Hollywood Branded Refresher Episodes
Check out some of the past episode we’ve covered on this topic:
- EP288: The Key To Building A Major Brand With Doug Zarkin | Pearle Vision
- EP 268: Turning Your Website And Socials Into Effective Tools with Wayne Mullins | Ugly Mug Marketing
- EP 203: How to Make Your Website Grow with Drew Barton | Southern Web
Hollywood Branded Content Marketing Case Studies
The following content marketing case studies below provide even more insights.
- Optimize Your Website For Success
- Turning Your Website And Socials Into Effective Tools
- How to Make Your Website Grow with Drew Barton
The Path To Becoming A Certified Influencer Marketer With Hollywood Branded
Get ready to learn a ton of how-to’s and the tips and tricks of our trade, as you advance your influencer marketing game!
- Full-Length Training Videos
- Transcripts – Infographics
- eBook Guides
- Case Studies
- Hollywood Branded Surveys
- MP3 Downloads
- Animated Videos
- Additional Educational Material
- Quizzes & Exams
- Certifications In Influencer Marketing
Thank You For Tuning In!
There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose Hollywood Branded, and we’re grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it, you can see the handy social media buttons below and the left side of the page. 🙂
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them.) (silence)
Speaker 1 (00:11):
Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
Stacy Jones (00:13):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones and I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Andy Crestodina. Andy is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Orbit Media, an award-winning digital agency in Chicago. Over the past 20 years, Andy has provided digital marketing advice to over a thousand businesses and spoken at many of the top national marketing conferences around the globe, including content marketing world and marketing props B2B forum. He’s a frequent contributor of a number of highly recognized marketing blogs, having written over 500 articles on topics such as search engine optimization analysis and visitor psychology. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing. Today, Andy and I are going to be chatting about all things digital marketing and web design. We’ll learn what works from his perspective, what should be avoided and how some businesses and people just miss the mark. Andy, welcome. So happy to have you here today.
Andy Crestodina (01:10):
Thanks for having me, Stacy. I’m excited.
Stacy Jones (01:13):
But what I’d love to do is start off by diving into what got you here today. What progressed your career where you ended up as a founder of an agency?
Andy Crestodina (01:23):
Okay. Late nineties, IT recruiter, great time to be an IT recruiter, right? Tech bubbles getting bigger, Y2K, lots of demand for lots of programmers. Boring. Very bored because I didn’t get to make anything, it wasn’t creative. You can’t really point at something and say, “I did that,” as a recruiter. So I had personal projects I was doing at night with a friend, actually my roommate from college and my friend from high school. And he and I were doing interactive comic books and CD ROM stuff. And this was in the era of flash, this is late nineties. I’m obviously Gen X.
Stacy Jones (01:55):
You were totally geeking out at night.
Andy Crestodina (01:57):
It was fun. It was really fun. Interactive comics, super fun. And in fact, we incorporated as Orbit Media Studios at that time, it bombed, yeah, not a good business model. No problem at all, because we just… Well, he was already doing websites, but I just began to apply some of those things that I’d learned on the digital production side and started building websites with him. And April of 2001, formed his Orbit Media. It’s one of those two person web design companies, there are still so many of today. And then just kept going, Stacy, never pivoted. Added team members, kept taking off hats, kept delegating, kept growing, got good at marketing, got good at lead generation, got good at servicing clients, and setting expectations, and quoting, and delivering without over promising. And so today, this is it. There’s 48 of us. We still are web design and development company, we’re still totally focused on that one deliverable. And we love it.
Stacy Jones (02:54):
48 is an interesting number to have because it’s very different than the early business starters, it’s very different than having a business with people in the teens up to mid-20s. I think that’s the breaking point of the 25 to 50, it’s a whole new beast of what you have.
Andy Crestodina (03:12):
It is. When you get to a certain level, you are grateful because you have backup plans and you have alternates for anyone. So if someone moves on and resigns, you don’t get smooshed.
Stacy Jones (03:23):
Screwed is what you were about to say. You were going to say screwed.
Andy Crestodina (03:25):
Yeah, I was.
Stacy Jones (03:28):
Because agency owners were like, “Oh, I’m screwed.” Yes.
