Affordable Solutions To Usability

It isn’t affordable for everyone to hire a Conversion Rate Optimizer or hire an agency to do it for them. Especially when it is your startup and no one on your team has the necessary experience. Often times, your small businesses website was created by you, or at least you hired someone as a freelancer to build you a WordPress or Shopify site. You’ve made some initial headway and cranked out what you’re good at, but your website traffic isn’t converting how you’d like. Spending the money to hire someone is expensive, but the web is overwhelmed with UI/UX and CRO best-practices.

We often turn clients away early on in their businesses’ life-cycle because their budget is often better spent elsewhere at that stage. We often direct them to a string of resources available on usability and conversion rate optimization. I decided to compile a series of tools and suggestions to help optimize your website yourself, or at least point you in the right direction.

  1. List your goals and analyze them – Every website has a series of goals and KPI’s (key performance indicators) in mind, that serves as their purpose for having a website. Whether it’s sales for an ecommerce site (duh), newsletter signups, social shares, or phone call inquiries, every page has a mission. Before looking at your website, write down the goal completions your ideal customer accomplishes in a single visit of your page. Now check out every major page of your site. Are these goals clear to the consumer? Can they be accomplished in one or two clicks? Is the copy guiding them to appropriate calls-to-action (signup buttons, add to cart, etc.). Once you have a roadmap for your website, each goal should be clearly outlined on the page. There may be a laundry list of tools out there, but writing down the base goal of each page will really help you pinpoint what is working (and what’s not).
  2. google_analytics_oficialGoogle Analytics – For most clients, this will be the source of most website decisions from here on out. This powerful tool tracks user data across your entire site and can tell you which functions are working great, and where users are getting lost. Creating accurate goal funnels will see which steps lose the most customers and guide you to pages that need the most help.
  3. Google’s Page-Speed Insights – When it comes to usability, it’s easy to upset a user before they even get to your site with slow load times. It is pretty much the reason I’ve stopped clicking any links from BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, or Business Insider. The amount of ads, size of your images, and consolidation of your code all affect the time it takes your page to load. It all adds up really quickly and tears apart your user experience. 2015-05-19_1101Google has a handy tool to tell you exactly what is bogging down your page. Simply type in the URL and they’ll analyze the desktop and mobile versions of your pages resulting in a final score for each. Each analysis has a breakdown of important issues triaged to help you choose what to fix first.
  4. Untitled-2Website Grader by Hubspot – This is a pretty handy tool to get a rough overview of things you should keep an eye on throughout your site. Though the results are mostly suggestions of what Hubspot employees believe to be the best practices, they often point out features that are commonly overlooked. They breakdown your site into Blogging, Social Media, SEO, Lead Gen, and Mobile. Each of these end up with separate breakdown and checklist of your performance in the category. Like I said, a great tool to point out things you might miss, but take it’s suggestions with a grain of salt.
  5. 2015-05-19_1114UserTesting.com – A unique tool that allows you to post tasks about your site as live-users share their experience with you. As great as pre-built scanners are for assessing the code of you website and image sizes, nothing truly beats a real person’s experience on your pages. You’ll get feedback from a wide variety of demographics on how easily they accomplished your tasks. Though the service isn’t free, you’re able to cram a lot of value into each test.

Usability shouldn’t be overwhelming, and though there are a lot of factors that go into ensuring your site is easily navigable and geared for conversions, it shouldn’t take away from growing the heart of your business. With a little time (and a few lines of code), you’ll have access to powerful information about how users perform actions and move about your site.

Are You Making the Most of Your Online Marketing Efforts?

Online Marketing Image

Many businesses struggle with comprehensively planning, executing, and continuously improving their online marketing. Your brand has to be highly visible and provide a superb customer experience to beat the competition. This takes time, is downright hard and can be pretty overwhelming!

How do you know if you’re making the most of your online marketing opportunities? Here are 5 steps to help you get there.

