Posts about web design, site structure, coding, etc.

Should I Use a Website Builder?

Most businesses need much more power and flexibility than your typical website builder, but that doesn’t mean that the answer to “Should I use a website builder?” is always a resounding “No.”

Website builders are do-it-yourself interfaces for quickly assembling professional-looking websites without the need to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or any other coding language. Some of the most popular today are Wix, SiteBuilder, Weebly, and Fiverr. Website builder reviews are mixed because of their wildly varying applications, and finding the best website builder is often a process of trial and error.

example of website builder capability from wix homepage

An example of a website under construction from the Wix homepage

For ventures that are just getting on their feet, website builders are invaluable introductory tools. But for businesses that are ready to grow and generate revenue, there is no substitute for the power of today’s advanced content management systems (CMS). One of the most widely used CMSs today is WordPress, a favorite in the marketing industry and only a step below scratch web design.

It’s truly a question of individual needs. Start answering the question by asking yourself the following.

Are you (or is your company):

  • A startup?
  • A non-ecommerce business?
  • Establishing your first online presence?
  • Inexperienced in web design or marketing?
  • Medium-sized or greater?
  • An ecommerce business?
  • Looking to grow and generate revenue?
  • Seeking mobile customers in addition to desktop customers?

 

If you said yes to any of these questions, thenleverage colored circle with yes

use a website builder!

If you said yes to any of these questions, then

leverage colored circle with no

don’t use a website builder!

 

For startups – Our always-online consumer society needs a home base for your product or service, and website builders will get you up and running fast so you can start distributing marketing materials and get customers to your website.

 

For service-based businesses – Having a place for customers to make contact and get further information online is an instant boost to your lead catalog – provided you can bring the customers to your site.

 

For those new to web design and marketing – You’ve got to start somewhere, and website builders offer the luxury of ultra-fast web design alongside zero-effort marketing tools.

For medium and larger businesses – Website builders don’t have the customization, flexibility, and tracking capabilities that allow businesses to learn where growth opportunities exist and how to continually improve their business models.

 

For ecommerce businesses – You’ll need to be able to customize your ecommerce platform and track your sales and shipments carefully, something that even the most powerful builders can’t do yet.

 

For content marketers – Content management systems allow nearly infinite variation in how you handle, integrate, and distribute your content, and they support more types of content, as well.

 

What If I Don’t Have the Resources to Run a Content Management System?

It’s possible that your company has particular staffing needs that stretch your budget or is simply in a stage of growth that doesn’t allow for the flexibility of full-on marketing. When the resources aren’t available to take on a content management system, many companies add marketing responsibility to the job description of a staff member and open up a website builder.

While it’s not a mistake to do so, you’ll only be holding your growth back if you do. When the time comes to switch to a full-on CMS, you’ll have to shift resources to a marketing team or transition an employee or two to rebuild your website so that it’s up to today’s SEO and user experience standards.

A more forward-thinking option is to train your management to understand and operate a content management system so they can share ideas and collaborate. It doesn’t take long to learn the ins-and-outs of a CMS, and the small time investment will save you massive amounts of time and effort later.

professional male green shirt purple tie

Alternatively, you can hire a digital marketing team to take on the work for you. A quality agency will work with you and your budget to establish a plan of action and will openly communicate to ensure that your business goals and visions are met. Digital marketing professionals are deeply well versed in content management, and most of them know a good deal of HTML and CSS to help you customize the look and feel of your website content.

As a bonus, a digital marketing team often costs less than hiring just one full-time marketing employee. You don’t have to train content specialists and they are experienced in various fields and industries.

Be Careful with Website Builders

Again, it’s not that builders are negative, necessarily. Just keep in mind that if you plan to grow, you will eventually have to move away from the user-friendliness of building tools and start customizing your online presence to match your product or service. The transition can be precipitous, so plan ahead!

Our digital marketing experts at Leverage Marketing use advanced CMSs to deliver customized, branded content, web design, and user-friendly layouts. Let us manage your website for you!

Why User Experience Is Vital to Your SEO Strategy

Gone are the days when website owners can simply stuff targeted keywords into their website, write catchy, keyword optimized title and meta tags, and then expect to rank on the first page of Google. Our team at Leverage Marketing has proven time and again that SEO works best when a holistic strategy is used – user experience, site speed, content, and site crawlability all play an enormous role.

User experience (UX) and SEO depend heavily on one another to achieve a desired outcome: better organic rankings and higher conversions. Let’s explore how user experience and SEO are inseparable from one another.   

First, understand that Google’s SEO algorithm is always changing. Only focusing on SEO rules as a strategy is simply not enough.

Many of you might be thinking, “But if I just write lots of quality content, get a ton of backlinks, and use the right keywords, then my SEO should be great. A good UX is just a bonus for the user, right?” This is the wrong way to look at the importance of UX as it relates to SEO.

It’s true that by only focusing on Google’s algorithm, you can still drive traffic to your site. However, by not focusing on providing the best possible user experience to your desktop and mobile site visitors, you are limiting the effectiveness of your website.

Think of it this way: understanding your customer is much more important than understanding Google’s algorithm (which is constantly changing). 20,000 website visits per month mean nothing if those visits aren’t contributing to your conversions, revenue, or other site goals.

