Monthly Archives: June 2016

Many marketers and sales people assume that inquiries and leads are one and the same, but in fact, they are very different animals. Before we define what an inquiry is, let’s first clearly describe what it is not:

An inquiry is NOT:

— An individual who fits your target market

— A user who signs up for your webcast or podcast

— A user who downloads a whitepaper from your website

— A regular website visitor

— A hyperactive follower on social media who likes, re-tweets and shares every post 

So, What is an Inquiry?

An inquiry is an individual who has shown interest in a solution. Simply put, an inquiry is someone who makes, well, an inquiry. They are also called ‘raw responders’.

The solution for an inquiry does not always relate to the product or service you are selling. Your job is to find out if the inquiry is significant and whether or not they are worth the chase.

An inquiry is a name with an email address that you get from surveys and studies. If you are lucky enough, these names can come with company positions and even direct phone numbers.

In essence, an inquiry is the step a customer takes just before they become a true lead. The tricky part comes when it’s your job to analyze if an inquiry is actually qualified to become a lead that could potentially result in a sale.

So, What’s a Lead?

We’re so glad you asked! Leads are qualified business prospects. Now you might ask, salespeople follow up on inquiries, right? They do, but not all salespeople can make the math work. Yes, there’s a formula.

The first thing you do is to determine if an inquiry is a potential lead. How do you do this? Simple, you ask.

If you are lucky to have a phone number available, you reach out via phone and make the BANT system work.

The BANT system was created by IBM years ago, and to date, it stands out as one of the best descriptions of what business leads must have to be considered qualifying. BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Time Frame (Timeline).

In your follow-up calls, you inquire if the inquiry possesses these four qualifications. Once you’ve established their bona fides, then and only then, can an inquiry become a qualified business prospect.

In recent years, the BANT system has seen some additions and modifications from various companies but the rule remains: sales team should not pursue “leads” that have yet to be analyzed based on the BANT criteria. This process saves time and resources and ensures that there truly is a potential business opportunity to pursue.

Which is More Important, Then? An Inquiry or a Lead?

In generating business leads, inquiries are necessary. Inquiries can be found at the top of the business sales funnel. The goal is to guide them from the top all the way down to the bottom of the sales funnel.

While an inquiry comes first, leads are more valuable to sales and marketing people. Picking leads from inquiries can feel like finding needles in a haystack, but once you do find them, you know what do to do next.

Next Step: Score the Lead. Here’s How.

A standardized point system allows you to see which leads you need to focus on. Allot a maximum number of points for each criterion in the BANT system and score your inquiries for each before tallying the grand total.

For instance, an inquiry from a higher company officer can trump a mid-level inquisitor, but what if the latter has a bigger budget and a more time-sensitive timeline? A point system can help you decide which potential lead can eventually turn into a sale faster. It will also bring to light which areas you need to focus on for maximum effect.

If all your inquiries are top-ranking company officials, then you’ve got yourself a gold mine of potential leads who are most likely decision makers. Then again, if most of your inquiries are entry-level employees, you might have to work a quite a bit harder to convert them into leads.

Separating the wheat from the chaff can be a frustrating and time-consuming process, but with the help of a proven system, you can take some of the guesswork out of the process.

The post An Inquiry vs. a Lead: What’s the Difference and Which is More Important? appeared first on PureB2B.

Do you feel like you work in a boring industry, or think your product or service isn’t interesting enough, to be able to create compelling content that won’t bore people to death and will get them talking about your brand?

Sure, under normal circumstances real estate services may sound pretty snooze-worthy. But when you’re looking to buy or sell a property or to make an investment, real estate services will be one of the topics you’re going to Google and look into first.

The key to creating interesting content is to understand what pain points your customers have and what information they are looking for, then providing valuable content that will address those needs in a creative and consumable way.

Here are 9 tips from digital marketing entrepreneur Matt Janaway to inspire you and help turn your boring content into eye-catching content that will engage and convert your customers.

