Is your martial arts website currently driving new sign-ups at your school? Are you providing a positive visitor experience and giving prospects the information they need? ChampionsWay will answer these questions for you - and more. Learn how to best optimize your website by submitting it for live review.
Jason Kamara, Senior SEO Specialist at ChampionsWay, will take you through best practices for creating a stunning, lead-generating website and review a handful of website submissions to identify areas of improvement.
In this webinar, you will learn:
- How to increase your conversion rates and drive more membership signups
- How to make a great first impression
- What human visitors and search engines expect to see when they visit your website
- Common issues that prevent visitors from signing up
Whitney: Hey everyone, we're going to get started now. Really quickly before we begin, can we do a sound check? If you can hear me, can you please type 'yes' into the questions or the chat box? Perfect, there's a bunch of yes's coming in. We're good to go.
So good morning, good afternoon, or good evening depending on where you're joining us from. We're so excited to have you guys all here today for the Live Website Teardowns webinar with Jason Kamara, Senior SEO Specialist here at ChampionsWay. You know these are my favorite webinars, the ones where live cases or schools are involved in the webinar itself. Jason has viewed your websites, thanks to those of you who did submit your website. We had the whole rack full but unfortunately we've only got time for few. But I know that Jason makes sure that there's diverse set of websites so you guys see today. These are so fun because you got to see exactly what you are doing right, where you're going wrong, and how you can improve your conversion rates on your website. So I know we're all excited over here at ChampionsWay to watch this today.
For those of you who are new to us, please feel free to follow us on social media - facebook.com/championswayfans, Twitter @championsway. And if you like this webinar, you can find a bunch more on our website at championsway.com/academy. There will be time for questions after Jason finishes his presentation, but feel free to keep the questions coming in during that time. If there's any questions we don't get to, or if you let's say you have a question once the webinar's finished, feel free to email email@example.com and we'd love to get back to you and answer all those questions that you guys might have. So without further ado let's get started and bring Jason Kamara to the stage. Welcome, Jason!
Jason: Thanks a lot, Whitney. Hey everyone! Thanks for taking time off on your day again to join us here at this webinar, and I promise that your time will be well spent. But before I get started, can you please just do a quick sound check for me this time. So can you please type in 'yes' or 'no' into the chat box, if you can hear me loud and clearly? Okay, I'm seeing yes's here, yes, clearly, awesome.
Okay so this is the first webinar with this type for us here at ChampionsWay. Earlier this year I did a live website SEO audit webinar and the response was really fantastic. So we thought maybe we would try doing one for websites this time. And you know why we're doing a webinar with live website reviews? Well our Sales and Customer Experience teams they all get questions from our clients about how they can improve their websites. And our Digital Marketing team in particular, they spend hundreds of hours analyzing the performance of our website templates. And they just continue to improve on them and increase the conversion rates, improve the visitor experience, and just make sure that they're utilizing the latest design and development techniques.
So in this webinar I want to show you how small changes can really have a big impact on new signups at your schools. I want you to see your website the way a first time visitor sees it. We'll spend a few minutes going over best practices and then we'll just jump right into teardowns, and review some of your own sites for optimization opportunities.
I kind of want to be clear about the ultimate focus of these website reviews today and that is to get more signups. I am by no means design expert. I can fire up Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and that's about the extent of it. I have a background in marketing and psychology, so I want to analyze your websites primarily from a conversion perspective, and that means look and see how we can make your pages more effective in bringing you more students. I spend a good part of my day here analyzing conversion rates for our own landing pages, and really trying to better understand what our own website visitors are looking for and of course I'm going to share some of that with you today. And really there are certain pages on your website that should be designed to convert visitors but not all of them, some. For these pages, they really should have a primary and secondary conversion goal. The primary goal is the best possible action the visitor could take on that page. So what I'm going to do is let's try a little test here. Let's see if we have any conversion rates black belts among us.
Some I'm going to drag over. Okay so I'm going to drag over one of our recent websites here for Gracie Barra Vancouver. Okay they've been great to work with and really this site's been generating amazing results already. But what I want you guys to do is I'm going to scroll through the homepage, and I want you to see if you can define what the primary conversion goal is here. So what's the best possible action a person could take on this page? So if you can, can you please type your answer into the chat box what do you think as a school owner, what result would you like the visitor to take on this page? What do you want them to do? Okay so I'm just going to give a little bit of time here.
