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Website Evolution 2007 to Now

by Éadaoin Murphy

A lot can happen in eight years.

Think about what happened in 2007, for instance. That year, Apple launched the very first iPhone, J.K. Rowling published the final book in the Harry Potter series, and HBO’s The Sopranos aired the controversial final episode.

Now, Apple’s about to release the iPhone 6S, filming has begun for the movie version of the Harry Potter’s spin-off book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Game of Thrones has displaced The Sopranos as the most popular HBO show of all time.

A lot has changed for businesses, too. For example, businesses’ websites are completely different than they were eight years ago. Websites created in 2007 look, feel, and function totally different than their 2015 counterparts.

Don’t believe me? Keep on reading. In the post below, I’ll go through four of the major web trends that have changed since 2007.

(And if you want to see how your website stacks up against 2015 standards, head on over to Website Grader for a free assessment.)

1) Design 

Website design has evolved in leaps and bounds over the past eight years. Back in 2007, most websites were still using tables to structure their layouts and included flash and 3D animations. Less sophisticated websites were almost an assault on the senses, with a confusing mish-mash of images, links, and heavy text.

But design principles have evolved, and the best-in-class websites of 2015 are built with minimalism, flat design, and rich, playful interfaces, all in an attempt to give a better user experience. And it makes a difference — according to Kissmetrics, 40% of users won’t return to a site after a bad experience and 50% of sales are lost due to bad navigation and structure.

To see some of the design changes over these years, let’s take a look at the airline, Ryanair. In 2007, their website was loud and cluttered, with a garish yellow background and overwhelming navigation.

That has all changed. Now, in 2015, their design has become the epitome of minimalism, with clean lines, easy navigation, and a simpler colour palette. The user experience is vastly improved, and has contributed to a recent 25% growth in quarterly profits. 

2) Functionality

Originally, websites were simply an online calling card for businesses and shared little more than text-based information. However, over the years, website functionality has become increasingly sophisticated and catered to customers’ desires to buy and receive service online.

People are buying online more than they ever were before: Back in 2007, only 3.2% of all sales were online — and today, it’s doubled to 7%. In addition, customers now expect that care issues can be handled online via self-service, click-to-chat, and even video support features.

All of these new functionality requirements place even greater demands on a website’s performance. Poor website performance will result in visitor abandonment, leading to a loss of conversion opportunities, sales, and consequently, revenue. So, it’s clear that optimising your site’s functionality to meet customers’ expectations can be essential to the success of your business.

To see these changes in action, let’s take a look at Vodafone. Vodafone is one of the top mobile operators in the world, but back in 2007, ecommerce on their Irish website was very limited:

Fast-forward to today, and you can see their website has ecommerce at its core — you can actually use their site to directly purchase phones and service plans. Vodafone has also ensured their website performance has kept pace, resulting in a website grade of 92/100.

3) Mobile Responsive

Before the iPhone came out, optimising your website for mobile was a very low priority.

But today, about 50% of the adult population owns a smartphone, and they’re using it to actively find solutions to their problems. According to comScore, approximately 29% of total search queries are conducted via mobile. Plus, a recent Google study demonstrated that 75% of mobile searches trigger a follow-up action such as a phone call, store visit, or purchase.

So if you want to be tailoring your marketing for today’s consumer, you need to ensure your website is fully functional regardless of device type.

CNN is a prime example of an organisation that is leading the mobile friendly charge. They have a truly responsive website, which means that it adapts to the browser size and device type the viewer is using.

Desktop

Mobile

4) Personalisation 

Traditionally, companies have provided the same online experience regardless of the person who’s viewing it.

However, in recent years, we have seen the emergence of a new trend: website personalisation. This means a website will adapt the content presented on screen in accordance with the audience, their device type, any previous interactions, and even their locations.

Research also demonstrates that personalisation works. HubSpot examined 93,000 calls-to-action over a 12-month period and found that CTAs targeted to the user had a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than calls-to-action that were the same for all visitors. Furthermore, a Monetate survey demonstrated that personalised web experiences deliver a 19% uplift in sales versus non-personalised sites.

Netflix is a classic example of personalisation executed brilliantly. The company, which offers the ability to instantly stream movies and TV shows, has seen a phenomenal resurgence in recent years. Their personalised experience ensures that users receive recommendations based on their previous viewing patterns, which stimulates increased usage and loyalty. However, back in 2007 this service was only in its infancy — personalisation wasn’t even a feature yet!

