Using the Power of Natural Language in Calls-to-Action

Josh McCullochShameless Self Promotion, Website Conversion, Website Tips, Website Tools, Website Traffic, Website Trends0 Comments

Human language is probably the most challenging aspect for we humans. We have cultivated our own speech into our own way of communicating in our own area of the world: Spanish, French, English, Portuguese etc.  You who are in website development, sales and computer programmers understand the power of language and how it can affect you personally and your business. But, have you ever experienced what natural language or even jargon can accomplish in calls-to-action (CTAs)

Calls-to-action have one purpose. Convert the website visitor into a lead or online sale. But how about creating CTAs that are based on the context of the visitor? More information on Website marketing here. 

The real lesson 

Jargon and mad libs have penetrated into forms of emojis, hashtags and acronyms such as the famous “lol,”  “YOLO”, or “Jk.” And for the most part are understood in multiple languages and cultures, being used and seen daily on an evolving and connected platform of social media accounts. (Now we’re talkin’.)

So, why not start incorporating them into websites?

While this may seem to be unprofessional, I will say it does have its place and evidence suggests that it does work. In 2010 Luke Wroblewski ,Chief Design Architect of Yahoo, ran some tests on his own style of jargon and natural language. By changing the proper business blog writings into a natural language on his blog Luke saw a 25-40% increase in call-to-action conversions.

Calls-to-action have one purpose. Convert the website visitor to become a lead. But how about creating CTAs that are based on the context of the visitor? – Redundant? Which spot should it be in?

Here are couple examples of how you may use the power of natural language or jargon on your next CTA:  Connection with your visitors.

 

  • Contact form – Instead of having a basic template walk your user through the template. “Hello, my name is ( first name) (last name) and I’m writing to you today because I would like to get a quote for (Company Name). Please call me back at (my phone number) at your earliest convince.
  • Signups – If your customers want something from you, get what you want from them. Play fair. For instance, If customers are desiring information and you have white paper to give them create a template that says something like. “Hello, my name is (first name) (last name) and I would like the FREE SEO white paper. Please send it to my email address which is (my email address). Thank you 🙂

 

Good writing always matters in marketing; being able to draw your customer in and encourage them to react is a key component for success. If your copy is not effective in giving your visitor what he or she wants, then you may have to acknowledge the way your copy is not in a structure your visitor is comfortable with.

Google Wallet: simplify financial transactions

Josh McCullochMisc., Website Tools, Website Trends1 Comment

Google is growing and coming out with fresh and new ideas. Google, recently updated its Wallet app for all iOS devices. The newly updated Google application will now let its users receive and send money to anyone they wish here in the U.S.A! How cool! The new app is expected to release on September 28th 2015.

Version 10.16.10 of Google wallet iOS will give mobile users the freedom to control how and where transactions are completed. Users can process transactions with anyone in the U.S by simply using the recipient’s email address. This latest version does not require the recipient to have the Google wallet app in order for the transaction to be processed.

The Google wallet app will also keep users updated on how much money they receive and spend.  However, tech users who would like to try the app and have the simplicity of banking on the go will have to accept the user agreement set by Google.  For external purposes, Google will keep your information for ‘examination purposes’.

As convenient as this app may seem, I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable giving away my account information, what I buy or, who I talk too. Perhaps you’re the same way. Whatever your view may be, Google is honest and upfront on how they collect the information and how they use the information they collect.

Here is an excerpt of Google’s privacy policy;

When you contact Google, we keep a record of your communication to help solve any issues you might be facing. We may use your email address to inform you about our services, such as letting you know about upcoming changes or improvements.

We use information collected from cookies and other technologies, like pixel tags, to improve your user experience and the overall quality of our services. One of the products we use to do this on our own services is Google Analytics. For example, by saving your language preferences, we’ll be able to have our services appear in the language you prefer. When showing you tailored ads, we will not associate an identifier from cookies or similar technologies with sensitive categories, such as those based on race, religion, sexual orientation or health.

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection”.

Source: https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/

So if you don’t mind having even more ads tailored to your liking, feel free to use the Google app and sign up. Chances are if you have a Gmail account, Google already knows who you are and it may not impact you. If you travel a lot, perhaps the new Google app is for you. Users will expect a whole new level of financial independence, keeping track of transactions and continued fraud-monitoring that will cover all verified and unauthorized transactions.

