Coding and Webpage Creation

Although it may seem relatively out of the sphere of digital marketing, coding is immensely important to the digital realm as it is involved in the makeup of virtually all digital content. With the exponential growth in computer technology, savvy computer programmers are in high demand. There is even a strong belief that basic computer programming and coding classes should be a requirement in schools and that everyone should have some amount of coding knowledge. In a growing future of digital content and information technology, it is not surprising to me that this is becoming the norm. With all of this in mind, it seems to me that it might be worth some time to briefly explore the topic of source coding.

What exactly are we talking about here?

Source code is the brick and mortar of digital content, whether it be websites, emails, or applications. Without it, there would be no digital content, the internet would not exist as we know it, and you would not be able to read this blog post as you are now. Source code is made up of different programming languages that create the information that tells a website how to express itself to a viewer. When you see a beautiful website, blog, or application, you are looking at the result of a combination of sophisticated programming languages ordered in just the right way to bring you coherent and aesthetically pleasing content. Coding is the act of creating digital content using computer code programming languages such as HTML, Java, and CSS. These languages can be read by both the computer hardware and human programmers, allowing developers and IT personnel to communicate with the computer, telling it how to present digital content.

The Importance of Coding

So, coding is clearly important, but why is it a good skill to have as a digital marketer? Well for one, if you want to change a piece of digital content on the fly, having some coding knowledge saves you the time of having to call up and wait on the IT guy to make the change for you. It cuts out the middle man, and you know that they say… “If you want something done right, you got to do it yourself.” Therefore, it not only saves you time, but it allows you to make the change exactly how you want it, without the possibility of confusion and miscommunication with the IT department, which could possibly result in a wrong or incomplete change. It is also important to know coding for certain SEO and digital analytics tasks. With Google Analytics, for example, you must install a particular tracking code into the source code of all of your webpages and digital content. Having a basic knowledge of coding, makes performing tasks like these much easier. Based on analytics data that is collected, knowing how the source code of your page may be affecting conversions can help you pinpoint exactly where and how to make a change to a webpage in order to optimize company goals, once again, without trying to explain it to a middle man. Such is the case in understanding and manipulating source code in order to conduct A/B tests. It all goes back to making the right changes and knowing how it is done. With all of this in mind, an effective and savvy digital marketer should have at least a basic, if not intermediate, knowledge of source code because it will allow them to achieve their goals more quickly and efficiently.

Codecademy

In the interest of gaining some basic coding knowledge, myself, I began the HTML and CSS course offered online by Codecademy, one of the most famous free online coding courses. I spent about two hours learning the basics of HTML and got about 17% through the course. 17% doesn’t seem like much, but I felt like I learned a lot in the time that I did spend navigating through the lessons. For me, taking this course was not about a race to the finish, but instead a steady attempt to learn a basic and important skill. Overall, I was pleased with the interface and the bite-sized instructions that each lesson provides. One of the best qualities of Codecademy is the interface that displays and live updates what your website looks like as you change the source code in the adjacent window. This made it easy to see how each piece of source code, or lack thereof, can directly affect the structure and look of a webpage. Even based on my limited experience with Codecademy, I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning how to code. It’s easy, engaging, kinda fun, and it has a progress bar! The below pictures display some of my progress.

Starting CodecademyScreenshot (2)Screenshot (3)Screenshot (4)Screenshot (5)

Squarespace

After trying my hand at learning some basic coding on Codecademy, I began creating a fake e-commerce page on Squarespace. Squarespace is an online software program that allows you to create your own website. It bypasses basic source code by allowing the user to interact with a more simple and intuitive interface. I played around with this program for awhile, adding content, inserting pictures, changing font colors, and moving pieces of content around. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out how to include a link to my site without upgrading to a payed Squarespace account, but the following pictures should give you a short glimpse of my small creation.