  • Have a clearly defined online marketing plan
  • Embrace data
  • Get executive buy-in and budget
  • Measure ad campaign effectiveness
  • Test and optimize your digital destinations

Have a Clearly Defined Online Marketing Plan

Many of our clients initially come to us without a clear plan for improving their online marketing efforts. They are not alone. In 2014, a SmartInsights poll found that “nearly 50% of marketers don’t have a defined digital marketing plan.”

Without a solid online marketing strategy, many businesses suffer these common issues:

  • No clear vision of what they’re trying to achieve
  • Not understanding their customers
  • Insufficient resources allocated to online marketing
  • Wasting money on things that aren’t working
  • Failing to achieve their business goals while watching competitors succeed

So, what can you do to get started on a comprehensive strategy if you don’t have one?

SmartInsights provides a very helpful tool for creating online marketing plans. Their Digital Marketing Strategy Planning Template (free basic membership required) will guide you through the process of creating “actionable plans that improve commercial results using integrated digital communications based on marketplace insight and analytics.”

Embrace Data

Are you measuring the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts? Many businesses have installed Google Analytics on their websites, but don’t know how to learn from the data and get actionable information. Note: if you’re using the default Analytics dashboard, you have not fully embraced data.

In order to become a data-driven organization, you must methodically analyze your website data and measure the results of your actions (campaigns, SEO efforts, website changes, etc.). This is an ongoing process that should yield continuous improvements in both your digital drivers and destinations.

How can you get a jumpstart in learning to be a data analyst?

If you live in the Spokane area, you can sign up for our Analytics for Mareketers Six Week Course that begins on April 29, 2015. We’ll walk you through the basics of how to use Google Analytics and then teach you the in-the-trenches specifics of how to use it for your current job, business, or the career you’d like to have in the future.

If you don’t live in the Spokane area or want to dive in on your own there are some great blogs, books, and video resources out there. I talked with Ed about his go-to analytics resources. It starts with his Google Analytics superhero Avinash Kaushik. But he’s also a big fan of Justin Curtoli, Caleb WhitmoreAnnie Cushing, Dana DiTomaso, the Moz blog, and of course Google’s Analytics IQ videos. The important thing is to just dive in and get started.

Get Executive Buy-In & Budget

In order to start and sustain a successful, long-term online marketing program for your business, it is critical to have buy-in from top-level executives. If you don’t have this support, your efforts are at risk of not getting enough funding and can easily be derailed by internal politics.

To get executives on board, you’ll need convincing data on how digital marketing can benefit your business and a well-researched strategic plan. This proposal, often referred to as a “Case for Change,” should include:

  • A review of your business’ current online marketing efforts
  • Industry research and analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Agenda and timeline for your proposed initiative
  • Defined structure, activities, and process
  • Resource requirements (staff, training, consultants/agencies, software, etc.)

We have assisted many our clients, at various stages in their online marketing program development, in getting executive buy-in. The resulting allocation of budget, resources, and staff have positively impacted the effects online marketing has on their businesses. Read about how we helped Avista Utilities create a Case for Change.

Measure Ad Campaign Effectiveness

Tracking campaigns will help you figure out what’s not working, how to cut the fat, and the best ways to reinvest that money in campaigns that are working to meet your goals.

There are multiple components to every online campaign, each of which can be tested and optimized.

  • Your ad content (visuals and text)
  • Your offer
  • Ad placement & targeting
  • Your landing pages

The tricky part is identifying the goals, objectives, key performance indicators, and parameters for success by which you will measure your campaigns.

In his article, Digital Marketing and Measurement Model, Avinash Kaushik says, “The root cause of failure in most digital marketing campaigns is not the lack of creativity in the banner ad or TV spot or the sexiness of the website. It is not even (often) the people involved. It is quite simply the lack of structured thinking about what the real purpose of the campaign is and a lack of an objective set of measures with which to identify success or failure.”

