When you need a website, you probably wanted it up and running last week! Using website builders like Squarespace and Wix are perfect for certain businesses, but before you decide if it’s right for yours here are some things to consider.

In this post, I’m going to give you an overview of how to prepare and plan your website from design to launch, and what you need to be online in 30 days.

BRAINSTORM

Time spent: 8 hours or 1 business day

Thinking through your business goals will focus your project.

Questions to answer before starting:

Some of you love the DIY lifestyle. There is a lot of satisfaction is envisioning what you want and creating it. However, for your business, you need to consider a couple of things.

First, do you have the time to put into creating your website. Designing a website, picking out templates, and creating pages and content is time consuming. If this is just a resource website and not something you are updating often, putting the time into doing a DIY website is probably perfect for you. There are a lot of large companies, like Pixar, that use a Squarespace site because it gives them an online presence and that’s all that they need.

The second thing to consider is how you are using your site: Do you want your website to maintain an online presence or is it more of a sales tool? Our team has worked with a lot of businesses who have outgrown their website builder site. We often hear, “if it just did X it would be fine.” Since these sites have to be flexible to all kinds of businesses, they miss a lot of industry specific features. This is where a design and development team can take you to the next level.

DESIGN

Total time spent: 10 business days or 2 weeks

After you have decided the route to go, it’s time for the design phase. In design, you will start to get a feel for what your site will look like, but there is still some more work you need to do before passing it off to a developer or before selecting your website builder template.

REBRAND

Internal time spent: 1 business day

This is usually the time when a client questions whether they need a new logo, new typeface selections, and a fresh color scheme. The design phase is definitely the ideal time to have these discussions. If you think it may be time for a rebrand, we highly recommend conducting a branding session with your team.

Branding sessions can take some time, but after a few hours, you know what personality you want your brand to have and where you want to take your business moving forward. This type of strategic thinking is critical in making sure that your website accomplishes the goals you have for your business.

CONTENT

Internal time spent: 3 business days

With a brand personality, you can also work on crafting your message. The notes from your branding session will be helpful in writing the text for your internal pages. This is also the point where, if you aren’t a writer, you can bring in a content creator to flesh out your message and get it ready to go online.

Having your content written during the design phase will give your web design team more direction when creating your wireframe. From your content, they can focus their design on the user experience and effectively guide them through your website and ideally take them from casual visitor to your newest customer.

WIREFRAME + MOCKUP

Time spent: 10 business days

Once your brand and your content starts coming together, its NOW time to think about your website’s design. The first phase is wireframes.

With a wireframe, you want to sketch on paper the main blocks your site. When you draft a wireframe, the question you are answering is “Where does my content go?”

The wireframe will outline where photos, video, text, and CTAs are placed. This quick sketch is basically your website at 30,000 feet. Make sure you can visualize where the content will be place. If you see something missing or the flow feels off, make a change. If you are working with a design team, this is the hardest, but most important time to speak up. It’s hard because you can’t physically see the whole thing, but it’s important because this is the easiest time to make adjustments.

From the wireframe comes the mock-up. Your designer will take the wireframe and drop in your content so you can now see what the finished product will look like. This is usually where revisions start to be requested. If you are working with a team, make sure that there is a meeting scheduled to review your mockups. Before that meeting, get your notes together on what you like (and why) and what you dislike and want changed. These notes will be the guide your development team will use when making adjustments. If it’s not in there, it will stay as it was in the original mockup. Be honest, be critical, and know that you aren’t going to hurt someone’s feelings. Your design team wants you to be happy with what you see.

After a couple of rounds of revisions it’s time to bring your site from concept to completion.

DEVELOPMENT

Time spent: 10 business days

For the DIYer, this is where you will select your template and start dropping in in your content. Testing the site and making sure all the features that you need are available and functioning as you expect them to.

If you have chosen to work with a design and development team, this is where they takeover. You have done some solid heavy lifting and put a lot of thought, now’s the time when your developer will take all that and bring it to fruition.

You may be a little worried to step back for a bit, but knowing about what you will receive at the end of it will relieve some of that anxiety.

WORDPRESS

If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, here’s a little background. WordPress runs over a third of all websites on the internet. As open source software, developers can tailor the needs for an client making it work for business large and small.

We have helped clients of all skillsets increase sales with their WordPress websites by

The backend of WordPress is easy to manage so you will get a website at the end that doesn’t can be updated internally, but can also be adjusted as your business grows.

