Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust

Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new online security breach. From mega-retailers like Target to tech giants like Facebook, online security is a major issue and giant concern for consumers.

Building trust is a critical part of the marketing hourglass for any business, whether they’re a global conglomerate or a mom and pop shop. What can you, as a small business owner, do to build a site that not only engenders trust but also incorporates legitimate security measures? I’ll share some tips below for creating a website that users trust.

1. Looks Matter

This may sound shallow, but the easiest step in creating a website that looks trustworthy is building one that looks appealing. While I’ve written before about the importance of starting with a focus on SEO—a sentiment that I still stand by—there is something to be said for putting eye-catching trappings on top of that solid SEO foundation.

The way your site looks is important because people do judge books by their covers. Think about how you feel when you go to a website that has typos; inadvertently overlapping video, text, and photo elements; or is just plain black text on a white background. It makes you question the business immediately. Is this a legitimate company, or a scam site? Surely a real business would put effort into presenting the best version of themselves online—so why is this site not up to par?

If someone showed up to job interview in a wrinkled t-shirt and ripped jeans, you might think twice about hiring them. Same principle applies in web design: A sloppy-looking site immediately introduces doubt about your business’s legitimacy and competence into your prospect’s mind.

2. Message Matters, Too

Just as important as a clear, consistent visual presence is a clear and consistent message. Part of establishing trust with a prospect is giving them a sense that they really know who you are, what you do, and why you’re driven to do it. These are all of the questions that a good value proposition will answer. That’s why it’s critical that you take the steps to find out what motivates your existing customers to do business with you and hone in on the themes that they indicate are important to them.

Once you’ve established what it is that makes your business unique and have decided how you want to communicate that message, you want to trumpet that messaging everywhere. Your website’s homepage should highlight the value proposition front and center, and then provide visitors with a call to action that encourages them to learn more about your business.

All other online marketing, including paid ads, social media, newsletters, and emails, should be grounded in that value proposition. It is the North Star for all of your messaging.

And it’s not just what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it. Each business must embrace a tone that makes sense for what they do and who they serve. A local credit union and a children’s bookstore are targeting very different demographics, and so their marketing tones will be very different. While the credit union wants to convey stability and trust, the bookstore is likely aiming for whimsy and adventurousness.

If your business’s tone is all over the map, this again introduces doubt into your prospect’s mind. If you don’t seem to have a clear handle on what your business does, how can a prospect trust you to really step up and solve their problem?

3. Switch to an HTTPS Site

So the first two steps were about putting your customer at ease by creating a site that seems secure. But with that, your work is far from done; you now need to implement tools to build a site that actually is secure. Your first move here should be converting to an HTTPS site.

HTTPS sites are encrypted and protect you from hacking. This is important for you as the business owner, because you can guarantee that all of your business’s information remains secure. It’s also vital for your customers; if you’re going to be asking them to entrust you with their credit card information and personal contact details, they are going to want assurance that you can keep that information safe.

While in the past you may have been able to sneak by with a regular old HTTP site, starting in July of 2018 Chrome began announcing to users when they were visiting unsecured sites. Users now see a red “not secure” label in the URL bar any time they visit an unsecured site, which is a literal red flag that your site is not trustworthy.

And if that isn’t enough incentive for you, unsecured sites are also punished in Google’s search rankings, so an unsecured site might be lowering your standing in organic search results. Switching over to a secured site is a quick fix to maintain your first-page search results standing.

4. Employ Further Site Security Measures

Once you’ve made the switch to an HTTPS site, there are a few additional steps you can and should take to further enhance your site’s security, which is especially critical if you’re collecting payment or other sensitive information online.

Acquiring SSL certification is a good place to start for those running e-commerce sites. SSL sites establish a secure connection for sensitive information to be transmitted. Sites with SSL also display badges to indicate their added security, which research has shown increases conversion rates.

Aside from relying on HTTPS and SSL tech to boost your security behind the scenes, you should be making efforts from your side to ensure that you’re not inadvertently opening your site up to vulnerabilities. We’ve shared about the role that out-of-date WordPress plugins played in the massive data leak at a law firm, which got international press coverage.

When you incorporate plugins from third-party developers, you open your site up to any errors in their plugin code. These developers are good about checking their work and pushing through updates to correct for any potential issues, but if you’re still running the original version of the plugin, it’s possible that you’ve left your site open for hackers to get in through the vulnerabilities there and then move into other elements of your site.

Creating a website users trust is an important part of moving your prospects through the marketing hourglass and converting them to customers. Incorporating security elements is the key to establishing a site you know will guard your customers’ personal information, which will keep them coming back to do business with you time and again.

