Why Whitespace Matters in Web Design

Your website is a valuable marketing asset.

So it makes sense to invest in its design to make it better for potential prospects. In fact, many of the largest companies pour a tremendous amount of resources into their websites. Because even a single design can have a dramatic impact on conversions and bounce rates.

But it is also important to remember that a simple design is key to driving conversion goals.

Cluttered designs with poorly contrasting colours only serve to confuse visitors. Your website design should be readable and easy to understand so that visitors have an intuitive sense of what to do next.

One way to create a more enjoyable browsing experience is to implement whitespace. The use of whitespace is perhaps one of the most important elements of web design. Yet there are still a countless number of websites that look like an infomercial with elements that bombard new visitors.

Here we look at whitespace in more detail and how this simple design principle can boost engagement on your pages.

What is Whitespace?

Whitespace refers to negative space, or the empty space between elements on a page such as images and text. In other words, whitespace is the portion on page that is not filled up. Although it is called “whitespace”, the empty space can actually be any colour such as black.

Perhaps the best example of whitespace is Google’s homepage:

Google homepage

Other businesses including Dropbox make ample use of whitespace on their sites:

Dropbox Business Page

Now contrast those two examples with this website:

Gates N Fences page

It is not immediately clear what the business offers or what actions visitors should take.

Just with a simple comparison, the advantages of a clean design is immediately apparent. Whitespace may seem like a waste. But as we have seen, it can be used to great effect and keep visitors on the page longer. And this can ultimately mean the difference between exceeding sales goals or struggling to meet them.

Why Whitespace Matters

Whitespace is advantageous for the following reasons:

  • Improved legibility: Nothing is more frustrating than landing on page with text that is too small or with minimal line spacing. Improved legibility is one obvious benefit of whitespace. Just by adjusting line spacing and adding more space around images can help visitors better understand what they are reading. This is key to boosting engagement and reducing bounce rates.
  • Ability to highlight CTAs: Imagine if Google’s homepage was filled with links to other pages or other elements such as banners. Both would likely have a negative impact on the number of search queries, which is the last thing that Google would want. Making use of whitespace then is a great way to highlight call to actions and get visitors to take a single action.
  • Creates a lasting impression: There is a reason why some of the largest invest heavily in their website design. Because online users are quick to make impressions based on what they see. Whitespace is especially important as it adds a sense of elegance to your site.

Less is more as whitespace can really make a difference in terms of your website design.

A clean interface makes it easier for visitors to immediately grasp what a page is about and what actions to take next. The goal for any website is to keep visitors engaged and generate more sales or leads. Whitespace helps to achieve those objectives.

The use of ample whitespace is a basic web design principle that can dramatically improve your website performance in terms of conversions. So take a closer look at all the aspects of your website to identify how you can make your design simple and uncluttered.

 

 

 

What’s a typical response rate for personalised B2B direct mail?

What’s a typical response rate for highly personalised B2B direct mail? What provider would you work with? I’ve heard of Enthusem and Pebblepost.
It’s a well designed card with their logo, name or website on it.

Logo for Enthusem

Logo for Enthusem

Your response rate for B2B direct mail depends on a couple of things

  1. What you’re selling and whether the recipient has heard of you or has the need right now for your product/service.
  2. If you are already known, you can get response rates over 10%, particularly if you are trusted.
  3. One way to improve your “response rate” is to do a follow up by telephone to check they got the message and to elicit a reply verbally.
  4. You will get the best results by working with someone experienced in Direct Response Mailings. This is a skilled position – do not expect high % returns without expertise in creating the mailing asset. If you’re inexperienced buying direct mail services, I suggest meeting a few agencies for a “Chemistry” meeting where they will show you their work and ask you about your business needs. This will educate you about the process and likely outcomes.

Lastly, both the services you suggest seem good, I’ve not used them. But a competent Direct Marketing Agency (like Creative Agency Secrets) will do a similar job of customised direct mail pieces as these businesses. Which may be much cheaper. It depends on how big your database is as to which is a good / cheap option.

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 2 – Marketing Communications and Step 3 – New Business Pipeline

Click on the icons to see more posts in each category.

Symbol for marketing communications symbol for new business pipeline

 

 

This answer was first submitted on Clarity.fm

Marketing segmentation icons

How to use brand icons to drive sales

My philosophy of marketing is that every part of your marketing toolkit that you’ve spent money developing should be working hard to generate sales for your business.

Creating a strong visual identity is a given.  But what about extending it into other marketing areas?

We have been experimenting using content marketing to reinforce visual identity branding and the USPs (unique selling points) and key points of difference of the brand.  Here’s how.