Yah, so I'm seeing a couple here. What we really want people to be doing is filling out the form, exactly, yah, awesome. So we do have some black belts here. The best possible action that we could have is for them to come and fill out this form to access the schedule and get a free week of classes. And you can see really the form is quite prominent on the page but yet it's still very simple. It's very direct them to the point and has been working quite well. So you may have something similar on your own site, so maybe your primary action for the form is for people to access the schedule or maybe it's just to sign up for a trial class, something like that. But it should be prominent on the page and there shouldn't be too many distractions from it. Maybe if you're using PerfectMind, the primary conclusion goal maybe to purchase a membership or trial directly from the website. If you don't have a form, it could just be to pick up the phone and call your school to book a demo class or maybe inquire about the program's schedule.
A secondary conversion goal would be something less valuable, like following your school on Facebook or Twitter, or maybe it's downloading an e-book. But the important thing is that you do have a clear objective without too many distractions.
You should also be providing strong reasons for that visitor to complete the conversion goal. You can really ask yourself these questions. You can say how does my school meet the need of this visitor? What makes us different from the school that's four blocks away from us? Maybe the type of programs you offer, or the tournaments that you guys attend. But either way there should really be a clear value proposition. What value will visitor get from completing that desired action and it does also help if you add an element of urgency or scarcity so that the visitor takes immediate action.
Something that we've been using here on our client websites is adding special limited time offers. As humans we like to think we're logical creatures, we carefully weigh alternatives before making decisions, but the truth really is that emotion does play a huge part in our day to day choices. So really let's keep that in mind and try experimenting with different ways to really evoke to bring out that emotion in your visitors and get them to take action right now. If you leave this webinar with just one piece of information, I really hope it's this: just try to make a good first impression. We make judgments based on this first impressions all the time. We make them in a blink of an eye. And these snap judgments, they stay with us for a surprising amount of time. What we're looking to do with your website is you exceed those expectations.
Not just for your human visitors but your search engines as well. Remember that first time visitors have no idea who you are or what you do. And in most cases they really don't care. What they really want is to find the best school or program that meets their needs. So keep that in mind when you're creating and adding content to your pages. Your website content should be created with the viewer in mind, the reader in mind. That means the text that you write, the image and videos you use, your headings, the navigation menus, they should all be designed so that those first time visitors to your site, they can quickly orient themselves and find what they're looking for.
If any of you have taken any web design or development course, you may be familiar with the 5-second rule. Has anyone heard of the 5-second rule? Can you type in the chat box? Five-second rule. Yes, no, okay. Good, many people haven't. So what the 5-second rule is a person visiting your site, it doesn't really matter what type of website it is, it can be martial arts, it can be e-commerce, it can be a blog. After five seconds of visiting your site, they should be able to identify the basic purpose of it. If not, there may be issues with the focus of your content. So just think about how many times that you search for something on Google, you click through the website, and then you bounce right back the search results. Because the page that you hit was confusing, there's too much content there, and you didn't want to expend the effort to understand it, so it's just easier to bounce back. We don't want to make your visitors work too hard to find answers to their questions. The first goal of your pages should always be to keep your visitors from leaving. That's the first goal, not conversion, it's to keep them there, okay. And then once you have them there, you want to engage your visitors, then you want to try to meet their needs, and then try to convert them.
We're going to go through some examples of this in the teardowns right away. We do also want to meet the needs of the search engines, which are actually very similar to the needs of human visitors. The difference of course is that search engines they aren't as smart as us right, so they require some additional information. Whitney's going to post the link in the chat box for a blog that I posted last week on ChampionsWay Academy. This post has an SEO checklist for designing your martial arts website. So if you're in the process of redesigning your website or you're going to be in the near future, I encourage you to bookmark this link because it does have specific information on ways to make it SEO friendly. And this is purely an SEO post. In this teardowns I'll talk SEO a little bit but that's not the focus of it.
Okay, let's get the party started here and start with you and some of your websites. As Whitney talked about, as she mentioned we did get quite a few submissions, and unfortunately we don't have time to go through all of them. So we're trying to keep this webinar within 45 minutes with questions. So what I did is I chose 10 of them at random, and from those initial 10 sites I handpicked five that illustrate different concepts that I want to take you through. And of course you know we design lead generating websites for our clients at ChampionsWay. If you want some examples of what we can do for you, feel free to email us here at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll send you / free consultation with one of our product consultants. Alright, so let's get started.
