I want to show you a simple way to improve both your website and your email marketing.  It will take just a few minutes, involves no new technology and is free to implement.  In fact it is so basic most people will laugh it off as a joke and leave it alone.  However, I know that there are a few souls who are more committed to online marketing success who read this newsletter.  For them, here’s a tip they can implement and then go back to their coffee while it’s still warm.  

So are you ready?  Great – let’s start with your website.

Firstly, bring it up in your browser.  Now take a screen grab of the home page and print it out on in portrait orientation on an A4 page.  Go grab the paper from the printer and bring it back to your desk.  Now for some marketing origami.  I want you to fold it neatly into thirds with the fold lines running parallel to the shortest edge of the paper.  Then unfold it and lay it face up in front of you.  You should be left with a picture of your home page with two lines crossing through it – one a third down from the top, the other a third up from the bottom.

All OK?  Take a slurp of coffee for making it this far.

Now look at the top third of the page and tick off the points from the list below that appear in this section. (The list is not complete, but includes most of the key ones.)

  • The business name and what the business does.
  • Its unique selling proposition.
  • Any third-party endorsement of this claim, e.g. testimonials.
  • Navigation prompts to a) learn more; and b) make contact.

It’s a short list so you should have ticked them all.  Well, some of them at least.   Locate all five in the top third of the page and you can skip the rest of this short article and get back to following up the mass of prospect leads you no doubt have.  

For those finding less than five, well, why don’t you peek into the second third of the page to see if the missing components are there.   I wouldn’t bother to look at the bottom third in hope of finding any still missing – anything placed here might as well not be on the page for the amount of attention it receives.  And this, my online marketing friend, is the true reason behind the task.

Depending on your online marketing activities, first-time visitors should make up between 30% and 60% of your total visitor traffic.   (See the note later on in this newsletter on Benchmarking to see what the norm is for your industry category.)  While each visitor will have their own reasons for arriving they will all a) be skipping through your pages at speed; b) have very little knowledge of what you do; and finally, c) have a very limited amount of attention to spare.

It’s almost like they arrive with a stop watch in hand and the seconds start counting down as soon as your first page loads.  (As a guide to how long they have before the alarm sounds, look in your Analytics logs for average time on site for New Visitors.) Content placed higher up the page receives the most attention.   And, just like the old Direct Mail term of placing all the key information ‘above the fold’, the same principle applies online.

We can also take this concept and apply it to your direct mail online equivalent – email marketing.  Best grab another slurp of coffee for making it this far.

In this case you could argue that the audience already knows you well enough to be on your list so there is more attention on offer.  Not so fast.  Spam has put pay to that idea and the rising volume of day-to-day email is forcing downwards the Inbox attention on offer.

So, just as you did with your website home page, take your last prospect-based email message (these subscribers have the least amount of attention for your messages), convert it to paper and fold it into thirds as before.  Now look at the top third and from the list below see what you find:

  • The prospect’s name.
  • The headline and core proposition of the message.
  • A strong reference to the action you want them to take to move them up the prospect conversion ‘ladder’  you have designed for them.  (You have one, right?)

Images that carry any of these messages don’t count.  As you probably know and just needed me to remind you, a growing proportion of subscribers read their emails with applications that suppress images.

Again, if the top panel doesn’t contain all of these three components, then look down into the one below.  Were your results an improvement on your home page?   From my experience, all high-performing email campaigns use these top two panels to get their message across – with more in the top than the middle.  

So there you have it – you can go back to your coffee now. If you are a quick reader and folder then it should be still be hot enough to enjoy while you consider how you fared.
For those who own a website that has the primary task of new visitor lead generation then the results of these tests will be quite important.  If this is you, then I suggest filling in the gaps as quickly as possible and then monitoring your home page bounce rate to see it track downwards as these changes come into play.  For the rest – well, it only took you a few minutes and managed to get you out of your seat and walking around the office!