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November 7, 2013

Why a Good Designer is an Online Marketers Best Friend

The web is a predominantly visual medium. Creating value for your products or services online is as much about catching the eye of customers as it is providing them with relevant, useful content and answers to their questions. Good design is just as important as the words on your webpages, emails or social media posts, so to really turbo charge your content, boost conversions and build your brand, a good designer is an online marketers best friend.

Brand building

One of the first jobs a designer can help with is to unify the look and feel of communications and help develop a strong visual identity. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen websites, email campaigns and marketing collateral from the same company look completely different. It’s not only confusing and unprofessional but it looks to your customers like you just don’t care. Slapping your logo in the corner to show customers your different marketing channels are all related to the same company is not enough.

Developing up and implementing style guides which cover the use of colours, typography, and other visual elements helps maintain the continuity of your communication. Style guides are also vital if you have different teams or agencies working on different marketing campaigns. Your PPC team could be building display ads while your web guys are building landing pages and your bus-dev people are building pitch-decks, if neither of them has a set of style guides, you could end up with a vastly different look and feel to what should be an integrated campaign. A good graphic designer will help you avoid this.

Landing pages

Your landing pages will usually be specific to a product, promotion or customer segment and tied to an online advertising campaign, so to skimp when it comes to landing page design is to waste your ad investment. Your landing pages are there to convert people who respond to your campaigns so combining A/B testing with good design is vital to keeping your cost per conversion down.

A good designer can help you test a number of visual elements to increase conversion rates. Different layouts, typography, icons, photography, form designs and even buttons can drastically affect conversion. A good graphic designer can show you where to start, and then help you optimise performance for the best possible conversion rate and maximum ROI.

Home pages

Some info on your site is more important than others. Your front page, for example, is probably the single most important page you have, and where most visitors will start. A well designed home page is essential. Poorly formatted, visually unappealing, dull pages cause your visitors to bounce. A lack of clear information hierarchy, high text density, non standard layouts, weird navigation and other oddities are all things I’ve come across on my travels round the web and all areas where it’s clear a good designer was not part of the plan.

Your front page has to grab the attention of your visitors within 3 seconds and needs to communicate the following:

  • They’re in the right place
  • What your business does
  • Where to find what they’re looking for

A good designer will know exactly how to communicate this relative your your business and brand. Layout and use of space here are key, as well as visual queues that make things like navigation, site search, downloads and sign ups immediately obvious.

Product pages

Technical pages that are simply full of text are neither useful or hold a visitors attention. For example; imagine if IKEA wrote text instructions for how to assemble their furniture in the language of every country they sold their products. Their instruction manuals would look like War and Peace. Instead they use diagrams, icons, labels, process flows other graphical devices that are universal across languages to help their customers build things like tables rather than anger or frustration. Think about that next time you’re building product or landing pages, and ask a designer to help.

If you have a product or service that requires a lot of user education as to its features and benefits, a graphic designer can help you streamline this  into something that’s visually appealing and most of all makes your visitors want to buy! Good product photography, feature pull outs, testimonials, comparison charts and pricing tables are all elements that can be employed to break up complex information and improve the quality of your product pages.

Email Marketing

Just as subject lines are vital to email opens, the design is vital to response. Most email newsletters or product mailers are dull and text heavy. Since people reading their email every morning don’t usually have time for a long-form read about your latest product or promotion, you need to grab peoples attention quickly and prompt them to action. This action is usually to a click through to a high converting landing page with a look and feel just like the email.

Good email design here is vital and helps your campaigns cut through the usual junk found in people’s inboxes. A graphic designer will help you highlight which messaging is important and cut out what isn’t. They’ll help your customers understand why you’re mailing them, why it’s important and why they need to act. Have your designer work on both the email and landing page to ensure campaign continuity and avoid visually jarring your customers away from a sign-up or purchase when they click through from one to the other.

Social media

You think creating your own product related memes using a free online meme creator is enough to get shares and likes? Think again. Good social media campaigns are integrated across all marketing channels with a response at the centre, usually a like or a share, before an offer is presented to the customer. Simply posting pictures in the hope they’ll go viral is short-sighted.

Social sharing and campaign reach is heavily influenced by both your message and how quickly it catches attention. It’s been shown that image posts have the highest share rate of any social media content since they’re compact, easily digestible, short and to the point. Think Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter. All these Social Networks have image sharing at their heart. A post on your Facebook wall that has visual impact is more likely to get re-shared, but getting your imagery right is the job of a professional. Your designer can help with this. First though you need to make sure your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media pages are consistent with your brand, so no matter where your customers engage with you, they get the same experience.

To conclude

In all areas of online marketing good visual design is key, and this only comes through working with design experts. Being able to use PhotoShop is one thing, designing a visually engaging, high converting email campaign is another. So if you’re serious about online marketing you should think seriously about working with a professional graphic designer or an agency.

If you have some examples of great design, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. If you want to get in touch about hiring me you can contact us here.

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