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News and views

Here's a selection of our latest articles on marketing, design and digital issues, and our latest news. If you would like to add an opinion or join the debate please do leave a comment. If you would like to find out more please click the link to the author.

What is a landing page?

What is a landing page?

It is a page where clients are directed after a click and is specifically designed to provide information that the customer was looking for. It does NOT form part of the body of the main website (you cannot navigate to it) so it’s ‘hidden’ from normal view. So why shouldn’t you just send people to a standard web page?

Perhaps your clients searched on a specific term in Google, or clicked on a Google Ad Word? Or you might have included a landing page link in the body of an email or a social media post. So at this point, it is good to give highly relevant, specific information which the client is actively seeking rather than send them to a generic web page. 

Some important things about landing pages:

  • They contain very specific information which relates to the customer’s journey and their action. 
  • They are often ‘stand-alone’ and don’t have the standard navigation buttons of the main website
  • They nearly always include a ‘sign-up’ form to capture further information 
  • They always have an easy ‘call to action’ so a client can follow through quickly. 
  • They often include offers which might be time limited to encourage action

One thing is for sure – the landing page should look like you are still within the same website and there should be a way to find the original website even if it is discrete.

Landing pages should be simple and you should think of them as being single message. They should include: 

  • Logo and website styling
  • Compelling headline
  • A few bullet point confirming the visitor is on the right page, and what the offer is (the reason someone clicked here)
  • A few bullet points about the benefits of the offer
  • Sign up form with privacy policy 
  • Single call to action (often time specific)
  • T&Cs of offer

There is compelling evidence to show that landing pages have a MUCH higher conversion rate than moving people to a standard website form (they navigate away). It is also true that ‘single action’ landing pages have higher conversion rates than those with multiple actions or messages.

If you want to try out some landing pages for your next email campaign or social media posts – tell us what you are after and we’ll design something to get those enquiries rolling in.

?「どィ?Help?「どィャカwe need another photo!?「どィャ

?「どィ?Help?「どィャカwe need another photo!?「どィャ

Have you noticed how rapidly the online world has become a highly visual environment? Whether it’s your website, LinkedIn Company Page, Facebook posts, e-newsletter or a press release – we always seem to need more photos.

But should you be content with buying good quality stock images or commission your own photo-shoot or professional photographer to supply some beautiful bespoke images?

Here’s our top five reasons why we think you should commission your own.

1. Stock photography has become very easy to spot

As the world has become more literate and able to search for images online, so the value of stock photos has dropped. Websites with glowing people in pale blue shirts in a pristine glass office sitting at a white table with equally white smiles just looks all too familiar nowadays and doesn’t differentiate you.

2. Your own photos reflect your personality

Pictures of you, your staff, your premises – going about your daily business and interacting normally can say a lot about you and the way you do things. You don’t need to ‘stage’ too many poses, a good photographer will enjoy taking natural activity shots and they look a lot better.

Also – we strongly recommend that you get professional shots for your LinkedIn and other social media profiles. 

3. You can your own add branding and styling to your own photos

Some stock photos prevent changing the photo in any way under their licence arrangement. But when you use your own, you can super-impose other elements such as styling, colour, tints, logo, and words – making the image all part of your branding.

4. Wide format shots need commissioning

You’ll probably have noticed that most social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) require a wide format, landscape ‘cover photo’. And on websites, it is now common to have wide ‘banner photos’ in the centre of the screen, depicting specific services or target audiences. These need to be shot on a wide angle lens. Whilst you can manipulate some photos to achieve this wide format look, it is far better if you have commissioned a landscape photo at the outset as the dimensions (foreground, background and subject) will all be well proportioned 

5. It isn’t as expensive as you might think

If you commission a photographer for a day and give a clear brief as to the type of shots you want but ALSO how they will be used (e.g. LinkedIn Cover Page / website banner / profile pictures) you can achieve an awful lot in a day. You should also clarify how you would like to incorporate the brand styling at the post-production stage and we recommend that it is worth spending another half day or so for post-production. Prices start from about £500 and it is well worth the investment. 

So if you want to be really proud of your photos / images across all of your marketing materials, we recommend that you invest in commissioning your own photography and post-production.

It is a bit like buying new clothes – you spend a bit more for a high quality label and it always gets the compliments and admiration that they deserve. 

We can certainly help you select a great photographer, advise you on the shots and provide ‘art direction’ on the day to help manage the relationship between yourselves and the photographer. Clients who have used this service are delighted with the results and come back to us time and time again for the same service. 