First one we're going to look at here is Victory Taekwondo. In these reviews we're primarily going to look at the homepages. I would like to deeper but really as you know most the traffic comes to the homepage, especially from search results. So it typically is the door way to your websites so a lot of attention does need to be paid to that page.
So I want to look at some things, some of the strengths at first. It does have a clean design. As we talked about, the 5-second rule. So as soon as I land here, I have a pretty good idea what the website does. There's not a lot of confusion so that's great. We have a video, so you have a nice promo video. They've actually done quite a good job, there's even some titles in it as well, that gets you very familiar with the school. And there's a beautiful 'Get Started Now!' There's 'Now!', there's that urgency , there's that emotion. Two-week trial. We have also a lot of real photos which is great.
In terms of readability. Remember I said that human visitors and search engines often want a lot of the same things. One of these things is really readability and focus of the website. So where is the school, the city, the neighborhood. That's often one of the first questions that your visitors will help. As soon as they land on a website, they want to where are you. You don't need to give a complete address but ideally you would like to have city and neighborhood, or at least city, so that they know that they're in the right area. So that is something that we could consider added to the site. For readability as I was just talking about, if you take a look at the white on yellow background for these buttons, it's a little bit difficult to read. When you mouse over it it's fine, but initially it's pretty hard to read. There is not a lot of contrast. And really for these calls to action, you really want the text to pop, you really want to be able to see it. So perhaps maybe consider changing the background color for those buttons and those icons just to make the text have more contrast.
There is this 'Get Started Now! Sign Up Now!' call to action and I'd be curious how this is performing right now. So if I click on this, Sign Up Now, of course that's my primary conversion goal, it takes me to a Contact page. When you send someone to a Contact page, you're giving them a lot of options, which can be a good thing. So it's great, we have a Google map here, we have it embed, we have a phone number, we have school hours, we have a form, this is perfect with all these information. However sometimes giving people too many options is not a good thing. Something you could consider trying is just using the form. So instead of sending them to the Contact page, send them to a form page, a sign up page, and then you can just have this form, this form is great. And then you can also track the performance of that call to action. So you can continue to have this Contact page but have a separate sign up page that's very focused. Because like I said someone might land on this page and then might think 'Okay here it is. Okay I'll drive by on the way home from work,' and then they forget about it. What is the best action that they could take? Get their contact information into your database.
Okay now take a look at a second site here. Our second site is the Dragon's Way. Okay I'm going to scroll through here. Some great things that they've done is there's a good separation of content. There's some good what's called negative space. And when you have that separation it makes it much easier to focus on individual sections. So there isn't information overload on this page. It's very specific about what it shows you. So it is overall quite focused. And again 5-second rule - pretty good.
In terms of opportunities, there is a slider here. Now, I know a lot of people love sliders, especially designers. But it can be risky using them, if you ever take a look at case studies and statistics on sliders. So these are for conversion rates experts. Study after studies, statistic after statistics shows that sliders can have a negative impact on conversion rate. The more slides you have, the lower your conversion rate. This tends to be because a lot of people don't like being forced into how they receive information. When you have an automated slider, the visitor has to wait for the particular information they're interested, they don't have much control. So it can be somewhat risky. And also if you are using a slider, they tend to be a plug-in or something of that nature and they can slow down the load time on your site. So if you have someone that's visiting and they have a slower internet speed, and your sliders are top, they may have to wait to see any information. If it's taking a while to look they may just bounce, rather than figure out what you're trying to do or what your site's about. So again I'm not saying get rid of the slider but it might be something to consider other options, and what we always want to do is test. Don't just use something, we want to test it. Try something, see how it works. Doesn't work, go back. Try something else.
Looking at conversions. I'm not entirely sure if this page has a primary conversion goal. There's a nice progression you know we're final. But if I'm a parent and I arrive on the site --I'm just going to close this popup here-- it's a little bit hard to read this on a great background but, if I close this down here. So let's say I'm a parent of a preschooler and I land on this site, I'm probably going to say 'Oh Tiny Tigers, 4 - 7 years old. Yeah that's for me.' And I go through here and I get to the program page. Okay so it's great, there's a lot of information here and it's very readable. You could possibly consider adding a few photos. It's always great to see some kids, smiling kids in action with their instructors helping them. Or possibly even a video to really bring the page to live. But I'd really like to have a form on this page or some other call to action. Because I land on this page and I'm like 'Okay this is good! And now what do I do?' So I finish reading through and I'm excited, I want to enroll my kid, and what do I do here now? So I guess I have to go to the Contact Us page. But really want to make it simple. Ideally we'd like to have a form or a phone number or something, to get them to take action right away.
