Everything You Need to Know about Creating Calls to Action that Work

Are you letting your visitors wander around your website without any guidance? Do they have to decide for themselves what page to click on next? Do you have “dead-ends” that are sending valuable visitors away?

If you’re not using calls to action effectively, the answer is probably yes.

“Call to Action” (also referred to as CTA) is the marketing term for something so incredibly simple and equally effective: just asking someone to do something.

In fact, it seems so simple that a lot of people skip it altogether. But the next logical step to take while browsing through your website is not nearly as obvious to your visitors as it is to you.

If you skip out on calls to action, the majority of your website visitors may never take the steps you most want them to (like subscribing to your email list or sharing your content with friends).

So calls to action are incredibly useful and can up the effectiveness of your website right away. But it gets even better. Putting calls to action in place on your website is easy. That’s right: nothing techy or complicated or expensive. All you need is a few basic principles to guide your efforts and, viola, you’re ready to go.

Call to Action Rule #1: Value

The very first rule of effective calls to action happens to be the very first rule of getting anyone to do anything online: show the value in doing it.the very first rule of getting anyone to do anything online: show the value in doing it.

What will your visitor get out of following your call to action? On Copyblogger’s homepage, they tell people exactly what sort of value they’ll get from registering for their content library with three compelling bullet points. Then they make it really clear that people can get all that value for free.

Don’t just ask your visitors to do something – tell them why they should do it. What’s in it for them?

Call to Action Rule #2: Urgency

Procrastination, in my unverified opinion, effects roughly 99.8% of people. It’s in our nature. It’s in your prospect’s nature. We put things off, we go back and forth, we delay action taking.

This is a big problem for you (and me), because most visitors to your website won’t hang out for very long, so you need people to take action on your requests right away.

Urgency can give people the nudge they need to stop procrastinating and take immediate action. One great way to add urgency to a CTA is with a deadline.

For example, calls to action to sign up for a webinar or a live event, or to register for a limited time offer are great opportunities to cash in on the benefits of a deadline.

But not all calls to action have a deadline. You can still imply urgency for evergreen actions with the right language. In this example, the word “now” adds immediacy:

And here, the phrase “reserve my spot” encourages visitors to RSVP pronto:

Call to Action Rule #3: Action

Calls to action are obviously there to prompt action (the name totally gives it away, right?). But that isn’t always obvious to our visitors unless we use actionable language in our copy.

Get people moving by using enticing action verbs or specific task-related prompts. For example, you could replace the over-used and totally boring ‘click here’ call to action with something more specific or enticing like ‘download your free guide’ or ‘give me my eBook’.

Check out QuickSprout’s ultra-specific call to action in this sidebar opt-in:

Call to Action Rule #4: Simplicity

Loading your calls to action down with all sorts of value and actionability and urgency is important – but it won’t do you a lot of good if your visitors can’t spot it, process it, and make a decision on it within a few seconds.

Everyone’s in a hurry – so complicated websites and, naturally, complicated calls to action tend to get ignored. Your CTA absolutely must be simple to understand and act on.

Boil your copy down to the essential parts – how can you convey your message in fewer words? Simpler words? This isn’t about being poetic, it’s about getting your point across as quickly and painlessly as possible.

On ClearSimpleMarketing.com, they use a check list and some snappy copy to convey their message quickly and easily:

Call to Action Rule #5: Attention

Your call to action is probably the most important element on your page. It’s the end game – the thing you most want someone to do after viewing the particular content on that page.

So that importance should be obvious in a visual way to your visitors. You can make your call to action stand out by using attention-grabbing design elements: a bright button, a box, an arrow or other image.

At the end of blog posts, we use this colorful box to pull reader’s attention to our opt-in call to action:

Call to Action Rule #6: Consistency

Consistency helps create a seamless experience for your visitors. People (including, I’m sure, you and me) are weary of getting duped online – of some slick marketing trick getting them to sign up for something they don’t really want.

Little things can trigger our suspicion or confusion. For example, if a call to action looks a certain way and talks about certain things and then leads me to a page that looks totally different and uses completely different copy, I’m going to feel like I ended up in the wrong place or that something fishy is going on.

To make sure your visitors don’t experience this, consistency is vital. This has a lot to do with design: colors, fonts, and the general look and feel of your CTA elements should line up with the elements on the page your visitors end up on. It also has to do with the words you use. Headlines, bullet points, and body copy should sound familiar to what they read in your call to action. Take a look at this example from HubSpot. The call to action in the side bar of the blog looks like this:

When you click on the “Yes I am!” button, it takes you to this page:

Notice how the colors and fonts are the same? The call to action in the side bar asked about ‘marketing software’ and the very first thing you see on the landing page is a headline that also mentions ‘marketing software’. These consistencies help people immediately recognize that they are in the right place.

Now take action!

Use the guidelines above to create brilliant CTAs on your own website. There’s no excuse for letting visitors wander around aimlessly or drop off your website without a so much as a clear offer on what they could do instead. If you have any hot tips on creating calls to action that drive results, share them with us in the comments below!

6 Subject Line Hacks to Skyrocket Your Open Rates

Email marketing is a game of survival. It’s competitive, fast-paced, and unforgiving.

6 Email Subject Line Hacks to Skyrocket Your Open Rates

When your email lands in a subscriber’s inbox, it’s competing with dozens, hundreds, of other messages clamoring to be in the limited group of emails that get opened.

And make no mistake. Those other emails are there to win the game. And the smartest of the smart have developed a secret weapon that almost guarantees their spot at the top of the food chain: an irresistible subject line.

Alright, so maybe email marketing isn’t quite that dramatic, but let’s face it – none of the magical business growth or money-making can come from your email marketing unless your emails get opened. So let’s get to work learning the art of crafting email subjects lines that stand out.

#1 – Keep it short

Just like every other piece of content on the web, your email subject line is exposed to a severe amount of impatience. Your email subject line needs to get to the point, and it needs to do it right away. Keep it short and choose your words carefully. If a word of phrase isn’t a strong participant, throw it out. Only keep the most important words – the words that clearly define why your reader should open your message.

And, as if a short attention span wasn’t enough of a challenge, you also need to factor in the reality that almost half of your potential subscribers will be reading your email on a mobile device. Most mobile devices cut a subject line off at a set number of characters – generally, fewer characters than you will use. So, the shorter you can keep your subject line, the better chance it has of showing up in it’s entirety (or at least close to it) when viewed by the nearly 50% of your on-the-go email subscribers.

#2 – Use curiosity to draw readers in

Curiosity is a powerful tool for getting reluctant or busy people to click on and read your content. It’s true for things like blog posts and social media updates, and it’s true for email marketing.

Create a curiosity-dense subject line on something your readers care about, and you’ll make it nearly impossible for them to hit ‘delete’ before checking it out.

How do you write these irresistibly clickable subject lines? Simply make a statement or ask a question that leaves people dying to know the answer.