Screenshot (6) Screenshot (7) Screenshot (8) Screenshot (9)

As you can see, I was able to arguably accomplish quite a lot and make my site look nice in a short amount of time. The ability to create an aesthetically pleasing website in a relatively short time frame was definitely one of the positives of using Squarespace. Most of this has to do with the wide variety of website templates that the program offers. I found the templates to be quite helpful in allowing me to figure out how I should arrange my site. Overall, navigating through the program and manipulating my website was pretty intuitive. Hovering my mouse over different sections of the webpage would display different actions that I could take. A pane on the left of the interface displayed a simple menu that offered more in-depth actions. On the flip side of all this, there were a few moments, however brief, where I felt slightly overwhelmed with the amount of possible actions that I could take. This left me a little disoriented and and confused a few times, but my overall experience with the program was not dominated by this feeling. My only real complaint was that there did not seem to be an “undo” button whenever I completed a wrong action. This was rather frustrating because it would take me much longer to fix a problem whenever I had made one, but this was a relatively minor issue that I encountered. It is also entirely possible that I completely overlooked the “undo” button, but even so, the program was not intuitive enough in that specific area for me to find it. Considering my short experience with the program as a whole, I felt that the positives of using Squarespace greatly outnumbered the negatives that I encountered.

No doubt, Squarespace is a powerful web design tool that combines an intuitive interface with a vast wealth of opportunities for customization. For these reasons, I would definitely recommend Squarespace to anyone who is interested in developing a website. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be using it in my future as I become an entrepreneur and establish my own consumer electronics business in Alabama.

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Programmatic Ad Buying, Native Advertisements, and the Future of Paid Digital Advertising

Paid search and paid digital advertising may not necessarily seem to be compatible with a traditional inbound marketing strategy, but many companies are using them to drive more site traffic and generate more conversions. Taking advantage of all the tools at one’s disposal, even those that are paid, can mean the difference between a great digital marketing campaign and a remarkable one. In fact, paid digital advertising is on the rise, but it seems to be in a state of flux and its future is relatively unclear. How so? Two examples that I will discuss in this post are programmatic ad buying and native advertising.

Programmatic Ad Buying

Programmatic seems a little like a mystery wrapped in an enigma. It is a term that has come to mean many different things and it is also currently in a stage of continuous evolution. So what is it? That is a great question and I’ll do my best to answer it. I would describe programmatic as the computerized automated buying and selling of individual ad space based on sophisticated customer behavior and forecasting databases. It uses computers to optimize the effectiveness of ad space buying as well as to determine the best and most effective places to position company advertisements on the web. I like to think of it as data driven buying. One benefit of programmatic is that it allows users to see in real time how their campaigns are doing. This type of automation seems to be increasing in popularity in the digital advertising world. So, programmatic obviously has some pretty clear benefits and it seems to be on the rise, but why is its future unclear?

Being a relatively new frontier in the digital marketing world, programmatic has yet to reach it’s full potential and discoveries about how to optimize and improve processes have yet to be made. It also remains to be seen how programmatic will affect the digital advertising world. Complete automation can be a sort of scary idea. It would appear to take the human element out of advertising, when reaching humans is what advertising is all about. Its compatibility with truly creative and engaging advertising remains to be seen.

Native Advertisements

Seemingly on the opposite end of the spectrum is native advertising. Native advertising refers to sponsored advertising content that is disguised to look like legitimate editorial or journalism content. It was born out of a corporate attempt to penetrate through the perceptive ad filters of the population. It is much easier for readers to become engaged with content that doesn’t feel like a traditional advertisement. There are no sales pitches, only engaging and relevant content. One example of quality native advertising would be Netflix’s production of some very novel and interesting native advertising for their show Orange is the New Black in the New York Times. The response to this particular piece seems to be quite positive.

Sounds great right? Not everyone agrees. Many consumers do not like that legitimate content is being mixed in with sponsored content. In native, the line between advertising and authentic authorship is blurred. This raises some ethical questions. Most often the sponsorship of certain content is made clear, but this doesn’t keep consumers from feeling like they are being deceived. So, although native advertising is wonderful at engaging consumers, it has yet to be fully accepted by the population. It is also much more difficult to determine the effectiveness of native advertising than it is with paid search or other automated, analytics compatible digital content. If truly effective processes for measuring native effectiveness can be developed, then the future of native advertising may be bright.

The Future

Programmatic is highly automated and effective and Native advertising is highly creative and engaging. I am by no means an expert in the realm of paid digital advertising, but it seems to me like there will need to be balance between creativity and standardization in the future. Yes, standardization is efficient, as we see with programmatic, but I don’t see how digital advertising can be completely “standardized” or automated. Taylor Davidson, a venture capitalist with KBS+ Ventures, would seem to disagree with me:

“The idea that native can’t be programmatic is based on a fundamentally short-sighted view of what native is. Native is whatever ad unit we have to create to fit the massive sites that we’ve made tremendously popular.”

