In part 2 of our series on increasing website conversions, we dive into technical standards proven to convert. Michael and Chris discuss:

  • How to better design a website for conversion
  • How to choose a hosting service that helps you convert
  • Simple steps that help more mobile users convert

For more information on the tools and techniques discussed in this episode, please visit:

Below is the transcript for episode 33 of our Grow Your Painting Business podcast.

Episode Transcript

Michael Utley: This is not a project for you to express yourself. This is a communications tool that needs to be, as much as possible, centered around how people actually function.

Michael Utley: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from, the experts in digital marketing for the trades.

Chris Raines: All right. All right. All right… Why did I say…

Michael Utley: Welcome Matthew McConaughey.

Chris Raines: I don’t know, I’ve started them all in a certain way and I wanted to deviate from it.

Michael Utley: That’s good. I like it.

Chris Raines: Hey everybody, welcome to episode 33 of…

Michael Utley: Grow Your Painting

Chris Raines: No, that’s, we don’t have to dot on that.

Michael Utley: Yeah, that’s not true. Yeah…

Chris Raines: This is the episode – now we’ve got to go, now we’ve got to go buy that domain. No, this is the episode from, this is the podcast from, where we teach painting contractors how to grow their business and get more leads and sales using digital marketing.

Michael Utley: Yep. Commercial painting, industrial painting, a commercial, industrial cleaning, residential interior, exterior, all the above.

Chris Raines: All of that, so if you are a painting contractor, own a painting business, you are in the right spot and today we’re doing part two of a three part series, on website conversion. So if you miss the first episode, go back and watch it and then watch this one, although they don’t necessarily need to connect.

Michael Utley: Yeah, or listen to it. Yeah.

Chris Raines: Listen to it. Yeah, watch and listen to it. So let’s get right into it, Michael. We did 10 things last episode on 10 things you need to be doing, and should do on your website to increase your conversion rate (the rate at which people reach out to you) and we’re just going to continue with that.

Chris Raines: And then our next categories are more design oriented. So I’m going to kick these off Michael, and we can just kind of talk about them or let you talk about them.

Michael Utley: Yep.

Chris Raines: Our first one here under the design category, is use a logo in the header.

Michael Utley: Yeah, and specifically, I would even say throw it over in the top left corner. A lot of times people come to us with a website they’ve got, this is funny, but sometimes I see the logo is like a hero image above the fold still, just on some older websites like maybe they missed a replacement cycle.

Chris Raines: And there’s no logo, there’s no logo in the upper left?

Michael Utley: Yeah, and then sometimes, yeah and so mainly that’s been replaced, but yeah, I, I really like logo top left and then top nav in the center taking up most of the real estate in the header, and then call to action on the top right. Yeah, I’m just, I and and you, you said something earlier, what did you say? What was your headline about convention?

Chris Raines: Just obey conventions, you know?

Michael Utley: Obey conventions…

Chris Raines: So this all goes back to what we’ve talked about before in terms of, not creating friction for your users. So as the web, as the internet develops, people get used to seeing things like, the logo in the upper left corner, your navigation, all the different pages are going to be on the top, probably on the right, maybe in the middle, but at the top. So a lot of people when they go into design, and I’m sure throughout designing websites you’ve seen this, but people want to get cute and say, “Oh, let’s put our navigation on the right-hand side [inaudible 00:03:05].”

Michael Utley: Right, we’re going to add it, we’re going to add a column, we’re going to add this, yeah.

Chris Raines: But it really frustrates people and it creates friction for them. And so this is kind of part of a bigger thing called, obey conventions. If there’s a convention, and this is a huge one, the people want to know where they’re at, that’s their sign-post to say, what website am at?

Michael Utley: That’s right, and I’ll say, just to give people a little background and understand the, the DNA of what’s behind this. When everybody moved to responsive design with the rise of smartphones and the shift away from having a separate mobile site for mobile devices, but actually a responsive website, they could work on any size screen. We really started getting away from left and right sidebars for navigation for basic navigation. So that top nav became much more important, and the problem that people fall into, is they don’t know that, so they’re looking at things like competitor’s websites and saying, “Well, their logo is top center, why wouldn’t ours be?” And I think of it as like a bumper sticker on a Ferrari, it’s just something you don’t do. That’s not the place for your personal expression and creativity, will neither is your website. This is not a project for you to express yourself, this is a communications tool that needs to be as much as possible, centered around how people actually function.

