You get websites, and then you get websites.
Here’s a site:
And here’s a site:
Can you see the difference? Both of these websites represent one person and the work they do, but only one website is useful. Can you guess which one?
Yep, the second website is well designed, and a marketing monster, while the first example, well, sucks.
What you have to understand, is that owning a website does not mean:
- You’re automatically going to get traffic to it, nor does it mean
- The traffic you do get will stay for longer than a couple of seconds.
Search engine optimization, technical ability, marketing and customer experience are all interconnected. Your website cannot be a marketing beast if all of these parts do not work together.
This article poses questions that beg to answer, to begin creating a WordPress website that works to make you more money, get higher engagement and more conversions.
Ready to rock?
#1. Who be your Crowd?
The very foundation of creating a marketing monster of a WordPress website is based on understanding – intimately – the crowd you serve; the group of people who make up your target audience.
This is what all else stems from.
Unfortunately, not many website owners get this. To their detriment. As a result, their websites never quite cut it. The majority of sites become inactive after only three months, and this is likely due to a) lack of perseverance and commitment, and b) not understanding what makes a website work from a marketing point of view.
And the very first element to making a website work well is basing its design and content on the people that make up your customer base.
It’s not just about knowing their demographics and age, although this is of course, important. But to provide content that counts, you have to know things like:
- What makes them tick
- What troubles them
- What they think about
- What they want answers to
Launch your research with this target audience guide by CrazyEgg.
#2. What be Your Design?
The design of your website has to be based on… you got it… your target audience. Let’s get practical about this: this is Gillette’s home page:
As you probably know, Gillette makes razors for men. Gillette’s website design is based on their target audience: men. It’s clean, organized and blue.
Now this is “Best Lady Shaver’s” website:
Their website design is based on their customers, who are women. Women like pink. Also, they’ve added blog posts to their home page. Women like to find out stuff, so adding information is also based on their target audience.
Both Gillette and Best Lady Shaver know their target audience, and their websites reflect their knowledge.
Now, there are two other more important aspects to website design for higher conversions, and these are:
- The unique value proposition, and
- The visual hierarchy of the site.
Unique Value Proposition
When a visitor lands on your WordPress website, will they know, in eight seconds, exactly what your business can do for them?
If your answer is no, you’re losing conversions, and it’s likely your bounce rate is high (when your bounce rate is high, your search ranking is negatively impacted, which means less traffic to your site).
Have a look at Trello’s home page:
Within seconds, a visitor understands precisely what Trello can do for them. The unique value proposition is the main heading, which is vast and bold, and the sub-heading supports and clarifies the main headline.
The unique value proposition has to be:
The UVP must smack the visitor in the face, as he lands, as Proven has done:
Watch this two-minute video find out how to construct a unique value proposition for your site:
OR video embed code:
When we land on a website page, our eyes draw to certain elements first. Since statistics show that websites have about eight seconds to attract a visitor’s attention before they flit off again, it makes sense that the WordPress website design needs to factor that in, with the most important elements in the top positions.
The WordPress theme must manage the viewer’s journey so that they see what you want them to see, within those eight vital seconds.
We know from heat maps, that generally speaking, the human eye first looks towards the top left of a website:
The hottest points of the heatmap – in red – indicate the most looked at parts of a site.
Image Credit: WebToolsAndTips
But the design can manipulate the eye, seen in the next heat map:
The most looked at the piece on Apple’s website, is the leopard’s ear.
I think the point has been made, right? Onwards.
The question then becomes: what should the WordPress design be pointing at first then? (And no, it should not be a leopard’s ear…while Apple can maybe afford lost conversions, no other entrepreneurs can… )
Incorporating smart visual hierarchy on your website means making some design elements stand out more than others: the headline is bigger and bolder than other text, the subheading is less big and bold than the headline, but stands out more than paragraph text.
Anything that does not serve a useful purpose must go. To get rid of distractions, Shanelle Mullin suggests asking yourself these questions:
- What’s on the page that’s not helping the visitor take action?
- Is anything unnecessarily drawing attention?
- What can I remove without compromising performance?
- Are there navigation elements that could be eliminated?
- Is the top header taking up too much screen space?
- Is there any unrelated copy here?
#3. How be your speed?
Google – and the other search engines – use a whole bunch of different factors to determine your search ranking. Moz says that how long a page takes to load is part of the almost 10% ranking factors for on-page elements that don’t include keywords.
The load speed of your website is a problem. The design of the site is only half the problem, because even if the theme is designed for speed, the site can still be slow if it’s not optimized when content is uploaded.
The most common reasons for slow loading websites are:
- Images that cause the site to be slow.
- The use of too many plugins.
- No Content Delivery Network use for static files.
- Slow web host.
