tips for better website and content marketing

8 Things That Will Instantly Make Your Website Better

In today’s marketing world, your website is the North Star of your marketing strategy. All other efforts should orbit around and lead people back to your site.

When someone does land on your company’s website, you have about 5 seconds to capture their attention. In this time, you need to clearly communicate what you do, why you do it, and for who. The best websites are well rounded – visually beautiful, easy to use and with a clear, compelling message.

Essential Website Design Tips for 2019 and Beyond

If your site isn’t there yet, don’t worry!  These tips will help you optimize your website content and design for user experience, SEO, driving traffic to your site, and more…

tips for better website and content marketing
Make your website do more for your business.

Mobile Responsive Design

You probably already know that optimizing for mobile is extremely important. You might even be reading this on a mobile device?

At least 80% of internet users own a smartphone, and users spend an average of 69% of their media time on mobile devices. No joke! Google has even started penalizing sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. So, the need for responsive design is more critical than ever.

Together with web development partners at Carolina SEO Consultants, I help companies create mobile responsive sites that look great and communicate value.

Focus on Benefits, Not Features

Have you ever heard the saying “Features tell, benefits sell”? It’s true!

While customers might use features to compare two similar products, what they really care about is how your product (or service) makes their life easier.

Your website copy should focus on what problems you solve for your customers, what tasks you help them accomplish, and how they will feel after using your product or service.

Customers care less about “Advanced safety restraint systems” and more about “Keeping your family safe”. They care less about a “Dual-core 1.4 GHz ARM v8 Typhoon processor” and more about “Surfing the web, faster”!

Learn how I use the Hero’s Journey and StoryBrand frameworks to tell a story of success on your website – a customer-center that focuses on the positive results of your product or service.

Speak Directly to your Audience

You probably know all about creating detailed customer personas. You’ve spent a lot of time nailing down exactly who your target customer is. You know their age, gender, geographic location, income, interests, where they hang out online – all of it. Now that you’ve figured that out, you can speak directly to your target audience.

Replace “we” and “our” with “you” and “your”.

Instead of “Our clients see great results” try “You’ll love the results!

By using second person, or “you”, you’re speaking to the customer one-on-one and allowing them to see themselves at the center of your success story. At the end of the day, customers care less about how great your brand is, and more about what’s in it for them.

Another thing – leave the industry jargon out. They don’t get it and they don’t care. (Remember that thing about benefits, not features?)

Reduce Loading Time

Slow page loading drives users nuts. It may even cause them to jump ship. Section.io reports that just 5 seconds of page load time can cause more than 20% of users to bounce. Whoa. The good news is, having faster pages can increase your website’s conversions by as much as 16.5%.

So how do you achieve a faster site? Google’s free PageSpeed tools will analyze your site, give it a score, and then offer suggestions for improving your load time on both mobile and desktop.

One quick fix is to compress all images using a tool like compressor.io before uploading them to your site. You can also set all external links to open in new browser windows or tabs. And if you’re redoing your site completely, a good web development team will make site speed a top priority.

Create Clear Calls to Action

Sign up now. Get started. Let’s chat. Calls to action like this are a critical part of driving and measuring conversions online. We’re so used to seeing call-to-action buttons, we many not even think about it. But make no mistake, they are super important!

There’s no point in capturing your audience’s attention, getting them all excited about your product, or building trust if they’re not sure what to do next. Make it easy for them to call you, schedule an appointment, or BUY your product.

Calls to actions should contain simple action phrases, and they need to stand out from the rest of the design. If your call to action is “Contact us” or “Get in Touch” it’s best to embed a contact form directly on the page, rather than forcing the user to open an email program in order to send you a message.

Include Social Proof

More and more business takes place directly on the web, without ever meeting your customer face-to-face. But that doesn’t mean people don’t need to vet you or build trust in your brand.

Social proof shows off the great things others have said about you before they book a call, sign up for your email list or click the ‘Buy Now’ button. Social proof in the form of testimonials, client or partner logos, case studies, and more work to reassure potential customers that you actually do what you say you do.