Do you make this career-killing mistake during interviews?(I don’t know…do I? Maybe that’s why I didn’t ace that last interview…I better check this out).

Why I’m never going on vacation again (Huh? Everyone goes on vacation. What reason could this person have for stopping permanently?)

#3 – Be controversial

In this era of constant information consumption, we tend to  see the same things over and over and over again. When something new – something that goes against the grain or completely contradicts the theme we’ve grown accustomed to – it catches our attention.

How does your message stand out from the rest? Do you have a new piece of information? Are you doing things differently? Do you have a high-contrast opinion?

Featuring something controversial in your subject line is a great way to grab attention and up your email’s odds of getting opened.

#4 – Be vulnerable

If you’re aiming to build a long-term relationship with your email subscriber, sometimes it pays off to get a little personal. People LOVE getting the behind-the-curtain experience when it comes to people they admire or respect. And if they have subscribed to your email list, chances are they respect the knowledge or position you hold, or admire what you’ve accomplished and what you have to share.

But hold on. This one can get tricky. If you do it in the wrong way, you can totally turn your readers off. It’s important to remember that, even when you’re sharing something personal (as in, something that is innately about you), you still have to make it all about them.

A quick example. Let’s say you’re health coach. People come to you because they want to get healthy, loose weight, and live a better, happier, more active life. One day, you send out an email with the subject line “When I used to be addicted to junk food”. This email tells your story about how, years ago, you resisted the challenge to get healthy and loose weight because it was so hard to give up the junk food you turned to when tired, depressed, or bored. It was such a struggle.

This story is about you (well, not really, but go with it), but it is also ALL about your readers, because you know they are on your list to learn how to bust their own bad eating habits. Most of them can relate deeply to what you went through.

Personal stories work powerfully when they are deeply connect to something your readers care about and/or have experienced.

#5 – Create urgency

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t fall into the procrastination trap at least once in a while (if you never procrastinate, please email me. I want to know your secret). Most people procrastinate regularly. This includes your email subscribers.

Creating urgency with your subject line gives people a good reason to open your email right away.

Is you message time-sensitive? Are you promoting something that will only be available for a limited time? Will the contents of the email simply be irrelevant after a short period? Use words that express time restrictions or urgency in your subject line.


Today only…

For the next 24 hours…

Limited space available…

Last chance to…

#6 – Avoid (at all costs) the Bait & Switch

We’ve gone over several high-impact ways to get your subscriber’s attention and compel them to open your email. But there is one important caveat that applies to them all: never use a subject line tactic unless you can fully follow through on it in your email.

So if you are saying something controversial to get people to open your email, you better have something controversial to say in your email.

If you’re trying to peak curiosity by claiming that you’re never going on vacation ever again, you better actually have a reason for never going on vacation again. Simple, right?

If you use gimmicks to increase your open rates, you’ll lose the trust of your subscribers. If you can’t follow through on the promise you make in your subject line, then throw it out and come up with something new.

BONUS: You’re more than your subject line.

Your subject line is super important. It’s the first-impression maker. But it’s not the only factor.

The fact that your email is coming from you is important, also. Over time, as people are exposed to your content, they will form an opinion of you and your stuff. If you send really great emails consistently, people will associate worthwhile content with your name, and might open your emails based on that alone (even if your subject line was rather boring that day).

What is your favorite email subject line hack? Have you ever received a crazy good (or bad) email subject line that you still remember? Share it with us in the comments. And, as always, if you enjoyed this post remember to use the buttons below to share it with your friends.

3 New Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog Posts

More blog traffic

This is the part of the post where I’m supposed to reassure you’re that you’re not alone when it comes to desperately wishing more people would read and appreciate your fabulous blog posts.

A while it is true that you are in good company as a blog-traffic-crazed business owner, I’m going to skip over the commiserating portion of this post and get right to the good stuff.

Because that’s what you came for, right?

There are a LOT of of traffic generation hints and tricks out there and we’ve all heard the basics: share your posts on social media, ask your readers to share your posts, on social media, email your blog posts to your list, etc. But today we’re going to talk about a few new strategies that can have a huge impact on your overall blog exposure. These are things I’ve been implementing myself and have seen great results from, so I can personally vouch for their effectiveness. Ready? Let’s get started.

#1 – Use tweetable quotes

Twitter is a powerhouse for content sharing. It’s massively useful for driving traffic to your blog and website – if you can get your content shared on the platform. A Twitter share button accompanying each of your posts is a good start – but here’s something even more effective: embed a tweet-able snippet of your content directly in your post.

Embedding tweet-able snippets into your blog posts is a great way to snag more traffic. (Tweet this now! [go ahead – try it for research’s sake])

This tactic makes it fun and super easy for your readers to share some of the best nuggets of wisdom from your posts with their Twitter audience.

#2 – Mention social influencers

Quoting other people helps you back up your point and make your post more credible, but it can also help you drive a lot of traffic to your blog. Why struggle to get more people to notice your content when people with HUGE audiences are perfectly willing to share it for you?

Brian Dean of @Backlinko put it like this:

“Instead of sharing your content on social media (and hoping an influencer notices it), you put your content directly in front of the movers and shakers in your niche.”

So how do you put this to work for your own blog? First, you’ll need to do a little digging and find blog posts, tweets, or other social updates addressing the same (or similar topic) as your blog post. You’re looking to find stuff written by influencers, or people with large social audiences. Once you find a snippet that is authored by someone influential AND that backs up the point you’re trying to make with your blog post, simply paste it into your content. Of course, make sure to add obvious attribution (including a link to that influencer’s social profile or website).

The final step is letting that person know you loved their ideas so much, you featured them in your blog post. Send them a tweet or an email giving them a heads up, and include a link to your post. If they like what you wrote and think it will benefit their audience, they are likely to share it. Which equals a ton of fresh exposure for you.

#3 – Get on board with Google Authorship

Did you know you can get your Google+ profile linked directly to all the content you publish on the web? If you’ve noticed those little author photos next to some of the search results on Google, then you know what I’m talking about:


Glen Long from BoostBlogTraffic.com laid out the traffic-boosting benefits of claiming your Google Authorship like this:

1- You get higher click through rates due to the “rich snippets” Google displays next to your search result. Things like your photo, a link to your Google+ profile, and the amount of people in your Google+ circles helps you stand out.

2 – You can get more traffic to your other content because Google displays multiple links to your Google+ profile, and on your Google+ profile they can see your latest updates and links to your other recent blog posts.

3- You’ll have a shot a much better search rankings when, as speculated, Google starts using Authorship to influence search results.

If you want to learn absolutely everything you need to know about Google Authorship, you should check out the rest of Glen’s advice in his Complete Guide to Google Authorship.

Let’s hear your ideas

Do you have an effective and little-used method for getting blog posts circulating around the web and pulling traffic back to your site? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

If you found this post helpful, you should seriously consider grabbing your spot on our Insider Emails list. We share all sorts of helpful marketing advice in weekly, bite-sized nuggets. Plus, it’s free (a free way to improve your business? How can you say no?).

