Hello and welcome to the second lesson in our two week masterclass series. After today’s lesson, you will have a completely different perspective on how to go about building a successful website or online business.
So we have built our website and we understand that building our “home base” is an important first step in our journey. We want to own our content. We want to own our brand. I hope everyone understands this by now.
So now what? What’s next?
It seems like the next practical step is to start spreading your message and awareness about your business, but that would be a mistake. We need to understand that traffic is not the most important metric. Although traffic is obviously relevant, we still have to know what our absolute most important metric is.
Our most important metric is conversions.
How many people are converting into paying customers? What percentage of people coming to your site are converting into a sale or a lead or a click?
Remember, there is no money in traffic. There is only money in conversions. Without conversions, all you have is a site with a bunch of traffic. That’s it.
Why Conversion Optimization Comes First
We want to understand conversion rates before we start driving traffic to our website because we want to be sure that we will be getting a return on our time.
Building a following and driving traffic to a website is a commitment. It costs money and time. Why would you want to spend time building a following and then have nothing to show for it?
Understanding conversion before you start marketing a site will ensure that the hard work you put into building your brand will pay off in the end. Believe me, there is nothing more demoralizing than spending time and money on building a site and not being able to figure out why no one is buying your product or service.
It’s heartbreaking and it will take all the fun out of building the business.
So that brings us to the next question. How do we optimize our site for conversions? This lesson is broken down into 5 different sections. Be sure to study each section and of course, reach out to me directly if you have any questions or if you are unsure about something.
Let’s get started.
Step 1 – Define Your Goal
This is critical. Absolutely critical.
It seems trivial and common sense, but defining EXACTLY what a conversion is will determine our strategy. For instance, converting on a sale of a product will look a lot different than if you are converting on a phone call or if you are converting on a click on an advertisement on your website.
You need to know what you are after. Most of the time, it will be as simple as defining a conversions as a sale. But I want you to get into the habit of defining a goal or a conversion for everything.
As time goes on and your marketing efforts get more sophisticated, I want you to start assigning goals to every action you perform. For instance, you could be building a landing page campaign that is designed to collect emails. Or maybe you are running a sale on a product or you are giving away free consultations for a limited time. If you get in the habit of defining what a conversion is at all points of your site, you will start to see your website as a funnel and begin to understand the journey that your user is in.
No matter what, you should always know what a conversion would look like. Every page, every post, every comment, every action should have a purpose.
Start getting into the habit of defining your goal for every action, no matter how small or irrelevant it may be.
Step 2 – Know and Create Your Story
People buy stories.
We are story telling machines. One could easily argue that story telling is at the core of our survival as a species. It is our mechanism to understand needs and wants.
In order to properly convert a user, you need to define your story.
In marketing, we refer to this as “the hero’s journey.” The hero’s journey is a story telling concept that has built the framework of basically every movie you have ever seen and every book you’ve ever read. Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast all follow the same basic story arc.
What do all of these stories have in common? They all have main characters heroes. All the heroes have a problem and the hero finds a guide to help them solve their problem. That is what your business is. That is your story. You are the guide.
If that sounds very abstract and confusing, just keep reading.
Part 1 – Establish the problem
In order for your business to be successful, you need to solve problems. Even commodity products position themselves in a way in which they are solving a problem.
So step one in establishing your story is to establish the problem you are going to solve. For this step, I want you to stop what you are doing. I want you to grab a notebook and define the problem you are solving. Don’t over think it, don’t try to be overly elegant. Just brainstorm. Some examples could be…
- We help people feel good in sunglasses.
- We make women feel sexy in our lingerie.
- I help people lose weight with my custom diet plan.
- I help business save money on their taxes.
Let’s say it again. In order to convert your traffic into paying customers, you will need to solve a problem. That brings us to step two…
Step 2 – Lay out your plan
Remember, your business is not the hero. Your business is the guide. The guide’s job is to establish a plan.
Obi won taught Luke about the force. That’s what you are doing. You are guiding your hero (your customers and clients) by giving them a plan.
For the next step. I want you to take that same piece of paper and list out your plan.
