Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office, IL
I’ve been gleaning information from various marketing resources lately. This week I’ll share some general findings and tips you might want to apply to your own websites and social media usage. I hope this will be a highly interactive brainstorming exercise from which we’ll all benefit.
Reporting in their journal, Marketing Experiments (ME), a marketing research group, found that if your website doesn’t grab interest in the first seven seconds of a viewer’s experience, you’ll lose them. Their general audience is corporate marketers, but there are parallel applications writers can make to improve their websites and draw visitors to their Facebook and Twitter pages.
ME researchers wanted to know why one website had good “click-through” (visitors continuing to go deeper into a website) numbers, while others had more visitors backing out of a website. They ran an experiment and found that “clarity trumps persuasion.”
Apply this to a writer’s website. If on your landing page you are trying to persuade a visitor to continue to new places on your site by first giving a lengthy greeting, telling a story, etc., this might be the wrong approach. I, for one, can attest that I’m a seven-second viewer. If I don’t learn quickly what a website is about, I often back out and go elsewhere. I don’t have time to work to find the information I’m looking for. There are too many other similar sites vying for attention. How about you?
Results of the experiment showed that a website must answer questions 1 and 2 below in the first seven seconds, followed by equally clear answers to question 3. How can you apply these questions to your writer’s website? Let’s take them one at a time.
1. Where am I? Translated for a writer, you need to immediately orient visitors to who you are. How do you do this? By simply and clearly stating your brand. If you haven’t understood the importance of branding until now, and identifying your brand has been a fuzzy process for you, a new look at your website from this perspective might help you to boil it down. Take a look at your home page. How does it “shout” your brand?
2. What can I do here? Again, the enemy of forward momentum into your website is confusion. You must tell visitors what they will find and what they can do on your site in the remaining few seconds. These experts suggest communicating this in a headline format: “The goal of the headline is just to stop the user from clicking on the back button and leaving. The headline just gets visitors to read the sub-headline. Then the sub-headline gets them to read the first paragraph. And if you can get them that far, you probably have answered the first two questions and have begun to answer question 3.”
3. Why should I do it? Or for visitors of writers’s websites, Why should I be interested in getting to know you and your writing . . . and buying your books? Every element that comes after you answer the first two questions (in seven seconds) must answer this third key question. This is where you go into your warm greeting. Let the visitor know something about you and what makes your writing unique. The experts call this your “value proposition.” This and everything else you include on your site must clearly answer question 3. This is the place to direct visitors to your Facebook and Twitter pages.
What reactions did you have as you read this information? Can you see the value in organizing your website this way? As you evaluate your website, where do you see you need to make some corrections? (Special kudos to PulsePoint Design who designed our website and the LibraryInsider.com website. Looks like they already knew this.)