And as always, if you liked this post – be sure to share it on your favorite social network (handy buttons provided on your left).

Now You Can Have a Business-Building Blog Without Over Committing

You’d love to have a blog that pulled in new leads and website traffic everyday, wouldn’t you?

You’d love to have a blog that supercharged your social media presence. A blog that got attention from industry influencers. A blog that showcased your irresistible brand for all the right people to see.

But let’s be realistic, please. You just don’t have the time. You’re running a business. That means you already have a to-do list with items squeezed into the margins because you ran out of room and a schedule that keeps you occupied (read: hair-on-fire busy) from open til’ close.

Blogging just isn’t for you. It can’t be. It’s too big of a commitment.

I hope you picked up on my subtle sarcasm at the end – but there’s really no way to be sure of that over the internet. So let me clarify that if what’s written above sounds a lot like a conversation you’ve had with yourself: you’re wrong.

A business-building, client-snagging blog can be a part of your marketing plan, and it doesn’t have to mean tacking on hours of extra work to your daily schedule.

With the right tools and a savvy plan, you can fit blogging into your schedule without breaking (too much) of a sweat. Plus, with a great blogging plan in place, you could drop some of the less effective marketing activities you’ve already packed into your schedule (like chasing after stale leads or banging your head against the desk trying to figure out where your next client will come from).

Why you don’t need a ton of spare time to blog

It used to be that if you were going to blog, you had to publish fresh stuff every day or at least several times a week.

Some people have toned that down a bit and deemed it acceptable to update things once a week. In fact, the once-a-week model is very popular among business blogs and it’s the schedule I use here on my blog.

But here’s a dirty little secret: you do not have to publish a new post every day or every week to be successful.

To be honest, if you’re just starting out with blogging, you really shouldn’t be publishing content that often.

When you start a blog, you don’t have a lot of traction yet. You might have some friends who will read every post, and you might even have a healthy social media following that will come check things out. But generally speaking, new blogs don’t get much attention. So publishing new content week after week means you’re working your butt off and no one even knows it.

So I’m giving you permission (not that you actually needed it) to slowwww down. If you think you can commit to writing a new blog post twice – or even once – a month, that’s plenty. Take your time writing something really great, and then use the rest of your time to promote it so people actually get the chance to read what you’ve put out there.

You don’t have to stay at this slow pace forever. Two things will likely happen. 1) people will start to discover and share your blog, which means you’ll build an audience which merits more content, if you decide to give it to them and 2) you’ll get the hang of this blogging thing. It won’t feel so overwhelming. You’ll have had time to practice and find your rhythm. You will probably find that it won’t take you nearly as long to write a blog post anymore.

My secret weapon for taking the stress out of blogging

After you’ve relieved yourself of the pressure to publish content to your blog ALL THE TIME, you still need one more trick up your sleeve before you are fully prepared to take on blogging for business.

And that, my friend, is an editorial calendar.

I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting. In my mind, when I dropped the words “editorial calendar” a symphony played and people cheered in the background, because that’s how incredible I think this thing is. But to you…an editorial calendar probably just sounds…well, boring.

But get ready to change your mind. Because if you want to tackle blogging – or any content marketing activity: social media, guest posting, email marketing, etc. – an editorial calendar is going to make your life so much happier and so much simpler.

Your calendar will be your plan. It will take the guess work out of blogging. It will keep you on track so you don’t fall behind. It will remove all stress when you sit down to work one morning and think “crap, I was supposed to publish a blog post today. What in the world do I write about?”

So here’s what you need to do: dedicate a calendar to your blogging (and other content marketing activities, if you have them). You can use a paper calendar or a Google calendar (like me). Sit down and plan out when you are going to write each post for the next 6 months and what you are going to write about (we’ll talk about coming up with ideas in a minute). Write out a title or short description for each post in the date box that corresponds with when you plan to publish it.

If you are on a roll and want to plan past 6 months – go for it. If you’re thinking “yeah right, I’ll never even be able to make it to 6 months worth of post ideas,” calm down. It isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. Now that I’ve been using an editorial calendar for a while, it only takes me 20 minutes to plan out half a year’s worth of content.

How to fill you calendar with ideas – effortlessly

Ideas. There everywhere but somehow manage to elude us when we need them most: when we want to write a blog post.

Idea generation, just like blogging and editorial-calendar-planning, gets a lot easier with practice. To get you started, here’s a list of my favorite (and I like to think fail-proof) ways to come up with great topics to write about.

  • Read other blogs. I get the huge majority of my inspiration from reading other blogs, both within and outside of my topic. What questions did that blog post leave unanswered? What different opinion could you add to the topic? What spin could you put on it?
  • Hang out on Twitter. People are asking questions on Twitter all the time. Could you answer them with a blog post?
  • Cash in a trends. What things, people, or events are popular right now? Could you connect them with your topic and write a blog post about it?
  • FAQ’s. I get the same questions over and over again, and you probably get a lot of common questions to. Turn them into inspiration for blog posts.
  • Read books. This works a lot like tip #1.
  • Ask people. Sometimes, I just go right out and ask people “what would you love to read about on my blog?
  • Interview someone. When I really don’t know what to say, I let someone else say it for me. Plus, interviewing other smart people brings a new angle to your content.

Let’s get this show on the road

I hear the phrase “blogging isn’t for everyone” all the time. I’ve even given out that advice myself many times. But I’m beginning to reform my opinion. While there are some reasons why blogging wouldn’t be the right move for your business – such as not being able to publish quality content or any of the other blunders I outline here – I honestly believe that  every committed business owner can avoid making these mistakes.

Blogging has turned into the central mouthpiece for brands – it’s even important for social networking. It gives you a place to establish your voice, your mission, and your offering. If you’re building a business on the web, you need a place to establish who you are as a brand and a blog (attached to your branded website) is such a natural, effective place to do it.

Convinced? Here are you next action steps to get started with (or reboot) your blogging plan:

  1. If you don’t already have a blogging function on your website, get one set up ASAP. This is super easy if you’re using WordPress. If you’re not, contact your webmaster for details.
  2. Create your editorial calendar and fill it with scheduled posts for the next 3-6 months (remember, you can spread your posts out as much as once a week, twice a month, or even once a month if that is what makes sense for your schedule).
  3. Start writing! Get a jump on your first post – you’ll probably feel more confident if you’re not scrambling to write it at the last minute.

This Exercise Will Make Your Business More Profitable, More Marketable + More Fun

Perfect Customer Profile

Question: how much easier would your life be if you knew exactly what to say in your marketing materials?  If you knew what topics to blog about in order to bring in new subscribers and customers?

How much more fun would it be to market your business if the people you were trying to reach couldn’t wait to hear from you?

How big of a thrill would you get if, instead of sending your message out to the world and receiving only silence in return, people started coming to you — seemingly out of nowhere — telling you how much they love your business?

Now, if I told you that you could make all of those things start happening for your business and all you had to do was complete the exercise outlined in this post, would you say yes?