QA

Time spent: 2 days

Once your development team has coded out your site. It’s time for you to test it. Click everything. Go to every page. Make copious notes about what works and what doesn’t. The QA phase is your final stage before your website is launched so you want to make sure that it is exactly as you want.

Website Launch

At the end of your website journey, you will be excited and a little nervous for the world to see what you have been working on. While you want everything to work and be perfect, minor imperfections are expected. Most development teams you work with will follow-up with a few complimentary adjustments that weren’t caught during QA. As long as these are kept to a minimum, they shouldn’t add to the cost of the website.

Now is the time to share your new site with your customers by promoting it! Shout from the rooftops, send out an email to your customers, highlight your new site on social media, or add a blurb to your email signature. You want people to know that you are investing in your business and that they should think of you when they need you.

CONCLUSION

You are going to be involved in your website design. Whether you do it yourself or hire a team of developers, you need to commit time to making sure the design, content, and functionality will showcase your business in the most accurate way. Set aside at least 30-days to plan, design, and create your site for the best results. If you don’t have the time (or desire) to do it yourself, hiring a professional will give you a site that functions as you want it to with the ability to grow as your business grows.

Ensuring that our customers have a strong web presence means that every project and every website is tailored to fit that client’s needs.

There are a few evergreen rules that we have found that help us to build and maintain strong relationships with our clients. But, we can’t stop with you, our clients. We have to focus on YOUR customers and how to help you build and maintain a relationship with them.

We like to make sure your web presence is more than a brochure, we want your audience to be called to act.

Discovery + Problem Solving

You define your business by the solutions you provide.

We know websites and we love WordPress as a content management platform. Our clients need our knowledge of website design and development. They also need us to be able to teach them why WordPress with a web development team is a better option than a website building platform.

When we get new clients, it’s because their website needs help. Either there isn’t a website or the current site is flawed.

When we build a new functioning site that has clean code (so it works), thoughtful design (so its navigable), and improved SEO (so people can find the new site), our client and their end user are both benefiting from our expertise.

In order to do this, we talk with our clients about their current website. We get an idea of the website experience they want for their customers and compare it to the current situation.

By recognizing what doesn’t work, it’s a lot easier to identify a solution.

Relationship Building

Solving someone’s problem is not the end of the road. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Now it’s time to focus on the relationship and build to something long-lasting.

Feedback

We have found that in-person meetings lead to the most productive and fulfilling conversations, but depending on your type of business, other follow-up is more appropriate.

One of the things you want to find out first is how you did overall.

Sending a quick email asking these questions is a great way to get a lot of feedback quickly. You probably have received an email like this from an Amazon seller or another online retailer.

To incentivize people to respond you can provide coupons or free products in exchange for their feedback.

Reviews

Encouraging product or service reviews will not only help new customers find you, it will allow people to feel more confident in your ability to solve their problem.

Some of the best people to contact for reviews are the same people that gave you direct feedback. While good reviews are preferred, negative reviews give you the opportunities to publicly address and resolve issues by replying on the review forum.

Fostering Repeat Business

Your best customers are the ones that already know and enjoy working with you. Repeat customers ensure the survival of your business, and repeat customers expand into new customers – ensuring the growth of your business.

To best take care of this relationship, go back to how you initiated the connection: a potential client had a problem and you held the solution.

Once we get clients online, they could be done with us, but we are proud of the work we do. Our name is on their site, so we like keeping it up through maintenance and hosting support for our clients.

Most people don’t need us every month, but when they do we are readily available for them, and we have the background needed to make quick work of their latest issue.

Conclusion

Client relationship building comes down to listening and being there for continued problem solving.

First, you listen to their specific problem and use your skillset to solve it. Then, you listen to their feedback and reviews of your work to improve your business and make it the best that it can be for the customers that you want. Lastly, walking with your client in their business to make sure that they are getting from you what you need and fostering a strong relationship. These three steps will help you ensure a long and successful business.

Remember the phrase “There’s an app for that”? In WordPress, it might as well be there’s a plugin for that. With more than 50,000 plugins to assist with everything from social media to spam blockers, it’s easier now than ever customized your site with just a quick click and download. But, with so many options, where should you start? We work with dozens of small businesses around the country. While they are all different, here are a few that seem to benefit everyone regardless of business type.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides a way to understand the visitors to your site with insights like demographics, how they behaved on your site, and if they returned at a later date. Once you know what interested someone enough to get them to your site, you know how to make their experience better.