Chris Raines: Yep. Love it. Okay, so always logo, top left hand corner. All right, number two: Use a simple top nav, but top navigation, preferably one level with drop-downs only as needed.

Michael Utley: Yeah. How many, how many top navs do you see that have three levels? Because my goodness, we’ve got to represent this department, this department, this department. It’s too much. It’s really hard on a smart device or even, just a desktop device to have that sort of complicated user experience. Our recommendation, is to have every major area of your service as a top nav button if at all possible, and then drop down levels.

Michael Utley: You should just have one level of drop-down menus, and those should all reinforce what’s under those main services. And what we like to do, is primary areas of services on the left side of the menu, trailing off in importance, and always have something in the top menu that’s essentially, a CTA, a contact us, or a free quote button – probably not both, probably a free quote button. Even if you’ve got it elsewhere in the header, it’s okay to also include it in the top nav, but all the history of, and about us and all that, we can just drop that stuff to those links to the footer – they’re just not as important.

Chris Raines: Yep. Okay, number three here for design: Use a call to action in the top right, including a phone number, for people listening to this, they’re going to want to get contacted by phone numbers or certain businesses – maybe you wouldn’t do that but…

Michael Utley: Yep, and we touched, we touched on this in episode 32 a little bit, the previous episode, part one of the series, but it, it’s amazing how often someone will have a header and neglect to think about the phone number and then also, what are the, what are the ways that you can message around that phone number, the benefits of reaching out to someone. It could be, that you use a little bit of language there to show that it’s a friendly, warm connection like, “Hey, ask for Bob.” That’s a really friendly way to make a little personal connection out of a phone number area – not just a, “Hey, call us now. Call now.” Call now is probably not it, maybe something that feels a little more friendly and not so tired. Also, I like, “Talk to an expert today” because you’re saying, ‘hey, we’re going to provide expertise, you’ve got a problem, you’re looking for an expert in this area of your difficulty?’, well you can have that kind of text above, below around your phone number to make it, more helpful.

Michael Utley: Also, see financing or talk to us about financing – that’s another big one. If, if you’re trying to help people make that decision about a new roof or a new, a new, you know, something, something where you’re offering financing options, you can actually add that to your CTA. And again, I find that that top right corner on today’s websites is just the place to put it. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Chris Raines: Yeah and it’s a convention. It’s one of the obey, obey conventions. Yeah, okay. Use a footer that follows our three by – do you call it three by one?

Michael Utley: Three plus one.

Chris Raines: Three plus one, okay. Explain what three plus one means in terms of the website footer.

Michael Utley: Yeah, and this is just kind of a style that we’ve developed here at SearchPrimer over the last, I don’t know, the last couple of years. I really like for there to be three columns in a footer, and then a separate row below that, with a copyright statement. Copyright statement, nobody cares about it, it’s got to be there.

Michael Utley: Also, any licensing numbers. If you, if you’re a landscaper, and you’ve got a pesticide charter number, all that stuff can go in that plus one, that full width row, where you’ve got stuff that absolutely has to be on every page. Okay, so we’ve, we’ve squared away the plus one. Copyright statement, any legal statements, anything that has to be there on every particular page, explicitly on every page, like a pesticide charter number. Okay, so let’s talk about the three plus one going left to right. I like a big block that repeats the navigation on the left side, and it’s not just a repeat of the top nav, it’s also, other links that are needed. Careers about us, history of, just a flat list of every major link that you want people to be able to see. And here’s why like this, I like that anybody can get there and they say, “Okay, here’s the navigation. Got it. Okay, here’s what I’m looking for. Got it.”