Weekend Favs November 17

Weekend Favs November 17 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • Moo – Create custom online printed products, from business cards to holiday cards.
  • Close.io – Close more deals with this comprehensive CRM tool that integrates with your other apps.
  • Planable – Build a central location to create and approve all social media across platforms.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Transcript of How Human Connection Elevates Marketing

Transcript of How Human Connection Elevates Marketing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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Transcript

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John Jantsch: You’re never gonna get your message across until you understand the problems and the challenges and you empathize with those people that you’re trying to get the message across to.

In this episode of Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I am visiting with my old friend, Seth Godin. Everybody’s favorite marketer and we’re talking about his new book called, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Seth Godin. He is the author of 18 international bestsellers but I better check ’cause it may have changed by the time-

Seth Godin: It’s 19 now, ding, ding, ding.

John Jantsch: I knew I should have checked. And certainly to be translated in many, many languages, many of you listeners know that Seth’s been on when we talked about Unleashing the Ideavirus, maybe even Permission Marketing if we go back that long. Purple Cow Tribes. I’d run out of time if I list them all. But today we’re gonna talk about This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See. So, welcome back, Seth.

Seth Godin: Well, thank you. I think the keyword is, you said, “Another episode.” And your persistent generosity is the secret of marketing. So, bravo.

John Jantsch: Well, thank you very much. And again, I can spend five or six minutes talking about your generosity. But let’s get to the content, shall we? Let’s unpack this first element. Until you learn to see. What does that mean?

Seth Godin: Well, there’s two kinds of marketers. There’s the selfish marketers who are short term, short cutting narcissists. They are the ones who are getting in front of people because they want to market to them. And there’s the other kind of marketer. The long term player, the one who’s making a difference, who’s marketing with people. But you can’t market with them until you see them, until you know who they are, until you have the empathy to want what they want or at least, to help them get what they want. And too often, we’re in such a hurry ’cause we feel like we’re drowning that we forget to offer other people, a life vest.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I work with lots and lots of very small businesses who, they wanna cut down trees and they wanna repair plumbing and things like that. And marketing is actually sort of a nasty thing that they feel like they have to do sometimes and I think the real challenge for a lot of folks like that is that they kinda just copy what they see so many other people doing even if it is wrong. I mean, how do you take somebody like that, that is essentially not a marketer, who says, “I’ve gotta market” but, you know, all the examples, that are, but, not all, but a lot of the examples that I see are teaching me the wrong things.

Seth Godin: Well, first I’d say, they are marketers. They might not be marketing on purpose but if you’re out in the world trying to make a change happen of any kind, you’re marketing, that’s what marketers do. And they, you know, I got a piece of spam from somebody, a week ago. It said, “Hi, I’m an intern from BYU. Can you please answer this survey for my company?” And there were so many elements of it that were clearly spam. And I had nothing better to do, so I wrote back and I said, “You know, you don’t have to do work you’re not proud of even when you’re an intern.” That it begins a pattern of saying, “Well, I’m just doing my job.” You don’t have to do that. You could do work that matters instead.

And the kid was sort of stunned and wrote me back a nice long note which was gratifying but my point was, if you wanna be a plumber, if you wanna be a tree surgeon, the fact is, you will be judged and you will be judged on how you treated our precious attention and you will be judged by how you kept your promises. And you will always be able to find someone who will go lower than you. Always. You wanna race to the bottom because the problem with racing to the bottom is you might win. The alternative is to say, “I know how I would like to be treated. I know how I would like to be seen and that’s the way I’m gonna treat other people.”

John Jantsch: You make it sound so logical.

Seth Godin: Well, you know, I’m not trying to make it sound easy but we see it everywhere. So, like, for example, the heating and boiling guy, the boiler repair guy came to my house yesterday. And even though we’d been working together for years ’cause stuff breaks, he insisted on putting booties on before he came into the house. And I said, “You don’t have to put booties on. We’re just going straight to the basement.” He said, “No, no. It’s a habit. This is the way I do it and it’s what I ask people to do before they come into my house.” And, so the book is basically a metaphor for, “Put your booties on.”

John Jantsch: So, I’ve believe at least, a great deal of this book is drawn from a project that you’ve been involved in for a few years, The Marketing Seminar.

Seth Godin: That’s right. It’s 6,000 people have taken this online, workshop takes about three months to go through and I had the privilege of watching people do it. Because, you know, you’re sitting like a pharmacist up at the top and you can see everything in the store. And, so I could see where people were getting stuck. I could see what resonated. So, once it came time to write the book, it wasn’t particularly difficult to write because I just built it and lived it for two years.

John Jantsch: And there were a lot of questions, right? And I’m assuming that you learned a great deal from not just where people got stuck but just the questions they asked and their answers.