The Dislike Button: Social Nightmare or Marketing Dream

Josh McCullochWebsite Conversion, Website Traffic, Website Trends1 Comment

 

The Facebook ‘dislike’ button has been a long time request by many fans of social media. Some think that the dislike button will be toxic to our relationships. Others fear it will be abused, leading to to bullying and fostering of further negativity.

“It seems that we have been become so fragile that any sign of negativity — even a simple thumbs down on a social media website — is something that must be avoided at all costs. All we want is a constant stream of thumbs up. The slightest sign someone might disagree with us is enough to send us into an emotional tailspin.” Andre Spicer, CNN.

So is that true? Do we not respond well to negativity?  Our Facebook and twitter data says, ”well, that depends…”

Comstar has found that people are more likely to respond to positivity than negativity and positive news or content is much more likely to be shared. Even a tragedy as September 11th, years later can bring out emotions in a positive and hopeful way. Just look at a Comstar’s “top tweet” from September 11th 2015. This year a massive rainbow appeared over the Freedom Tower in New York City on the eve of September 11th. We just had to share it!

 Twitter 2 Social media sept 11th

“top tweet”- Comstar’s Twitter account. On Sept 11th 2015..

It’s important to give people more options than just ‘like’ to help express empathy and sympathy.” And “Not every moment is a good moment.” Mark Zuckerberg said, founder and CEO of Facebook.

So how does the social platform change?

A few social media strategists view the “dislike” button will convey other emotions and that it will be a boom for Facebook and marketers. Facebook’s dislike button will affect strategies and will affect how the social media world will share and discuses positive posts. No more upbeat and “smile when your sad” posts. If the Facebook “dislike” button is used to conduct and practice empathy in the social media world, advertisers and web developers will have new data to work with- If you don’t like Microsoft computers or their products then you must like apple products (See where this is going?) Strategies will shift; sales and services will be better tailored to social media and website visitors.

Dr. Andrea Forte, a Drexel University professor who studies social media shared how Facebook users may use the ‘dislike button’.  “They may use a dislike button to express some negative emotions, like frustration with ads popping up in their feeds, but I doubt it will cause them to start wantonly disliking pictures of their friends’ babies, dogs, cats and cooking experiments,”, I suspect it will mainly be used to express mild disapproval, or to express solidarity when someone posts about a negative event like a death or a loss.”

One thing is for sure, the current positive persona of Facebook interactions with ‘likes’ is about to change. Sharing positive moments and staying upbeat is about to change. We don’t for sure know how a majority of Facebook users and campaign managers will use the ‘dislike’ However…

“facebook is very close” to having it ready for user testing.” – Mark zuckerburg, CEO

Google Doesn’t Care About Keywords, Why Should You?

Bob HoldemanWebsite Tips, Website Traffic1 Comment

You may have heard something similar to “Google places very little value on meta tag keywords now” and many successful websites don’t even have keyword meta tags.  While this is true, for the most part, keywords are still the most valuable tool you have in bringing search engine recognition and good rankings to your website.

While Google and other major search engines have tossed aside the value they assign to meta tag keywords, the words on your web pages are still king (or queen), because their major goal is to deliver searchers to relevant websites.  So, it still makes sense to develop a list of keywords and phrases, that best represent your business products and services, to use when writing copy for your website.

Your website copy and your social media posts should feature your keywords sprinkled throughout, always using good language practices and avoiding what has been termed “keyword stuffing” by over-applying them out of context. While quantity counts here, readability does, too.

Your website has basically two audiences – the human and the computer.  The human is your target market segment and the computer are the search engines.

Where you place them counts, too.  Keyword phrases in a headline will carry more weight than in the body of a paragraph, for instance.

So, get out your list of keywords and take a look at your homepage.  See how many you are using and where.  Better yet, print out your page and use a highlighter to mark them and see if there is room for more.

Hint: your webpage will probably expand to accommodate all the copy you want to add!  Just make sure it’s good copy, with lots of keywords.

