I want to tell you a story of one of our clients recent experience with sponsoring a magazine that also had a website. So the new fandangle thing about magazines is that if you book or sponsor something with them you will also get a spot on their website. Now some magazines have a good following on their online versions because they have a decent online editor working for them. the content is short, punchy, has good imagery and keeps the visitor interested on their website. Girlfriend is a good example, The bulletin isnt bad nor is B&T. The only thing about B&T is that they haven’t gotten myself to write an article for them. Lets see if they monitor technorati and pick up this post. (I will keep you posted).

So our client books to sponsorship and gets their spot in the magazine. They have a tight niche they are working in and this magazine works well for them. Now our client is a savvy online marketer and when she is presented with the online version of the website she nearly flips.The homepage of the website is a registration page!!! Now our savvy clients pipes up and delivers the exact message that was required. Here are some snippets:

“… I cannot believe the really interesting information has been put behind compulsory login facilities! This is going to seriously affect your usability, your users impression of the site, and your online “pass on readership”.

I can understand if you’re wanting to capture peoples information and add them to a database but there are far, far better ways – more user friendly ways and more effective ways to go about this than slapping a login screen in front of the goodies.

I’m very disappointed in this as it breaks most online conventions known and does not encourage me to promote the site.

It’d be far better to showcase the information on the site. THEN when people want to access a certain piece of information they can be asked to log in or create an account. This way you’re giving them a taste of what they’ll get and then enticing them into subscribing. At the moment you’re not giving them enough information to make an informed decision as to wether they’ll get something of value if they subscribe. You might also want to check Australia’s spam legislation on this one as it might not be seen to be giving consent as people don’t know what they’re consenting to until after they’ve registered and parted with their email address.

Have a look at some publishing sites that do it well:

www.searchvoip.com (one of the best)
www.webtorials.com
www.marketingprofs.com

Even on our site we just ask them to register for white papers etc after they’ve read a synopsis and decided it’s for them. Our primary objective is to go our database and the 2,000 odd leads we get a month would indicate that this balance works.

In regards to SEO, you may not realise this but having a splash page like this will severely affect your organic search ability – google the term splash pages and see what comments come up (because this in affect harks back to the days of splash pages). You can spend a lot on search engine marketing but you also need to optimise the site for organic search because people pay more attention to organic results. Further, if you’re encouraging people via search marketing to come to the site, they’re going to get there, take one look at it and decide “too hard” – so you’re going to be spending money and getting fairly low conversions. I’d be interested to see your bail out rates once someone hits this page – I imagine it’s going to be high.

My suggestion would be to remove the first splash page, have register or login as an option at the top right and whenever someone tries to download something valuable – if they haven’t logged in – serve them a login screen. Also, cookies are really really useful so someone doesn’t have to keep logging in all the time – you might want to include these.

Your online guys might also like to review some usability information – I suggest reading some articles from:

www.useit.com (Jakob Nielson – Usability Guru)
www.gerrymcgovern.com (Gerry McGovern – author of Content Critical and many other online related publications).

In fact even Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing” would be useful. Yahoo’s Godin coined the term Permission Marketing years and years ago, it basically means get peoples permission to market to them – at the moment technically you’re not getting people’s permission to add them to your database you’re tricking them into giving you their details because they can’t decide if the information is of value or not.

Show them the information, make them WANT to join your database – then you’ll have a very very dedicated, loyal readership.”

So you can see someone needs to sort something out in that print world. Get yourself some Seth Godin and give yourself an upper cut for accepting that website setup.

So what happens? BIG CHANGES. Here is the website now.

http://www.strategicpath.com.au/

Congratulations to our client and welcom
e to online marketing Strategic Path.

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