Ever heard of the messy middle?

And I’m not talking cake 🍰

I know we’d like to think that our customers (or prospects) go on a linear journey to purchase from us after we’ve done a great job of marketing to them and making them aware we exist.

….But in reality, it just doesn’t work that way. 🤯

You’ve probably seen a model like this one.

👉 Awareness
👉 Interest
👉 Desire
👉 Action

(AIDA) Or, the gazillions of variations of the same funnel 😆

Google studied the journeys of millions of customers and wrote a great white paper called ‘The Messy Middle’ (link in the comments)

The reality is, even after your prospects become aware of you they’re now evaluating you on many different platforms such as social media, Google, review sites, your website, and a plethora of other sources.

So it stands to reason your responsibility as a business owner is to maintain a consistent approach to all the places people will research you in ‘The Messy Middle’.

Do this well and they pop through ‘The Messy Middle’ at the bottom of your funnel and be ready to engage and hopefully buy.

Anyway, I just I’d share this as it often gets talked about the sales funnel, but people miss the bit in the middle where it stops being linear into, well, a mess! 🤯

Check out the link in the comments to read the full article.

Hope it helps

How can you attract more local visitors to your website?

There’s four free ways you can appear on searches within Google.

  1. In the organic results section
  2. In the map pack area (the results under the Google Map)
  3. Featured snippets
  4. Links / pages on other peoples websites

For this article we’ll focus on the first one as this is where you have lots of control.

First lets dispel any myths around SEO.

Myth #1 – SEO is a dark art only experienced people can do.

This is simply not true. Google is an AI machine that runs on logic, as long you follow best practices and stay within the rules the chances are you’ll do well with your SEO

Myth #2 – SEO can only be done by professionals

Again, this isn’t true. By reading a few books and articles and watching some YouTube videos you can 100% pick up the basics that are needed to get your site ranking well.

Okay, let’s dive in and share some top tips to get your Mortgage Broker website ranking above your competition.

Tip #1 – Site structure

Make sure the way you setup your sitemap gives your website structure, for example:

home page / mortgage products / first time buyer mortgages

So in your website menu you’ll have a drop down that has as one of its options ‘Mortgage Products’ then in that drop down you’ll have pages for each of your core products – First Time Buyer, House Movers, Buy To Let etc.

Its important for Google to index your site correctly that you use a structure that is easy to follow for humans, if it works well for us, it will work well for Google!

Tip #2 – Use headings correctly

Within HTML code you are allowed six heading types starting with H1 going down to H6, within the code they will appear like this <h1>Main heading</h1>

Its important to use these correctly in order to give Google the best chance of understanding what your page is about and the focus.

You should only have one H1 heading on your page and this should be the main heading that contains your keywords that relate to the pages content i.e. <h1>First Time Buyer Mortgages</h1>

Then you use the H2 tags on your section headings down the page to break up the page copy.

Tip #3 – Include a knowledge base or FAQ section on your website

Every day you’ll be asked dozens of questions by prospects on the phone. Your aim should be to write these down and answer them on your website.

Before long you’ll have a rich index of frequently asked questions that will be a powerful weapon against your local competition. Plus you’ll have lots of rich content that Google loves and indicates strongly what you do.

Tip #4 – Create local area pages for your key search terms

It’s likely you’ll be serving a wider area than just your main town. One tactic that still works well when done correctly is creating bespoke local area pages for other key towns/cities that you operate in.

For example:

mortgage-advisor-southampton
mortgage-advisor-bournemouth

To execute this strategy you’ll need to create a page of fresh content for each local area page – whilst you’re unlikely to pick up a penalty from Google for simply duplicating content, it certainly won’t help your pages ranking if you just copy and paste and just change town names.

Tip #5 – Check your page speed and make improvements

As of May 2021 page speed is becoming even more important in Google’s search engine with their upcoming Core Web Vitals update. This means that Google will penalise you even more for slow loading of your website.

It’s likely Google will also display a badge next to websites that pass its Core Web Vitals test, improving clicks for faster sites, and penalising those with slow load speed.

Check your website for speed using Google’s own tool here.

Things that will slow down your website include:

  • Poor hosting (cheap/low cost) on a shared server
  • Images that aren’t optimised
  • Lots of website plugins

Tip #6 – Build citations to improve your ranking

Your aim should be to build phase one links from the off when you launch your new site. Phase one links are easy straightforward inbound links to build and include:

  • Social media backlinks
  • Niche industry directories
  • Local business directories
  • National business directories
  • Branded business directories i.e. Yell

These are the easiest links to build for your Mortgage Broker website and should be your initial target starting with ensuring your links are in place in your bio for sites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Citations are small indicators to Google that your website has a degree of authority and is located where you say it is, so make sure your NAP (Name, Address and Phone) are consistent everywhere you register your website.