The Relationship Between SEO and UX

If you look at both SEO and UX, you will see that they are actually very similar in their goal: to make it easier for users to find what they want and be satisfied with what they find. Today, we have many indications that Google cares about user experience and accounts for factors like time on page and bounce rate. What is important to Google must also be important to you if you want to rank competitively.

For starters, we already have numerous page elements that influence both SEO and UX. Let’s take a quick look at a few examples:

Headings

<h1> Headers are used by search engines to determine what a particular page is about, but they are also used by visitors to do the same. Furthermore, <h2> and <h3> tags are used by both site visitors and search engines to scan the page and determine the subtopics.

Great Content

Quality content results in users sticking around for longer on the page as well as potentially clicking deeper in the site. This is excellent for the SEO and also shows that the site is providing a strong UX.

Easy Navigation & Site Structure

website navigation conceptA solid navigation and logical site structure allows Google’s bots to easily crawl a website and determine what it is about and which keywords it is targeting. A website that has an organized, intuitive structure and navigation also provides a more pleasant user experience. Visitors are more likely to stay for longer on the website, to convert, and to possibly later link to or share a valuable piece of content.

Some other examples of where SEO and UX meet on your site include:

Beyond the previously mentioned common page elements that affect both UX and SEO, we also know that Google can currently understand other aspects of a website’s UX, such as page layout.

Recently, Google’s Pierre Far shared a post on Google+ telling publishers to make sure that they expose Javascript and CSS files to Google. Apparently, Google is able to use this knowledge to value links differently based on where they are placed on the page. Links that are placed in areas where the user can easily benefit from them will be given more SEO value.

The Future of UX and SEO

As Google becomes better at mimicking human behavior, UX is becoming more relevant in its search engine rankings. Its importance is only going to increase as we move into the future of search marketing.

Beyond this type of measurement of content quality, at this point in time, little is known for certain about the other UX aspects that Google might use as ranking factors both now and in the near future. According to Eric Enge at Stone Temple Consulting, the following are a few likely possibilities:

future of UX and SEO conceptThey could look at user engagement data.

“Search Engines may look at something more specific than just ‘bounce rate’ as a ranking factor.” Enge believes that Google could possibly look even more closely at how users behave once on a website.

They can do other types of on-page content analyses.

“For example, they can try to evaluate whether or not your page provides complete experiences: i.e., if they send 100 users to your page, what percentage of those will be satisfied?”

Think of the relationship of SEO and UX like this: UX targets your website’s visitors and SEO targets search engines. Both share a common goal of giving users the best possible experience. They are (and will remain) inseparable as we move further into the future of search marketing. Embrace them both!

The Big Picture for SEO

We know that a winning recipe in search marketing is not just SEO, but a great user experience combined with an excellent SEO strategy.

Will Reynolds, the director of digital strategy at SEER Interactive, agrees.

“The biggest way UX impacts SEO is simple. I think most of us can agree that Google is trying to understand user behavior and interaction with content. They might not have that completely figured out TODAY, but we know where that puck is going.”

At the end of the day, having a high SEO ranking and getting a user to your website is only part of the equation. You must be equally as interested in making sure that your website is providing solutions and solving user problems. A high quality user experience helps in making this a reality.


Leverage Marketing’s SEO and web design teams are ready to help you improve your site’s user experience. Contact Leverage today to learn more about our services.

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What Convinces Shoppers to Buy Online?

To say that everyone and their dog has shopped online isn’t too much of an exaggeration. According to a Pew Research report, 80% of Americans say they’ve shopped online, and 15% shop online every single week.

But just because most Americans are visiting online stores doesn’t mean they’re making purchases. A notable 70% of all online shopping carts are abandoned, representing an estimated $4 trillion that ecommerce companies are missing out on.

We already know that poor website design can create barriers that stop consumers from buying. So, after eliminating those barriers, what more can ecommerce businesses do to get shoppers to complete their purchases? In the infographic below, we look at some of the biggest factors that influence online shopping behavior.

why do people buy online infographic

Weighing the Cost

You probably won’t be too surprised to hear that price is one of the biggest factors that affects online buyer behavior. Almost 9 out of 10 shoppers compare prices between sellers, and 65% decide whether to buy online or at a brick-and-mortar store based on who has the lowest price.

Shipping costs can be a major deterrent in the online shopping journey. A little more than half (56%) of consumers have abandoned a shopping cart because they were presented with unexpected costs at checkout. Ecommerce companies can avoid this issue and give shoppers extra incentive to purchase by offering free shipping.

Feeling Informed

While competitive pricing is important, it’s not the only thing online shoppers look at. Since they aren’t able to view ecommerce products in person, online shoppers want to gather as much relevant information as they can before making a purchase. 88% of consumers say that detailed product information is extremely important to their purchase decision, and 66% want to see at least three images of an item they’re thinking about buying. Almost all shoppers (94%) say they’ll abandon a site if they can’t easily find the information they need.

The message to online retailers should be clear: don’t skimp on the product images or descriptions. Businesses that have a large product catalog should use a site search, filters, and intuitive categories so that shoppers can quickly find what they’re looking for in their digital customer journey.

Reading the Reviews

Shoppers like to know what other people think of products, especially when they’re thinking about getting an item they’ve never purchased before. More than 4 out of 5 consumers check online ratings and reviews before buying something new. Online shoppers value the information they get from reviews much more than any ads you could show them. 84% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Ecommerce retailers should display product reviews prominently so that shoppers can feel confident about making purchases. Businesses should respond to negative reviews but shouldn’t necessarily hide those reviews from consumers. Shoppers are less likely to trust a business that displays nothing but five-star reviews.

