What’s The ONE THING You Want Your Website To Accomplish?

It is all about conversions.

Assuming your website is the hub of your online business presence, when people come to our website, we want them to take some action.

So, what action do you want people to take? Could it be one of the following?

1. Signing-up for your e-newsletter.

2. Buying product direct from your site.

3. Downloading your e-book.

4. Buying your book(s).

5. Filling out a form to make an appointment.

6. Subscribing to your RSS feed.

7. Commenting on your blog.

8. Sharing content with others.

9. Purchasing from your various affiliate links.

10. Listening to your podcasts and/or watching your videos.

For me, at this time, I want people to subscribe to my mailing list (which you can find here, if you’re interested).

You see, I am in the slow process of generating a series of e-books that I will ultimately present and sell here, so for the time being, I am currently building a community and a list.

[I consult too, but those business opportunities come via word of mouth mostly. You can obviously contact me thru this site, but building my email list is the primary focus of this site.]

I suspect many of you have put up a website because…well, that’s what small business people do. If you have a website just to serve as an online brochure, you are missing a critical function of your site. You need your site to convert…

…convert people to take the action you want them to. To sign-up, buy, comment, share, etc…

So, you need to decide what is most important to you. And redesign your website so that people take the ONE action you want them to take. Strip away all the distractions that confuse people and make it harder for them to take the one key action.

Problem is, too many people try to do too much. Some try to do the complete list seen above. All on the home page, as a matter of sad fact.

So don’t do that. Remove stuff first, before you add more stuff. Make it simple for people to accomplish the ONE THING you want them to.

Set up your site to convert, and achieve what you need your website to do. And focus nonstop on making the improvements and adjustments to improve your conversion rate. You should test and retest until you convert at a rate acceptable to your business goals…

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[drawing by hugh macleod]

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WPTouch Is Critical For All You Mobile WordPress Bloggers!

Who Is Calling You?

In 2010, 8% of the users visiting my website came via a mobile device.

In 2011, that increased to 11%. In the past six months, that number is 13%.

In the past month? That number jumps to 18%. Safe to say the era of mobile is here. And oh, of that final number, 47% of them visited me on an iPhone.

And tracking my podcasts, the numbers of people listening and downloading them via a smart phone are growing fast.

So…what to do?

Well, if your website is WordPress based, it is time to do something about it. (Well, even if you aren’t WordPress based, it is time to do something about it. You had better ask your webmaster about it).

As of last week, I have uploaded WPTouch to ALL my client’s WordPress blogs.

Said simply, WPTouch makes it easy for people to view your website on their smartphone. Gone are the days when a full-sized website appears in your little window, and you need Superman-ish vision to read the content.

WPTouch solves that problem. In fact, I waited too long to make this move. According to Google Analytics, the bounce rate is higher for iPhones than for iPads, because it was obviously hard to view my website on a small iPhone than a larger iPad.

WPTouch is a simple plug-in that you can install on your WordPress for FREE. Learn more about it here.

So, if you’ve ever gone to a website on your smartphone, and gave up because the text was too small, or you couldn’t find what you were looking for, WPTouch might be just for you…

Remember, please keep your customer in mind when deciding whether installing this plug-in is for you. Imagine, for a moment, the customer driving to find your retail location, and pulling off the side of the road to pull up your website to get a phone number or directions… Don’t you want them to easily find what they are looking for?

I thought so…

And if you have other tools, plug-ins and apps that enhance the mobile experience of your WordPress website, please share in the comments!

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[time get get intrepiddy with me!]

[photo from flickr]

[disclaimer: there is such a thing as WPTouch Pro, which is the next level tool. I have not used it, and cannot tell you anything about it.]

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Your 2011 Marketing Plan: Is Your Bounce Rate Too High?

Day Fifteen (of Thirty-One):

Question To Ask Yourself: Is your bounce rate too high?

Do you even know what the hell I am talking about?

A “bounce rate” is essentially the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site (Wikipedia).

In other words, you need to know what the bounce rate is for the common landing pages on your site. A landing page bounce rate over 50% is cause for concern. You want visitors to check out other pages.

