Freemiums in Action

Business websites are increasingly using the freemium, the free gift offered on the site’s first page, above the fold.  Visitors can access this ‘premium item’  in exchange for their email address. It’s an excellent strategy for growing your list while providing useful stuff to potential customers. If the freebie is high quality and truly brings satisfaction to the user, your brand has already made a new friend; and new friends will then become customers, if properly cultivated.

Let’s look at a few examples of free offers. These three show not only how varied your gifts may be, but also how creative you can be in the presentation of the offer. If the goal is to enlarge your mailing list, you’ll want to create an offer that is well-positioned to win trust.

Marisa MurgatroydMarisa Murgatroyd runs a full-service web design and internet marketing agency. People seeking those services may land on her homepage. And the first thing they see is not “Marisa Murgatroyd,” not “full-service web design and internet marketing agency,” not “We’re the best agency for all your internet needs!” What they see is the exact thing they are seeking in their deepest gut: “9,450 followers in 12 months!”  No dancing around here; it’s a barefaced bullseye of positioning and copy. There’s a video as well, which is validating but almost superfluous because the message is already abundantly clear.  And the freemium is a “step-by-step plan” showing how you can have the same results.

Take-away: Try creating a front-and-center offer with the right fonts and colors. Ask, What is the very specific thing my potential customer wants when they come to my site? How can I provide the thing they want instantly?

Jay BaerJay Baer is such an intelligent blogger; I always enjoy his writing and respect his viewpoints. He also positions and colors his offer so as to make sure it’s not missed. His gift is remarkable for the way it is configured. Jay writes a daily newsletter he titles One Thing. So you’re signing up to receive these newsletters, and you also get a free ebook (it’s called “21 Quotes That Will Change the Way You Think About Marketing”) that contains quotes from Jay’s latest book. Taken together, the freemium affords benefits on many levels: Jay builds his list, subscribers get useful info, the content spreads Jay’s theories among his market, subscribers read the ebook, and some will decide to purchase the hard copy book.

Take-away: You can have your newsletter as the freemium offer, but think about ways to maximize returns for yourself as well as for your subscribers.

Amy PorterfieldSocial media guru Amy Porterfield has a super-high profile, and she offers a super-generous free download: a four-part video training on using Facebook for business. The giveaway dominates the home page and is almost starkly simple. Notice the labeling of the go button – “Give it to me!”

Take-away: Make your offer a video, audio, infographic, or other non-text medium and you’re already ahead. Somehow, it’s just easier to watch a video than to read. And videos make it easier for you to control how your message is delivered.

Admittedly, these are all marketing-related businesses. I’m collecting samples in other fields and will report to you shortly!

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 Want more details about developing your freemium? Start here.

Landing Pages, Squeeze Pages, Lead Pages: What’s the Difference?

1456136606_0c723a9689_zDo you wonder about the difference between landing pages, squeeze pages, and lead pages?

The internet is a 21st century Wild West, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s a lot of confusion over terms and definitions. One of the most flagrant examples is the overlapping meanings of the terms: landing page, lead page, and squeeze page.

Several years back, the landing page concept bubbled to the cyber surface. Close on its heels was the squeeze page. And after a hiatus, the lead page took center stage just a couple years ago.

What does this progression signify and what is the difference, if any, between these different types of web pages?

Like an unexplored continent, the internet very slowly reveals itself, and we are just as slow to understand its ways. Somewhere along the line four or five years ago we understood and began to maximize the use of landing pages, driving traffic to specific inner pages of our website. We began to lure attention not exclusively to the homepage, but to a long tail page from deep inside the site; a page created for the specific purpose of introducing the visitor to a singular opportunity.

So we learned to guide the traffic in this way, wooing while shepherding. We also adopted the landing page as central to website traffic generation, because it appealed to highly specific needs. The more finely targeted your market, the more precisely you can craft your message.

One way to finesse the route to your landing page, we then realized, is to reduce the number of possible distractions. This is from the Sucker-A-Minute School of Marketing, but any successful marketing plan works on all levels, right? So a squeeze page allows only one action, only one exit. Fill in the form or nothing. No menus or links or superfluous stuff; just the single opt in, large and preferably circled in red.

A good while later, the two approaches were synthesized in lead pages. While landing and squeeze pages still make sense for specific situations, we now appreciate that driving traffic to a certain page (like a landing page) and making a single, crystal clear offer once they arrive (like a squeeze page), is the most user-friendly as well as profitable way to use cyberspace.

Again, the diverse forms are still active. When posting your blog updates, you still set up landing pages. You may use squeeze pages for decisive steps in a sales sequence. And you routinely work the internet for branding purposes, producing content that’s attractive to your market and offering it through lead pages that build your list.

Any questions? What do you think? What other ways do we have to make it easy for customers to get to know us and enjoy our interactions?

Business Goals, Keywords, and Your Website

TieksYou already know that your business website should accomplish certain very specific things on the way to meeting your business goals. This post looks at a few examples of how that works.

It’s a rare enterprise that is not concerned with money-making. If the mission of your biz is social, political, educational, or the like then you’re probably a non-profit. We can deal with that in another post. But for now, let’s assume we are all pretty much in it for the bucks.

