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Social Media Manager Salary

Social Media SalarySo you are stepping into the mainstream marketing world and realizing that your business needs to get serious about social media. The industry itself is so new that there really isn’t a professional background or pay grade to follow in your hiring practices. You would be surprised to learn what professionals in jobs already available are making.

Location has always influenced salary ranges for any positions as costs of living vary in different regions of the country. The other thing that makes salary ranges for social media managers fluctuate is the size and type of company that they go to work for.

New York, New York

It’s no surprise that this city has positions that offer the most for social media management and strategist positions. Jobs range from 46K to over 70K; however, the range brings with it some misleading elements. For instance, will this person only be responsible for managing the company brand on social media accounts, or do positions tend to encompass other branding and marketing related tasks?

California

There are multiple cities in California that have high wages for social media management and strategist related positions. At the low end of the scale for copywriting type positions, entry level people can expect anywhere from 22K to 32K. Beyond that, management and executive positions enjoy ranges of 70K to over 100K.

Boston, Massachusetts

Here is the first city in the list where top salaries of social media executives dip below 100K. Salary ranges for mid-level jobs are in the same ranges as the other top cities before Boston; however, at the low end, the range is much higher from 22-50K.

Washington D.C.

In line with Boston (perhaps related to its proximity and size) is D.C. Salary ranges are similar here to the salaries in Boston. Social media specialists and strategists can expect to make around 42K-56K. Executive positions are also in the high 90s.

citySalaries in other comparable major cities around the U.S. are pretty much in line or close to the major cities named above. There are some key differences in pay rates, though, that are directly related to the types of duties these professionals are expected to have responsibility for.

For instance, if you are walking into a mid-sized company in the Midwest and doing some basic social media presence development and management, don’t expect to clear 50K. In fact, positions where responsibilities are limited to only writing copy or managing accounts tend to pay a lot less than their manager or executive level counterparts.

It isn’t all that uncommon to see businesses meshing social media strategist and oversight in executive positions with people already in traditional marketing roles. In these instances, professionals are taking on a lot more responsibility than just managing the company’s brand online or in a social space. They are also taking on more traditional marketing roles.

too-many-hatsAnother characteristic of many job descriptions that I look at — as well as feedback I get from colleagues — is that no two social media positions seem to be alike. For instance, one company may want to focus on a few social media networks and that’s it.

Conversely, another company may want a social media professional to generate content for and manage a blog on top of managing multiple social networks. Still others may want their people to take on added responsibility outside of only managing social media networks.

Takeaways

If you are actively involved in the social media and web marketing community, none of this is news to you. If you are interested in pursuing a position in a social media related field, it helps to understand that these positions are still finding their footing in the professional world.

Marketing directors and business owners and others looking for folks with these skills are still working on defining the duties that these jobs encompass.

 

What are your salary expectations for social media management? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

The Basics of Webinars: Length, Format, Date, and Recording Options

If you’ve been following our webinar blog series, you’ll know we’ve tackled some crucial aspects of webinar marketing—like whether this tactic is right for your business, how you can benefit from it, how to set realistic goals and objectives, and how to select an audience-pulling topic. We’ve even covered 10 awesome tools for creating and hosting killer webinars.

Today we’re focusing on some of the finer details of webinar development. So, if you’re getting ready to leverage this powerful business tool for the first time, or you simply need a refresher course on webinar basics, follow along as we look at length, format, date, and recording options.

Webinar Length

Webinar LengthOne of the first things you need to consider when planning your webinar is presentation length. While most webinars tend to run between 45 and 60 minutes, there are those that push the 90 minute mark—and beyond in rare cases. The length of your presentation ultimately depends on the scope of your topic and whether you can convey all you need to in a reasonable timeframe. If your topic is too broad, you might want to consider a series of webinars that allow you to provide in-depth information rather than high-level points.

To figure out how much time you’ll need, break down your webinar components into opening remarks, talking points, and a wrap-up, and then assign a time limit to each. A typical webinar usually includes 4-5 minutes for a welcoming message, housekeeping, and presenter introductions; 40-45 minutes for the delivery of the content; and 10-15 minutes for Q&As, action items, and a closing. What you want to be mindful of here is audience engagement and participation. Ensuring your viewers are able to maintain concentration without becoming bored or uncomfortable is key to your success.