Andy Crestodina (03:30):
Yeah, it gets painful. So you always tell yourself that, “Oh, the next plateau will be more comfortable, more secure, more sustainable.” But also as grow that you need layers of management, and then you need managers for the managers, and you get to a point where you’re like, “Okay, I need an executive,” and so we have a full-time CEO. I think past this, it gets risky because it just sounds different. But you need full-time HR when you go past 50 people, they say. So probably we will stay at this level. We’re pretty deliberate about growth and I think we’re pretty happy where we are.
Stacy Jones (04:02):
That’s great. I’m surprised you don’t have almost a full-time HR person already.
Andy Crestodina (04:06):
I know. Anyone out there listening who has some tips for me, I’m all ears.
Stacy Jones (04:10):
Yeah. We’re about to implement bamboo HR at our agency to see how that helps us. Whether it’s good or not, I’ll be reporting back on that.
Andy Crestodina (04:18):
Let me know.
Stacy Jones (04:19):
Mm-hmm (affirmative), I will. So you do all things digital marketing with a very big focus on a website design. And that’s been your specialty, your niche. In your sleep, you can design unbelievable websites at this point, I am sure. What are some of the first things that you do in working with a new client to dial in on what they need?
Andy Crestodina (04:41):
Two key inputs for web design are, lots of interviews with the end users of the websites and potential prospects, top sales reps, important stakeholders, to understand what are the information needs of these visitors. What do people need to know before they’ll buy, before they’ll become a lead? What objections need to be addressed? What are our strongest proof points to support the assertions we’re making so our websites aren’t just big piles of unsupported marketing claims?
Stacy Jones (05:08):
Andy Crestodina (05:09):
The other input is to audit the current site to see if it’s performing for something already. We build sites for mid-market companies, some of which have high rankings and good keyboard performance. So aside, that fails to preserve the organic traffic from search, just has instant negative ROI and in some cases, the brand would’ve been better without redesigning their website. Websites that fail to do good, I call it data-driven empathy, and research, and interviews with potential prospects tend not to have high conversion rates, they don’t turn visitors into leads. And so those sites fail because there’s an information gap and they don’t really build confidence, and trust, and clarity with the visitor. So those are the two most important starting points for web design, stakeholder interviews and keyword research.
Stacy Jones (06:03):
And I bet on the first one, you get a lot of resistance where people are like, “No, no, no, I know what I want. Just build me something pretty.”
Andy Crestodina (06:12):
And amazingly, when you think about why do people decide they need to do website, I’ve actually on research on this. It’s like, “Oh, our messaging changed.” Or, “Oh, our website looks out of date.” Rare for someone to redesign their website because they say, “Oh, our current site has a low conversion rate because it fails to answer visitor’s top sales questions.” Nobody thinks that way, it’s all about curb appeal, and design, and beauty, but that’s not why your visitors are coming to your website.
Stacy Jones (06:38):
They’re not thinking about their website as actually being part of their marketing funnel, they’re thinking about it just being a landing page that people will be at and, “Oh, they’ll love us so much. And they’re going to love whatever case study we have there or blurb that we have, that they’re going to call us and become a client instantly.”
Andy Crestodina (06:54):
Yeah. Or they rebrand and they say, “Oh, we’ve got a cool new tagline,” even though it’s a tagline that nobody really understands what it means. A visitor wouldn’t look at that and say, “Oh, I have perfect clarity on what services you offer.” And they just decide like, “Oh, time to refresh that. I’m going to update the site. We need to change the copy,” and the copy they want to change it to is really marketing speak that isn’t super meaningful to the visitor.
Stacy Jones (07:17):
And so they’re not actually addressing the pain points of the visitor, all they’re doing is addressing how they want to show up.
Andy Crestodina (07:26):
Exactly right. And the irony is that as all of us use websites, right, as that potential client or whoever that website owner uses other websites. They judge those websites based on the information, based on the content. Nobody goes to a website to see how beautiful it is, they go to a website to get an answer to a question, to try to better understand if that company is going to be a potential solution to their problems. Funny I use that word, I’ve never seen it in keyword research. The only people who use the word solutions in my experience, people who sell stuff, people who want… Here’s a common mistake, people make a big navigation item that says solutions, when in fact, that’s not a term the visitor themselves would ever use. Very rare for us to use the word solutions unless we’re selling something.