For example, a real estate agency might say…
You deserve a home your family can grow up in. My team has established a plan to get you there.
- We meet and have coffee for an informal meeting.
- We assess what matters most to you in a home and a neighborhood and how it fits into your budget.
- You get a customized lists of homes and together, we will tour the neighborhoods until you find the home you’ve been dreaming about.
Be sure to tell the story of how you are going to change the lives of your user. What problem are you going to solve? It doesn’t need to be a life altering solution. Many times the problem you are solving is as simple as “helping you feel good in a new pair of sunglasses.”
Now that you have created your story, you want to tell that story right at the beginning of the user journey of your website.
One of the biggest conversion killers is subtlety. People generally feel uncomfortable being upfront about sales, but telling your story from the vantage point of the guide is a way to be upfront about your intentions and do so in a way that serves your customers.
So be upfront about your intentions and tell your story on the top of your homepage. Front and center. Say it loud and say it proud. You will be amazed on how effective the right words and the right story are in clarifying your message and converting your web traffic to paying customers.
Let’s look at some examples.
EX 1 – My Own Website: I am an online marketing and business consultant. Is there any confusion or lack of clarity in my story?
EX 2 – CopyBlogger: A website that teaches people who use blogging as a marketing tactic. You learn right from the beginning what my guide plans to teach me and you see the call to action.
EX 3 – Autumn Calabrese: Fitness expert and personal trainer. Notice how the story makes the user feel like fitness is “easier.” It is disarming and incentivizes people to take the next step
Ex 4 – Good Financial Cents: The Website of Jeff Rose who is a successful financial adviser. You can see his story gives his users confidence that financial freedom is possible and completely within reach.
Step 3 – Understanding and Implementing Calls to Action
We just went over creating our story, now we need to find more technical ways to convert our traffic into paying customers. This is where the psychology of design really matters.
Note – a lot of people get intimidated at this step because they feel that in order to change the design of a website, they will need to have high level design and development experience. Although hiring a developer can be a great investment, you don’t NEED one to achieve the benefits. Do what you can with what you’ve got.
Going back to step one, we have already defined our goal. So now, what is it that we can do so that people are easily able to take action and convert?
There is a delicate balance with calls to action. No one likes to be yelled at or feel like they are being forced into making a decision. People are generally turned off by the hard sale. But in the same respect, it is important to properly incentivize people to perform an action.
So how do we use web design and visual elements to create calls to action that will convert? Generally speaking, we can talk about four different key points.
1 – Directional ques. This means that you literally want to point someone to the place where they are able to perform an action. For instance, if you want people to scroll down so that they can buy a product, then feel free to put a down arrow on the page so people know where to go next.
2 – Contrasting colors. When you have a button that will lead to a sale or a call, you always want that button to stand out. Using contrasting colors is a simple yet extremely effective way to show people exactly what to do in order to perform a specific action.
3 – Start with a verb. Every time you have a call to action on a website, you always want to start the sentence or command with a verb. “Click here” works for just about any command. But if you want to experiment with different button text, you can try things like “call now,” or “get started,” or “receive your free booklet.”
4 – Place your calls to action throughout the entire site. Again, we don’t want to beat around the bush. Your homepage should have at least two or three calls to action on it. There should be a call to action on the navigation bar. There should be product placements throughout the entire website.
The purpose of your online business is to generate revenue, so you want to be upfront about your agenda without coming across as sleazy or aggressive.
But without proper calls to action, your users will not know what they are supposed to do.
Step 4 – Turn Your Blog Into a Sales Funnel
By now you should see how all of your story telling and your calls to action are fitting together to create a unified brand. We take this concept of story telling and we can apply it in many different areas.
Now that we have developed an overall message and story for your brand, we want to dive in a little deeper and consider how we can get even more detail oriented with story telling in our content.
In step 4, you will apply all the lessons you have learned about converting and implement them to blog posts, videos, Instagram posts, podcasts and images. When speaking specifically about the website, our content will mostly be published and distributed through the blog. So we want to make sure that we use our blog in a way that will bring people on an emotional journey which will prime them to convert on a purchase.