Enjoying the Convenience

Many shoppers appreciate the convenience of being able to buy without trekking to a brick-and-mortar store…as long as they don’t have to wait too long for their new purchase to arrive. 69% of consumers say that one-day shipping is a strong enough incentive to get them to buy online, and 31% actually expect businesses to offer an expedited shipping option.

Consumers also want to face as little friction as possible when returning an item that didn’t work out. 2 out of 3 people say that free returns and exchanges could incentivize them to shop online rather than at a traditional retail location.

Getting Personalized Recommendations

When faced with a huge selection of products in an online store, shoppers can fall victim to the paradox of choice. 4 out of 10 consumers say they have left a business’s website and made a purchase somewhere else after feeling overwhelmed by an abundance of options.

The solution to this problem isn’t necessarily cutting down on product offerings: it’s catering to individual shoppers. Providing personalized recommendations based on preferences or past purchases can significantly increase the chances that a shopper will continue down the ecommerce purchase funnel.

85% of online shoppers say they’ve been influenced by personalized promotions on an ecommerce retailer’s home page, and 92% say they’ve been influenced by personalized shopping cart recommendations. On top of that, 65% of shoppers say they’re more likely to buy from a retailer who emails them relevant and personalized promotions. Everyone loves a deal that’s tailor-made for them.

Sources:

Accenture

Baymard Institute

Bright Local

Kibo Commerce

Pew Research Center

Salsify

Shopify

Statista

UPS

Walker Sands Communications


Wondering how you can get more of your site visitors to buy? Contact Leverage Marketing to learn about our web design services for ecommerce businesses. We’ll review your website and make recommendations to increase sales and streamline your ecommerce purchase funnel.

Biggest User Experience Problems with Ecommerce Sites

This post was originally published in early 2017, but we’ve updated it with new information to reflect current trends in ecommerce user experience design.

Designing an ecommerce user experience that pleases the customer is hard. Besides creating a gratifying ecommerce layout design, you need to craft a seamless experience from landing page to purchase. We’ve created a list some of the common failings ecommerce sites fall into–and your site should attempt to avoid. By focusing on your ecommerce UX and avoiding these pitfalls, you can succeed.

ux problems infographic 2

Limited and Missing Product Info

Website users want straightforward information. They want sufficient details that explain what your product is and how it can help them. Your ecommerce site should have multiple pictures of each of your products from various angles, presented excitingly. Don’t use stock images either; customers prefer images you’ve created or photographs that were taken expressly for your product. Follow this advice, and you can be successful on your site, and have images ready for Google’s Shopping Platform, newsletters, and more.

Lack of Mobile Optimization

It’s impossible to ignore mobile–it’s growing and becoming a larger segment of ecommerce activity each year. People shop from their phones and tablets a significant amount of the time, especially around the holidays. Your ecommerce website should be responsive and easy-to-use on mobile, with large buttons and a simple checkout process. Developing your site for mobile can lead to increased conversions and draw in new customers.

Long or Confusing Checkout Process

A quick check out process is integral to the success of your ecommerce site. If your check out takes too long and isn’t smooth, it can dissuade buyers and lead to abandoned carts. A one-page checkout, with multiple options for payment–including the option to sign in with Google, Amazon, or PayPal can increase your conversion–and success.

Bad Site Search

You hopefully already have a site search function for your ecommerce site–but how well does it work? It should include filters and advanced functionality to help your customers find what they need. Give them options to search by category or feature. Purchasing and enabling quality software will make the search process easy and functional for your customers.

Missing Contact Information

This piece of advice is simple–don’t hide your contact information. You should provide multiple forms of communication: phone, email, chat; the best methods for your ecommerce website. The more expensive the products you’re selling, the more easily reachable you should be. Place this information prominently in your header or footer and include easy links to a contact us page.

Engaging Content: Videos, Etc.

To create a successful ecommerce site, you need to engage your buyers. That means creating exciting content for them to watch or read, including videos, infographics, case studies, and original information about your products. Your content should enhance the user experience, explain your products, and reinforce why your company is the right choice for the customer.

Poor Social Sharing Buttons

Social media is a vital aspect of ecommerce and ignoring it can be the downfall of any ecommerce site. A successful ecommerce site allows customers to share items they wish to or have purchased. Social sharing can result in additional conversions, and by making this process easy, you can increase your web presence as well.

Creating a seamless user experience for your ecommerce customers is one of the keys to your success.  Avoiding these pitfalls and focusing on ecommerce UX design will ensure your product shines and customers return to your site and recommend you to others. By following these ecommerce UX best practices, you can see increased conversions and higher revenue over time.


If you’re looking for some help with the user experience on your ecommerce site, Leverage is here to help you. We have experience working with ecommerce businesses and can tailor an approach to your company. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

Enhance Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy with Leverage Learning

95% of Americans make an online purchase at least once a year, and 80% have made at least one online purchase in the past month. And, as the Washington Post recently put it, about a third of consumers now buy something online at least as often as they take out the trash (once a week). As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, it may seem like there’s never been a better time to own an ecommerce business.

However, growth-focused ecommerce businesses still face plenty of challenges, especially when it comes to attracting shoppers (who may be inclined to start their search on Amazon) and converting those shoppers into paying customers.