Format Options

Webinars can be structured in a number of ways, each with its own set of pros and cons. Popular formats include:

  • Single speaker webinars where one person gives the presentation and answers questions
  • Moderated panel webinars where a moderator facilitates the discussion between guests
  • Interview-style webinars where an interviewer asks expert guests a series of questions
  • Interactive webinars where viewers participate in a variety of activities

Ultimately, you’ll need to determine which format is going to suit your purposes. You’ll also need to take technological requirements and scheduling limitations into account when making your decision.

Date and Time Considerations

Timing is everything, especially if you want great registration and attendance rates. With that said, here are some quick fire tips to help you set the right date and time for your presentation:

  • Consider time zone differences, as well as where the majority of your target audience is based.
  • Since weekends are out, Mondays are for catch-up sessions, and Fridays are for wrapping up last minute business projects, you’re more likely to find success when hosting on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

  • Select a convenient time of day to run your webinar. You want attendance levels and concentration levels at their highest, so you need to determine the time of day that’s best for attendees.

  • Keep special holidays and events in mind. You’ll want to schedule your webinar well in advance, so make sure you choose a date that isn’t going to cause conflict with the schedules of your target audience.

Recording Your Webinar

Webinar Recording OptionsIf you plan to offer On Demand webinars (which you should), you’ll need to ensure you record your presentation and that the recording is of a high quality. The good thing is that most webinar presentation and hosting services offer recording options, as well as the ability to run practice sessions beforehand. Whatever you do, make sure you actually hit the record button when you’re ready to start. Also, consider backup recording software in case things don’t go according to plan.

It’s often the little details first time webinar marketers forget. Have you remembered to take length, dates, times, formats, and recording options into account? Perhaps you’ve forgotten one of these details in the past and now have a story to share. You know where to leave your comments…

A Basic Guide to Lead Nurturing

lead-nurturingSometimes it’s possible to complete the whole buying process online. A visitor sees an ad or a link and follows it, completes some action and then ends up buying from you. These sorts of transactions typically happen with smaller ticket items with short sales cycles and low education thresholds for buying.

More commonly, online marketing involves the generation of leads using some sort of conversion funnel. This could be as simple as an ad + landing page or it could involve an inbound marketing offer where users are trading information in exchange for some sort of content or access to services. In these cases, business owners are able to generate leads that need to be nurtured in order to convert to being buyers.

Lead nurturing is an important aspect to understand when it comes to inbound marketing. We often can’t get people to buy with just one touch online. They need to have multiple touches in order to be led into making a purchase decision. Of course, not all of them will buy, but if you can remain top-of-mind and steer them where you want them to go, you will be able to convert a larger proportion of the leads you gather.

principlesPrinciples of Lead Nurturing

At its most elemental level, lead nurturing is the process of delivering highly educational and relevant content over time to people who have already expressed an interest in your organization. You should maintain a certain framework while delivering content to your prospects:

  1. Relevance
    Deliver content that is relevant to areas of your organization, products, services or other content they’ve already expressed an interest in. For example, if they have downloaded an eBook about how to write a resume, sending emails with links to eBooks on how to build an effective LinkedIn profile would be appropriate.
  2. Timeliness
    Stay on top of your leads. If they give information to your company for some reason and you don’t follow up with them for weeks, they may have moved on. There may not be a hard rule here; however, if someone has downloaded content from you, follow up within a week with emails, social posts, or other communication representing first steps in the lead nurturing process.
  3. Progress
    Each touch you have with your prospect should nudge them further in a direction to making a purchase from your business. This is the entire reason you are communicating with them in the first place. The direction you push them in and what you ask them to do will vary based on what it is you are trying to get them to buy. In theory, all of the content on your site that they have access to download is in some way (or should be) related to your services or products. If your campaign is designed to increase sales of a specific service then nudge them in the direction of buying that. Send them information or offers related to those services.
  4. Tracking
    Google AnalyticsYes good old tracking should always be a part of what you are doing.  Measure each time you send out communication to see how your messaging is received.  Do people click on your links? Do they come to your website if that is the goal? Do they open your emails or, in general, do they perform the tasks you have outlined for them? By measuring your activities, you can see what worked and what didn’t. You can try new things that may push you in the direction of having success with your lead nurturing campaigns.

