The important work of advertising is done before you spend any money and it’s an unfortunate truth that many business owners skip these steps altogether and end up throwing a lot of money into a bottomless pit.
Before you advertise you have to know who you want to advertise to. This means that you have a clear idea of who your target market is and you know why you are uniquely suited to serve them. If you struggle in this area it will pay to take time out now to nail it down.
If you have your target market all worked out, you’re ready for the next step.
Evaluating your website
Have you ever read a wonderful ad and been motivated to click through to check out their website, only to be disappointed by what you see when you get there?
It can be easy to devote all of your attention to the ad you place and forget to take a good look at the web pages that will get the desired traffic and decide if they are ready to perform for you.
- Is your website easy to navigate?
- Is there an attractive header graphic?
- Are your images clean and sharp?
- Is there sufficient info to let a visitor make an informed decision?
- Can you find contact info?
- Can you find shipping info?
- Can you find pricing info?
- Are there testimonials from satisfied customers?
When evaluating your individual web pages you need to know what you want. Every page has a purpose and you should be able to identify that purpose right away.
Optimally your website would confirm that targeted visitors have come to the right place for what they’re looking for and quickly ink the deal with a sale or contract of some kind. Statistics tell us that this optimum response happens at a rate of about 3-5% in the best of times – which leads to the need for a good back up offer – which is usually something designed to win the visitor’s contact info.
Always be able to answer two questions:
- What is this page created to do?
- What back up offer does it make?
What purpose does your home page have? If its a single page sales letter that is pretty easy: it exists to sell the product.
If you have a service based business, your home page purpose may be to communicate who you are and who you serve. Its purpose is to attract the perfect client and repel those who aren’t a good fit for you – and by attract, we mean that it should pull a good potential client to go deeper into your website to check out your service offerings, testimonials, etc.
Display Product Images.
If you run a web store, your main page exists to show off the most seasonally appropriate products and offer easy navigation and search functions to help visitors find what they are looking for.
Any of these main pages would benefit from having a back up offer of some kind, such as a free eCourse offer placed at the bottom of the page for the sales letter; a meaty tips list opt in on your service provider’s website and a special deal alerts newsletter for the web store.
Your main page is very important, but so is every other page on your site.
Identify each page’s purpose and see if some don’t really need to exist or if some could be condensed for simplicity. (For example: Do you really need separate pages for shipping, return and contact info?)
In many cases, the main page isn’t the appropriate choice for your advertising landing page – so before you start to craft your next ad, think about what you want to advertise and what page of your site would be best for the visitor to land on. (Which page would best make the sale in as few clicks as possible?)
You have a content site and you want people to sign up for your newsletter. Do you send them to your main page where they will be faced with a lot of great content choices with an opt in box on the side?
Or do you create a special page designed to exclusively invite the visitor to say yes to your newsletter? (Sometimes called a ‘squeeze’ page.) It’s clear that the option that offers the fewest distractions and the easiest path to a favorable answer is the right choice.
Speaking of squeezing, there are a lot of great uses for squeeze pages. They’re perfect when your main goal is the opt in as in the above example, but they’re also useful when your main goal is to make a sale – but the opt in would still be a pleasant second.
Let’s say that you want to sell a new information product that you’ve created about recycling your kitchen waste. You set up a sales letter, write a great ad and send visitors to the sales letter, right?
What if instead you set up a sales letter, but positioned it behind a squeeze page where you first offer them a free report or tip sheet. Then when they say yes to that, the form redirects them to your full sales letter. (Then whether or not they say yes here, you have their contact info and can continue to market your product through email, improving your chances of ultimately making a sale.)
Another landing page decision example:
You have a web store that sells a variety of pet accessories. You could put out an ad for ‘pet accessories’ but you’re going to get a better response if you advertise something specific and timely. It’s autumn, so let’s advertise pet sweaters.
Should you send your traffic to your main page and let them find the pet sweaters on their own? Or should you send them directly to the pet sweaters category? Definitely send them to the most appropriate page possible. If your shopping cart doesn’t make landing page decisions easy, you should create a special landing page just to go with the ad that you’ve placed.
Better to spend extra time coding a static page that sells well than risk your ad dollars hoping that customer will be able to figure things out on their own.
When you’re happy with your website overall and you’ve made a smart choice about a landing page, you can safely move ahead with looking for ways to advertise your project.