The potential of Internet marketing is simply huge – but only if you know how to employ the best practices in the industry. While there is no cheat sheet that can ensure success across the board, a few general guidelines can help you and your website become more successful in your online endeavors.
Here are some inbound marketing best practices you can use as guidelines for your WordPress website design, ranging from navigation to ads to all-important calls to action.
How your visitors interact with your website has far-reaching influence on how useful they find your virtual business hub. Make sure your navigation is:
- User friendly– In a nutshell, make sure your navigation is simple, easy to understand, and straightforward to use. Make controls intuitive and never get in the way of easy navigation. There are a couple of ways ease of use is hindered that a lot of websites are currently doing:
- Social sharing plugins – Avoid plugins and widgets that expand when the mouse pointer rolls over them.
- Expanding ads – Effective for calling more attention, but also effective at disturbing what your visitors are doing.
- Automatically playing videos – Let your users have full control of what happens in your WordPress website design.
- Not full of options – You need to show enough navigation options to accommodate what readers usually want to find in your website, but you should not pack your navigation bar with too many options that people will have a hard time figuring out where to go. Bombarding people with options results in “choice paralysis,” a psychological condition where the abundance of options leads to people not choosing anything at all.
- Aligned with your sales funnel – If you have an active sales funnel in place that draws visitors into an established buying cycle, make sure your navigation is aligned with it. For instance, navigation options that lead to webpages that can push sales (such as product pages and landing pages) should be made more prominent in the list. Also, nesting navigation options can help make this more natural, and it also helps with avoiding choice paralysis as mentioned earlier.
The first two tips have to do with providing as useful a navigation experience as you can to your visitors, which indirectly helps in inbound marketing. The third tip directly affects your inbound marketing as it is tied in with your sales funnel.
Ads and Ad Placements
- Ads – be they links or banners – are nigh unavoidable especially for startups and newly established websites. Ads are in fact a primary monetization method for smaller websites, and when used effectively, can yield lucrative returns on investment. So if you find yourself needing to place ads in your website, watch out for:
- Blending and matching – If you use Google’s AdWords you probably see customization options for ads that allow you to match or blend their color schemes with your website. These methods allow the ads to become ‘camouflaged’ into your website. Contrary to how illicit this may sound, blending and matching color schemes is actually your first line of defense against banner blindness.
- Banner blindness – is a psychological quirk developed by active Internet users where any elements within a webpage that stand out like ads are instantly avoided, to the point that eye-tracking research shows that regular Internet users tend to never look at the areas near these banner-like elements at all. If your ads do not stand out, you at least have the chance to show your ads to your visitors, instead of them automatically thinking the ads will just waste their time.
- Segregation – Another issue that can crop up eventually is the number of ads your website supports. If you continue to support “partner” or “sponsor” ads on your website, chances are you might not have enough real estate to accommodate them all. You can choose to segregate ads in one portion of your website or even segregate them into a separate partners or sponsors page – perhaps prioritizing the most important ones on your main webpages.
Calls to Action
A very crucial facet of inbound marketing is the calls to action within your website. Calls to action need not be textual where visitors read what you intend to make them do – they can also be graphical in nature, such as an “Add to Cart” button. Here are three techniques to use on calls to action to make them more effective:
- Contrasting – As mentioned earlier, ads that clash with the background are easily noticeable, so readers avoid them. But you can use this natural reaction to contrasting colors to make your calls to action stand out. Buttons, images, and links that serve as calls to action will benefit from being colored in shades contrasting with the rest of the website.
- Spacing – Another way to call attention to these important inbound marketing elements is giving them enough space. Do not crowd important calls to action with any website element that can distract users from paying attention to them. Not even text – as text can easily pull a reader’s attention away and even inadvertently make a call to action ineffective. The only time text can crowd a call to action is if the text is necessary in calling your visitors to action, thus effectively becoming part of the call to action element.
- Location – The only strict guideline in placing calls to action is that you should have at least one above the fold, or the space of the webpage that is seen without having to scroll down. Also, some calls to action, such as a shopping cart, should have a permanent, static placement in every webpage.
If you keep these inbound marketing guidelines in mind, your WordPress website design will not only be professional and aesthetic, but also effective in boosting your business’ bottom-line. Try them out yourself and see the results.