The Top 3 Landing Page Mistakes To Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

inbound marketing tips

 

Landing pages are a critical component of inbound marketing. They need to be done well, or your campaigns won’t be as successful as you would like. A standard landing page is made up of a few components like a headline, sign up form, and a call to action. These are fairly straightforward, but it’s easy to make an easy mistake if you aren’t careful. Avoid the following at all costs!

Lack of a compelling headline.

A headline is the hook that you lure users with. A great headline can secure many leads, while lackluster ones will only drive bounce rates. Make sure your headline is concise, compelling, and straight to the point. The point of the headline is to keep users on the page, and drive them to the forms below. Try A/B testing to see which types of headlines resonate the best with your audience.

No clear call to action.

A landing page isn’t complete without a clear call to action. The point of a landing page is to acquire leads, and a clear call to action facilitates this. It’s important to ensure that the user knows what he/she is supposed to do on the landing page. Don’t confuse them with tons of links to click on, or a variety of call to actions. Keep the decision tree as simple as possible so your users can get from A to B without having to visit C and D first. More choices equals more confusion. If a child can’t figure out what to do your call to action isn’t clear enough.

Too complicated of a sign up form.

A user’s worst nightmare are long, complicated, tedious forms. Users love great content, but will decide to forego that content if they are greeted with an enormous form. It’s crucial to keep your opt-in forms as simple as possible. Focus on the bare necessities. If you can live with just an email address, use that as the only field on the form. Again, A/B testing with different versions of contact forms is a great way of finding out the perfect number of fields to use. This will help to balance consumer insight while minimizing bounce and form abandonment rates.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:53:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise inbound marketing landing pages social media social media marketing web design

Three of the Best Free Social Media Tools Today 

By Steve Hoag

free social media tools

 

There are a bunch of great tools out there for social media that you have to pay for. There are also some awesome tools that won’t cost you a dime. For a lot of SMBs, there isn’t really a ton of wiggle room in the budget for social media tools. For that reason, it’s important to take advantage of all the freebies on the web. For example:

HootSuite

HootSuite is to social media tools as Google is to search engines. It’s the industry leader, hugely popular, and packed with features. It’s also a freemium product, where you get a lot of the features in the free version, but can pay extra if you want more advanced tools. HootSuite allows you to simultaneously post from multiple accounts, schedule posts, create custom searches and reports, and much more! It’s very effective at displaying all of your social media feeds in a concise and intuitive manner. Give it a try today if you haven’t already, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything.

Bit.ly

You need to use a service like bit.ly if blogging and sharing dynamic content is an important part of your social media presence. This service allows you to shorten URLs, which is great for networks like Twitter. The real benefit though is that it tracks clickthroughs. This will help your marketing team see what types of content are performing the best, at which times, and in what region. It’s an incredible amount of insight for a free tool.

Klout

Klout was the new kid on the block not too long ago, but has since become a mainstay in the social media world. It is the first major effort at creating platform that measures influence across social platforms. And frankly, it’s done a pretty good job! The Klout team is also continuously revising its algorithm so it keeps getting more accurate. There are a bunch of cool features like who your top influencers are, and who you influence the most. If you want to create promotional campaigns Klout has ‘Perks’ which are deals that companies can offer to thought leaders in a certain industry to create buzz about their company. For instance, a $30 gift card to Starbucks in exchange for tweeting about a new coffee drink. Klout is also integrated with other services like HootSuite, quickly cementing its status on social media.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:31:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise retail marketing SMB social media social media marketing

Blogging 202: Mistakes to Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

blogging 202

Once you create your initial blog schedule, get your ideas together, and start writing, you have to avoid making easy mistakes. There are a number of things you should NEVER do, especially if you want to use your blog to build traffic and online exposure.

Duplicating online content.

This should be a no-brainer, but you should never copy someone else’s content and try to pass it off as your own. This will not help your search rankings, because search engines look out for this sort of behavior and will remove your post from results. Also, you could get into some legal troubles down the road if you aren’t careful. When it comes to blogging, it’s ok to use other articles as inspiration, but it’s not ok to copy them word for word.

Ignore using social media to share your blog.

