Why do most websites fail to generate business?

Why do most websites fail to generate business?

The simple fact is that your website isn’t just about you and what you’re trying to sell. A website is like a billboard. The main reason it exists is to attract interest from people and turn them into customers. So doesn’t it stand to reason that your website and the experiences you provide there should cater to your visitors first and foremost? When visitors land on your website, it should be very clear to them exactly what’s in it for them, and why they should care about your product/service. More often than not, websites fail to meet the needs of the visitors.

The Wrong Audience

The problem with most websites is that they are usually designed to make the owner of the website happy. These websites fail miserably at meeting the needs of the visitors.

It happens all too easily – more often than not, you engage a group to design your site, and the team focuses entirely on satisfying your needs, rather than carefully considering the needs of your website visitors.

Research shows that the more a website visitor spends on a site engaging with relevant content, the more likely it is that a sale will result. So here’s the rub – to create engaging content, you first have to decide who your website visitors are in order to create that engaging content.

Introducing Website Personas

Increasingly, big businesses are realizing that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to website design is not as effective as one that provides content targeted at specific segments of site visitors. By doing so, they are finding that their engagement rates rise dramatically, and greater sales result from their efforts. These visitor segments are known as website buyer personas.

Website buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are arrived at based on real data about your customer demographics and online purchasing behavior, to which has been added speculation about their personal histories, concerns and motivations.

For instance, if you are a hotel looking to get new business, you might target four buyer personas: a business traveler, an event planner, a family on vacation, and wedding receptions. Each of these distinct personas have different interests and needs. A website that speaks to these needs in general, falls short in its ability to answer the specific “What’s in it for me?” question each individual buyer persona has. By directly addressing the particular needs of each individual persona, the answer to “What’s in it for me?” becomes clearer and personalized, leading to a far more successful website.

But I already have a website!

We know it isn’t always practical to go back and redesign your website from scratch, but investing the time in identifying your business’ website personas is invaluable. Once you have your website personas you can choose one or more of the following approaches to adapt the messaging of your website to fit the needs of your different buyer personas.

Design (or Enhance) Your Website for Your Buyer Personas

Once you have a clear understanding of your business’ various buyer personas and what makes them tick, you can cater your website experience to the interests of these different customer segments.

Include Self-Select Links on Your Homepage

Consider adding links on your homepage or in your website’s menu that allow visitors to self-select who they are. This will allow them to receive the most relevant content and website experience possible. This has the added benefit of eliminating any question of what the site visitor should do next. It allows you to more easily guide your visitors and expose them to specific website content, and gives you greater control over their actions.

Create a Specific Website Page for Each Persona

Point the self-select links on the homepage or menu to a customized page for each of your buyer personas. These pages will allow you to feature targeted language, messaging, and video content, as well as provide useful links to targeted content, product pages, offers, etc., that appeal to that particular segment or buyer persona. Using our hotel example above, you could create a page for each of those separate personas: business travelers, event planners, vacationing families, and couples planning their wedding reception.

Create Landing Pages & Content for Each Persona

Create targeted landing pages — and content to go with them — for each persona. This allows you to create everything from blog posts  to premium offers like ebooks, webinars, product demos, etc. You can use this content as links within your individual persona pages, your website’s general resource center, and in lead nurturing campaigns catered to those particular personas.

If you already have content and offers that suit a more general audience, you won’t have to start from scratch. By modifying the generally targeted content you already have, you can address the specific needs of your different segments. Look for ways to cater to the persona’s individual needs, problems, and interests; adjust formatting, depth, and length; modify language and tone; and incorporate industry/persona-specific examples.

Categorize Web Page Content by Persona

Even though you may carefully create dedicated, persona-based pages to link all of your persona-targeted content and offers, you should also make the rest of your website persona-friendly. This is because your website visitors may not use the self-select links, or come in through the custom landing pages. Put a few safeguards in place to make sure that you can still deliver relevant content and experiences to those site visitors.

  1. Resource Centers:  Organize your website materials into easily found materials. Color code the materials. Tag them. Categorize them. Make them easily identifiable to each persona.
  2. Use different pages where needed. Sometimes it is simply easier and neater to split materials and messaging onto a page for each persona.  In the case of products for sale, this may already be in place, but just may need clarification and alignment with other materials.
  3. Tagging. Tag and highlight materials on pages to help attract and clarify the intended persona(s) for the materials.

Create Calls-to-Action (CTAs) for Each Persona

Last but not least, to ensure you have effective lead generation, create call-to-action buttons that correlate with targeted offers to personas. Include these calls to action buttons and offers on the pages of your website dedicated to those personas.
Take time to consider what copy, design, and imagery will work best with each particular persona and build calls-to-action that take these into account. And if in doubt, test, test, test!