Forms of Lead Nurturing

You could accomplish pretty much any sales or business related goal with a lead nurturing campaign, but there are some common ones to get you going if you are just starting with this.

webinars raise brand awarenessBrand Awareness Campaigns

This type of lead nurturing gets prospects introduced to who your company is and what the mission is. This might be news related content or items from your blog. It could be a newsletter. People in these contact databases should not be leads who have expressed specific interest in a particular product or service. Instead, they may have entered your system under more general circumstances. Maybe you purchased a list somewhere or have a general signup form on your website.

Incoming or “Hot” Lead Campaigns

These are leads you may have gained through some sort of specialized conversion funnel or inbound marketing offer. For instance, you may have generated a list from offering an eBook on a specific topic, or maybe a prospect filled out an online quote request form.

These prospects should be sent messaging that helps push them down the line to purchasing relevant products and/or services. You would start by sending them communications on similar content they may find valuable and then a “soft-sell” email where you prompt them to make a purchase decision.

Naturally, if you have a goal in mind for what you want people to do, go for it. Lead nurturing is about having a conversation of sorts. Leads are people, and they have already taken the first step of initiating contact with a company. You can keep the conversation going by sending timely, relevant and interesting communications and content their way in an effort to push them closer to becoming a full-fledged customer.

 

What lead nurturing strategies do you use? Join the conversation by commenting below.

Why Your Business Needs To Start Social Media Brand Monitoring TODAY

You’ve heard the horror stories.

Applebee’s, McDonalds, and Amy’s Baking Company are among a long line of brands with firsthand experience in these catastrophic tales.

We’re talking about social media users unleashing their frustration and fury on businesses that have done them—or humanity as a whole—wrong. Although we’d like to think it isn’t true (considering we should learn from the mistakes of others), rarely a week goes by without a big name brand trending on a “hot topics” list for all the wrong reasons.

While there’s an upside to social media in that it generates powerful publicity, there’s also a downside to social media in that it generates powerful publicity. From a lack of service to insensitive faux pas, customers are quick to share their experiences online and others are quick to spread the word. The good news is social media brand monitoring can help you nip potential problems in the bud while capitalizing on opportunities. There’s more to this activity than that, though.

Why should your business invest in brand monitoring ASAP?

Reason 1: Market Research

Market research is critical at almost every phase of campaign planning. Thankfully, social media channels have opened doors to information about target audiences and competitors that were otherwise closed without a large investment in traditional research methods. Now you can investigate and analyze a variety of metrics, characteristics, and other marketing factors with a few relevant keywords and a click on a search button.

Looking to crowdsource product development ideas? You’d be surprised how many people are tweeting what they wish a product like yours can do. Looking for opportunities with enough traction in the social graph to demand attention? Your social media using customers—and in many cases detractors—often see areas for growth or change that you’re completely oblivious to even on a good day. Looking to build relationships with brand advocates? They’d be the ones already touting your awesomeness. Hoping to connect with influencers? Well, you get the picture.

The bottom line: monitor. Monitor. Monitor.

Reason 2: Avoid a PR Crisis

social media brand reputationYou can ignore it all you like, but people are talking about you, your business, your products, your services, and your employees. Whether it’s positive, neutral, or negative conversation depends on their experience with your brand. If it’s an experience they’d soon rather forget, you better hope they don’t use social media to voice their opinion to the world.

A proactive approach to issues management is crucial if you plan to maintain a favorable reputation and dodge negative chatter. Social media brand monitoring tools let you pick up and respond to potential disputes before they become embarrassingly out of control PR nightmares that influence the future of your business. If you haven’t already, it’s time to take the blinders off and earplugs out and start listening to what people are saying about you. When you’re able to turn complaints into positive publicity and show you’re 100% invested in customer satisfaction, you may just have a chance at nailing this social media thing.