Figuring out how someone lands on your website is important for developing your marketing strategies. Knowing what actions or search terms were used before someone found your website will help you strategize how to get other people to your site. It could have been a simple search for a related term or they could have found you if another website linked to yours. You may not be the first or last stop in someone search history. Where they’re from and where they’re going is information you can use to strengthen your own web presence. Finding topics that resonate with your audience means you have a chance to create a valuable relationship.

For  e-commerce businesses, Google Analytics allows you to track your site metrics. It’s essentially a revenue report showing the number of visitors, duration of visitor, sales made, and revenue. A key aspect of the plugin is devoted strictly to business results

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the original WordPress plugin for search engine optimization. Yoast provides information not only for site visitors but also for search engine spiders seeking to provide information for autofill the next time you search.

Its key purpose is to provide information for writing SEO-friendly content. Relative to your site the Yoast SEO plugin is another form of creativity. You can learn more about what attracts customers and terminology to enhance their experience.

Yoast helps you get technical about your writing style.

While Google Analytics is about learning your customer base to build the ideal web experience, Yoast is about tailoring your web content. Keeping the editing process in mind, Yoast offers a live preview feature for search results. The same is true for the ever-important canon of improving your social media.

From there, you can take it a step further: Yoast Premium.

An enhanced version of the standard Yoast SEO experience, consider the premium edition to get even better at managing your SEO. Premium offers assets such as content insights to reveal the five key phrases most used on your page, writing suggestions for links to other pages in real time, and unlimited support from a support team, not merely a list of FAQs and forum posts. Even better, Yoast Premium has a redirect manager, meaning that a changed URL or an updated version of your site will not deter visitors, instead of the dreaded 404 error message.

A site’s usability is as much about content readability as it is about the actual framework of the site. Visitors should not have to root around endlessly to find what they need, and the ideal site is the first stop on a search engine. You can’t be on page one without an optimized site. Getting there starts with understanding what users want.

Ninja Forms

Ninja Forms offers a way to build mailing lists, manage and edit user submissions, and receive data such as users’ email and phone contacts with embedded forms. The intuitive drag-and-drop interface and extensions for expanding your contact base, such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. Each builds on the idea of simplicity while also offering an unlimited amount of signup forms, creative form presentation, and sorting users based on their preferences and responses.

In the age of bots, there is truth to the argument that chatbots could eradicate preferred contact forms. However, plenty of sites still do not offer immediate action interfaces for collecting data, and the bots themselves are still considered somewhat stop-gap in their usability. To that end, whether contact forms are going away in two years or ten, your customers have to get in contact with you and Ninja Forms offers an ideal, seamless integration for doing so.

Conclusion

Combining the three pieces above means learning why people visit your site, how to gather more visitors, and how to optimize their experience. There’s a reason WordPress is the most popular content management system, with a seemingly endless gamut of support systems, customizable add-ons, and styles.

However, it’s important to note that not all WordPress plugins are created equal. It’s easy to download and activate a plugin for your site, but give the plugin a quick review before you install it. Pay attention to how many active installations are running and read reviews on the most recent version. It also helps to scroll through support forums and consider what issues might others have had and decide whether those would be your issues too. A larger, more vetted plugin has less of a chance of being problematic and more of a chance of enhancing your site.

As far as e-commerce platforms go, Shopify is easy to use, cost-effective, and (somewhat) SEO friendly. All things considered, users get great value out of Shopify themes, widgets, and cross-channel capabilities. However, Shopify does leave something to be desired for some more code-savvy online retailers. Decide if this tool is right for your e-commerce store by weighing out the pros and cons.


Shopify Pros

1. Excellent Theme Selection

There’s no denying that Shopify has some of the best theme templates available. It offers something for every business model, ensuring every ecommerce site looks stylish and on-brand.

2. Easy to Use Widgets

Shopify’s variety of applications make vamping up your website a simple task. Want to feature new products on your homepage? Consider it done. Need your items specially categorized? No problem, there’s a widget for that.

3. Budget Friendly

Although Shopify customers can upgrade to a paid version, the free templates are usually all business owners need. There are over 100 to choose from, so before signing up for paid services which may require specialty coding, explore the functions and aesthetics of free themes.

4. Flexible Customization

Between Shopify’s customizable themes and applications, business owners often have everything they need to design their online stores. Plus, customer service is always available to help clients problem solve and achieve desired functions when necessary. Even if you make a catastrophic mistake, representatives are there to help.

