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6 "Could Tell You, But Then Need To Kill You, Internet Marketing Secrets SHARED
Thought this was a funny title. What makes sharing ideas like these six tips isn't how secret they are but how automatic they become. 
I've been creating websites since 1999 when my ex and I launched FoundObjects.com (http://scenttrail.blogspot.com/2010/02/martins-first-web-site.html). Foundobjects.com is gone (sadly), but I've been thinking about, designing and listening to websites ever since.

Thought I would SLOW a process I do as automatically now as breathing and share what and why I sketched the design below for my realtor +stephanie lane. Keep in mind I am NOT a designer, but you almost don't need one these days thanks to Secret #1. 

Secret #1 - Use Wordpress Templates
Steph's redesign is based on a FREE WordPress theme called MesoColumn. If you've ever used WordPress you know changing themes takes some adjustment as you learn how the new theme treats WP core commands such as appearance, widgets and menus. With some complicated themes learning how they execute core WP commands can take half a day (less with this one I bet). My first website took 6 months of my life as I learned Photoshop and HTML. The last WP site I created http://www.crowdfunde.com took 4 hours! 

Secret #2 - Solve The Umbrella Brand Problem
Steph is a Coldwell Banker agent. Good logo. Logo convention is to put them upper left, but I made sure to put Stephanie's name immediately below the logo so it is clear this is Stephanie's site NOT the umbrella. The design says that too, but real estate agents WANT the help the umbrella logo represents NOT the confusion it can bring. 

Secret #3 - Tease The "See All Testimonials" Page
I took a risk with placing a testimonial from "The Smiths" next to new picture I want for Steph (standing together with happy buyers / sellers on equal footing smiling and looking at the camera). Better if the testimonial was related to people in the picture (upper right). I ran the other "testimonials" / reviews down the right column.

I've learned to tease a "see all  testimonials" link. Clicking on "see all" presents a page with people's notes, pictures and smack in the middle should be a form asking for a review / testimonial. No one clicks that form, but having it on the page increases credibility of existing testimonials 10x.

Biggest KEY to Internet marketing is to SELL THE CLICK and not OVERSELL THE CLICK. You want a conversation and conversations require multiple parts (multiple clicks), so tease then pay off to tease again and then pay off again. Scimmers and scanners will get what they need fast and readers are willing to work (i.e. click).

When you use the tease to pay off, tease to pay off model you should watch your analytics carefully. If you see drop off after the third tease remove that layer by moving big pay off (an article, image gallery or video) closer to the surface.

Secret #4  Test Video Marketing
Video is one thing I would want to test.

Videos will almost always be the most clicked on content so the "moneyball" question is where in the journey they can do the most good (i.e. create the most conversions). For Stephanie I would want to watch that VIDEO link in the top nav. If it consistently wins "most clicked" then I would test a video on the home page, BUT....

I would tease the video with a video image on the homepage. On click I would move to a "video" page where the video teased is LARGE, IN CHARGE and playing. By moving the click off the homepage I can set up Calls-To-Action (CTAs) that help convert off the video. Video conversion can be tough since they feel liked closed loops.

I watch a video and presto I'm done. Why it is a good idea to have a strong CTA at the end of your videos. I HATE sharing two ideas in a CTA but videos can work as a daisy chain (watch another related video) AND gain access to our VIP content area to learn how to stage your home like a pro (with a FB like or an email share as gatekeeper).

I would test WHERE to put the offer in the daisy chain and which offers work best with what content. Remember to "tease the click" and to STOP teasing if you see a monster drop off. When I managed an ecom site we knew each click cost as much as 40% of the traffic.

Sometimes a "traffic cost" is a good thing since your traffic is profiling themselves with each click and their willingness to keep the conversation going is a strong "we want to convert" signal. BUT if your metrics shows traffic dropping off a cliff after one of your tease to pay off clicks then flatten your site down.

 *Secret #4 - Align Website Nonverbals*
I have a theory that websites communicate much like humans. More than half of the communication is immediate, subconscious and based on our "fight or flight" dinosaur brain. We know buying or selling a home is STRESSFUL, so I've chosen soft colors (something a pro designer could help improve). 

This sketch also creates some magic pairings. By moving Steph's picture to the far right, a difficult place to hold interest normally, the design risks little. By placing Steph's new "together with smiling buyers and sellers" real picture (couldn't find nearly what I wanted) DIRECTLY above the social shares I link Steph to how the web understands "networked".

