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Is Your Business On the Road to Success?

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is giving a boost to small business owners in the U.S. with the launch of the Small Business Road-to-Success Challenge.

10 small business owners will be awarded 15 free nights for the sole purpose of traveling around the country to build their business. After three months of working through their own set business challenges, one small business will be awarded a grand prize of $20,000 by a judging panel that includes me.

To read all the details for participation and nominate your small business (through August 20, 2010) visit www.fairfieldchallenge.com.

The top ten finalists will be announced on September 9, 2010 and will begin the Small Business Road-to-Success Challenge on September 13, 2010.

Over the course of three months, the finalists will share their journey by blogging, tweeting and posting photos as they travel the country. At the end of the Challenge, one winner, judged to have been most successful in achieving his or her business goals, will be selected to receive the $20,000 cash grand prize.

Should be fun to watch this unfold. I know I’ve got a few on the road stories I could tell.

Fairfield Inn and Suites is a sponsor of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

Landing Pages Are Your Secret Conversion Weapon

landingThere lots of ways to attract visitors to your web site, but the true measure of success is always conversion. When it comes to converting those visitors to subscribers, enrollments and buyers, one of the most effective tools is what is commonly referred to as a landing page.

A landing page is essentially the page someone lands on first after clicking a link in an ad or email newsletter. It can be any page really, but the idea is that it’s a page designed for a specific purpose. Internet marketers have used this tactic forever, but done correctly, it’s become a standard marketing practice for anyone attempting to increase conversion. I guess landing pages aren’t really that secret, but not enough small business marketers use the awesome power they bring.

Any page you create for a web site can be a landing page, including a specific blog post, but there are services, such as Unbounce and SiteTuners, that can help you automate, design, test and track your landing page campaigns and conversions. These specialized services may well be worth the cost when it comes to creating the most effective landing pages.

There’s a bit of art and science to what makes a landing page work, so testing and tweaking will always be required, but the following tips should be used to get started optimizing your landing pages.

Only one thing – Your landing page is to do one thing and one thing only – ie: get a subscriber, offer an ebook, or create an enrollment for an event. Use every bit of the real estate to sell that call to action. Don’t try to introduce other possible options or you will find your pages will simply confuse.

Test variations – You must test multiple variations of your page elements at all times. One of the easiest ways to do this is using Google’s Website Optimizer tool that offers simple A/B testing. If you are using Google AdWords, or any other online advertising platform, make sure you are tracking individual ad conversions as well.

Message and ad – It may prove to be a good idea to have specific landing pages for each ad you are running. It can really help conversions when the landing page copy specifically matches the ad copy that brought them there. Tweaking your ads is just another part of the testing too.

Use video – It’s been proven in many studies that video on landing pages increases conversion. This is due to the fact that your call to action can be explained, you build trust when the visitors sees and hears a real person, and video is simply more engaging and harder to ignore. (Make sure you test you videos too!)

Make it easy – Make sure that’s it is obvious what you want the visitor to do and even more obvious how to do it. (This is where the use of video, audio, arrows and buttons can be effective.) Limit any data collection to name and email or your conversions will drop unless what you are offering is so valuable people will give more information.

Offer sharing – These days you’ll want to make it easy for a visitor to tweet, share and forward your page and their actions on your page. Add as much social networking functionality as possible. This is where the landing page services can come in handy.

Make thank you pay – After your visitor takes the prescribed action you should direct them to a conversion or thank you page, but don’t waste that space, use it to create even more engagement by offering an unexpected freebie ebook or download of some sort.

For more info on this topic, here are three books to consider. Landing Page Optimization: Tim Ash, Always Be Testing: Bryan Eisenberg, and Web Analytics 2.0: Avinash Kaushik

Image credit: spaceamoeba

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