Build Your Ecommerce Marketing Knowledge

At Leverage Marketing, we want to help online businesses address these challenges with actionable ecommerce marketing ideas. We’ve been doing this for years with our digital marketing services, and now we’re taking what we’ve learned and sharing it in a free educational email series called Leverage Learning: Ecommerce.

The goal of Leverage Learning: Ecommerce is to help online business owners find digital marketing ideas to reach more customers and increase sales. The series is broken into 11 lessons on the following subjects:

 

content marketing for ecommerce email preview

  1. Branding
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. UX Web Design
  4. Content Marketing
  5. Influencer Marketing
  6. Facebook and Instagram Marketing
  7. Paid Search Advertising
  8. Email Marketing
  9. Online Customer Service
  10. Mobile Marketing
  11. Measuring Success in Google Analytics

 

When you subscribe, you’ll receive a new email lesson twice a week until you’ve received the full series. The emails offer best practices for ecommerce marketing, quick tips that business owners can implement right away, and recommendations for free or low-cost tools to streamline marketing efforts.

If you’re ready to use digital marketing to drive sales for your ecommerce business, you can subscribe to our Leverage Learning: Ecommerce series by clicking here.

SEO for ecommerce email preview

And if you enjoy this series, stay tuned: we’ll be releasing our Leverage Learning: Content Marketing series next!


As always, we’d love for you to contact us if you have any questions about our Leverage Learning series or the digital marketing services we offer!

Which Web Design Company Should You Choose? 8 Things to Consider

Freelancers, web design specialists, full-service marketing agencies… how do you even begin to choose the right web designer for your business? There are a lot of factors you’ll need to consider based on your goals and the scope of your web design project, but we recommend starting by looking for a web designer who demonstrates these eight important qualities.

A Diverse Portfolio

Checking out several agencies’ portfolios will probably be one of your first steps when choosing a web design company. Pay close attention to the different brands and industries represented in each agency’s portfolio: has the agency worked with a diverse group of clients, or are they creating similar-looking sites for businesses in the same industry? You’ll want to work with an agency that can adapt their design aesthetic to match your brand and make your site stand out, rather than just coasting on a similar style across sites.

Quick Tip: Visit some of the sites the agency has designed rather than just looking at screenshots in the portfolio. Pull up the sites on your phone as well as your desktop to make sure they look great across all screen sizes.

An Understanding of Your Goals and Audience

target market for web design concept

A web design agency might not be an expert on your business or industry from the get-go, but they should do their research so that they understand your goals and the audience you’re trying to reach with your site. When you first meet with them, they should give you the opportunity to talk about your business model, sales cycle, customers, and pain points. A good agency will recognize that they need to combine your industry knowledge with their design expertise to succeed.

The Ability to Design a Site That Scales with Your Business

telescope long-term marketing concept

It’s probably not much of a wild guess to say that you want to grow your business—that’s why you’re redesigning your website (or creating a new one), right? To that end, you should look for a web designer who can help you set up a site that can scale with your business. A top web design agency should recommend a web host that has enough bandwidth as your site begins to get more traffic and a CMS platform that allows for add-ons as your website evolves.

A Big Picture Marketing Approach

You’ve probably heard the expression “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Keep that in mind when choosing a web design company. You don’t want to work with a designer who is so caught up in the initial site design that they don’t consider your long-term marketing goals. Ideally, you should look for an agency that does more than just design. By partnering with an agency that offers branding, SEO, and content marketing services, you’ll have a new website created with an integrative marketing approach.

Quick Tip:
It’s especially important to work with an agency that can build a search engine optimized site. After all, your site needs to rank for relevant search results to drive organic traffic.

A Focus on User Experience

Your agency shouldn’t just rely on the latest design trends. They should focus on design strategies that improve the user experience and lead to more conversions. To get a sense of their UX design skills, go back to the websites of several of their past clients. Are the sites easy to navigate? Are the calls-to-action clear and easy to find? If you’re looking at an ecommerce site, is the checkout process straightforward and painless?

A Willingness to Stick with You Post-Launch

toolbox site maintenance concept

Before hiring a web designer, ask them about the services they can offer you after your new or redesigned site launches. One of our top tips for hiring a web designer is to choose someone who can provide troubleshooting and maintenance assistance after your site launch. That will save you from having to find a new vendor and bring them up to speed.

Awesome Communication Skills

It’s probably too much to expect your web designer to pick up the phone at 11 pm on a Saturday, but they should provide reasonably prompt responses to your questions and feedback (at least during business hours). When interviewing web design agencies, ask if there will be a designated point person you can reach out to for help. Also, find out how the agency plans to keep you updated on project developments—can they set up recurring meetings and walk you through exactly what they’re doing.

Quick Tip:
Contact several of the agency’s past clients to find out what their experience has been. Be sure to ask how well the agency communicated with them.

Data-Driven Decisions

When investing in a website redesign, you don’t want to go with an agency that makes all their decisions based on gut instinct. The best web design agencies will be able to show the results of past projects by looking at KPIs like bounce rate, site traffic, goal completion, and conversion rate. Your web design agency should perform an audit of your current site, make recommendations based on your site’s performance, and provide transparent reports once your new site goes live.


We can’t tell you which web design agency to choose, but we CAN recommend checking out Leverage’s web design services! Give us a call to learn more about what we can do for your site.

