Website Strategy 101: The Importance of Effective Website Architecture

Creating websites that convert visitors to subscribers is the heart and soul of Internet database marketing

Making money online requires converting your casual website visitors into paying subscribers or customers. That means you must take all the traffic coming to your website and start relationships with those visitors that will eventually result in product sales.

Landing pages are the driving force for any successful Internet marketing program. A well-crafted landing page will maximize the possibility that a user landing there will take the action you desire and not click away.

Unfortunately, too many publishers allow designers to create complex and complicated sites that the average user can’t begin to navigate. Their “website architecture” is arcane at best and incomprehensible at worst.

When a user arrives at your website, whether from a Google organic search, a paid advertisement, or a colleague’s website link, you’ve taken a giant first step in making a customer.

But if that visitor can’t instantly see what you’re offering, and know, intuitively and with certainty, what it is you expect them to do, it’s game over. If they are confused, frustrated, or simply bored by your landing page, you’ve missed your opportunity. Chances are they will click away within a few seconds time, never to return.

So, how do you get users to stick around, to eventually get to your data collection page, credit card in hand and ready to buy? The key lies in crafting effective landing pages that are designed to handle the multiple sources of traffic to your website.

Effective website architecture requires your attention to the technical, aesthetic and functional aspects of designing and planning a website — all focused on the needs of the user.

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Job #1 for successful publishers: Building a database by using your website to convert visitors into email subscribers

The essence of online marketing is building a database of potential customers and marketing to them, both on your website, and with editorial and advertising email messages. Email can account for up to 60 percent of online revenue. In fact, some publishers on the B2B side tell us that every name and email address in their database is worth an average of as much as $70 annually.

Clearly, Job #1 for an effective website is building your database — adding names and email addresses to your list. This is true for both B2B and B2C publishers, both ad-driven and product-driven.

We have identified nine pages for editorial content that should be affected by publishing any singular email-capture page (aka Rapid Conversion Landing Page). The following diagram graphically depicts how they work together to attract organic traffic, ultimately converting casual visitors into subscribers.

Landing page templates

The homepage should tell your users exactly what you want them to do, which is to download a free report and/or sign up for a free email newsletter. The most important and visible graphic, button or section of your homepage should be dedicated to collecting the user’s email address.

The topic page is dedicated to one primary area of editorial content. For example on Fuelnet.com, a site dedicated to marketing smarts for the small business owner, if you look in their left hand navigation, you can see that they have 19 topic pages. Here’s a topic page on “Customer Relationship Marketing”. When a user lands on this page, they can see a list of the articles Fuelnet.com has ever posted on that topic, they are also pointed to the RCLPs from this page.

The article page contains narrative content, with the objective of capturing the users’ interest in the editorial content and leading them to browse more content. We call an article a Minimum Information Unit or a Post.

Article pages should be designed as permalink pages, which means they each should have a URL and a hypertext link that will remain valid after the article is archived on your website. Here is an example of an article page. Every article page should point to the RCLP of a related free report.

The subject (or tag) index page is analogous to the glossary in the back of a book. The subject index page is essentially a list of your site’s keywords, in alphabetical order, each linked down to an individual subject meta-page. Here is an example of the subject index, or tag glossary page, on Fuelnet.com.

The subject (or tag) meta-page is a directory of articles, images, or other online media that have been tagged with the same keyword. This page on the FuelNet site is an example of a subject meta-page. This page points back to an article page which points to a related RCLP.

The author index page is simply a list of all the writers contributing content to the website, much like a contributor’s page in the front of many magazines. These pages came into existence when publishers noticed on their internal search logs that a lot of website traffic was arriving via organic search of their website’s authors. This page on the Business Management Daily site is an example of a great author index page.

The author meta-page is a biography for each of the contributors, and frequently includes a list of the articles they have written for the website, usually in reverse chronological order. This page on the Business Management Daily site is an example of an author meta-page.

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These seven pages constitute the organic structure of your website and are designed to make it easy for both search engines and other website publishers to link to your site.

The conversion architecture, illustrated at the bottom of the graphic, is what we call a Rapid Conversion Landing Page. You may also know it as a squeeze page or a name capture page.

The rapid conversion landing page (RCLP) is designed to entice a visitor to enter into a low-risk (low-friction) transaction. It is used both when there is no cost to the user (a free offer) and when payment is delayed or optional (a bill-me-later offer).

Rapid conversion landing pages initiate an online relationship. They always request an email address from the user in exchange for permission to send additional offers.

You’ll also notice that all of the web pages ultimately point to the RCLP. All those internal links, the concentration of “internal link juice”, helps Google determine which page on your site is most relevant. So not only is it important to have multiple RCLPs so you can build your email database, you also need to search engine optimize your RCLPs so Google can send as much traffic their way as possible. Here is an example of a great Rapid Conversion Landing Page from FlightBliss.com

The power of a free-on-free offer

The most effective technique for quickly building a large opt-in email list is called “free on free.” It’s a takeoff on the department store cosmetics counter offer known as “free gift with purchase.” Only in this case, it’s a free gift for agreeing to accept a free email newsletter or free email tips.

As an incentive to subscribe to the free email newsletter, you also offer a free gift — usually an instantly downloadable PDF book or report on the same subject. Thus the name, “free on free.” It’s a second incentive for the user to give up their email address.

Studies have shown that leading with the free-on-free offer usually gets a higher response than leading with the free email newsletter offer. Frankly, how many users really want to subscribe to another free email newsletter? Your response is more likely to increase when you entice the user to accept the free downloadable report while simultaneously and somewhat surreptitiously obtaining their agreement to receive “free email updates.”

The last element of the graphic represents the Free Report Marketplace. This is a page at which you list the titles and descriptions of all your free reports and downloads and link to their respective rapid conversion landing pages.

A well-crafted landing page, with strong conversion architecture, will maximize the possibility that the user landing on that page will take the action you desire and not click away to some other site. Learning how to increase landing page conversion rates with effective website architecture will enable you to build a large email database. That can mean the difference between success and failure for your Internet marketing program

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