E-commerce sites need LOW bounce rates. Blogs and other informational sites have higher bounce rates. You need to get a sense for what your industry standard is to measure and compare, so that you can make appropriate adjustments.

What I am doing: For me, 2011 means getting more educated. I intend to learn more about this.

But I’ve already tried one test. I created a personalized landing page for people checking me out from my Twitter profile. So far, my bounce rate here is 20%, which is good.

What about you?

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Todd is planning his 2011 marketing attack. He is asking himself a series of hard questions, questions that will fine tune his go-to-market strategy. This December, Todd will share one question per day, hoping these questions help you too…

Click HERE to follow the entire series on what questions to ask as you draft your 2011 marketing plan!

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Your 2011 Marketing Plan: Is Your Website Converting?

Day Nine (of Thirty-One):

Question To Ask Yourself: Is Your Website Converting?

You blog. You’ve invested in fancy schmancy design. You try to focus on keywords. You try your hand at – or invest in – search engine optimization…

And you don’t get many website conversations – which means people aren’t taking the action on the website you want (not signing up for newsletters, not buying products or your services, not subscribing to your RSS feeds…

Are you doing enough to focus on why? What can you change? Is it too hard for the visitor to do? Is your content not compelling? Do you plan to figure it out?

What I am doing: This is one of my most important goals in 2011: improving conversion on my website. I have several ideas in mind on how to test this process.

My audience is growing, and I am getting business from the website, but I want improvement on this. Plus, I am making a little money from affiliate links (largely book sales), and I want to see if I can grow this…

What about you?

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Todd is planning his 2011 marketing attack. He is asking himself a series of hard questions, questions that will fine tune his go-to-market strategy. This December, Todd will share one question per day, hoping these questions help you too…

Click HERE to follow the entire series on what questions to ask as you draft your 2011 marketing plan!

[join my intrepid newsletter]
[subscribe to the blog feed]

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Wannabe Bloggers? There Are No More Excuses!

A pic I recently shared on my Tumblr blog...

Dear Wannabe Bloggers: There are no more excuses. I no longer want to hear the following:

1. I don’t have time to set up a blog.
2. I don’t know what I’d write about.
3. I don’t have the money to pay a designer and set up a blog.

I have been conducting a personal experiment for the last month.

In my free time, I have been studying and reading about minimalism and the art of simplifying as a way to remove the clutter from my complicated life. And yet, still trying to live an intrepid life. I needed a creative outlet to share what I am learning, and what I am reading.

Secondly, I have been wanting to experiment with and learn Tumblr. So, I created a blog using Tumblr and the focus is on minimalism, simplicity, and boldness. You can FIND IT HERE.

So, here are my simple observations:

1. Tumblr is way cool. I love it. It is easy. And it is fun.

2. It is free.

3. Tumblr makes it very very simple to attach a personalized domain to your tumblr account. All you have to do is own the domain, and the process to assign it to your tumblr blog is idiot proof for non-techies like me…

4. Even the big dogs use Tumblr for their web sites…

5. Tumblr blogs seem to fare well in the SEO-friendly space. I launched this thing on May 16th, and it just recently passed the million mark on Alexa. Not bad for a small, dinky, experimental blog in just under a month…

6. Tumblr makes it SO easy to share other’s work. In fact, many people use Tumblr strictly as a means to showcase and spotlight the work of other writers.

7. And this speaks to my point about the advantages of using a Tumblr blog to address your fear of not having enough to write about. You can easily share the work of others, and “reblog” material that matters to you, to your audience, and is designed to fit into the construct of your blog. This took some getting used to when I first launched mine, but now it is a big piece of the message delivery of mine…

8. When you are prepared to publish new content, Tumblr’s dashboard is set up for you to easily publish your own text, share photos, nicely present quotes, share links of other blog posts, uploads chat conversations, and audio and video of course. Once you select what type of content you intend to publish, Tumblr again makes it idiot-proof.

9. When you are setting up your Tumblr blog, you have hundreds of templates to choose from, with a wide variety of styles. And once you install a theme, it is pretty easy to customize. And, lastly, you do have the option to have a professional designer make serious customizations.

10. I have really enjoyed the community inside of Tumblr. I have met a lot of new people, and that has been a pleasant surprise.