Seth Godin: That’s right. We saw people have their lives changed and their businesses change because they were putting this into practice. And that’s what I do, I’m a marketer, I make change happen and I’m a teacher. So, seeing the lights go on, that’s what drove me to write the book. As I said, there’s a lot of people who will pay 600 bucks to take a seminar but I bet you, if I can give them this handy package, not only will they read it but they’ll share it with their peers.

John Jantsch: Because I think that’s one of the real challenges. In the last five years, you know, there’s 5000% more courses out there, from people and I think most course makers, seminar makers would agree that the real challenge is getting people to actually do it. And look at the way you structured this project, it really does compel people to complete it, doesn’t it?

Seth Godin: Well, so, yeah, I think it’s really important to distinguish between online courses and online workshops. Online courses are everywhere and I’ve made some. It’s a bunch of videos, it’s a different way to absorb content. And they’re fun to make but in my experience, they don’t lead to profound change. Change comes from when you actually do the work. So, what we do with these various workshops and seminars, you know, the altMBA has a 96% completion rate and that’s because it’s expensive and time gated and there’s a coach who’s watching you all the time. And there’s a peer group and a mastermind group.

So, people would missed if they were gone. And at the other end of the spectrum are self paced, come and go as you please kinda MOOCs. I think the opportunity we have, if we care enough to level up, is to put ourselves into a position where when it gets hard, and education always gets hard, we don’t quit. And so, for some people, that’s just get an audiobook instead of the regular one. ’cause the audiobook keeps turning the pages whether you want it to or not.

And for other people it’s, get a coach or get into a workshop where there are coaches because that is what they need to move forward. But, one thing we know for sure, if you’re over 25, there are no tests and there no grades. So, we need a better incentive than that to learn things.

John Jantsch: So, I’m curious. The etymology of MOOC. I’ve not actually heard that one before.

Seth Godin: Oh, it all started with this idea of the massive online course. What the second ‘O’, open, Massive Open Online Course. So, open because you don’t have to apply to get in. The famous one was the one out of Stanford on artificial intelligence. And a 105,000 people took it. And, what the professor who ran it said was that the 100 people who took it and got an A+ were better than any of the students at Stanford who took it. What he didn’t mention is that, 96,000 people in the course, dropped out.

John Jantsch: Or never started.

Seth Godin: Perhaps.

John Jantsch: So, I get asked this question a lot because I’ve been doing this a long time and you’ve probably been doing it longer than me. What’s changed the most about marketing? I always love people’s answers to this.

Seth Godin: What’s changed is really clear. Which is the marketer used to buy attention, cheap, that marketing was a bargain, that you spend a 100 dollars, you’d make 200. And the big change is attention is not cheap anymore. And as a result, marketers are racing to buy every little shortcut they can find and they’re getting trash attention, they’re getting trash clicks, they’re getting bots and trolls showing up on their doorstep.

So, Procter & Gamble and the big marketers can no longer buy their way to a new brand. It hasn’t been done in 10 years, it’s over. On the other hand, smart marketers are thinking like direct marketers now. They pay a lot for a little bit of attention but they take care of it and as they take care of it, they turn it into something valuable.

John Jantsch: I’ve been a fan of as I know you have as well. Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools.

Seth Godin: Sure.

John Jantsch: That he’s been doing for, probably coming up on 20 years and I know you’ve been a guest on there. And I found, you mentioned this in the book and I found actually an episode where you talk about Penguin Magic and I actually have taken note of the fact that you like magic shops, don’t you?

Seth Godin: Well, I don’t like the old kind anymore. Penguin Magic has spoiled me. But yes, I grew up going to magic shops. I love the tension of, “I just saw something, it’s impossible but of course the laws of physics apply so how could it be impossible? I need to know how it’s done. Oh, here’s some money. Now it’s mine.”

And there aren’t very many things in our life where we can get that cycle with no side effects for ten bucks in five minutes. It’s a thrill.

John Jantsch: And there actually are countless cases throughout history where people have actually killed other magicians and things to find their secret, haven’t they?

Seth Godin: I hope that’s not happening lately. If it is, we should tell Penn & Teller before it’s too late.

John Jantsch: So, there’s a bit in this book, current book about going out of business sales. And what they kinda do to us and maybe how they hurt us as marketers. You, kind of wanna expand on that?

Seth Godin: Well, the challenge that we have as marketers is everything that we would do to make something work in the short run isn’t what we should do in the long run. That is not true for any other profession. That what’s good for a surgeon in the short run is good for a surgeon in the long run. Add it up, keep going. The problem that marketers face is that the stunts and the shortcuts and the hustle, I hate the hustle most of all, is tarring us with this paint, this tar that won’t let go. And that’s why if I could invent a new word for marketing, I would.

Because, the good kinda marketing which is the marketing you talk about and that I talk about and the marketing that works doesn’t involve any of that hustle. But, the internet has brought the hustle to the fore and I think we’ve gotta figure out how to walk away from it as fast as we can.