Go on…you’re worth it.

5 ways to improve your calls-to-action

5 ways to improve your calls-to-action

Whether you do email marketing, manage web / landing pages, use social media, or use Pay Per Click advertising - you’ll need compelling ‘calls-to-action’.

And with so many people browsing on mobile phones or tablets - have you thought about how to design for that quick thumb / finger tap action? It’s the way forward.

Don’t be shy

People are browsing on your webpage, reading your email or reviewing your Google Adwords for a reason. They are considering whether this is relevant for them. If it is - they’ll want to take action so you need to make it easy for them to do it NOW (grabbing them while they’re in the mood and still on your page). It isn’t rude or ‘in your face’ - it is simply what people expect.

So here are some tips for those fun calls to action:

Colour coded, well designed buttons

Whenever you possibly can, convert your calls-to-action into ‘buttons’ for easy finger tapping on a mobile device. Consider colour coding them so that repeat visitors will learn your system and will make decisions more quickly.

Buttons might include:

  • Buy now
  • Get a quote
  • Keep me posted
  • Call me back
  • Ask a question
  • Try us out

Don’t be boring

‘Click here’ or ‘Submit’ are a bit dated nowadays. You can reflect your personality and perhaps add a little humour. It’s worth getting your buttons properly designed too for maximum impact. 

Keep them short

The good news is that if you are now going to adopt the ‘button’ approach, this will mean you have to keep to a low word count. But if you are using a clickable link – around 80 characters should be plenty!

Start with a verb

Verbs are ‘actions’ and so you need to tell them what to do e.g. “Discover top tips from the professionals…” or “Download your free guide now”. You will probably want to avoid adverbs as these dilute the message, however, the ones that do work well are ‘now’, ‘fast’, ‘today’, ‘here’.

Use numbers

We recognise numbers as adding gravitas to the message e.g. “Join more than 50 companies who’ve benefited from this course” so find a number that has relevance to your target audience and think about how to add it to your call to action.

Preview has worked with many clients to build powerful email campaigns that sell. Find out more about how we can help.

Tips to help you gear up your online selling

Tips to help you gear up your online selling

You may have been selling via your website, perhaps using an order form, advertising the products online but taking orders over the phone.

But if you are now ready to gear up to online ordering and payment, it can be daunting knowing the best way forward. What are the options and what do you need to think about? 

You may NOT need a new website

Firstly, don’t panic, there are several options whereby you can integrate ‘shopping’ software within your website so take advice from your web design agency about which might be the most suitable. If you want to sell just a few items per month, you might find that you can use PayPal or EventBrite (for sessions or events). But if you want to sell more, you’ll need to think about whether you want to offer discounts, ship abroad, provide order tracking, take deposits or offer alternative ways to pay when drawing  up your specification for the shopping software you use.

You may need a new website

“Huh – I thought you just said I didn’t need a new website!” 

Well it will depend on the technology platform of your existing website BUT oddly, it can be cheaper to move to an entirely new platform designed specifically for shopping. Many of our customers are very happy using OpenCart, Magento and ZenCart and we’ve been able to adapt these to the precise requirements of our clients.  So starting again might actually be a good thing as it is a great opportunity to refresh your design / styling and update some of the rest of your website content – as well as streamlining the shopping experience.

Payment gateways

These authorise payments for online sales and they protect credit card details by encrypting sensitive information as it passes from your customer to the payment processor (e.g. bank or credit card company). Different merchants require different % fees depending on your transaction volume, amounts and frequency – there are services where you can compare the fee levels / providers for your type of business. And it is also worth asking your business bank – they may be able to give you a better deal.

Displaying your products / services

Almost all shops rely on images of a product nowadays although clearly this is harder for services. Think about how you will get high quality photos of your products or how you might represent your services (e.g. well-designed colour coded icons) to make the shopping experience easier.

Preview has many years’ experience in successfully integrating shopping software into client’s existing websites as well as branding off-the shelf software and building bespoke solutions. For some clients, we manage the photos and upload the products / prices, others do it for themselves. Our clients sell across the world, some with high volume / low value, others with high value transactions. Let us know how we can help you.

LinkedIn - which staff members should use it?

LinkedIn - which staff members should use it?

You? Sales team? Senior managers? All staff? If you have responsibility for building business, the reasons for joining LinkedIn’s 200+ million members are compelling. It is perfect for finding new people, keeping in touch with contacts and showcasing your professional / company expertise. But have you considered how your staff should represent you on LinkedIn?

