How to Design an Effective Opt-in Page

Sometimes called a squeeze page, designing an effective opt-in page is an important part of converting all your traffic from leads to customers. If you don’t have a high converting squeeze page, you’ll miss out on a lot of new customers no matter how much traffic is sent your way.

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Target the Right Audience

If you’ve done your research then you’ve chosen a specific persona or target audience in which to direct your opt-in page. You cannot build an effective opt-in page if you’re trying to target more than one type of person with your content. Reducing the number of people you appeal to, rather than trying to attract a broader audience, may sound counterintuitive. But the truth is, the more laser targeted your opt-in page, the better. Don’t worry; you can create more than one.

Example: You guest blog for XYZ blog. In your bio box you include a link to a special squeeze page, instead of sending that unique audience to the same generic squeeze page as everyone else.

Craft Excellent Design

Designing a squeeze page requires an understanding of color palettes as well as how people read online. Online, people scan from top to bottom rather than reading from left to right when they first see the page. Keep that in mind and ensure that you have excellent navigation, with fewer choices than a typical website, and that the colors are easy on the eyes. A light background with darker lettering and a color palette of three to four colors is your best choice. It’s nice if your opt-in page matches the product that you’re selling.

Create a Strong Headline

When it comes to squeeze pages, headlines matter. If you use an overly clever headline, some people will be put off by it. If you choose a headline that is direct, to the point, and tells in a nutshell what this page is about, you’ll develop trust quickly from your readers. The headline must address the interests (or problem) of the target audience, be good news to them (you’re going to solve their problem), pique their curiosity (hook them in), and make it all simple, easy, and fast that also saves them something like time and money.

Add in an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Whether it’s a free offer, or a paid offering, make the deal so good that they can’t refuse. If you’ve targeted your audience in an appropriate way, the offer will resonate with them. Moving them from lead to subscriber will help you build your list so that you can provide value to them later, and over time. Make it clear about the value you will provide them, the problems you’ll solve, and the advantages of being a member of your list or buying your products.

Create Obvious CTA Buttons

Your sign up buttons, or buy buttons, need to be very obvious. You can create awesome sign up forms with Aweber, and Buy Now Buttons using Amember.com, Clickbank.com, and other services. Using the available software, the fewer fields you have in your form, the more likely you are to get someone to sign up. Your call to action (CTA) is very important and needs to be clear to your audience. Your buttons can say something aside from “submit,” “buy now,” or “subscribe”. You can make them say more such as “Give me my free video now”, or “Hell yea, I want my free eBook.” Whatever text or message your audience will respond to is what should be on your buttons.

Create Responsive Opt-in Pages

Today, people access the Internet via mobile devices more than they do personal computers. What a shame if your opt-in pages won’t work on mobile devices. By using responsive design and tools that allow for responsive design, you can avoid those issues. After all, you only have one chance, and only a few seconds, to get your audience’s attention and trust. Don’t lose them due to this issue.

Don’t Forget the Download / Thank You Page

The design you create for your download or thank you page should be as thought out as your opt-in page. Every aspect of the process should be very well thought out with your audience in mind.

Create a Pretty URL

Many times a squeeze page will have its own domain name, or you can create it as a new page on your website then use domain masking to save on hosting fees.

This works like this: Create a new page on one of your websites to house the opt-in page, so the URL might look like this:

Yourdomainname.com/offeryoucantrefuse. This isn’t that pretty.

Instead you can spend 10 bucks on a new domain name – one that represents the list or product you’re selling – then using the procedures right where you create your domain name, such as GoDaddy to mask the look of the domain without paying for additional hosting. Just go in and paste the link to your opt-in page by clicking manage domains > nameservers > manage >add forwarding. Then paste in the URL that leads to your opt-in page, then choose “forward with masking.”

Now when someone clicks the link to your opt-in page they will see what looks like a dedicated website, which often is perceived as more professional. You can also use a shortening service like bitly.com or Google URL Shortener.

Finally, practice makes perfect. Test out different opt-in pages, different forms, different buttons, and different headlines to find out what works best for your audience. Keep track of the metrics so that you can analyze what works.

Choosing the Right Colors for Your Website

Designing a website that works well and appeals to your audience can be a difficult task if you don’t know where to begin. There are so many schools of thought about what the right color is for a particular type of website. Colors evoke emotions, and you want to be careful about which emotions you evoke. The look and feel of your site is almost as important as the content you publish.