 

 

3 Ideas to stay safe and secure on the web.

Josh McCullochBlog Tips, Internet Safety, Website Tips, Website Tools0 Comments

The internet can be an amazing place to discover our own world. Who would have had a thought 20-30 years ago we would be able to shop, bank, run a business and even find a Saturday night date…let alone thinking this all could be done from a phone. Crazy thought huh? With so much luxury and opportunity at our own finger tips it is important to remember with great opportunity, comes great consequences.

Be aware of what you do on the internet may not only be for your eyes only. The internet is a place where cyber-criminals are counting on you to be unaware of your online actions. Cyber-crime is becoming more prevalent and can even dangerous to your personal safety.

So here to help, Comstar has come up with a few suggestions on how to protect yourself while surfing the web.

Stop! Keep a clean Machine

Before you explore the web, do a basic overview. Check-up on your computer devices. This may seem like common sense but you’d be surprised how often people forget to do it. Be sure your computer is up to date with the latest security software, web browsers and operating system. These are best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats that can and could harm your machine.

Think! Ask questions

Before you go crazy clicking through the web in record time, stop, breath and think! Use common sense and be aware of what information you are truly sharing with people and machines audiences. If you do not feel comfortable or safe for any reason, do not release it. Use sources you know are credible and safe. Think, “what am I really giving away if I release information X?”

Make a Plan! develop, implement, execute

Take some time to map out an online plan. Think of it as a blueprint to keeping yourself safe on the web. This is your plan suited for you, no one else. Don’t share it. The more you share about where you are and what you do online etc; Greater the risk you are for a cyber attack. Play it safe, dedicate times of the day when you use the internet for work, education and play. The more you know, greater the chance you are ahead of online hackers, scammers and cyber attacks.

Few ideas to get you started…

  • Secure your phone and computer: Use different pass codes and passwords for each of your electronic devices, email accounts and log-in portals.
  • Disable the geo-tagging feature on your phone. By doing so, you potentially avoid  giving away your exact location for billions of eyes on the world wide web to see.
  • When in doubt, don’t engage: emails, calls, voice-mails etc. Talk to who you know and who you can trust. If you are not sure the person on the other end is not who they claim to be, ask questions. It may be a little weird at first, but it’s a lot easier than seeing your bank account at $0.00
  • If you are off of your own personal Wifi network, make the decision to only be online when you are on a protected and secured network. Commit to use other sources of communications when you are on potentially unprotected networks.

 

Leads, Conversions & Sales From My Website: Fact or Fiction?

Bob HoldemanWebsite Tools, Website Traffic5 Comments

Isn’t the real question, when it comes to your company website – “does my website create income for my business”?  Well, how many leads does your website produce every month?  How many sales?

Not sure?  Go ahead, take a few minutes to check on it.  It’s OK… I’ll wait.

[insert theme from Jeopardy here]

Now that you have a number, anywhere from 0 to infinity to “I don’t know”, naturally, your next thought is “how can we do better”?  The answer to that question will be different depending on the number.

If you don’t know the number, there are some things to consider before even beginning the work to improve your results, so we’ll start there.  Without going into great detail, here are the main steps to get and track leads from your website:

  1. Track Your Website VisitorsGoogle Analytics tracking code must be installed on all pages of your website.  This gives you the ability to see the numbers and make comparisons over time to determine what works best for you and your business.
  2. Website Forms – Include one or more online forms to allow your visitors to open a path of communication with you.  It could be a simple email sign-up for a newsletter or anything from a basic Contact Us form to a more complex one designed to draw more required information out of your visitor, such as a Request-A-Quote form.  And be sure to include a redirect to a Thank You page after submission, so you can simply count that traffic to get the number of leads received.
  3. Calls-to-Action – Be sure you have powerful calls to your website visitor that will encourage them to make that connection with you via your forms or by phone.  Multiple calls with both graphic and text links on all your web pages are important.  An example of a call-to-action coupled with a good enticement for your visitor might be to offer a free whitepaper on an aspect of your industry in exchange for their name and email address, allowing you to contact them later via email.
  4. Receive & Respond – Ensure the submitted form is received by the right person for follow up and a response is made in a timely manner.  This sounds simple, but you wouldn’t believe the number of clients I have worked with who did not realize that leads were being missed because no one currently employed there was receiving their submitted forms!
  5. Implement Manual Lead Tracking – If you have not yet done so, make sure that all members of your sales team have a way of recording where their leads came from and that you total the monthly leads by source.  While online forms are the easy way of tracking direct web leads, your website will also generate leads that contact you by phone that can only be tracked by humans.  Your sales staff should ask where they heard about your company and if the response is the internet or an online search, then you can attribute the lead to the website entirely.  If they get a different response, let’s say referral from a colleague or media ad, then they should ask if the caller has seen your website.  If the answer is yes, then that should be counted as at least a partial web lead, since your website helped (or did not hurt) the sales opportunity to happen.