Tip #7 – Use your Google My Business listing and drive customer reviews

Google My Business is a great free tool provided by Google that gives you a local presence in the map pack listing area.

It also enables you to be able to collect Google reviews for your business, another important trust indicator to Google. Make sure you’re making full use of this free resource from Google to power your local SEO.

Tip #8 – Use video on your main landing pages to increase dwell time

Another ranking factor in Google is how long someone is on your website. Google doesn’t like it when people visit your site and bounce off within seconds, it indicates a poor website that hasn’t met their needs.

Instead, use a video on each of your main mortgage product pages to explain fully about the service you provide and how it will help them.

Video is engaging and people are more likely to spend time on your site watching a video than reading lots of content, thereby increasing dwell time.

Apart from improving dwell time on your site, you will likely see an improvement in your overall conversion rate too as you will build know, like and trust faster with video over text.

There you have it, our 8 top tips on how you can improve the SEO of your mortgage broker website.

Have you tried our free Scorecard for Mortgage Brokers?

Don’t forget, if you haven’t tried our free Get More Mortgage Broker Leads scorecard it takes a couple of minutes and you’ll get an instant benchmark score indicating how good your marketing is.

How the best marketers make strategy look easy

A quote I always refer to when discussing marketing strategy is this quote from the renowned strategist Michael Porter.

It’s a simple quote, but one of the most important aspects of marketing strategy.

Choosing what we’re not going to do.

It’s easy to chase after a bunch of shiny new marketing tactics, or jump on board the latest trend, social media platform, or viral social media dance!

What’s not so easy is choosing what you’re going to leave alone.

That requires understanding of your audience, guided by data and insights. It requires discipline to not be tempted to be taken off your path.

Once you understand what you’re not going to do, marketing decisions get easier.

It’s easier to decline that meeting with a sales rep who wants to show you some new whizzy software or tool.

Once you know what you’re not doing you can not sign up to that new course, or five day challenge or whatever else you’re planning to start but never finish.

This thinking applies whether you run a multi-billion dollar business, or you’re a sole trader.

Commit to what you’re NOT going to do.

Keep in touch with prospects and grow your sales with a customer newsletter

When: Thursday 6th May
Time: 2pm – 3pm
Where: Online via Zoom

How do you keep in touch with your prospects, the people that you’ve spoken to that have expressed an interest in what you do, but haven’t committed?

A ‘keep in touch’ newsletter strategy is perfect to keep prospects warm, or even warm up cold prospects to get them ready to buy.

I’ll walk you through six simple steps to getting your own “keep-in-touch” newsletter live.

What we’ll cover in the workshop

  1. Picking a CRM system (customer relationship management)
  2. Creating a lead magnet to build your list
  3. Connecting your new CRM system to your website with Mail Munch
  4. Choosing your newsletter theme
  5. Brainstorming content ideas
  6. Sending your first newsletter

By the end of the 45 minute workshop you’ll be able to set up and run your own customer newsletter to keep in touch with prospects.

Who is it for?

The workshop is perfect for business owners that want to be able to keep in touch with prospects and increase sales as a result. By following this strategy you’ll be able to deliver valuable content to your prospects, increasing your authority and trust with them.

Workshop feedback from previous attendees

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How do I register for the workshop?

To register, drop your details in the registration form below, we’ll send you your Zoom link to your inbox and a reminder nearer the time.

💥 SELL FUTURES, NOT FEATURES

This is the best advice I can offer when it comes to writing copy for your website, brochures, social media, and ads.

Customers are interested in the outcome of what you do, not the features, or how it’s done.

In fact, I’d go a step further and say they have zero f*cks to give how you get the results they want, as long as you get them (legally, of course!).

So, focus on the outcome that your service provides (the future).

Tell them how great it will make them feel, or how their life will be improved by it.

BMW doesn’t tell you how the car works, they just show you what it looks like to own one.

When Apple launched the first iPod, they didn’t tell you it was an MP3 player with 5gb of storage – they told you that you could have 1000 songs in your pocket.

Stop telling people about the nuts and bolts, they seriously don’t care.

Instead, tell them about how they’ll feel after they’ve experienced your product or service.How will their life be impacted?