Michael Utley: The footers’ kind of like a, a catch off. You made it that far, you’re probably looking for something that there’s no real attention given to it elsewhere. You know, often it’s the careers button, that’s typically in…

Chris Raines: Our social icons…

Michael Utley: Yeah, in our heat maps, it’s typically the, the most common thing that people are trying to navigate to on the website, in the footer. Okay, so then you’ve got a middle block. I think this is a great place to offer what I call, a reassurance factor and, and to continue the branding of the website. I like a good repeat of the company logo, and then something that is sort of a personal statement from, we’ve done these like, ‘From the President’ or ‘Here’s what you can expect when you work with us’ or ‘Mission and Values.’

Michael Utley: Anything that sort of that, if you’re going to have it somewhere, it definitely does not need to be the opener of the hero section, sort of the main content area of the website. It actually needs to be an afterthought, but having it in the footer is good because you can make it keyword rich, and in addition to your left side repeat of the nav, which is all keywords, then your mission statement is also a great keyword section and that’s going on every page.

Michael Utley: So then, all those keywords that you put in your navigation items, and your mission statement, or your ‘From the President’ note, those are all appearing on every single page of the website in the footer. So that’s great SEO, and then bottom right, gosh, all your contact info and like Chris said, your social icons. Have them organized, have phone, office location, contact us form link, social icons listed, and then another kind of item if you’re managing a lot of your online reputation, like your Google, my business profile, Yelp, how’s Angie’s list, home advisor, any other sort of relevant commercial or industrial types of things that have a profile of your company.

Michael Utley: You can link to all of those in the bottom right in that third column in your footer, and to me that’s the perfect footer. I love the way it looks, I love the way it functions. We find a lot of activity on our heat maps for that approach to footers. The footer is not just a place for a, back to the top button, or a repeat of your phone number. And then just as a bonus item, do another CTA above your footer and make it a part of your footer on every page. You can have a little call-to-action above the footer, make that a full width block, but it’s – the footers is not just to catch all. It serves a lot of very important roles for search engines, and for usability of the website.

Chris Raines: And what you would probably call “curious users” or users that know what they’re looking for… the social icons. There was a trend a while back to put the social icons in the header, and I never understood that because you’re pushing people to a different website. Why would you want to give Facebook and Instagram more traffic and they’re going to leak out of your website, and if they’re on mobile, they’re going to click off to a different app, and they probably won’t even get back on the browser cause they’re going to get distracted, so I never understood that.

Michael Utley: I built three or four websites over the last 90 days, where we’ve taken those out of the footer, the header and moved them to the footer. Yeah, I think, I think why that happened, is it was easy to make a plug-in and WordPress five years ago, and have social links everywhere, and to really focus on that and you know, it just felt like a big deal and let’s put it in the header… but yeah, you’re just pushing traffic away from your calls-to-action.

Chris Raines: Yeah. Okay. Let’s talk about mobile. Make the phone number clickable for mobile users. I like this one, it’s a good one.

Michael Utley: Yep, really, really easy thing, important thing to do, remember half your traffic is coming from mobile devices. They’ve got a phone right there in their hand. Don’t make them have to flip back and forth between their phone application and their web browsing application. Clickable phone numbers please.

Chris Raines: And it’s really easy, all you got to do is put the TEL colon (tel:), right? I’m not even a coder, I’m not even a web developer and I know that.

Michael Utley: Yeah, if you’re okay with having, you know, people get the FaceTime error on desktop or not FaceTime error, but you know, do you want to open FaceTime? If you’re okay with that, you can just have this on for all traffic.

Michael Utley: If you want to get fancy, you can sniff out whether they’re on a mobile device or desktop device and display code that’s relevant to each one. I don’t think it’s bad. I think we’re going to move toward an always connected via cell connection or not cell, but telephone connection. So I’m actually in favor of just hot linking those, those telephone numbers, regardless of the platform someone’s on. Worst case scenario, is you’re getting them into action mode and somebody’s like, “Oh no, I don’t want to call from my desktop. Let me, let me grab my phone.” Yeah, it’s fine.

Chris Raines: Yeah. What you don’t want, is to have a user frustrated because they have to select all, and make sure they get all the phone number copied, move over to the phone app…

Michael Utley: Terrible.