Be sure to check out Avinash’s Digital Marketing and Measurement Model for help in better defining your campaign goals and objectives.

Test and Optimize Your Digital Destinations

Now that you’ve created killer ad campaigns and other drivers (email, SEO efforts, PR, etc.), it’s time to close the deal by sending people to destinations that provide seamless and compelling experiences.

Digital destinations are the places you’re sending people from your drivers. These destinations can include:

Ultimately, these destinations should convince your audience to take an action, such as: make a purchase, download content, or opt in to email. These actions should support the business outcomes you have set as goals.

Test! Test! Test!

At all times, you should be continuously testing your destinations to understand how users are interacting with them and how their behavior impacts conversion rates. You cannot afford to rely on gut instinct and personal opinion—even if the opinion hails from the CEO. KISSmetrics says, “These influential people sometimes are referred to as HiPPOs (highest paid person’s opinion); and, in many instances, they believe they know what is best for their website. Therefore, they don’t feel the need for (or understand the benefits of) running website tests.”

But when you are able to prove that something works or doesn’t work, by reporting on analytics data gathered through testing, it’s difficult for a HiPPO to say, “I want to stop that campaign because I’m sick of it,… Because I can now see that the campaign (that I hate) is performing 30% better than the one I like.”

What to Test

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for testing. To start, your business has unique challenges and issues that need to be identified. Use your analytics data to learn where the issues are (landing pages, product pages, checkout, etc) and then run tests to figure out exactly what is causing problems for users. All testing should be done in search of an answer to a specific question.

There are a variety of tests and survey tools that you can use:

  • A/B Testing & Multivariate Testing compares alternate design elements and content to see which performs best. We love Optimizely and use it for our clients!
  • User Testing will help you learn how people use your site/app and what’s actually causing problems for your users. We conduct remote and in-person user testing in our Spokane office. We also occasionally use UserTesting.com for quick remote tests.
  • Survey Tools allow you to understand what your customers want and what’s preventing them from achieving it. Qualaroo is a robust survey tool that can be integrated into your website.

“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.”

~ Jeffrey Eisenberg

I realize this is a lot to take in. But we hear a lot of the same questions from clients and wanted to create a foundation to you get started down the path. Hopefully this provides a good starting point for improving your online marketing efforts in 2015!

Content For Location Landing Pages

A location landing page is a page on a website about a specific location in which that company does business. For single-location companies, this is usually the Contact page. For enterprises with more than one physical location, there should be a unique, well-optimized page for each of those stores, shops or offices on the company’s website.

In order for Google to reward your location landing pages with high rankings, its algorithms must determine that they are useful to visitors and provide relevant answers to the searcher’s query. Using duplicated pages with just the location information switched out on them is easy, but doesn’t really satisfy the Search Engines, so companies with many locations are often overwhelmed with the task of creating truly unique, useful content for all those pages.

Here are some must haves and optional ideas for what to include on your location landing pages. Once you have decided which information to display, you can create a template that will work for dozens, hundreds or thousands of location landing pages.

Location Landing Page Must Haves

  1. Full NAP (Name, Address, Local Phone Number) in Schema.org microformat. This is like handing the Search Engines a business card telling them what your name is, where you are located and what your phone number is.
  2. Map of your location and the surrounding area. This should be an embedded, interactive Google Map that users can zoom in and out to see where you are, what is nearby you and how to get to you.
  3. The days and hours that you are open.  Save visitors (and your staff) a phone call by answering this very common question.
  4. Calls to Action – People are much more likely to perform the action you wish them to if you spell it out for them. Clearly state what action(s) you wish people to take. Examples: Call today to make an appointment or Fill out this form for a free quote or Read reviews about us here.

