I tend to get hooked on certain bloggers.

Being a blogger myself, I enjoy learning from the best. Lately, I’ve been hooked on American life- and business coach Marie Forleo, a true social media natural. I’m not exactly part of her target audience, which is mainly women. But as far as digital marketing goes, she’s awesome at positioning herself within her niche. In this post, I will run through what I love about her site and why.

The Header Area

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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

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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

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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.

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Marie Forleo’s video thumbnails.

12. Now, the video. This is where Forleo 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, Forleo 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.

Comment Section

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17. Not a whole lot of sharing options in the end and they’re not prominently shown, simply because Forleo wants you to comment or sign up to her email list. Everything else is clutter and therefore removed.

See also Front Page Cannibalism.

18. The comment section is native, not Disqus, Livefyre, or IntenseDebate. She keeps it clean and really shows off her busy commenters, which makes sense since her follower’s engagement is stellar.

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? Clever.

Sidebar

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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 Forleo’s 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.

Front Page

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24. The front page of Forleo’s 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.

Takeaway

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 lousy, a great design wouldn’t help her all that much. All of this is very much aligned with the thinking of online psychology expert Derek Halpern of Social Triggers who assisted Forleo in the design of her blog.

However, imagine the above conversion techniques not working. Imagine each and every of these techniques actually working against you. Imagine small percentages here and there being chipped away.

You might end up not converting. Not because the quality of your content, but because of how you presented your content.

Was there any of the above points you especially agree or disagree with? Please comment and I’ll make sure to jump in!

18 COMMENTS

  1. Åh! Jag älskar henne. Tack för detta fynd. Så mycket inspiration och pepp på samma ställe. Och ja – jag är “färgglada prickar och hollywoodhår”-målgruppen. ;)

    • Jag är egentligen också en sucker för Hollywoodlockar och amerikanskt “yes, you can do it, too!”, men säg det inte till någon! ;)

      1000 tack för att du kommenterar! Hoppas vi ses något i vimlet framöver!

    • Yeah, what would you look for specifically? I would be interested to see the referrers. Cool to know where her target demographic hangs out. She gets so many quality comments, so it’s probably high-intent traffic converting superbly to her e-course if I were to make a guess.

  2. Jag har följt Forleo i några år nu och det är så grymt kul och inspirerande att följa hennes utveckling. Både videomässigt och marknadsföringsmässigt. Hon har den stora styrkan med kontinuitet! Hon har köttat en video i veckan o flera år. Alla med samma ton och känsla. Sjukt inspirerande. Hon blir bara bättre och bättre! Kul att du lyfte alla bra greker hon gör så fler får tillgång till denna guldgruva:)

    • Hej Sanne! Kul att stöta på dig här i kommentarsfältet!

      Ja, under den tid jag följt henne har jag också sett hur hon utvecklats, men precis som du säger utan att tappa sin kontinuitet. Riktigt strongt.

      Ser att du flyttar till San Fransisco tre månader, kul! Lycka till!

  3. Great break-down. I noticed she also uses popovers for collecting e-mail. I am abit conflicted about this approach. What are your opinions on it?

    • I am too. However, I’ve seen so many number crunchers swear by it as well. Apparently yes, you irritate some people. Heck, you even put them off reading your blog all together. But the reasoning goes, that those people would never had converted into potential customers of yours anyway. So the loss of the few doesn’t measure up the gain of the many.
      Now, I admit this is hearsay — I haven’t tried this myself. Not for any client, either. But I’ve been thinking about doing some small testing here on the blog. But I’ve always felt that I need something to offer in return, like an ebook for lead magnet or something.
      That’s the way I personally could do it, if I gave away something really valuable. Then I should really put in a “right hook”.
      But before I try such a thing, I need to learn a little bit more about WHEN to show them. There are so many options and behavioural triggers. I’ve heard that some are really successful with popups when the mouse-pointer leaves the text, signalling you’re done reading.

  4. Jerry,

    I’m sure this wasn’t an easy post to write, but ‘dang it was good! With just about every point I was going back to her site thinking, “Uh huh, yep, he’s right about that too.” It’s not that I’m any kind of design wiz, but I just learned so much from your post. I’m going to have to re-think a few things on my site as well. Nicely done.

    Robb

    • Thank you so much for those encouraging words, Robb! I can’t tell me how happy it makes me that you did a side-by-side comparison with my notes and Marie’s site. And by doing this post, I discovered quite a few things to add to my to-do list myself, ha! Take care, Jerry

  5. Great post here Jerry! I have actually done her entire e-course twice now and must say that besides having a great website, and her Membersite rocks it even way more than what you’re discussing above … but ultimately it’s the AMAZING value + outstanding customer service that she and her team provide, every time. It’s what sets her apart, and what draws people to her. Delivering real value (and valuable content) is way more powerful than any tools or techniques (SEO), etc. And of course, smart psychological thinking embedded in her web strategy only helps to land that value even more effectively. My 2cents!

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