Stacy Jones (08:12):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So what do you do? And how do you get over people? How to get people over themselves and willing to actually do these deep dives that they don’t necessarily see as essential and they’re like, “Oh, there’s a dime, a dozen website designers out there. I can go to Fiverr and get someone. What’s this hokey that he’s telling us?”?
Andy Crestodina (08:36):
Yeah. I mean, if for those people, I would encourage them to just go to Fiverr and forget about what I’m saying because I’m not going to be able to… Go for it. That’s not really what the game is about, but if your goal is to simply have a new website, you can get a new website for a very low cost, almost free, right. Even free, literally free.
Stacy Jones (08:52):
Andy Crestodina (08:53):
So people who say like, “Oh, I can’t believe a website would cost very much money. I can build a website right now with one hand while drinking a beer.” I have built a website with one hand while drinking a beer, it wasn’t a website anyone will ever visit or has much reason to exist. So what is the magic that causes websites to win in those two regards, cheese and mouse trap, as in they attract visitors and they convince visitors to take action. The game is really about how the design and the content marry each other, how they work together to create a visual hierarchy that guides the visitor’s eyes through a series of prioritized messages during which they get their questions answered and they see evidence to support those answers. That’s visitor psychology.
Andy Crestodina (09:39):
That’s why we all take action and convert, or don’t, on any website is whether or not it ranked for the phrase we searched for. And when the person was there, they got trust and excitement, and they got comfortable and clear on what this company does just enough so that they click that little, visually compelling, super specific call to action and fill out the contact form, that is a bit of magic. And to do it well takes six experts, 400 hours of work, I’m not even kidding. It’s not a simple thing.
Stacy Jones (10:13):
And then how does all of this figure in, because there’s a big difference between developing a website for a general consumer push versus a B2B push?
Andy Crestodina (10:24):
Well, B2B offers tend to be more high consideration, so the visitor needs more information, there might be more than one decision-maker. There might be taking several weeks or months to decide who to hire, sometimes longer. Web design is one of those things, it’s a high consideration decision.
Stacy Jones (10:38):
Andy Crestodina (10:39):
So that’s a consultative sales process, there it’s more important to put answers to sales questions onto web pages and it’s the stuff where trust is ever more important. A more B2C thing, it tends to be more transactional where the person just has to see enough. They’re acting more quickly. They’re not as afraid of making a mistake, that’s a big, big thing you have to do on web copy is to overcome the person’s fears. Why wouldn’t this company hire us? You’re not ready to write a website, and we should probably use that term instead of design, you’re not ready to write a website until you know why someone wouldn’t hire you. And if you haven’t addressed that, good luck, your conversion rates from visitor into lead will likely be low.
Andy Crestodina (11:24):
Yeah. So if it’s a transactional thing, it’s low considerations, see some reviews, add to cart, you’re good. If it’s a consultative thing, high consideration, long sales cycle, multiple decision-makers, then you need to really go deeper into things like case studies, testimonials, thought leadership content, original research, carefully managed visual hierarchy, maybe some lead magnets, try to get the person to stay in your middle of your funnel for longer. It’s a very different, much longer game, way more fun, way more fun, I think.
Stacy Jones (11:53):
What are some of the mistakes that happen along the way?
Andy Crestodina (11:57):
Well, a lot of people have website navigation labels that sound like this, “Products or services, solutions, blog, about, contact.” Why would you do that?
Stacy Jones (12:10):
Dear God, it sounds like my website.
Andy Crestodina (12:13):
It sounds like millions of websites, right?
Stacy Jones (12:15):
Andy Crestodina (12:15):
It sounds like millions of websites. So try to answer this question, why not be specific? Why not be descriptive in our navigation labels? Why not tell the search engine and the visitor what this company does in a split second glance? Just do that. Just do that. That’s an easy one.
Stacy Jones (12:34):
So if we want to dive in a little to that, you’re saying, about, blog, what are other words that are better to use?