Some experts suggest sprinkling testimonials throughout your site rather than assigning them a specific location. You can add them to the bottom of the home page in a carousel feature, tuck them in around product pages, or put them on your Team page (you do have a Team page, don’t you?). People may not have time to click on a testimonials page, but they will notice testimonials as they cruise through your site.

Blog Consistently

If you want to develop a strong online presence, you need more than just a cool website – you need a website that can be found. Blogs are one of the top ways that new users find their way to a website, if they include the type of content that your potential customers might be searching for.

SEO keyword research can help you figure out what keyword phrases to focus on, and a site like Answer the Public is great for coming up with topics of interest. I’m a big fan of blogs not only for their SEO potential, but their ability to “connect us with our tribe” (thanks Jeff Bullas) and build a loyal following.

Regarding blogs, HubSpot says:

Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published zero to four monthly posts.

and

Content marketing gets 3X more leads than paid search advertising.

How often are you currently publishing to your company blog?

AnswerthePublic.com – This grumpy old man will help you come up with great topics for your blog.

Make it Easy to Read

Keep readers on your site and engaged with beautiful design – remember that 5 second rule? Along with your clear, compelling message, your site should be easy on the eyes.

Make sure your site is easy to read by including plenty of white space. Whatever you do, avoid huge blocks of text. Long, unbroken chunks of text make people glaze over and zone out faster than you can say “website bounce rate”.

Break your text up with strong headlines and sub-headers. Sub-headers (known in webspeak as “H2s”) are important tools for SEO. They also make your site easy to read or skim and find information quickly. Headlines grab the reader’s attention and tell readers – “Hey! This is important!

Other tools for great web writing and design include:

  • Bullets and numbered lists
  • Short sentences
  • Short paragraphs
  • Color and text variation for keywords, headlines and buttons

If you’re ready to improve your website’s design, readability and sales driving power (or if you still have questions), I’d love to chat!

hero's journey content marketing brand story

How to Improve Your Content Marketing with the Hero’s Journey

You’ve probably heard it before – good marketing is about storytelling. A good story sells products. Your brand needs a story.

“Storytelling” is the content marketing buzzword of the past few years. It’s everywhere from conferences to courses to books – to the point where some marketers are over. it. Over it!

But there’s a reason the trend has resurfaced and will continue to again and again.

It’s simple – ready?

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD STORY…

Introducing the Hero’s Journey

…and every good story follows a trusted formula. Sorry to take the mystery out of it, but there you have it.

Bestsellers and blockbusters use proven storytelling patterns to pull at your heartstrings, get your blood pumping, and make you care whether the protagonist wins the game or falls on their face.

The Hero’s Journey is a classic formula. The concept is not new (nor is it the only framework out there – more on that in a minute).

This archetypal story pattern is credited to mythologist Joseph Campbell, as described in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It was later refined by Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey. In his book, Campbell waxes philosophical about how humans around the world tell versions of the same story, over and over.

Side note: It seems crazy to me that such a broad-sweeping observation can be credited to one person, especially in a world with such long oral traditions – but ok!

A Content Marketing Success Story

I create a lot of websites and write brand copy for clients using this framework. A lot of the biggest and most popular brands also use the Hero’s Journey formula to connect with customers.

We use it because it works.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

Let’s talk about shoes for a second.

Nike’s Just Do It. Campaign is a stripped-down version of the Hero’s Journey. It’s what made Just Do It. so infectious (and so profitable). Whoever the ad agency was that came up with this – big high fives all around.

Why does it work? The campaign paints you as the hero.

Just Do It. says that regardless of occupation, age, or gender you can do anything you put your mind to. YOU can do it. The product is just there to help you along your journey to achieving your goals, whatever they happen to be.

just do it storytelling content marketing

A Modern Day Hero’s Journey: StoryBrand

More recently, you may have heard or seen a new version of the Hero’s Journey, re-branded for a modern audience and a new generation of marketers.

Author, speaker and business owner Donald Miller has essentially repackaged the Hero’s Journey, giving it a catchy new name fit for our times – StoryBrand. Or, even more concise and textspeak-friendly, SB7.