The recommendation is that you install a fast WordPress theme, and then maintain your site by resizing and compressing any images you upload. Sift through the plugins on your site and deactivate the ones you’re not using, and make sure the host you select is up to par.
#4. How be your Search Engine Relationships?
Let’s talk SEO: search engine optimization. If your WordPress website is not optimized for search engines, you will miss out on organic traffic – traffic that comes to your site via search engines. Translated, when your site is not optimized, it will mean fewer customers.
But let’s start at the beginning…
To nail SEO, it’s a good idea to understand search engines and what’s important to them. You might even say that modeling your business philosophies after theirs should be considered. So let’s take a look at three of Google’s philosophies:
- Focus on the user and all else will follow.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Great just isn’t good enough.
What do these three philosophies tell us?
- That Google puts the emphasis on user experience. Your website is only a small part of the user’s entire online experience, and a cog in the wheel in a user’s Internet search.
- Internet users expect websites to load fast, so that they can find what they’re looking for, in the shortest possible time. Google cares about how fast your site loads for the visitors they send to you.
- “Great” doesn’t cut it. Google wants to offer the very best to their searchers. If your website doesn’t make the grade, it’s not going anywhere near the first Google search results page.
And so… if you want a website that gets lots of traffic, it’s got to be search engine friendly, and this means:
- That you put your visitor’s experience first.
- That you make it easy and fast for your visitors to find stuff.
- You provide a quality experience.
An active website incorporates:
- User experience.
- Human behavior.
Where to start? Kissmetrics provides a comprehensive SEO guide for beginners.
#5. Is your Content up to Par?
The digital sphere, in which your website abides, is all about content.
Online marketing is all about content.
Website traffic is all about content.
But…if you want to create a WordPress website marketing monster, your content’s gotta be pretty epic.
Content has to:
- Be based on target audience needs and desires.
- Provide value – it has to be educational, inspirational or entertaining.
- Be well written without grammatical errors, and easy to understand.
- Optimized for search engines to quickly index and assign relevancy.
Now, although most website owners get that content attracts traffic, most content is not sufficient:
A whopping 42% of B2B’s recognize that their content is not very efficient.
It’s the best content that search engines push to the front search pages. Also, high content sends a message to your readers that you know what you’re talking about, and you’re the best solution for their need. It builds credibility and trust. And you need content to do any online marketing, so even if you’re an e-commerce WordPress website owner, a blog is a must.
One clear way to find out if your content sucks is by checking your bounce rate.
If you’ve got a couple of hundred subscribers, but none of them make comments, it could indicate that your posts are not engaging enough, but this is not cast in stone because getting no comments could also mean that your WordPress comment plugin doesn’t make it easy for people to engage.
Copyblogger gives 20 signs that may indicate poor content.
Have you made stuff easy to share?
Some websites provide great content, but when their visitors want to share it, they can’t find social sharing buttons:
Be sure to make it easy for visitors to share your content by installing social share plugins.
#6. Does your Content Contain a Call to Actions?
Every piece of content on your WordPress website should provide a final instruction to readers. Otherwise, it’s a wasted opportunity. Here’s an example of a blog post that includes a call to action at the end:
Here’s another example:
How to create a call to actions? In many different ways, with many different plugins. Here’s an easy way of doing it, without the use of plugins:
Design a call to action from within PowerPoint, or by using a tool like Canva.
If you create it in PowerPoint, save it as a picture to your computer. If you design it in Canvas, download the image to your computer. Remember to resize and compress the image, and then upload it into your WordPress post just as you’d do an image, but make sure you link it to the URL of a targeted landing page, so when users click on the picture, they get taken to a page which tells them what to do.
See what makes a landing page effective, so that when visitors “land” on the page, they will take the action you want them to take.
#7. Does Your WordPress Website Have Sign-Up Forms?
Email marketing is the cornerstone of online marketing. An email list is gold; every experienced marketer can tell you that.
Why do you ask? Because 95% of the people who first visit your site, will not buy anything from you. To get people to buy services or products, is a trust-building thing, and to build trust, you need to develop some relationship. This is done through email marketing.
The goal of online marketers is to solicit email addresses, so that in time, the business can sell to the subscriber.
Added to that, it is such a waste to have people arrive at your site, and then leave and disappear, sometimes forever. Collecting their email address to keep in touch and get them back to your site, is the aim.
So it’s an absolute essential to include sign-up forms on every page of your website. To do this, you’d need to use email marketing software, like GetResponse, and then add the GetResponse WordPress plugin, which enables a sign-up form on your blog’s sidebar, like this:
At the beginning of this article, you saw the difference between a website that sucks and a website that rocks, from both aesthetics and marketing point of view.
It takes the time to create a marketing monster of a site, but now that you know what you need to get it going, take it one step at a time and keep learning as you go.
There are many elements to making it all work together, but don’t be discouraged: even today’s online marketing gurus were once green behind the ears…