How To Increase Your Lead Form Conversion Rate

For a lead generation business, a lot of pressure rests on the humble online contact form. It’s responsible for collecting the information the sales team needs to follow up with qualified leads, and if it can’t convince site visitors to submit their information, the flow of leads can quickly dry up.

Fortunately, an underperforming lead gen form isn’t a lost cause. The beauty of online forms is that you can regularly tweak them and track their performance to see what contact form version gets the highest conversion rate.

So where do you start when you want to improve your contact form conversion rate? If you’re relatively new to form creation and inbound marketing, we recommend checking out our blog post on lead form best practices. If you’re already using simple forms on your website but want to get more out of them, check out our tips below (think of this as Lead Form Best Practices 201).

Make Sure You’re Tracking Lead Form Conversions Accurately

Before you start tinkering with your lead gen form, make sure you’re tracking your lead form conversion in Google Analytics. The easiest way to track your conversions is to set up a Custom Goal that registers as completed after a visitor fills out your form and lands on a Thank You page. To do this:

  1. Create a Thank You page for people who complete your form. (Make sure it’s a unique thank you page, not one you’ve used for other forms or purchases.)
  2. Go to Admin in Google Analytics.
  3. Go to Goals and click +New Goal
  4. Give your Goal a name and select Destination as the type.
  5. Set the destination as equal to the URL of your confirmation page.

Goal Creation step in Google Analytics

With your new Goal set, you’ll be able to view the contact form conversion rate by going to Conversions–>Goals–>Goal URLs in your Google Analytics Reports.

When setting up your Goal, you can also turn on Funnels. You’ll be prompted to enter the URLs for the funnel steps, i.e. the path through your site you expect users to take to get to your lead gen form. You can then start using the Funnel Visualization report, which makes it easy to see if users are dropping off at certain points of the funnel.

funnel visualization in google analytics

Example of Funnel Visualization report in Google Analytics

Try a New Location for Your Form

If your lead form has a lower conversion rate than expected, it could be because it’s not getting a lot of visibility in its current location (you can use Google Analytics to check traffic to the page with the contact form). Test out your contact form in a new location to see if traffic and form fills increase. You could also try creating a pop-up form using a tool like OptinMonster. You can set up the pop-up form so that it’s triggered by a specific user action (such as scrolling 50% of the way down the page or staying on a page for a certain amount of time). That way, you’re presenting your form to users after they’ve had some time to engage with your site and familiarize themselves with your products or services.

lead gen form pop-up

Pop-up lead gen form on OptinMonster’s site

Earn Trust with Social Proof

Site visitors may be wary about sharing their information unless they know they’re getting something of value in exchange, and one way to prove the value of your offer is to use social evidence. If you’re trying to get visitors to fill out a contact form to receive a downloadable asset, tell them how many people have already downloaded it. Consider having your web developer add a counter above the form so that visitors can see the number of downloads updating in real time.

When asking site visitors to fill out a form to receive any offer or service, you can build trust by displaying short testimonials from happy customers. If your customers give you permission, consider displaying small photos with each testimonial so that site visitors can see that the testimonials are coming from real people.

lead gen form with social proof

mHelpDesk uses customer videos as social proof.

Incorporate Autocomplete for Location Fields

According to Google, adding autofill attributes to forms allows users to complete those forms up to 30% faster. When forms take less time to fill out, users experience less friction and contact form conversion rates go up.

Autocomplete is most useful for location fields (such as Country or Street), where users might otherwise have to choose an option from an extensive drop-down menu or type out their full address. When you add autocomplete, the user should only have to type in a few letters before seeing a drop-down with the most likely options. You can add autocomplete for locations with the code for the Google Places API, which you’ll find here. If your site is built on WordPress, you can simply install a plugin that doesn’t require any coding.

Keep Your Design Minimal

If a lot of site visitors are making it to the page your contact form lives on but failing to get any further, you may need to take a look at your page and form design. If there are too many buttons and graphic elements on the page, visitors could be getting distracted and drawn away from the lead gen form. You can remedy this problem by redesigning the page so that there’s more white space. This will cause visitors’ eyes to go to the contact form immediately and will make it easier for them to scan the form fields.

Zendesk uses a simple, professional design to keep eyes on their lead gen form.

You’ll probably still want to include some visuals—such as branded graphics or product photos—on your contact form page. Just make sure any visuals you include fit seamlessly with the rest of the page and draw the viewers’ eyes toward the form, not away from it.


Want to know more about website improvements that can increase your conversion rates? Set up a call with the Leverage Marketing team—we’d love to talk to you about how our digital marketing services can help you meet your lead gen goals.

In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter for more actionable marketing advice.

How to Build a High-Quality Landing Page that Converts

When considering top landing page designs, most industry experts will tell you that every landing page is unique and has its own requirements. They’ll tell you that landing page elements will differ depending on whether you’re promoting a service or a product, and what that service or product does will also change what’s on the landing page.

Yes, of course, every landing page will differ. Landing page best practices dictate that each page should provide unique value to consumers. That’s absolutely true.

But there are nine essentials to a perfect landing page that nearly every one ought to feature. Include the following nine elements on your landing pages to tap into the deepest parts of marketing psychology and help your consumers learn why your product or service is the ultimate.

Essential Elements of the Landing Page Format

Each item includes a description underneath the mock landing page below.