 It all comes down to this…

In order to create effective marketing (you know, the kind that yields real results — as in new customers and more money), you have to know who you are marketing to.

And the ‘who’ cannot — and I mean absolutely cannot — be “everyone”.

I know what you’re thinking: the more people you market to, the more potential customers you could snag. The bigger the target, the more likely you are to hit it, right?

Wrong.  It works pretty much the opposite way when it comes to marketing.

You need to have a clearly and specifically defined target market — a unique group of people that fit your business perfectly. The broader your target market, the harder it becomes to create messages, products, services, and customer experiences that will appeal to them.

If you are trying to talk to everyone, you’ll end up getting the attention of no one.

A lot of business owners are hesitant to define their perfect customer and market only to them, because they are afraid of loosing potential business from the people outside of that profile.

I’ll be completely honest with you: that will probably happen.

People who don’t fit your perfect customer profile will be less likely to buy from you. After all, you won’t be trying to appeal to their needs and preferences in your marketing or branding.  But when people outside of your target group stop pursuing your business, that’s a really good thing.  It means your marketing messages are clear and effective.  It means you won’t be wasting time with people who really aren’t a good fit for your company. Instead, you’ll be attracting the type of person who will make your business more profitable and significantly more enjoyable. You will be working with the people whom you can serve best.

Even though you will be narrowing down your group of prospects, you will be increasing (big time) your chance of turning those prospects into paying, adoring customers.

Ready to get started? The rest of this post will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating your own perfect customer profile.  You’ll have to challenge yourself a little to get this information down on paper, but I promise it will be worth it.

Create your perfect customer profile

By the time you’ve answered the questions below, you’ll have a clear picture of your ideal client or customer. In fact, you’ll have more than a clear picture: you will feel as if you know your perfect customer personally. As if they are a living, breathing person whom you could sit down and share a cup of coffee with, instead of some abstract “target market”.

Challenge: answer the following questions for your perfect customer AND your worst customer. Part of targeting the right people means knowing who you shouldn’t be talking to.

Ready to meet the person who is going to make your business more profitable, marketable, and heaps more fun?

Statistics and Demographics:

Name your perfect (and worst) client/customer:

How old is she?

Where does she work?

What’s her income bracket?

How much education has she completed?

Where does she live?

Inner Insights:

What keeps her up at night?

What does she value most in life?

What are her top 3 goals?

What stresses her out?

What are her biggest fears and concerns?

When is she the happiest?

What are her pet peeves?

Behavioral Patterns:

What are her spending habits like?

What are her favorite things to do?

Has she ever purchased from your businesses before (repeat customer or new customer)?

What websites or blogs does she frequent?

How does she like to get her information (do research online, ask a friend, read reviews, etc.)?

Pulling it all together

So you’ve gotten all this information out of your head and down on paper. Now what? Well, now you have a very powerful framework around which you can shape almost every aspect of your business: your marketing, products, services, and client/customer experience.

No more guessing what your audience would love to read about on your blog.  No more raking your brain for an effective marketing message. No more second guessing what you should put in your website copy.

Now that you know all about your perfect customer, all you have to do it talk to her (or him). Talk about her problems, dreams, and preferences. Show her how your business can help her achieve her goals and make her life better or easier. Line your business up with what you know will appeal to that specific person and — almost like magic — things start falling into place.

Make this happen: I know what a lot of you are probably thinking: this sounds good and all, but it also sounds like a lot of work. If you think you’ll come back and do this exercise later, you won’t. You need to put in a little effort now in order to see huge returns later.

So here’s the deal: anyone who completes the profile questions above to their best ability and pastes them into the comments below will receive a FREE digital brainstorming session with me to help you apply your perfect customer profile to your marketing and your business. We can talk about creating effective marketing messages, shaping your website copy to attract a bigger audience, what to blog about, or any other questions you have.

And, go.

How Your Bios Can Change Your Business

How Your Bios Can Change Your Business

I have a confession to make.  Even though I write copy for a living and love creating content for other people, I actually hated writing the copy for my own website.

When I would write articles and guest posts on other blogs, I would dread the part where I had to craft the two sentence bio that gets stuck at the end of my published pieces.

I re-wrote my About page somewhere between eleven and seventeen times before I first published it to my website.

Writing about yourself is hard.  I’m telling you this because I want you to know you’re not the only one who gets a little nauseous when it comes to crafting “about me” copy.  Even writers sometimes hate writing about themselves.

But your bios are important.

Not important like remembering to Tivo NCIS important.  But important like getting customers for your business important.

So I knew there had to be a way to blast past self-composition intimidation and create truly remarkable bios for our businesses.

If you’re holding back when it comes to your online bios, read on to discover why getting good at talking about yourself is vital and how it can dramatically improve your business.

How great bios can change your business

First, the process of creating a great bio can be an enlightening experience. You’ll be forced to get specific about what makes you and your business unique — what personality traits you want to emphasize — and what your brand is really all about.  Having this kind of clarity will improve your company. A lot.

Second, having spot-on bios that really encompass everything your business is about will help you attract ideal clients.  You know, those people that absolutely love you and what you do and are a complete joy to work with.  The type of customer who makes you super glad you are in business for yourself.

Bringing out your personality

You are at the center of your business.  You are what makes your company different than your competitors, and you’re what creates that irresistible brand that people want to be a part of.

Which means I have to let you in on some tough love: if your bios are full of industry buzzwords, stiff, ‘professional’ phrases, and 3rd-person composition, you’re doing this business biography thing all wrong.

Bios that only talk about previously held positions, degrees earned, and 5-year outlooks are just wasting space.  When was the last time you read a bio like that and were actually interested?

Your business bios (whether on your website, at the bottom of a guest post, or on your social media accounts) are meant to show your audience who you are and why they should pay attention to you.

Business bios are effective when they showcase your personality and unique abilities, and let people in on how those traits can benefit them in a big way.

Bios that sound stiff and corporate are hurting your brand.  Your bios should be fun, personality-rich, and as unique as you are.

Getting ‘in’ with the right crowd

We all want amazing clients for our businesses, right? Did you know that your bios (as well as the rest of your copy) can have a huge impact on the type of customer you attract?

You might feel like having broad, generic copy will make sure you don’t alienate any potential clients. But the truth is, you should be leaving some people out. You can’t be perfect for everyone. If you try to be, you won’t end up being perfect for anyone.

Business bios that are full of personality and talk to a specific set of people will help your business grow.

Think about this:  how much more would you enjoy your business if you only worked with the type of people who understood the importance of what you do and sell. People who really “clicked” with the way you think and work?  How much more successful and rewarding could your business be if you focused your energy on serving people that are truly a good fit for you, instead of trying to please everyone?

Being fearless

Talking about yourself honestly on the web can be intimidating.

Here are some of the thoughts that used to run through my head: “What if people think I’m a big joke?”,  “What if I offend someone?”, “What if my customers disagree with me?”, “What if I scare some prospects off?”.