Andy Crestodina (12:43):
Well, a bottom blog or in contact are probably going to be there, right, and that’s fine, and those set expectations properly. The job of the navigation label is to help the visitor accurately predict what they’ll get if they click. So if you have one that just says solutions, that’s a long word and the vague word, it doesn’t accurately let the visitor predict what they get. So if it says web design services, if it says podcast production services, if it says video editing, if it says the name of the service itself, whatever it is that you’re offering, right, digital marketing, paid whatever, social, whatever it is, then the visitor can scan and at a glance, they can see that they’re in the right place. Basically every visitor at every webpage is asking themselves, “Am I in the right place?”
Andy Crestodina (13:25):
So specificity correlates with click through rates, specificity correlates with conversion. So every time you use a vague navigation label, you’re not as being as helpful as if you use a specific navigation label instead of a word like services, or products, or solutions. Same goes for the header by the way, the H1 tag, the header at the top of the homepage. If a visitor can’t tell what you do after reading that, then you just failed the backyard barbecue test. Stacy, if I met you at a backyard barbecue and I say, “What do you do?” And you say, “Oh, I have the agility to plan for all futures.” I’d be like, “What? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Stacy Jones (14:01):
What the heck are you talking about?
Andy Crestodina (14:03):
“What do you do?” “I humanize technology.” Like, “What? I’m confused.” So try to pass the backyard barbecue test. Next time someone asks you what you do, read your homepage headline and see if they give you a weird look.
Stacy Jones (14:16):
So is this how you test your clients?
Andy Crestodina (14:19):
Well, that’s the only test. Now you know the whole test, so.
Stacy Jones (14:23):
Andy Crestodina (14:23):
If we just look at it at the glance, you can tell instantly. It’s also called a-
Stacy Jones (14:26):
You just had a lot-
Andy Crestodina (14:28):
Stacy Jones (14:28):
You had a lot of backyard barbecues and just say random things.
Andy Crestodina (14:33):
Yeah. I would eat a lot of barbecue if I did. It’s actually a thing, it’s called the five second test. If you upload a screenshot of your homepage to usabilityhub.com and then answer the question, what does this company do? You can see at a glance, you can tell right away. So there it’s called the five second test, it’s sometimes called the 10 foot test, and back 10 feet from your screen, can you tell what this company does? Used to be called once the user is drunk test. If I had four drinks and I looked at your header, could I tell what you do? There’s different names for it. But basically, the idea is to communicate quickly, clearly, accurately so that the visitor knows that they’re in the right spot and you can move onto the next question.
Stacy Jones (15:07):
And since I even just grabbed my phone to write this down, can you repeat that? For anyone who might have missed, what is the website you’re suggesting everyone to go to?
Andy Crestodina (15:18):
Usabilityhub.com is a way to create near instant panels of focus groups of people who are admittedly not in your target audience, but you can check things such as, can a visitor to this website tell what we do? So take a screenshot of anything, right? Take a screenshot of your social media bio, whatever, anything, and just upload it to UsabilityHub. You can choose 20 people or 50 people and then just type in one question to go with it. And six minutes later, you’re going to get 20 answers of people guessing what you do because your site was so vague the navigation labels and the homepage header did not give the visitor any idea for what you do as a company.
Stacy Jones (16:02):
That’s awesome, that’s very cool testing.
Andy Crestodina (16:04):
Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
Stacy Jones (16:06):
Little market research in your back pocket of your computer screen.
Andy Crestodina (16:09):
Super simple, really cheap and fast. I think it’s 50 bucks.
Stacy Jones (16:12):
Okay. What else? What are other things people do wrong?
Andy Crestodina (16:15):
Well, a lot of people fail to put themselves on their website, they don’t like the way they look, they don’t like their picture, they don’t want to be… Little companies often try to look big. Big companies often try to look small, weird, right? Is it just me that’s like, “Why do big companies want to look little and little companies want to look big?”
Stacy Jones (16:33):
They want to appeal, and they want to be embraced. They want to not look like a corporate, non-hearted giants that they might actually be.
Andy Crestodina (16:44):
I like how you said that, because that’s the point, is to not look like you’re heartless. So look human. Every branch, you just try to look more human, try to look more personal. So I have access to 500 plus Google Analytics accounts. I’m in them all the time. I’ve been in three accounts today and I can see people’s top pages, right, where do visitors tend to go to. The about us page is the one of the most popular pages on almost every website. Why does someone go there? Because they want to see who you are. If you have a team page, it’s often one of the top pages.
