As the old saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover.
While this is an appropriate adage to live your personal life by, the reality is most businesses are in fact judged by their cover, and judged quite harshly at that.
And by a business’s cover, of course, I mean their website.
Most people hate writing to begin with. Once you add in the extra weight of needing to write something informative and entertaining and professional that the world is going to see (like a blog post)… It can be so much that we give up before we even start.
It’s happened to all of us, and this is the number one reason that stops folks from creating the blogs they want to write.
What’s intimidating isn’t as much the known—the particular topic you are trying to writing about—as is the unknown. The unknown of how much you will need to write, how long you will be sitting there, how much energy you will have to expend to get through it all…
Every website, every business, every personal blog seems to have a newsletter these days. And there’s a reason for it. They flat out work in building an audience.
Creating a successful newsletter is a lot more scientific however than including a few blog post links or talking about the latest happenings in your neck of the internet. To build an engaged audience you must focus your newsletters around a few essential elements.
Why Using ‘Smarter’ Words Is Killing Your Business
The best web copy is not the fanciest web copy. It’s not the copy with the most sophisticated words or even the copy that sounds the most ‘professional.’ The best web copy is the web copy that’s the easiest to understand. It’s as simple as that.
Big words and industry lingo are not easy to understand. They’re definitely not easy to scan. I’ve said it before on this blog and I know I’ll say it again, your prospects will breeze through your text, not dissect it. While those $25 words might make your text look rich with rhetoric, they’re also ripe with vague meaning and confusion.
I get it. “I worked hard for this college education, I might as well put it all out on display, right?!” I used to fall into that trap. The bottom line though is you aren’t in the running for the Pulitzer Prize, you’re going after sales. Save your creative voice for the novel you plan to write.
Keep Sentences Short
Short sentences are gold. Solid gold. They’re easy to read. They’re easy to scan. They’re easy to understand.
If you naturally write in longer sentences and are struggling to keep them short and compact, try replacing every comma in a paragraph with a period. It will look a little weird. It may feel choppy. But it will be more affective and to the point.
This is not just my personal style. Human psychology dictates this. Our brains naturally pause every time we see a comma. We can’t help it, it’s how we’re wired to read. Meanwhile a period simply signals the end of a thought, not necessarily a complete pause. It’s much easier to power read a paragraph that’s broken up by periods instead of commas.
Try it yourself. Write out a paragraph like you normally would (including commas), then go through and remove them or change them to periods. See how much quicker you can actually read it? It’s weird, but it works.
Building a website is a lot like building a house. It all starts with a solid foundation (logical website structure), a desirable location (good domain name) and a pretty paint job (modern web design). Also much like constructing a home, where you take the project from there is entirely up to you.
And you have A LOT of options with where to go. If you plan on making money with your site, choosing to include a landing page should be one of the first decisions you make. But just like a rundown shack isn’t as sexy as a beachside mansion, not all websites (or landing pages) are created equal. Some pages consistently convert better and sell more customers than others. The real trick is determining what to include on your’s to make it a winner and not a loser.
You’re in luck however! Data analysis junkies, web gurus and the like have sifted through websites, statistics and analytics all to discover certain commonalities between the highest converting pages removing the strenuous work from our lives.
The equation is not nearly as complicated as you might think. In fact, the creme de la crop of landing pages contained not a myriad but a slight handful of similar features. Seven to be exact. Follow this guide and include these seven features in your pages, and you may just be on your way to constructing the next Taj Mahal of websites.
Your headline should be compact, succinct and to the point. You only get one chance to make a first impression as they say, and you headline is exactly that: your first impression. Think of the main headline as your elevator pitch—your one sentence to sum up your products or service. Use the sub-headline to then detail the big benefit(s) to the customer.
To keep on rolling with the cliches, a picture paints a thousand words. Your featured images should be your product’s masterpiece. It should Illustrate exactly what it is you are selling and reinforce the claims from the headline. If you’re feeling really ambitious, put up an explainer video that shows your goods in action.