As of 2015, Netflix has 62 million users in 50 countries worldwide, and continues to grow at a speedy rate. Personalisation is a core part of the Netflix service offering and has been a key contributor to their success.

How has your website changed over the years?

by Éadaoin Murphy

4 Things We Learned about Inbound Marketing at Google LA

4 Things We Learned about Inbound Marketing at Google LA

4 Things We Learned about Inbound Marketing at Google LA

by Lolly Spindler

This past week we attended a search seminar at Google LA. Bo Pulito, a Strategic Partner Manager for Google, shared some interesting new data Google had acquired and what that meant for inbound marketers and small business owners alike.

Here are four statistics from the seminar that will hopefully help inform your current inbound marketing strategy.

1. Mobile search surpassed desktop search in October of 2014.

This has been a fairly well circulated stat but it’s still incredibly important to touch on. Mobile search overtook desktop—and by a large margin—at the end of last year. Google only sees this trend increasing, and drastically, as time goes on.

Why the dramatic change? Mobile devices are convenient and more accessible. Think about it, we tend to have our phones on us a lot more than we do our laptops. And when we do have our phones, people check them every six minutes on average.

When there’s a term that describes the anxiety we feel when we don’t have our phones (nomophobia) but not when we’re without our computers, we know we’re mobile dependent.

What does this mean for marketers? If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you’re missing out on traffic. First of all, your site needs to be mobile friendly and have a responsive design.

Additionally, if your business has a physical location and you’re interested in finding customers in your area, make sure to use local keywords and set up a Google My Business account. Nowadays this is crucial: one in three mobile searches have local intent and “near me” searches have increased 34 times since 2011.

2. YouTube reaches six times as many 18 to 34 year olds than the top five full-episode players combined.

We know how important visual content is and how its popularity is only going to increase in the coming years. One type of visual content that is skyrocketing in popularity and performance is video.

If you’re creating video content—and you should—make sure to upload it to YouTube, a Google product, to get maximum exposure. Another best practice: when using that same video content on Facebook, upload it directly to the social media site via Facebook video. It’s been found that Facebook rewards videos uploaded directly, increasing engagement to thousands of users as opposed to the mere hundreds that links to YouTube and other external players receive.

3. Internet users spend 95% of their time on content sites and 5% on search sites (like Google).

This makes sense, as we’re prone to navigate away from search engine result pages (SERPs) once we find what we’re looking for. This statistic is important because it means if you’re not utilizing paid advertising on Google’s Display Network you’re missing out on the opportunity to reach your customers wherever they may be online.

The Google Display Network is different than regular Google AdWords because instead of just showing up in the ad space reserved on SERPs, your ads appear on dedicated ad space on content sites (think ESPN, Oprah, popular blogs, etc.). If you’re using the Display Network in addition to traditional Google AdWords (which you should), this will allow you to get in front of your audience when they’re searching 5% of the time and while they’re browsing the web that remaining 95% of the time.

4. There are incredible benefits to showing up organically and in the paid ad space on page one of the SERPs.

It’s important to supplement all of your SEO efforts with paid advertising. If you can work your way up to page one of the SERPs organically, and pay to have your ads show up there too, you can increase clicks by 90%, visitors by 40%, and conversions by 44%.

That’s a huge number of conversions.

Conclusion

By keeping your ear to the ground and staying informed of the most recent research and statistics, you’ll be able to adjust your inbound marketing accordingly.

The major takeaways from this post? Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, utilize video marketing, implement paid advertising via Google AdWords and the Display Network, and keep on keeping on with yourSEO efforts.

How to Create a Preference for You and Your Offering

people like you1

by S. Anthony Iannarino

Sales is a zero sum game. Someone wins, and someone loses. The person who wins does so because they create a preference. They create a bias, and that bias blocks competitors and competitive offerings.

The way that you create a preference for you and your solution is by creating greater value. You want to drive a wedge between your customer and your competitors and create a strong bias for you and what you sell.