Your business philosophy

When applying content marketing tactics we find that the effectiveness is enhanced when the content is aligned with either buyer personas, pipeline stage, business philosophy or point of difference.  These all help to bring a prospect closer to purchase.

A strategic marketer will help you define a positioning can demonstrate continual advantage and which you can defend against competitors.   

Helping your prospective clients to recognise this positioning and then to relate their experience or their expected buying experience to it is the job of the tactical marketer.

Once you’ve established the philosophy positioning, identifying each part with an unique visual identity or icon is a neat way of enabling the customer to recognise elements in your content marketing and their relation to each other.  From this, they can navigate to find other related content pieces on the same theme or topic.

Case Study – the sports coach website

This client identified five buyer personas and now has a unique landing page for each one.  Their website has over 20,000 pages because they have been blogging since 2007.  This means new visitors find navigating the site challenging.  We identified a deep resource of ‘evergreen’ content which was not getting traffic and so not getting read by visitors.  From this we evolved a segmentation strategy built around a landing page and a visual icon for each visitor type.

Rowperfect Customer segmentation as icons

Customer segmentation as icons

The landing page includes links to the most popular evergreen articles and also gives guidance for the visitor on where to look for similar content. 

Case Study – the marketing agency

At Creative Agency Secrets, we have 8 icons which are all steps in the new business development process. On the blog sidebar are our list of categories – the first eight are numbered and each relates to one step in the process. 

Working on our own blog, we needed to reduce the bounce rate and encourage deeper browsing.  And so we leveraged our 8 Step New business Development Process.  This identifies a clear set of stages for a tactical marketer and a framework for their marketing year planning.  Each stage has a small icon and links to all the blog posts written about that topic.

Marketing segmentation icons

Marketing segmentation icons

It’s easy to read, easy to cross-link articles and also to reference more than one icon in each blog post.

Case Study – the financial advisor

Selling services is often harder than products – defining a clear point of difference is even more challenging for the marketer.  Collaborative Consulting was set up in response to the same-ification of the financial advisory marketplace.  The founder, John Milner, uses his long experience to advise clients differently from others – he calls these the Six Max Factors.  And using a simple graphic, each one is named and ordered.

The goal is to enable readers to become familiar with each icon so they quickly recognise them and can relate to the marketing content more easily.

This tactic will serve to reinforce the firm’s investment philosophy, remind readers why they chose Collaborative Consulting as their advisor and set the firm apart from competitors who are less explicit about the foundations of their advice and investing activities.

How to spot an opportunity to use icons

The key insight a marketer needs to bring to using logos as a sales device is to discover

  1. Is the company able to articulate its USP?
  2. Can you split that USP into several subsidiary elements?
  3. Does your content marketing strategy allow the use of visual and written elements?
  4. Can you measure changed customer and prospect behaviour as you make these changes?

That’s a great starting point – off you go!

7 Ways to Make Your Website Relevant

Is your website consistently driving results for your business? Is it adaptive to changes on the web? With rapid advances in website technology, design and function have evolved, bringing a new set of expectations to your visitors. With these expectations and advanced features ultimately affecting the success of the business online, being able to respond effectively is essential.

We’re not saying a complete rebuild of your website is necessary every 12 months, but minor tweaks, layout improvements and updated content are just a few ways to keep your website fresh! The needs of your website, or at least how people use it, will likely change throughout its life. Being able to respond to that change is essential for maintaining customer engagement.

It can be a daunting process. To make it easier, we have created a list of suggestions to ensure you unlock your website’s potential.

7 ways to keep your website relevant

1. Build your site on a Content Management System (CMS) – such as WordPress, Drupal, SquareSpace.

This is single-handedly the most important piece of advice for a business with limited web-dev resources. An advanced CMS platform offers huge freedom to customise content, compared to one that was hard-coded. You can easily swap bits in and out, and if you have a decent understanding of the system, make simple changes to the whole visual layout, without having to spend hundreds (or thousands) hiring a developer. Most CMS platforms offer an intuitive interface which removes the need to learn HTML too. This can be a real time saver, if maintaining the site is not your fulltime priority!

With an increasing number of web visits coming from mobile devices, ensuring your site is responsive to different screen sizes is absolutely essential too. Many CMS platforms offer mobile responsiveness. If yours isn’t, you’re already way behind the game!

2. Observe how your visitors use your website

Analytical tools such as Google Analytics + Search Console provide an incredible amount detail and invaluable insights as to how people are actually interacting with your site. Goal tracking, a powerful feature of Google Analytics analyses the effectiveness of particular product channels and sales conversions. Set up correctly, it makes it easy to pinpoint where customers are dropping off or what is triggering purchases. This helps to outline where you can improve your sales channels to maximise conversion success.