The answer that I’ve found to all of these questions is: So what?

One of the biggest benefits of being an entrepreneur is that you are given the freedom to be yourself and run your business according to your own standards.

But what I found to be even more encouraging was the fact that having some people disagree with me and scaring some prospects off was a good thing.

Those people weren’t a good fit.  That means I have more room for (and more chance of attracting) the type of people that are a good match for my business.

Let’s start a boring bio rebellion.  If you’re ready to gear up your business bios but aren’t sure where to start or don’t feel you have the time, check out my Business Bio Bundle (created specifically for ambitious entrepreneurs looking to show some personality).

Starting a Blog 101

blogging 101

Blogging isn’t for everyone.  Actually, it’s very possible that blogging isn’t for you.

Before we talk about business blogging ‘how-to’ advice, you need to decide whether or not it’s realistic for you to start a blog in the first place.

I say this because, if not done properly, a blog can actually hurt your business.  And with so many viable content marketing avenues, it just isn’t worth the risk if you don’t think you can do blogging justice.

How can a bad blog tarnish your online rep?  A blog with any of the following characteristics can make a business seem sloppy, unprofessional, disengaged, and even irrelevant:

  • Sporadic, infrequent updates: a blog that sits around without any new content for weeks and months on end sends a bad message.
  • The wrong content: if your blog isn’t publishing content that is meaningful and applicable to your audience, than you might as well not be publishing any content at all.
  • Poorly written posts: bad grammar, poor spelling, and awkward writing will damage your professional perception.
  • Reader neglect: ignoring reader comments, questions, and complaints sends the message that you don’t care about your readers and, by extension, your customers.

Before you dive into blogging, you need to ask yourself if you have the time and motivation to tackle the project.  If you’re lacking in either, you have two options: a) hire someone to help you set up and maintain your blog or b) skip blogging, and focus on other content marketing activities that fit your business and resources better.

Still with me? Great!  Blogging can be a tremendous opportunity to build recognition and exposure for your business.  Here’s the primer you’ll need to get started (and don’t forget to check out the resources I’ve linked to along the way).

Setting up your blog

should your blog be on your business website, or separate? Where should you host your blog? What about design?  The technical side to setting up a blog can seem daunting, but it’s really not that complicated.

For purposes of marketing your business with your blog, I would first suggest that you keep you blog a part of your current business website.  This will help create a unified brand, and it will also make setting up your blog easier (you won’t have to register a new domain or find hosting, for example).Here’s an article that will show you how to add a blog to your existing website if you’re using WordPress.

What about design? If you put your blog right on your business website, you’ll probably want the blog’s design to match your website’s design.  If you’re using WordPress, this will happen automatically.  There are certain elements you may need to tweak just for the blog, such as your side bar, your image placement, or your headline fonts and size.Here’s a great article on how to design your blog for the best results. Here’s another one.

Setting Realistic Goals

What are you hoping your blog will do for your business?

Goal setting isn’t one of my favorite topics.  Mostly because it often seems like a waste of time.  A “trendy” activity everyone tells you to do. I’m more a fan of diving in and getting things done.

But goal setting can be extremely helpful when done correctly.  I’m talking practical outcomes and achievable steps.

Why is it so important to set goals for your blog? Because without goals, you’ll have a hard time creating the right content or making appropriate decisions for your blog.  Without a goal, you won’t have a solid plan.

So take the time right away to decide:

  • What business result(s) you want your blog to achieve
  • Where you want your blog to be in 3, 6, and 12 months from now

Check out these great articles on setting goals:

How to Set Blogging Goals You Can Actually Achieve

Easy Goal Setting for Your New Blog

6 Characteristics of Effective Goal Setting

Focusing Your Content

Now for the best part: planning your content.  This is the most crucial step, because without targeted, purposeful content, your blog won’t get very far.

To focus in on your own content plan, answer these questions:

  1. Who are my readers? Write down as much detail about your readers as possible.  Your readers are, of course, your prospects and customer/clients, so you probably already know a good deal about them.
  2. What Are My Reader’s Biggest Problems? What issues do they face and need help solving? What do they stress about? What sort of solutions are they seeking?

Once you know who you’re writing for and what issues they face, planning your content will get a lot easier.

How will you know what to write about? Create blog posts that address and help solve your readers problems. It’s as simple as that.  When you come up with a topic idea, evaluate it against the two questions you answered above.  Does it line up with who your readers are?  Will it help them solve one of their problems?These articles will help you define your audience and create content they will love:

3 Ways to Align Your Blog Content with Your Target Audience

7 Questions for Defining Your Target Audience

6 Steps to Focusing Your Blog Content

Engaging Readers

Engagement is very important to the health of any blog.  In a sense, by blogging you are creating a community for your readers and your prospects, and any good community needs interaction.

Engagement also helps you create long-term relationships with your readers (a very good thing).

Here’s what blog engagement can look like on a practical level:

  • Asking your readers questions in your blog posts
  • Replying to comments (all of them!)
  • Hosting contests on your blog
  • Asking your readers to weigh in with their opinion
  • Answering your readers questions on the blog
  • Mentioning readers in your content

Interacting with your readers can take your blog to a whole new level of value.  People really want to know the person behind the content, and they love to know that you’re listening and striving to create content that is exactly what they are looking for.

Interaction won’t happen over night.  Especially if you don’t have a lot of traffic yet, you’ll need to be patient while waiting for those first comments to start trickling in.  But even if you don’t have much action now, always encourage it by asking questions and being open to feedback right from the start.Want to learn more about engaging your blog readers? Read these…

How to Increase Engagement With Your Audience

How to Engage Your Readers and Build a Successful Blog

How to Run a Successful Competition on Your Blog

31 Proven Ways to Get More Comments on Your Blog

Getting Traffic

What’s a blog without traffic? Not very useful, I would say.

“Getting Traffic” is a hot topic.  There are all sorts of ways (some legit, others a little sleazy) to drive people to your blog. In fact, there are countless blogs dedicated to this very subject.

I don’t want you to get overwhelmed with traffic strategies.  Let’s keep it simple.

First of all, the best thing you can do to grow your blog is to keep publishing remarkable content and engaging with your readers.  This might not get you a thousand new visitors by tomorrow, but it will certainly set you up for long-term success.  Never forgo quality for the sake of traffic (in case you’re actually wondering why: lots of traffic doesn’t necessarily mean good things for your blog or business.  The wrong traffic won’t mean anything to your success).

Next, here are my three favorite methods for expanding your audience:

  • Promote your content on social media: if you want people to share your stuff, you need to get it out there on all your social profiles.  In addition to promoting your content on your own profiles, add social sharing buttons to your blog so readers can share it on their profiles, too.
  • Guest Blog: this is a phenomenal way to get in front of a new audience and attract new readers to head back to your blog.  In addition to expanding your audience, you’ll build SEO power (through links), authority in your niche, and relationships with other bloggers.  These are all very valuable things for your blog and your business.
  • Publish Interviews: I love interviewing other people in my industry, and publishing it on my blog.  It’s a great way to switch up the same-old-same-old blog posts, and you get the bonus of bringing in a new point of view and added expertise for your readers.  As far as helping you gain traffic, interviews go over great with people and are likely to be shared. And even better, if you interview someone with a large audience, your interview has a great chance of being promoted to a lot of people.