Greater trust creates a preference. Your dream clients are worried about execution, and they worry about risk. Trust is the timeless and deep fundamental that alleviates the concerns that you will fail your client. It mitigates the concern that you might be self-oriented and that you are making decisions to create the greatest benefit for you.
You also create a preference through developing a deeper understanding of your dream clients challenges. Understanding your client’s challenges proves that you cared enough to learn about them and their business. It also demonstrates that you have business acumen and situational knowledge, the keys to developing the right solutions and ensuring they fit.
You create a bias by having ideas about what your client’s future will look like—or how it might look if they make the right decisions. This future-orientation positions you as something more than someone who sells a product or service. It establishes you as a trusted advisor, someone with the ability to help guide your client’s business into the future.
Along these same lines, you create a preference when you take responsibility for a greater outcome. When you handle outcomes instead of products and services, you create a preference by taking on a higher level of accountability. Coupled with your deep understanding, this makes you a more strategic partner by allowing you to become an integrated part of how your client does business. You bring ideas.
Economic value creates a preference. One of the most significant changes in sales over the last few decades has been the whittling away of sales relationships that were built only on a personal liking and friendship. Those things are still important, but they need to be coupled with economic value. Your solution needs to create results, and one of the measurements is going to be financial. You create a preference when your value creates a greater economic impact (and you can do this even when you have a higher price).
What are you doing to create a preference and bias for working with you over all the other salespeople your dream client could choose to buy from?

What are you doing to create a bias for your ideas about what the future is going to look like and the decisions your clients should be taking now?

How does what you are selling and how you are selling it create a greater level of strategic commitment and integrate you into your client’s organization?

How do you become a category of one?

via How to Create a Preference for You and Your Offering 

Scot Poslosky | Business Development at Digital Lagoon | LinkedIn

via Scot Poslosky | Business Development at Digital Lagoon | LinkedIn.

16 Reasons Why People Leave Your Website

16 Reasons Why

By Alex Bashinsky     

You’ve written some really compelling copy for your website. Your product images are polished. Your overall site design is professional. And thanks to marketing initiatives like these, you’re getting traffic to your site.

So why is it that so few of those visitors are converting into leads and customers?

I hear about issues like this every day. Unfortunately, converting web visitors isn’t as simple as the old mantra says: “If you build it, they will come.” Capturing conversions online takes a truly special combination of factors.

There are many opportunities to make mistakes that cost conversions on your website. If you’re having trouble getting buyers to stick, consider whether you’re making any of the following mistakes to cause visitors to leave your website without converting.

16 Reasons People Leave Your Website

1) Your design is outdated.

It’s an unfortunate truth, but we all judge books by their covers. On his blog “Social Triggers,”Derek Halpern shared a fascinating study that backs up the impact a site’s design can have on its perceived trustworthiness.

In the study, psychologist and researcher Dr. Elizabeth Sillence asked participants to review websites on the subject of hypertension and then rate whether they trusted or distrusted the website. In a surprising turn of events, the study found that 94% of wary respondents attributed their uneasiness to the website’s design.

Design matters. So if your site still looks like something out of 1996 Geocities, it’s time for a professional facelift.

2) Your content is difficult to read.

On a related note, consider that design isn’t just about colors, images and graphics. The fonts you use, as well as the colors of your text and background, can determine how easily people can read and digest the content on your website. If it can’t be easily read, it’s simply not going to convert very well.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about which fonts to use and which to avoid — except you should never, ever use Comic Sans. Instead, stick to high-contrast color combinations and clean, ornamentation-free serif or sans serif fonts for best results. Here are a few tips and ideas on choosing the right fonts for your marketing.

As for font size, stick to larger fonts to give visitors a better experience whether they’re on desktop or using a mobile device. For headlines, use a font size of 22 px or larger. For body copy, stick to 14 px or larger.

3) Your site relies on outdated plugins.

If you’ve got your site’s sales content buried in Flash files, you’re going to be left waiting a long time for users who have neither the time nor the inclination to install updated versions of this outdated plugin. Even YouTube has dropped the Flash object embeds in favor of the more modern HTML5 video player.

Instead, use HTML5 for all of your videos and animations. To give a better experience for users who can’t or don’t want to watch a video (and to help boost SEO), include a summary, notes, or a transcript of the video.

Remember, though, that plugins and add-ons are deprecated all the time. The fewer bells and whistles your site adds, the less time you’ll have to spend jumping on new technology trends.

4) You’re overwhelming people with ads.

If your website is run on an ad-driven model, then removing them from your website entirely may not be an option. But just because you need to have ads doesn’t mean you need to have them everywhere.

Nielsen’s 2014 Trust in Advertising report revealed that survey participants trust nearly all forms of traditional advertising — including newspaper ads, magazine ads, billboards, radio ads and infomercials — more than they trust online banner ads.

Since trust is a key component to driving conversions, limit the number of ads you use and the locations where they’re displayed. Ads shouldn’t be the first thing visitors see, and they shouldn’t take up more of your site’s real estate than its actual content.

5) The videos on your site auto-play.