  1. Understand Your Customers

Before you create any content, spend as much time as you can to really get to know your customers. Learn about their needs, behaviors, motivation drivers, triggers, opinions, interests and demographics. The more you know about your customers, the more value you can add through the content you create.

By understanding your consumer pain points, challenges and needs, you can identify the content topics to cover as well as related topics that your target customers may be interested in reading about. This makes your content more interesting, fresh and original to keep your audience engaged and entertained.

  1. Learn About Their Media Behaviors

To reach your customers, you need to know which channels where they spend time and which media formats they prefer. Do they like to read blogs, watch videos, listen to podcasts or attend webinars? Once you know your audience’s media habits and behaviors, you need to create the content they prefer and share through the platforms where they “hang out.”

There are many ways to do this. You can use web analytics tools like Google Analytics and other free or paid online tracking tools like Alexa, Compete and SimilarWeb to gain insights into where your customers read and share content. You can also track your audience’s media habits through their social media profiles, such as their Twitter lists, LinkedIn groups, blogs and any other places that will help you learn more about their media preferences and behaviors.

  1. Brainstorm Content Ideas

Beyond researching your target audience, you should also talk to your current customers and find out what content they would consider valuable and interesting to read.

Also brainstorm content ideas with your sales and marketing teams, and even ask for suggestions from your family, friends and social media contacts.

As well, content search tools like BuzzSumo can help you find out what content your competitors are publishing and what is resonating with your target audience.

  1. Develop Your Brand Voice And Story

Now that you have a clear understanding of your customer pain points and triggers, media preferences and behaviors as well as content ideas to engage them, it’s time to put your insights into action.

Matt recommends using elements of emotion, urgency and visualization to make your brand story and content more compelling and interesting. You need an irresistible story that brings your brand and voice to life in all your content marketing. The most powerful brand stories surprise, delight and still meet a customer’s needs by giving the information they want.

  1. Create Visual Content

Today’s consumers prefer some degree of visual content over plain text. People can remember 80% of what they see, but only 20% of what they read. So think about how you can use relevant visuals, such as images, videos, infographics and data visualizations, to spice up your content and make a lasting impression on your audience.

Take GE, for example, you’d wonder how the company could do anything interesting with electrical and industrial equipment, medical devices or energy management services. But creatively, using Pinterest, the company posts fun, inspiring and stunning pictures that, as Matt points out, showcase innovation, achievement, eco-friendliness, love and personality, while effectively communicating what the company does.

 

Think beyond your product or service, and instead think about how your business relates to the world and the everyday problems or challenges your target audience faces. This will help you create compelling visual content that not only empathize and relate with your customers, but also communicate your brand message and story.

Here are 8 best practices from Content Marketing Institute to help you create powerful visuals to make your content more engaging and interesting. Here are also some of my top picks for free and paid visual content creation tools.

  1. Break Down Complexity

If your business needs to communicate a lot of complex data in order to build credibility and authority in your industry, try to simplify the information into digestible pieces of information that your customers can easily consume and understand.

Here’s a great example from Matt: Intercom, a CRM solution provider that helps businesses simplify the way they communicate and engage their customers through the Intercom platform, can sound like pretty boring and complex idea for an average person. But to simplify this information for their target audience, Intercom uses colloquial language and simple illustrations, graphs and data visualizations to make their content more accessible and interesting to read.

 

  1. Provide Answers And Solutions

As you research the content that’s trending with your customers and competitors, you may find that a lot is around burning questions, issues and problems in your industry. So find out what topics are trending and what questions or challenges your customers are searching, then think about how you can provide solutions and answers to help them in an engaging way.

  1. Show, Don’t Tell

Share case studies, expert and customer interviews, testimonials, customer success stories and other content that shows instead of telling what your business or product can do for customers. Bombarding your readers with product features and benefits makes your content snooze-worthy, no matter how great or interesting your product is. Think about how you can tell stories about your products that customers can relate to and how your business can help improve their lives.