Apparently my idea of native advertising is short-sighted. Whatever the case, I think that our views of native advertising are very much different. To me, native is more than an ad that is “tremendously popular”. It’s truly engaging long-form content and I fail to see how something like this can be automated. Standardizing advertising seems to be an oxymoron to me because standardization screams cookie-cutter, lackluster, watered-down content. And who wants to engage with content like that? One of the fundamental characteristics of quality advertising is the ability to capture a viewer’s attention and engage them. I personally do not see how complete standardization allows for this to effectively take place. It seems to me that if a good balance can be found, many innovations can be made in the realm of digital advertising. It is possible that we will see more standardized platforms for creative digital advertising in the future. I’m not quite sure what the future will hold, but whatever it is, I’m sure that it will be great. As companies increasingly allocate more advertising dollars to premium automated digital advertising, I would suggest that they not lose the originality and creativity that makes for great content.

Google AdWords: What I Have Learned

With all of this talk about search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, it would be a crime not to look into the foremost PPC system offered by the world’s leading search engine. Google owns 31.45% of the global digital ad market (as of 2014) and its paid search program, Google AdWords, is the most commonly used PPC system on the planet. With this in mind, I think that it might be worth some time to dive into the world of Google AdWords.

In preparation for taking the Google AdWords exam, I looked through the Google AdWords Fundamentals study guide and I have learned quite a lot of useful information. Instead of sharing all of that information with you here, I have condensed it down and will be presenting you with what I feel are the most important and basic takeaways. Here is some of what I learned and how I would apply this knowledge for a client:


The Networks

Google AdWords is a paid search program that offers two main networks on which users can display their advertisements—the Search Network and the Display Network. Each network offers a different method or way of presenting an ad to potential customers. The Search Network displays advertisements on Google search result pages as well as other Google based search programs. This network makes use of text advertisements to reach out to potential customers who are typing certain keywords into a Google search box. The Display Network, on the other hand, presents user ads on Google partner websites all across the web, and allows users to present picture, video, and rich media advertisements to potential customers. This means that a client’s advertisement could appear on blogs or websites that contain content related to their ad. AdWords also allows users to display their advertisements on both networks for the largest amount of population reach and exposure.

Something to Consider:

Because each network offers a different method of display, it is important to choose which method best supports your client’s business model. I like to think of the different networks in terms of focus and time. The Search Network caters to potential customers who are searching for specific products or solutions to problems. This specificity is perfect for businesses that offer specialized products or services and that want to be noticed the moment a potential customer might be interested in what that company has to offer. The Display Network, on the other hand, has the potential to reach a broader audience, as ads will appear next to related content across the web. This type of network is perfect for businesses that offer a wider range of products and services and that want to appear to potential customers in a more general dimension of customer interest. In certain cases, choosing to utilize both networks may be best for your business, but in order to best further your client’s specific company goals and optimize efficiency, it may be best to choose to display on a network that best fits your client’s business model.


Keywords are Key

It is difficult to talk about a paid search program, especially Google AdWords, without mentioning the importance of keywords. Google uses keywords to match advertisements with interested visitors. Both the Search and Display networks rely on keywords and phrases to know which visitors to display certain ads to, but the Search Network relies even more heavily on keywords, as the Display Network can be configured to display ads based on relevant topics instead of just certain keywords. On the AdWords Search Network, when a potential customer types certain keywords into a Google search box, the following search results page will display the ads of companies that want to be found for those keywords. These companies can set their ads to display based on a broad, phrase, exact, or negative match of keywords. A broad match means that a company’s ad will appear in search results based on synonymous variations of the keywords that are being searched. A phrase match will display the ad to anyone who typed in a phrase containing those keywords that the AdWords user wants to get found for, or close variations of that keyword phrase. An exact match is exactly as it sounds, only displaying an ad on the results page of users who searched for those exact keywords in that exact order. Finally, a negative match will only show an ad if that specific keyword is not included in a search query.