While a lot of what Miller says has been said before, he drives the key point home –

CUSTOMERS DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR STORY – THEY CARE ABOUT THEIR OWN.

With the SB7 framework, Miller focuses specifically on applying the formula to marketing and brand storytelling, as opposed to using it for books and movies. He breaks the formula down into seven neat and easy buckets, making it really easy to execute.

As I said, StoryBrand and the Hero’s Journey are not new, nor do they stand alone.

Plenty of others have stood the test of time. Dale Carnegie is famous for his “Magic Formula”. Problem-Agitate-Solve is a popular strategy for sales copy. And as a former improv comedy geek, one of my personal favorites is the Story Spine.

Developed by professional playwright and improviser Kenn Adams, the Story Spine has since been nicknamed the Pixar Formula. The movie makers have used this format to make billions of dollars and win several awards.

I told you – everyone loves a good story!

The Proven Storytelling Formula

Hero’s Journey, StoryBrand, SB7, call it what you will – following along as a character struggles to be victorious (or fail) is engaging. It draws you in.

Why?

Because we’ve all been there. We can relate.

This format is tried and true, from King Arthur to Star Wars to presidential campaigns.

Here’s how it works:

Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey template contained 17 steps. Donald Miller’s has 7. Another point for StoryBrand.

7 steps to a great marketing story:

7 steps to a great brand story
Image courtesy of StoryBrand.com
  • Character
  • Has a Problem
  • Meets a Guide
  • Who Has a Plan
  • Calls the Hero to Action
  • Which Results In
  • Success

                  OR

  • Failure

Voila! P.S. I hope I haven’t ruined all your favorite movies and books!

Using the Hero’s Journey in Your Content Marketing

At some point, brand marketers must have looked at the box office figures and decided it was time to get in on the action.

And lo and behold, storytelling is the biggest wave in content marketing today. There are entire workshops, books, websites, and coaching programs built around teaching the art of the story.

So how can you use storytelling for awesome and effective content marketing?

If we can go back to Nike for a minute – the key to using the hero’s journey in marketing is this: the customer is the hero – not your brand.

THEY’RE THE HERO. YOU’RE THE GUIDE.

In the classic hero’s journey, the main character (the hero) has a problem which he or she (hopefully) solves.

It’s easy to think your brand should be the main character, aka the hero. But I have news for you – Customers don’t care about your story. They care about their own. (kind of like Donald Miller says in his SB7 pitch).

By positioning yourself as the guide or mentor, you can highlight the benefits, not features, of your product. You can focus on outcomes, aka success for the hero, aka your customer.

Why It Works

“92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story” 

Seems simple right? It is. And that’s exactly why it works.

Brand storytelling works because stories tap into our emotions. When done right, they make us forget, if even for a moment, that we’re being sold to.

Stories are emotional, and as you probably know, emotions sell (using emotions to sell is a whole ‘nother blog post).

Besides, people are extremely savvy these days and making your brand the hero comes off as icky and stilted.

If you’re ready to tap into the emotional connections created through storytelling and drive your customers to buy, I can help.

I will use the proven Hero’s Journey/StoryBrand formula (or another proven style) to engage your target audience, position you as an expert guide, and get people to click the best of all buttons – the BUY button.

If you want to learn more, shoot me a message! I love to talk shop.

Why Your Brand Needs a Story

No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story. — Gary Vaynerchuk

A major aspect of growing any business is developing a great brand. And the number one way to build a great brand is with great content.

Top brands use content to tell an evolving story, while sprinkling in their knowledge and expertise in the field, product benefits, or how their service will make your life easier. In other words, the story comes first. What you’re selling comes second.

The story comes first. What you’re selling comes second.

By consistently and continuously telling your unique story, you will separate yourself from the competition, which means you can charge more than your competitors.

With so much competition in the marketplace today, it’s easy to become just another [insert product or service here]. Becoming “just another” is the fast track to becoming a commodity in the minds of your customer — a commodity is something that is easy to come by and thus, doesn’t have a lot of value (like water, bubblegum and plastic bags.)

