Are you completely happy with the performance of your website? Are conversions coming in at the rate that you anticipated? If the answer to either of those questions is “No,” then it’s probably time to take a hard look at just how “attractive” your site is and how many opportunities there are for visitors to interact with the site.
Everyone says that content is king, and when it comes to developing traffic from natural search, that phrase is absolutely true. However, when that visitor hits your page, you have less than 3 seconds to grab his or her attention before they close out and go to the nest search result.
How Fast Do Your Visitors Scoot Off The Site?
What’s your time-on-site average? How about your bounce rate? If you could keep the visitor on the page longer, do you think your conversion rate would go up? You bet. Not only will sales increase, but if you can get visitors engaged you have the perfect opportunity to build a relationship that will make them a customer for life.
I’ve been in online affiliate marketing since 1999, and initially I placed most of my efforts into understanding and utilizing natural search as a source of free targeted traffic. The first step of any marketing project is to get in front of an appropriate audience, but getting qualified traffic is just part of the process.
Grab Their Eyes And Their Brains
When your visitors arrive as the result of a search, they are looking for an answer or a solution to their query. You have 3 seconds to attract their eyes to something on the page that tells them they are in the right place and that the content is going to be helpful. One of the best ways to get that accomplished is through the use of professional graphic images.
Graphics is an area where a lot of affiliate marketers miss the boat. By not going that extra distance of adding eye grabbing creatives, they leave their site looking like most other WordPress or Joomla sites or whatever platform that everybody uses. Using graphics effectively grabs the eye, imparts critical information, and invites the visitor to interact.
Graphics Drive Conversions
Let me share a story about how my wife Arlene built a successful niche site using simple graphics. Arlene has a real passion for the challenges that moms with kids who have epilepsy face. Our youngest son had epilepsy and he would have 200 seizures a day. Today he’s 20 years old and has been seizure free and drug free for over ten years. Arlene wanted to share how that happened and decided to build a site to explain it.
She measures conversions differently than you and I do. Her idea of a conversion is when a mom reports that her kid becomes seizure free and drug free. One of the secrets to her success is the way the site engages the visitor and invites them to interact. Arlene knows that interaction is mostly triggered by graphics that invite the visitor to find the answer or solution to their query.
Now, before I get into what graphics she uses, you have to be wondering, “Where in the heck do you get graphics?” The answer is simple – you outsource them. Before you think you can’t afford that, just bear with me. I’ll give you a two paragraph outsourcing course at the end of this article that will show you how to get great graphics at very affordable prices.
Let’s take a look at what she decided to use and why.
1. Custom Header
The standard header on most website platforms is basically a bar that you customize by choosing a color and adding some text, usually the site name. But does that really grab you? It many cases it’s the first place a visitor will look, and if you don’t have something in that header that encourages the visitor to read further, there is an excellent chance that he or she will blow you off.
We like to split the header into three pieces. On the left is the website name, in the center is a tag line that tells the visitor what the site is about, and on the right is a photo image. The tag line and photo are critical in keeping the visitor on the site longer than 3 seconds.
For example Arlene’s tag line is “…when our son Adam was 4 years old he was having 200-300 seizures a day, today he is 20 years old and has been drug and seizure free for over ten years.” Think about that for a moment. If you’ve arrived on the site because you were looking for help caring for your epileptic child, that tag line says it all. And then the photo to the right is of Arlene and Adam together.
Arlene’s header has a professional appearance, gives a compelling reason to explore it, and provides an image of the author and her son so the visitor has an immediate connection with faces. This header is a winner.
We like to do business with people we know. Putting your smiling face up on your site and elsewhere gives the audience a face that they can connect to the call to action. You become a person, not just a line of text. And your site isn’t the only place you’re going to use those thumbnails. LinkedIn profiles, Twitter and Facebook profiles, blogs and even forums are all places that you can further your branding and let people get to know who they are dealing with.
You don’t need a professional portrait in fact in many cases the more natural you look the better the connection. If you have a photo that you would like to use but it has a flaw or two, you can outsource to a digital photo retoucher to clean it up and make you look like a million bucks. Order a variety of sizes as different venues will have different file size requirements.
When I say banner, I’m really talking boxes. The medium rectangle is the most productive standard ad unit used for online advertising. You’re going to use something like that to promote your newsletter or free report or whatever email capturing feature that you have. They are attractive, they’re colorful, and they can pass on a strong call to action.
This is another personal touch that helps build relationships. Just take a plain piece of paper and write out your name. Try doing it in two or three sizes and then scan it. Now you have a jpeg file of your signature. You can use it on the site, in newsletters or in email promotions. Again, we like doing business with people we know.
5. Control Panel
A control panel is an alternative navigation tool that can consist of buttons that invite the visitor to a specific area. For example Arlene’s tabs include “click here to listen to the podcast,” “click here to chat live in the forum,” and so on. It’s a great way to get returning visitors to their favorite page.
6. Promotional Graphics
If you host a “podcast” or offer special services or promotions, what better way to present them to your audience than in an eye catching graphic? You want to distinguish the promotion from the rest of the content on the page, and a professionally designed graphic does just that.
7. Cover Art
This is a particularly nice touch for any pdf reports you have. If you’re offering up a free report, then you want to have a graphic that provides a visual representation of a book. The report is going to be in a pdf format and the visitor knows that it’s just that an image of a book lends more credibility and familiarity to the offer.
Your newsletter is the key to conversions. This is where you get a chance to market to the visitor one on one, and if you have a smart email system, you’ll know just what turns your subscriber on. Don’t miss this chance to get traffic back to the site by sending out a boring, text only email. Work with a designer and come up with a template that will be attractive and compelling. You’ll be glad you did.
I promised I’d give you a quick course in how to outsource graphics so here goes. For starters, you can get whatever you need from a simple logo to specialized services like that of an infrared photographer. The key to getting quality work done at affordable prices is to order everything at once, not piecemeal. Making your needs one large project rather than several small projects will not only get you a better price but your project will attract the attention of the more qualified designers.
But what this means is you have to plan out exactly what you need. Lay out your website blueprint and decide what will go where and then think about where else you may need graphics. When you submit your project to an outsource site like Elance.com or vWorker.com, make it as detailed as you possibly can. If you don’t spell out exactly what you want, then you’re leaving it up to the designer to use his or her best judgment and what you’ll get is not what you anticipated.
Good graphics can make all the difference in the performance of your site. For a modest investment, you’re going to change your website from a cookie cutter look to one with credibility and instant engagement.