Something to Consider:

Google cares about relevancy and aims to display only the most relevant ads to its users. Keywords are one way that Google can tell if an ad will be relevant to a customer or not. AdWords allows its clients to select the keywords that they want to be found for. Based on the click-through rate, the content of an ad, and the ad’s landing page, the system rates these keywords with a quality score of 1-10, where 10 is the highest possible quality. This quality score tells AdWords users how relevant their ad is to that keyword and how likely that keyword will be in helping them reach their company goals. In working with AdWords for a client, it is extremely important choose keywords that will best achieve the objectives of the the client’s company, and keyword quality score is very useful in helping you to choose which keywords are the best fit for optimization. Applying the proper keyword match can also make the difference in who your ad will be displayed to. A broad match will ensure that a wider audience encounters your ad, while an exact match will only display your content in very specific searches. Once again, the match and keywords that you choose depend on your client’s business model and what their company objectives are.


Ad Rank:

As I mentioned above, Google wants to create the best possible experience for its users, which means that it fights to display the most relevant and highest quality ads at the top and most visible portions of its search result pages. Ad Rank refers to the place and positioning of your ad on a search result page relative to competitors. The higher your ad rank is, the more visible your ad is, and the more visible your ad is, the more likely potential customers will be to click on your ad. Ad rank is determined by the amount of money that you bid per click, the quality of your ad and its landing page, and the format of your ad.

Something to Consider:

With all of this in mind, one of the best ways to improve your ad rank, and thus potential conversions on your site, is by improving the quality of your website’s landing pages. Google looks at the landing page of your ad to determine the quality and relevancy of the landing page content. Therefore, you should make sure to optimize your client’s website user experience by making it easily navigable and making sure that the content of the landing page is highly relevant to the ad. This will improve your client’s ad rank and help them to achieve their digital marketing objectives.


Conclusions

These were only a few of the main and basic takeaways that I encountered in my study of Google AdWords. It is always important to consider your a client’s business model and objectives when configuring and applying a Google AdWords campaign. Tailoring your campaign to these objectives will help you to more quickly and efficiently achieve them. One of the ways to further these objectives and to bring more exposure to your client’s offerings is to make sure that their website and landing pages offer a great user experience. The higher quality your client’s website and landing pages are, the more likely your client’s ads will be to rank highest on search engine results. In the end it’s all about creating quality content and tailoring your AdWords campaign to company goals in order to achieve the optimization of your digital marketing objectives.

Paid Search: Taboo or Treasure?

As the industry has come to embrace inbound marketing strategies with open arms, a focus on generating unpaid traffic to one’s website has been clearly established. The concept of inbound marketing seems to carry along with it this unspoken idea that inbound marketing is not necessarily associated with paid marketing… Or at least that’s the way it is in my mind. I think this has to do with the fact that content marketing and social media, which are both traditionally considered unpaid forms of marketing communication, are major pieces of an inbound strategy. This can marginalize paid advertising in the minds of inbound strategists, and for some, it may even be considered a taboo. While traditional forms of paid advertising are outside the realm of inbound marketing, one form of paid advertising that is well within this realm is paid search.

Illusion or Reality?

Paid search, also known as pay-per-click (PPC), is when a company pays a search engine for a link to it’s webpage to appear on the results page of a search query. Instead of appearing on a search results page organically (unpaid), which is the goal of SEO, pay-per-click attempts to draw more site traffic by paying for favorable real estate on results pages. It’s paid, but it’s also inbound. How does that work? It’s not going against the principles of inbound to utilize a paid search campaign. Paid search is not about interrupting, its about drawing interested visitors to your site by placing your company presence in their search results based off of certain relevant keywords that they have entered. This is definitely consistent with an inbound strategy, so any notion that inbound does not involve paid advertising is definitely an illusion and is rather unrealistic.

Okay, but is it necessary?

Necessary is a strong word. It would definitely be a stretch to consider paid search a fundamental part of an inbound marketing strategy, but it can be of some great benefit. Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL puts it eloquently:

“PPC can still drive massive amounts of traffic. Facebook and Google have both recently made it more difficult to reach people organically and have enhanced the options to reach audiences through paid means. And while PPC costs have been rising each year, I have a ton of clients who make A LOT of money through PPC. The question is never Inbound vs. PPC. They are not excluding each other. PPC is another channel to reach targeted audiences. If you’re not tapping it, you’re making a conscious decision to not use all the channels at your disposal.”

And if Peep’s advice isn’t enough to convince you, maybe the following statistic will. Apparently, the top three paid ad spots on a search result page receive an average of 41% of all page clicks. That’s a pretty impressive number. This means that if you aren’t using PPC in your inbound campaign, you could easily be missing out on quite a a lot of potential site traffic. So it’s not necessarily a matter of necessity, but rather a matter of inbound optimization.