It is a question that I often get asked in our workshops and the answer is quite straightforward. As an employer, you would like your employees to represent your company in the best possible light but as any person has a right to set up their own LinkedIn profile,  it cannot be ‘controlled’ by the company as the licence agreement is with the individual. This means that you can’t restrict it to just ‘sales’ team or ‘senior managers’ or ‘customer-facing’ staff.

So usually the best policy is to encourage staff to present a professional profile for themselves with your COMPANY NAME in the same format that you set up your company profile e.g. Preview (not Preview Ltd). If you explain how to write a good personal profile (with examples) and demonstrate the sort of posts you make, most employees happily comply. Encourage them to use a professional looking photo and perhaps you could arrange a team photo-shoot as an incentive where they get to keep the images they like best. There is a great benefit of having staff engaged on LinkedIn because they will show up in your COMPANY PROFILE as staff members and whenever they post anything, it will reach a much wider network with a link to your company details. This helps demonstrate individual’s expertise AND staff’s alignment to the company. But don’t forget that when employees post comments, they sit with that individual rather than on your company profile. Your LinkedIn administrator can always add posts referring to company activity.

We’ve found that encouraging best practice for staff has definitely proved to be the most effective way (rather than a free for all or policing bad behaviour) so when you have an exciting piece of news, a new video or an interesting tip to share – why not ask your staff to share it too?

We’ve trained many companies, sales teams and individuals in how to use LinkedIn – and they’ve really noticed the difference. Let us know if we can help you too.

Site structure - now or later?

Site structure - now or later?

When you brief your web / graphic design agency – at what point in the process should you consider the site structure i.e. menus, navigation and content by page?

It is interesting that many clients want to see their brand developed FIRST with the graphic design coming soon after. They are then happy to consider the website structure at a later point. I think this is because this stage is exciting and motivational, as it gives meaning to the ‘idea’.

However, we believe that there are convincing reasons as to why you should consider your site structure at the EARLIEST stage possible.

The most important reason why you want to consider your website structure early on is because it is actually the articulation of your proposition. Your target audiences / key products / services / what you do / what you are known for / what makes you different – all influence how you will structure your site. This includes thinking about your main navigation menu, sub menus and any featured areas such as banners on the home page.  

Only once you have considered these important issues – will you be able to write a really good creative brief which clearly expresses WHO you are targeting, WHAT you stand for, WHY people should believe you and WHO your competitors are. Your graphic designer will do a much better job if they understand all this and know how you want to express your offering and which aspects are most important.

Nowadays, websites are using two or more navigation systems. Perhaps there will be a top or side menu bar and in addition some featured areas (may be banners) for different products / services. There may also be a way to navigate by audience type or by the customers’ requirements. You’ll also need to think about how you incorporate your social media feeds, blogs, testimonials, case studies, shop etc.  This makes it a bit more complicated at the design stage, but it provides better choice architecture for customers so they will engage with your site better and stay on page for longer.

There are some great free tools out there which help you structure your website called Wire Framing Tools

We also strongly recommend that you use a Creative Brief / Strategy document which once completed can prove invaluable to brief ALL creatives involved in the process including graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, photographers, PR and social media agencies.

So if you would like a hand pulling a Creatives Brief / Strategy together or you need help defining your proposition and website structure – just let us know.

Social Media Branding

Social Media Branding

With 17% of all online time being spent on Facebook, around 175 million daily Tweets and over 200 million LinkedIn users - social media is truly a powerful force in marketing. So is your BRANDING on these social media platforms recognisable, compelling and consistent with all your other collateral?

The ‘banner’ or ‘cover photo’ in social media is an important way to represent your brand. Facebook has recently relaxed the rules about what you can incorporate on this image so you can now include clickable ‘calls to action’ - a big improvement. But check out Facebook Page Terms for the details.

You might also like to think about your Twitter background graphic. As you have very limited word count on your ‘profile’ make the most of this area where URLs are clickable (links to website, LinkedIn, Facebook) and leave out phone numbers, service descriptions or strap lines because you can put them onto the background graphic instead (which you will need to design to fit). On the ‘profile’, the text is always white so choose this background image carefully.

With 20 years’ experience in translating brands across various media, Preview works closely with companies to help them communicate their brand on social media. We also help companies devise their social media strategy and provide half day training sessions for those embarking on their journey.