When it comes to website design and functionality, there are myriad options and levels of complexity to choose from. However, no matter how large or small your budget, here are the top five things you absolutely need to get right when you undertake a website redesign.
1. Engaging Home Page. If customers are not immediately intrigued by your home page, chances are they will immediately navigate away from your site without a second thought. Using color strategically, incorporating exciting photography and visible callouts and presenting a clear picture of what your company actually does are key elements of an engaging home page.
2. Clear Call to Action. What is the main goal of your website – to sell product, build a long-term prospect database, provide a clear picture of your brand, show customers which stores carry your product? Whatever the goal, your website should display prominent communication on every page that allows customers to accomplish that one goal.
3. Properly Packaged News Coverage/Media Information. First, this means providing media coverage (intended for review by consumers) and media resources/contacts (intended for use by media) in separate sections of your site. Consumers want to see what media say about your product; media want to know how they can reach your corporate experts (see our recent post on media rooms for details on creating one).
To ensure an attractive media coverage section, provide visual elements (mastheads, cover pages and media logos) so big hits are easy to recognize. Pair each visual with an excerpt from the news story and link the visual component to the full story (hosted online or in PDF format) that opens in a new navigation window.
4. Intuitive Navigation. If you have a clear call to action in place, this is simple. Visitors to your website should be able to accomplish key tasks within 1-2 clicks of anywhere on your site. While viewing the news coverage section, customers should see a clear link to buy your product or find a store that sells it. From the products page, customers should be able to easily locate customer service contact information, shipping and return policies. Think like a shopper when building your new site.
5. Collecting Customer Contact Information. Visitors to your website are already engaged and interested in learning more about your company, products or services. Make it easy for them to stay connected with a clearly visible email sign up forms, a link for creating an account, or links to social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and company blogs).
Need help developing your new website? Contact me at Kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com.
“Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?”
- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 3
As an anemic economy continues to grind down many of America’s longest standing corporations and institutions, it is refreshing to see one of them fight back. JCPenney is one of our oldest and largest retailers, and it is taking a very bold risk. In the true spirit of transparency, JCP is launching an entirely new approach to retailing called the “Fair and Square” pricing strategy.
Awesome. The new model is designed to offer appealing initial prices that are not confused by multiple promotions, deep discounts and daily sales. In other words, no more smoke and mirrors, no more dog and pony shows, no more bait and switch. No more couponing, no more inflated discounts on inflated full retail prices.
In the words of J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson, “To think you can fool a customer is kind of crazy. People are disgusted with the lack of integrity on pricing.”
He is right, of course. And he ought to know, since his company is part of the problem. Still, if JCP has seen the light and is willing to invest heavily to make important changes, then good for them. And ideally it will be good for consumers.
I’m not going to say I am doubtful or even skeptical, because I am actually hopeful. But I am taking a wait-and-see attitude. Teaching old dogs new tricks – like being earnest – can be a difficult task.
“I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence…”
- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 1
A pair of 22-year-old activists for girls, Bailey Shoemaker Richards and Stephanie Cole, launched a petition to get LEGO to commit to gender equity in marketing. So far they have generated 50,040 signatures. Not really something I would be worried about if I was in LEGO’s marketing department.
However, this gender specific marketing debate has sparked media and blogger attention. NPR, Huffington Post, New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle are among the media covering the story.
The argument is pink LEGOs are preventing girls from being creative. Stephanie Cole of SPARKmovement.org wrote on her blog, “I can speak from personal experience and assure you, LEGO, that girls do like minifigs. They also like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and they like being creative and making up stories that involve adventures and good and evil and things blowing up. But if you keep on excluding them from your marketing vision, soon they will start to believe that they would rather have hot tubs and little plastic boobs.”
But what about girls who would play more with LEGOs, and would be more creative because they are pink? And no one is stopping girls from playing with traditional LEGOs because now there are pink ones. Just like no one is stopping boys from playing Barbie and girls from playing GI Joe.
In fact, coming from a family of three girls and no brothers, we never even owned a box of LEOGs. Sure we might play with the neighborhood boys, but it was never a toy my sisters or me wanted. If there were pink ones, I’m sure we would have been more interested.
On January 12 2012, LEGO responded on their website. Mads Nipper, executive vice president, marketing, the LEGO Group, provided the company’s rebuttal. “We want to correct any misinterpretation that LEGO Friends is our only offering for girls. This is by no means the case. We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of LEGO products already available. LEGO Friends joins this global collection of products as yet another theme option from which parents may choose the best building experience for their child’s skill and interest.”