Reason 3: Gain Insight for Strategic Decision Making

You’re leveraging social media for a reason. Whatever that goal may be, you’d serve your business well to monitor social sites so you can facilitate and plan the execution of a strategy that combines the right mix of tactics for your brand. Find out where conversations are taking place, which topics are driving conversation, and how people feel about those topics. These insights give you an opportunity to make strategic decisions that will ultimately boost the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Reason 4: Track Your Branding Successsocial media brand monitoring success

How do you know if your messaging is correct, that you’re driving brand perception in the right direction, and that your brand positioning efforts are working? Hopefully, you know the answer by now: social media brand monitoring. Mentions, sentiment, influence, and other key performance indicators can all be tracked through listening tools.

Reason 5: Become Part of Relevant Conversations

If people are talking about you, isn’t that reason enough to join the conversation? Use this opportunity to improve customer relations or obtain high quality feedback from people who are already invested in you or the things you can offer them.

 

Are you actively participating in social media brand monitoring? If you’re a solopreneur, you may even consider it a social media chore. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so join the conversation below.

8 Quick Fire Tips for Selecting an Audience-Pulling Webinar Topic

Avoid boring webinar topicsAlthough it deceptively appears to be the easiest task, one of the hardest jobs you’ll have when planning a webinar is choosing a topic that resonates with your target audience and keeps viewers engaged. You’ll inevitably find that the subject matter has been covered numerous times or that your topic ideas make for a potential snoozefest.

Don’t fear; we have eight easy tips for identifying webinar topics that will draw in audiences and keep them awake.

#1 – Find out What the Experts Are Talking About

Are you tracking industry experts and influencers to find out what they have to say about certain issues? While you’ll never want to reproduce the information they’re providing to their online audiences word for word, you may find opportunities to delve deeper into a topic or present it from a completely different perspective.

#2 – Tap into the Latest Industry Trends

The great thing about social media platforms, Google Alerts, and similar listening tools is that they offer up a plethora of insights brands wouldn’t otherwise have. Be sure to keep up-to-date with your industry monitoring efforts and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a buzz-worthy webinar topic that hits the right spot with your target audience.

#3 – Conduct a Little Target Market Research

If you want to know what your audience wants to hear about, why not just ask them? A simple survey or poll can be a great way to narrow down webinar topics your followers will actually enjoy.

#4 – Draw From Your Team’s Creative Brilliance

Sometimes there are few better resources for webinar topics than the people who put their blood, sweat, and tears into closing a sale for your business. Since they communicate with your client base on a regular basis, they’re likely to have information that you don’t. Connect with them, brainstorm creative ideas with them, and get them to share their customer stories and experiences. You never know when you’ll find a golden nugget of insight that just might be your best webinar topic yet.

#5 – Tackle a Pain Point

If you possess a deep enough understanding of your buyer personas, you know what perplexes them during their waking hours and haunts their fretful dreams. Fix it. Give them easy wins with a webinar topic that’s bound to create moments of revelation, comprehension, inspiration, or insight.

#6 – Become Laser Focused

While it’s great that you want to cast a wide net and appeal to as many people as possible, you’d be making one of the biggest webinar marketing mistakes you can make. Why do you want to be laser focused? It’s simple: a topic that appeals to a particular niche is going to generate far more qualified, sales-ready leads than a topic that’s a little more general in nature. Just when you think you’re as specific as you can get, try to refine your subject matter so that it helps segment your prospects according to your buyer personas.

#7 – Think About Search

The-wrong-webinar-topic-equals-low-registrationsIs your topic idea based on your targeted keywords? Can you craft a compelling headline that’ll rank as well as it convinces people to click through to your landing page and register? When you think about webinar topics, you have to keep search factors in mind because if you can’t effectively reach your target audience, you can’t expect to fill virtual seats.

#8 – Consider Future Content

As a marketer, you want to squeeze every idea for all it’s worth. It’s no different when you’re selecting a subject that’s right for your webinar presentation. Therefore, you should determine whether you can spread your topic over a series of webinars or repurpose it for a different audience.

Whatever you do, don’t be discouraged if your webinar topic doesn’t pull in the numbers you hope it will. Everything in marketing should be tested and improved upon, so while you may not have a hit the first time around, you can always try again.

 

Did you find these tips useful? If you’re a webinar marketing genius, consider adding your tricks to the mix. Drop us a line in the comment box below. 

