The old paradigm used to be that you can only expect someone to come to your website once and then they’re gone forever. Therefore your sole focus should be getting their information so that you can build a relationship and get them back to your website via email. But here’s the problem with that…
People visiting your website only once hasn’t changed, but they aren’t opting in for things the way they used to.
Seven or eight years ago virtual services was just starting to become a “thing” and getting free information online was the new cool thing to do. If you were offering a free solution in exchange for an email it was no brainer.
Fast forward to today and virtual service providers are a dime a dozen and the solutions offered in a typical opt in offer can usually be found for free on blogs, and people are getting inundated with email which is making them pretty stingy when it comes to giving their email address out.
Before, you could get someone’s email so that you can build trust with them. Now, you have to build trust with them before they’ll give you their email.
So how do you build trust without being able to follow up with visitors (yet)?
Well this is where strategy can get interesting and the answer will be different depending on your type of business and how you’re planning on marketing yourself.
I’m going to give you some basics that will work for most service professionals (and that I use quite often with my clients who aren’t quite ready for a complex web strategy).
When visitors come to your site they want to know three things:
Do you serve me?
Do you solve the problem I have?
Do you seem like you’re any good at it?
If they answer no to any of these questions they’ll leave your site in a heart beat. That’s not the worst part, the answer could be yes to all three but unless you’ve made it immediately clear with your website design they’re gonzo (no pressure!).
The first two questions are answered with your brand messaging. Who you serve and the problem you solve needs to be front and center, and above the fold (that means they shouldn’t have to scroll down to see it). What I do with my clients is try to tie the opt in offer into this message so we can kill two birds with one stone.
And to be clear, when I say “who you serve and the problem you solve” needs to be clear – I don’t mean it needs to literally say for example; “welcome divorced women between the ages of 35 and 50, I will help you start dating again” That would be weird.
Instead, this is where it’s important that you really “get” your target audience and use the words they would use, to follow the above example a headline like “Dating after divorce just isn’t the same…” if the visitor is in your target audience, starting your headline like that would definitely get a head nod because that’s something they’d probably say to a girlfriend.
The third question is largely answered in the design itself. The quality of the design correlates to how credible you appear, kind of like if someone is wearing Gucci vs “The Walmart Special” you see them very differently.
Just as important as quality is the design’s style and feel, a well designed website will visually deliver your message and create an emotional response before a visitor even reads the text. There are also simple strategies like incorporating social credibility pieces like “as seen in” logos, a testimonial, or number of followers above the fold.
When visitors feel like you understand them and their needs in particular, and your website communicates how good you are at what you do then getting an opt in is much more likely because it’s a low barrier way for them to check under the hood and learn more about you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are ways to follow up with visitors and get them back to your website without getting their email address.
This is a whole other topic, but it’s still worth mentioning. Nowadays there is this cool thing called a “pixel” which is kind of like tagging someone when they come to your site. This means that in a way they don’t even need to give you their email for you to follow up.
Through paid advertising in Facebook and Google you can have custom ads show up for visitors to your site to try to get them back. You can even tailor the ads to show certain marketing messages to draw them in, depending on which pages they visited on your site.
This means you can keep top of mind, and that one moment they’re on your website isn’t your ONLY shot for getting them to opt in.
The bottom line is, website strategy is always changing and having a good designer that understands your business and isn’t just good at making things pretty is important. What’s more important though is understanding your brand and how it needs to be delivered on your website in order to have the biggest impact on you business.