That single subconscious nonverbal pairing Steph with her social network could be worth millions! 

Don't worry if your follow numbers are low to start. Being brave enough to share them means you are confident they are going up. Stephanie gatekeeps her Twitter (BAD IDEA). Remove any barriers to following in the knowledge that all social tools have BLOCKS for creeps and trolls. 

The third column in this design sketch is all about Stephanie, her social net and how her social net feels about her (the reviews and testimonials area the social follows sits on top of).  By using the "gutter" column as the "sharing" area we increase interest, traffic and shares. 

One way Steph can increase her follows, other than emoving the gatekeeping, is to SHARE Her numbers. I would emulate one of the most successful agents in North Carolina (http://www.showcaserealty.net/Nancy-Braun/ ) and make sure social shares are EVERYWHERE. Nancy's team sold $40M worth of real estate last year so stealing from her is a good idea. 

Secret #5 - STORIES and PEOPLE Sell Not Tools
I know the LOVE cool tools creates having been bitten by that bug myself. Having a MLS widget and getting a home buyer to find what they want to see is cool, but no one buys or forms a relationship with technology no matter how cool it is! 

Even APPLE is about the TRIBE not the tech, so it is important for Steph to share the STORIES of buying and selling homes in the Triangle.

Ease of sharing stories(in all media)  is another reason I love WordPress. Once this website design is live Steph can add to it easily since it is, at its core, a blog. 

Sure we are going to create some strong content silos and architect like a website with splash pages and "product pages" (product pages in this model are pages with the content on them, the final payoff), but at its core Steph's new website is a BLOG and so easy to update, add content to and keep it relevant and moving. 

Steph's current site http://www.StephanieLane.com is static and probably NOT able to be updated much by Stephanie. If you are a real estate agent DO NOT get into the trap where changing the lead story on the Find Your Home area has to be done by the team that created your website. THOSE DAYS ARE GONE! 

If Steph went ahead and created sketches for the rest of this site and someone wanted more than $2K to create it they should be shot (or avoided like the used car salesmen they are). I bill at $350 an hour and this site would take me between 4 and 6 hours (depending on how much of the visual content I had to create, how much of the copy I had to write. 

Creating websites like this is NOT what I do for a living and a pro designer would create a 20% better website (at least :) since my photoshop skills only go so far). The real secret to Internet marketing is create something NOW, learn from it and create something better tomorrow. 

We see a lot of people who spend TIME and MONEY on the wrong thing (debating design, where should we put the hero, how many images rolling how fast). CLICKS are what matters and until you have those any website is better than where you are now. 

If you look at every BIG institutional website's first design, with Google as the single exception, they were TERRIBLE (some still are lol). Google's design is so clean because that is all the HTML they knew (supposedly). 

Don't get hung up on the wrong rock and don't spend more than you have to to start the feedback loops needed to teach you what to do. 

Could go on and on. Could discuss the golden triangle (why having important stuff LEFT in western culture is a good idea), or eye movement around images (creating hot zones no one uses in the caption space) and why I put the TOOLS so low. 

Actually let me close with some thinking on TOOLS. Tools like the FIND or SELL widgets (MLS wrapped in a blanket) are VERY important to return visitors. Since we are a distance from "read the cookie, present the site" I would include the widgets in the top navigation. 

A return visitor wants to skip the greeting and get right to their search. I would STRONGLY suggest Steph's site creates profiles from social logins and sell those profiles with features such as "save your searches" and "be able comment and review". 

Phase II of the real estate design revolution is to help your tribe share experiences with other "like them" tribe members, but let's leave those ideas on the sideline for now. Important to begin to gatekeep some valuable things and reserve them for your VIPs (those willing to share their information and create a "profile"). 

Social logins make profile creation easy and you have a MOUNTAIN of data about someone who uses Facebook to create their profile (the most popular social login) or Twitter. 

Be sure your profile asks for Facebook, Twitter, GPlus, Pinterest, YouTube, Linkedin and FOLLOW or FRIEND those who share theirs. Facebook can be a little tricky, but figure if someone shares you should at least FOLLOW with your company page. As you get to know them personally you may work up to a FRIEND from your personal page. 

Twitter = FOLLOW, GPlus = FOLLOW, Pinterest = FOLLOW. As you create "personas" to group your followers and subscribers knowing who is "very social" is valuable information. 

So, could go on and on (lol), but will do so in another blog post instead of here. M 
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