An even better way to track phone leads from your website is to have a unique phone number on your website that is published no where else.  This would make it even easier to track website leads, since any calls to that number will have been from the website.

Here’s a simple worksheet that can serve as a starting point if you don’t have a lead tracking process in place – either an Excel spreadsheet or a pdf document. A copy should be placed next to each phone where sales calls are taken, with hash-marks used to record lead sources.

If you do know the number of leads your website is generating, then you have already taken the first step.  If the number is 0 or anything less than you want, you probably want to know more about the steps after #1.

For that you’ll have to wait for next week’s post.

Squeeze Your Web Presence to Get More Out of It!

Bob HoldemanWebsite Conversion, Website Traffic0 Comments

While I was squeezing some fresh orange juice the other day it struck me that if I could just squeeze a website, the way you can juice an orange, and gets leads to drip out, I could rule the world. Then I realized, world domination aside, that there is no “one ring to rule them all” when it comes to making the most out of your website.

To do that it takes three things, done regularly: attention, action, and response. Doing them right will result in more traffic and more conversions of visitors into customers.

Your website url must be included in all channels of your marketing efforts. The obvious is to include it on all of your printed materials: business cards, letterhead, brochures, invoices and the like. It should be visible on all of your company vehicles and other property. It should be a clickable link on all of your electronic communications, such as email, invoices, pdf documents, etc.

Squeeze it a bit harder by adding a call-to-action to the end of your emails and other electronic documents, such as “Click here now to see the latest additions to our product line.” Link it back to a specific page of your website where information on the topic can be found without needing to search your site. Change the call-to-action regularly and track the results each time you do.

Consider an email campaign of one or more emails to those who have agreed to receive them from you and include links back to your website, also to specific pages the reader will want to see. This is a great way to get add-on sales to existing contacts and customers.

Of course, your website should have an email list sign-up in a prominent place on the page.

All media advertising must include your url: TV or radio spots, newspaper, magazine, trade publications, press releases, etc.

The best way to squeeze your website for all it’s worth is to create a landing page for each advertising initiative you have. For instance, let’s say you’ll be attending a trade show. Create a special page devoted to the trade show and any show specials you might be offering. Include the direct link to the page in all of the above mentioned channels. The number of visitors to the page divided by the number of emails sent will give you the conversion rate of your email campaign.

Put a simple contact form on the landing page to allow visitors to communicate with you and for you to have a metric for measuring success. The number of submitted forms divided by the number of visitors to the page will give you a conversion rate for the page and your efforts.

Above all, respond in a timely manner. Set expectations with your online form about when the submitter should expect a response – and then do all you can to meet those expectations.

Some visitors will not use the online form, but place a phone call instead.  Be sure to ask those who call on the phone how they found you.  If you don’t know that they found you through your ad campaign you won’t have a true sense of its success. If you do track phone calls, consider each call a form submitted to arrive at real conversion numbers.

No matter what you do, make a plan and follow it.

 

 

In the Spirit of the Season

Bob HoldemanWebsite Tools0 Comments

One of the best ways to celebrate life is by giving back. In this season of giving none deserve more than those who give of themselves, so here are some non-profit organizations doing good for their fellow men and women, who would appreciate your support through online donations:

  • Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety – “Give a gift that truly matters… one that will make a difference in helping burn survivors achieve the bright future they all deserve!”
  • Waukesha Education Foundation – “Most of us are products of public education and school districts that preceding generations helped to build and fund. You can show that same stewardship for future generations.”
  • Literary Council of Greater Waukesha – “The Literacy Council of Greater Waukesha, Inc., provides confidential, one-on-one tutoring and mentoring services to individuals who need help with reading, writing, spelling, math, and English as a second language.”
  • Second Hand Purrs – A no-kill cat shelter, Second Hand Purrs is run exclusively by volunteers and operates solely by donations.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!