5. Seamless Social Media Integration


Social posts provide authentic examples of customers and influencers using your products in their everyday lives. For many ecommerce stores, social media channels drive traffic and lead to final purchases, so Shopify has invested heavily into its seamless social integration. Site headers and footers offer links to store channels, and blog posts allow for easy sharing to personal pages.

Although Shopify customers can upgrade to a paid version, the free templates are usually all business owners need. There are over 100 to choose from, so before signing up for paid services which may require specialty coding, explore the functions and aesthetics of free themes.

6. Facebook and Instagram Sales

According to Nchannel, 20% of online shoppers would be likely to make a purchase from Facebook,” and analysts only expect this trend to grow. That’s why connecting your stores Facebook and Instagram accounts to your ecommerce store is crucial! Luckily Shopify makes it easy to link your store products to Facebook and Instagram posts. The best part is, all sales on these channels are captured through Shopify, meaning you won’t have to hassle with multiple platforms to manage order logistics.  Just be sure you review Facebook/ Instagram’s lengthy policies for prohibited content to avoid posting listings that may be flagged or removed.

7. Automatic Feed Plugins

Being your own boss is thrilling, but it keeps you busy juggling a lot of responsibilities. Installing Shopify’s Instafeed plugin takes just  minutes and saves you hours of future time.  It syncs your ecommerce store and social media accounts, so your website automatically refreshes as you add new posts to Facebook or Instagram. Most importantly, Instafeed is SEO friendly and uses proper rel-canonical tags which keep web crawlers from classifying your feeds as duplicate content.

8. Mobile Responsive Web Design

Statistics show that mobile traffic has finally exceeded desktop; today 52% of all online users are browsing the internet via cell phones and tablets, so it’s time to change the way we design ecommerce sites. In fact, if a business owner chooses not to embrace mobile compatibility, his sites search engine rank is likely to plummet.  As of 2018, Google’s search algorithms have implemented “Mobile First Indexing” to prioritize pages optimized for mobile performance. Luckily if you choose Shopify you can rest assured that your website will be mobile responsive! Just about every Shopify theme was built with mobile in mind, and as an added bonus, Shopify sites tend to fall on the leaner end of page speed loading speeds.

9. Cross Channel Capabilities

As the proud founder of an ecommerce site, your goal is to sell products, and Shopify recognizes that doing so means taking advantage of multiple sales channels such as ebay and Amazon. The company states, “It shouldn’t be complicated to expand your reach,” and it makes cross-channel integration a breeze.

10. Simple Ecommerce Setup

Lastly, the Shopify platform is simplistic. The easy setup is unparalleled! Because clients aren’t building custom sites from scratch, many are able to build out fully operational ecommerce stores within just 5-8 hours of creating their accounts.


Shopify Cons

1. A Forced Foundation

Creating a store on Shopify is often described as building a house on a pre-laid foundation. It’s nice because you don’t have to start from square one, but you are forced to follow someone else’s floor plan, so to speak. For most stores, the themes aesthetics may vary to some degree, but process and content will be largely the same for every store.

2. Lacking Checkout Page Customization

Despite everything Shopify does so well, the platforms biggest drawback lies in its lack of checkout page customization. All Shopify ecommerce sites, excluding those using the high-priced Shopify Plus, default to essentially the same checkout process with few features that can be altered for better performance.

Here are the categories which you can edit in the checkout process:

3. 2-Phase Checkout Only

Shopify sites implement a 2-phase checkout system. Why don’t they allow more customization? Shopify claims the standard 2-phase checkout helps to increase sales. Frankly, we don’t buy it, and neither does the company’s client community.

While it may be the case that in general a 2-phase system works better than a 1-page checkout or 3 or more-page system, this is not always true for store in every industry. Some industries and products do better with more pages in their checkout flow. In fact QuickSprout published a popular article a while back which demonstrated a 3-page checkout outperforming a 2-page checkout.

4. Up-Charging Difficulty

Having the same cookie-cutter checkout page capabilities may not be a big deal for most basic ecommerce sites, but if you’re a vendor who depends on up-charging based on upgraded product features, you may want to take your business elsewhere.

Reason being, you will find it very difficult to give customers the option to add more profitable features to their products at the point of final sale. Of course, you can experiment with Shopify Plus, but that will cost you $2,000+ per month.