To describe the elements of high-converting landing pages, we have created a fictional robot butler that specializes in cooking breakfast. We’ve optimized a landing page to solve a problem for consumers searching for phrases such as “no time for breakfast” or “robot that cooks.”

high quality landing page example using constructicon malcom robot

Information-Rich Heading – 1

Your heading, styled using the <h1> and </h1> HTML tags, should:

  • Summarize the purpose of your product or service
  • Capture attention with witty or clever copy

Your heading is the first thing the customer will see and will determine whether he or she stays to look at the rest of your landing page or bounces. Aim to sell your product or service in less than six words.

Visual Media – 2

Not every customer is a reader, so to appeal to the visual type (almost everyone), add large visual media to your landing page format that’s easy on the eyes. Images, animations, and videos should:

  • Demonstrate the action or purpose of your product or service
  • Evoke an emotion that will provide inspiration to continue down the landing page

Keep your visual media compressed but beautiful. Use tools like TinyPNG after resizing your images and animations to their appropriate size. This way, your landing page loads fast and doesn’t keep your customer waiting.

Explanation – 3

As the consumer scrolls down the page, he or she is building an understanding of your product or service and determining its value step-by-step. The explanation is your opportunity to influence the consumer’s thoughts and build onto the skeleton provided by your headline and visuals.

A good landing page explanation should:

  • Offer hard facts about your product or service
  • Highlight what makes your product or service different than that of your competitors

Before you begin explaining the benefits of using what you provide to customers, make sure they have all the information they need to apply benefits to real features you offer.

Benefits – 4

The benefits section of a high-converting landing page takes the raw facts about your product or service and shows the customer how those apply to his or her problem.

A successful benefits section should:

  • Concisely list how your features help
  • Begin the process of convincing the consumer that your offering is superior

Negative Impact (Problem) – 5

One of the most poignant elements of a good landing page is an appeal to emotion that stems from a problem the consumer is having. We can address the problem and its toll on the happiness of the consumer by identifying a negative issue that calls an unpleasant response.

The negative impact should:

  • Help consumers recall the problem for which they are seeking a solution
  • Stir the consumer’s emotions and concerns so you can appropriately address them

The purpose of the negative impact is not to upset the consumer. It is only to make him or her aware of the problem for which you are providing the solution.

Positive Impact (Solution) – 6

Pull your consumer back from the negative and introduce a positive solution in your landing page copy. Use language that conjures thoughts of pleasure and happiness.

The positive impact should:

  • Remind customers that your product or service is a viable solution to their problem
  • Restore emotions to a level at which consumers are prepared to purchase

The positive impact makes you look like a hero. After presenting the problem and your unique solution, most customers will be ready to dive into what you offer.

Testimonials – 7

Best practices for landing page conversion dictate that your customers have to trust you. Even if they love your product or service and are convinced that your solution is perfect, there is still a threat of loss.

Too-good-to-be-true merchandise and high-expectation, low-value service exist in droves in the real world. You need the backing of pleased customers to convince those with a lot to lose that they have nothing to worry about.

You can do so with testimonials, which can come in text, image, or video format. Testimonials should:

  • Provide real insight from actual customers about your past performance
  • Build undeniable trust with your potential customers

Contact Info – 8

Don’t forget! Your customers can’t get in touch with you to ask questions or request service without the essential contact info. Your contact info should:

  • Include a sales or service email address for corresponding directly with customers, a working phone number, and the address of your headquarters
  • Be easy to find – phone numbers at the top of the page are well-loved by customers, as are email addresses.

Make sure your logo is easy to find as well so that new customers begin building an image of your company’s brand and what they offer.

CTA – 9

Follow up your testimonials with a last call to action. Avoid impersonal or threatening CTAs such as Click Here or Submit. Instead, relate on a personal level with your consumer.

An effective CTA should:

  • Tell the customer how easy it is to get started with your company
  • Reassure the customer that you’ll guide him or her through the entire process.

The Rest Is Up to You

Landing pages can include more, but usually should not include any less. You can structure your landing page to fit the flow of information better for your particular product or service, but ensure that each element is in your landing page and is easy to find.

What makes customers click through landing pages is a cohesive, uninterrupted experience that fully explains and promotes your product or service. Don’t cut corners on your landing pages, and follow best practices each time to achieve consistent, high-converting landing pages across the board.

Creating high-converting landing pages is one of our specialties at Leverage Marketing. If you’re having trouble getting conversions, try making your landing pages the Leverage way!

What Encourages People to Complete Online Forms? [UPDATED]

We originally published this post back in 2015. Since a lot can change in the online world in two years, we’ve published an updated version for 2017. 

The purpose of an online form is to collect information from site visitors, so it’s always baffling when websites make it difficult or confusing for visitors to share their information. If it requires a Herculean effort for your users to fill out a form, they’re not going to do it, and you’re going to lose out on a conversion and/or valuable customer data.

So how do you cut down on user effort and make your form super appealing? You could deploy robot assistants to fill out the form while customers dictate… or you could use the tips below to improve the user experience.

Make Benefits Clear

Nobody’s going to fill out a form just because they think it will make employees at your company happy—you need to make it clear that the user is getting some direct benefit that outweighs the cost of submitting their information.

If space allows, briefly outline a few reasons someone should complete the form. For an ecommerce site, these might include a faster checkout process or exclusive email offers. For a B2B site, these might include access to original research and industry insider information.

