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Creating a Strong Call-to-Action: 6 Tips to Get Started

October, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Perhaps one of the single most important aspects of a modern website, the call-to-action often receives little more than a passing thought for small business owners. A call-to-action, often shortened to CTA, gives your reader direction. You can hire the world’s most talented copywriter, spend thousands on a cutting-edge design, and continually invest in online advertising to pull in traffic—yet without a killer call-to-action, you won’t convert visitors to buyers.

Ready to get started creating dynamic CTAs for your site? Use the following tips to ensure your call-to-action will deliver the results you’re seeking.

1. Set a Clear Goal

Too many business owners overlook the importance of setting conversion goals for their website. Your company’s presence on the web shouldn’t be underestimated. What do you want to do with your site? Are you trying to earn more newsletter subscribers? Do you want to encourage readers to make a reservation? Perhaps you’re selling a great product.

Determine what you want your visitor to do, and then, craft a CTA with that action in mind.

2. Action Verbs are Your Friend

Which of the following two options catches your attention? Option 1: Do you want to stay in touch & receive free coupons? You can sign up for our newsletter by clicking here. Option 2: Save money on your next visit by signing up for our newsletter now!

Don’t make a suggestion—create an exciting opportunity your visitor won’t want to miss.

3. Create Scarcity for Visitors

Establishing a false sense of scarcity is a key marketing principle you don’t want to overlook with your call-to-action. Crazy Egg recommends creating a sense of scarcity and urgency with words like immediately, now, and instant. You can also talk about deadlines and limits to get visitors interested.

4. Keep it Brief

Your call-to-action is not an opportunity to make a long-winded sales pitch—your copy should have already convinced the visitor. Instead, the CTA is sending them in the right direction. Don’t over complicate it with long sentences and explanations. Hubspot suggests aiming for 90 to 150 characters.

5. Highlight Your Key Benefits

Use your product or service highlights to get your visitor’s attention. Try to directly tie those benefits into clicking through your link. You should have taken the copy as an opportunity to expound upon the important stuff, but the call-to-action is your way of saying, “You want this. Let’s make it happen.”

6. Think Wisely about Placement

Most marketers place their CTA above the fold or at the bottom of the page. Both can be effective positions, but think about the story you’re writing for your visitor. Let the CTA be the culmination of a well-thought out marketing message.

The ultimate truth is that there is no perfect CTA that applies across the board—instead, experiment to find what works best for your site. If you receive enough visitors, consider using A/B testing to determine what option works best for you. With a bit of elbow grease and some luck, you should be able to determine what call-to-action most effectively helps you reach your business goals.

How Millennials are Changing the Face of the Wine Industry

October, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Representing some $200 billion in annual spending power, the millennial buyer holds unlimited appeal for marketers. As businesses shift their focus from Generation X to millennial shoppers, many industries are grappling with the changing needs of today’s buyer. Nowhere is this more evident than the beverage industry, where wineries and distributors are scrambling to understand how to most effectively market alcohol to these consumers.

Understanding Evolving Perceptions

Historically, much of the American public has seen wine as a celebratory drink to be enjoyed at special events or alongside a decadent meal. According to AdWeek, 7 out of 10 adults do not drink wine regularly. And yet, some of the industry’s largest players are witnessing a notable increase in consumption patterns as millennials eschew beer in favor of wine. Unlike their parents and grandparents, however, wine isn’t viewed as an upscale drink, but rather a relatable beverage to be enjoyed daily.

Wine producers have responded with gusto, producing more affordable wines and embracing the adventuresome spirit of millennial consumers. This shift is partly responsible for making the United States the largest wine consumer (volume) in the world, replacing France for the first time.

Rethinking the Marketing Message

Studies have shown millennials are relatively brand loyal, eager to engage with their favorite companies via social media, and increasingly turning to the web to make buying decisions. These trends greatly impact how wine marketers need to think about selling their wares. The product itself is also evolving, as producers turn to single-use glasses, packages, boxes, and even cans. Millennials have continually demonstrated their willingness to embrace new ideas in the world of wine, in stark opposition to older buyers who have shown strong resistance to leaving the glass bottle behind.

Preparing for Increased Demand

The Wine Market Council reports that wine-drinking millennials are increasing consumption year over year, and while millennials only represent 29% of the total market, they consume 34% of the product. The consumption increase has been so notable that some within the industry feared an impending shortage in late 2013. While shortage fears have largely been assuaged, many industry players feel the numbers will continue ticking upwards, creating plenty of movement within the brewing and distribution spaces.

