that it’s going to convert well. So, these are the things you need to have, things like a home page, a contact us page, an about us page, a testimonials page. Those things. The generic pages your website should have.
These are specific to your niche, so you shouldn’t have already listed these ones down because Step One is about specific to your niche. Step Two is the generic must haves that every website should have. So other ideas are maybe a ‘request a quote’ page, shipping details if you’re an e-commerce provider, buyer’s guides, return policies, those things that every website needs as a standard set of terms and conditions, that’s another example. The standard things your website must have. So, that’s the second step, is to start outlining what are all those standard pages your website needs to have.
That way, what you’re doing at the end of Stage Two is fundamentally mapping out your site structure of the website. “These are all the pages we need to have,” and you can start putting them together as a jigsaw puzzle to say, this section over here is the About Us section with the contact details and the history. This section is the product section, lists all the products. This section over here is about Product B and all the different pages that fall out under that. That’s how you can breakdown the first two steps and have this beautiful mind map, site map, jigsaw puzzle created.
So, from there, we want to move on to Step Three in this process of developing highly converting websites, and this is talking about the design. So, now, we’ve got the structure, we start thinking about the design and what are some of the must-haves that every website design should incorporate to ensure that it is a highly converting website? The first thing is for most businesses, it’s a phone number. Because the majority of business, the call to action you want to have is on picking up the phone. Even with an e-commerce site, we get a significant amount of the revenue from our e-commerce sites by having sales staff available to help the buyers over the phone with their credit cards.
So, if you have an e-commerce site, and you don’t have sales staff being able to take orders over the phone, do your numbers. Because quite often, it is absolutely worth the investment of the resource of staff to get the additional uptake in revenue for your business. That’s just a quick side note. But if you’re going to have a call to action being the phone, your website is designed to get people to pick up the phone and call you, make sure you have your phone number on every single page. It’s amazing how many sites don’t do that. It blows my mind.
I was looking on a website of a bike store recently that’s opened up just across the road from my office, and I wanted to see if they could do a bike service for me. So I went to their website. Clearly, in the design and development stage of the website, all they did was put the phone number on the Contact Us page, which is an obvious place to have it, but it wasn’t throughout the whole website. But on the Contact Us page, it had a phone number 039-xxx-xxxx.
So in the development stage, the designer and the developer didn’t have a phone number, so they just put X’s in there. It’s still live on the website now, after how many months this business has been opened? It’s ridiculous. So, just make sure not only do you have a phone number on your site, but also that it’s the correct one, and ideally, it’s on every single page of your site. These are some of the real basic stuff you want to make sure you’re doing.
Dom: Absolutely, absolutely. The phone number thing, we talk about it all the time. Just about everybody we’ve ever talked to, we’ve said, “What’s your primary contact mechanism,” and they’ve said, phone number. And we’ve said, “Where is it at?” But, even if it’s not your primary, you made a good point there, which is people still have that sense of security that it’s there, whether they use it or not. The feeling that they can talk to you, the feeling that they can reach out and get that support is important, so that’s a good point.
Pete: Now, even if your call to action on your website isn’t a phone number, which is absolutely justified. You don’t have to have a phone number, but you have to work out what is your call to action and what is the purpose of this page? What is it designed to do? What is the action you want people to take at the end of it? Is it filling out a request a quote? Adding something to their shopping cart? Picking up the phone? Whatever it might be, make sure it’s there, prominent on the page, ideally above the fold.
Hopefully, people who have been listening to the show for a while understand this concept of fold line, because I’m sure we would have mentioned it numerous times over the last couple of years. The fold line comes from the newspaper game. So it’s all about what do people first see when they look at your web page. Back in the day, when newspapers were folded in half, sitting on the newsstand, people could easily see the headline and see what was happening above that fold line where the newspaper was folded in half. The same applies to the Web. I think people who are saying fold line doesn’t matter as much anymore, I haven’t seen any stats to solidly back this up yet. So I’m sticking with my guns until I see evidence to support the contrary.
Dom: And I was going to say something rude in response to that. I’m sorry, but it absolutely matters. It matters even more now because of all the different platforms people can look at these things on.