Online form outlining clear benefits of ebook download

Foundr Magazine gives readers a preview of their ebook and explains how it will be beneficial.

Keep Fields to a Minimum

What sounds better: filling in 3 fields, or filling in 15? Unless you’re the rare online form enthusiast, you’ll want to fill in as little as possible, and so will your customers. If your online form currently rivals War and Peace in length, it’s time to look at what you can cut out.

Avoid optional fields whenever possible. Very few users are going to fill in more than the bare minimum, so anything optional tends to be a waste of space. Stick with only the fields you need in order to meet your goals with the form: in some cases, this could just be a name and email address.

 

Simple email form for free trial

Podio keeps it simple: users just have to enter their work email to start a free trial.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if you’re using a simple form for lead generation but find you’re getting too many unqualified leads, you may need to add several fields and ask more targeted questions to hone in on the right audience.  
If you do have a complex form that you can’t cut down, try grouping fields into subsections like ‘Account Info’ and ‘Contact Info’ in order to make the form less daunting. You can also break the form up into manageable steps, but if you do this, make sure you use a progress bar so that users know exactly how many steps they have to complete.

Use Real-Time Validation to Reduce Errors

Have you ever completed a form only to hit the submit button and see a message in red text saying you’ve made an error? It’s a frustrating experience and one that can be easily avoided if you use real-time validation.

With real-time validation, a user is informed that they’ve made an error as soon as it happens. For example, if they enter their phone number with dashes, they might get a notification next to the field telling them they need to remove the dashes. It streamlines the form fill process and saves the user from hunting down a single error after they’ve completed the entire form.

registration form with real-time validation

Source: Ire Aderinokun, Bits of Code

Avoid Boring Call-to-Action Buttons

A call-to-action button that just says ‘Submit’ doesn’t tell a user much, other than that they’re sending their information off to your company’s database. Give users a reason to click that CTA by customizing it so that it tells them what they’re getting.  If they’ve filled out this form to access your new eBook, the CTA might say ‘Download Your Free eBook’.

It’s also important to make the CTA button easy to see. It should ideally be a color that’s distinct from the other colors on the page and surrounded by plenty of white space.

Online form with creative CTA button

Treehouse makes it personal by inviting you to “Claim Your Free Trial”

Keep Mobile Users in Mind

Over three-quarters of American adults now own a smartphone, so it’s more important than ever to think about mobile users when designing your forms.

To make your form as easy as possible to fill out on a mobile device, use smart defaults whenever possible. If you need a user’s location, you might be able to populate that field based on GPS data. If you need their language, populate that field using their browser’s default language.

Labels should be directly above each field rather than to the side. On a narrow smartphone screen, left-align labels leave less space for the field itself, and users may not be able to see their entire input (making them more likely to make errors).

Remember that mobile users are working with a touchscreen. Leave enough room between fields so that a user can easily touch and activate one without accidentally activating another element of the form.

A/B Test Your Forms

Think your online form looks good? There’s still room to fine-tune it using cold, hard data. Choose a variable to test (such as the CTA button) and then create two versions of the form, changing only this one variable. Your digital marketing team can help you run both versions so that you can see which gets more submitted forms. Keep testing other variables one at a time in order to hone in on your optimal form.


Need help with your online form design? Our Leverage team offers web design services for ecommerce and lead generation businesses, and we’d be happy to talk.

40 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Maybe you’re planning to hire a marketing agency for the first time. Maybe you’ve been burned by a black hat SEO agency and have sworn you’ll be more particular about the next marketing partner you choose. Whatever the case, you know that when hiring a digital marketing agency, you need to do your research and ask all the right questions.

Not sure if you’re covering enough ground with your current list of questions? We can help with that. We’ve come up with a list of 40 questions to ask before hiring a digital marketing agency. Many of them are questions that our clients have asked us—or that we wish would come up more often!

No time to read the list right now? Save it for later:

40 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Jump to a section:

SEO

  1. How will you improve our search engine rankings? Get the agency to talk about their process. Watch out for agencies that use black hat techniques (such as buying low-quality links) or promise that they can get your page to rank number one for certain keywords.
  2. What’s your process for earning high-quality links? Does the agency have a database of relevant placement opportunities and a process for reaching out to bloggers?
  3. Do you follow Google Webmaster Guidelines? Your agency should always follow the Webmaster Guidelines to help Google find, index, and rank your site. Following these guidelines will also help your site avoid penalties.
  4. Have you ever helped a site recover from a penalty? Can you tell me about that process? Hopefully, the agency hasn’t gotten any of their clients penalized, but they may have had new clients come to them needing help recovering from a Google algorithm penalty.
  5. How long will it take to see results? The agency won’t be able to give you an exact date, but effective SEO campaigns should start positively affecting your site in about three to six months.
  6. What will I need to do to make the campaign successful? Find out what information you can give the agency to make your SEO campaigns as successful as possible.