Just hearing the words “the most interesting man in the world,” takes your thoughts to Dos Equis beer.
Those commercials are iconic. They make you laugh. They’re quotable. Every commercial is more like a television episode than a brand advertisement.
The “Most Interesting Man” is easily in the top handful of successful campaigns of the last decade. Students of advertising would know, however, that they are not 100% original. The Dos Equis man was in fact inspired by an ad campaign 50 years its predecessor. I am of course speaking of David Ogilvy’s “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” campaign.
For those who do not know, David Ogilvy is widely considered "The Father of Advertising" with Time Magazine once calling him "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry.”
Google Adwords is normally the first name that comes to mind when most people think of Pay-Per-Click advertising or online display networks.
This is more than understandable. Google is the undisputed king of the internet (especially in terms of search volume and users).
Most established small businesses looking to “branch out” into online advertising look to advertise on Google first. However, their “search” usually begins and ends there once they hit their ad budget (and usually doing so very quickly) and are confused as to the next best option.
In terms of reaching the most eyeballs, Google is still #1 by far. There are other very effective display networks other than the Silicon Valley giant out there though. When determining which one is actually the best choice for your business, Google isn’t always the default choice.
Below are some of the pros and cons of the three biggest display networks you can advertise on:
To sum it all up in one word, the #1 thing that drives people to click on an ad is curiosity. Not benefits. Not a unique or original feature. Curiosity.
You cannot sell a product in 40 characters. You cannot even differentiate your company from the rest of the pack in that short window. You can, however, spark curiosity in that brief of an instant.
Curiosity is a fundamental human emotion. It burrows way deeper than any logic-based purchasing emotion. In your prospect’s mind, it no longer is a question of how this product can benefit me. They forget they are even trying to buy something and the issue becomes: “I need to know the answer to this or it will eat at me for the rest of eternity.”
It’s funny when you put it that way but it’s true. Everybody has ADD online. You really only waste 2 seconds of your life if you land on a page that doesn’t fit your fancy, so people are pretty open to clicking on something if it looks even mildly interesting.
There are lots of free apps and web tools out there that cater to creatives. Some of them are absolutely great. Others are total duds.
To save you some time (and frustration) I have put together a short list of great tools we use.
Give them all a try and hopefully some (or all of them) give you a leg up in your next project.
Maybe you’ve heard of a mood board. Maybe you haven’t.
It´s a fun tool used to gather artistic inspiration comes to mind when you are on the right track. If you picture some sort of hybrid weegie board, you might be a little further from the mark…
Whatever your impression of a mood board might be, it is something you should get to know and love. Making one can be quite fun all in its own, and designing/building/creating anything in a team without one can lead your projects down a serious path of misdirection.
A mood board is an assortment of images, textures, colors, and fonts all arranged together and used to define the overall style or ‘mood’ of your project.
If you create things for a living then I’m sure you already use cool stuff you’ve seen as an inspiration. A mood board is simply a more polished, cohesive collection of those cool things.
They are used all across the board (maybe pun intended). Creatives working in design, branding, photography, fashion, film, interior decorating and even wedding planning all use mood boards.
Be aware though, mood boards serve a broader purpose than pure inspiration.
If your work is for a client, then assembling a mood board together is how you let him or she get involved in the design process without them sticking a nose in trying to play art director.
It is how you guarantee that you are all on the ‘same page’ with the direction of the project.
You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you present a beautifully-designed piece of work only to have it unapologetically rejected because it didn’t have the right ‘feel’. Agreeing ahead of time on the elements in the mood board and having your client contribute images they like is how you all are in agreement of what that ‘feel’ should be.
There really isn’t a definitive structure for making a ‘correct’ mood board.
Usually, the elements are arranged in some sort of fashion collage. Whether they are strictly aligned to a grid or more loosely placed is dependent on your own style.