For small wineries and distributors looking to ride the wave of the future, it’s important to carefully monitor how millennials are consuming wine and make changes accordingly. As demand rises, more businesses will likely attempt to enter the industry, increasing competition and giving consumers even more options to consider. To keep sales strong, wine sellers need to consider embracing alternatives to the expensive bottles of yesteryear, making room for lower-end products that are accessible for millennials looking for a refreshing beverage to enjoy with a burger and fries.

Web Design 101: Using Color to Boost Conversions

October, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Most small business owners don’t give the color of their website much thought—after all, a design’s visual appeal is most important, right? In fact, your site’s design should extend far beyond appearance, by incorporating colors that can land you more sales. If you’re not already familiar with colors role in design and how it can alter the perceptions of your buyer, learn how you can utilize colors to boost your online conversions.

Why Does Color Matter?

Colors evoke emotions and subconscious responses from consumers. Yellow and orange tones project happiness and optimism, while most buyers see blue as trustworthy and dependable. In addition to these general ideas, different target groups vary in their color preferences. For example, many female buyers don’t like orange and brown, while men don’t like purple. A few simple color changes can make or break a company’s branding and marketing initiatives.

Finding the Best Color for Conversions

A number of detailed case studies have taken a closer look at color on the web, in an effort to pinpoint which colors help buyers land more sales. Some studies have found that using a red button instead of a green button can produce up to 34% more results. Before you fill your site with red buttons, however, it’s important to understand that color is merely a portion of the conversion equation.

See, while color is undeniably important, it’s even more important to understand your audience. Many case studies and A/B tests have revealed results that seem completely contradictory to one another. That doesn’t mean that one color is necessarily better than the other, it simply means the site’s visitors respond better to one option in a particular case. Confused yet?

How to Realistically Choose the Right Color

Is color one of the most important elements of a website’s design? Yes—and yet, even the most talented marketers in the world are split on the best ways to implement color. As Unbounce points out, there is no single button shape, size, or color that will work perfectly in every situation. Instead, try to use colors that stand out and don’t be afraid to experiment to find the right fit.

Choosing the right colors for your website’s design is no easy process, and unfortunately, there are no definitive answers you can apply across the board. Don’t be discouraged, however. Treat your site like an ever-evolving tool to help you better market your business. Experiment wildly and see what you’re able to produce. If you have the resources to do so, consider testing different designs and colors to see what resonates best with consumers. Above all else, know your buyer—with a clearly defined target audience in mind, you’ll be better able to gauge a visitor’s response to your business site.

Elicit an Emotional Response with the Right Imagery

October, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Emotions have long been recognized as one of the most important factors in marketing. In one analysis of 1,400 case studies, marketing campaigns that elicited emotional responses were nearly twice as effective as the baseline. To capitalize on your buyer’s emotions, you need to understand how to elicit that elusive response. On the web, copy and design form part of the equation, but it is a site’s images that truly impact a visitor’s emotions.

Wonder how to use your website’s images to make the biggest impression on potential buyers? Use these simple tips to maximize the power of your digital photos.

1. Understand Your Audience’s Needs

Defining a narrow target audience has benefits that extend across every facet of your marketing strategy. If you understand what your reader needs emotionally, you’ll be better equipped to evoke that response. Establish your audience needs first, and you’ll then be better able to choose imagery that will connect with the reader in question.

2. Use People to Sell Your Product

We’re naturally wired to focus on human faces, which is why you’ll see human beings as one of the top image choices on the web. Buyers don’t merely want pictures of your products and services. If you can use a photo of a person to drum up feelings of nostalgia or memories, you can generate an even greater emotional pull.

3. Focus on Authenticity

Many marketing firms shy away from stock photography for one simple reason—it doesn’t resonate as well with web users. Consumers want the real, raw deal, with photos that aren’t airbrushed to perfection. Choose to highlight photos of your staff members, or instead take photos of your business, flaws and all. An honest portrayal of who you are is much better than trying to create an unrealistic fantasy.

4. Select Sensory Photos

If you’re not already familiar with sensory marketing, take some time to learn more about the science behind this riveting phenomenon. Our senses affect our mood and memories in a powerful way, and while photos only call on a web user’s sight, the right picture can make your reader practically smell your product or taste your food.

Choose graphic pictures that catapult your web user into another world. Remember, the whole marketing equation should be focused on your buyer, not on your company and what you sell.
When selecting images for your site, try to imagine what your ideal customer would want to feel when interacting with your brand.

There are countless resources available to business owners who want to use images to enhance their marketing efforts. By selecting photos that emotionally resonate with your web visitor, you’ll boost your conversion rate and get consumers excited about choosing your business. If you’re able to do this consistently, your website could easily become one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal.