I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me click a website’s “Back” button faster than a video that auto-plays. Today’s digital-savvy customers prefer to choose how and when they consume online content. Blasting at them without their consent is a quick way to drive potential customers from your website — without a purchase.

6) Your navigation structure is unclear.

Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You arrive on a website looking for a specific piece of information, only to get caught in a seemingly endless maze of poorly laid-out navigation options.

Not only is unclear navigation bad for your on-site user experience, it’s bad for your SEO as well.

The golden rule of navigation is this: Think through your site’s setup as if you were your own customer. If you were totally new to your website, how would you expect to find the information organized? What steps would you take to find the information that’ll answer your questions?

Rearrange your navigation to take your user’s needs into account and you’ll stop losing potential sales due to bad content organization. If you aren’t confident that you can rearrange your content according to consumer expectations, use a service like UserTesting (or even better, Drunk User Testing) to uncover potential trouble spots.

7) Your registration requirements are obtrusive.

Gated content is great for driving leads into a website sales funnel. But gating everything and protecting it with restrictive registration requirements will kill your conversion rate.

As you create registration opportunities, ask yourself if every field you add is necessary. If you find it hard to cut anything, remember that Expedia earned an extra $12 million by removing one single data field.

8) Your site lacks personality.

Brand personality matters on your website and in your marketing campaigns.

The Millward Brown agency found that “there is a relationship between the way brands express themselves in different countries and the strength of the consumer relationships they generate.”

While the personality traits that are considered “ideal” vary from country to country, simply having an established personality is an essential part of a business’s success. If your website reads like anybody could have written it, you’re going to have a problem connecting with potential customers. Your sales will suffer without that connection.

9) Your site is slow to load.

Research from KISSmetrics reports that load times matter when it comes to website performance. Here are some key stats from their analysis:

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.
  • 40% abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
  • Even a one-second delay (or three seconds of waiting) decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%.

If you’ve put off optimizing your site’s load performance, put it at the top of your to-do list.

10) Your gated offers aren’t relevant or appealing.

Crafting a compelling offer is one thing, but is it relevant to your audience? If so, are you showing it off in a way that’s appealing to visitors? If you see traffic patterns that indicate visitors are arriving on your landing pages and bouncing, there’s a good chance they aren’t connecting with the offer you’re pitching.

High-converting landing pages include a strong call-to-action that makes it clear to the visitor what the next step is — and what to expect by taking that step. You might also consider split testing your landing pages to see what resonates with your specific audience.

11) Your product’s benefits aren’t clear.

If you aren’t sharing your product’s features with your customers clearly on your website, then you certainly won’t compel them to move down the sales funnel.

Consider the classic case of the original Apple iPod. Here are two different ways the iPod could’ve been featured on their website:

Apple’s early buyers didn’t care about 1GB or MP3s — they cared about the ability to take thousands of songs with them wherever they went.

This is what’s referred to as selling benefits, rather than features. It’s a critically important concept to understand (and implement) as you attempt to diagnose conversion problems on your website.

12) You never give a call-to-action.

While this might seem like a no-brainer, research by Small Business Trends suggests that 80% of small B2B business websites lacked a call-to-action as recently as 2013. Crazy, right? They weren’t losing out on sales because their calls-to-action were poorly written. They missed out because they simply failed to ask for the sale.

Your customers won’t take action if you don’t prompt them to, so end every sales page, blog post, product page, and so on with a compelling and relevant call-to-action that’ll encourage visitors to take action.

13) Your content or products don’t live up to your landing page’s promises.

In a post on the Crazy Egg blog, Cody Ray Miller writes about his experience visiting the website www.nissan.com. You might think that link would take you to the Nissan Motors website, right? But instead, it takes you to a computer parts website run by a family with the last name Nissan.

If you were looking for information about cars and landed on that website, would you stick around?

Of course not. And yet, that’s exactly what happens when you overpromise on your landing pages. Viewers get all hyped up, thinking they’ve found the perfect solution to their needs. When they arrive on your site and see find that the information there isn’t what they were expecting, their first click will probably be the “Back” button.

Don’t over-promise and under-deliver or you’ll see low conversion rates and get a reputation for baiting-and-switching your visitors.

14) Your site isn’t mobile-responsive.

Google’s major mobile algorithm update is here, so if your site isn’t responsive to mobile devices, you’ll likely lose out significantly in the organic search rankings.

That’s not all, though: According to research gathered by Mobify“30% of mobile shoppers abandon a transaction if the experience is not optimized for mobile.”