10 FREE Awesome Mobile Apps to Make You Fall in Love with Marketing Again

10 FREE Awesome Mobile Apps to Make You Fall in Love with Marketing Again

Digital marketing has become a drag – SEO, social media, content writing… get back to basics and the act of creating. Here are 10 FREE Awesome Mobile Apps to Make You Fall in Love with Marketing Again

We thought we’d share some of the iPhone IOS apps that we use and love at our marketing agency. Whether you’re a cog in a big business or you’re the big wheel at a small business, these are all useful, fun and applicable to you. We collectively use hundreds of apps, but when we narrowed them down to just 10, these are the ones that stood out. Enjoy!



Hyperlapse. $15,000 used to get you smooth time lapse videos. Until Hyperlapse. You have to see what people have done with it to get a real sense of its abilities. We love it and have to restrain ourselves from overusing it. Watch what The Verge had to say about it.

directr for business

Directr for Business. Who needs a director and crew or our fancy-schmancy cameras and equipment when you have this amazing storyboard-driven video creator. It is especially useful for creating rough drafts of the final product. (quite often it is our final product!)


Pigment. Ok, so this has nothing to do with marketing, but if you’re looking to get your inner creative mojo back, and see life as a kid again, this is fun! A coloring book for adults. Wheeeee!


Periscope. Simply the fastest, best way to broadcast live video, and all the while building your social value.


Triller. Create mash up video mixes at work? Sure! Life’s more than a series of endless spreadsheets and meetings – show your world at work from a different angle.

filmic pro

FiLMiC Pro. Anyone can record video, but to make epic videos you need to be able to control every aspect of the camera. Enter FiLMiC Pro. Unbelievable.

slash keyboard

Slash Keyboard. Start your love affair all over again with this keyboard app. The app connects to more than a dozen services to ensure that you almost never need to switch apps while typing. Whether you want to look up a map location, search Google, Amazon, your contacts or or the App Store, Slash Keyboard lets you seamlessly do it from your keyboard.

adobe post

Adobe Post. Want to quickly create fabulous looking social posts? Adobe Post is new and just like their other stuff, works magic! Whee, wow, wonderful!


GifsArt. Marketing without animated Gifs is like seeing in black and white. Gifs makes pics and clips pop with color and excitement. Addictive, beware.


Storehouse. A possible breakout app for 2016, you get to turn photos and videos into shareable stories. Rather than the mind numbing upchuck of Facebook and Twitter, you get to build something meaningful. Sure it might complicate your existing content process but then again, it might be a lot prettier and look a lot less like the overprocessed stuff we see all the time.

Of course there are tons of other FREE awesome apps out there that we use all the time at our marketing agency – those that didn’t make the top 10 cut include Google Drive, Google Maps, Flipboard, Camera+, GoPro, Skype, Waze, Tumblr, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Algo, Feedly, Hootsuite, WordPress, Buffer, Nimble, Feedly, Ted, Slack, Asana, Evernote, Genius Scan, Eventbrite, DayOne…and the list goes on. And now that Apple’s big iPad has been released, we’re likely going to be adding even more.

Make Business Referrals part of your Digital Strategy

Make Business Referrals part of your Digital Strategy

Referrals from happy customers should be your #1 source of new business. You can’t get a better business lead than someone referred to you. You can’t get a more motivated business prospect to your business than someone sent by a satisfied client.

We’re often asked: How do I get my clients to promote my business to their professional and social networks?

The answer is elusively easy: You have to train your clients to promote you. You have to remind them to do it. Constantly. And make it easy to do so.

The magic words you want your referrers to learn: “I know of someone who can help you.”

“The reality is that people almost exclusively do business with people they know or know of, rather than with strangers,” says Brian Polacek at the Rage Agency Marketing Firm. “A personal recommendation from someone you know and trust is far more reassuring than cold calling around.”

The 6 steps to add to your marketing plan to realize better and more business referrals:

1. Ask clients for referrals. Constantly.

Ask regularly. During the sales cycle. During the close. During delivering excellent service. And regularly thereafter. The best time to ask for a referral is while you are actively involved with your client and have their full trust and attention.

Don’t be shy. Asking does not threaten your client relationship – studies show the opposite – it enhances client relationships. “Asking a client to recommend you makes things personal,” says Polacek. “you’re asking your client to judge you and to make a personal decision about supporting the future of your business.” Clients can become raving fans when approached properly.

Keep yourself motivated by setting referral goals, and asking systematically. Use an “ask method” that fits with your personal and professional demeanor.

Start with the assumption that your clients would be happy to refer you. But let them tell you (and explore why) if they are uncomfortable doing so.

2. Teach clients how to refer you. Constantly.

Don’t assume that your client knows how to refer you. Many clients would be happy to refer you but don’t know how. Give them:

  • Printed information.  Include your value proposition and some client results. Answer these two questions about your business for them:  ”What do we do?” and “Why us?”
  • Permanent space. Reserve a space on your print and email newsletters. Add links to your site so that the reader can get a full answer to the two questions.
  • Review sites. Provide instructions on how to go on review sites like Yelp to give you a review.
  • Business card. Consider adding a request for referrals on the back of your business card.