Loyalty Building – Why Experiences Trump Points Every Time

October, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Capturing the attention of first-time buyers drives many marketing campaigns forward, but repeat customers represent greater value for loyalty branding. It costs six to seven times as much money to land a new customer, as opposed to simply retaining those already frequenting your business. A loyal customer spends more money, recommends your brand to others, and generates a lifetime of return.

Some businesses choose to build point-based loyalty programs, in an effort to encourage repeat spending, but research suggests most of these programs don’t boost revenue. Instead, customers are more apt to frequent businesses that create a great buying experience.

Understanding Buyer Motivations

As an entrepreneur, you likely already understand the basic appeal of the products or services you offer. Beyond the wants or needs of your buyer, however, what is motivating how he or she spends his money? Of course, rewards and discounts can have some impact on a business’ success, but many times a customer is seeking an overall enjoyable experience. For example, Zagat discovered in a survey of restaurant diners that 51% of all complaints revolve around noise and bad service—not food quality or prices! Customers associate your brand with the experience you provide.

Don’t Undervalue Your Product

Loyalty programs are often used by businesses that struggle to set themselves apart from the competition. According to research cited in the Harvard Business Review, many businesses ultimately lose money because a points-based loyalty program trains customers not to buy without a discount. You are effectively telling your buyer not to pay the sticker price because it’s not worth that amount.

How to Improve Customer Experience

Poor service is one of the largest factors that pushes buyers to seek out competitors. Train your staff to be courteous, friendly, and sincere. If you’ve ever visited a luxury hotel, you may remember the customer service more than the room itself. At a certain point, a bed is just a bed, after all. Customer service is what allows a business to set itself apart.

Other factors that influence a customer’s perception of your business include your staff’s flexibility. If you run a restaurant, do you allow customers to make substitutions, for example? Modern buyers expect variety, choice, and the freedom to change their mind.

There are plenty of powerful tools you can utilize to encourage repeat visits from customers, but a loyalty program doesn’t need to be one of them. Instead, focus on making your business the best in its class. Diners don’t visit a Michelin-starred restaurant for the credit card points they’ll receive—they’re seeking an unforgettable experience. Apply the same principle in your business and watch your bottom line grow, all without using coupons and discount cards as a crutch for your marketing team.

How Daily Deal Sites Devalue Your Brand Long Term

October, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

n mid-September 2015, Groupon announced it would be cutting 1,100 jobs and shuttering its operations in many countries around the world. It marks a devastating turn for the leader in daily deal sites, a company that was once the fastest-growing business in the world. Where did it all go wrong?

Unfortunately, for small businesses and large chains alike, daily deal sites cause more problems than they solve. Touted as an inexpensive way to land new customers and increase revenue, many business owners have found daily deals generate nothing but headaches. And yet, some businesses are still tempted to purchase advertising space on these sites. Before you make this faux pas, consider the four problems daily deals create:

1. Daily Deals Attract the Wrong Buyers

Pulling in a new customer with a great sale makes logical sense, right? Unfortunately, daily most deals shoppers are simply bargain hunters. You’re not reaching members of your target audience—you’re giving away products and services on the cheap to people who likely won’t come back.

2. Traffic Issues Cause Lasting Repercussions

If you flood the market with an unbeatable deal for your business, you could see your traffic increase exponentially. Sadly, very few small businesses are ready to deal with the challenges that accompany a short term traffic boost. If your service or product suffers as you scramble to serve a massive number of new customers, unsatisfied buyers will flood the web with poor reviews and negative feedback.

3. You’re Selling Yourself Short

In marketing, perception is everything. By setting your prices, you’re teaching buyers what your product is worth. When your $45 entree becomes $15 on a daily deals site, you’re rewriting customer value perceptions. Why should that customer ever want to spend three times as much on the same service he received at a discounted rate?

4. You’re Not Maximizing Your Marketing Dollar

When you purchase a daily deal ad, you’re selling discounted vouchers to customers through a third party. If you’d offered the same sale yourself, you would have the buyer’s personal information, which you could use for marketing initiatives down the road. Instead, you’ve simply purchased a customer’s business as a one-off opportunity.

Even worse, you likely won’t see the money from that sale for some time. For example, Groupon lays out a complicated payment structure for its merchants. You won’t receive the entirety of the money until two months after the sale, by which time you’ll likely have seen the customers come and go. If you operate on a tight budget, this could cause serious cash flow issues.

The clever idea behind sites like Groupon caused the daily deal to explode in popularity a few years ago. As the economy has recovered, and buyers have started spending again, however, the novelty has worn off. Buyers aren’t near as interested in daily deals, and the vendors hawking them aren’t turning a profit. Don’t fall prey to the mistakes of others—instead, use tried and true marketing efforts to grow your bottom line.