John Jantsch: One of the words that you, I think are proposing, maybe that takes the place of marketing, is this idea of developing an empathetic posture. How do we do that?

Seth Godin: So, what’s practical empathy? It’s a simple idea which is, “You know something I don’t know. You believe something I don’t believe. You want something I don’t want. And you care about things I don’t care about.” So, if I’m gonna engage with you, sell to you, serve you, do business with you, either, I need to force you to think the way I think or I need to have the humility and the generosity to accept the fact that you think, the way you think and maybe I can help you.

But, too often, particularly small business people insist that they’ve worked very hard to get to where they are and they are right. And they’re not willing to move an inch toward what somebody else wants or believes. Or, it feels manipulative. And I don’t think it’s manipulative. I think that, if for example, you are somebody who sells draperies and blinds and you sell them in the suburbs, an upper income suburb, you might be the kind of person who doesn’t have any drapes and blinds in your house. You might be the kind of person that would just go to Kmart or Home Depot and buy the cheapest thing.

But your customer, she wants something that’s gonna make her feel special. And she’s willing to spend 800 dollars for it. If you can’t go to where she is, then you can’t help her. And if you think that where she is, is she wants to see a spreadsheet, an RFP, a comparison of A versus B, you’re not being very empathic. That what we get to do is to go to where people are and help them see what they wanna see.

John Jantsch: I read an article the other day that said from 2011 to 2017, 5000 marketing technology companies, apps, tools, whatever you wanna describe ’em have come on the scene. Is that phenomenon making this harder to do marketing the right way?

Seth Godin: Wow, I love that stat. I would have guessed it was even more than that. The thing is, the programmatic, the idea that you don’t know where your ads are running and a system is busy buying and selling everything behind the scenes makes a certain kind of of marketer happy because it lets him or her off the hook and it lets you buy a certain kind of demographic scale really fast. It’s hands free, it’s not human.

And particularly for a small organization, we need to run away from this as fast as we can. You cannot outdo Hyatt Hotels. You cannot outdo Google at this game. You just can’t, you have no chance. It’s like trying to win at the stock market by being a day trader. That, the place where you can win, where you have an enormous unfair advantage is that you can look a human being in the eye and you can say, “I made this.” And you can say, “I see you.” And you can say, “How will we together make something work?” That is where 10,000 times more than all this crazy software.

John Jantsch: Yeah, there are lot of small businesses that we work with, you know, that advertising kinda becomes a trap because it kinda works. But the bad part about it is then they don’t build a website that works and they don’t write content that works and they don’t do the things that I think, they long term are going to make or break their business.

Seth Godin: Yeah, let me just do a quick Google math so that people understand why Google is one of the most valuable companies in history. If you buy a Google ad, a Click for six dollars, knowing that it’s worth 20 dollars, that every time someone clicks, you’re gonna, on average, make 20 dollars in profit and you’re paying six, that’s thrilling.

But then your competition comes along and buys that Click for seven. So the question is, should you pay eight? The answer is, probably and an auction ensues until it’s at 19. Now, at 19, should you pay 20? Well, some people will say, “Yes, because I don’t want my competitor to get this person.” Some people will say, “No, that’s crazy.”

But, either way, at 19 dollars, here’s what’s happening. The person that did all the hard work, who makes the product, who does the warranty, who built everything makes a dollar and Google makes 19 dollars. Now, multiply that by every product and service sold by Clicks on Google and now you know what’s going on. They’re clearing the table of all the profit in every industry that touches them.

John Jantsch: And it’s, it’s gotten worse. The local service ads are making them actually be part of the transaction now, not just a click. But, you sold 4000 dollars, great, I get a piece of that. So, yeah, I think that trend’s not going away. So, stories are hot. They’re a big part of this book. People talk about them now. 15 years ago, people thought they were silly but now they talk about them. But I still don’t see many people doing or getting this idea of stories. How do you make storytelling a big part of your marketing?

Seth Godin: Well, this is another word that’s getting in the way, right? Because storytelling doesn’t mean “Once upon a time.” And “Lived happily ever after.” Story could be, what kind of handshake do you have? Story could be, is your office in a strip mall or in a fancy building? Story could be, when I look at the people who work for you on your website, do I see people who look like me?

These are all stories, stories in the sense that they’re symptoms and symbols that we use to guess about further behavior and meaning. And so, we all live stories and we can build those stories on purpose or we can let them happen to us. So, one way to think about the value of a brand or a story is this, if Nike opened a hotel and that’s all you knew, is it Nike has a hotel? I’m guessing, with your eyes closed, you could imagine a whole bunch of things about that hotel and you’d be right.