11. I was also surprised to see so many other A-listers present and spending time here. Kevin Rose, Leo Babauta, or Hugh MacLeod for example…

So those are my quick observations after playing around with Tumblr for 30 days. It is a very simple solution for the entrepreneur who doesn’t have the money, the perceived lack of time, or the knowledge base to launch a blog. If you even think a blog will help you market your business, but don’t want to fully commit to hiring a designer to set one up, this is a great tool for you to experiment with!

Disclosure: If you are going to become a serious business blogger, where you commit to blogging as a major piece of the marketing work that you do, I still recommend WordPress, with the Thesis template (what you see here). But don’t let time, difficulty, or expense be something that holds you back. Tumblr is a great option for you if you can’t pay someone to set up your blog for you…

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Solid As A…Static Rock?

Usually, something that is solid, that doesn’t move, that is unchanging, immobile, etc…is something we rely on, something that can be counted on, something that seems like a steady foundation. Almost comforting, if you will.

But not in the modern world of marketing. When it comes to your web presence, you don’t want to be described as unchanging or immobile. Your web presence needs to be…ENGAGING.

That’s what intrepid marketers do. [More text below video]

[In the video below, I discuss the value of an engaging web presence:]
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek9hJljaWQ0]

Here are a few tactical ideas you can use to provide an engaging web presence:

1. Incorporate a blog into your site.
2. Allow comments on your blog.
3. Respond and engage people when they comment.
4. Provide forums to facilitate conversation.
5. Invite guest contributors.
6. Connect people to your social web tools, like Twitter.
7. Utilize surveys tools.
8. Solicit questions from your audience…
9. …and be sure to answer them!
10. Make it easy to share your content.
11. Invite people to join your e-newsletter.
12. Use an Instant Messenger plug in to invite conversation. Hold regular hours.
13. Provide content with various mediums, such as video and audio.

The items listed above are not new. They are not rocket science. In fact, I suppose when you reviewed the list, you probably said something along the lines of “no kidding.”

Yet I continue to be amazed how many entrepreneurs have chosen not to incorporate these simple tactical options into their web presence.

But that said, it is what you do with these ideas that matter. Here are a few reasons why having an engaging presence matters:

1. Strengthens your brand.
2. Allows relationships to develop. This is where the sales come from.
3. Simplifies process of testing – and getting feedback on – new ideas.
4. Does a better job educating people about you and your business.
5. Makes it easier to teach and help and serve others.
6. Allows for better story telling.
7. Not to mention provides fresh and unique content – updated regularly – that keeps people coming back for more.
8. Oh, and added Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strength.

At the end of the day, it is the safe and easy path to build a static website – one that is solid, reliable, and unchanging. But dare I say it is lazy? And boring? Static sites just don’t cut it any more in this fast-paced, conversational, and engaging world we now live in.

What do you think?

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Minimalist Marketing: 16 Tips for Website + Blog Simplicity

3243202646_b8f51ab772_bEvery day, I visit dozens and dozens of websites. And I run the gamut from great design to crap. But what I find the most frustrating about many of the sites I visit is the pure chaos that ensues when I get there. By this I mean there is so much happening on that page, that I am not sure what to do or where to go when I get there. In other words, there is too much clutter.

Now, full disclosure here. I am NOT a web designer – I rely on my design team to execute my vision. Like any vendor, there are those who are good at what they do, and there are those who are not. And there are probably lots of schools of thought here, and I welcome discussion on the subject.

As part of my exercise in studying and appreciating minimalist marketing, I want to have a conversation about what I, as a typical consumer, feel is necessary when visiting a website – and the value of applying minimalist principles to this part of your marketing arsenal.

The lens I want you to view this exercise through it NOT that you dig your own site design, but that your TARGET MARKET is able to navigate and take the intended actions you want them to. We often don’t test and see how our customers are actually going to use our site, and if they find it cluttered and complicated.