Learn more about getting traffic to your blog:

Top 10 Ways to Get The Traffic You Crave

10 Killer Ways to Drive Huge Traffic to Your Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging

How to Find Readers For Your Blog

Do you have some more blogging 101 questions? Ask them in the comments below, I’m happy to help.

How to Take Your Website Copy from Dull to Delightful

Website Copy

Successful websites have something in common: they all put remarkable copy to work.

Your website is really only as good as it’s copy.  Things like design and functionality usually take the spotlight in website creation.  It kind of makes sense: the design is what your visitor will notice right away.  It will make the first impression.  But if you don’t have solid website content to back up a good design, you’re going to lose out.

Design might pull a visitor in, but the copy is what convinces them to stay.

Check out this website. And this one. Both have classy designs, but they both also feature compelling copy.

If your website is a little neglected in the copy area, don’t despair.  With a little tweaking, you can begin to shape up your content and impress your visitors.

Write good headlines

When most people think of headlines, they think of articles and blog posts.  But headlines are very important on your website, too.  A powerful headline will tell a visitor if they are in the right place and if it’s worth their time to stick around.

If you’re not using any headlines on your website, you might be sending visitors away without even realizing it.

Why? Because we are an impatient bunch.  When we land on a website, we want to know within a moment if that site has what we’re looking for. We want something to tell us “it’s a good thing you’re here, we have just what you need”.

If we have to wade through paragraphs of text just to find out if we’re in the right spot, we usually get discouraged — or worse — completely annoyed.

Headlines solve all of this by taking center stage, grabbing attention, and communicating the important information in quick, compelling fashion.

Check out this article for some great tips on writing headlines that work.

Use reader-friendly formatting

Great websites are easy to get through.  It shouldn’t be time consuming to find the information we need on a page, and if it is, that website loses major points.

How can you make your website copy reader-friendly?  It isn’t hard at all.  Simply write your copy so people can scan it instead of read it.

Don’t get me wrong: people will still read your website copy.  But they are only going to read the parts that interest them or are relevant to what they need at that moment.  There are parts of your website copy that some visitors don’t need or care to read.  Make it easy for them to skip over these parts and it’s much more likely that they will make it to the information they do want.  Score for you.

Here are popular & effective ways to create “scanable” copy:

  • White space: don’t clog up your pages with huge chunks of text.  That say to a visitor “There’s a lot to read here.  It’s going to take forever.  Maybe you should come back when you have at least an hour to spare”. Break your copy up into short pieces with lots of pretty white space in between.
  • Bold text: make the important points stand out by using bold text.  This way, if someone quickly scans your copy, they’ll still get the jest of it.
  • Bullet & number lists: people love lists.  Lists are the super-easy, organized way to sum up main points. They are easy to read and stand out from the rest of your copy, making them more likely to get read.

Create the right tone

Have you put much thought into how you sound online? Think about how you talk in real life: are you a fast-chatter, or slow and contemplative? Do you talk with lots of excitement (think: plenty of exclamation marks), or are you more the few-but-powerful-words type? Now, think of your communication style in terms of your website content: this is the tone of your copy.  Of course, the tone of your website copy doesn’t have to be the same as your in-person tone, but it helps to think of your copy in terms of talking.

You want to avoid, at all costs, the boring, completely personality-void tone.  The kind that sounds “corporate” or “neutral”.

People aren’t going to connect with a corporation, they are going to connect with a person.  So put some personality into your copy.

After you’ve pinned down the right tone, you’ll want to keep things consistent. Make sure that your tone carries through your entire website — and all your other online marketing outposts for that matter (like social media and email marketing).

What’s in it for them?

This is a biggy. A lot of websites miss the mark and incorrectly assume that when people come to their website, they want to read all about their business. Wrong.  People actually want to hear all about themselves.

Your visitor wants to read about how well you understand them, that you know where they’re at and what they need.  They want to know that you have their solution.

Your website copy has to be customer-focused, not you-focused.  Present your information in a way that conveys benefits and value for your visitor. Above all else, always tell your visitor exactly what’s in it for them.

Lay out the next step

After you’ve worked really hard to spruce up your website copy, made sure your visitor felt loved, and convinced everyone that you sell the best produce/service in this (and possibly every other) time zone, you definitely don’t want lose that momentum.

You need to give your visitors a call to action. That’s just a buzz word for “tell them what you want them to do next”. A lot of people leave this out because they don’t understand that they actually need to ask visitors to take the next step.  The next step is obvious, isn’t it? Not necessarily. And like we talked about earlier, your visitors are impatient and they might not have the time to figure out how to take the best advantage of what you offer.

So, you need to tell them.

It’s usually just a simple button, link, or sentence.  “Click here to request more info.” “Call 1-800-awesome for a free sample” “fill out this form for a quote” “sign up for our newsletter to get more great advice”.

Don’t waste valuable opportunities by leaving undesirable copy laying around on your website.  Use these tips to give your content an instant make-over.  If you implement any of the advice above to improve your copy, feel free to send me a link to your new-and-improved website.  I’d love to take a look.

Design Your Website with Marketing In Mind: Interview with Jess Webb

Website Design with Marketing in Mind

Your website design isn’t just there for looks.  How you design your website will impact the useability and conversion power your website has as well.  Read on to learn how to create a website that looks good AND creates marketing power for your business from design and marketing expert, Jess Webb.

Q: Besides looking professional, what would you say the role of website design is for the small business?

The role of your website design is to represent YOU and your genius online. You can’t be there in person, so the design is essentially the face of you and your business in the online world!

The design should make YOU feel great about how you look online and confident about being visible in the online community. It should also reflect you and your personality, so that it will attract people who are the right fit to work with you.

Q: How can you tell if your website is designed with marketing in mind, or if it just looks good on the surface?

The biggest way to tell is to look for two things:

1) is your website building your list with an irresistible free offer that your ideal clients want?

One of the main jobs of your website is to build your email list, so that you get visitors into your community and can then build a relationship with them.

The best way to do this is with a juicy, irresistible free gift. It must be something that your ideal clients WANT, and it’s a great opportunity to give them a taste of what you have to offer. You want them to see your gift and think, “YES! I need that”, and then once they experience your free gift you want them to think, “If this was soooo good and helpful for me, and it’s FREE, how much more awesome must it be to work with her?”

2) is it clear and obvious what the next step is when your ideal client comes to your website?

You need to clearly identify the next step with a clear call to action. For most websites, the next step is to sign up for your irresistible free gift, so you want that offer and the signup box to be the most obvious thing on the page. Make it super easy for them to say yes and signup! Make it the OBVIOUS next step, a no-brainer.