 

Additional Options for Location Landing Pages

  1. Symbols of trust – Badges showing visitors that you can be trusted to do a good job and stand by your work. Examples: professional associations you belong to, certifications you have earned, awards you have won, and your membership in local business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the BBB.
  2. Testimonials – Comments from happy customers who have done business with that specific location can help to build trust.
  3. Driving Directions and nearby landmarks – These are helpful especially if it’s tricky to find your location.  If parking options aren’t obvious, include those, as well.
  4. Contact form, if appropriate – People looking for an after hours clinic to set a broken arm are not going to fill out a form and wait for someone to contact them.  However, those looking for someone to remodel their bathroom, perform a knee replacement or install new computers throughout their offices are usually not in quite so much of a hurry and are willing to fill out the required fields.
  5. Photos – Give people a look at the street view for your business so that they can easily recognize it as they approach. Show them what your service vans or delivery trucks look like. Use pictures to introduce them to your managers and staff. Not only does this add some visual appeal to the page, but also helps to make your business and your people more familiar to them.
  6. Special/coupons – If you are running any specials or offering a discount coupon for this location, put it on this page. It may just seal the deal for you.

Our friends at Nifty Marketing created this infographic to illustrate the components of an optimal location landing page. Click on this link to see the larger version.

OptimalLandingPage

So if you have more than one store, shop or office, take the time to give each location its own useful, unique landing page that answers your visitors’ common questions and helps guide them to contact you or come to your place of business. It’s worth the effort!

 

Small Usability Changes That Have a Big Impact, Part 2

Communicating Your Site’s Purpose

This is the second in a series of three articles that focuses on how you can make a big impact on usability with small changes to your website.

There are a few elements critical to creating a good user experience on any website:

  • Users have to be able to find what they are looking for.
  • They have to understand what you offer and how you can help them.
  • They have to be able to complete their tasks easily.

In this second part of the series, we will focus on how to help users understand who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.  If you missed it, read Part 1 of this series on Helping Users Find What They’re Looking For.

Instant Recognition

Imagine walking into a store, looking around, and thinking to yourself: “I have no idea what goods or services are available here.” This is often the experience of users on a website that fails to communicate, at-a-glance, what that website can do for its users and customers. Internet users have short attention spans and high expectations.  When it comes to understanding your website’s purpose, you must communicate clearly and quickly what the focus of your website is.  Make sure you are not losing potential customers within those first few critical seconds by following some of these best practices.

Business Name & Logo Placement

Visitors to your site should be able to locate your logo quickly. It needs to be a reasonable size and appear uncluttered by other elements in the header. Top left is the expected placement for most website logos, so if you choose an alternate placement, be sure that it stands out clearly from the things around it. Consider also how your logo appears on the mobile version or rendering of your site.

Tagline

If your business name does not explicitly describe what you do (e.g. “Bob’s Plumbing”), you should consider adding a descriptive tagline to your site header. This will help your visitors “get” what you’re all about in just a few seconds. The exception to this would be if your business is already so well known it is a household name (i.e., Target, Amazon, etc.)

The following examples, from Beardbrand.com and Ifixyouri.com, show uncluttered logos that are easy to locate, read, and understand. Users will have a pretty good idea at-a-glance what these websites offer, just by looking at the easy-to-find logos and taglines.

Beardbrand.com:

3-Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 2.15.30 PM

IFixyouri.com:

4-Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 2.27.37 PM

User-Focused Messages

Many business websites use messages that are business-focused, rather than customer-focused: “We sell widgets X, Y, and Z. We are the best in the business and have been doing it for 40 years.” That may be true, but this is a message that will fall flat with your customers.

The following example from Myfinancex.com has a headline that communicates two of the benefits of its online money management tool —“easy and effective”— but it starts with “we” and does not tap into users’ emotional issues and frustrations with trying to manage their money. Still it is a message that is focused on the business, not what the consumer needs.