Insights to Remember

One important thing to keep in mind is that paid search should never stand alone in an inbound marketing strategy. It is meant to compliment other inbound components that are better at driving traffic. In fact, it really shines well in an already effective SEO campaign because it allows for the possibility of double exposure to your content in a search result. PPC should be thought of almost like the cherry on top; It makes the ice cream a whole lot better, but you can have good ice cream without it. It’s not a replacement, it’s a compliment.

Although paid search isn’t meant to stand alone, it shouldn’t be underestimated because it can help your inbound campaign in more ways than one. For example, using Google’s PPC system allows you to direct your traffic to multiple destinations. In other words, whenever someone clicks on your ad, each visitor can be sent two two different versions of your web page. This makes PPC great for A/B testing your landing pages, providing you with the opportunity to work on optimizing your website to produce a better user experience and drive more conversions.

In addition, Google’s PPC program allows you to see which keywords visitors are using to find your content. It also shows you which keywords are most effective in providing impressions and resulting in traffic to your site. This extremely valuable information can be utilized not only for your paid search campaign, but for your organic SEO campaign as well. Knowing what key words drive the most traffic can allow you to optimize your content by including these words on your pages. So clearly, there is great value in having a paid search campaign and it should not be avoided, especially if you are using an inbound marketing strategy. As for the question: taboo or treasure? I would say that paid search is neither, but it should definitely be taken seriously.

Search Engine Optimization: Let’s Get Found

Moz the Great and Powerful

Moz is a Seattle based software company that launched in 2004 as a consulting firm specializing in search engine optimization (SEO). The company’s founder, Rand Fishkin, speaks to the audience that Moz serves:

“We’re built for companies who care deeply about inbound marketing sources – traffic from search engines and social media in particular.”

Since it began, Moz has grown immensely and now offers a wide variety of inbound marketing tools and data analytics software to help clients effectively draw in customers. In addition to these, the company offers online resources and eBooks to help guide people on their journey in becoming better marketers. In fact, visitor exposure to the high-quality informational content that Moz publishes has generated 85% of the company’s free trial sign-ups. So, inbound marketing seems to be working pretty well for Moz, but why are we investigating them? Because, not only are they experts at inbound marketing, but their specialty is at the top of the funnel and, more specifically, SEO.

Let’s Talk SEO

As was mentioned above, SEO stands for “search engine optimization”, which is the process and goal of making your content extremely visible on the internet through being easily found in organic (non-paid) search engine results. Optimization is best achieved when your content appears on the first page of a search query. Why? Because 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of results. That is a pretty powerful number, and it speaks to the importance of SEO. If you want people to access your content, then you will definitely want to optimize getting found on search engines. This section will look at a few of the bare essentials on how to do so.

Create a great user experience. First and foremost, it is important not to create webpages solely for the purpose of getting found on a search engine. It is important to create pages that are truly valuable to users because user friendly pages are more likely to be found anyway. If your site provides an excellent user experience, visitors will refer other people to the site and a snowball effect will ensue. Search engines measure website quality by looking at user engagement metrics, and sites that get more visits and are frequently referenced are likely to rank higher in results.

Include keywords that will get you found. A major function of search engines is their ability to find keywords on a page. With this in mind, it is important to think about what words someone might type into search bar to find your content. Use these words on your page to make it easier for search engines to find. But don’t abuse keywords! Over using a certain keyword will not only make for a terrible user experience, search engines are savvy enough to recognize this futile attempt to get found and will rank such a page much lower in the results. Keeping keywords and keyword phrases specific will also be very helpful in allowing your site to get found much easier. “Aunt Melba’s gourmet raisin cookie recipe” will rank higher than “cookie recipe” on search results because it faces a lot less competition.

Incorporate relevant links on and to your page. Search engines use links to crawl through the vast inter-web. If your page isn’t linked to your website or another website, it will be extremely difficult for the engine to find. It is also important for your page to be linked to other relevant content. The word “relevant” is important here because engines can pick up on spam. The algorithms they use take into account the popularity and quality of the content that you reference with your links. The more popular and the higher quality the better. The same goes for your page. The more pages that link to your page will mean that your page will rank higher in the results because it will be seen as an authority.