While pink LEGOs are sparking more interest (positive and negative) than the company probably anticipated, it is not enough to stop them from stocking the shelves. Sales will be the real determining factor, but with 4 years of research to back up their product line expansion, plan to see pink LEGOs on shelves for years to come.
My husband and I were watching The Middle on DVR last night. The entire show revolved around the family “borrowing” their neighbors new Volkswagen Passat while they were on vacation. Every member of the family basked in the luxury of the new Passat, highlighting some of the car’s features.
We watch The Middle pretty regularly, and I don’t recall many product placements. So the constant Passat plugging was a bit out of the ordinary and over the top. It was basically a 30-minute commercial for Volkswagen.
About two-thirds of the way through the show, my husband stopped fast forwarding through the commercials. He loves dogs, and tends to watch any commercial with the lovely four legged friends.
The commercial featured about a dozen dogs barking an iconic tune from Star Wars. At the end, there was a very quick plug for Volkswagen and to stay tuned for their 2012 Super Bowl commercial.
We absolutely loved the teaser. And all the Passat product placement (aka the 30 minute Volkswagen commercial) began to make perfect sense.
The teaser was an excellent continuation of Volkswagen’s stellar 2011 Super Bowl commercial with the “kid” Darth Vader. But the company has certainly set the stage for another leading Super Bowl commercial. Let’s just hope Volkswagen meets our expectations, or we will all be very disappointed.
While enjoying my dinner last night, my wife asked me if I saw the new circular from McDonald’s that came in the mail. A freestanding insert that boasted not one, not two, not three, but 12 “buy one, get one FREE” coupons. Free McMuffins, free Big Macs, free large fries, free shakes, free, free, free.
“That’s interesting,” I thought to myself. “I wonder what its objective is? Is McDonald’s trying to help the little guy during these tough economic times; you know, help him make is dollar go a little further? Or is the company doing its best to make you fatter and unhealthier by giving you twice as much food as you want for half the price?”
Okay, so maybe I let my imagination get the best of me. Then I see an Arby’s TV commercial later in the evening. You know, the Good Mood Food people. “For a limited time, buy one fish sandwich and get another for free.” And we aren’t even close to the Lenten season. That’s peculiar.
I am probably making a mountain out of a mole hill. But then, just before I turn in for the night, I decide to watch the Jimmy Kimmel Live monologue. And Jimmy (yeah, we are on a first name basis) reports that Burger King is testing home delivery service in target markets. Home delivery of fast food for that segment of the marketplace that’s either too busy or too lazy to use drive-thru? Great; now you can get massive calories from flame-broiled cows, deep fried potatoes and chocolate pies delivered right to your doorstep.
This is war. These fat food companies, sorry, fast food companies, need to learn the hard way that their billions of marketing dollars will not allow them to lure poor unsuspecting consumers (aka, baitfish) into the treacherous shark tank.
If the likes of Google and Wikipedia can successfully black out content and service in protest over anti-pirating legislation, American consumers can effectively turn off the faucet of fast food companies by refusing to buy their unhealthy offers. Yeah, I said it, “they made us an offer that we can refuse.”
We need to unite and galvanize. I am calling on all weight-challenged Americans to rally around the date of Thursday, February 2, 2012, and cast a giant shadow over the fast food industry by refusing – for one day – to patronize these bloated establishments and their insidious offers.
“Don’t go, just say no.”
“Don’t go, just say no.”
“Don’t go, just say no.”
This seems like such an easy solution that it is a bit perplexing none of the laundry detergent manufacturers have launched this previously. In fact, Tide has been selling these “Pods” in Europe for more than a decade. And US consumers have no issue with dishwasher detergent packets. So why should laundry be any different?
I certainly think this concept will catch on, and other manufacturers will soon be jumping on the bandwagon for a few reasons.
First, detergent is messy. We use liquid detergent and I hate it when my husband doesn’t thoroughly clean the liquid detergent cup (although I don’t gripe about it because afterall he does help with the laundry). Also, it is annoying when the detergent drips from the large containers that feature an easy to pour spout.
Second, both liquid and powder detergent takes up a lot of space. Reducing this space will be useful for both large and small households alike.