How To Design CTAs That Convert

hot-to-design-ctas-that-convertIf done correctly, your call to action, or CTA, is the piece of your landing page that turns a visitor into someone that helps grow your business. Whether it’s a lead or a customer, your call to action acts as the trigger that tips them over the edge.

Good calls to action are a combination of design, placement and language. If any of these things are off, your conversion rates suffer. We’ve put together some tips on how to design CTAs that convert.

Placement

Make your call to action prominent on the page, email or ad. One of the simplest mistakes you can make is burying your CTA among images or other text. If your visitors can’t see the CTA, it won’t influence their decisions.

Apple does this really well in their emails. The CTA is right on the button you would use to buy the product in their emails. They follow a very simple theme of value proposition, call to action and product. No other distractions.

ipad-air

Design

What your call to action looks like is also very important in terms of how your audience will interact with it. Make the text larger, a different color or a different font than other text on the page. Put your call to action close to a button, link or other interactive features of your landing page.

Treehouse does great with their design. Like Apple, they don’t have a lot of distractions, and the call to action is front and center. There are only a couple of choices for you to get started learning. It is obvious what you are supposed to do, which is either get started learning or learn more about their offering.

tree-house

amazonLanguage

The words you use in your call to action are very important. This may seem straightforward, but you should consider the mindset of a visitor to your site. For example, Treehouse, in the screenshot above, is selling a teaching service; however, they don’t use the language, “buy now.” Instead, they use “Get Started,” which speaks more to an ongoing process of learning.

Start by using subjects and verbs. Your calls to action should be short sentences, and people should get the gist of what to do right away. Keep the entire thing short. There really isn’t a hard rule on this, but 90 to 150 characters is good.

A good example here is Amazon’s “Click to look inside” CTA. It’s apparent what you can do by clicking, and the CTA is very compelling. Who wouldn’t want to look inside a book they were thinking of buying online?

CTAs are the invisible salespeople online that push surfers into making a purchase decision. They should be short, placed in obvious spots and designed in a way that makes them appealing and easy to find. All other things being equal, a good call to action can help increase conversion rates, which translates to more leads and more sales.

 

Do you have any tips for writing CTAs that convert? Join the conversation by commenting below.

What Does Your Social Media Branding Strategy Look Like?

Social Media Branding StrategyFor many businesses, their online branding starts and ends with their website. While someone may have slapped the logo and a suitable background or cover image onto the company’s social properties, they’ve done little else to communicate their message to the world effectively.

If you believe you’ve unintentionally made this blunder and your social environment really isn’t representative of your brand at all, then follow along as we explain how to fix this common problem while building a solid social media branding strategy.

Congruency and Consistency

Okay, so your strategy may begin with the visual aspect of your online presence—it’s important to remember, however, that it’s not the be all and end all of your branding efforts. Being congruent and consistent simply means ensuring the message, look, and feel of your brand carries through from your website to any social profiles, blogs, and forums you own.

Before you set out to evaluate your existing social assets, consider what kind of impression you’re hoping to make. If your brand is a luxury brand, then ask yourself whether that’s something your audience can pick up within the first few seconds of clicking onto your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages. If it’s not, then you have some work to do. If it is, then you’re about half way to success.

#Tip: Pay attention to branding elements such as style, imagery, tone, and colors. Hire a professional designer to create captivating images and creative cover art if you don’t have any that are worthy of your networking sites.

Experience

Branding isn’t just about logos, colors, and certain font types. It’s about experience too. Since social media takes the experience between brand and consumer to a completely new level, you need to define that interaction so you can shape and control the way you’re perceived.

Think about the social media train wrecks we’ve seen in the past few years and how those negative experiences went viral faster than the account manager could hit the delete key. Now, think about your business decisions and the potential for them to find their way onto social channels. Will your community love you for your actions, or will they raise up an army of haters and smash your brand to smithereens?

#Tip: Set guidelines for your interactions with customers and develop a reputation management strategy. Be nice, be community conscious, and behave in a way that creates a positive experience. It’s not easy when you’re dealing with a complaint or negative comment left on your social feeds, but the way you react is going to be the tell-tale sign that lets people know what kind of person (and subsequently brand) you are.