If your gift signup is hidden away down near the bottom of your site, or on another page, then it won’t do you any good and you probably won’t get great results from your website. Make it obvious and easy to see and sign up!

This also goes for things other than just your free gift sign up. If you have a page selling your programs or services, make it really obvious what the next step is to invest with you. Have a big, catchy “Buy Now” button, or if the next step is to get on the phone with you for a consultation, then make it obvious that that’s what they need to do.

Or if you’re writing a blog post for your site, tell people to comment or share it. Make the next step clear for them.

Q: What would you say are the three most crucial components of a successful small business website?

1)    The irresistible free gift that builds your email list and is the most obvious, clear call to action

2)    Making it all about them, your ideal client, and how you can help them get the results they want (instead of all about you)

3)    Publishing regular content on your website, and then re-publishing it across your other online channels (social media, email, video, etc.) so that you stay top of mind and keep building relationships with your community

Q: What is the most common mistake you see on small business websites?

– Having no free gift opt-in, or (almost worse) the sign up just says “Join my list” or “Subscribe to my newsletter”

If you don’t have a free gift at all, you’re missing out and you’re not giving potential clients an easy way to learn more about you and see if they like what you’re up to! And if you’re just asking them to join your email list or subscribe to your newsletter, then you’re not making it all about them or offering them something that they are interested in. It has to be about them and give them something of value that will help solve their problem and get the results they want. That’s all they care about, and if you’re not focused on what they want and meeting them there, they aren’t even going to give you a second click!

The free gift is really what turns one-time visitors, into subscribers and members of your community, into paying clients. This is the key piece to really get long-term results from your website!

Q: In your opinion, what sort of marketing outcomes can small business owners realistically expect from their websites?

Frankly, it depends on how much you’re willing to put into it. If your website is set up smart, with a free gift to build your email list, clear obvious next steps, and all about your ideal client, then it’s going to do a great job with the people who come to your site.

But if there aren’t many people coming to your site, even if it’s converting ALL of them to subscribers it’s still not going to do much for building your business.

Your website needs to be an integral part of your regular, ongoing marketing and that’s what’s really going to get you good results. If you’re regularly sending people to your site to read a great blog article, to sign up for your free gift, or to see your newest project, then you’re going to get much better results because you’ll have more people going there and it can serve as the online hub for your business and marketing.

So if you’re ready and willing to make your website a regular part of your marketing strategy and activities, then it will get you great results! Some of the outcomes you can expect when you incorporate your website as a regular part of your marketing campaigns are:

 1) building your email list, adding hundreds of new people to your online community in the course of a few months or a year,

2) new clients, who found you online, loved your free gift and are now ready to work with you and

3) opportunities for speaking and joint venture partnerships with others who are serving your target marketing.

And ultimately, your website can help you take your whole business online, so that all of your clients and income come to you through the internet. I’ve done it myself, and many of my clients are doing it as well.

Here’s how to find the write help when it comes to your website:

Most web designers and developers don’t understand marketing, let alone how to do it smart to actually get results! If you’re going to work with someone like that, then you really need to understand marketing and how to do it, so that you can direct your web designer. Most business owners, however, aren’t marketing experts and won’t be able to direct their team in that way, so you’ll need to find a web person who gets marketing and can help you set up your website right so it will really get you results.

When interviewing potential designers/developers, ask them how they will help you get the specific results you want. Ask them point blank, “How can you make sure my website will build my email list?” or “How will we make sure my website will get me clients?” Their answer will likely tell you a lot about how much they really know and understand about marketing.

You can also ask around to find someone who’s great with web design AND gets marketing. Look at people you follow online who are really rocking it, building their online community and making things happen. Ask them who supports them with their website, or who they would recommend. If you’re in online communities like Facebook groups or business forums, ask for recommendations there.

And finally, learn more about smart website marketing yourself so that you can understand for yourself at least the core basics, and that will make it easier to recognize when someone knows what they are talking about and understands how to build a marketing-smart website.

About Jess:

Jess is designs irresistible websites and online marketing for women entrepreneurs destined for 6-figures and beyond. She combines done-for-you design services with marketing strategy to help her clients not just have a beautiful online presence, but one that really WORKS for them and grows their business. To learn more, go grab your free gift, the 6-Figure Website Starter Kit, over at www.jesswebb.com.

Better Website in a Week: 5 Days to an Incredible Business Website

When tasks seem overwhelming, we tend to shove them in the corner and ignore them.  We know they really need to be tackled…but there’s always tomorrow, right?

For a lot of small business owners, building or improving their website is one of those tasks.  But, because the quality of your website is SO important to your business, it’s time to stop shoving this one under the rug. 

And to help you check your website off your to-do list – finally – Here’s a 5-day plan to a better business website.

Each day, concentrate on just one aspect of your website.  Before you know it, you’ll have a web space to be proud of – and a business-boosting tool you can take to the bank.

Day #1 – Get With WordPress

For some of you, this step may already be taken care of (you may skip to Day #2).  But for the rest, your first step to a better website is switching to WordPress.  Is it impossible to have a great website without WordPress? No, it’s not.  But there are just so many benefits for the small business owner that I don’t mind saying it’s the best option out there.

WordPress (we’re talking about the self-hosted WordPress.org version, not the free wordpress.com version) gives you complete control over your website – including the design, content, and updates.  And the best part is this: you don’t need to know how to work with any code or highly technical stuff.  Almost anyone, regardless of computer savvy, can create a great website using WordPress.

Top 5 Benefits of Using WordPress:

1: YOU control everything.  No more waiting for your web developer to make your changes or being told where to put things by cookie-cutter website builders.

2: Themes make customizing your website easy.  There are thousands of beautiful free & premium WordPress themes to choose from, so you really can create a website that looks exactly the way you want it.  (By the way, I highly recommend HeadWay theme framework)

3: Plugins allow you to add unlimited functionality to your website without having to mess with any code. From social sharing to content organization, there’s a plugin for just about anything.

4: It’s free.  While you will need to invest a little bit of money for web hosting, a quality theme (and a domain name if you don’t already have one), once you have the basics set up, there’s no more money needed! The WordPress interface is 100% free.

5: It’s the perfect balance between comprehensive and easy-to-use.  You can take your WordPress website as far as you want, but you can also set up a functional and appealing site in as little as a day.

Learn more about setting up your website by reading this comprehensive WordPress guide.

Day #2 – De-clutter & Get Focused

The number one goal of your website should be clarity.   If your pages are cluttered and unfocused, visitors will leave and you won’t gain clients or make sales.  Your website needs to have purpose, and that purpose should be easy to recognize within seconds.

So roll up your sleeves and have an open mind: day #2 is all about cleaning things up and throwing out the clutter.

How do you know what should stay and what should be trashed? We’re going to use the one page, one goal rule to figure that out.

One Page, One Goal:

Each page on your website should have one specific goal. Most of the pages on your website might share the same goal, or maybe each page has a unique goal.  That doesn’t matter as long as each page is focused on one outcome, and each outcome is in line with your business goals.