  1. Measure Content Effectiveness

Content marketing success does not happen overnight. You need to regularly monitor and evaluate how your content is performing to be able to identify what is working (and isn’t) and readjust your content marketing strategy accordingly.

Focus more of your time and resources on the types of content that is resonating with your audience, and continue to monitor and learn from what your competitors and brands in other industries are doing well, to create compelling, engaging content your customers will love.

What other tips and best practices do you use to make your content more interesting? Please share your ideas below!

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help. Or follow me on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

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Okay, I’ll admit it immediately. Google Analytics is pretty intimidating there are a lot of windows and tabs and there is a lot of information out there for you to digest. But, be honest now, are you actually using Google analytics?

Or do you use it like most people in that you only really look at how many people visited your page? If you’re in the latter camp then I’ve got bad news and good news. The bad news is that you’ve been missing out all this time on a fantastic resource. Even while the rest of us have been moving into the era of big data you’ve been hanging out in the era of the big gut (because you’re working with your gut rather than your head, not because you’re fat).

The good news?

That’s about to change and an entire new world is going to open up for you, where you can use the information presented in the great GA to grips with how well your website is actually doing so that you can see if your SEO tricks are actually working (as well as what you can do to improve it). Sound good? Great!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Is your site easy to access with a mobile device?

Most of us now look at the internet with our mobile devices. That means it’s vital that your site is mobile friendly. Is it? Do you know?

If you don’t, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s pretty easy to find out with Google analytics.

All you need to do is go to the bounce rate of a page and compare the bounce rate of desktops and phones. If you’re finding that they’re both high, then you’ve got a bad page and you’ve got to take action in that front (have you considered that your keywords might not match what the page is about?).

If, on the other hand, desktops don’t bounce while mobile devices bounce in massive numbers, then you’ve probably got a page which is not mobile friendly and in this case you’ll have to take action on that front.

Understand your audience

If you’ve already got an established site, make certain that you spend some time actually working out what your audience is. This can be done under the demographics tab. Here you can find out their age, their sex as well as location.

Now, you could treat this information as ‘I’m here and I want to get there’ but you’d be far better of looking at it as a way to figure out how you can change your marketing and what you’re doing to suit this group better. So, for example, you might want to adjust your language, your colors and your layout to more closely match what different age groups expect (younger groups will like louder colors while an older group might prefer more subdued colors).

Note that you don’t’ have to immediately throw everything you’re doing overboard. Obviously you’re already drawing in this audience in some way, so you don’t want to end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Tweaks are far more successful.

Also, the geographic tab might give you a good insight into where you might want to expand your sales opportunities to, or what alternative language you might want to embrace. Are people in Latin America reaching out to your service? Then it might be time to also have your pages available in Spanish!

Find out which pages convert best and worst

In google analytics it’s relatively easy to find out how well each page is converting for you. Just run the conversion report and see which pages are doing well and which aren’t. Now be certain to take a look at which pages are doing best. If you stop there, however, you’re once again falling into the vanity trap. You’re again only looking at the good news and that isn’t half as useful.

Instead, turn to your worst performing pages. Then compare the pages that perform well and those that don’t. From there you can work out what has to be changed in terms of your worst-performing pages to make them act more like your best performing pages.

Also, be certain to see if your authority is actually increasing or decreasing. If it’s decreasing then it’s time to start looking into whether there is some sort of SEO issue going on.

Also be certain to stay up to date with when changes are being carried out to the Google algorithm and compare these with the statistics on your page. This might well be why you suddenly see a big jump or (far more worryingly) a big fall. Particularly in the latter case be certain to comb through the changes that have been made to see what might be affecting you (and seeing if you can’t do something to perhaps counter that change).

Conclusion

And these are just three possibilities! There really is a lot more that you can only get to grips with if you’re willing to wade in and take a detailed look. To get an even more detailed look into the behavior of how your visitors are behaving can be had by installing the Google search bar on your page.