Link Building

With this in mind, it is important to consider utilizing a link building strategy to best get found. This refers to the process and ability of getting other websites and web pages to link to your page. Here are some basic takeaways:

It is important to make your page content easily shareable and careable. This means that you need to communicate your value in a way that makes people care about it so that they want to share it with others. One popular angle that content often uses is humor. Utilizing other content marketing techniques for creating value is important in reaching this goal. Once the shareable and careable potential of your content is established, it will be easier to acquire naturally obtained links (links that weren’t acquired by asking a page to link to you) because the value of your content will be evident.

Even though your content may be remarkable, you will likely need to do a little bit of outreach to get the ball rolling. Because of this, it is important to identify and target the proper sites that you would like to reference your site. These sites should be relevant to the content of your own site for obvious reasons. Bloggers are a great audience to target because many of them are industry influencers and authorities. Once you’ve established your targets you need to reach out to them. Make sure that your message communicates why the target should link to your site. The burden of proof lies with you. It is also important to keep in mind that the target is a human being. Therefore, you should communicate in a way that is friendly and respectful.


These are just a few of the main takeaways that I gathered in my exploration of SEO. Getting found on search engines can lead to a remarkable increase in page visits and, by extension, conversions. Every part of the inbound marketing strategy is important, even the top of the funnel; You need it in order to get found.

Email Marketing and Inbound Sales: Capitalizing on Interest

Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a very popular form of marketing communication today. Why? Because it’s 40 times more effective than marketing on Facebook and Twitter combined, and for every $1 spent, email marketing earns, on average, $44.25. Those are some pretty impressive stats! But why is this? Social media marketing has become so popular with businesses today. Why is email so effective? The CEO of BrightWave Marketing, Simms Jenkins, notes:

“On email people want offers. On Facebook they want to be more touchy-feely with the brand. On Twitter they want breaking news and updates.”

This suggests, that although social media is great at engaging customers and interacting with them, it isn’t nearly as effective as email at driving actual sales. The main reason for this seems to be because prospects that receive periodic emails have shown enough interest in what the company has to offer, by providing their email address, that they are more likely to take advantage of these offers. It mostly has to do with purpose and relevance. The purpose of email marketing is more about making offers and selling than social media channels are. The messages sent through email marketing are also likely very relevant to their audience because that audience is already interested in the offers and making purchases from the company. Therefore, this naturally results in more sales generated from email marketing than from social media marketing. So, I don’t think email marketing will be going away anytime soon. If done right, it can be a formidable asset to any inbound marketing campaign.

Inbound Sales?

Speaking of inbound marketing, let’s take a look at the concept of inbound sales. Inbound sales is a relatively new concept and it is an attempt to integrate a sales force with an inbound strategy. A traditional sales force is the personification of an outbound marketing strategy. It’s about interrupting people in their daily lives, knocking on doors, pushing a hard sell, and cold calling as prospects walk by. Inbound sales take a much different approach. Instead of cold calling, an inbound sales force seeks to inform and pursue prospects that have already shown a relatively high level of interest in the company. For example, an inbound sales person may only contact a prospect once that prospect has subscribed to a weekly newsletter and spent a lot of time on the company website. In many cases, nowadays, because we live in a world where information is at the population’s fingertips, prospects will educate themselves and then contact a sales representative for more information. This means that the role of sales is changing dramatically and it seems to be transforming into a position that is focused more on the prospect and less on selling. Mark Roberge, the Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot’s inbound sales division, describes the idea of inbound sales well, when he writes:

“You know you’re successful… when selling feels more like the relationship between a doctor and a patient and less like a relationship between a salesperson and a prospect”

Inbound sales isn’t about interrupting the prospect, it’s about nurturing that prospect’s interest, informing, and helping them. Why is this new strategy necessary? Well, as I mentioned above, with the advent of easily accessible public information, a traditional sales role is becoming less relevant. Also, inbound sales is much more effective than traditional sales. Why? Because it targets prospects that are already interested in the offerings of the company.

So, What Do We Have Here?

You may be wondering how email marketing and inbound sales are related. Why combine these two topics together in a blog? I was asking myself the same question until I began to think about the role that each of these components play in the process of inbound marketing. At their core, each of these communication strategies pursue prospects that have already shown an interest in the company and what it has to offer. That is why these strategies are so effective. If executed correctly, they cut through the clutter to deliver the right message to the right audience—one that cares.