Colors Evoke Emotions

When choosing colors you have to let go of what you think you like, and stick with conventional wisdom. Many people who are new to web design want to pick their own favorite colors, and while sometimes it may be a good choice, more often than not it’s just wrong for the audience. Therefore you need to go through some thought before choosing the color scheme for your new website.

Choose Contrasting Colors

The first and most important rule of thumb is to choose contrasting colors for the background and text. Typically it is better if the text is darker than the background. Even online, black text on a light background is the most preferable for online reading, just like it is for offline reading. If you choose to go the opposite route, double check for issues of readability because for many people, reading light colored text on a dark background hurts their eyes.

Use Natural Colors

Lime green and bright glowing orange aren’t really natural colors and can look quite harsh on a computer monitor. You can use toned down versions of these colors as contrasting colors if you’re careful about how you arrange them. But psychedelic colors are best left to posters, and not used online due to the eye strain they can cause. You’ve probably clicked away from a website due to the immediate pain brought to your eyes due to harsh color combinations.

Use No More than 3 or 4 Colors

A good example of a nice color palette can be found on paint samples. You’ll see that they’ll go from light to dark of the same color. Going with the same idea that you’d use to paint your house or your office, choosing a color palette of no more than 3 or 4 colors will work well for your purposes. These complementary colors, along with judicial use of white space, will make your website look professional and well thought out.

Remember Issues with Disabilities

One of the things often forgotten is that people with disabilities, including vision issues, also use the web. You’ll need to know who your audience is to know if this plays a factor, but having an accessible website should be as important to you as having an accessible store front. Your website is your store front in many cases, you don’t want to exclude people due to lack of attention to this detail. You can learn more about web standards for people with disabilities by reading the about it here at the w3schools.com website.

Your Audience Comes First

Like with most things marketing, it’s all about them. Your website isn’t about you at all. It’s about how you can best represent your products and or services to your customer in a way that pleases them. Men, women, elderly, and even different nations and cultures view color differently. Women don’t necessarily like pink, for example, so be sure to study your audience so that you can get an idea of their preferences.

Understand the Emotional Meaning

behind Color

For many individuals, a particular color will bring to mind emotional connotations that cannot be controlled. For instance red, in most cases can bring to mind feelings of high energy or anger depending on the audience. It’s important to pay attention to how your audience reacts to color and how the color of your website might bring to mind certain emotions. The shade of the color can matter a lot too, so choose wisely.

  • Red – High energy, passion, anger
  • Blue – Trust, sadness, loyalty
  • Green – Nature, wealth, health
  • Yellow – Joy, happiness

Once you start mixing these colors to create other colors, you’ll get entirely new and different emotions.

Online Tools You Can Use

You can create exciting palettes by using an online palette with this Color Scheme Designer. Once you pick the colors with the software, you can see a preview of what your website might look like. You can also download the RGB colors to use, in order to get the most accurate colors possible for your website.

Another really great tool to try is the Color Palette Generator. You can copy the URL of any image to get a color palette generated from the image. This is very useful if you already have a logo, and other marketing collateral and you want to match it to the business image you already have. While this system generates five colors per image remember to not use all five, try to stick to three and no more than 4 colors.

Choosing the colors for your websites is just one of many decisions you’ll need to make for your business. But it’s an important decision to make, so give it some thought while considering the meaning behind the colors, as well as how the colors affect your customer’s choices and vision. You only have a few seconds to get any new visitor to stay and read.

8 Steps to Creating a Compelling “About Us” Page

When someone clicks through to your “about us” page they’re looking to connect to you in a completely different way than if they click on any other page of your website. They are genuinely seeking to know how your company can solve their issues or fulfill a promise made. They want to see what makes your company (and you) tick.

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Your about page is a balancing act that requires you to focus on your target audience even while you are talking about yourself and your business. It depends upon your ability to speak with humility while understanding the words that your audience wants to read. In addition, crafting a compelling about page necessitates the use of just the right words that trigger your audience’s emotions; making them smile, cry and laugh.

Tell Your Story  

The content on your about us page is very important. Sadly, it’s often created once and never looked at again. Most about pages include a title, content about the business, images, social media links, and a way to contact you. But, the about us page is a huge opportunity to tell your story. Use this space to tell your entire story in such a way that it puts the audience first.