Andy Crestodina (17:19):
So take the hint and put yourselves all over your website, put your face, put your name, put a quote from yourself, find different pages. Better yet, put a quote from a client as a testimonial, try not to build pages without evidence of some sort. But yeah, there’s people who just think they don’t like the way they look or they don’t think that their photography is a plus when really the goal is to just look legit, just be human, just be yourself. So that’s a really common mistake is people that build sites that just look like a bomb went off and all the people are gone, it’s super weird.
Stacy Jones (17:51):
And more so actually, pull back the curtains a little bit of your company and show the human behind the scenes who’s actually either doing the work and the services or building the product.
Andy Crestodina (18:02):
That’s right. Who are these people? Very common question. What is the intent of the visitor who clicks on about? Think about them. What do you want when you click on about? And faces and people. I mean Facebook, I don’t use it, I think it’s a creepy website.
Stacy Jones (18:19):
You mean Meta?
Andy Crestodina (18:21):
Yeah, Meta. One of the most popular platforms on the internet, guess what? The word face in the name, that’s how powerful faces are. You don’t leave that out.
Stacy Jones (18:31):
Yeah. I think a lot of people… We do influencer marketing at our agency at Hollywood Branded and the brands are always like, “We want to have an organic connection. We want it to be authentic,” all the things that we want. But what you’re saying, you need that also, to have that organic, authentic, real humanizing connection of the real, being the keyword here, on your website too.
Andy Crestodina (18:58):
They’re trying to feel a connection, that’s why they clicked on about. If your about sounds boring, expected, vague, show some weakness, be vulnerable maybe, talk about… You asked me about myself, I told you about a failure right away, right, I told you about a risk I took right away. Go rewind to that first part of that conversation, that’s really what you wanted, right, is to know the truth about what this is, who is this person? What do they believe? Where are they coming from? What’s the origin? So yeah. And knowing that that’s so powerful, I wouldn’t wait until the visitor clicks on about. Elevate, our designers say surface, push that face up, push the characters of this story up out of the about page onto some other pages, right? Are there any faces of anyone who actually works at your company on your homepage? If not, missed opportunity. Or your top service pages? If not, it’s a missed opportunity. So that’s keeping it real. Costs nothing, makes a big difference.
Stacy Jones (19:59):
Okay. How do companies deal with, if they have different personalities on their homepages, on their website, keeping up with the fact that employees turn over, right? Because I think that’s a big fear with a lot of companies, especially those that are a little bit more entrepreneurial and smaller, mid-small and mid-size, not your corporate, heartless companies we’re talking about, they have lots of people to pull from. But how do you make sure that… Are you constantly refreshing it? I mean hopefully your employees aren’t going out the door all the time in a rapid, fast speed, but that’s something you have to plan for, right?
Andy Crestodina (20:32):
Sure. I think the photography is one of the places where that gets you, because if you take a group photo with six people and put that at the top of your about page, and then someone leaves and you’re like, “Well, it’s still okay.” And then another person leaves and then you hire a new star performer. And pretty soon it’s like, “Well, four of the six are here and one of the person…” So just avoid the big group shot first of all. If you use a very simple background for photos, then it’s much easier to do color matching as you take new photos. You could do something simple, like just drop out all the color and go duo tone or black and white. And then it’s very easy to add photos and scale up and down the team bio pages.
Andy Crestodina (21:18):
And similarly, if you’ve got the budget, maybe you could do something interesting with an illustrative style. We had a client that was financial services and we recommended that they use a wall street journal style, head cut, looking, engraving for each of their investment professionals, like you see in the wall street journal or like you see on money.
Stacy Jones (21:38):
Andy Crestodina (21:38):
They loved it. They went all out. They got an artist, and everyone that joined that company forever after got their own head cut and it looked awesome. They put it on their emails, they put it on their social profiles. But basically yeah, just be ready for it. And if you’ve got people walking out the door every other week, you’ve got bigger problems anyway. Yeah.
Stacy Jones (22:03):
Well, I like the edged head idea, that’s very cool.
Andy Crestodina (22:05):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. It’s like an engraving, right? You know the style.
Stacy Jones (22:09):
Andy Crestodina (22:10):
If it’s brand aligned and you’ve got the budget, maybe make it awesome because after all, it is one of the most viewed things that you’ll have on your website.