Myfinancex.com:

2-Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 2.52.15 PM

That headline is probably not going to convince a lot of potential customers that this is the best tool for them. However, if your messages connect emotionally with users by telling them how you’ll solve their really big problems, they are more likely to hear you and engage with you. In the case of someone searching for an online money management tool, a person’s true frustrations are likely to be:

  • I am not a bookkeeper. I have no idea how to budget or track money.
  • I don’t know how I’m spending my money or where it goes.
  • I don’t have money to spend for an online budgeting tool.
  • I’m not a spreadsheet person.
  • I should be saving money, but I don’t have enough left over after bills.
  • I need access to my finances on the go, through my mobile phone.

Mint.com, another online money management tool, has a headline that taps into the frustration most people have with money: They don’t know how they’re spending it!

Mint.com:

1-Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 2.50.27 PM

Once again, users are being sold on the ease of use of the tool, but this headline goes so much further by addressing people directly and solving their big problem of not understanding what’s going on with their money.

The text following the headline goes on to tell users the other ways this tool can help solve their really big problems. The images reinforce that the tool has easy-to-read charts and works across devices. The short sign-up form lets users know that it is free to get started. Everything on this page is laser focused on communicating the benefits of using Mint.com’s product.

Get Rid of Clutter

Two of the core qualities of website usability are simplicity and clarity. Clutter makes people uncomfortable and can give the impression that your site — and therefore, your business — is disorganized and unreliable.

Avoid the following things that can clutter your site, distract users, and prevent them from understanding your purpose:

  • Unnecessary, flashy animations, which can also cause slow load times
  • Distracting audio
  • Overuse of multiple, bright colors
  • Inconsistent, mix-and-match visual styles
  • Too many links, especially those that lead users offsite
  • Overwhelming advertising

Test, Test, Test

There is no better way to find out if users understand your site’s purpose than to test it with actual users.

Five Second Test

Five Second Test helps you understand people’s first impressions of your existing web pages, designs or wireframes. By finding out what a person recalls about your design after looking at it for just 5 seconds, you can ensure that your message is being communicated as effectively as possible.

Five Second Test will provide you a detailed report of results from your test showing a breakdown of the interactions each tester had with your design.

UserTesting.Com

UserTesting.com allows you to “look over the shoulder” of your target audience while they use your website, so you can see and hear where users get stuck and why they leave. You will get to watch videos of participants using your site, and hear them describe their impressions of your website. You can run tests with participants from UserTesting.com that match the demographics of your audience, or with your own customers

Parting Thoughts

Every business can make website improvements that will help users quickly and easily understand what you have to offer. Eliminating clutter, having a clear brand identity, and speaking directly to users about how you can solve their problems will have a big impact. Can you identify one or two things listed here that you could do to improve your site? Make these small changes, track your analytics data, and conduct user tests to see if they improve your site’s user experience and move your business toward meeting its online goals.

Small Usability Changes That Have a Big Impact

Part 1: Help Users Find What They’re Looking For

Sign "You Are Here"This is the first in a series of three articles that focuses on how you can make a big impact on usability with small changes to your website. The thought of completely overhauling a website can be daunting: so daunting that it can cause inaction on the part of businesses, web teams, and marketers. However, even small changes will improve users’ experiences on your website, perhaps more dramatically than you might expect.

There are a few elements critical to creating a good user experience on any website:

  • Users have to be able to find what they are looking for.
  • They have to understand what you offer and how you can help them.
  • They have to be able to complete their tasks easily.

This series of articles will explore these issues one at a time, and look at some simple solutions that you can quickly implement. Let’s start with helping users find what they’re looking for.

User-Friendly Navigation

Your website navigation is one of the most important ways users get around on your site. People expect navigation systems to be easy to use and well organized. While your website should be unique and creative, the navigation should be standard enough that users don’t have to search for it or question how to use it. This is not the place for wildly unconventional thinking.

Here are a few things you can do to help users find what they are looking for with your navigation. Making one, two, or any of these improvements will enhance the usability of your site.

Make it Obvious

Users should easily be able to find and identify your primary navigation. Use standard placement, either horizontally across the top of your page, or vertically down the left side. If your main navigation is too small, in a non-standard location, or too crowded by other elements, your site’s bounce rate is likely to be high.