For instance: You don’t “Create Widgets or Perform XYZ Service” instead you  are passionate about saving your customer time or thrilled when you bring people together and create solutions to problems. If you focus the story about the solutions you provide and the problems you solve for your audience you’ll be able to tell your story in a way that resonates most with them.

Show Your Story

The great thing about the web is that you don’t simply have to tell your story, you can show them with examples and stories of other clients and customers within your about page that helps tell different parts of your story. Using testimonials can make your about page become more interesting and compelling. Weave the stories throughout the page, or make a special section for customer stories.

Additionally, a very important copywriting technique to learn is the idea of showing not telling. You want the reader to experience your story through their senses in such a way that they actually can feel what you feel and even smell what you smell. Include enough detail in your writing to evoke those feelings by using words that the audience will resonate with. To truly show your story you have to have an intimate understanding of your audience and use that understanding through the content you include on your about page.

Use Strong Images

Graphics, photography and even video can add to or take away from your about page. You don’t want images to distract your reader, but you do want the images to relate to and further explain what you are sharing. Share images of yourself, your staff, and even your location if it’s relevant. Also share images of the product or the results of the service.  The more you use the right images to impart information on your about page, the clearer your message will become.

Differentiate Yourself

Use your about page to further differentiate yourself from your competition. Study your competitions’ about pages. What do they include, exclude, and what type of words do they use? How do you feel when you read it? How does the information provided match up with the product and / or services they offer? How can you be different and show your differences through your about page?

Connect With Your Audience

Many business owners make a big mistake with their websites. They make it difficult for visitors to connect with them.  Include your social media network links on your about us page, as well as your contact information. Put that information on the page in such a way that visitors will not miss it.

Aside from connecting that way, ensure that the words that you use connect you with your audience. While you will include some sales page elements into your about page in the form of the story you tell, it is not a sales page. The people who visit want to know who you are, and why you do what you do for customers more than they want to know exactly what you do.

Collect Information

Never miss an opportunity to collect leads. The end of your about us page is an excellent area to put a newsletter sign up form. Make it an unimposing offer to learn more and stay up-to-date about your company.  If people liked what they read, they’re likely going to want more information, so you want to catch these leads while they are feeling connected to you. Follow up immediately.

Point to Resources & Further Reading

Your about page is also a great place to point your readers to other information on your site. Do not point them away from your website by linking to affiliates products, or even your own products and services. Instead, link them to more information that is about your business such as press releases, informative blog posts, spotlights on other websites or “as seen in” other publications.  If it’s positive news about the company or you or members of your team, it should be on your about us page.

 Update it Often

The biggest missing element in any about page is the fact that was mentioned at the start of this article. Most people create their about page and never look at it again. It’s important that as your business grows, and you learn more about your audience and you help more people, that you update your about page. You don’t need to update it often, but a yearly refresher should be highly considered.

Your about page can help your audience relate to you in such a way that they feel trusting enough to connect, and maybe even spend money with you. Creating a good one is an art that cannot be overlooked. You can learn the art with practice, patience and persistence. If you find that you’re having issues creating an effective about us page, consider working with a professional to ensure that you leave no stone unturned.

5 Ways to Pick a Great Domain Name That Fits Your Brand

Picking a great domain name that fits your brand is an important business decision. Likely, up there with some of the most key decisions you’ll ever make, and one you may be stuck with for a long time. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to give domain naming some thought before you jump in without considering the factors involved.

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1) Consider Your Business Model

Your business model consists of what you sell, to whom you sell it, and how you deliver it. Understanding these facts about your business will help you consider why you need a website. Every business has a purpose for needing a website. Consider some of these reasons for having a website.

  • Establish Credentials
  • Provide Information
  • Generate & Collect Leads
  • Sell Your Product & Services

What is the purpose of your website and how does it relate to your business model? Understanding your purpose can help you pick a domain name that resonates with your audience and business model.

2) Think About The Image You Want to Evoke

Words have meanings and bring to mind various images and connotations that should not be over looked. The meanings might be related to the dictionary but they might also be related to popular culture. Your domain name should connect your audience in their mind, before they even visit your site, to an idea of the type of content that will be on your website. That might be very remote such as with made up words like Yahoo.com which just sounds fun and people like to say. It might be more serious and direct such as with a domain name like shareware.com. It might even be brand related by name like MarthaStewart.com.