Use Content to Tell your Brand’s Story

To make your story interesting, you should focus not just on what you do – but WHY you do what you do. In other words, what is the passion and mission behind your brand, and even more importantly to the customer – how do you help them?

Most people are looking for products or services that make their lives easier, save them time, or create a positive emotion (such as in the case of luxury brands, hotel rooms, and travel experiences).

By showing the customer exactly how you make their lives easier, save them time, or make them happy – through content such as blog posts, graphics, email newsletters, videos, photos, and the pages on your website – you’ll create value in your ideal customer’s eyes and will remain at top-of-mind until they are ready, willing and able to buy your product or use your service.

Tell Your Brand’s Macro and Micro Stories

Within a strong business brand, there are two types of stories: (1) the macro story, and (2) micro-stories.

A macro story is the overarching narrative you want to communicate to your ideal clients.

The key to developing a meaningful and memorable macro story is putting the WHY of your services front and center, followed by the HOW and perhaps the WHAT. It’s easy for business owners to focus on the WHAT – when in fact this is the least important part of your story.

Within your macro story, there are many micro stories — more specific topics that flesh out your macro story and personalize your brand.

Here are some examples of great brand stories (in my own words):

REI

Macro story: We help people get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Micro stories: We sell gear that is designed for trails, slopes, and waterways and our products are fitted with efficient, lightweight and innovative features. We also support conservation efforts nationwide and send volunteer missions to help clean up and rebuild local habitats.

Whole Foods

Macro story: We are America’s healthiest grocery store.

Micro stories: We maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry by selling only foods that are free from additives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats. We support sustainable agriculture and we also make eating healthy fun through recipes and meal ideas.

Notice that in both cases, the product is not mentioned at all in the macro story.

If you’re an auto repair shop, your macro story might be that you help drivers get back on the road quickly and safely. But your micro story (or stories) are the details of how you do it – what processes you use, what kind of specialized expertise you offer, or what benefits and guarantees you provide to the customer that differentiate you from the competition.

You may have noticed, there’s a psychological effect at play here: The more people know about your professional and personal story, the deeper they’ll connect with you, and the more they’ll trust you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – sales is all about relationship-building and trust.

The more people trust you, the more they’ll be willing to hire you at the price you want to charge, since it’s human psychology to:

  1. Want to work with people we trust, and
  2. Spend more money on people we trust

Are you telling your brand’s unique story?  Let me help you find your WHY.

Why You Need to Hire a Content Writer

As a business owner, you’re looking for ways to improve visibility and remain at top-of-mind with your customers.

If you’ve heard that a blog or other content marketing can draw traffic to your website, you heard right! But that’s not the only reason blogging is awesome for your business.

Content marketing in the form of a blog builds trust with your customers, educates them, and gives the SEO bots fresh new content to index (and they LOVE fresh new content). It also humanizes your brand and catches readers who are in the research phase – aka lead generation.

If your website’s blog has been sitting there for weeks without an update, it’s time to consider content writing services. If your business doesn’t have a blog at all, it’s DEFINITELY time to hire a writer.

You Know You Need to Write Web Content … But You Don’t Have Time

You probably have a content piece that you started writing a few months ago and then never finished. Or maybe you have an idea that’s been swirling around in your head, but you haven’t had the time to sit down and write it.

If you know you need to create meaningful content for your site’s blog, but you just don’t have the time, then it’s time to consider hiring a content writer.

A skilled content writer can save you boatloads of time, and time is money. A good content writer will stick to deadlines and keep your editorial calendar on track. After all, we don’t get paid unless the work is done.

You Don’t Know What to Write About

Some business owners have plenty of ideas and no time. Others have no time, and no ideas. If you know you need to write web articles to draw traffic to your site but don’t know what to write about, you need an experienced blogger.

As a web copywriter with over 10 years of experience and hundreds of blog articles under my belt, I can help you identify the topics that your ideal client is searching for. I can also take your ideas, even if it’s just a few bullet points, and whip it into a sparkly new lead gen tool in the form of a blog, email, website page, lead magnet, or all of the above.