CCard_2014_2

Do You Know Where Your Web Assets Are?

Bob HoldemanWebsite Tools0 Comments

You probably know right where to go to find your business or organization’s most critical assets, such as its articles of incorporation or business license.  Or who to go to for a record of depreciating assets, like office furniture, computers or vehicles.  Whether you are a one-person shop or have a team of people, you need to know that your assets are in good hands to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Do you consider your web presence an asset?

At Comstar, where we provide our clients with any and all web-related services, we’ve seen many situations where someone’s lack of knowledge about their website has resulted in scenarios ranging from a website and email services being temporarily “down” to the disaster of a registered domain being permanently lost.  It usually happens because there can be many components to an organization’s web presence and their assets are spread out across way too many providers.

Do you know where your web assets are?

Even more basic, do you know what your web assets are?

Your web assets are everything from your domain registration down to the contents of your website.  Some assets are basic and universal.

  • Domain Registration: This is the first and most important web asset you have – your website address and where your organization’s email is sent.  Without this component all else is worthless.  If you aren’t paying attention it can expire and you can lose it.
    Tip: Know where your domain is registered and make sure the contact information associated with your record is accurate and directed to the person(s) responsible in you own organization, so that notices of such critical things like domain expiration are received.
  • Domain Name System (DNS): While not typically considered an asset, it’s important to know where to go to make changes to your basic web services, like where your website or email is hosted.  Depending on your provider, it may take up to 72 hours for any change to be effective.
    Tip: Choose a provider that is accessible. and contact them well ahead of any changes you want to make.  Some providers offer no option for faster service, some make the changes for you, while others provide a dashboard or cPanel for making them yourself.
  • Hosting Web Server(s): Typically, these hardware and software systems that run your site are not actually your asset, but probably your ISP’s.  The web files that make up your site should be yours: programming, copy, photo, images, videos, etc.  By “should be” I mean, make sure you do own them.  If you ever want to move your site to another ISP you’ll need them.
    Tip: Choose a web developer/ hosting provider who can assure you that you have full ownership rights to your web files, so you can make choices about where your site is hosted.  You don’t want your website choices limited by actual possession of your web files.  Making your own periodic offsite backup of your web files is a good idea.
  • Email Services: Your organization’s email may be hosted at your ISP, along with your website. You may have an exchange server of your own.  Additional related services, like spam and anti-virus filters can add another layer of complexity.
    Tip: No matter where your email is hosted, be sure you have an excellent spam and virus filter and that your email server is secure against attacks by the bad actors of the world.

Your Landing Page One and Done? Not So Fast!

Bob HoldemanShameless Self Promotion, Website Conversion, Website Tools, Website Traffic0 Comments

A landing page is a great tool and focal point for your online marketing efforts.  Once you setup and monitor meaningful metrics for your landing page, don’t be afraid to make changes and then measure the results of those changes.

Sometimes changing the on-page content is needed.  Perhaps your landing page copy needs tweaking or the addition of a photo or video to help state your case as to why your visitor should contact you.  Maybe it’s a more forceful call-to-action or maybe your online form needs to ask for more or less information or ask for it in a different way.

You can take many actions that can lead to better conversion rates.  The trick is to try something and see if it works.  Besides the actual conversion rate of those who submit forms, look at other indicators of improvement, such as the page’s bounce rate, which should be going down.

The advantage of an online form is that it provides the measurable metric of who contacted you, but your landing page should also include your phone number and you should be asking callers if they saw your website and, specifically, the landing page.  This will give you a truer measure of what your landing page produces for your business.

In addition to the page content, consider hidden and off-site factors. Perhaps the page optimization for your landing page needs adjustment. Consider ways to get off-site links directing people and web crawlers to your page.

You can jump-start traffic by using an existing mailing list to communicate to your customers and prospects about the subject of your landing page with a compelling email that includes a link back to it.  Here’s another tip: use the url from your landing page in all of your advertising media.

Once you find what works you can expand the program to another product or service you offer with a second, third or more landing pages.

A landing page is one way you can make your website a real asset that generates business or just another expense for your business.  For some more ways you can visit our website at Comstar.biz.