One important takeaway to keep in mind, is that the delivering to the “right” audience isn’t the only component that makes successful campaigns what they are. It’s also about delivering the right message. This means that, whether it be email marketing or inbound sales, true success comes when you understand your prospect well enough to best communicate to them based on their needs. It’s important do do research on your different prospects, so that you can cater each message to them. This definitely looks different for inbound sales than it does for email, but the concept remains. A one-size-fits-all approach will not allow you to maximize your success.

UI, UX, and Landing Pages: The Path to Conversions

On the journey to optimally utilize an inbound marketing strategy, few elements on the path to conversion are as important as the integration of UI and UX to create effective landing pages.  UI stands for “user interface” and refers to the technical elements that make a web interface work well and flow. UX stands for “user experience” and refers to the overall feel that a visitor gets from navigating through a website. Webdesigner Depot uses the following metaphor in describing these terms:

“UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reigns. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse, and rope your cattle.”

The line between UI and UX is blurry, most likely because UI is often considered to be contained within UX. Nonetheless, great UI and UX design are necessary to generate conversions on any web page, but especially on landing pages. A landing page is any web page that a visitor is directed to after clicking on some sort of ad or link. Typically a landing page calls for some specific type of conversion. In order to optimize the possibility of these conversions, UI and UX must come together in a wonderful display of design. But what makes great landing page design?

Here’s what you need to know:

It’s all about simplicity. In all things keep it simple. This is golden rule number one! All information should be concise. When visitors land on your page, they most likely aren’t going to take the time to read every piece of information that you have published. They will likely be looking to quickly skim through your content, and you have a short window of opportunity to seize their attention and inform them. It’s also important to keep your site intuitive by cutting out any unnecessary elements that could easily distract or confuse the visitor.

It’s all about focus. Every element on the page needs to direct the visitor to the ultimate goal of a conversion. The page should guide them through steps of information that compel action and provide multiple opportunities to convert. You also need to meet the visitor where they’re at. Don’t provide them with the reasons why your service is best, but instead reveal to them their need recognition by informing them with what they need to know about your product or service.

It’s all about imagery. When I speak of imagery here, I  am referring to any visual elements that are incorporated into a website. Landing pages need to be attractive if you want visitors to think that your offerings are credible and quality. An effective use of visual elements incorporates high-quality images to direct the visitor to a conversion. The imagery should grab their attention and make them want to invest their time on the site. It is also important to keep in mind that your use of imagery always needs to keep in line with the above rules—keep it simple and stay focused. Don’t over do it or you will distract and confuse your visitors. You want your site to look sleek and clean.


Here are some great examples:

Now that we have discussed the bare essentials of what makes a good landing page, lets look at these techniques in action. Instead of Googling “companies with great landing pages,” I decided that I would rather share with you a few good examples of landing pages that I have come in contact with personally. Some of these examples have even led me to a conversion, so I’m definitely a believer in the power of these landing pages.

Dollar Shave Club 

Although I’m not registered with Dollar Shave Club, I have many friends that receive their services and I have considered it many times… almost being led to a conversion, myself, because of their landing page. Why? Its clean, concise, and tells the visitor everything that they need to know. There’s no rambling on about why Dollar Shave Club is the best thing since sliced bread. The company’s goal is clear: To inform the customer and get them signed up. It also includes a clear call to action at both the top and the bottom of the page, not to mention that the wood siding is also a nice touch.

LiveCareer

I can speak to the power of LiveCareer’s website user experience because I am a convert. In fact, my decision to subscribe to this service, instead of its competitors, is because of the look and feel of the website and the page that I landed on. The sleek, professional, interface speaks to the credibility of the service. Everything is short and sweet, combining plenty of white space with ample information. The photograph centered at the top of the page under the clear call to action is the money-maker. When I saw that example of what my resume could look like, I was sold.

Unroll.Me

Unroll.Me doesn’t only offer a great service, it also seems to have a pretty effective landing page. I signed up with this service a few months ago after clicking a link on Facebook and being directed here . Once again we see the use of a strong, high-quality, photograph in the center of the page that offers a glimpse of what the service can provide for you. The headlines are clear, space is plentiful, and there is nothing on this page that will distract the visitor from the path to conversion. The page guides the visitor as they scroll down and encounter basic features of the service, combined with sleek graphic elements and a call to action at each point along the way. It’s simple, it’s focused, and it’s attractive.