This will do two things:

  • It will decrease you bounce rate as people use it instead of giving up on trying to find whatever they’re looking for
  • You can use the information that you get from the search bar to find out what people are actually looking for when they hit your page.

This is absolutely invaluable information to allow you to create the content they actually want if you don’t actually have it, or to make the information they’re looking for more easily available – by for example putting a link to it in the menu bar – if you do happen to have it on your site.

The real ticket to getting used to Google Analytics is to read, study and experiment. Just spend some time opening up all the tabs and figuring out what they things mean. Because if you know how to use the tool correctly not only can you see opportunities that you weren’t even aware of, you’ll that dangers often are readily visible months before they become a real problem. And then you can still do something about them. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

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We had just completed ten intense weeks creating a business level content strategy for a client. This kind of work produces many work products. Two relate to this story.

We carefully defined the client’s marketing and sales use case requirements. And for actionable next steps, a carefully considered and prioritized list of content that was required to support those use cases was also developed.

Within days I got “the call.” I call it LII FCO, “last idea in, first content out.”

It seems a prospect had asked one of their sales reps a question in a meeting. The rep came back and asked the Vice President of marketing “what do we have I can send to this prospect?”

It was an attractive topic. The VP was excited to share with me the opportunity to leverage the work we had just completed. The company had lots of ideas to fuel this creation. After all, a customer had requested something!

The machine engaged. It would take a couple of weeks, but it would be a beautiful piece of content.

This is not unusual behavior. We see it happen all the time. Even with (dare I say) a well developed content strategy, and clear, important priorities.

Through conversations with colleagues about this, it became clear the most egregious offender is often the head of sales!

What’s Going On Here?

Short answer, human nature is playing out.

Longer but important considerations:

This is legacy behavior being perpetuated. The role and importance of content on business outcomes isn’t clearly understood or deeply appreciated.

The traditional consideration of content by senior executives is as a support expense for specific tactics. New realities of marketing and selling to self-educating buyers in a digital era have made the right content a strategic asset that impacts top business outcomes. Unfortunately, this isn’t fully appreciated by many executive teams.

Discipline is a core problem. Marketers have generally good project discipline. It’s process discipline that’s often missing. Marketers want to be creative. This attracted them to marketing in the first place. A manifestation of companies as regular content publishers are operational realities that demand disciplined execution.

Planning and preparation isn’t a core competency (not to mention strategy). Content has traditionally been an event triggered, just-in-time endeavor. “Hey, let’s do a webinar!” The machine engages. And virtually everything is created from the ground up. Little is designed or created for sharing and re-use.

Lack of content accountability. Content ROI isn’t well understood or defined. Measurements that connect both individual content, and aggregate content investment to primary business outcomes are weak or missing. No single individual is held accountable for content-dependent business outcomes that aren’t defined.

This list could probably go much longer. But if you work on the understanding, discipline, strategy and planning, measurements and accountability points, you’ll get the progress you expect and need.

What Can Be Done To Maintain Focus On Priorities?

In addition to educating and enrolling offending sources of interruption using the recommendations above, there are core operations elements we recommend as a result of 20 years managing a content operation that served B2B clients.

68 percent of B2B marketers don't have a content strategyFirst and foremost, have a documented content strategy that results in list of content priorities. It’s ridiculous and unacceptable for 48% of content marketers to admit they “have a content strategy but it’s not documented.”You don’t have a strategy if it’s not documented!

I would add, validate you have an effective strategy. You A/B test your emails, but don’t validate your content strategy to determine how effective it should be?

Adopt a professional content operation. “Structure drives behavior.” This starts with a responsible, capable, content operations manager. It includes governance protocols such as defined quality standards.

Define process and procedures for all operational activities. Start with content requisition protocols. Explain and promote your use of agile content creation methods. This method will not only improve execution, it creates a gauntlet for inevitable interruptions that plague operational effectiveness and efficiency.

QBRs with internal stakeholders. Quarterly business reviews are a regular method vendors use with clients. Use QBRs with your internal clients to review deliverables against the strategy and plan. Collect feedback and inputs that could adjust strategy, plans and priorities. This is a good way to perpetuate education and enrollment on everything mentioned.