Let's take a look at our third site which is Reitenbachs Taekwondo. One thing you may notice, immediately we have a photo of the instructors. So this is always good for the 5-second rule for one reason, ut it really helps to add that familiarity right away. So instead of using a stock photo or something like that, you immediately start to build a connection with the visitor. We also have 'Established in 1971'. So what that does is adds that sense of credibility right, so the school's been around for quite a long time. And if I'm about to enroll in the school, I feel a little bit more comfortable knowing that the school's been around for a long time, it's established. Maybe if it's a newer school I might not be as comfortable. I'm going to scroll down here.
So there's a slider as well. This slider does however have some control elements, we can manually go through the slides. And something I notice here - 'As seen on CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC, The New York Times'. Well that's impressive. But what that does is it adds social proof right away.
So I say 'Well this is clearly an established school, there's a lot of buzz about it. I think it deserves some further investigation.' And as I keep going, I see there's a lot of text. Search engines in particular love text because it's easy for them to analyze. They have difficulty with images, with videos, but for text, they understand it. So for an SEO standpoint, this page would have the likelihood of ranking stronger. And of course you probably notice right away, it has this popup widget 'Let's Talk! Turn your child's bad behavior around - instantly.' Okay so this is very prominent. And in general pop-ups like this do tend to increase conversion rates just because they're right there, right in your face, and they're all over the site. But I would have to see some data on it.
So looking at opportunities, I'm going to go back to the top here. So there is a lot going on on this page. In terms of focus if I'm landing here fresh, it does take a while for my eyes to adjust and try to define a path through the page. So there are two menus. There's a top navigation here and there's also another one. That might be a little bit overwhelming for a first time visitor. It does give you a lot of options but you're trying to figure out what should I do when I get here. You know we have the slider, we have the popup, we have a lot of images. There's a lot of page assets, and so I'm curious to see what the load time would be for this page. You know every additional second of load time dramatically increases your bounce rate. So we want to make sure that the page's loading fast, so something I would definitely do is test the page load speed. There's a number of tools that you can use to test that as well.
Couple things people don't like doing - they don't like waiting for pages to load, and they don't like scrolling. So what you could do is you could try experimenting and moving some of the content here to other separate pages, to inner pages, just to increase the focus more. So figure what content is not absolutely essential and try moving it to other pages. Just to add more focus to the page.
Okay, this website is responsive. You can see it changing which is great. So that means if someone's visiting from desktop, visiting from tablet, from mobile, they're going to get an optimal view. However if I do go to mobile, there's going to be quite a lot of scrolling required. And then you also have the widget as well. So it's a lot of scrolling required. I hope that was some kind of useful feedback.
Let's look at number 4. Our fourth site here is Qi Kwan Do. As you can see right away, it's a very clean, focused layout. There really is a linear progression that direct your eyes down the page. It really seems like they've been very selective in the content that's included. It should look reasonably good on different devices and I did check this one isn't responsive. So if I visit from mobile for example, that's probably the view I'm going to get. It's not too bad but it is going to require that horizontal scrolling. So for example if I want to read, I have to scroll horizontally, and then I have to go back the line, I'm going to have to scroll vertically. But the layout is pretty clean on the whole. Something that I did notice immediately, I guess with an SEO background that is kind of what I gravitate to.
But the heading 'Martial arts self-defense lessons for Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Bedfordshire' - a lot of shires there. This is good for humans and search engines. This heading immediately tells me how far away the school is from me roughly. It's good for local SEO as well. So 5-second rule - as soon as I land here, self-defense classes, where are they, immediately I know so I'm not going to jump right away.
Another cool thing they've done is they link internally to pages. So you can see schools here, staff, programs. What that does is those inner pages, it boosts the strength of those inner pages. So obviously the site was designed with SEO in mind.
Let's look at some opportunities here. We do have this photo here, the school photo which again is great, but I would kind of like to see more individual photos. From this school photo we can't see any faces. And it looks like there a lot of kids here. If I'm the parent or if my target student, my ideal student is children, then I'd really want to have smiling child kicking or an instructor helping a child, an instructor smiling, a child smiling, really showing that face. That does a couple things. One is the emotion - it shows you that people are having fun, you're not just there to learn self-defense to protect yourself, but you're also enjoying the environment. So that's what the smiling face does. It also does bring in that familiarity. If you have a panoramic or a wide scale image, you can really get that. I can see that this is a decent size school but I can't really get that connection. I can't see any of the children or the instructors individually. That's something that you can possibly consider.