Stacy Jones (22:20):
And you can also always take this over because everyone wants to, into your social media universe where you can share this over and over again on other platforms too.
Andy Crestodina (22:29):
People love that. And your team will be excited to have their own, little illustration made for their… But yeah, I think that’s a big benefit. Also, if you want a little boost on social, like Facebook and LinkedIn are both blue, so any warm colors that you use there. If you drop out your background of your photo and replace it with a warm colored background like orange, or yellow, or red, it will pop, it will stand out against all the other social profiles in the stream. So if you look at my LinkedIn bio, you can see I’ve got an orange background behind my head, which makes me much again, visual hierarchy, right? This is how the human eye works. This is biology and the chemistry of the brain. So you can make yourself more visually prominent within social streams by choosing a warm color background and makes it easier to color match if you have turnover at your company on your team pages.
Stacy Jones (23:21):
And for everyone listening right now, if you just said, “Ha.” Now you get it, this is why you don’t go to Fiverr for a website.
Andy Crestodina (23:32):
You know what though? I have no idea, I’ve never tried it. But in defense of those ultra cheap approaches, the ROI should be high if the I was zero. I mean, if you spent nothing-
Stacy Jones (23:42):
The cost should be low, but what is the business you’re losing? And I think that’s the ROI. It’s not that, “Oh, the return on my $150 website versus my $50,000 website.” I mean, it should be so dramatically different on what that higher level actually gets you.
Andy Crestodina (23:59):
It is. I mean, bottom line for this and for everything else in life, just set your expectations where you set your budget, you’ll only be disappointed if your budget and your expectations are misaligned. So if you spend a 100 bucks on your website and you have no expectation except having an online presence for your softball team or whatever, great, mission accomplished, you should be happy. But don’t expect to rank or convert visitors into the leads with a site that you literally put next to no effort into.
Stacy Jones (24:29):
What else? Because we’re on role here. We all know that we’re all going to have orange backgrounds behind our head shortly. What else are mistakes people do?
Andy Crestodina (24:39):
Well, the thank you page is a big mistake. A lot of people’s thank you pages say just two words, thank you. They might as well say goodbye because you’re giving the visitor no information and no path to anything. So you’re telling them to go look at another website and convert into a lead at another website. I think the thank you page is a chance to roll out the red carpet and tell the visitor how soon you’ll be in, or not the visitor, your lead, tell the lead how soon you’ll be in touch. Give them links to deeper content, your most useful stuff. You could put a scheduling widget there and let them jump onto your calendar immediately. You could put a call to action there and let them subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media.
Andy Crestodina (25:18):
So if that person really does the thing that you wanted them to do, look at their experience. Did you just give them a dead end? The very first thing you did after they took action was give them a dead end? Not impressed. So that’s a common mistake. Calls to action are a common mistake. Read more, click here, learn more. These are not calls to action. Look at the verbs on your website, ask yourself if you used compelling verbs. Stock photos, often a big mistake, nothing else, it’s a missed opportunity. Failure to address objections, failure to use data. Some people are very moved by data and statistics. Fill your site with data if you can, making lots of pages with thin content instead of a smaller set of pages with deep content, that’s a common mistake.
Stacy Jones (26:07):
And what is thin content versus deep content? When you say that, it makes me think, “Okay. If I put in 5,000 words, that’s deep content. And if I do fluff and lots of fixtures, that’s not.”
Andy Crestodina (26:19):
Right. Well, word count is overrated as a benchmark for quality, that’s proxy for quality, it’s not quality. You can fluff up the content and yet it sounds very watered down just to make it long. So deep content would be content that continues the conversation with the visitor, encouraging them to scroll, and go farther into it, and get more insights, more advice, more answers, more evidence. Basically the structure of a high performing page goes like this, answer, evidence, answer, evidence, answer, evidence, call to action. You see what you do? How well you do it? They see how you can do it for them, how well you’re doing it for others, call to action, “Now I’m ready.” Thin content would be, “We love us. We’re number one and we do ABC. Contact us.” It’s likely much shorter, probably just a few hundred words. And it stinks because it’s not differentiated, it’s boring. It’s not clear. It doesn’t emulate a sales conversation. The best pages emulate a sales conversation.