Voice

social media brand voiceOne area where companies seem to lose it is in voice development. It’s far too easy to let your own voice overpower the qualities you want seen and heard in your business brand. While they may be very much the same, it’s still crucial to identify what your interactions should sound like. Developing your company’s voice is as simple as asking, “How will I speak to my audience?” When you have the answer, make sure your comments match those qualities.

Are you actively implementing a social media branding strategy or are you letting your community define you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so join the conversation below.

Setting Realistic Goals and Objectives for a Webinar

You’ve probably heard it before: every solid marketing strategy begins with goals and objectives.

While that’s certainly true, you may not know what those targets should look like if you’re dabbling in a content marketing tactic like webinars for the first time. In this post, we dig a little deeper into the process of setting realistic goals and objectives for a webinar, as well as provide insight into practical things you should look at when planning for success.

Evaluating Higher-Level Business Goals

Webinars for lead generation goals

Webinars can be highly effective for drawing in leads and nurturing them through your sales funnel.

You can’t possibly formulate an effective execution strategy for webinar marketing before identifying the high-level business goals this tactic can help you achieve. Therefore, you need to start this process by mapping out your overall goals for growth and then figuring out how webinars can potentially fit in to your plan. This includes pinpointing the stages of the sales funnel at which you’ll leverage a webinar to achieve a specific goal.

For example, if your business goal is to increase revenue by 20% for the year, you’ll need to improve sales conversion rates. To do that, you can use webinars in one of several ways:

  • generate awareness
  • draw in qualified leads
  • move prospects up the interest ladder

How many webinars you create and when you’ll use them depends on your product or service offering, how you structure your sales funnel, and what you hope to achieve through this communication tool.

Formulating Webinar Goals and Objectives with a Specific and Narrow Focus

It’s all too easy to say, “Our goal is to build a reputation as a thought leader in XYZ.” Yes, it’s a goal, but it’s not one that’s very focused, specific, or effective. If we give this a little more substance, the goal and objective might look something like this:

Goal: Build thought leadership by educating prospects and customers on XYZ using relevant, unique, and expert insights that are appropriate for their level of education.

Objective: Achieve a 35% response rate and 80% satisfaction rate as measured by an exit survey.

At this point, you might be wondering what other kinds of goals you can set for each webinar. While we won’t go into metrics or the intelligence you can potentially gather in this post, you should consider the following areas:set attendance goals for a webinar

  • Target registration goals
  • Target attendance goals
  • Real-time feedback goals
  • Audience retention goals
  • Thought leadership goals
  • Post-event goals
  • Sales-specific goals

When you break down each of these areas, you can start to create sub-goals and objectives. Let’s take target registration goals as an example. It all starts with a landing page, which means you’ll not only define your goal for the number of registrations you hope to receive, but you’ll also ask key questions like “What are my traffic goals?” and “What are my CTR goals?” These answers are crucial because when you compare them to your actual results, you’ll find they indicate the quality of your message and the effectiveness of your landing page. As you can see, you suddenly have a subset of goals you need to define as part of your webinar strategy.

Action Steps:

  1. List your overall business goals.

  2. Identify which goals you can work toward through your webinar marketing efforts.

  3. Outline how you’ll use webinars as part of your sales process.

  4. Formulate goals for each webinar.
  5. Formulate objectives for each of those goals.

Although you probably don’t need the reminder, you’re getting it anyway: goals must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based). If you can’t establish a specific metric that can be measured to determine your success, then you need to rethink your goal and its supporting objective because you cannot manage what you cannot measure.

 

Do you struggle to set goals and objectives for your webinars? Perhaps you find it a challenge with any strategy you develop. You might even be the polar opposite and this part of the process doesn’t really faze you. We’d love to hear from you either way, so let us know if you have any questions, comments, or advice for others by dropping us a line in the comment box below.

How to Create Amazing Landing Pages

landing-pageOf all the components in a conversion funnel, the landing page plays the most instrumental role. It is the piece that serves as the function by which people become customers or leads, and it also must give that additional push for someone in the sales or lead-generation process.

You can have really great ads, good marketing copy and even a great product or service, but if your landing page sucks, it can cause issues with your activities online. This post will show you how to make an amazing landing page by highlighting best practices.

