I Don’t Make Art, I Make Sales

There are two situations that make me nervous when clients want to redesign or rebuild their website: Clients want “a pretty site”. Make it look pretty they say. Clients spend hours looking for websites that already exist and want to copy their design. I understand why companies do this. People want pretty things and they don’t want to get through the painstaking process of defining goals, user interactions, and content before they start designing. But, that process ultimately creates value.   There are pretty sites that fail (don’t drive conversions). There are ugly sites that win (they drive engagement and conversions). Beauty is subjective, and what may look pretty may not be the most effective in helping people take key actions.   Take Craigslist for example. Craigslist may be one of the ugliest sites on the internet, and its appearance has been mostly unchanged since it was created. But, Craigslist is consistently ranked in the top 100 sites in terms of traffic. Now, I am sure a graphic designer could make Craigslist “pretty”. But, the real question is, why do it? Would it drive more engagement? It’s hard to believe it would. Craigslist has a bounce rate under 20% according to Alexa.com Craigslist has remained minimalist and action focused (filter & sort by location and category) since it’s inception. And, it’s worked very well for solving the problems of connecting buyers and sellers. Don’t let your graphic designer try to win an award at your business’s expense.   Let’s take a look at Amazon. Anyone with an eyeball would notice how cluttered Amazon’s pages are. But it works. Amazon is projected to have revenues...

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Bonnie Raitt was ahead of her time when she sang, “Let’s give them something to talk about” In today’s world, PR, Advertising, Marketing and Salespeople are placing a focus on getting their customers to talk about their companies and products. Below are some great video demonstrations that give customers something to talk about because of entertainment value, but also demonstrate products and reinforce the brand. Example 1 – Will it Blend? Example 2 – A Racing Helmet Made out of Sheet Metal Both of these videos are great! They both take objections off of the table. No customer is left wondering, will this blender handle my (insert random food item). No customer is wondering if the CNC software can handle a program a complex part.  The best part? The sheet metal video was done by one of OPEN MIND Technologies‘ customers, and OPEN MIND partnered with them to show off the helmet at the upcoming IMTS show. It’s a win-win. The customer showcases their ability to produce any part imaginable, and the software company is able to show it can supply a powerful tool for even the most complex geometry.  The Takeaway The next time you want to get customers talking, think about something that is: Visual or Tangible Demonstrates your products in an entertaining or inspiring way Easily...

Call Tracking – The Next Step in Analytics

Call tracking is not new. People have been using local and toll-free numbers to track TV ads and yellow page ads for years. However, call tracking with online sources is rather new, easy-to-implement technology that can help you determine which landing pages and advertisements are driving traffic and in-bound calls. How does call tracking work? Basically, call tracking provides unique, pass-through phone numbers to visitors that come from distinct sources (e.g. a different phone number for people clicking through from Yahoo vs. Google vs. Facebook vs. MerchantCircle, etc.).  Then, the backend system documents the number of calls, the length of each call, the conversation and many other statistics enabling you to easily determine which ads are generating in-bound calls, and the quality of those calls based on comprehensive data. Pricing Call tracking is affordable, too. Rates range from $10-$20 per month per phone number. While there are minimum monthly spending requirements ($50-$100 per month) that can hold small companies back, agencies will often meet the spending requirements because they deploy call tracking for many small and medium-sized companies. There are also costs per minute on the telephone lines, but these costs are rather low ( ~ $0.03 – $0.10 per minute), and get lower as the agency adds more lines for customers.   Call-Tracking Vendors Below are a few companies that offer call-tracking services. Marchex IfByPhone Dial800 This article was originally featured in Relevante Marketing's internet marketing newsletter. You can subscribe...

65 Ways to Improve Your Internet Marketing for Under $65

When first venturing into the world of internet marketing, with the overwhelming jargon and rapid speed of change, many people just need a bit of direction and a helpful push to try something new. That's why I've created a list of 65 things you can do to improve your online marketing for under $65. They don't require a ton of time, talent or capital. Most of them are free, and anyone in a company can do them. Not just the marketing, PR, advertising types. Note: You don't have to do them all….today. Pick 2 or 3, and get started. It's About Creating a System It's the sum of all these parts that make up an internet marketing system that will help you be successful using the internet for business. Being relevant never hurt either. Future Plans for This List I plan to add links to related resources, but I wanted to get the list live, first. You can always Google anything you don't already know about. The List Research and listen to your customers Conduct a survey of past customers Ask your customers to review your products or services on popular web sites Ask a customer for a testimonial Figure out a new customer is worth. Use SpyFu to check on your competitors Do keyword research with Google Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator Improve your Web site's Page Titles Improve your Web site's Meta Descriptions Add more lists to your Web site. Get rid of the slow-loading Flash intro and “Enter Site” on your home page Add a form to your Web site. (free trial, request a quote, request...

Google’s Own SEO Report Card

Ever wonder what factors Google takes into account to rank a web page? Well, the Google Webmaster Blog just released a blog post with their own internal SEO report card for their own products. Check it out, and use the factors they evaluated to better your Web site's rankings.  If you're looking a Web site SEO Evaluation, email me at (craigrentmeester at gmail dot com) or click the link and fill out the form. They're free and full of...