I tend to get hooked on certain bloggers. Being a blogger myself, I love to learn from the best, to see what they do to succeed — and exactly how they do it. Lately, I've been hooked on American life- and business coach Marie Forleo. I'm not exactly part of her target audience, which is [...]
Lately, I’ve been hooked on American life- and business coach Marie Forleo.
I’m not exactly part of her target audience, which is mainly women. But as far as digital marketing goes, which is my main interest, she’s awesome at positioning herself online within her niche.
I think especially her blog platform works really well. In this post, I will run through what I love about her site and why.
And be warned. This is for all you conversion geeks out there. I suggest you open up Marie’s blog in a separate window or tab to tag along.
Here we go:
Let’s take a look at a separate blog post first. This is often where you land if you’ve stumbled across Marie’s blog via social media — or if you subscribe to her newsletter.
The Header Area
1. The upper-left corner logo is small and allows for the image-based tagline to do the work instead.
2. Only four menu items, clean and simple.
3. An image-based feature box above the fold. Now, the copy doesn’t really say all that much, but I’m pretty sure the target audience loves the attitude and tonality. Usually, a box like this only gets featured on the front page and not on individual blog post-URLs, but the design allows for it — and it probably increases her signup rate a lot to have this feature area on all single blog posts.
4. The email opt-in copy below the feature box is actually continuously repeated in all Marie’s videos, so it makes a lot of sense. Nice touch to highlight free with italics. Typical best practice would be to have something pointing towards the first opt-in box, but in this case, her legs actually do. Coincidence? In either case, smart use of imagery.
5. Short and sweet exclamation marked call-to-action with an accent colour for the email opt-in button.
Above The Fold
6. The headline of the blog post is clearly visible above the fold. To ensure this, the main blog post image is below the headline.
7. Blog headlines are very clear about what you, as a reader, will get from reading her post. Clarity and length above short and witty headlines.
8. Instead of going all Mashable on us, she highlights only one social proof item above the fold — the number of comments she’s receiving. For a blogger, comments are like diamonds since value-adding comments are so difficult to acquire. Very smart to focus only on this, it really pops and proofs her popularity.
9. Since she’s doing such a good job asking for your email address in the header, the important spot on the top of the sidebar can be used for something else. So she highlights her being on Oprah. Boom!
Blog Post Area
10. Great contrast and text area width for onscreen reading. Short paragraphs and she writes using her talking voice. Perfect for blogging and very easy to follow.
11. She uses a rhetorical question to create a ladder of positive affirmations to keep you engaged. And you have to actually watch the video get the answers, so the whole blog post copy is actually a pull-in for the video.
12. Now, the video. This is where Marie really shines and leaves 99% of all other bloggers behind. First, the video still image is actually an image with a headline overlay, making it really clear what the video is about visually, no matter where you’ll find the clip embedded.
13. The video is the centrepiece content of her blog and this is very smart since she’s so comfortable with the camera. The production value is high-end and difficult for amateur bloggers to imitate due to budget, but still. She’s rocking it.
14. The video format is great for several reasons. Repetitive build-up, setting the stage, social media sharing call-to-actions, bloopers, in the end, etc. The list goes on. And always a prepared topic for discussion to get people sharing their experiences in the comments, rather than just giving shoutouts.
15. Not all people watch the video in full-screen. So, what to do with your fingers while you’re watching the video? Well, Marie puts a click-to-tweet link directly beneath the video. You know, in case you need to do something while watching.
16. She often ends her posts with a touch of appreciation towards her readers. It’s so easy to forget about this, but she never does. And she tops it off with her signature at the end of the blog post — nice touch.
17. Not a whole lot of sharing options in the end and they’re not prominently shown. Because she really wants you to comment or sign up to her email list. Everything else is clutter and therefore removed.
18. The comment section is a native one, not Disqus, Livefyre or IntenseDebate. She keeps it clean and really shows off her comment section, which truly is impressive.
20. If you decide to leave a comment, chances are you have to scroll quite a bit first. If you want your comment at the top, then you have to be quicker to comment next time she posts, right?
21. The sidebar is all best practice, too. Beneath Oprah, there’s some solid praise in the form of testimonials. Then a few (not too many) resource pages, which are great for new visitors and great for SEO, too.
22. New visitors also often want to see the best posts so they can make up their mind about her content. And there they are, in the sidebar, beneath the resource pages.
23. Common practice is to have contact information or some social media links at the bottom of the sidebar, but she goes with some extra social proof to top it off by showing two of her awards.
24. The front page of her blog isn’t too dissimilar from her single blog post, which makes navigation and comprehension easier. It’s also smart to show lots of her blog post copy up front, but if you want to see the video, you need to commit by clicking “Keep Reading”.
25. Five posts on the front page are great, not too many (which is very common) and not to few.
What Your Business Can Learn From This
All of this is very much aligned with online psychology expert Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, one of the smartest guys in online marketing and a great source of personal inspiration for me. But of course, this is ONE way to structure a blog. There are other ways too, of course.
Marie Forleo is obviously very talented, smart and hard-working. Her content would surely go a long way without such a smart blog design. And the other way around — if her content was crap, a great design wouldn’t exactly help her all that much. And her business revolves around her blog content. So yes, it makes sense for her to produce stellar content for her target audience.
But YOU are probably in a completely different business, a business which not revolves around editorial web content. Or your personal brand, for that matter. But this makes my key point all the more relevant.
Here’s the kicker:
Imagine the above 25 points are not working. Imagine each and every of these 25 points actually working against you.
For the sake of argument, let’s say your content potentially could convert 1 in every 100 web visitor. Imagine how poor structure and design would affect your potential.
Small percentages, sometimes large, chipped away here and there. You might end up converting 1 in every 100,000 web visitor instead. Not because the quality of your content, but because how you presented your information.
Maybe content superstars like Marie Forleo could “afford” such unnecessary losses of conversion, but could you?
I leave you with this classic West Wing scene:
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