The Internet Road Map

1) Data Capture

One easy way to collect e-mail addresses and permission is via a signup box on your website. Place your signup box in a visible place on your homepage, and other appropriate pages, where visitors might choose to opt-in.

Don't just do what I suggested, but go one step further. What that means specifically is always giving back to your customers before you expect them to give. Give them an offer with some urgency behind it and a call to action. For example, why not offer a visitor to your website a whitepaper, a free consultation, or a short clip of audio from a recent speaking engagement or seminar. People love when you extend the olive branch. In return, you'll usually see much higher click-thru and e-mail submission rates. Always remember WIIFM. What's in it for me? Think, why would I just assume that anyone stepping into my website would give me their personal mailing address, or e-mail, simply because I placed an empty box that read "join my list." Well, that's a good start, but a lousy finish.

It's all about offer, urgency, call to action and then BOOM! You can sit back and watch your click-thru rates soar.

2) Conversational Calls to Action

So, how do you give your website the right dose of personality? Think of your website as a one-on-one conversation. Just imagine sitting in a coffee shop talking informally with a customer. That's the starting point for your approach, a more personable and appropriate "human" voice will come naturally.

When you picture the coffee shop scenario, you quickly see how inappropriate (not to say ridiculous) some of the more traditional styles of customer communication can sound on a website. Drop the jargon, drop the sales pitch, be as honest as you can, and talk like a human being.

Refreshing idea, isn't it? Especially on the navigation bar of your website. For example at www.harpsetc.com, one of only six harp stores in the county, they understand how enticing call to action conversational language can be on many pages of the site. The navigation bar includes, "Test drive a harp." Doesn't that sould like fun? Or "Hear before you buy", and "Is the harp for me? Find out more." The audience loves to read on the web as if you're speaking with them. If you know it's effective with you, then why not give it back to your website visitor.

3) "Read More Here"

"Read more here" is an example of what I would call a variable affecting your conversion rate. I call these kinds of variables "micro conversions" because they are all small (microscopic, even) steps toward full conversion. A micro conversion is something that you should test and measure.

"Read more here" might not get as high a click-through rate as "Click here to find out how to win a month's supply of vintage wine." So, by improving this click-through, you get the person browsing to take another small step toward your final website goal. By doing this, you improve your overall conversion rate, which in this case is to get someone to register or subscribe to win a month's supply of vintage wine.

Micro conversions can be tracked by measuring the click-through of links, or the read time for content, or the bounce rate for headlines and copy. Full conversion means persuading your visitors to do what you want them to do. In my example, it would be registering to win wine. But it could be subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an audio file, buying a product, selling a service, or whatever. It should reflect your website's business objective.

If you would like to learn about the top 10 best practices that ensure that you get the most visitor interaction on your website, visit www.hartcreativemarketing.com.

Or call 925.705.0372.

Jerry Hart is the CEO of Hart Creative Marketing, Inc., an internet marketing corporation dedicated to not just building websites, but building business, specializing in expert email marketing, search engine marketing, and dynamic database driven websites. Hart Creative Marketing aims to give people tools that ignite and excite business decision makers to maximize their success in marketing.

Hart is also recognized as a dynamic speaker and prolific writer having been published in various magazines, newspapers, and internet publications. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Blueprint to E-Marketing. (Blueprint Press, Summer 2005). Hart was recently a featured guest of Office Depot's "WebCafe", a series of webinars on Marketing and Business broadcast around the world via the internet.

Hart has over 20 years of experience in marketing which includes his time as a radio morning show host for Clear Channel Communications. He currently serves as chairperson for eBig.org, a sales and marketing special interest group in the East Bay.

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