Analytical software allows you to observe a range of other insightful trends too: Are there large blocks of text that are being ignored? Are your visitors finding what they are looking for? How far down the page are they viewing before losing interest? Thanks to tools like SumoMe and Crazy Egg, we can gain a much deeper understanding of how visitors are using our website. If nobody pays attention to that beautiful full width banner, is it worth having?

Making your site as easy as possible for visitors to use is essential for ensuring they become customers. The likes of Google Analytics are free to use, and most paid versions of software offer free or limited period trial versions. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be looking into them!

3. Interpret and respond to your analytics

If the majority of your traffic is ignoring your featured product, swap it for something else! If they are searching for an FAQ, make sure it is clearly visible from the homepage! Are visitors dropping off before they reach your call to action further down the page? What can you change to ensure they all see it? If they aren’t scrolling through, it is time you spent some time reworking your site’s layout.

4. Make sure your audience can find you

A lot of the work here comes back to your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Are you using the right keywords for your brand/offering? What words are people using to find your product/service? How do you rank in searches? One way to influence these variables is through regular, targeted content. Publishing blog articles or (even better) video material is an easy way to give visitors a reason to keep coming to your site. This in turn, boosts the value of your SEO. Don’t stress if you can’t maintain a schedule of posting each day either. If you have a big catalogue of material, drip feed it out over the course of the year. Maintaining a steady rhythm is far better than dumping 20 articles all at once. Consistency is the key here!

5. Do the words on your site clearly describe what you do?

It’s one thing to write for the Google bots that will crawl your site and determine where to show you on search, but at the end of the day, decisions are made by humans. If your visitors are browsing your website desperately wondering what it is exactly that you do, chances are they are going to move on pretty quickly. No amount of keywords will help if your message doesn’t make sense. If you don’t have the time or the confidence to write your own copy, it’s highly worth getting someone to do it for you.

6. Give your visitors a reason to trust you

Real life testimonials from customers who have actually purchased or worked with you can make or break the decision to buy from you. There are a number of places where these can come from – Social Media pages such as your Facebook page or your Google My Business page are just two, but there’s nothing stopping you from replicating them on your website (with their permission of course!). Displaying customer logos (if your work is B2B) is a great way to showcase your brand’s credibility.

7. Make it easy for your visitors to take action

Whether that action is in the form of purchasing something from your website or filling out a contact form, it’s absolutely vital that you make it as easy as possible. The less hoops prospective customers have to jump through to get what they want, the more inclined they will be to take action. If you have hyperlinked text as your call to action, consider substituting it for a big eye-catching button. The call to action is the main objective of your page, why hide it?

If you are not sure what is and isn’t working, or if you know your website needs a bit of a touch-up, talk to us – we are the experts!

Tell us what your goals are: traffic or sales

What’s the best way to get more paying customers?

Write your new business development year plan with Creative Agency Secrets

The answer, is a new business development plan.  That’s a month by month chart of marketing promotion activities.  It includes proactive marketing that builds up your business profile which leads to enquiries which become sales.  It’s a continuous cycle.

Join us for in a business development planning workshop on November 12th 2016 to write your own plan.  

This workshop is for business owners and managers who are responsible for finding new clients and growing revenues.  It will show you the practical, tried and tested techniques that the Creative Agency Secrets team uses for its clients.

You will learn:

  1. How to create a unique company profile.
  2. A check list of marketing activities .
  3. New business pipeline analysis and tracking template.
  4. What you need to do to get better known in your industry.
  5. Learn relationship building for getting and keeping long term clients.
  6. How to spot opportunities for new business sales.
  7. The business process that delivers leads.
  8. What to measure to track progress.

Each attendee will take home a high level plan for their business – planned through the year with month by month activities.

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Don’t take our word for it…

“I thought it was great, enlightening and thoroughly enjoyed the ideas. I also appreciated all the little things that can be done and those things that don’t take money but have a big impact. It was great and I thoroughly would recommend it to all business owners looking to expand business online.” Julie Soboil, co-owner, Hushamok

The business sessions with you were very good – reinforced my thinking but was given expert and very helpful and thoughtful information for me to digest. Although I am very aware of the importance of social media, I also realise that I am behind in using it so need to make time to get up to speed.” Helen Mitchell, Managing Director, Anti-aging World

Can I join the class?

Sure thing – we have 6 places available.

Price: NZ $500.00 + GST

Venue: Studio 74D France Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland 1010

Date: November 12th from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm.