Pete: Absolutely. So, whatever your solid call to action is, make sure it’s above the fold and it’s the first thing people see, to draw their eyes to when they’re looking at a web page. And the things that I think are important for a design perspective that we’ve found with testing over the years as just a par-for-the-course design element are things like testimonials. Having testimonials, ideally, on every page of your website, testimonials that link into the concept that you’re talking about on that particular page is important.
Calls to action, as I said, if you are a local-based business, a map. Don’t just put your address. Put a map, as well, ideally on every page of your site, at least in the footer, so it does show there’s a real-world business behind what’s going on. I think this trust element is really important. Because, again, so many people are like, am I buying from someone who’s importing products from overseas? Do they exist? Is this an overseas company now shipping to my country? Where are they? Do they have a physical location?
So, putting your address on your website, I think, is important and a lot of sceptics or SEO people, whichever way you want to look at them, they do also say that having a physical address on your website helps your rankings too. Because Google wants to support people who are willing to be transparent. Now, I don’t personally have any data to back that up, but a lot of people I trust say it’s important as well.
Dom: Indeed, but it works both ways. I think there’s a thing here. You said this isn’t the show to talk about search engine optimization, SEO. But again, years ago and still today, the advice still holds, which is design the page for a human being to read it and find it useful. That’s probably the best guidance anyone can give you for the basic fundamentals of search engine optimization.
Pete: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. So, that’s the first three elements of a website. Getting an idea of who are these people I’m talking to, what are they wanting to see based on my particular niche. You structure that in the first step. The second step we’ve covered so far is then working out what are the basic conversion pages your website needs. What are the pages every website needs to feel trustworthy enough to convert at a decent level? Testimonials page, About Us page, Return Policies page, all those pages that we mentioned before.
The third step is just making sure the design elements of your website tick the boxes that, again, build that trust, show that social proof and help convert. So, making sure your calls to action are above the fold, making sure you’ve got testimonials, you’ve got videos, you’ve got your address, all those key trust building elements are built into the design. They are the cornerstone of what needs to happen in the design team, not beautiful, pretty, shiny graphics or anything like that.
Moving on from there, the fourth step is all about site brief. How do you brief your designer and your developer up? Now, we’ve spoken to that stuff quite a bit before. And if you are going to outsource this, some quick, high-level tips that people don’t think about is go to websites that have these elements and take screenshots. Applications like Skitch and Evernote are fantastic at creating screenshots with annotations and notes very, very easily.
ScreenSteps is a fantastic program that I use quite a lot to give good guidance to designers. You can annotate a screenshot of a particular website and write why you like this element, why you don’t like this element. This is a great use of the testimonial. I like how they’ve laid this out. This is a great use of a call to action button. This is the type of thing I want on my website. And give good briefs of what you like. I think so many people, when they brief a designer or a developer, they just list out, “We want to have a call to action above the fold. We want to have testimonials on our site. We want to have this. We want to have that.” But don’t give guidance in terms of artistic guidance, which I think is important as well.
Doing those screenshots, or recording a video of you walking through five or six websites that you like the look of and talking about what you like, what you don’t like, and giving that brief is really important. A lot of people don’t do this and that comes back and burns them later on in that development stage. You have to go back and forth 15 times with your designer. That helps making sure that they’re going to be on point and heading in the right direction early on, which causes and saves a whole lot of headaches later on.
Dom: Yeah, absolutely. Any upfront guidance you can give people, it’s not about you being good with color or space or all that stuff. It is about you just looking at things and going, “I like this.” That gives them a lot of input rather than putting them under pressure to create something from zero that you’re going to say no to.
Pete: Yeah. The next interesting thing is, in the report that I wrote, the VD Report, in hindsight, we have changed the way we develop sites. So, full transparency, what I wrote in the report was Step Five is all about design and Step Six is all about copy. Now, I change depending on the relationship with the designer and how we work between which is next. A lot of people say, which is fully justified, that what you want to do is write all the copy before it goes to design, so that way the design team can put the design around the copy. The words that sell, all the informational stuff that needs to be on the web page should be written up first before the site goes up and gets designed, because the designer can run through the design to fit the copy into the design, and that makes a lot of sense.
Depending on the project, and depending on the size, sometimes I do like a designer to go off and just design and wireframe. I’ll give them some basic design elements of the site first because I find that personally gives inspiration to write copy around that thing. “This is how the site’s going to look visually.” I’m going to write the copy that fits with this as well. Now, we see copy has been proven time and time again to be the real thing that converts rather than design, but it is important to have both mixed together. So, I often like a designer to go and do a basic wireframe and a simple page that can give me inspiration for the copywriting element, and then you want to go off and write the copy.