5. Poor URL Structure

As an owner of an ecommerce marketing agency that specializes in SEO, this one hits a little close to home. My biggest qualm with Shopify as a CMS might lie in their lack of customization of URL structures.

In addition to limiting customization at checkout, Shopify also gives ecommerce clients minimal options when it comes to changing their URL structures on product, blog, and general pages.

This causes problems because it unnecessarily lengthens URLs and places web assets in parent pages which are unrelated. A perfect example is that Shopify places all general pages as a child of ‘/pages’ (i.e. ‘www.domain.com/page/[URL]’). Not only does this practice clutter URLs, but it also hinders SEO.

According to Search Engine Journal, Avoid Superfluous Words & Characters. They explain that URLs should use as few words as possible to make sure they have a high impact. Ecommerce stores often need to get creative with their parent-child structure to effectively rank to help Google understand site structure; however, keeping URLs tidy can be very difficult on Shopify.


Having explored some pros and cons of using Shopify for your ecommerce store, note that in general the Tekli team are big believers in the platform. Lack of checkout and URL customization is our biggest issue with the platform, but there are plenty of opportunities to launch a flourishing online business with Shopify.

It’s cost effective, easy to use, and awesome in terms of cross-channel and social media integration. If you’ve been toying with the idea of building an ecommerce store, setup your account today to get started.

Adding video to your content marketing strategy is one of the most popular trends today.  By providing a way for customers to see and hear you, videos are ideal for adding humanity to your brand. They also allow you to tap into something that is inherently true: Business is between people.

The other day, I tuned into the podcast Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller. His guest, Joey Coleman, was talking about how to stop losing customers. During their discussion, Joey talked about how all businesses sell their products or services. Logically, companies fall into the B2B or B2C buckets. Regardless of which vertical you are in, humans buy from other humans. You start a relationship with an individual, build rapport with them, and then begin a business relationship. Not all sales cycles are that in depth, but the basics are same regardless of your target audience.

In creating videos to represent your brand, one strategy is to keep in mind that the people you are trying to reach are also trying to reach you.

Get Real

Let your customers see the team that they will work with them buying your brand. Show your team talking about what problems you solve and  how they work through them. Don’t get me wrong, there are use cases to use “white board” style videos and animations, but showing your team’s personality and letting them tell their story on camera will literally give your company a face.

Share Stories

Humans connect with stories. Here are two examples of the same story:

[ccc_boxes id=”stories”]

The second phrasing is more impactful because you can empathize with Amy’s unrealistic deadline. When a person can see a problem from someone else’s perspective, a connection is made. The is especially true for video. Think about the videos you’ve watched where the host is droning on about “special” features not hiding the fact he is reading a script. You probably can’t remember a specific example, but you know you have been there. On the flip side, you can probably recall where you were and who you were watching an engaging YouTube video with from weeks ago.

Be Selfless

The videos you shoot shouldn’t be about you, your personal successes, and the amazing growth you’ve had.  When content is centered around you, it becomes unsharable and people quickly lose interest.  Don’t be “that guy” who stands on a soap box preaching at people and hoping to draw a crowd of followers.  Instead, focus on your “why” and “how” you serve your customers.  Instead of putting your knowledge behind a paywall (or a $100 consultation), give it away and elevate your influence.  People are drawn to those who truly care.

Now is the time for video. With the droves of people becoming entrepreneurs, each industry is slowly getting crowded with competition.  Dare to be unique and put yourself in the front-and-center of your brand.  Not many people are doing it – and those that are doing it are winning.

Email marketing has been in used for 40 years now and is one of the best ways to engage with your customers, convert sales, and promote your brand. If your current email marketing strategy consists of sending an email to everyone in your address book a mass email, we are here to help you step up your game!

From the Beginning

Getting Started with MailChimp is your step-by-step guide walking you through all components from selecting the right pricing plan to analyzing your data from your first email.

Choose the right pricing plan

For most small businesses the Forever Free plan allows you all access to the most important features of MailChimp. You will be able to design and even customize your design template, send it out to up to 2,000 subscribers, and see basic data like open-rate and click-thru rate. You can also compare plans.

Add subscribers

You may already have a list you’ve been sending out to for years which is great! You should be able to export it from your current email account to a .csv file. These files can be opened in Excel or Numbers for editing. Clean-up the file and remove any extraneous details before importing. This will make for a smooth import.

Make that First Campaign

It’s time to design that first campaign! The first step is knowing what type of email you are sending. A promotional email will be structured differently and with more targeted calls to action than an informational email. Check our our Designing a Stand-out Email post where we go through the entire design process.

SEND THAT EMAIL!

Don’t worry. You got this. You have the option to send immediately or schedule for a time where you think you will have higher open rates. Typically Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to send.

If you want a walk-thru video and you have 18 minutes, we suggest this one

 

Here is your go-to guide when you are ready to design your first email in MailChimp.

Why MailChimp?

We love MailChimp. It’s a great application that allows for different email marketing possibilities. One of the main selling features is that it has so many design options.

Reasons you want to send email

Identifying the why for your email campaign will impact the design. Here are just a few reasons that you may be contacting customers.

[ccc_list id=”reasons”]

Benefits of email marketing

[ccc_list id=”benefits”]

How to design your first template

Since your email marketing campaign is an extension of your company making sure it reflects your brand’s image is essential. That’s where this tutorial will help you out.

Step 1:

Log in and select you will select “Build my first email.”

Step 2:

Type an identifying “Campaign Name”, this is not the subject line seen by recipients, and select “Begin.”

Step 3:

Select “Design Email,” and now it’s time to design.  

Design options:

MailChimp offers different options depending on how much you want to do yourself. The featured templates are for when you know the purpose of your email and have your content, but aren’t sure how to lay it all out.

The Basic option is if you have the content, purpose, and vision for what you want it to look like. By using the drag-and-drop components, to create your can create own template that best represents your brand.

We could all jump down the rabbit hole of what makes one design work and others flop, but that will have to be another day. For now, we are going to select a basic template and talk about the different pieces and how to edit those to reflect your brand.

Page Design tab breakdown:

The page design tab will allow you to format the primary features of your email.

The page section is where you can change the background coloring and stylize your headings.

This is the area that is above the header. You can change the background color and change link + type font and color.

The header is the most important design element of your email since it is the first thing that people see. Within this item, you can change the header color or replace it with an image. You can also change text + link colors and font type here.

This controls the background and the text before the columns section.

Columns refers to the space where you will place the drag and drop elements into the default columns layout. This default does not apply to boxed text or image cards.

Change your footer background + text styling in this tab. Be sure that if you change the background to a dark color, you also change the “Footer Link” color to be lighter so it will contrast well.

While all MailChimp email designs work in a mobile environment, sometimes you may want to optimize certain elements so that they can be viewed better on a mobile screen. The “Mobile Styles Design” allows you to tweak your default design so that elements respond in an optimal fashion.

With free accounts, MailChimp wants to be recognized. The MonkeyRewards tab gives you style options so you can select a MailChimp logo that blends seamlessly with your design.

You will be able to do the majority of your design edits just within this first tab. As you move to the different content boxes, you may want to make changes.

Within each content box, the second tab will also allow you to make design changes. Once that item is formatted the way you want, you can select “Apply to all existing” at the bottom and it will update your current template.


It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when you dive into creating an email template. Keeping the purpose of the email top of mind with all design decisions will help you to stay focused and allow you to communicate effectively to your customers.

[ccc_inline_callout title=”Want help with your email marketing?” content=”Beginning your first email campaign takes time and research, but we’ve been doing it for a while! Let us help you.”]

Calls-to-action (or CTAs for short) are useful tools for creating engaging websites. In order to understand how to place them properly to get the most effective results, we first need to answer the obvious question…

What is a CTA?

A call to action is a defined area of your site that prompts a user to take a desired action. This can take on a couple of different looks. It can be sections of content with a header, a few sentences, and a button to take the action or simply just a button. Whenever a website visitor is pushed towards an outcome, it is a call to action. Structuring your website around your calls to action will make it work effectively for you.

Using Calls to Action

In content-first design, your design and layout are developed around

You want to make sure your website is laid out in a way that will solve a customer’s common problems and have them take a desired action, whether that be sign up for an email list or buy a product. This is where CTAs come in.

This is an example from our website.

On the homepage, we took common problems customers have and linked those to areas on our site that shows how we solved that issue for other clients. At the end of each section, there is a button that allows them to get in touch with us about that specific service area.

Where Should I Put CTAs?

There isn’t one master plan that dictates where you should put calls to action, but there are a few guidelines that work universally.

Above the Fold

You want to make sure you have a single, prominent CTA that is seen before scrolling. This CTA should define the single problem that the majority of your site’s visitors will be having along with a clear solution in your action text. To be effective, analyze why your customers landed on your site in the first place. Understanding that will allow you to craft a sticky call to action on your homepage.

In Your Footer

Make it easy for customers to get in touch with you by providing a CTA within your footer. Not everyone will make it to the footer of a website, but your footer should summarize your business and provide easy links to key areas of interest across your site. Use this real estate to leave a lasting impression on visitors and give them a way to contact you with any unanswered questions

Strategically Within Content

Everything you write about your business provides a reason to work with you! All of your content from the “About Us” page to your blog gives you the opportunity to invite engagement. Depending on the content and the types of CTAs, you can have one or multiple within a single page.

Here’s an example of a post on Mashable where they invite you to read other articles on the site.

They inject a text link into the article that is connected to the topic you are currently reading. It is helpful to the reader and doesn’t draw any unnecessary attention away from what you were already focused on, and now Mashable kept you on their website engaging with their content longer.

A pop-up ad can be effective, but in your face CTAs can cause a bad user experience.

This is an example of a pop up box that shows up when your cursor moves toward the “close” button in your browser. This obvious CTA is the company’s last effort to keep you on their site, collect information about you, and engage with you some way. For the right type of person, this may work, but it is usually considered bad form.

Are my CTAs working?

The best way to find out is by installing heat map tracking on your landing page. To gauge the success of a call to action, knowing that the customer has seen the item is key. If a page has zero clickthroughs, you might assume that the content doesn’t resonate with visitors. However, what if no one ever saw the CTA that redirects to the page? That’s a critical piece of information needed judge a CTA effectiveness

Scrollmap

Click to enlarge to see our whole page’s scrollmap

A scrollmap shows us how many people scrolled down to which parts of  a webpage. From the scrollmap above, we can see that almost everyone views the header section of this landing page. As we move down, only 50% of total visitors even scrolled this far to read the content. Even further, only 25% got to the blog posts in the footer are being seen.

This gives us actionable data. We know that we are getting pretty much 100% viewership on our hero image. But, the section right below the fold drops down to  about 60 percent. Knowing this, we will structure tests to decide how best to increase viewership of our CTAs. A couple of ideas to try would be:

  1. Shrinking the banner’s vertical height some to expose more content that will invite visitors to scroll further.
  2. Moving our  solutions CTAs further up on the page, right below the header, to drive people to specific pages relative to the problems they are having.

Heatmap / Click Map

Now that we know where people are scrolling to, and what content segments are being viewed, it’s time to take a look at what elements users are interacting with. The heatmap and click map (also termed “confetti map”) show us exactly where visitors have clicked. This isn’t a generalization. It shows us the cursor position when someone clicked their mouse on the website.

We see that a lot of people have clicked on our menu icon. Unfortunately, we can see that our main calls to action aren’t being clicked on as much as we want. By combining the data from both the heat maps and the click map we can see how often areas of the site are being used relative to how many people are actually viewing them. Only by interpreting the data can we make logical decisions on how to structure the pages on our website to best fit our customer’s needs.

We Don’t Know What Our Customers Want

Identifying what someone will be looking for on the landing page is what makes the CTA most effective. If they are getting to your CTAs but not clicking through, there are a few tests that you can do to quickly identify the solution.

A/B Testing

In an A/B test, different versions of similar content is presented to customers, and their responses are measured. Doing this type of split testing is most effective when you only change one piece of data per test. If you change too many pieces, you won’t know what made the difference, and you may attribute success to the wrong update. The example below is from ‘Merica Clothing.

In this example, they  changed two characteristics of the CTA button. First, the color was made softer and less aggressive. Second, the text was made to excite action by capitalizing “ADD TO CART”. Now this page converts 50% better than it did before, but the reason for it is unclear

Color (and Style) Matter!

Color is a powerful tool: red excites, blues calm, and yellow energizes. Since you can influence emotion with color, combining it with consistent styling gives your customers a cohesive experience throughout your website.  If you lack consistency, you’ll lose your audience’s attention.

Almost all the buttons on the Classic City website are completely rounded, are set in bold text, and have gradient backgrounds. The button’s coloration matches that of the page it’s on. Our CTAs are not always the same color, but they are styled in the same way throughout the site.


Without CTAs, a website is just an electronic brochure. They turn your website into a platform that not only represents your company, but invites the customer to engage with you. This is a broad and diverse topic that can be applied in creative ways. Have Classic City look over your website and help you make the most out of CTAs.

This week, we’ve been talking about automated email campaigns. Our step-by-step guide will take you from start to finish, but deciding if it’s the right practice for you to take on, may require some more information. We hand-picked some articles that further explain the benefits to this marketing technique.


Hey, email marketers — Take a load off and embrace automation

No two recipients are alike. Segmenting your drip campaigns using the data that you have about your subscribers can make your emails more relevant and, therefore, more effective and engaging. General demographics can be great, but knowing purchase history, clicks, and how often someone opens their email is extremely helpful in making sure your campaign works for you and not against you.

Read More…


Turn New Customers into Regulars with These 4 Automated Campaigns

MailChimp allows you to choose from 4 different types of automated campaigns: Welcome new subscribers, Send personalized order notifications, Reward customer loyalty, and data-based automation. Find out what makes them different and which one would be most beneficial for you to set-up.

Read More…


How To Write Absolutely Irresistible Drip Campaign Emails

Having a clear vision of your overall marketing goals will allow you to see how an automated campaign can help you to meet them. For this tool to be effective, you need to go into it with a well-defined plan that will take your customers on a journey with your brand.

Read More…


Automated Marketing and CRM Jumpstarts Your Business

Trying to figure out how to get a new venture off the ground takes a lot of moving pieces that perfectly align. Utilizing the power of automation may help take some strain off while you focus on developing other parts.

Read More…


Getting personal through automation: The B2B marketer’s guide to lead nurturing with marketing automation

In B2B relationships, automation can help you convert leads into clients. Following up can be difficult, especially after a large networking event or mixer. Creating a campaign to reach out to those that you met and remind them about you and your business may be the extra step needed.

Read More…

Harnessing the power of drip campaigns allows you to reach a customer at the moment they want to engage with your brand. The right time to communicate with your audience is the mystery that all marketers try to solve, but automated emails can take away some of the guessing.

What is a drip campaign?

Drip campaigns, or automated email campaigns, give you the ability to reach a customer at planned times of engagement. You can welcome someone to your email list, send requested information like an ebook, or start an education series, all with a quick sign-up and a click of a button. These can be one-off emails or a series of emails that follow different triggers.

At Classic City Consulting, we strongly encourage our clients to manage email campaigns with MailChimp. Not only are they an Atlanta-based company, but they also have a wide array of tools allowing you to connect with customers in different ways depending on their needs and wants.

For automated campaigns, the setup is easy! Let’s walk through it together.

The Basics

Setup your Account

If you don’t already have a MailChimp account, the setup is free and easy. The forever free plan allows you up to 2,000 subscribers, and you have the ability to access all their campaign types with drag-and-drop sign-up forms.

Create a Subscriber List

Once your account is active, create a list for your subscribers. Within MailChimp, you to create a sign-up form that can be embedded on your website or included as a link that takes subscribers to the sign-up page.

Now, set up your campaign!

Click on “create an email” and choose “Automated” email. To keep it simple for now, this is where you will select “Welcome message”.

Campaign Triggers

You can select from a number of different triggers based on the information you already have about customers (like sending a “Happy Birthday” email) or it can be triggered by an activity that the customer engages in, like requesting more information. Let’s focus on emails that are triggered by signups to take a customer through an entire drip campaign cycle.

Importing subscribers

If you have a list of subscribers that you want to be included in your drip campaign, wait to import them until AFTER your campaign is ready to go. You will select “Trigger when subscribers are imported” on your setup page.

Time for Design

When designing your email, establishing the purpose is essential in making sure that important and relevant information in included and highlighted. Make sure that reason you are sending your email is above the fold.

If you are creating an email series, storyboard the desired path that a customer will take within this campaign. Decide how many emails you will be sending, what value the customer will gain from each email, how frequently they will be receiving emails, and when to stop trying to engage.

This is a good example:

Image source Zapier.com

Hit Start

Sometimes getting started is the scariest part of the entire process. Once all your emails are in place, you will select “Confirm”. Check that the list you are using is correct and that your trigger is set to what you want. If everything looks good, you can click “start workflow” and you are done! Import any contacts that you want included in the first email send to the list you created and then you can walk away knowing that you have set-up an automated marketing campaign that will work for you while you’re running your business.

Drip campaigns allow you to consistently engage with a customer at the touch of a button. They will help you keep customers up-to-date on events, provide them with discounts, or give them information they may be interested in. Making sure your campaign is setup right from the start will ensure that they are getting what is the most valuable to them and creating a positive association with your brand.