3. Remind them to refer you. Constantly.

Reach out to your current and past clients on a regular basis, and always include a request for referrals. My long-time mortgage banker hasn’t contracted new business with me in years, but I get a letter from her every two months that reminds me that she appreciates my support and would love my referrals. (She openly admits in her letters that referrals are the lifeblood of her business. This motivates me because I want to help her.)

4. Look for ways to make it easy to review you. Constantly.

  • Website – Consider adding links on relevant pages of your website to review sites where you appear or want to appear. (Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.).
  • Communications – Add links to review sites when you send a client communication: Put them in emails, on Facebook company pages and Facebook postings, and in direct mail.
  • Write it. Create a PDF of your “What do I do?” and “Why me?”  and place them on your website. Include the PDF link on all communications. Here’s what our PDF looks like.
  • Sample reviews. People are often reticent to write a review from scratch, so share reviews that other people have written as models. (Keep it honest – don’t write the reviews for them – we’ve all become good at spotting fake reviews, and some companies like Amazon have initiated legal proceedings against fake reviewers.

5. Say “thank you.” Constantly.

Reach out and thank and recognize referrers – not only is it good etiquette, but it is good for business. People feel that they are doing business with a caring company when they are recognized for their favors. There is no need to offer financial rewards, in fact many businesses have restrictions against it.

“Most referrers are motivated to help you because you helped them,” says Polacek, “they not looking for a reward for themselves.”

The best reward is a referral back to them, if appropriate for their line of work.

6. Give. Constantly.

One of the best ways to get referrals is to generously give them. If you have the opportunity to refer an associate or link two contacts together, do so. Attending a networking event? Make a point of introducing people to one another. People will appreciate the referral, and it inspires them to respond in kind.

Referrals should be the number-one tool in your tool belt. Reach for it often–as often as you glance at your phone, and get more business.

Native advertising displaces annoying, useless online ads

Native advertising displaces annoying, useless online ads

A quiet revolution is underway and you probably don’t know about it. Online advertising is dead as we know it. Almost no one clicks on annoying website banner ads – the click through rate is abysmally low. 10% of consumers go so far as to virtually erase online ads using some form of online ad blocker, like Ad-Aware. So what’s a marketer to do in 2015? How do you get an ad-wary audience to click on your brand content? Enter native advertising.

What is native advertising

Native advertising, like advertising, is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, any digital content can be made into native advertising. What makes it different from a regular advert is that is is difficult to spot. It is designed to blend in with the regular content typically found in the publication. Often it isn’t even marked with the telltale ‘sponsored content’ banner. There are no standards or guidelines for publishers in labeling native ads.

Native adverts align with a site’s established editorial style and voice, and provides the kind of content that the site’s audience typically expects. It doesn’t look out of place on the site.

Native advertising gets results

Native ads are getting much love right now, because the click-through rates are much higher than typical advertisements with much stronger engagement.

“We just dipped our toe into the water this year, but I would say we’ll see a five- to 10-times increase over what we spent this year,” said Matt Eaves, VP-engagement at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

This is true of almost all brands today. A simple Google search for native advertising shows that spending on native advertising is increasing exponentially as brands and businesses look for effective ways to build brand awareness and loyalty.

“Traditional digital advertising has become wallpaper,” said Jason Hill, GE’s global head of media strategy recently. “It doesn’t improve anyone’s experience on a site and readers, myself included, pretty much look past it.”

Native advertising is breaking long-held taboos. For instance, Forbes put a native ad for Fidelity on the cover of its magazine, which is traditionally considered editorial space for magazines. Fidelity reportedly paid $1 million for the ad which included two pages inside the magazine. Read more…

forbes native advert cover


Examples of great native ads

When done well, the ads are very effective and while they may not fit the notion of ‘going viral’, they are very engaging.

Levi’s on Instagram:

Levi posted pics of people wearing Levi’s in outdoor settings. The
photos looked like typical Instagram photos that friends post, but were in fact adverts. The public’s response was excellent. Read more…

levis native advert instagram

Universal Studios on Tumblr:
Universal released an animated GIF of one of the minions with just a link to download the image to promote the movie DespicableMe 2. In just 24 hours, it was the most liked and reblogged Tumblr ad of 2013. Read more…

And one notable native ad fail

Native ads don’t always work as planned. When the ads don’t blend in with their surroundings, results can be disastrous.

Church of Scientology on The Atlantic:
A story on ­Scientology’s success fell flat on this thought-leader site—readers clearly felt the article/advert didn’t meet the standards of the site and howled with outrage. It was offline within hours. Read more…

the atlantic church of scientology native advert

What’s a brand to do?

Done well, native ads can be interesting, informative and build a brand or sell a product. Natives ads are also becoming more important as readers increasingly use toward mobile devices, where traditional advertising is even less effective.

Small to medium sized businesses are behind the curve when it comes to this medium of advertising, but with a little bit of work on their part, they too can reap the rewards. Small to medium sized businesses should use promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook or content discovery platforms like Outbrain and Taboola to increase the reach and the value of their content marketing.