Chris Raines: I mean copy paste on a phone [inaudible 00:13:01].

Michael Utley: Horrible, it creates friction.

Chris Raines: So yeah, all that stuff to say, remember half of your track, you might go to your own website and think about your own website in the frame of reference of a desktop computer… Stop doing that. Think about it as a smartphone business card.

Michael Utley: The internet…

Chris Raines: …And make that phone clickable.

Michael Utley: What do you, what is it you always say, the internet is a telephone?

Chris Raines: The internet is a cell phone. The internet is a cell phone. Alright.

Michael Utley: That’s a great headline. Yeah, the internet is a cell phone, yeah thank you for that.

Chris Raines: Yeah, okay. Make menu items, buttons and links thumbable for mobile users. Michael, what do you mean by thumbable?

Michael Utley: Yeah, it’s really simple. If you’ve got like a list of text links, it’s going to be hard for somebody on a mobile device. They’re going to have to zoom-in or you know, pinch and spread-in, and you don’t want to do that. Decide what your main messages are. Have tiles or clickable areas for that, that are easy to punch on a small screen.

Chris Raines: Yeah, and that’s really easy to do if you’re, if you’re designing, like you should be and mobile responsive, you can make sure the buttons are big enough, make sure the text is big enough and yeah. So that should take care, that should take care of itself if you’re, if you’re using mobile responsive design.

Chris Raines: Alright. Make.. Oh I already did that one. Hosting.

Michael Utley: Yeah, and I’ll, I’ll mention all these hosting things at one time. Yeah, go ahead.

Chris Raines: Okay, Yeah. Let’s go to hosting. Use fast hosting from, we got some recommendations here, media temple, accuse tech, fort rabbit, hyper lane.

Michael Utley: Yeah and those are, we, we’ve kind of got craft CMS on the brain here lately, we’ve been, so here, here, here’s the punchline.

Michael Utley: At the end of the day, your website could be really, really crafted to be very tight. You’ve really avoided any large images that are being squished into a page. You’ve really avoided any third party scripts that are not loading fast, but if your hosting company is not very good, you’re going to have problems. So you know, think about where your website’s hosted, pick a fast hosting platform. Typically can find, oh gosh, companies like in Nashville technology advice, and lots of places where people have written a lot of materials. So depending on the content management system you’re using, you can actually pick a fast hosting platform and make sure that it’s going to serve out your pages. A 99% uptime, is not good enough. You want at least 99.9 guaranteed, you know 99% uptime is, is your website being dead three days a year, not good enough. So you know, you want to read reviews. Third party reviews, these hosting platforms and pick, choose well and understand this stuff.

Michael Utley: Also, it’s good, this is a silly one, but make sure that your hosting and your domain, any domains that are used in your company, are set to auto renew or even better, you know, purchase your domain for years out in advance cause I think that’s still an SEO factor. But making sure that correct documented knowledge of where your stuff is, is in the hands of an Operations Expert within your company. It’s not just the marketing people who are going to suffer if your website goes down because your hosting bill wasn’t paid. Don’t let stupid stuff like that happen. Get it on some operations’ person’s checklist for the quarterly or annual checklist, to make sure is set prepaid and or auto-renew is set with a current payment method.

Michael Utley: Anytime a credit card on file gets changed in your company, it should automatically trigger someone going out and updating the credit card on file for your domain and your hosting and that goes for email hosting if it’s on a separate application, all those things, take charge of this stuff, document it, get it into the hands of an operations’ person, not some crazy marketing person who’s creative, but not good at details. This is stuff you do not let happen.

Chris Raines: Yeah. Alright, great. Well that wraps up part two of our three part series on converting more website visitors into customers and leads. So with that,

Michael Utley: Yep. Thank you. Thanks Chris!

Chris Raines: Our endings are always awkward.

Michael Utley: That’s alright.

Chris Raines: Okay, stop now. Okay, no. Yeah, part three coming up on the next episode, so we’ll see on that one. Thank you.

Chris Raines: The Grow Your Painting Business podcast is a free service of Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing.