5 Obvious Things you Should be Doing on your Website, Part 2


By Sue Brady

Breadcrumbs Read on for 5 tweaks you can make to your website for immediate improvement. Part 1 from a few weeks ago covered some very obvious tweaks (Obvious Things Part 1). These are less obvious, but equally important. Remember, your website is the window into your brand’s world, but it won’t do you any good if your visitors don’t read what you want them to, or take the action you desire.

Assuming your website goals are engagement and conversion, here are some things you should do:

1. Images. Images on a website are of course important. The key is to make sure they have the desired response. There are several things to consider:

Images of Humans. The risk with showing people is that a visitor might immediately think “that person is nothing like me,” and assume your product cannot be for them. We tested this a lot during my days at AOL, and almost without exception, showing people depressed our response.

Faces of your images. If you are showing faces, make them work for you. Make sure photos of people are looking where you want the consumer to look. One example is illustrated in this KISSmetrics article, and there are many others. This example shows that when a baby’s image was moved so that rather than facing front, he was facing towards the copy, viewers tended to read the copy (and spend less time on the baby’s face). Note, some heat-mapping is created using eye-tracking where users are in a lab and actual eye movement is captured. The more common (and less-expensive) heat-mapping these days is based on mouse movement.

I’ve read other tests where having a person in a photo pointing in a direction caused viewers of the page to look in that direction. It’s worth a test!

2. The Rotator (aka sliders or carousels). The rotator is the large ‘changing’ image that frequently appears at the top of a webpage. They look great and tons of sites have them. But they don’t work. Consumers don’t like them. This is not new information. Web experience designers have been saying this for years. Here’s a good article on the subject written by Shane Melaugh, aptly titled “Why Sliders Suck” that quotes several web experts who have a lot of experience in this area. Generally, findings show that sliders are ignored or annoying, and click-thru rates are awful. He also includes a list of marketing, website and user experience optimization websites that don’t have sliders, just to further illustrate the point.

3. The text. Break up your text. There are so many studies that have been done that prove that readers like bulleted or formatted lists, rather than straight type. Typical consumer behavior is to scan websites to find relevant information. Make it easy for your potential customers to do that.

And only use text that’s necessary. Shorter is almost always better. And small, easy-to-understand words are your best choice. Unless you are writing for a highly technical audience, keep it simple. I’ve been marketing Internet products of one kind or another for many years, and I still have to convince others in my industry that over 50% of consumers do not know what the term broadband means. We know what it means because we’re in it everyday, but the average person understands ‘high-speed’ much better.

4. Search Engine Optimizaion (SEO). There are several things you can do to improve your SEO, and they are not difficult.

Sitemap. Make sure you have a sitemap on your home page. It should be in the footer of the page, and it can be in smaller sized type. Basically, Google can find you more easily if you have a site map.

Page titles or meta tags. Each of your web pages has a title that’s searchable by search engines. Use keywords in your titles, as well as your company name. You can read more about that here.

Keywords. You should have some of your important keywords visible on your home page. Don’t overdo it, but use your real estate to help make your site searchable.

5. Breadcrumbs. Consider testing breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs allow your visitors to know exactly where they are on your site. They can help with your bounce rates (rate at which users leave your site) and seem intuitively to be a good thing. There are two kinds: Path-based and Attribute-based. Path-based provides an easy method of navigation for a user because they can see where they are and easily click back to a prior page. Attribute-based follows various specifications a user has made while traveling your site and is usually found on ecommerce sites. The first is more common and easy to set up, the second, not so much. You made want help setting up that method because it can cause problems with search engines and duplicate content.

In the picture below, the path-based breadcrumbs are Footwear and Women’s Footwear. The attribute-based crumbs are Ankle Boot and Water Resistant. Those aren’t clickable,  but a user can ‘x’ out of them to remove them from their searching.

BreadcrumbsPlease share, and remember, friends don’t let friends have bad websites!

Your Marketing Needs a Plan: Don’t Miss these 4 Critical Steps


By Sue Brady


Know where to put your snow

Marketing doesn’t just happen. It takes thoughtful planning.

As you embark on your next successful year, be sure to remember a few basics as you formulate your plans:

  • Set clear goals

What do you want your marketing to accomplish: Sales, brand awareness, positive social media coverage, award-winning recognition?

All might be valid goals for you, and all would have different approaches. Understanding your goals is perhaps the most important element to spell out in advance of launching any new marketing program. And don’t forget that goals have nuances. If your goal is sales, it makes a difference if you are after a one-time sale or if your product is a subscription or requires repeat sales throughout the customer life. Knowing the difference will determine how you segment your acquisition file, how you message your campaign, and how you communicate with the customer post-sale.

  • Define what success looks like

While sales might be a goal, success metrics go further. Metrics could be gross revenue per new customer, % business from existing customers, mobile app downloads, Return on Investment (ROI)* above a defined amount, Cost per Orders (CPOs)* lower than a certain level. All are valid. The key is to know what you’re after.

  • Identify your target market

And it can’t be everyone. Get specific. What type of person needs your product? How much money do they make? Are they college educated? Do they live in urban areas? Are they in their 20s? Do they tend to use Facebook? Knowing who your customer is will make finding them easier.

  • Design a campaign that will meet your goals

If your goal is say 500 mobile app downloads, you might want to run a campaign targeting your audience on their mobile phones. If you also know that they are Facebook users in a certain age group with certain interests, you can run a highly targeted campaign on Facebook.

As with every post I write about marketing, if you aren’t testing every time you go into market, you are missing out on an opportunity to learn. Whatever campaign you choose to run, there’s almost always room for testing. Testing will make your next campaign better. Test the most important things first: offer, audience, creative. Use what you learn as you create your next campaign.

Check back for future posts expanding on some of these concepts!

* CPOs are calculated by looking at the total cost to generate an order, and dividing that by the total number of orders received. Total cost typically does not include creative development, because creative can be used well beyond the campaign it’s first designed to support. Think of some of the well-known marketing campaigns out there. Take Flo from Progressive Insurance. If the folks that created that campaign took all of the campaign development costs against the orders for that first campaign, it most likely wouldn’t have been considered successful because of the high CPO. Flo has been used for years now, and so the cost of developing that initial campaign has benefited many campaigns that came later.

ROI can be a trickier metric. ROI is calculated by looking at how much revenue is generated vs how much it cost to generate that revenue. Higher ROI is obviously better. But how you calculate that ROI can vary. True ROI should look over the life of each customer generated off of that specific campaign spend, and also take into account other business generated from the campaign. For instance, TV ads often drive consumers to search on the web, or to respond to a direct mail or email campaign that arrives at the same time. This gets into the importance of attribution. You can read a post about that here.

‘Must Knows’ on Mobile, Apps and eCommerce


By Sue Brady



It’s common knowledge that mobile is playing a bigger role than ever in eCommerce, and it’s important to understand why.


I found some interesting stats from Criteo.com that show that consumers are using multiple devices and that a larger and larger number of those consumers are completing their transactions on a mobile device. They studied over 1.4 billion transactions and found that:

  • A full 31% of all transactions happened on a mobile device in 2015
  • 35% who used more than one device ultimately purchased using their mobile
  • More than one device is used in 4 of 10 Internet transactions
  • And, those that have multiple devices are 20% more likely (than the average user) to complete their transaction on their mobile device
  • Mobile share of eCommerce transactions has grown from 27% in Q4, 2014, to 44% in Q3, 2015
  • For mobile purchases, Smartphones outpace tablets (56% smartphone vs 44% tablet).

And all that only serves to highlight that if you take transactions on your website, your mobile site needs to be consumer friendly and mobile appropriate. And mobile appropriate doesn’t mean responsive. In fact, given this data, you should ensure that your mobile website makes it easy for a user to get to, and check out from, the shopping cart. That’s not always easy to do using responsive design so look into other approaches (like Adaptive Design for instance). Here’s a post I wrote a couple of years ago on why I favor adaptive design…and I still do!

Also, your website must load quickly. 40% of users will bail if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load. And each second over that sees an exponential increase in that bounce rate (source: getresponse.com).


In addition to mobile sites being of greater and greater importance, apps are gaining ground in mobile commerce. Again, more interesting data from Criteo: Of retailers that have over 25% of their transactions coming from mobile, their apps generate 58% of that mobile revenue. Their apps are converting at 3.7% times the rate than their mobile sites. And, order values were higher when a customer ordered via the app – higher than mobile browser and desktop buyers.

There are a number of online sources that give advice on designing mobile apps, and here’s a good one that covers the basics.


If you use email to sell, it’s important to know that 53% of emails are opened on a mobile phone or tablet (source: emailmonday.com). If you don’t have a mobile friendly view, almost everyone who opens your email will bail immediately. And if they open and click thru and land on a non-mobile friendly website, almost 60% will bounce!

Let this year be the year you focus on all things mobile.

New Year

The Death of Facebook has been Greatly Exaggerated (and other social media insights)


By Sue Brady

social media montageSocial media has seen a lot of change this year, and the coming year will be no different. Social media is only going to become more important in our personal and professional lives.  A huge 73% of Americans have a social network profile!