What Happened?

Initially, I was surprised to receive the call within days of delivery and final review of the strategy and content priority list. Often it takes a few weeks for this breakdown to begin. But it always does!

I asked the VP which content priority pieces this new request deserved to preempt. I heard that had the new content been on the original list for review it would have been prioritized low.

I suggested this was a pivotal moment to address the cultural issues that would plague future operational execution. The path to professional, disciplined execution must be paved regularly.

Fortunately, the VP had the credibility and (at least in this situation) the power to over-ride the request. They stopped the initiative and returned to working the priority list.

You’ll need someone who will be vigilant reinforcing practices that get the best outcomes from your content, content investments and content operations.

The post Is “Last Idea In, First Content Out” Killing Your Content Strategy? appeared first on Avitage.

Slingshot episodes are an every-other-week miniseries within the Unthinkable show. The goal is to profile people who create side projects that lead somewhere surprising.

The Danger Booth is not your average photo booth. It’s an award-winning, open-air, sometimes-nudity-inducing, always-personality-driven experience.

In this episode, Zac Wolf and Becca Goldring share the story behind their creative side project-turned-business.

Listen and Subscribe Now: iTunes | SoundCloud | Stitcher

Thank you to Rightside Shirts for supporting Unthinkable. Rightside offers apparel designed by kids who submit their artwork, which then turns into all kinds of t-shirts, phone cases, and even watches. All profits help fund school art programs where it’s needed most.

Help empower kids, promote creativity, and support local art programs — go to rightsideshirts.org.

The post The Danger Booth: Creativity Requires Personality appeared first on Unthinkable.

Slingshot episodes are an every-other-week miniseries within the Unthinkable show. The goal is to profile people who create side projects that lead somewhere surprising.

In this episode, Dan Milano shares the story of his sketch comedy channel Wooden Nickel Shorts.

Listen and Subscribe Now: iTunes | SoundCloud | Stitcher

Thank you to Rightside Shirts for supporting Unthinkable. Rightside offers apparel designed by kids who submit their artwork, which then turns into all kinds of t-shirts, phone cases, and even watches. All profits help fund school art programs where it’s needed most.

Help empower kids, promote creativity, and support local art programs — go to rightsideshirts.org.

The post The Story of Wooden Nickel Shorts, a Parody Group with Takedowns of Google, Twilight & More appeared first on Unthinkable.

What’s ‘Surging’ in Marketing?

By Guest Author on June 9, 2016

By Marc Johnson, GM & CMO, Bombora

With a myriad of marketing trends and technologies vying for the spotlight, how do you know what’s really top of mind with B2B marketers themselves? Cutting through the hype, what are B2B marketers actually looking to buy?

To get the answers, Bombora partnered with the Aberdeen Group to create ‘The Surge’ infographic – an exploration of trending topics within the marketing industry.

Based on Bombora’s company-level B2B intent data, a ‘Surge’ scores indicates when content on a specific topic is being consumed much more (or less) than normal according to established benchmarks.

Some the results were surprising. Andrew Moravick, Senior Research Associate at the Aberdeen Group analyzed the topics in terms of what might be driving interest in them, from the perspective of what ‘best-in-class’ marketers do. 

Here is what we found:

  1. It’s great to have results, but if you can’t interpret and share them, what’s the point? Enter ‘Marketing Dashboards’, the top surging topic indicating that B2B marketers are prioritizing finding visual solutions to organize their CRM and campaign data.  According to Aberdeen, best-in-class marketers are 52 percent more likely to use analytics and data visualization solutions.
  2. Driving interest in products and services will always be at the center of any solid marketing strategy and ‘Lead Generation’ – the second most popular topic – is key to this. Content marketing is increasingly being adopted to drive lead gen.
  1. Data-driven ‘Telemarketing’, especially when used for follow up after intent-targeted marketing campaigns can be very effective in driving conversion. Forty-one percent of marketing organizations practice some form of telemarketing.
  2. Despite seeming to have faded out as newer mobile technologies took the spotlight; ‘QR Codes’ remain relevant. These cross channel codes are powerful because they offer digital tracking of non-digital marketing channels.
  3. The concept of ‘Brand Equity, Management & Loyalty’ no longer just sits with marketing, but permeates the entire organization. Year-over-year marketers who increase brand awareness experience 3.7 times increase in company revenue, compared to those who have stagnating brands.