Let’s take the homepage as an example.  Maybe you run a healthy living coaching business, and your biggest goal for new prospects is to have them join your mailing list. Your front page goal would be to have as many visitors as possible opt-in to your newsletter.

This means that your copy, images, and layout would all support your opt-in offer.If something on your homepage distracts from this goal (such as links to unrelated resources or pictures of the candles you make and sell as a side business), it should be deleted.  You can find a more appropriate home for this content somewhere else on your website, or you may find it shouldn’t be on your website at all.

Day #3 – Construct Your Dream Home(Page)

Your front page is prime real estate on the web.  It’s your showcase, you’re “here’s the best thing about my business” spotlight.  You’ll want to make sure it makes a great first impression.  So on day #3, we’re going to focus on fine-tuning your homepage.

As a side note, it’s important to remember that not all of your visitors will be coming to your website via the homepage.  They may be clicking on a link that brings them to a blog post, or maybe they searched Google and landed on your “About” page.  Because websites are not sequential and visitors could be entering from any page, always keep a cohesive design and provide clear direction to the most important parts of your site.

Here are 10 tips to boost the effectiveness of your home page:

1.     Your home page generally has less than 10 seconds to convince a visitor to stay.  In light of this fact, it’s in your best interest to create elements on your homepage that grab attention.

2.     Your home page isn’t the place for lengthy blocks of text.  If you’re going to put a lot of written content on your homepage, be sure to break it up with white space, bolding, links, and eye-catching headers.

3.     Let your visitors know instantly what they can expect to get out of your website.  Make it obvious who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

4.     Design is important.  People will make a judgment about your website (and by extension, your business) by how professional and appealing your website appears.  Invest in a quality design that looks good, but also has great functionality.

5.     Add a call-to-action to your homepage so your visitors know exactly what they should do next.  It can be anything: signing up for your email newsletter, checking out your “about” page for more information, following you on social media sites, calling for free samples, or purchasing a product.  Whatever you choose make sure that it: a) lines up with your business goals and b) is clear and compelling to your visitors.

6.     Don’t clog up your valuable homepage-space with unnecessary stuff like flash animations that take too long to load, graphics that don’t reinforce your brand, or long-winded text that doesn’t need to be front-and-center.

7.     Give your visitors something of value.  Whether you are in the B2B or B2C market, selling products or services, you want your visitors to turn into customers.  The best way to do this is to offer them something valuable in exchange for the chance to stay in touch with them.  Whatever you offer, make sure it will be appealing and outstandingly helpfulto your target market, and be sure to request basic contact information like and email address so you can stay in contact with them.

8.     Make it short and sweet.  Don’t try to cram a ton of stuff on your homepage.  Remember “One Page, One Goal” from day #2?  Choose what’s most important and feature it on your homepage – then get rid of the rest.  It will only distract your visitors and make your homepage less effective.

9.     Be trustworthy.  Conducting business over the internet can make a lot of consumers nervous.  Try to put their fears to rest as quickly as possible by making your company, and yourself, feel real and reliable.  Place full contact info in plain sight, offer multiple ways to get in touch, feature a photo of yourself (if appropriate for your business), and display customer testimonials and reviews. (If placing this stuff on the homepage distracts from your “Main Goal”, instead put a prominent link directing visitors to a different page for this info.)

10. Spellcheck.  You might think this is way too obvious to include, but it’s easy to miss small spelling and grammar errors – and one slip-up could give your visitors the impression that you aren’t a professional or serious business.  Check over your copy multiple times, and have a friend or co-worker check it for you, also.

Day #4 – Focus on Branding

Today you’ll focus on creating a strong brand throughout your website. 

“Branding” has turned into buzzword on the web, but I like to describe it as simply creating a personality for your business.  By building a brand, you’re displaying what makes you unique – what your business stands for, whether your business is quirky or traditional, loud or understated.  You’ll display your business personality in your website design, the colors you use, they “voice” of your copy, what you talk about on social media, your photos, mission statement, logo, etcetera.  All of this is part of your brand.

Your website needs to present a unified front when it comes to branding.  The colors you use on one page should be incorporated in the next.  The font should stay consistent. The tone and personality behind your copy should be the same throughout.  Logical, right?

In addition to each page of your website, all you other online “outposts” should be consistently branded – such as your Twitter and Facebook profile, your LinkedIn page, and your blog.

Day #5 – Make Conversions Happen

You’ve made it to the last day, and your website is looking great. 

But here’s the catch: none of the brilliant, awesome stuff you’ve done to your site is going to matter if it’s not getting conversions.

Conversions are what make your website valuable to your business.

Some businesses want their visitors to convert into subscribers, whether to newsletter, blog or mailing list.  Others might want visitors to convert into leads by calling for free information, signing up for a consultation, or requesting additional information.  And still others want visitors to convert into customers right on the spot by purchasing a product.

The type of conversions you want to happen all depends on your business and goals.  But whichever outcome you’re looking for, you’ll still need the same basic building blocks in place.

Everything you’ve completed in steps 1-4 helps improve your conversion rates.  One of the best things you can do to impress potential clients and customers is to have an appealing, professional, and easy-to-use website.  

Here are a few more things to keep in mind for better conversions:

Don’t give them too many choices.  If a prospect can’t decide between all the options you offer, they may just leave.  Here’s an example:  If you’re selling a subscription service, and you offer five different price-points and corresponding plans, you’re prospect might not be able to decide.  Some say one option is best.  Others say three is ideal.  You’ll have to decide what works best for your business, but remember that simple is almost always better.

Give them all the info.  Especially if you are selling/promoting a service or something electronic (like an email newsletter), you’ll want to make plenty of information available on your offering.  People aren’t going to convert if they are unclear about what they’re getting into.  Spell out the benefits.  Show them the process. List the components.  You get the idea.

Make a guarantee.  If you’re converting visitors into buyers, offer a money-back guarantee.  If you’re converting visitors into subscribers, offer a privacy and opt-out guarantee. Take away the risk. The idea is to make them feel safe about their decision to buy into your offer. 

Use the thank-you page.  If you’ve gotten a visitor to convert (whether opting-in to a subscription, buying a product, requesting more info, or whatever your goal) create a thank-you page that they will land on afterwards.  This thank-you page is an ideal area to “upsell”.  If a visitor joined your mailing list, on the thank-you page offer a discount to one of your products.  Or, if a visitor signed up for your service, ask them to join your social networks.  If someone has landed on a thank-you page, it means they’ve expressed interest in you and your business – show them how else they can take advantage of what you offer!

There are hundreds of tools, tactics, and methods to improve your small business website.  If you’re on a roll, keep learning and improving!  Use the steps in this guide to prime your website for great business success.

Do you have any website-improvement ideas?  We’d love to hear about them.  Share them in the comments below.  And if you’ve completed the “Better Website in a Week” plan, tell us how it went!