Stacy Jones (27:28):
What about landing pages?
Andy Crestodina (27:32):
I’m glad you asked.
Stacy Jones (27:32):
I think his face just shifted by the way. For all of our listeners, I swear, he just had this weird little twitch, he’s like, “Oh, landing pages.”
Andy Crestodina (27:38):
Landing pages. Well, so there’s two definitions. Landing page is literally the name of a report in Google Analytics, and it just means the first page the person visited. But what you probably meant and what most people mean when they say that is a campaign landing page, like an unbalanced landing page.
Stacy Jones (27:55):
Andy Crestodina (27:55):
So a landing page in that context is a page that has one very specific traffic source, such as paper click, or email, or display, and one very, very specific goal. Fill out this form, download this guide, something like that. So as such, the landing page is the opposite of a homepage. The homepage is the page for which you know the least about your visitor. Anybody comes from anywhere, who knows, the homepage has to try to serve everybody. But the landing page can align so specific with what they clicked on. A helpful way is to think of it this way, what is the true story in the life of the visitor to this page? Keep asking that question. Landing page, what is the true story in the life of the visitor to this page? They just clicked on an ad that offered X, Y, and Z. The page needs to talk about that right away, use the same words, be very specific because you know a lot about this visitor, they came from that one click.
Andy Crestodina (28:50):
So landing pages can be laser focused. They should have few distractions, maybe even no header navigation. Lots of landing pages, you build them in a tool like Unbounce, you don’t have the header navigation anymore. And then I think they’re weak when they just have a contact form at the top, just keep going. Even if most visitors don’t scroll, those that do, you can keep giving them more and more reasons to believe. So I recommend that landing page is actually… Use that same tip we gave a second ago about deep content. But they’re fun to make because you know so much about the visitor and you have really just one very specific purpose for the page, for them and for you.
Stacy Jones (29:32):
Yes. To get them to pay you with their information.
Andy Crestodina (29:35):
That’s right. The ethical bribe.
Stacy Jones (29:36):
Andy Crestodina (29:39):
Yep. The lead magnet, the content upgrade, the ethical bribe, there’s names for these things. Yeah, that’s great for list growth. Actually Stacy, I use none of them. I have no gated content in all these years, 20 years. I’ve never used any gated content or any landing pages, but I’m meeting my goals without it, so that’s working well.
Stacy Jones (30:04):
And the reason why you’ve done that is you’ve figured that if you just make all free, you don’t have to grab people. And ultimately, the people who are coming to you legitimately want to engage.
Andy Crestodina (30:16):
Yes. That, and there’s another more subtle and indirect benefit from having everything outside the gates, which is, I need websites to link to us because I’m playing the SEO game and I’m trying to grow my domains authority. And with enough websites linked to you, your site has so much authority that you can rank for very competitive key phrases. I’m trying to dominate my category for phrases like Chicago web design. And to do that, I need lots of links from lots of places. I think if you put your best stuff, like we do a lot of original research, if you put your best stuff behind gates, then you’re not as likely to get links from other sites because some of the editors who might link to you decide not to download the thing and get to the juicy nugget that’s worth linking to. So part of our content marketing is about growing our domain authority by having link worthy assets. And for that reason, I keep everything ungated.
Stacy Jones (31:14):
And obviously it’s working well for you.
Andy Crestodina (31:14):
900 leads a year, and we only need 50 projects. So we are growing at exactly the rate we want to, which probably will slow down because I don’t want to hire full-time HR. Do I have to?
Stacy Jones (31:26):
Yeah, you’re going to have to. I was about to say-
Andy Crestodina (31:27):
I don’t want to hire.
Stacy Jones (31:29):
You have to hire the HR part now.
Andy Crestodina (31:30):
Now I have to hire the HR? Oh man. I’ll think about it.
Stacy Jones (31:33):
If you have someone who’s handling HR, then maybe you aren’t.
Andy Crestodina (31:38):
I’m definitely not doing that now, someone else is, other people are. It’s probably eating away time from the managers.
Stacy Jones (31:44):
You probably have full-time HR already built-in and you just have people who are working on doing little bits here and not working on those 52, 53, 54, 55 account numbers of your 50 that you need to have to get you closer to that 900.