Blogs are meant to be shared, and social media is the best way of accomplishing that. If you forget to use social media, you are forgoing a free marketing tool that has unprecedented reach. You are limiting your blog’s exposure to its subscribers, when it could be reaching thousands, if not millions of people.

Forget to use analytics to track clickthroughs.

Using analytics is the only way to know which topics you are posting about are generating traffic for your site. Without proper monitoring you will never know which topics to ignore or focus on. There are a bunch of free options out there like bit.ly which you can use to track clickthroughs on URLs. Trust me, using services like these go a long way.

Forget to make content shareable on your blog.

Another easily made mistake is forgetting to include social sharing buttons/badges on your blog page. You need to make life easy for your users by streamlining processes. Many users might think your article is great, but don’t want to go through the ‘hassle’ of copying a link, logging into a service, and then sharing it. Social sharing buttons take care of this potential problem, and can help to create more buzz/traffic.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, January 17, 2014 5:30:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SEO SMB social media social media marketing website

Why A Custom E-Commerce Store Means More Sales 

By Steve Hoag

custom ecommerce store

The storefront matters. It mattered when the only option was going to a brick and mortar shop, and it still matters today with online storefronts. The shop itself has an effect on the purchasing behavior of a consumer. If you were going to go buy a car, would you go to some back alley garage, or the trusted, local dealership?

Custom branding builds credibility and trust.

People trust people or things that look nicer. That’s why people get stressed out at 3 am when a homeless person is near them, but not when it’s a businessman in a nice suit. A custom e-commerce store allows you to implement things like custom branding. Being able to use your branding instead of a pre-packaged template can have a profound effect on consumers. They will see that you put time and money into the appearance of your store, and that builds credibility. The more credibility you have, the easier it is for the consumer to trust you, and then purchase your product.

A custom storefront means more functionality.

One of the biggest benefits of custom development is creating functionality where it didn’t exist before. Have a custom e-commerce store can be a huge asset if you need additional functionality now, or down the road. Some e-commerce solutions will have missing tools like mobile/social media stores or social check outs. With a custom solution you can circumvent all these issues. You get exactly what you need, with the ability to add whatever you want later on. Having the ability to add great functionality like social media checkouts can make the buying process easier and more efficient for consumers. Streamlining processes with a consumer-centric focus means fewer hoops to jump through for a user, and a lower rate of cart abandonment. And that means more sales.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:09:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise retail marketing SMB social media web design web development website

The Top 2014 Web Design Trend Links (Thus Far) 

By Steve Hoag

web design trends links

There have been dozens of articles written leading up to, and immediately following New Years. We’ve taken the liberty of poring through a lot of these and collecting the best and most interesting for your reading pleasure! Check it out:

Melissa Cale’s 2014 Design Trends Pinterest

Melisa Cale, a Pinterest user and professional photographer, has assembled a plethora of web design trend related articles, infographics, websites, and much more. She used a ton of reliable sources to create a very thorough and broad spectrum of information for what to expect in 2014.  Definitely worth a look!

Collis Ta’eed’s 2014 Design Trend Article

While many designers/writers are focusing on aesthetic changes in their trend rundowns, Collis, a web designer/CEO, also looks at other factors. For example, he takes a analyzes the CMS industry, and how that will impact design, as well as indie design tools that will make an impact quickly. Definitely worth reading if you want to see a part of the bigger picture!

The Next Web’s 2014 Design Trends Slideshow

The Next Web is a great resource for designers. If you haven’t heard of it before, take a look, because it is awesome. In related news, their slideshow on the biggest emerging trends is fantastic. It provides informative visuals to go along with detailed descriptions. If you want a comprehensive breakdown that you can read through in 3 minutes, check this out!

John Croft’s Web Standards Killed The HTML Star

While the other links/articles have been mostly positive, and looked at aesthetics and tool changes, this one analyzes web development/design as a profession. Croft takes a look at how being an HTML & CSS guru is no longer good enough, and states that developers/designers need to ‘diversify or die.’ Tough love! Also, if you’re interested, check out this response piece by Jeffrey Zeldman for another view. Great stuff!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, January 9, 2014 7:45:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SMB social media web design web development web trends website
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