Again, I don’t think this particular episode is worth diving into the whole ‘how to write copy’ scenario. But again, if it is ‘one page, one job, one outcome,’ you need to be very clear on that upfront. If this page is about Product A, I’m only going to write about Product A with the call to action at the end being whatever it is I want. Put your e-mail address in for more information. Request a quote for more information. Pick up the phone and call us for more information. Whatever that next step is you want your clients to do at the end of this particular page, make sure it’s very, very clear for them to know what to do. This is where you have your phone number at the top of the page, but also reinforce that call to action at the end of the copy too.
Then, from there, it just goes into development stage and getting the team to develop that out. I do believe that if you get Steps One, Two, Three, and Four right, the actual design and development element is really simple, and can be done very easily, very cost-effectively through outsourcing. Because the real crux of everything is in this site map stage we talked about in Step One and Two, and then in the directional stage of the copy and the design and the key elements websites should have. Everything else from that can flow very, very easily.
Dom: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was involved in site development quite a lot, actually even doing the development. Now, I’m involved in getting the development done, so I’m more on this side of the fence. But being involved in development, I can absolutely say that the more you know about what you want done, the easier the job is to get done.
Because, if you’re vague, you need a more qualified person on the other end to take your vagueness and give you all the guidance and the detail and basically step you through these steps. But if you’ve got them done, and you can take it as a package to somebody, it’s a lot easier to find somebody to implement that and a lot easier to validate that they’ve done a good job.
Because I think that’s a fear of people, isn’t it, Pete? This idea of, oh, are they going to do a good job? Well, if you’ve already given a good brief or worked out a good brief and got some example content, not the entire content, which deals with your Step Five, Step Six design versus copy thing, because there is that whole idea of form follows function, so they need to know what it’s going to do before they design it. But if you’ve got a good package of stuff for them, then it’s quite clear whether they did a good job or not, because it either looks like the examples you gave them or not.
Pete: Well, this is the interesting thing when it comes to outsourcing: are you paying for a technician or for an advisor? You always pay a premium for a technician who is an advisor. So if you don’t know anything and you want someone to guide you through the process, that’s where you start paying a premium because you need to put your faith in them and make sure they’ve got experience, and you pay a premium for that experience.
Sometimes that experience looks like an advisor but all it is, is just a pretty designer. They design a beautiful website that looks great but doesn’t convert. It’s not a functioning website. So, if you’re going to pay an advisor, make sure you pick an advisor who’s got the chops you want, i.e. knows how to design a website that converts.
Or, are you paying for a technician? And this is where you can get huge cost savings. If you know exactly what you want, and you can brief it really well with, ‘here’s a site map, here’s the copy, here’s the key elements this website needs to have, here’s some examples of websites that use these elements wisely and well in their design,’ you can easily outsource that very, very cheaply. Because all you need is fundamentally a technician who knows how to use Photoshop and some basic coding to turn your brief into something that functions. There’s no advice needed to be given because you have done that research and done those steps, and that’s where you can save lots of money.
What I see happen too often is people who are looking for an advisor, but finding and hiring an outsourced technician and wondering why it doesn’t work. That’s what causes most problems with outsourcing, is that you’re trying to get an advisor result at technician rates, and that just will never happen. You may stumble across someone brilliantly, but that will be the needle in the haystack. You want to outsource technical work to technical people with a good solid brief, and save on the advisor fees.
Dom: I think this is such a generic topic. It probably warrants a show of its own to talk about that at some point in the future, Pete, because it’s a huge thing and we’ve touched on it and scraped across it quite a few times. But coming back, because this episode is predominately about those first few steps of your seven steps, the first few steps are about the conversion element, making sure the content speaks to the people that are trying to find it and the backend does talk, to a point, about that, but it also talks about getting the job done effectively.
So I just want to have a quick rundown of the seven steps again, from a high level, just so people can, if they got back from walking the dog and they’ve got their pencil in their hand, they can just run through it.
Pete: Yeah, sure. The very first thing you want to do is sit down and write a list of all the niche pages your website needs. What are the things that are unique to your industry, your offering, your products, your services, the problems you solve, that are unique to you? And you list out all those different things. These things are going to be different to anybody else’s website. These are the things that are unique to you guys, you girls, your team, your company, your offering.
The second list you want to write down is all the generic must-have elements of a website that’s going to induce high conversions. So Testimonial pages, About Us pages with not much ‘we’ in them and a lot of I’s, pages like your Return Policy and your warranty periods, and all those high-level, must-have pages that a website needs.
The third step, you want to sit down and start thinking about, and working through what are the elements my website must have from a design perspective? What are the rules that this designer must follow when they’re going to design my web page? Phone number or highly targeted call to action above the fold. Testimonials throughout the website.
We’ve spoken about testimonials at a very in-depth essay recently on the blog as well. So if you’re interested in how to create effective testimonials very, very easily, check out the PreneurMarketing.com. There’s an essay on there about how to do it, how to structure your testimonials, which ones work best, how to lay them out best, how to get them. There are some swipe-and-deploy templates there on how to extract good testimonials from your clients, and it’s all there on the blog post and essay for you guys.
So, you want those things throughout the website. Your address, a map, a video where possible. Those things are some of the core design elements you want to make sure your designer’s briefed on. From there, it’s all about the briefing of the actual designer.
Moving to Step Four, it’s about briefing those people. Going through and giving examples, visual examples, because these designers, they’re visual people. That’s what they do for a living. Trying to write something in an e-mail and expect them to visually understand where you’re going, it’s very rarely going to be effective that way. You are much better taking an extra 10 minutes, 15 minutes now doing screenshots, recording a video walking through a whole bunch of websites saying, “I like this, I don’t like that. This is what I mean when I talk about call to action. This is what I mean about putting the map. This is a nice-looking footer I like the idea of.” Give them some visual guidance as well, not just written. That is an important step.
Steps Five and Six are somewhat interchangeable, depending on how the designer wants to work. This is letting them, A) design the site out, and B) you writing the copy for each of those pages. So, going through the site map that you developed in Step One and Step Two, and breaking all that out and writing it out. These are all the different things and this is all the copy each of these pages are going to have. This is the call to action, this is the content, this is what’s selling the person once they’re on my website, reading a particular page.
Step Seven is leaving it to the developer to cut up and develop. There are some great services out there. If you find a really good designer on Elance or oDesk, or something like that, who designs up each of your 30-page websites as PSD, as visual graphical images, you can go to these places very cost-effectively, who do what’s called PSD to HTML conversions. For $10, $15, $20 a page (very cost-effectively), they’ll cut up the image of the page laid out by the designer into website copy.
It’s a very cheap way to get web pages created if you get a designer to design that beautifully, working very, very well, and then just hand those designs to one of these PSD to HTML companies. You can Google and find hundreds of them. Very cheaply, they’ll build that website out for you at a much cheaper rate than a lot of other places. They’re almost like a sweatshop for HTML code, and that can be done very effectively. That’s the final stage, developing it all up from beautifully signed off and designed images.
I think trying to work with a designer and a developer at the same time, and again, to design as they develop is very, very tricky. What we’ve always found that has been much more successful is, here’s the design, sign off on the design, approve the design, and then just hand that to a developer to cut it up, without any go-backs or having anything changed, because it’s been signed off as a visual design first and foremost.
Dom: Yeah. These are the steps that a huge design agency would use to design big websites for big-budget [projects]. Everybody should go through these steps, whether you’re into the big leagues or you’re just doing a small website for your small entrepreneurial business. They’re absolutely the steps that you need to do and the order you need to do them.
I can say this from personal experience of being on the receiving end of badly given specs, right the way up to doing the consulting that I’m doing now, where I’m helping people get the results they expect by walking them through a process very, very similar to this, where hiring the person to build the website is the end of the queue.
Pete: And it ends up being probably the easiest part of it too, which is nice.
Dom: If you do it right, it’s probably the easiest part. But as you like to say, to wrap this all up, the focus of this episode is about that content. It’s about making sure that the content on the site and the layout of the site is towards the person viewing the site and towards the goal of the business, getting them to follow that call to action and all those things. That’s why it’s all weighted to, as you say, your niche-specific content, those other supporting pages, the organization of the site and things like that. But even in general, it’s a very good checklist and framework to go through to design any functional website, really.
Pete: Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. So, I think for all the people who are going through this process now of redeveloping a website or building a new one, just take a moment and work through these seven steps. I think it will make that process a lot easier and also a lot more effective for you.
Dom: And folks, just say no to Flash.
Pete: It’s very true.
Dom: Cool. That’s a really good one, Pete. As I say, folks, there’s a link to the original VD report in the show notes, so do check that out because it’s a great little report. It’s cool as well, because you did that one as a handwritten report, because that was basically the notes that you took, the way that you took the notes as part of that original coaching call, so it’s quite a cool little presentation of that.
Dom: So, folks, we just thought we’d mention this because we run a competition most weeks where you can do various things. At the moment, the last competition we ran was for Jason Fox, who was the author of The Game Changer, excellent book, by the way. We asked you to go and find that blog post on PreneurMarketing.com and leave us a comment.
We got some great comments on there, and we’ve selected a couple of people with the best comments. We’re going to send them a copy of the book and we thought we’d tell you who they are. So, Paul Smart and Adam Teece, thank you for your excellent comments on Jason’s post, or the post about Jason’s episode of the show. This week, we’re doing something slightly different again, Pete.
Pete: Yeah. As part of the whole research of the Robert Kiyosaki bio that we recently published that I mentioned at the top of this week’s show, I was going through my bookshelves, my library and trying to get a whole bunch of stuff together as part of the research, and I realized that I have a couple of copies of a few of Robert’s different books. So, what I wanted to do is give away some books from my own, personal library this week.
If you head over to PreneurMarketing.com, check out the Robert Kiyosaki biography and leave a comment on that particular essay/blog post. In the next couple of weeks, what we’ll do is we will announce the best commenters for that particular essay and reward them with a couple of different books from Kiyosaki’s library or my library (depending on which way you want to look at it — books Kiyosaki’s written) that are sitting in my library here. We’ve got Rich Dad, Poor Dad, The CASHFLOW Quadrant in a few different versions, and also some audio programs as well, that he’s released over the years that I somehow have two copies of.
We’re going to be giving those away, so check out the Kiyosaki biography and leave a comment. What is the most interesting thing you read in that particular essay? What is your favorite Kiyosaki book? What are some of the things that you’ve found profound about Kiyosaki? How has he helped you? Was it the very first book you ever read like Dom’s? Whatever it is that has something to do with Kiyosaki and the Rich Dad movement, leave a comment and you can go into the draw to win some of my personal library.
Dom: Cool. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes, as always. In general, do pop over to PreneurMarketing.com and check out the previous show editions because you can get a download of the recording there, you can listen to it live on the blog, you can read the transcripts and all the shown notes with all the links are always there below every show episode.
And you can leave us a comment, just standard blog comment, below the post. You can also leave us an audio comment on there. There’s a little widget on the side of the screen where you can click on that. If you’ve got a microphone on your computer, you can leave us an audio comment. We love to feature those on the show. If you’re feeling brave and want to leave us something, please feel free. As we’ve said before, blatant ping-ping, if you want to mention your business, feel free. We’ll include that.
Or, you can pop over to iTunes, the main home of the podcast, and leave us a comment on iTunes as well. We look forward to hearing from you. We love your feedback about the shows, and also things like comments about Pete’s health. Please do pop over there. Next week, Pete, what are we going to talk about on the show?
Pete: We’re going be continuing on the conversation around the 7 Levers, so we’re going to talk about opt-ins and different ways to increase the opt-ins of your business. We’re going to be covering online opt-ins and offline opt-ins and retail opt-ins, and a whole bunch of ideas for easily increasing your opt-ins. Because remember, the whole purpose, the whole framework of the 7 Levers of Business is to get very simple 10% increases on each lever. All we’re looking for is a 10% increase of our opt-ins next week. And as we go through this process together, at the end of it, you’ll have doubled the profit of your business, which is a huge win for very little effort. That’s what I love about this 7 Levers framework.
Dom: Excellent. Well, thanks for listening to this week’s show, folks, and we’ll see you all next week.
|Never Miss an Episode: Subscribe to the show on iTunes, Stitcher or RSS.
Love the Show? Please take a minute to show some love via a comment or review on either iTunes or Stitcher.
Need to raise capital? Want to become a more persuasive presenter? Want to master social media? Is it time to overhaul your website? Unlock the library to get free access to free cheat sheets and business tools. Click here for free business tools.