Unfortunately, many small businesses stop there in their website planning. They are looking for more income, plain and simple. So they direct a site developer to build pages with the aim of making money. However, since all aspects of their business are involved in this same objective, it’s not easy to decide which part of available content is the best hook for a website home page or landing page. [Read more…]

Getting Started with Your Custom Website: 5 Steps

farm8Do you want to have an online presence for your small business? Inbound marketing on the internet starts with your website. When you have an established home base, you can expand from there into every nook and cranny of cyberspace, however your growth plan dictates.

Okay, you say, I’m ready to build a site. What do I do?

Whether you use a DIY tool to build your own site or you work with a site developer, start out on the right foot by clarifying your position in the following areas. [Read more…]

When Do You Need a Custom Website?

Custom Websites from Small Business Online BrandingThe array of options available to anyone who wants to create a website is enormous. It is no wonder that small business people often drag their feet when it comes to setting up a solid web presence. Even a cursory glance at the possibilities is overwhelming. It seems obvious that a serious learning curve and a load of decision-making are involved. Who has time for all that, in addition to the already breakneck pace of living?

So allow me to over-simplify, in the interest of making things easier for the people who really count when it comes to building websites: the people who own the businesses behind them.

Web designers and developers thrive on having lots of options, but those who actually need websites are likely to fare better with just a few clear choices.

VERY generally speaking, you can build a site in one of four ways.*

1.  The simplest foundation is located in a WordPress.com or Google-account-related Blogger site. The hosting and templates come free, and some people have built impressively customized sites with these tools.

2.  Next step up would be a site created via an online app such as Weebly, Artisteer, or Homestead. The quality of these sites is absolutely professional, and there are hundreds of design options available. 

3.  Far more customizable is a WordPress.org site, an app that most hosting companies will offer as a free add-on.

4.  And at the top of the complexity and cost scales is a proprietary site built with a combination of codes and extras as required by big industry. Communications, sales, customer service, multiple managers and everything else about big business will generally require completely custom structures that can cost five or six figures to build.

* Please note: Each of these options has many additional examples. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list.

Again in general, there are three different features that distinguish these four types of website builders.

1. Hosting – i.e., the business of placing and maintaining your site on the web – is taken care of in #1 above, but must be arranged separately by you for the other three options. It’s drop-dead simple to register with a new host (this site is hosted by Bluehost.com, and I’m not ashamed to give them huge, unaffiliated kudos for their excellent service) so don’t let this detail scare you away.

2. Design – how your website looks, feels, and how it’s structured to hang together – is another key element. Options #1 and #2 above offer limited design options; #3 is far more flexible, and #4 is 110% customized.

3.  Support – the arrangement for ongoing guidance in using your website ranges from public forums for WordPress.com and Blogger users to in-house staff for the big corporations, and everything inbetween. As a small business, you may want a professional service provider to cover this base for you when needed. In options #2 and #3 above, even though you may manage to create the site on your own, having someone to keep it spiffy and attractive may be worth the investment.

There’s cookie-cutter, DIY, and custom high quality. Each appropriately applies to a certain stage of business. Does this help you see where you should start? Please let me know in the comments.

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If you’ve already concluded that custom WordPress is your thing, check out our services in that area!

Does Your Small Business Website Accurately Represent You?

Theodore ScottHere at SBOB, we love small business. It’s part of our general adoration of all things small. Let it ring from the mountaintops, Small is Beautiful!

But we are not convinced that small businesses – micro-enterprises of all sorts – are generally using the internet to their best advantage. Business concerns that involve ten or fewer employees at long last have the same marketing advantages as big corporations, via the web, but are they making the best use of the opportunity? In too many cases, the answer is no.

The ‘level playing field’ that the internet provides means that even if you’re a solopreneur, your voice can be heard just as loudly as anyone else’s. Your brand can be as visible as you want, with appropriate effort.

The strongest base for any brand online is their website. Yet many small businesses fall prey to one of these quagmires:

  • Their website was built c.2005, and looks like it.
  • They built the site via the cheap and easy route of pre-fab templates.
  • The site is dependent on the services of a webmaster.
  • The site is a brochure, presenting information but lacking interactivity.
  • There is no regularly changing content on the site.

We’ll look at each of these situations in detail, suggesting ways to upgrade for each, in future posts. For now, we’re looking at the question: Does your site accurately represent you?

  • Does it look like you?
  • Sound like you?
  • Does it say what you want to say to people you want to please?
  • Would you recognize your personality and mission upon visiting your site?
  • Would you be attracted to the offer your site makes?

If it makes you a bit uncomfortable that I’m insisting your site should reflect you, as a person, that’s the point. That’s the difference now from before, when we were faceless behind an institution. Marketing on the web requires more authenticity, more verifiable authorship. People buy from people, right? The internet is too large for corporate identities to be effective. It takes personality to make connections that work.

What does ‘personality’ mean in your specific case? That’s the (as we used to say) $64,000 question. Is it your love of golf, your status as a father, your faith? Is it your commitment to teamwork or excellence or the cutting edge? Maybe it’s your dedication to the hottest new trends, or your fascination with complexity, or with simplicity. Whatever it is, your site should be full of it.

And what kind of person will readily relate to the personality that your site projects? This is another consideration. Here’s an example: you’re a nutrition counselor and a Dad. You might shape your site for single dads in urban locations; or you might design it for dads of special needs kids or dads of girls or boys or nerds or athletes or …

This is the single biggest challenge of the web: to use it effectively for marketing, you will need to be able to articulate and show your personality and message in smooth synch, combining to create one distinct irresistible compelling force. How do you go about accomplishing this? Please share your insights in the comments …

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