Here is my suggested list (add more in comments please) of things to think about when it comes to keeping your web presence not only simple and minimalist, but effective:

  1. Don’t clutter up each blog post with a ton of images, videos, and other graphics. Keep it simple for the RSS readers. There is a reason it is called really simple syndication…
  2. Is the description of what you do to serve and help people clear and simple?
  3. And is that description easy to find?
  4. Is your call-to-action easy to find, and is it easy to take action?
  5. Do you have way too many advertisements? Earning money from web ads is cool, but don’t let the layout and design of your paid ads distract from true purpose of your website.
  6. Do you have too many widgets, plug-ins, and other whatzits that are distracting visitors from the true mission of the site? Use only those that advance your goals…
  7. Are your blog categories, tags, topics simple and organized? Or are they a complete mess, where half of your posts are “uncategorized?”
  8. When you incorporate video, are your videos a distraction? Or are they an important supplement to the message you are trying to deliver? Think carefully before inserting a video and determine whether it helps make the point you are trying to make. Don’t add video just because it is cool…
  9. Same goes for audio and podcasts…
  10. Is it easy to find the RSS subscribe button?
  11. We all love bells and whistles, flash, and fancy schmancy graphics. But are they really necessary?
  12. Does your navigation bar make it easy for visitors to find what they need?
  13. If you incorporate e-commerce in your site, is your process simple, clean, and easy to execute?
  14. Do you use email forms? Do they ask for more information than is necessary? Keep those simple and easy to complete, and only ask for the essential data you need.
  15. You are wise to have a professional design your site. But don’t let them build you an overly complicated design full of clutter. Simple can be beautiful. And remember, the #1 website on the planet has less than 40 words on it…
  16. Less focus on bells and whistles, and more focus on SEO and keywords will serve you well…

What do you think? Am I off base here? Am I missing anything?

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[photo by _marmota]

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The Social Media Train Has Left The Station

[Here is an article I wrote for eMerge!, the online journal for GrowthANSWERS]

If you are seriously playing in the 21st Century sandbox of marketing, you are probably engaged in social media.  If not, you had better incorporate social media into your overall marketing strategy. And now.

The train has definitely left the station. If you are not on board – you are missing out on a major marketing tactic to bring in new prospects to your business.

The train is pulling out. Here are ten ways you can jump on board…

1. BLOGGING – Blogging is a great way to find and read educational content, and a better way to distribute content and build an interactive following with your online community. If you blog, you should increase traffic by “blogging by thirds.” This strategy involves spending one-third of your time writing content for your blog, spending one-third of your time finding other good blogs in your market space, and then one-third of your time commenting on those new found blogs. Contributing is an important way to build a friendship with that blogger who will likely return the favor, but the act of commenting and linking back to your own blog is magic when it comes to improved SEO scoring.

2. TWITTER – The hottest ticket in the online world, Twitter is revolutionizing how online business is getting done. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so you are forced to offer simple, concise messages to your following. Stripped down to just offering simple communications, Twitter enables you make contact with literally thousands of people with one message. But don’t join just to promote yourself. Like all other social media, Twitter is meant to build community and provide value by giving forward. But it remains the largest driver of traffic to my blog…

3. FACEBOOK – Facebook remains the most popular social media tool out there, although Twitter is catching up. Facebook is a much more social medium than LinkedIn or Twitter, because it enables you to share a lot more about whom you are and what interests you. Facebook allows you to synch your blog posts and Twitter messages to your Facebook page, meaning you can spend time at one source and update multiple social mediums at once. But to me, the real value of Facebook is that it enables you to see your clients and prospects in a non-working environment – allowing you to better know who they are. This allows you to connect on a more personal level down the road.

4. LinkedIn – Don’t just create a LinkedIn profile and devote energy to adding new connections. All this does is make you feel good about a raw number. Instead, spend time looking at your friends connections – find people you want to connect with – and ask your friend to introduce you. Join groups in your market – and when you see questions that you can answer – answer them and provide value to the whole community. You will become recognized as someone who provides value and that will increase connections and drive traffic to both your profile and website.