3) Know Your Market

Get laser focused on this but also look to the future. Do you see yourself expanding into other markets in the future? If you’re sure about your exact market right now, and in the future, you can choose a domain name that directly speaks to that audience. Your domain name impacts search engine optimization (SEO) in many ways making it either easier or harder for your audience to find you. Using a word that your market would use to find you can be an important and crucial way to being found online.

4) Research Keywords to Describe Your Business

You might think that you know all the keywords to know about your industry but you don’t. Try conducting keyword research using tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to help you choose a great domain name that represents your business in a good way, but that will also attract an automatic audience due to the use of the keywords in your domain name. Ensure that the keywords you choose have a high search volume and enough interest by your audience to choose those words as your domain name.

5) Know Your Current Position

Is your name known already due to work that you’ve done in the same niche? Are you a already a popular coach, author, well-known writer, virtual assistant or do you meet other criteria that would make your own name, or a made up name, an important domain name to consider?

These are names that you can brand. Good examples are SethGodin.com, Google.com, Etsy.com among others. If you are, or know you will be, very well known you can use your own name or a made up word to create a brand-new identity online but it will be a bit harder than if you choose words that already had meaning to the people searching for your information.

Picking the right domain name will help you establish credentials, provide information, generate leads, and / or sell your products and services. It’s one of the most important choices you’ll make going forward with your business idea. Take the time to use one or more of these five ways to pick a great domain name.

How to Write Effective Product Descriptions to Capture More Sales

Understanding Your Sales Model

For all the talk about the best ways to shift traditional sales models and techniques to the online world, there’s one important aspect you always need to keep in mind. In contrast to a traditional brick and mortar store, an online customer can’t really look at the product you’re selling – they can see pictures of it, but they can’t actually pick it up in their hands and look at it directly.

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This is why it’s absolutely essential that you effectively tell them about what you’re selling. You accomplish this by writing solid product descriptions for every item you sell on your website. Here are some tips for writing the most effective product descriptions possible.

Your Product Must Be Good For the Buyer.

Don’t waste your prospect’s attention span talking about why your product is so good, or why it’s better than anything else on the marketplace. Isn’t this exactly the same as what your competitors would say about their own products? Instead, explain to your prospect why the product or service you’re selling is the best solution for them. A potential customer isn’t looking for the product that’s the best in an abstract sense; they’re interested in buying what’s going to be best for their individual situation.

You Need to Identify Your Customers.

Of course, in order to explain why your product is the best for a particular person, you need to understand more about that person. This includes not only identifying your ideal customer in terms of their general demographics, but also making sure to measure everything you can about the actual individuals who come to your product page. There are various ways to accomplish this, including Google Analytics, and customer signup where you ask them for key bits of information about themselves.

Write For Your Customer.

Chances are you take SEO considerations into account when you write your blog posts and other information on your business website (and if you don’t then you probably should be). After all, if a prospect never finds your site, there’s no chance they’ll ever become a customer. But scale back your SEO practices when it comes to your product descriptions. You want your descriptions to do the best job possible in connecting with a prospect, even if the text of the description doesn’t boost your SEO ranking.

Quantify and Evaluate Your Product Descriptions.

How do you know if your written product descriptions are doing the job? You can’t necessarily assume that they’re as good as possible just by the fact that you’re actually making sales. After all, maybe your sales figures would be even higher if your descriptions were better.

The best way to evaluate the effectiveness of your product descriptions is to quantify them. Track your sales figures (both in terms of absolute numbers of sales as well as your conversion percentages), then tweak your product descriptions to see what types of descriptions lead to more sales.

Presentation Matters.

Finally, it’s important to understand that it’s not just the text of the product description that matters – how you present it to a prospect matters as well. Would a different font or font size lead to more sales? Should the text be placed in a different position on your product page? What about the colors you’re using on other parts of that product page?

Again, you can only be confident that you’re providing the most effective sales pitch to your prospects when you measure your sales figures and test against other options.

11 Important Success Strategies for Small Business Owners

There is a seemingly endless supply of advice for small business owners to follow on their path to success. Here are 10 of the most important ones (and a few inspirational quotes from successful business people to back them up):

Success Strategies

1. Be Nice. Being a business owner doesn’t mean you can put your manners on hold. Be nice not only to your customers, but also your suppliers, business partners, and any one else you come in contact with on a professional level.