Tell a Compelling Brand Story

A good copywriter does more than just fill pages on your website. The right content writer can fine-tune your message and create a clear mission across your social media, website, emails and ads.

Your brand story is perhaps the most important piece of your marketing strategy. Even more important than WHAT you do is WHY and HOW you do it. The why and how are what makes up your brand story, and your brand story is what makes your ideal customer trust you, like you, and ultimately buy from you.

As a copywriter and digital media specialist, I’ll help you figure out what your brand’s own story is, and then help you scream it from the mountaintops!

Get a Fresh Perspective

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a business’ blog or website and thought to myself “What the heck are they talking about”? Especially in industries like real estate, finance and tech, it’s easy to fall back on industry jargon.

I get it – when you work in your business everyday, you’re so in tune with the topic that what you write seems to make perfect sense. But it may not make sense to your customer.

Good marketing content is easy for the everyday reader to understand. A content writer can spot industry jargon, or “cop speak” from a mile away and brings a fresh perspective that you often need.

My specialty happens to be turning complex subjects into plain English. I can help you create clear, concise content that people actually want to read.

Copywriters Write Content that Converts

As a business owner, you know what your customer wants, their pain points, and what sets you apart from your competitors. But you probably don’t know how to turn that into a compelling brand story. A content writer does.

A good content writer knows how to write specifically for the web, how to keep fickle web readers on your page and MAKE THEM CLICK THAT BUTTON!

As a content writer, I will take your business knowledge and turn it into something to the point and effective. In other words, something magical.

Writing effective content for the web is nothing like writing short stories, essays, or any other kind of writing. It’s a special skill, and we content writers pride ourselves on nailing it, every time.

Fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation about your content marketing needs.

To Make the Sale, You Need to Stand Out

Here’s why…

First of all, you may or may not know that I am a digital nomad since January 2017 and am currently working from various locations around Europe. It’s pretty awesome!

The other day I was at the morning fish market in Hamburg, Germany (eating fish sandwiches at 7am is an experience I highly recommend, by the way) and I noticed that among the many booths, some of the sellers were yelling out their prices to passersby. Those same sellers were also singing songs, joking with the crowd of people gathered around, and generally seemed to have a lot of personality.

I would dare to wager that those guys sold more fish than the other booths. Why? Because they stood out.

My theory comes from one of the basic principles of salesSelling is all about relationship-building.

In the case of these fish vendors, their boldness allowed them to stand out, which created a starting point of interaction with these potential customers.

Build Relationships to Make More Sales

This experience got me thinking about sales reps in general, and how critical being memorable, standing out, and building relationships are to making a sale. It’s important to note that if you own a business then you are, in fact, a sales rep.

If you focus solely on what your product or service is or does, you risk blending in with all the others who provide your same service or sell the same product.

But by creating a personalized experience through conversations with your customers – whether that conversation is in the form of an online survey, a blog post, a video or a song – they get to know you better and in turn, begin to see you as a human with a personality, and not a sales person they are trying to avoid.

This is the first step to building lasting relationships with your customers.

Personalization Makes You Memorable

If you’re creating memorable experiences, hopefully you’re doing it in a positive way. Another common wisdom in the sales world – people buy from people they like.

If your potential customers like you, then they’re more likely to trust you, and people buy from people they trust.

When you leave the fish market you may think back on the souvenirs you saw, the coffee you bought (a godsend at that early hour), the vendors selling baskets of fruit and the beer being drunk in the live music hall. Yes, you read that right. Germany is an amazing place.

Naturally, in a fish market, you’ll have seen more fish vendors than anything else – dozens in fact. Which ones will you remember? Probably the ones that sing songs and make friends with passersby.

How will you stand out and add your personality to the marketplace?

This Applies to Your Business Too

Sure, selling fish is nowhere near as complex as getting someone to use your legal services or sign up for a monthly software service – but the principle remains the same. Stand out in a positive way, and you’re more likely to get the business.

We’re all being sold to all the time, and there are multiple providers of nearly every service or product out there. How you differentiate yourself and stand out to your customers will affect their decision to buy from YOU and not the other guy.