Here are two examples:

Horizontal Primary Navigation
Sample of horizontal navigation

Vertical Primary Navigation
Sample of horizontal navigation

Keep It Consistent

Your primary navigation should remain consistent, visually and structurally, from page to page so it’s always there when your visitors need to access it. If your primary navigation varies between sections or pages of your site, is it beneficial and helpful to users? Might they be better served by consistent navigation? The answer is usually, yes.

Home Link

About half of users expect that your logo will link to the homepage. This is a standard industry practice that your site should be following.  But what about the other 50% of users? Many of them don’t know that logos typically link to homepages, and then they become frustrated trying to get back to home. For those users, it is best to include a “Home” link in the primary navigation. In order not to take up too much space and clutter the navigation, many sites successfully employ a home icon to help users navigate to the homepage.

sample of prominent logo=link to home page nutrisystem

Use Relevant Keywords

Your primary navigation is one place to tell people and search engines about what you do. This is accomplished by using navigation labels with top-of-mind keywords and phrases for users, which you can identify within your analytics data or by using Google Keyword Planner.

Make sure that navigation labels reflect the keywords that users are looking for. Avoid obscure or less-used terms, jargon, and clever wordplay. For example, most people planning a trip search for “Hotels” rather than “Lodging.” Navigation should reflect that.

Keep It Simple

The fewer items in your primary navigation the better. Six or seven should be the absolute maximum number of top-level items. Did you know that human short-term memory cannot handle more than seven chunks of information at a time? It’s true. Also, place the most important items at the beginning and the end of the navigation list, or highlight them to draw attention.

Example of Consistent Navigation

Avoid Dropdown Menus (Most of the Time)

Most regular dropdown menus are annoying and rife with usability problems. They’re hard to read and difficult to use. According to usability studies from Nielsen Norman Group (NNG), dropdown menus create a less efficient and less pleasant user experience, making people more likely to abandon your site.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. NNG’s usability studies have found that “mega drop down menus” often test well and overcome the downsides of regular dropdowns. Be sure you’re following best practices if you feel that your site is well served by having dropdown menus.

Example of mega dropdown menu

Let Users Know They’re in the Right Place

Whether users have arrived at a page on your site from Google or through your site’s navigation and internal links, you want to reassure them that they have indeed found the content are looking for.

Page Headers

The headline text of a page has proven time and time again to impact the page’s potential conversion rate significantly.  The headers should stand out on the page and be the first thing a user reads when they arrive. There should be only one primary headline, with <h1> coding tags. Secondary <h2> and tertiary <h3> headlines can be used as needed.

Consistency is important: it builds confidence in users, and makes them feel at ease. Page headers and the navigation links to them should match. For example, the “About Us” link in the navigation should take users to a page called, “About Us,” and not one called, “Meet Our Team.”

The following image shows a page with a nearly invisible page header.

Example of invisible header

Users will have trouble understanding both what content is on this page, and where they are within the site.

In contrast, this next page has a large header and non-cluttered layout that assures users they have found the content they came looking for.

Example of prominent navigation

Highlight Active Navigation

Another way to let users know they’re in the right place is to use highlighted active navigation. Active navigation allows users to understand where they are within the site and confidently get around using the different navigation elements (primary navigation, secondary navigation, breadcrumbs, etc.). Active navigation states are something can be implemented fairly easily with CSS styles.

Helpful Error Pages

What happens when a user mistypes a page URL, or clicks a broken link on your site? They are taken to a 404 Error Page.

The absolute worst thing you can do is send users to an error page like this one:

example of unhelpful 404 page

This is not helpful at all. Rather, the error page is your opportunity to engage users, help them find what they’re looking for, and keep them on your site.

You should have a friendly custom 404 Error Page on your website like this one:

Example of useful 404 page

Smashing Magazine has a is a useful article about how to decrease your site’s errors and optimize error pages here.