Andy Crestodina (32:01):
You’re giving me a great idea. I wonder if the lack of HR as a function here is making our managers less efficient because they have to deal with it all themselves.
Stacy Jones (32:11):
We actually found that, that’s why we ended up diving in. Now we went and got someone to head, and lead, and do all things HR, mainly because my husband and I both don’t want to. He’s the COO on the CEO, and it’s nice having that layer before you, and more so just the busy work and working on building the company versus, “Whose sick day is, what, when, what do they need to do now?”
Andy Crestodina (32:35):
Stacy Jones (32:36):
Yeah. But we hired someone who has a dual purpose, where they’re HR but they’re also sales on certain things that they have a specialty like focusing.
Andy Crestodina (32:45):
Stacy Jones (32:46):
So I don’t feel like, “Oh, we’re spending all this money on just HR.” I feel like, “Oh, but we’re investing in this person who happens to have this other skillset that’s going to be golden and will help us.” We do that with our accounting department too.
Andy Crestodina (32:59):
That is often combined with HR, the controller role. Yeah. I think that’s not uncommon is to find the HR-accounting combo.
Stacy Jones (33:08):
Andy Crestodina (33:10):
All these things are totally outside my comfort zone.
Stacy Jones (33:15):
So much fun though, as being a business owner, they’re all things that you get to do you. So for all of you guys listening who are not business owners, this is what you are missing out on.
Andy Crestodina (33:23):
It’s your big chance. Start a company and do some HR.
Stacy Jones (33:27):
And HR is one of the first things you’re going to have to do and it’s one of the first things as you grow that you want to hand off. Even if you don’t hire someone for HR, just like Andy just said, “My managers are doing those tasks.”
Andy Crestodina (33:40):
Yeah. Someone has got to take care of the team. Yeah.
Stacy Jones (33:42):
Yeah. They’re still the most important.
Andy Crestodina (33:42):
Stacy Jones (33:45):
Well Andy, it has been fantastic talking to you. How can our listeners find you? Because I know it’s not gated and I know you have an online presence.
Andy Crestodina (33:55):
Orbitmedia.com. I write one article every two weeks. If you are to subscribe, you’ll get my best advice there, literally just one email every two weeks. LinkedIn is my best social network, I poked on fun in Facebook, so you can probably tell I’m not much of a Facebook person. And the book has almost everything, it’s called Content Chemistry, and you can find it on Amazon or find it anywhere.
Stacy Jones (34:16):
And with the book, it’s going to dive into all things that you should, should not be doing, and how to be doing it better.
Andy Crestodina (34:24):
Everything I know between two covers for the price of a small bar tap, well worth it.
Stacy Jones (34:29):
Look at that. That’s pretty good.
Andy Crestodina (34:30):
Stacy Jones (34:30):
Or a very expensive cup of coffee.
Andy Crestodina (34:33):
Yeah. You’ve got a coffee problem if you’re spending that much on a coffee.
Stacy Jones (34:39):
Andy, any last words of advice to our listeners today and all things website?
Andy Crestodina (34:45):
Well, and on the topic of mistakes, I’d encourage people to make mistakes. I mean, take chances, experiment. Every idea you have is in fact just a hypothesis, try it, test it. Every best practice that we just talked about is really just a hypothesis, go try it for yourself and see if it works, won’t necessarily work for everybody. So yeah, these are all testable. It’s a big game and analytics is the scoreboard, play and keep tweaking your game and you’ll win.
Stacy Jones (35:15):
And the good news is people like Andy are going to stay in business forever because we have Google making algorithm shifts all the time that you have to stay on your toes about, because what you do today that works might not work tomorrow.
Andy Crestodina (35:27):
Stacy Jones (35:28):
Yeah. Well Andy, thank you again so much for joining.
Andy Crestodina (35:31):
This was lovely. Thank you, Stacy for the opportunity, I had a great time.
Stacy Jones (35:35):
Awesome. And then to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning in to another episode of Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I look forward to chatting with you this next week, and until then, you ever have any interest, needs, curiosity about all things, product placement, integration, and influencer marketing, that’s what we do here. And I’d be happy to chat with you, or I connect you with our team. Have a great one.
Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show.
Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live!