5. SEO – Don’t shortchange your SEO efforts. Engaging in all of these tools suggested here does help your overall SEO score. Unless you have had your head buried in the sand, online is the wave of the future. I predict a day in the not too distant future when the hardcopy yellow pages will be a thing of the past. If you and your business can’t be found online, you will miss the train…

6. If it makes sense, shift from a static website to a blog, or at least add a blog to your site presence. It doesn’t make sense for everybody, but where appropriate, switching your web strategy from a static presence to a blog can be a real benefit. Blogs are great for improved SEO scoring, but also provide wonderful opportunities to drive fresh content, solicit and propose new ideas, push client engagement, and provide real time handling of customer service scenarios and questions.

7. NETWORKING – If networking is a major piece of your marketing strategy, social media is for you. But you must change the paradigm of your thinking, and recognize that social media is just like networking, it is just done online. It is still about building relationships, helping new friends, making referrals, and providing value. No different than what you do at the Chamber mixer…

8. PODCASTING – Podcasting is big business on the internet. Spend a few minutes with Google, and you can find podcasts on virtually every topic. Downloading podcasts are a great way to learn new things when stuck in a car or on an airplane. Creating podcasts of value are great tools to demonstrate your expertise, and they can help drive traffic to your website.

9. YouTube/FLICKr – You mustn’t forget that YouTube and Flickr are social networking tools too. They are not just storage places for videos and digital photos. You can invite friends to view your content, and build more social community with these tools too. The value here is that you can provide specific content that helps your community AND further cements your brand.

10. Won’t all this take too much time? It can, if you let it. But how much time do you spend networking at an event anyway? If you know 250 people personally, do you really communicate with every one of them each day? No. So, recognize that with social media you will only engage a handful of people each day anyway – and that’s ok! As long as you are strengthening the relationship and providing value, you are doing the right thing. I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour a day with social media…

Need some coaching about how to do some strategic thinking and unsure where and how to launch your social media program? Or don’t see how this leads to more qualified prospects for your business? Email me at todd@intrepid-llc.com and you can buy me some coffee to discuss face-to-face.

But what I can promise is this: if you get on board and engage with social media, you will build a larger referral network, become known in the market place as an expert in your field, and you will become known as someone of real value, an influencer.

And I don’t have to tell you how those things will get prospects knocking on your door…

Note: Let me be clear, there are other social media tools out there – I am just naming a handful. Get out there and explore other options that are right for you…

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Blogging Verses A Dull Thud – Intrepid Marketing

With my recent awakening in social media, and with my new found mission to educate as many people as I can to its merits, I have determined another strategy that I will recommend to existing clients and new prospects.

When you create a new website – or make the decision to upgrade your existing one – it should be a blog.  Or at least utilize one.

For most of the last two years, I had a blog and a separate company website.  I spent all my time with the blog.  I rarely changed or even looked at the static website.  I made the decision recently to bail on both – and start a new blog from scratch. 

I am not sure if I was damn lucky, or flippin’ brilliant – but it was the best move I could have made.  My readership continues to grow, and faster than I ever imagined.

Granted, I have a long ways to go to get where I want to be, but I am at least on my way.  The whole reason I started blogging in the first place was to accomplish a few things: build a community of friends and prospects that could ultimately be good referral sources.  I wanted to have a means to demonstrate expertise.  And I wanted a way for people to find me, instead of me having to find them.

It’s working.  And then some.

Amongst other services, I do website design for small business – for people who need a web presence but can’t afford to spend big money on site design.  At least not yet.

Of the three I am working with at this current time, all three are likely to start a blog as the basis for their web presence instead of a static site.  And I couldn’t be more excited for them.  All three of them are in VERY competitive markets.  All three need and want to differentiate themselves from their competition.  And all three have a lot to offer the market place in content and knowledge.

Instead of a boring website with a home page, an about us page, a services page, and a rate sheet – all three will have an interactive community where people can share ideas and knowledge about their respective industries.  And while they are at it, will get a host of traffic to their blogs that might, just might, generate some business.

So, if you want a interactive and positive reaction when people visit your website verses crickets chirping or the sound of a dull thud, when you make the decision to create a new website, strongly consider a blog.

It will change the way you market your business.  And more importantly, allow you to take full advantage of social media and networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  And it will considerably strengthen your SEO too.

At that point, company growth might just become exponential…

Todd Schnick.  Be Intrepid.  www.intrepid-llc.com

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