Messaging. Messaging apps have taken off, enjoying huge popularity, especially with the younger adult crowd. WhatsApp (bought by Facebook for $16 billion) leads the pack with 900 million monthly active users. Facebook Messenger is second with 700 million. It’s an astounding number of people now communicating in a way that would have been completely foreign just 2 or 3 years ago. Back in the day at AOL, we used AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM) to communicate with our coworkers and friends. It was easy to keep your buddy list open on your computer to see if the person you wanted to chat with was around. But now, with the proliferation of cell phones, and apps to make them even more useful, you can ‘chat’ with your friends/coworkers using your phone. Being near a computer isn’t important.

Popular Social Media Sites. What hasn’t changed much is the popular social media networks are still popular. The most used social media network is still Facebook with 1.55 billion monthly active users. In the US, Facebook is well ahead of the pack in terms of market share based on visits, at 45%. The next market share giant is Youtube, with half that market share at 22%.

Ebizmba just published its <slightly different> list of  traffic rankings and found that:

Facebook tops the list at 900 million unique monthly users

Twitter has 310 million

LinkedIn has 255 million (though 400 million registered users)

Pinterest has 250 million

The remaining platforms fall well below these sites, but still have millions and millions of users:




Marketing Spend. In terms of marketing budget allocations, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn rank the highest for investment. Facebook introduced the ‘buy’ button this year, adding to its usefulness as a platform for marketers. Advertisers are learning how to use Facebook and other social media platforms to sell product. It’s not a fad people! If you haven’t tested Facebook in the last year, you really should give it a try. Facebook made almost $4 billion in ad revenue in 2nd quarter, 2015, most of it from mobile. It’s working.

Checking In. What is dead however is the concept of ‘checking in.’ The idea of using your phone to let people know where you are at the moment you are there, didn’t really catch on. In fact, only 3% of Americans say they have ever ‘checked in.’

Videos. But what IS happening with increasing frequency is people are posting and watching videos. Youtube isn’t the only place, though there are over 1 billion users there watching 4 billion videos a day (with a billion of those views coming from mobile devices). 81% of US Millenials use YouTube, followed by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers after that (source: expandedramblings.com). Vine launched in January 2013 and has 200 million monthly active users. 12 million Vine videos are uploaded to Twitter every day. In one article I found written by Molly Buccini, she sited that Videos trump photos for engagement by 62%! She also states that ‘video shares’ have gone up by 43% since the start of the year. If you aren’t already using videos in your social marketing, now is the time!

Social media spend by brands has seen dramatic growth. According to Statista, spend will go from $7.5 billion in 2014 to over $17 billion by 2019. Make sure you’ve allocated enough of your marketing budget for 2016 to Social Media to take advantages of the opportunities!

5 Obvious Things you Should be Doing on your Website


By Sue Brady


It’s easy to overlook the obvious. So here are a few helpful hints to remind you of some basics to make sure your website starts the New Year on the right foot.

  1. Ask customers to take the action you want them to take.

Buy now. Learn more. Add to Cart. Checkout.

If you don’t tell your customers what to do, they might not do it. Here’s a post on this subject.

2. Make it easy for your visitors to take an action. The harder they have to work for it, the less likely they are to do it. I was on a well-known site yesterday and really wanted to add a photo book I’d created to my shopping cart. I couldn’t do it. I could clearly see the quantity button and the price (I drew the green arrow in the picture), but there was no ‘add to cart’ button. I had to completely exit out and come back in through a different set of commands before I was shown the ‘add to cart’ button.

Make it easy

3. Make your action buttons large enough so that they stand out on the page.

4. Don’t use reversed out white type in your body copy. Yes, this is one of my pet peeves, but it should be yours as well! Reversed out white type is hard on the eyes when used on more than a line or two of type. And if your web pages are hard to read, your potential customers won’t read them.

5. Have a mobile version of your website. Seriously, you should have done this a few years ago, but if you somehow haven’t, make it your next project. The time spent on the Internet via a mobile phone has now surpassed the time spent on the Internet on a desktop computer (Mary Meeker KPBC Internet Trends Report). Consumers now expect sites to be mobile friendly and will leave your site if it’s not (latest research from Google shows 29% will bounce immediately!). Plus, having a mobile friendly site helps you with your Google organic search. When a user is on a mobile phone, Google gives preference to mobile friendly sites over non-mobile friendly sites when it returns search results.

Obvious tips, but so often overlooked. Get your website into the best shape you can so that you start 2016 off right!