Another thing is the call to action here. It stands out because it's blinking, especially free. It's the only thing on the page that's animated so it definitely draws my attention. What you could do is --I'm going to click through here. So it takes me to a page for free trial. The text is kind of small and it's really just a text page. So again adding some photos would be nice, giving this some more emotion. I would've expected to see a form here, but they do provide a phone number. And then if you want to go to a form then you click here again, and then there's your form. So you're adding an extra click in, and whenever you do that, you decrease your conversion rate. So ideally I probably put the form or at least test putting a form on the page to reduce that extra click required. It says today - 'Starts your martial arts development today,' so getting that urgency but adding some type of special offer, also adding like we saw before some kind of social proof, some kind of differentiation what makes your school different, right on that page. Because I'm filling out a form and I'm giving you my personal information, I may not want to so I want that extra incentive on that page. But on the whole this is a pretty good site.
Our last one since we are running short on time is Evolution Martial Arts. Some of the strengths here, some things that they've done well - the homepage is quite visual and they're using a real school photo, an interior photo as the background image. Just like the last site, the content is quite focused, and the text used, the copy that they've written here it's written for the visitor which is great.
So if I land on the site - 'Welcome to the first step in getting all the tools you need to survive! Do you want self-defense for you and/or your child?' So you see I'm being asked questions.
So I'm qualifying myself - is this the right school for me, it seems that this school knows what I'm after. 'Do you want to get in shape?' It's a short paragraph but it can be very effective at grabbing me. So I'm probably going to stay and learn more. I'm going to bounce right away. And of course you probably notice very prominent conversion goal here, and look at the copy - 'Get Started NOW!' And then even the submit button - 'Help me get started now!' Help ME get started now, it's written for me. So it's got that urgency. There's lots of contrast. First name, last name, email - I can very easily see these labels as well, and I can make my choice. So the form's done quite well.
Let's take a look at opportunities here. The background image which I say is quite good. What could make it even better is having a background image with instructors or students. Showing an empty area, you kind of get the feeling like 'Well, what's it really like?' With this view, lots of new equipment which is great, looks very clean, new equipment, good environment, but again we don't have the people. We don't see are there like me already taking classes, what's the age group, are people enjoying themselves, are the students enjoying themselves, what the instructors look like. Really we'd like to have at least some elements of that right on the homepage. The form like I said, form is great overall, but you can add additional direction and more specificity. So what exactly do I get if I fill out this form, what am I getting, is there any advantage to doing it now as opposed to six months from now. So we say get started now, now, now, but what am I getting, what am I actually getting with this. Am I getting a phone call, am I getting emailed something, am I getting any kind of special pricing, I don't really know. So that's something that you can do.
And as well this site isn't responsive. So if I'm on a mobile device again that means I have to do a lot of horizontal scrolling. And in fact depending on my resolution, I might not even see the form. If I land on something like this and I start scrolling down, I don't even see the form until I go sideways.
Couple of small things. It could help to have a little bit more consistency in the buttons, in your program buttons here. Just to let me know these are really options. Like if you look at the programs here - Karate, Evo-Fit, Engineered MMA, Reiki, Yoga, they're very easy to compare. Maybe having labels like that would make them a little bit easier. It's just a very small thing.
Another thing that you could add that I really encourage everyone to consider is adding school hours directly to the homepage. Or at least a broad range, what time do you typically open and close at. If you have gaps in between which many schools do, you can always have that in your Contact pages. But just to have a ball park let people know what hours are you open roughly. It's something that can be done. But that's about it.
You know I love doing this because I learn a lot, and I really hope that this webinar was useful for you guys, and that you were able to learn a few things. And thanks for all the submissions. I guess that's about it. I'll turn it over to Whitney and open up for you guys to questions.
Whitney: Thanks, Jason, that was awesome actually and you did definitely professional when it comes to websites. You learn so many different things. I had no idea that sliders can have a negative effect on your conversion rates or you should always be testing. Always be testing because every website is different and you have different target market and certain interaction that you're looking for. Personally one of the things I love the most is seeing live photos of schools. So kids involved, instructors teaching the kids, and big smiles. To me that is very appealing as consumer. So just going to wait for the first question to come in.