Transitioning to a responsive design can be a pain in the butt, but can you really afford to miss out on all that traffic and all those sales?

15) You’re not using exit intent technology.

Remember all those visitors hitting the “Back” button I mentioned earlier? There’s hope for regaining their attention using exit intent technology programs. These are tools that track visitor mouse movement. If it appears the visitor is about to bounce, that visitor will be presents with a message or offer in a last-ditch effort to help them stay on the page.

In one instance, a company using this software to present a 10% off coupon to exiting visitors improved its overall conversion rate by 13%, resulting in 2,423 conversions that would have otherwise been lost that month. That’s pretty powerful. Companies like Picreel offer exit intent technology that’ll help you capture visitors before they leave your website.

16) Your site’s been hacked.

The thought of your site being hacked without you even knowing might sound crazy. But according to Forbes contributor James Lynean estimated 30,000 sites are compromised every day. Many times, these hacks are sophisticated enough that the signs go unnoticed by all but the most observant of webmasters.

By addressing these issues on your website, you should be see major gains in your website’s performance.

By Alex Bashinsky

Here’s How to Break That Sales Slump!

Break that Sales Slump

By Scot@Lagoon.com

Every salesperson, performer, athlete, all of us, eventually run into a period where we’re just ‘off’.  Nothing clicks.  We can’t seem to do any good, let alone close sales.  And that – closing sales – should be the farthest thing from your mind at that time….

Why? Because that is the time to take a good look at what you’ve been doing and get back to the basics, not reach for the stars.

Baseball lovers will tell you that when a batter falls into a slump, more often than not you’ll find him swinging for the stars for that home run. Be the Knight on the white steed. Win the game for the team. Wrong.

Instead, he should be examining his fundamentals – stance, position, swing, follow-through, base running, etc. Those are the things that will make him successful again and again and again.

Yet, how many of us really do that? Make the time to re-examine those things that helped us get to our successful places?

A few tips we all could stand to follow more often:

Do the Basics

Smile. Come to each day with an appreciation of your ability to do well – because you can. There are so many others out there who cannot.

Be Happy

No matter what happens, don’t allow yourself to get down on circumstances or yourself. Brush it off. Go on to the next. Many of these we cannot control anyway. So why not make the most of what we can do?

Go the Extra Mile

Talk to one more customer. Make one more visit. Spend another 20 minutes researching. Over time, this will really add up in your favor and you’ll be glad you did.

Work Harder When You’re ‘On’

One of the best sales calls I ever made on the road was on a late Friday afternoon, on my way back into KC from out of town. The boss’ son was busy with a quote/presentation, but kept one ear open for me long enough to go get his Dad, the owner. It was closing time. He invited me to stay and have a refreshment, which I usually don’t do, but this time it just felt right. We talked for 40 minutes after the doors were locked. Then he called his partner 20 minutes away, to come join us, which he did. Result – my new friend/client bought multiple container loads of product over a 5 year span and was one of my best advocates. You just never know where that next relationship might come from. Make the extra call and there’s a good chance you’ll eventually find out!

Be Grateful

Every day, make a list of the things you are thankful for. Start with one or two. Breath, sight, hearing, health, roof overhead, friends, food, etc. Each day add another couple. Pretty soon you’ll have a nice list going. Where did these things come from? Did they magically appear? Of course not. Somewhere, there’s a higher power helping, watching over you. Be thankful for the things you have, most others across the globe do not. Gratefulness alone, has a hugely empowering effect on you and those around you.

Be a Friend

There are people all around us with problems much bigger than ours. We just don’t know it. Talk with people. Listen to what they say. Really listen. You’ll be surprised at some of the answers you’ll get. Then do something to help. Chances are, someone has helped you along the way. Do good for someone else – it’s a great feeling.

Make Time to Volunteer

Almost more than anything, this will help you put things into perspective, see them for what they really are. You might have lost a sale. Someone else may have lost a parent, or life-long friend. Perspective? You bet. All of a sudden, that sale can be recovered with another.

Adjust your Attitude

Our worst days are usually better than 95% of other’s around the globe. Fresh air, potable water, clothes, roof over our head, food, transportation, the ability to be productive, help others, all these things are but the tip of the iceberg of goodness we enjoy, others can’t. On a scale of 1-10, how bad do we really have it?

Interested to hear from you. When you slump, what are the things you do to recover and get back up on the horse to ride? Please feel free to share, so all might benefit.

Have a great week!