Parting Thoughts

Every business can make usability changes to improve their website so that users find what they are looking for quickly and easily. We must try to think like our users, understand their frustrations, and make changes that will enable them to feel confident navigating our websites.

Can you identify one or two things in this article that you could do to improve your site? Make these small changes, track your analytics data, and conduct user tests to see if they improve your site’s user experience and move your business toward meeting its online goals. Let us know how it works for you!

Make Your Phone Number Bigger, Damn It!

Here’s a quick website optimization tip for you: make your phone number more visible to users.

A good number of businesses have the ultimate goal of getting people to contact them. Yet, on many business websites it is difficult — sometimes impossible — to find a phone number. There are many reasons why it is important to give users easy access to your phone number, even if calling you isn’t the #1 action you want them to take.

Visibility Is Important

Quick! Go to your website and find your business’s phone number in fewer than 5 seconds.

If you found it easily, there’s a good chance that your online customers can find it, too. If you had to dig around on multiple pages, or scan tiny text in the footer to find your phone number, you are making life too difficult for many of your users.

We conduct a lot of website audits here at Sixth Man Marketing. A surprisingly large number of the websites we analyze don’t have highly-visible phone numbers. We always suggest that this be remedied.

Putting a prominent phone number in the header of your site is a quick and easy site-wide fix. It will increase your chances of getting leads from potential customers. It also helps build trust, which can lead to more online conversions.

Here are two excellent examples of websites with prominent phone numbers in the right-hand corner of the page:

SCC with phone number highlighted

 

Hotstart page with phone number highlighted

Increase Conversions for Online Actions

There have been numerous tests conducted on websites which show that trust is an important part of the decision-making process. Those tests have shown that highly-visible phone numbers increase conversions. In fact, the increase in conversions (online sales, form submissions, etc.) is almost always larger than the increase in phone calls. For users, the fact that a phone number is readily available is reassuring in their decision to take an online action.

circle of trust - you

Are you concerned that showing a phone number will drive calls that you can’t, or don’t, want to handle? Making a phone number easy to find does not necessarily cause users to switch from an online action to a phone call. It does, however, make things easier for users who already have the desire to call and talk to a live person. Shutting down phone options for users is rarely a good idea, as it limits your ability to serve customers in a way that best meets their needs.

Mobile Considerations

A 2012 Google-Nielson study found that when people are searching on mobile devices, we’re on a quick path to action (phone call, purchase, etc.). In fact, there is a growing contingent of marketers that refer to mobile optimization as utility marketing. Check out this great supremely awesome article from our favorite analytics crush, Avinash Kaushik, to learn more.

Mobile Searches graphic

  • 73 percent of mobile searches trigger follow-up actions
  • 63 percent of mobile search-triggered actions occur within 1 hour of the initial search
  • 45 percent of mobile searches “are conducted to help make a decision” (in a store, that number goes up to 66 percent)
  • 28 percent of mobile searches result in conversions

Source: http://searchengineland.com/study-55-percent-of-mobile-search-driven-conversions-happen-in-one-hour-or-less-151432

To make it easier for mobile users to call you, be sure that your phone number is prominent and clickable on mobile devices. This is coded in the following way:

<a href=”tel:15091234567” class=”phone-link”>(509) 123-4567</a>

Notice that the number in the actual link starts with a 1, which is the international U.S. country code.

Tips & Best Practices

Here are some guidelines for including your phone number on your website. As with all changes you make to your website, it is wise to conduct A/B Testing to definitively see how the changes are working for your audience.

  • Make your phone number easy to find on every page of your site. The top right corner of your site header is where users will expect to find it.
  • Code your phone number as text rather than a graphic. This will make it accessible to search engines and visually disabled users.
  • If you have multiple phone numbers, choose one main number to include in the site header. You can post a list of your many department/location phone numbers on the contact page relevant to their need.
  • If your business uses call tracking, be sure to follow these best guidelines to ensure local search data integrity as well as this guide from Mary Bowling.