On the other hand, if Hyatt or Hilton made a pair of sneakers, you’d have no clue what they would be like. None. That’s because Nike has a story and Hilton and Hyatt do not.

John Jantsch: Great example. So, [inaudible]. We’re getting towards the end, so, here’s a softball you can hit out of the park for me. I don’t really think people want what we sell. What do they actually want?

Seth Godin: Right. They don’t want what we sell at all. They want the change and the status that it offers. They want belonging, they want security, they want to feel like they are part of something. If the Grateful Dead had never been invented, they wouldn’t have invented the Grateful Dead. But they would have invented something that made them feel the way the Dead did.

John Jantsch: So, you just gave me an example but my last question was gonna be, is there a company or two that you wanna point to and say, “Hey go check out what these people are doing because they’re doing it right.”?

Seth Godin: Here’s what I would say. Think, right now of a logo that you admire. Let’s say, you’re talking to a designer. Think of a logo. I’m going to bet you, 10 to 1 odds, that the logo you thought of is not a pretty logo but is in fact something that adorns a brand that you care about.

This brand you care about, why do you care about it? Why do you pay extra for it? Why do you cross the street to engage with them? So, you get to pick the example. I don’t need to. Because if there’s a brand you care about, it is a brand you care about because of the ideas that are in this book.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and that’s a great lesson because everybody has a brand or two that they care about so then you can personalize that and turn it into a learning lesson. Great, great advice.

So, Seth, what kind of people are gonna know, that are gonna be able to find This Is Marketing everywhere but is there anything you wanna share in terms of how they would connect with you, how they’d find out, maybe about joining the Marketing Seminar?

Seth Godin: I made a bonus page at Seths.blog/tim which stands for This is Marketing and I’ve got a video there and some bonuses and links to all sorts of juicy stuff as well.

John Jantsch: Well, once again, I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Another great book. Congratulations and hopefully we’ll run into you soon, out there on the road.

Seth Godin: I hope so. Always a pleasure.

How Human Connection Elevates Marketing

How Human Connection Elevates Marketing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Seth Godin
Podcast Transcript

Seth GodinThis week on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I welcome back Seth Godin. A marketing expert and best-selling author of 19 books, Godin stops by to discuss his latest title, This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.

He shares why creating empathy and human connection are not only the secrets to great marketing; they’re also the keys to doing work that you can truly be proud of—work that can change the world.

Godin has inspired millions of business owners and entrepreneurs and teaches the precepts of effective marketing and leadership in his books, on his blog, and through his public speaking. In addition to his writing and speaking, he is also the founder of two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!).

Questions I ask Seth Godin:

  • What’s changed the most about marketing since you first started in the industry?
  • How do we develop an empathetic approach to marketing?
  • How do you make storytelling a big part of your marketing?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why today’s smart marketers are being careful with the attention they have.
  • How the hustle is destroying marketing.
  • What people actually want from a brand.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Seth Godin:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

How to Build A Website that Generates Leads

How to Build A Website that Generates Leads written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In today’s day and age, every business owner knows they must have an online presence to be competitive. But not everyone understands how to optimize that online presence. Your website is the heart of your business’s online existence, so ensuring that it’s designed to maximize lead generation is critical to securing long-term success for your company

How do you create a website that is easily found, catches a prospect’s eye, and keeps them around long enough to decide to give your product or service a try? Let’s take a deeper look at how to build a website that generates leads.

Make it Easy to Find

The obvious first place to start is in designing a site that is easy to find. You’re not going to generate any leads from a site that is in hiding.

The first step here is making sure that your domain name makes sense for your business. If you’re not able to secure your first choice, what are your alternatives? Pick a domain name is memorable, easy to spell, and is something prospects and clients will be able to easily associate with your company.

From there, you’ll want to keep track of how people are finding your site in order to understand which social channels are driving traffic and who’s talking about you online. You can then use that information to be more strategic about where you place your marketing efforts in order to drive traffic to your site.

And you mustn’t forget about SEO in this discussion. If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of Google results, you’re missing out on catching the eyes of a lot of prospects. Keyword research is a critical part of ensuring that your business is actually being found by people who are in the market for the goods and services you offer.

You’ll also want to undertake an SEO audit of your website to make sure that your current content isn’t hurting your search rankings. Screaming Frog offers services that allow you to check your website’s current SEO status: find broken links and crawl errors, analyze how existing pages rank for SEO terms, check site speed, and more.

Give Visitors a Way to Reach Out

When a visitor comes to your site and they like what they see, you want to be sure that you’re providing them with a clear, easy way to get more information from your business. Getting strategic about where and how you ask for information from prospects can help you to generate even more leads from your existing site.

The first step is to put forms on the pages that get the most traffic. Make sure that these forms ask for as little information as possible and that they auto-populate; bogging prospects down with a million questions is a surefire way to scare them off.