Content Marketing

  1. Can you show us some writing samples? Any agency that offers content marketing services should be able to show you examples of their writers’ best work.
  2. How will your writers familiarize themselves with our business and industry? You need to know your agency can handle the amount of research needed to produce authoritative content for your business.
  3. How do you optimize your content for readers and search engines? Learn about the content team’s process for connecting with your target audience. Find out how closely they work with the SEO team and whether they optimize their content for relevant keywords.
  4. What types of content do you produce? Find out if the agency has experience producing not just website copy and blog posts but also infographics, video scripts, short animations, email campaigns, eBooks, and more.
  5. How many internal and external content pieces will you create per month? If your goal is to stay top-of-mind with your audience by publishing a new blog post every day, you’ll need to make sure your agency has enough bandwidth.
  6. Will you be publishing new content on our site? Find out if the agency can add images, format content to appeal to online readers, and publish the final product to your site. If the agency doesn’t handle publication, you’ll have to assign an in-house team member to stay on top of it.
  7. What metrics will you report on? The agency should go beyond just vanity metrics (traffic, social shares, number of comments) and measure how their content assists in conversions.

Paid Search

  1. Do you have a Google Partner Badge? If your agency has a Google Partner Badge, it means they have employees who are certified in Google AdWords, have access to their own Google Agency Team, and keep up with the latest AdWords innovations.
  2. Do you offer services across multiple PPC platforms (not just AdWords)? While Google is the most widely used search platform, it may be worthwhile to find out if your PPC agency also uses Bing Ads (especially since Bing has a 22% share of desktop search traffic).
  3. What tools do you use to optimize your paid search campaigns? The agency you’re interviewing might use paid search tools that would be too expensive for you to bring in-house. They may also have proprietary tools that you can’t get anywhere else.
  4. Will we be able to see actual spend within AdWords? Your agency should be transparent about how they’re spending your ad dollars.
  5. What metrics are included in your standard reports? CPC, CTR, ad positions, conversion rate of keywords and landing pages—your agency should deliver easy-to-read reports that make it clear how your paid search campaigns have been performing.
  6. Do you have experience managing paid campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn? As organic reach on Facebook and LinkedIn decreases, it’s becoming more valuable to hire a marketing agency with experience in paid social media.

Social Media

  1. What social channels should my company be on? Chances are, you don’t need to be on every social media network in existence. Your agency should be able to recommend the channels that are most relevant to you based on your audience and business goals.
  2. What is your process for community management across platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)? A good social media team should be prepared to respond to comments and facilitate conversations on all your social channels—and to look for ways to connect with customers across those channels.
  3. How will you ensure our social media presence reflects our brand? Your agency should be thinking of social media strategies that are consistent with your brand rather than just resorting to tactics they’ve used for other clients.
  4. What is your content development strategy? Find out how closely your agency’s social media and content marketing teams work together when it comes to producing social content.
  5. How do you measure ROI on social media efforts? Your agency should be able to describe how they’ll track campaigns and measure the results in relation to your goals (e.g. conversions, revenue, customer acquisition).

Web Design

  1. Can you show us some of the websites you’ve designed? Although your website obviously won’t look exactly like the others your agency has designed, it’s good to get a sense of their aesthetic before you commit.
  2. Do you custom-design websites or use templates? If you have a limited budget and your website isn’t a major source of sales, a template site might be enough. However, if you need a unique site that will generate leads or sales, you should talk to agencies that offer custom design services.
  3. How much input will I have in the design? Find out if you’ll be able to see the website and provide input as it’s being created. You should also find out what the agency’s process will be if you don’t like the initial design.
  4. Will you use responsive design? Any good web design agency knows that websites need to look good on all screen sizes, from smartphones to desktop monitors.
  5. Will my website be able to scale as my business grows? Your agency should design your website so that more products, services, navigation options, and other features can be added as needed without a complete site redesign.
  6. Do you offer ecommerce services? If you have an ecommerce business, you’ll want to work with an agency that can handle shopping carts, support for multiple currencies, updating prices to reflect discounts, and more.
  7. Do you offer ongoing maintenance once the site goes live? Will the agency be able to handle troubleshooting post-launch, or will you have to find another vendor to maintain your website?
  8. What role does SEO play in your site design? Will your web design agency also be able to produce keyword-optimized content, add title and meta tags, implement a crawlable link structure, and use other strategies to make your site SEO-friendly from the start?
  9. Do you set up Analytics tracking when designing a new site? It’s important to get Google Analytics tracking set up with your new site so that you can begin viewing behavior and performance metrics.
  10. What kind of security features do you offer? It’s a good idea to make sure your agency can set up a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to establish a secure connection for traffic between the web browser and server.

General

  1. How will you help me stand out from my competition? Your agency needs to understand your target audience and what you can deliver to your audience that your competitors can’t.
  2. How will you improve my site’s conversion rate? The agencies you interview may talk about how they can improve your visibility and increase traffic to your site, but they ultimately need to increase conversions/sales to make your investment pay off.
  3. What experience do you have working with businesses in my industry? It’s nice to know if your agency has experience with other businesses in your industry, but it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if they don’t. You could also ask: What steps will you take to become an expert on my business and industry?
  4. How will we communicate? Find out who you’ll be working with on a regular basis and how often you can expect to talk with them.
  5. How will you report on our progress month-over-month? Will the agency deliver an easy-to-read report and summary every month? Will they walk you through the report in a monthly meeting?
  6. How do your different marketing efforts fit together? Ideally, you’ll find a digital agency that sees all its departments as working together towards big-picture goals, rather than existing in separate silos.

We hope these questions will help you in hiring a digital marketing agency. And don’t forget: Leverage offers all the services described above. Contact us to learn more, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter to have helpful marketing advice delivered to your inbox.

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