Understanding Surge data helps identify when B2B buyer are ready to act and should help improve your relevance and marketing engagement with your prospects and customers.

About Marc: With over 20 years experience helping build data businesses in the marketing and media technology industry, Marc Johnson leads the strategic growth of Bombora and heads its marketing team. Previously Marc served as the CMO of Resonate, a venture-backed analytics and audience targeting company, named a cool vendor by Gartner and a four-time Inc. 5000 company. He was the Global Chief Marketing Officer and North American GM of Experian Hitwise, a consumer insights and competitive intelligence company operating in 11 countries. Marc has also served as Executive Vice-President to Buzzmetrics, the first consumer-generated media research firm (acquired by Nielsen). Marc is also currently an advisor to Superdata Research and Bombora partner, Moat.

Bombora - The Surge -Marketing - May 2016

Believe it or not, email is still, by far, one of the most effective ways to generate sales leads. That being said, email is also one of the trickier content marketing channels to master. Send the wrong headline or forget to format correctly and – Bam! You’re hit with an opt-out request.

Don’t let your email get sidelined, keep them in the inbox and out of the SPAM folder by creating creative, personal, and compelling email marketing campaigns.

Here are 6 of our best tips.

1. Know your audience

Be sure to send targeted emails that set the stage by describing a few compelling pain points likely felt by your readers. Next, reveal how your company uniquely understands how to solve the challenges before them. Lastly, end with a clear call to action that describes how your company can help solve their problem.

2. Don’t be a robot

Personalize your emails. Give them personality, sass, and don’t forget humor. Automated email campaigns usually sound generic or like a robot wrote them. Be better than that. Write an email that you would want to read and watch your click-through rates soar.

3. Create urgency

In order to move your readers to action, you have to present urgency. After letting them know that you understand their situation and that you have what they need, you should imply that they should act immediately. Unless your letter puts emphasis on the “now”, they might never act at all. Everything about the letter should point towards the call to action.

4. Use a Call To Action (CTA)

Place the CTA somewhere after the initial pitch, and then repeat it near the end. Make sure that it is clear, concise and irresistible in design so that it compels the reader to follow through on your desired action.

5. Keep it simple

Time is money so your emails should be no more than 200 to 250 words in length. Remember, yours is not the only email hitting your reader’s inbox today (far from it) so keep it clear, concise and compelling.

6. Make it readable.

Keep your emails engaging and readable by using short, descriptive words that paint a picture and create urgency. Keep your paragraphs short and remember to make good use of “white space” to make your email easier to read.

Creating emails to generate business leads involves a lot of trial and error, and will require a great deal of A/B testing and a careful eye on your analytics, but don’t get discouraged. Keep refining your approach, pitch, and the overall design, as you can always get better. You can also try to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and think about what kind of message might compel YOU to take the next step. Best of luck with your B2B email marketing ventures!

Have any funny, helpful or encouraging email marketing stories? Share them with us in the comments below.

The post 6 Tips for Writing an Effective B2B Lead Building Email appeared first on PureB2B.

So often people spend a great deal of time on making their site absolutely gorgeous, embracing the latest techniques and really making the thing pop visually. They treat it more like an art project than a tool. And that’s absolutely great. The only problem is that often these people forget one vital truth: it doesn’t matter how pretty your website is, if people can’t use it, can’t find what they’re looking for or get annoyed or frustrated when they use it, then it’s not a good site.