You’ll also want to be sure that the forms you create make sense in the context of the other information on a given page. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, don’t put a form offering a free white paper on website design on a page that’s about print work that you’ve done.

You should also provide users with as many ways to contact you as possible. Make your phone number and email address easy to find, and consider incorporating a chat function into your site’s design. No one wants to have to go on a search mission across all of your website just to find a way to ask you a simple question.

Build a Variety of Landing Pages

Creating highly specialized landing pages is one of the keys to generating more promising leads. In fact, research from HubSpot has shown that business with 30 or more landing pages on their website generate seven times more leads than those websites that only have one to five landing pages.

The best landing pages are those that keep it simple. Depending on where the traffic is coming from, you can create a specific messaging that speaks to that particular subset of your prospect population. Make sure that your succinctly outline the problem your business can solve, and that there’s a clear way for prospects to reach out—a call to action button or a simple form—and leave it at that.

Landing pages that are cluttered with too much information or that do not clearly demonstrate your company’s value proposition can leave prospects feeling confused and returning to their Google search to consider one of your competitors. If you’d like to see some examples from a variety of industries, HubSpot has some great ones here.

Create an Eye-Catching Homepage with a Clear CTA

While each of your specific landing pages should have tailored messaging and calls to action, you’ll also want to be sure that your homepage has a general call to action that serves as a catch-all for anyone who might want to learn more about your business.

This CTA shouldn’t be for a specific product or service; after all, this is the page on your website that the general population is most likely to see first, so you don’t want to single out only one of your numerous offerings on this page. Instead, give visitors the chance to learn more about your business. A CTA that asks prospects to subscribe to your newsletter or try your service for free are great ways to catch the attention of the widest swath of visitors possible.

Once you get to know these prospects better and have a deeper sense of where their specific interests lie, then you can begin to target them with more specific offers through email marketing and audience segmentation.

Use Content to Generate Leads

Having a website that’s filled with rich, valuable information is what will keep prospects on your site and entice them to come back for more. This means that your website needs to go beyond answering the basic question of how your business can solve a prospect’s problem. It must provide in-depth content on the topic that establishes your business as an authoritative voice in your industry, and provides prospects with the assurance that yours is the team for the job.

Creating valuable content and sharing that content regularly on your site is a critical part of the lead generation process. In order to do so, you need to establish a content strategy. I have advocated in the past for a strategy that organizes your content thematically. If you pick a different area of interest each month and offer a deep dive into related topics on your blog, you’re creating value for your prospects and continuing to offer interesting content regularly that will keep them coming back.

Once your blog has become a go-to source of information for your prospects, you can target them with offers for related white papers or your newsletter that’s dedicated to a relevant topic. This helps to move these prospects further down the marketing hourglass, as you begin to establish your brand as one that they know, like, and trust.

A poorly designed website will do nothing to generate leads for your business. When you begin to think strategically about all of the elements of your website—from SEO and keyword search to blog content and calls to action—you can build a website that is fully optimized to generate leads for your business.

Weekend Favs November 10

Weekend Favs November 10 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • Castr – Stream video to multiple platforms simultaneously.
  • Mojo – Create video stories with custom templates for your brand.
  • Meta Tags – Preview, edit, and optimize your meta tags across sites.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Google Ads Changes Affecting Small Businesses

Google Ads Changes Affecting Small Businesses written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Changes to Google Ads

Google has recently made some drastic changes to their ads program—starting with a name change, from Google AdWords to Google Ads. Some of the changes are technical, like tweaks to the interface. Others represent fundamental shifts in the way Google views advertising. These will affect more than just your Google advertising efforts, but also how you approach other marketing tactics, SEO, and content.

Google is the dominant force in online advertising, so you can’t afford to ignore what they’re doing. Here, I’ll walk you through the most important changes and new features that small business owners need to be aware of.

Goodbye, AdWords

The biggest change is that we have known the primary Google ad tool as AdWords. Now, they’ve dropped Words, and it is just Google Ads. This is more than just a technicality, I think it signals a fundamental shift in the way they’re viewing advertising.

When Google originally launched their ad product, advertising was all about keywords, but times have changed. Google is so much more than just a search engine at this point, and the change in name reflects their omnipresence on the web.

The new name indicates a move towards a more comprehensive approach, one that will incorporate machine learning and behavioral tracking to better understand the true intent behind people’s actions online.

Google Ads on Your Desktop

One of the other significant changes small business marketers will see is that there is now an application you can download to your desktop: AdWords Editor.

Similar to the Facebook editor, the idea here is that you can now download your campaigns, work on them offline, and then upload them again. This means that you’re not stuck sitting on the platform the entire time, and can now get more work done if you’re offline and on the move.