When you create blog posts, you want to always be thinking of ways that you can add value to people’s lives. You want to be thinking of problems that you can potentially solve. But most importantly, you want to be distinguishing yourself as an authority in your field.
For instance, let’s imagine you are a pilates instructor and you write a blog post about proper form in pilates sequences. In your blog post, you are creating value for your user. You are sharing information with them that can be applied directly to improve their own pilates practice. However, you are also establishing yourself as an authority in your craft. You are showing through your actions that you know your craft and your business.
If you tell your story in the right way, your user will come to the end of the blog post and be thinking of you as a leader in your industry and also wanting what it is that you offer. This is why placing calls to action at the end of blog posts is so effective.
This is good marketing. This is what Seth Godin calls “emotional labor.” You are giving first and in return you will become a trusted and respected leader in your industry.
Step 5 – Understanding AIDA
I hope everything is coming together for you. I hope that by now you are starting to buy in to the power of effective story telling and seeing why establishing your messaging is even more important than spreading your message.
Now, the final step in our lesson of converion is going to be an overarching concept that can be applied to all the other 4 steps we have gone through.
This concept has been proven to be effective over and over again. It has been used millions if not billions of times by marketers and will be continue to be used because of its simplicity and its effectiveness.
I am talking about AIDA.
ADIA is an acronym that breaks down how to present your story in a way that funnels your users into a conversion. Let’s break it down piece by piece.
A is for awareness – When I am writing a blog piece I would want to start the piece with something that gets your attention. The attention grabbing element is usually short. It might say something like “do you want to feel more confident in your skin?”
Of course you do. Who wouldn’t want to feel more confident? I have your awareness.
I is for interest – Now that you have someone’s attention, you only have a short window of time to keep their attention and get them “interested” in learning more. This could mean following up the awareness element with something like “what if I told you that you could improve your diet, improve your relationships and improve your overall happiness?”
Hmmm… sounds interesting. Tell me more.
D is for desire – At this point in a sales funnel, you haven’t actually converted anyone into an emotional state of buying. Your story hasn’t progressed in a way that makes someone feel like they want what it is that you are offering. You still have to leverage thier desire for your product or your service.
This could sound something like… “when you buy my 8 week fitness program, you will see results and you will love the person you see in the mirror. My clients are constantly telling me that they are losing weight, they are pushing themselves harder and are seeing the benefits in their mood, their energy levels and even their sex lives. My 8 week fitness program is proven to get results. You want in?”
By now, you will have filtered out the users who do not have a desire for your product or service. Remember, not everyone will convert into a sale and that’s okay. With your AIDA system, you have eliminated users who either don’t qualify for your program or aren’t a good match for your product or can’t afford it.
None the less, by now the people who remain will have a deep desire to convert.
A is for action – There is only one thing left to do. You need to close the deal. This is why developing your calls to action is so important. Since we have created your calls to action, we have put ourselves in the best position for complete the funnel.
Now, all you have to do is TELL PEOPLE what to do next. This could sound something like… “Great! To start your journey to happiness, simply click the button below and sign up for my program!”
It’s worth repeating that the AIDA system is not a rocket science system. It’s beauty is in its simplicity and its effectiveness.
I want you to memorize this sequence. I want you to practice telling stories that will bring people down the AIDA funnel. I want you to start recognizing where this concept is being used in marketing all around you.
Bringing It All Together
Getting good at conversion optimization takes practice. Step two in our course is difficult because it isn’t a technical skill that can be learned but rather an abstract skill that requires trial and error. This is why we want to start now.
Although these are mutually exclusive, they are also connected. The more you practice and experiment, the more you will be able to see how adding calls to action in certain spots in blog posts can be beneficial. You will see how you can tell stories all over your website. You will see how you can bring people on a journey and find the people who are most appropriate to be a customer or client.
If you build your site and your messaging around my conversion tactics, you will see results. You will be able to monetize your site and your brand and you will have a return on the hard work you put into your site.
If you have any questions or if you are looking for me to go into more detail and certain areas, reach out to me here.
Thank you so much and I will see you in the next lesson. Now get after it!