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Hanging Gardens home page

Your home page is failing its purpose

I had to write to a client recently to tell them that their home page was failing.  It was not delivering value, it was not doing its job and was actively causing problems for the business.  And this made me realise that few businesses understand the job a home page does.

Hanging Gardens home page

Hanging Gardens home page

What should a good home page design do?

If you are an online shop, the home page has the job of showing the specials for the month or new product lines.  It is often a straightforward design to implement. 

If you are a software company, the home page is usually a sales page promoting and explaining your principal products.

But most business websites have a different challenge, especially those who do not sell by ecommerce.  They have had a website for a few years; they may have had a couple of redesigns and the business website has probably grown to tens, hundreds or thousands of pages over this period.  The priorities of the business shift over time and the website home page needs to support the new business goals and objectives. 

This throws up questions

  1. How often should I change my home page?
  2. Should the home page have all the information about the business?
  3. What should the home page prioritise?

The job of a website home page is to get the visitor to her destination in as few clicks as possible.

Why do visitors come?

Your entire website comprises a heap of different information, advice, products and services and a visitor may be interested in all, one or none of them.  So how can you guess what the latest web visitor wants? 

This is where intelligent home page design comes in. 

Home page as sign post

The principal task of the home page is to signpost the visitor FAST to where she wants to go.  So let’s work out what this means for your website.

Go to your web analytics account and find two reports created from your actual visitor traffic this year.  These are

a) the pages visitors went to on the site.  This shows which are the most popular

b) the search queries people typed into Google which had your website showing up in search results (this comes by linking Search Console to Google Analytics – here’s how to set it up).

Your job is to line up b) with a) so we get the maximum number of people coming to the site and getting quickly to the exact page they are looking for.

Designing for Destination

You now know the top two to five pages on your website (after the home page itself).  I’m going to offer some advice here which will help you brief your designer on the changes you need to make to your home page. 

Firstly – simplify the main menu.  Can you remove any of the top menu items?  Give the visitor as few choices as possible, stay focused on those top destination pages.  Can you reduce your menu to 5 options?  (Home, About, Contact Us plus 2 others?).  Can you remove sub-menus or drop-downs?  We advised Armour Safety to put icon images of their popular product groupings on a side menu; ordered by popularity.  Clicks followed immediately we made the change.

Secondly – highlight popular destination pages in the home page design.  Make it very obvious in the home page design elements what these are.  You can use images, boxes, icons, buttons, large text – all are useful devices to focus attention. By repeating these popular destinations in the home page design and the top menu, you increase the chances that the visitor will choose an already popular pathway.  Coxmate.com.au now does not show its products on the main menu – they send visitors direct to the shop which has its own home page and details all the categories.  Similarly, Apartment Specialists has 3 buttons on the home page, I’m Buying; I’m Selling and I want a Valuation.  All three are on their menu, but the buttons make it easier for visitors to quickly decide where to click.

Thirdly – you have to reinforce the already popular page destinations – this may sound counter-intuitive.  Don’t try and encourage traffic to pages that are not already popular i.e. double down your bets on the well-performing pages.  This is the 80:20 rule in action.  For the visitor who does want something unusual if they cannot find it from your menus, be sure to make it very clear how to get in touch to ask the question. 

So go check how your home page is performing in its duty as a sign post – and don’t be afraid to make changes iteratively – one small change at a time so you can measure the effect before altering other elements.

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 1 – State your Business.

Click on the icon to see more posts in that category.

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?

This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine 

8 ways to promote local businesses

Our exclusive video of 20 minutes of pure ideas and stimulation about how to promote your business locally:

 

 

policies

When having clear policies is a marketing advantage

This week I’ve had two clients get frustrated by media comments which did not allow a talk-back response.

Our solution?

Set up your company policies and publicise them.

Why policies are a point of difference

In both cases, bloggers and journalists were doing their job and calling out the client brand on key issues.

Professional disagreements are normal.

By stating your position on key issues, your brand can become better known and also has the ability to influence the way the whole industry thinks on these points.

How to market using your policies or principles

  1. Create a page where you list your principles.  e.g. We believe in transparency and not charging markups [that happens to be true for Creative Agency Secrets].
  2. Create a menu link to the page
  3. When a blogger or journalist contests a situation, write your answer on your blog. Also, write it in the comments on their site if you can.
  4. In writing your answer, refer to your principles/policies and link through to that page on your site.
  5. Create categories in your blog that relate to each principle e.g. transparency; fair pricing
  6. Also, make icons so each has a clear visual image associated with the principle – this helps readers further identify with each principle – you can link from each icon to the category in the blog so that case studies and examples can be read in more detail.
  7. Be prepared to stand by your principles and to be called out by media.

As an example, we use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 4 – Profile Raising.Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development