Google Sheets Integration

If you’re not already familiar with Google Sheets, it’s essentially a free, online version of Microsoft Excel. The integration with the new ads program allows you to pull reporting from Google Ads and into Google Sheets.

Doing so allows you greater flexibility in parsing the data. You can filter by your own criteria, create reports, and track data more easily. This will be particularly useful for agencies or consultants who need to create reports for multiple clients.

New Comprehensive Campaigns

With their new advertising program, Google is providing additional support to small business advertisers, allowing those who don’t have the time or energy to create their own campaigns to leave that all in Google’s hands.

The skeptic in me feels that there is a tradeoff between convenience and value. They make it very easy for you to give them a budget and they’ll do the legwork, but you’re also handing over control and the appropriate measures to monitor and adjust how that money is spent. Without visibility into what’s actually being done to market your business, how can you understand how to get better results in the future?

  • Google Local SearchLocal Ads: Google allows you to create one campaign that will propagate against search, maps, places, pages, display, and even YouTube. This means you only have to design one campaign to be used across all of their many platforms, while Google makes the decisions about how to best tailor the approach in each place.
  • Lead Ads: A new unit on YouTube, Lead Ads allows you to collect an email address through an ad message. This is similar to Facebook’s Lead Ads, which have been around for a while.
  • Responsive Search Ads: You create a pool of headlines and descriptions, and Google tests each of those possible combinations to determine which is most successful. Depending on how many concepts you create, you can end up with thousands of possible combinations—it’s A/B testing in hyperdrive. This is designed to help you lift click-through and conversion rates significantly.

Responsive Search Ads

What About Organic Search?

While these new campaigns are great for those who are taking advantage of the Google Ads platform, what about those marketers or small business owners who are putting all of their faith in the power of organic search?

These new ads will drive up conversion rates, as Google continues to do the analytics on what makes the most successful campaigns for its paid advertisers. In addition to being successful, these ads are also huge. They still contain extensions, and so they are going to take over. This will only serve to force organic results further and further down the page. Those users searching on a mobile device will have to scroll for a very long time before hitting the first organic result.

The message here for small business marketers is that you can’t ignore Google Ads. You still need to have a comprehensive marketing system with other tactics, including social media and content, as a means to get into organic search. But at the same time, you can’t ignore paid advertising.

Google Local Services Ads

The last item, which does not impact everyone yet, is Local Services Ads from Google. Formerly known as Home Service Ads, Local Services Ads are currently focused on tradespeople, technicians, and providers of other services to homeowners, with plans to expand to additional categories.

Business owners must apply to be in this program and become “Google Guaranteed,” which means that they’ll have to clear a background check and Google will provide a money-back guarantee to anyone unhappy with the company’s services.

Google Local Services Ad

This comes at a price: Google does not send users directly to a website when they click on this type of ad. Google uses a tracking phone number so that they’re able to see which leads are generated from these ads; the business owner is then charged for those leads. And rather than charging a nominal fee per click, Google will now ask for $25-$100 per lead, depending on category and competition, because they’ve delivered a verifiable lead.

This new approach allows Google to be fully involved in the lead generation process, which gives them valuable information about the way people are searching for services and also allows them to charge small business owners a greater fee than they would for pay-per-click advertising.

As we see advertising moving more towards a focus on intent, a shift that is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, we will see Google Ads encroach more and more in the search space. Google has created a system that encourages you to give them more of your ad budget, and while you certainly can’t ignore Google Ads as a part of your overall strategy, I would argue that there’s still great benefit in attending to your other marketing channels.

If you are struggling with managing the rapidly-changing online advertising landscape, Duct Tape Marketing can do an audit for you. Our Total Online Presence Audit is a comprehensive review of your assets online, including your ads. We can assess your strengths and weaknesses, and point you in the right direction.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

How to Build an Effective Referral Program

How to Build an Effective Referral Program written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

You spend a lot of time and energy winning over new business, and once you’ve gotten that prospect to convert, you work hard to create a positive customer experience.

Rather than going out and trying to find brand new customers all over again, it’s much more time- and cost-effective to turn to the customers you already have, not only for repeat business, but to create a steady stream of referrals when they pass you name along to their friends.

It helps to establish a concrete plan for generating these referrals from your existing customers. This is why establishing an effective referral program is so important. We’ll take a look at what a referral program is, why you need one, and how to get the most out of the program you create.

What is a Referral Program?

A referral program is a systematic approach to generating referrals. This is a broad term that can encompass any number of tactics that you use to encourage and gather referrals, either from existing customers or partner businesses.

Know Your Customer

The first step to creating an effective referral program is really understanding your existing customer. What do they like about your business? What keeps them coming back? When you understand their wants, needs, and behaviors, you can create a referral program that draws them in and encourages them to refer their friends.