Unless you’re specifically creating a website for artistic purposes rather than usability – as in something that’s meant to be admired rather than searched for information, sales or the like – user-friendliness and efficiency should be your top priorities. For that reason, here are some strategies to apply to make both easier and faster to use.

Fast load times are vital

If your page hasn’t loaded within 2 seconds then you’ve lost almost half your audience. Now that can’t be what you’re after. So make certain the page loads quickly. Note that this does not mean that you immediately need to switch to a more expensive provider. One strategy that seems to work well is to load your page in stages. Give them the most important elements, such as the top and the central text, first and then load in the rest, like the supporting imagery along with the bottom.

Users use visual shapes to read pages

Based on eye-tracking software it’s been discovered that depending on how much information is on the page, users will generally scan it in either a ‘Z’ or an ‘F’ pattern, with the former for more visual pages, and the latter for more text rich pages. That means they all start in the top left and then scan across the top, then either go straight down or go across and down.

They will lock onto the first thing that seems to fit what they’re looking for and if it’s a link generally click on it. What that means is that your most important information should be along the top (that’s why the menu bar goes there) while if you’ve got a text rich page your text should be bullet pointed and easily scanned.

Users don’t read

They scan for what they’re looking for. They will first explore pictures and other visual cues to see if these contain the information they need. Only after that will they go for text. The denser the text, the more hesitant they are about approaching it.

Certain Fonts are easier to read

Particularly I’m talking about serif fonts, which are those fonts with the bits sticking out above and below the line. What’s more, instructions that are written in more accessible fonts are seen as more understandable and easier to carry out. That can make a real difference if you’re trying to get people to pursue your call to action.

Switch up your Typography

Your website is not a book and isn’t going to be consumed like one. As already mentioned, people scan it quickly and don’t go too far into depth. So to aid the user, use different types of text in different places. If something important, bold it, underline it or italicize it. That way it will be much easier for the user to spot. Similarly, make certain you use good headings that are easily understood, and bullet points wherever you can.

And use short paragraphs with spaces between them! On webpages, where space is virtually free, there is absolutely no reason to have big dense blocks of text.

Use Color (and know what different colors mean)

Don’t just use black and white unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Instead rely on color to mark different areas and get different points across. Of course, before you do so be sure that you actually know what the different colors do to your audience. Otherwise you could end up doing more harm than good.

People look at what pops

The bigger and more visually stimulating something is, the quicker it will draw eyes. What this means is that this should also be what is the most vital about your page. If you’re selling something, for example, don’t make the ‘shipping free’ or  “sales” statement the biggest popper (like quite often happens in adverts) but rather the “buy” or “order now” button, like here LordOfPapers.com as that’s the most important point of the page for you and, if the user chose to come here, them.

Avoid clutter

It’s such an easy instruction that is so frequently ignored, with so many websites cramming far too many menu items into their top bar and too much text onto their screen. It’s much better to try to be a bit more minimalist and put text either further down, where they can scroll to it, or on other pages – provided they load up quickly of course.

Don’t deep-stack your pages

If people have to get through several layers to get to where your information is they’ll get annoyed and probably abandon the effort altogether. So make sure your page architecture allows them to get anywhere they need to within a few clicks. This isn’t just advantageous for your users either, but will make it easier for google to scan your page and discover the content that’s there, thereby helping people find your page more quickly. And is what we’re all after, right?

Last thoughts

You can’t skimp on user friendliness for the simple reason that nobody else is. That means that people have expectations and if they’re not met that will almost inevitably work out badly for you. You can already see that now, with pages that haven’t been updated in a few years (like many university and government pages) looking staid and old and decidedly un-user-friendly.

The thing is that bad page design means people will have a low opinion of you and the information or product you’re trying to share with them. And that, in turn, means that you’re going to have a much lower conversion rate. So don’t fall into a so easily avoidable trap. Take the time to meet user-expectations or sooner than you’ll know you’ll have to take the time to file for bankruptcy. Now that can’t be what you’re after, can it?