Third, it reduces our carbon footprint by eliminating the shipping of heavy liquid or powder containers.
Finally, you don’t have to lug a big laundry detergent box or bottle from the store to your house any more.
Love it… I’m sold!
If you frequently, or even occasionally, use Google Analytics to monitor, assess and analyze your website traffic, you have likely noticed a new phrase in the key words section recently. (If you are not currently using Google Analytics to better understand your website traffic, you absolutely should be. It is a free tool, takes 10 minutes to install on your website, and provides a wealth of valuable information.)
The new term: (not provided)
Where you will see it: In the keywords section, likely representing at least 10 percent of search traffic.
What it means: The keyword section in Google Analytics provides insight regarding which keywords consumers are searching that lead them to your website. The appearance of the term (not provided) represents a certain percentage of keyword searches that Google is no longer providing data for.
Why: In October 2011, Google announced the decision to encrypt keyword searches by logged in Google users to make them private. Essentially, any visitor that reaches your site through a keyword search while logged into Google will be categorized under the new (not provided) category. Google originally predicted this would only impact 10 percent or less of searches. However, several months into the program, many website owners are reporting double-digit percentages.
The Exception: Whether a user is logged into Google or not, Google Analytics WILL deliver information on keyword searches leading to your website on one condition: if the user reaches your website by way of paid search. So if a consumer searches for a key word and accesses your site via a paid Google ad, you WILL still be able to assess key words driving paid traffic.
That being said, understanding how to cultivate relationships with appropriate editors, reporters and even editorial assistants is critical for ensuring your pitch/news release is considered first, and for ensuring media know where to turn for an expert when breaking news occurs.
Here are 7 ways to get in media’s good graces and improve your chances of scoring excellent media coverage.
1. Take an interest in their work. If you have your goals set on achieving coverage in a particular publication and/or with a particular reporter, you need to be familiar with both the outlet’s and reporter’s style and interests. Read, read, read what they have written and reference it when appropriate in your conversations.
2. Call to see how things are going. Take care not to do this at times when media are on deadline or too frequently – that can be annoying. However, occasionally call key media to ask what types of articles/stories they have in the pipeline and determine if there is a way you can help contribute.
3. Introduce them to your other friends. Is this outlet/reporter working on a story out of your realm of expertise? If you have an industry contact who can act as a resource, connect the reporter with a new contact. Media will remember you next time they are working on deadline and need content or a comment for a story.
4. Educate. Tell media what they don’t already know about the industry, and be the one to tell them first.
5. Be a team player Like any good relationship, it should be mutually beneficial. Talk with media rather then pitching at them all the time; they will come to respect you as a valuable source. Learn how you can make a reporter’s job easier, and chances are he/she will turn to you again.
6. Respect the schedule. When you do engage media in a conversation, take the time to ask about and record their contact preferences. When are they on deadline? When is it appropriate to call a cell number? When are they most open to receiving communication? Bottom line, you won’t be a bother in the future if you get to know media’s schedule right away.
7. Don’t Give Up. Didn’t get coverage from your first, second or even third pitch? Do not give up. Often, media file story ideas for later use; it is up to you to remind them you can act as a resource on certain topics. When appropriate, share bios and descriptions of expertise for multiple resources within your company.
More than 24 million pairs of underwear where predicated to be given as 2011 Christmas gifts from men to their wives and girlfriends in the UK. But almost half of those underwear will never be worn or washed because they are either the wrong color or too racy, according to survey conducted by Dr. Beckmann – a laundry products manufacturer.
This is definitely an interesting study for a laundry products manufacturer and reads more like something you would expect from a lingerie retailer. But thinking beyond the washer and dryer gave Dr. Beckmann an advantage with the competition and the media.
This type of study is certain to get the media talking. After all, we are all looking – both media and consumers – for something other than cookies, gifts and decorating to read and talk about during the holiday season.
The UK media certainly agreed. This successful media strategy landed headlines like:
“Men are pants at choosing seasonal briefs, says women”
“Too racy, too lacy: Twelve million pairs of Christmas knickers will never be worn”
“They’re lovely – now give me the receipt”
In additional to getting the media’s interest, who wouldn’t want to read, Tweet, Facebook or Google+ these stories? Heck it caught our attention on the other side of the pond.
So not only did Dr. Beckmann land some great media coverage, but the stories are definitely something people would be likely to read and share both online and verbally.
Go here to view the full study.