2. Take Risks. Owning a small business is in some ways the opposite of having a job and working for someone else. Small business owners sometimes need to take risks in order to succeed.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

3. Don’t Give Up. Taking risks implies that sometimes you might fail. (After all, that’s why it’s a “risk” and not a “sure thing.”) What’s important is that you use your setbacks to teach and motivate yourself.

“Failure defeats losers, failure inspires winners.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki

4. Cherish Your Family. Successful business owners have a lot of support behind the scenes. Make sure you spend plenty quality time with your family as you work hard on your business.

“A man should never neglect his family for business.” – Walt Disney

5. Focus on the Customer. Remember that the success of your business will depend on the quality of the experience you give to your customer – focus on that.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

6. Business is Personal. Don’t be afraid to bring your unique personality into your business.

“The NBA is never just a business. It’s always business. It’s always personal. All good businesses are personal. The best businesses are very personal.” – Mark Cuban

7. Have a Plan. Don’t think about trying to just “wing it” throughout your journey to business success. You should have a plan that covers virtually every aspect of your business operations. This plan should include all of your goals, and the steps you plan to take to meet those goals. Make sure to reduce this plan to writing; by doing so you’re making a commitment to yourself and your future success.

8. Be Flexible. While it’s essential to have a business plan, you shouldn’t resist changing it if it becomes necessary to do so.

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Anthony Robbins

9. Be Passionate. Obviously one of the reasons you own your own business is to make money, but your financial goals can’t be allowed to overshadow your passion.

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc

10. Keep Track of Your Business. Keep written records on every aspect of your business. It’s difficult to change and improve your business when you don’t have the data to do so.

11. Stay Healthy. Finally, make sure to keep yourself healthy. If you’re ill, your business will invariably suffer.

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” – Bertrand Russell

Balancing Design, Branding and Selling More Stuff on Your Website

Design & Branding Support Your Bottom LineMake no mistake about it – the design and branding elements of your website matter. Without a quality design you’ll lose potential customers, as new visitors quickly click away from your site. And without strong branding elements it will be difficult for visitors to remember your site once they leave it.

Design and Branding Support Your Bottom Line

All this doesn’t mean that you should put all of your time and energy into your website design and your online branding efforts. Design and branding shouldn’t be business goals in and of themselves. Rather, design and branding are techniques matter only insofar as they help you boost your bottom line sales numbers.

For just about every type of business, the single most important metric is going to be sales. Everything else you do with your website, on your business-focused social media accounts and every other promotional technique should ultimately have growing your sales as the goal.

Your Design Must Enable Sales

When you sell your product online, then it should be fairly obvious that in order to boost more sales you need to drive more traffic to your website. Design and branding can help you do this. For example, if your site is unattractive or boring in its visual composition, prospects are likely to assume that your products are similarly unattractive or boring. And if your site is poorly designed in a way that makes it difficult or confusing to navigate, then your prospects may assume that your products or services are equally as confusing.

Your Logo Must Not Distract From Sales

Your logo may be a strong part of your branding efforts, but from a design perspective you don’t want to over-emphasize it on your site. If your logo takes up a majority of the space “above the fold” on your home page, then you’re giving up the opportunity to make better use of that space. For example, you can use this space to better grab a visitor’s attention with an optimized headline or short marketing copy. Remember that your logo, and its placement on your site, should help you sell more of your product.

Design and Branding Need to Translate into a Better Customer Experience

Remember that you’re doing all of these design and branding things for a reason – to boost your sales – and you don’t want to lose sight of this ultimate goal. For example, let’s say a prospect comes to your website after they’ve already become well familiarized with you and your products – and they’re ready to buy. At this point, the hardest part of your job is done; someone is coming to your site prepared to give you money.

How easy have you made it for them to take this last, most important, step? Is your site’s purchasing or ecommerce function easily found on your home page? How many clicks does a prospective customer need to make before they can actually purchase? Does your website design make it easy for someone to purchase?

The issue can be exacerbated by a site design that’s particularly flashy – having such visually compelling elements in the main part of your page can draw too much attention away from the other parts of the page.

Don’t assume that a single small link or button on your home page (even if it’s at the top of the page) is going to be enough. You may have to test different website designs in order to find what works best for your product and niche.

In fact, that’s good advice for every other aspect of your website. You should always be monitoring and measuring what visitors do on your site so that you can optimize your sales.

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