After that, consult your web team to make sure your phone number is big enough: we did!

Are Homepages Important Anymore?

Do a Google search for “are homepages important anymore” and the top results might have you thinking that no one ever visits your homepage.

Google search results for are home pages important anymore

Your homepage might be the top landing page if you’re a business-to-business (B2B) site with a healthy balance of web traffic: search traffic, referral traffic, direct traffic, and other campaigns. However, much of the traffic coming from search and external links takes visitors directly to the deeper content on your website — hopefully, the specific content they are looking for. For this reason, you should consider designing more pages on your website as important landing pages than you might have previously thought.

The majority of visitors to media company websites and blogs arrive directly at article pages, rather than the homepage. According to Nieman Journalism Lab, “Eighty-Eight percent of traffic to The Atlantic comes in sideways, meaning just 12 percent of site visits begin on the homepage.” Atlantic Digital Editor Bob Cohn wrote that the homepage serves an important purpose as the “ultimate brand statement,” but is not as important as a place to drive traffic.

Let’s Look at the Data

Sixth Man Marketing took a look at data from our clients’ websites to see what percentage of visitors are landing on homepages. Here’s what the data shows based on our sampling of websites:

  • B2B site average: 50 – 60%
  • Business-To-Consumer (B2C) site average: 20 – 40%
  • Blog & News site average: 10 – 20%

Especially in the B2C category, there is a lot of variance in landing page statistics. A few of the sites we looked at had extremely high or extremely low homepage traffic: as high as 98% or as low as 4% landing on the homepage. Neither of these extremes is inherently good or bad, but could indicate areas for improvement in online marketing strategies.

Extremely high homepage traffic implies that you could be missing opportunities in search, social media, content marketing, email marketing, and other external links to specific, deeper content on your site.

Alternately, extremely low homepage traffic might mean that your brand awareness in the marketplace is low and could benefit from campaigns that promote your overall brand. In a 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmarking Report, Optify found that “Branded searches (searches that include the name of the company) show the highest engagement of any other source (3.71 page views per visit) and account for 31% of all visits from organic search.”

What Should You Do?

No matter what type of business or website you have, you can begin the process of improving your website by: analyzing your web data; finding out where visitors are landing on your site; and optimizing every page so that your site can meet visitors’ needs and increase conversions. This is also a good time to check out this list of ways to annoy website users and drive them away from your site – and then make sure that your website has none of them.

Consider what happens when a visitor comes to a page from Google and does not immediately find the content they were seeking. If the page fails to give users enough information about where they are and how to get to the content they want, they will quickly leave. Shane Cassells of Google, speaking at Digital Journeys, reports that “Fifty percent of all users don’t buy something or complete an experience on a website because they can’t find what they’re looking for.”

The requirements of a successful homepage – context, strong way-finding cues, the right keywords in links and headlines, a well-designed layout – are now necessary for every page the user might land on.

Does Your Homepage Still Matter?

Yes, but perhaps not as much as you thought it did. Even if it is not your #1 landing page, your homepage still serves as the primary brand statement. It is the place many users will go if they want to understand more about you and your complete offerings. You need to make sure the homepage is engaging and useful. Just don’t expect every visitor to start there. And don’t even get me started on carousels (that topic deserves a dedicated post all its own.)  :)

Next Steps

Do you want to know where users are landing on your website and what they’re doing once they arrive? Let Sixth Man Marketing help you by taking one of our upcoming summer classes:

July 18: Intro to Google Analytics

July 25: Social Media Analytics

August 1: Intermediate Analytics*

August 8: Website Usability

All classes will be at our new office location, 542 W Cataldo, Spokane, WA, and each class, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., will include a light lunch. Also included are a 90-minute additional lab (TBA), and access to Sixth Man’s analytics forum for 30 days.

*It is highly recommended that registrants for this class have taken the Introductory Analytics class. 

Register for classes here.