Fortunately for you, today’s tech-filled world provides marketers and business owners with a myriad of tools to track customers’ behaviors and solicit input through various online channels. The first step is to decide what you’re hoping to get out of your referral program, and the next step is to turn to the data.

Data can help you see what’s really important to your existing customers and who your best customers are. You should create a referral program that’s centered around what your best customers want. Once you’ve identified these best customers through your data analysis, don’t be afraid to reach out to them with a survey to get their input on how you plan to structure your referral program. After all, if they’re your top customers they’ll likely be the ones who are taking advantage of the program by sharing your name with their friends!

Create a Customer Reward Program

An often-used technique in building a referral program is offering a reward to customers who refer your business. There are a number of different ways to go about creating a customer referral program, but all good programs have some key elements.

  • Offer a reward your users want. This might be a discount on their next purchase, a gift card, or access to a special good or service that other users don’t get. It doesn’t have to be an expensive offer, but it does have to be something that your customers will find useful.
  • Double the reward. Customer referral programs are even more effective when you make an offer both to the referrer and referee. Dropbox very famously did this, offering additional free storage to anyone who referred them and to their friends who signed up as a result of the referral, and this approach led to exponential growth for the company.
  • Be transparent about your offering. Customers don’t want to feel like they’re being bribed into saying something nice about you or passing your name along. Make sure that the terms and conditions of participation are clear and simple, and display them prominently on your website. Not only will this likely lead to customers you hadn’t expected participating in the program, it also gives customers a sense of ease.
  • Make it easy. If your rewards program is hard to find out about or difficult to sign up for, then what good is it to you or your customers? Trumpet your referral program on your website, via email, and on social media, and be sure you’re up front about the terms of participating. Make the criteria for joining the program easy to understand, and make the sign up process as simple as possible.

When you create an effective customer referral program, you can more easily create referral champions: enthusiastic customers who will refer your business over and over again!

Encourage Online Reviews

When you think of online reviews, you may feel that it only applies to businesses in certain industries, particularly those businesses that are B2C. The fact is, though, that in today’s online world every business should be concerned with gathering reviews online.

More than 90 percent of consumers look to online reviews for guidance before making a purchase. If you’re not being reviewed online prospects might not even know you exist, or they might write you off as illegitimate because of a scant online presence. Not only that, but your online reviews factor into your SEO ranking, so if you’re not gathering reviews, then Google doesn’t notice you, either.

Include links to your online review pages in follow-up emails to customers, asking them for feedback on their purchase. Of course, part of soliciting reviews is knowing how to deal with unfavorable ones. It’s actually okay to have a few bad reviews—otherwise prospects begin to worry that your “reviews” are all from shills—but you do need to directly address complaints in a timely, considerate, and appropriate manner.

Engage Other Business Owners

The only thing better than building a referral program on your own is building a referral program with another small business owner. As a fellow entrepreneur, they face the same challenges and have the same goals. Why not team up to divide and conquer in your efforts to build a referral base? Finding business owners who have a similar customer profile to yours allows you to tap into their existing network—and vice versa—so that you can double your pool of prospects overnight.

These strategic partnerships work best when the business owner is someone you yourself know and trust; you’ll be recommending their business to your valued customers, so you want to be sure they’ll be providing the same excellent level of service your clients have come to expect from you.

Reevaluate Your Approach

It’s no small feat to get a referral program up and running, but once you’ve established your program your work is far from over! You want to track the results of your program and make changes as appropriate.

Keep track of where your prospects are coming from. Are they finding you through online reviews on Facebook or Yelp? Are they coming directly through your customer referral program? Did a current customer forward them your email newsletter? Has your partnership with another local business resulted in conversions? Understanding how people are finding you allows you to adjust your program accordingly.

If your customer referral program hasn’t taken off, maybe it means you need to market it more effectively. Send an email blast out to existing customers letting them know about it, and include a link in your email signature for people to refer a friend. Or perhaps it’s an issue with the reward; try making a different offer in the coming months and see if your numbers pick up.

You’ll also want to monitor your customer acquisition costs. Hopefully your referral program is driving those costs downward; it should be costing you less to acquire customers via referrals than it would be to go out and approach an entirely new cohort through outbound marketing tactics. If you’re seeing your costs rise or stagnate, that’s another sign that you need to revisit your approach. Perhaps the reward that you’re offering is too costly for you to take on, or maybe your strategic partner’s business is not as well aligned with your business as you had hoped, and you’re not getting the proper number of referrals from that relationship.

Building an effective referral program doesn’t happen overnight. You first have to understand your existing customers—what they want and need—and then build a program that encourages them to spread the good word about your products or services. And then there’s the work of maintaining the program, checking in on your results and making changes along the way. It take some effort, but when you land on an approach that’s effective and generates repeat results, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment and see the benefits in your bottom line.