I thought I would share my thoughts on some lead generation tactics as we’ve had a few posts and comments on the subject recently.🐘 Let’s get the elephant out of the room, everyone wants leads and new business NOW!⏰ But the reality is, it takes time, and to be honest, most people don’t want to wait, we’re all used to getting the stuff we want to be delivered in an hour by Amazon!👉 Building a sustainable flow of leads takes time for a number of reasons.

  1. You need to build up awareness of your products or services. This takes time and consistency as people will rarely buy the first time they see your brand, especially if they’re not “in the market” for what you’re offering.
  1. You need to build up trust. This again takes time as trust is often defined by how trusted you are by others, so things like reviews, testimonials (especially video ones), and industry accreditations need to be gathered and presented to consumers.
  2. You need to develop authority. Authority is different to trust and is about building YOUR story as the founder/owner. Building authority can be done by instructional videos, giving value upfront, showing up on your social media regularly, essentially positioning you and your business as the authority for what you do.

🤷‍♂️ You can’t send paid or organic traffic to a website or landing page and expect it to convert, if you’ve not layered it, and the customer journey to get them there with all of the above.💡 So, that’s my first tip – focus on building awareness, trust, and authority BEFORE you start spending big bucks on paid marketing activities.It doesn’t take a huge effort to build up a few reviews on Facebook and Google, write up your back story and why people should trust you, and gather together your accreditations to put them in front of prospects.🚀 With that in mind, and in the absence of a marketing strategy, here are some tactics I know 100% work for local businesses.

  1. Google My Business – it’s free, it takes 30 minutes to set up and five minutes a day to maintain, but so many businesses neglect it or set it up once and forget about it, thereby negating ANY benefit from it.
  2. Facebook – it’s free and you can reach thousands of local residents quickly, especially by creating eyecatching content i.e. videos, and sharing them with local Facebook groups. But, it has to be part of an ongoing strategy, not a do once and forget about it approach.
  3. Facebook Paid ads – they 100% work if you do them right and have a strategic approach. Create a single ad and it will unlikely work, however, run multiple ads, test what works and retarget people that have engaged with your business and this will 100% work.
  4. Google Ads – Different from Facebook ads as this targets people that are actively looking for your product or service and will show your ads to local people that you can define using what’s called ‘negative keywords’ i.e. trigger words that will ensure your ads are NOT shown to certain searches.
  5. LinkedIn – Yes, LinkedIn! It’s not the scary place it once was years ago and is pretty much the Facebook for business. Want to build relations with local builders, or lettings agents and landlords – you’ll find them on there. I started a LinkedIn account for a plumber two weeks ago and he’s had two paid jobs from connections I made for him!
  6. Local SEO – This is a long burn strategy but your future self and business will thank you for starting to do it now! The work that is done today won’t start paying off for 3-6 months, but in 3-6 months you’ll have another lead channel bringing you regular website visits, and in turn, leads. Plus, a website with high authority in Google will rank new pages faster and higher than a website that hasn’t.
  7. Targeted mail drops – Want to find customers in a particular area because they’re populated by high net worth individuals? Then a targeted solus (basically, yours is the only leaflet dropped) mail drop will work well for you. Make it relevant to them and solve a problem in their life and it will bring leads. Mail drops fail because they’re usually ‘spray and pray’ in approach and don’t have anything the consumer wants. Who wants their grass mowed in Winter?!?! But right now, I’d say it’s the perfect time to hit people with that message.
  8. YouTube – Did you know it’s possible to rank a video on page one of Google for a chosen keyword/phrase within ten minutes? I don’t have time to explain in this post but using software like Videly you can search for high traffic keywords that when applied to a video on YouTube can get you ranking LOCALLY on page one within minutes. Also, did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in existence behind Google? Even more, a reason to have a presence on there.

🎉 So, there are lots of ideas on how you can proactively bring customers to your door. I’m not suggesting you do everything, but basically, you need to have two strategies running in tandem:

  1. The long game – Building up your awareness, trust, and authority – whilst working on a number of tactics such as local SEO, Google My Business – basically your local digital footprint
  2. The short game – Tactics to get the phones ringing – Paid ads, mail drops and social sharing/virality. They’re more expensive, and without the long game strategy, you’ll ALWAYS be paying to acquire traffic.

❤️ Hope that helps folks. It’s a loooooong post but I’m happy to answer questions, and if you want to book a quick 15-minute slot with me feel free to message me.

Do you want to know how to increase your sales without spending money?

If you answered yes, then our next free marketing workshop is for you.

The topic will be covering is something every business needs to nail to grow their sales – your Value Proposition.