Your landing page should have the following elements:

  • Your value proposition should be clear and concise
  • The action you want visitors to perform should be obvious and easy to do
  • There should be no distractions from the main event on the page
  • Your messaging (i.e. words, phrases, images, etc) should be consistent with what brought someone to the landing page in the first place
  • The page should load fast and work well with all major browsers
  • It should not use a lot of Flash or Javascript to accomplish its goals (none is better)
  • It should be painless to use and easy to navigate

Clarity on Your Landing Page

When we make web pages for products, services or to get some kind of information from someone, we often have a tendency to cram as much information on the page as we can. We also have a tendency to forget about why the person came to the page in the first place.

Our visitor has not forgotten. They have arrived instantaneously and are now looking for the thing that caused them to come to the page in the first place. Typically, that is something that they were promised or something that they can get.

Your value proposition should be front and center. It should not be buried in paragraphs of content. Make headers prominent and bold. Tell the person landing on the page exactly what they want to hear, and do it clearly.

Make Actions Easy and Obvious

Make Actions Easy and ObviousAnother thing marketers forget is that people browsing online are impatient and used to instant gratification. It is true that most people will muddle through a process even if it’s hard and confusing. You will lose prospects, though, if you make your action too complicated or confusing.

Keep forms short — don’t ask for more information than you need. Make prompts and descriptions intuitive and easy to understand. For instance, don’t get creative at the last second by putting the word “find” next to a search box.

Take steps to ensure your checkout process is streamlined and easy to understand. Eliminate unnecessary steps in the process. Make sure you afford your users every modern convenience of online form data entry.

The actions to start your conversion process should also be obvious. Make buttons large and easy to spot. Don’t distract visitors with other elements or detract from an area on the page where the action is. Don’t put the action below the fold of the page. In a nutshell, don’t make people work to find out what they have to do. It should be clear as day what they are supposed to do on the page.

Consistent Messaging

Make sure the messaging on your landing page is consistent with ads, emails, links or other methods by which a visitor arrived at your page. You can think of the process by which people follow conversion funnels as a series of directions.

People get instruction on their next step from the previous step in the process. For example, they see language or images in an ad that entice them. They will then be looking for that information during the next phase of the process. If they don’t see it, they become confused, and if they still don’t see it, they get irritated and leave.

This is another area where your visitors will put up with a lot before they give up, especially if they are interested in your value proposition. Visitors will only put up with so much, though. If you used keywords in your ad or link that lead to your landing page, use those on the page as well. If you used certain images to entice them to click, make sure those are also on the page.

Your value proposition, which may have been promised in an ad, or whatever drove the person to the page should also be present. The basic idea here is that people need to know that they have made it to the right place. The Internet is a virtual world where it’s easy to get lost and think you’ve taken a wrong turn.

Technical Details

Technical DetailsMuch of landing page success has to do with messaging and layout; however, the technical details can also trip you up. Slow-loading pages are some of the most common contributors to low conversion rates. Think about the last time you sat at a red light. A person in front of you may take 3 seconds to notice that the light has turned green. Just saying that doesn’t seem like a lot of time but if you are the driver behind the person who doesn’t noticed the light has changed, it seems like 3 minutes.

The same is true for web pages, and consumers are unforgiving. Like other elements of poor landing page construction, people will put up with a little headache, but not a lot. If the relationship between your prospect and your value proposition is fragile to begin with (i.e. they don’t care THAT much about it), you could lose them with a slow page.

Use Google’s Page Speed Analyzer to see how fast your page loads. Anything slower than a few seconds and you should use their recommendations to make it better.

Another technical aspect is the way pages are rendered in browsers. You should take steps to ensure your landing page works with all major browsers. If there is important data not showing up because the browser cannot interpret it, you might be missing out on opportunities.

A good rule of thumb is to reduce the amount of Flash and Javascript you use in your landing page. Sometimes users will disable JavaScript or their Flash player will be outdated. If you have to use these technologies, it’s ok as long as you try not to use them for information that is more critical to your landing page success.

Your Landing Page Should Be Pain-Free

Many of the previous sections have covered this concept, so this is more of a wrap-up. Many of the best practices above all contribute to making your visitors’ time on your landing page pain-free and productive.

When you are online trying to accomplish something, there are few things worse than a web page that will not work or that is confusing. For tasks that cannot be done anywhere else, we just get furious at the creators and try to find some other method. For companies whose products or services we could potentially do without (or find elsewhere), we move on to the next website.

 

Do you have any additional tips to share when it comes to creating awesome landing pages? Let us know in the comments section below.

Animate Your Google Plus Profile Banner

Google Plus LogoNo, if you animate your Google Plus profile banner, it won’t drive more traffic to your site or have any kind of business impact. However, if you are active on G+ and want a unique way to showcase your brand, it can definitely help you stand out from the crowd. The whole process is pretty simple and involves the use of software that can easily be found for free online.

This method involves using video clips. I’m sure there are other ways to do it, but I got a nice result from this method, so I like to share it.

Step 1: Your video clip.

Choose a video clip that is less than two minutes long. It can be pretty much any aspect ratio. Most video files, by default, are in the 1440 by 1080 range. You can resize this later.

Step 2: Extract still images (frames) from the video using software. 

I used a free download of Irfanview. Open your video in Irfanview after you have downloaded and installed it on your computer.

Choose Options -> extract all frames.  It helps to create a folder before you do this to keep your images organized. Otherwise, Irfanview will just store them in your TEMP folder.

ifran-screenshot

Step 3: Cropping your images to fit into your Google Plus Profile.

You will have to crop your images so that they fit nicely into the profile banner on G+. Cropping every single image would be a nightmare, so you can do this in Irfanview, as well.

Open the first of your images (001) in IrfanView. Left-click on the image and drag to define a nice rectangular box that outlines the area you want to use. The info bar at the top of the window should show you the current selected dimensions. You need a 5:1 ratio or 980 by 196px (whatever you use, write it down so you can use it in later steps).

Step 4: Get X,Y coordinates. 

You will also need the X,Y coordinates for later cropping of your images. To do that, just click at the top left corner of the rectangle you created and hold there. Up at the top of the screen in Irfanview, you will see the XY coordinates of your mouse pointer. Write these down.

You can now get rid of the current window you are working with.

ifran-screenshot2

Step 5: Now it’s time to do some batching. 

Use the batch function under the file menu. Choose batch->conversion/rename.  Make sure you check the “Use advanced Options for Bulk Resize” box and click “Advanced.”  The first step is to set up the correct region to crop your image. Remember that you will need just one image for your banner, and it needs to be big (940×180). Use the XY coordinates that you just wrote down, and also enter in your height and width dimensions from earlier.

ifran-view

Step 6: Select your images.  

In the batch window, navigate to the images that you want to use (the ones you extracted from your video) and select them all. Tip: hold down the ctrl or command key to select a whole range of them. Click the “add” button near the bottom of the window. Make sure your output folder is selected on the left, then click “start batch.”

The cropped images that are all the right size for your G+ profile should now be in the folder that you selected for output.

Step 7: Making your GIF.

Now that you have all of the images to make your GIF, you have to combine them all. If you have a piece of software you like to use, go right ahead. If you don’t, you can use Photoscape. It’s free and easy to use, and if this is the only thing you plan to use it for, you can delete it right after you’re done.

You can find it here (I used the CNET download link).

Install the program, then run it. Click on the “Animated GIF” icon on the right side of the screen.

In the left pane of the program, you will see your computer’s file structure. Find the images that you have recently cropped. Once you get to them, you will see them all appear in the pane below the file structure. Select one of them, then hit Ctrl-A (Command-A for Mac). Drag all of them into the main work area.

Play with the rate of animation until you are comfortable with how the GIF looks. Note that the number of seconds you set is the amount of time each image is shown to make the whole thing look like a video, but be a GIF. For the video I used, 0.8 seconds seemed to be a good speed. Typically, the bigger the number, the slower the video.

Also set your canvas size, as it may have changed by default when you imported images. I had to revert mine back to 980 px by 196 px.

Once you are satisfied, click the save button. You now just have to follow the steps for uploading your image to Google Plus. You might have to play with it a couple times to get the right look.

 

What tips do you have to make your G+ profile strand out from the crowd? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.