Guess what the most successful businesses have?

Yes, you’ve guessed it, a strong Value Proposition – they understand the needs, wants and fears of their ideal customer portrait, and then match them with their services or products.

And lucky for you I’m going to share with you how to create your own Value Proposition Canvas for your business.

During the free workshop you’ll learn:

  • The Value Proposition Canvas method of creating a strong value proposition for your business.
  • How to build strong customer portraits (or ideal client avatars as they’re sometimes referred to).
  • Understanding your customer’s needs, wants, and fears – and why this really matters.
  • Understanding the features and benefits of your service, and how to match them to your customer’s needs, wants, and fears.
  • How to build your brand messaging around your Value Proposition and bring it to life

This will be an interactive session over Zoom, so be prepared to engage and talk freely about your business.

Why should you attend?

This is one thing that business owners often get wrong. They fail to understand their customer to the degree required to generate a plentiful stream of leads.

This workshop will help you overcome this, and even more importantly articulate why customers should choose your business. Having a strong value proposition is a critical success factor for high performing business.

It’s not complex, but requires you follow a process to get to the outcome – a strong product / market fit your your services and products – and this starts with crafting your Value Proposition.

The workshop will be held over Zoom on:

Thursday 18th March 2021
from 4pm and will last approx. 45 minutes inc Q&A

Workshop feedback from previous attendees

Register for the free online workshop

To register for this free workshop, please pop your details below and we’ll send you an email with your Zoom login details for the workshop

Before we dive in to the meat on this particular marketing bone, let’s define what is considered to be a ‘landing page’ as opposed to a normal page on your website.

For me the definition is simple.

It’s a web page that is out of the normal architecture of your website, not found through your normal site map, but only found through campaigns targeting specific customer demographics with key search terms. Therefore only visible to a well defined audience.

The idea of a landing page is that it speaks directly to your target audience and answers directly the pain that they are suffering with. Usually this will result in higher conversion rates as you won’t be sending any general traffic, just traffic where the user has searched for the subject matter of the landing page.

Hopefully, with that cleared that up, we can now move on to my 7 Landing Page Best Practices to Increase Your Conversions.

1. Understand WHO you’re targeting and WHY

First identify which of your personas you’re targeting and really understand their pain and jobs to be done. Once you know WHO you’re targeting and what their pain is, you’ll be better placed to create copy and an experience that talks directly to them.

2. Make sure you include social proof

Including social proof gives clear psychological signs that what you’re offering works. It will influence massively on whether people take action. Including some testimonials in written or video form will drastically increase your conversion rates. Embedding tweets and Instagram posts can also be a great way to demonstrate social proof.

3. Where possible don’t use stock photography

Authentic imagery will always trump stock photography. Therefore having a strategy to create an asset repository is key if landing pages play or will play a big part in your marketing strategy. They don’t have to be taken with an expensive camera, but images showing YOU in action will work better than stock images.

4. Make your form simple and clutter free

Your call to action form should be simple, straightforward and not too complicated. It’s easy to get carried away with these but the evidence is clear – less is more. It’s tempting to ask stuff like “Where did you hear about us” but honestly, this is best left further down the customer journey. Stick with the important stuff. And, if you need an anti-spam form validator like ‘captcha’ make it an easy to use one!

5. Use a 1:1 link ratio

This is important. The idea of a landing page is that users will be ‘funnelled’ through your page to the call to action. Therefore links to pages like ‘about us’, ‘meet the team’ etc only serve to take focus away from the goal – getting the conversion through your call to action on the page. So, keep your link ratio to 1:1 i.e. no other links on your page.

6. Create landing pages for every persona or campaign

The stats are really clear on this. The companies with the highest number of landing pages invariably get the highest conversion rates. So, use multiple landing pages in your business to target different personas and different products in your campaign. Customers never have the same need, so using landing pages that speak directly to each individual persona will work far better than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

7. Use a high contract for your CALL TO ACTION button

if your brand colours are blue, use an orange or red button. Always go for high contrast so, at a glance of your page it’s easy to spot your call to action from all the other on page copy and imagery.

BONUS TIP: Test, test and test some more

Once your landing page is live and getting traffic, use tools like Hotjar to monitor performance of your page. Make adjustments, take stuff away and add stuff in. With most landing page software you can normally split test different variations and find the perfect mix of on page copy and imagery.

There you have it, my top 7 best practice tips for squeezing the very most from your landing pages. If you need help or more advice feel free to ask by emailing steve@stevemark.co.uk or connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a DM.

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