Your blog is leaking visitors.
And if you’ve read my last post, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
They visit, look around for a few seconds – and leave as suddenly as they came.
Most estimates say that the average web site visitor will give you only 10 seconds (or less) to make a great impression before they click away.
If you don’t make a dramatic impression… *poof!* They’re gone forever.
The painful truth is that if you can’t wow new visitors in the first few seconds, everything else means nothing.
Your epic content.
Your guest posts.
It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.
…unless you can get them to stay past those first 10 crucial seconds.
Why Your Monetization Efforts *Must* Begin Above the Fold
If you didn’t realize it, the term above the fold comes from the newspaper business. Since newspapers were folded in half before being sold, newspaper editors quickly realized how significant this “fold” area was.
In order to sell more newspapers, they would put the most important news story, the most striking photograph, and the most powerful headline above the fold in order to catch a reader’s attention.
Your blog’s above the fold area serves the important function of answering all of your new visitor’s important questions in mere seconds.
And the most important questions you need to answer in the first 10 seconds all have to do with what I call the 3 C’s.
These are the three things that will make those first 10 seconds productive, get your new visitors to stay on your blog, and subscribe to your email list.
C #1: Clarity
Try to look at your blog through a new visitor’s eyes. Will they immediately be able to tell what your blog is about and how it’s unique?
Honestly answer the following questions about your blog’s clarity.
1: Does your blog provide near-instant clarity of your topic, your message, and your point of differentiation?
In general, does the design and messaging of your blog make a brand new visitor say,
“Ohhhh… I get it!” or does it make them say, “What the hell is this about?”
2: Does your domain name or blog name specifically spell out what your blog is all about?
Some domain names are so damn good and so specific that they spell out exactly what
the blog is about all by themselves.
These domain names are so brilliant that they leave new visitors with no questions about what to expect. Most of us, however, (Reboot Authentic included) need a tag line to help us further clarify our message.
3: If you do use a tag line, does it help sharply focus your messaging, or does it water down and confuse it?
A good tag line should be short, memorable, very descriptive, and it should outline a
benefit for the reader.
One of the biggest mistakes I see made with tag lines is bloggers trying to be too clever. A clever tag line is fine, but not at the expense of being clear or descriptive. Clever has the potential to confuse or distract if you’re not careful.
When it comes to tag lines, if you have to choose, always choose clear over clever.
(Tweet this quote)
If your tag line reads anything like…
“Healthy living, parenting, travel, and life tips”, then you need serious help with your messaging and your focus.
Trim that topic down, be more specific, and get some help focusing your message.
4: Does your blog design appear professional and clean – or cluttered and amateurish?
In comments of the last post, Marianne said something important…
Marianne made her comment from a design perspective since she’s a designer – but she’s 100% right from a messaging perspective, too.
If your above the fold area tries to jam too much into a small space, your visitors will become over-stimulated like a four year old who downed too many chocolate-covered Mickeys at Disney World.
Fat chance getting them to focus on anything in that state, right?
If there are too many things to see, read, and assimilate – you’ll just confuse them.
Keep it clean.
C #2: Credibility
If we were able to slow down and chart the brain activity of your new visitor, we’d probably see them mentally crossing items off of a very important checklist. The first item, clarity, has to do with their ability to understand you and your message.
If you’ve successfully made it easier for a new visitor to understand your message, what do you think is likely the next question they’ll want answered?
How about, “Who runs this place and why should I listen to anything they have to say?”
That’s a credibility question – and your answer must be demonstrated above the fold.
1: Does your domain name (URL) make you look professional or amateurish?
To be fair, most bloggers start part time and consider themselves hobbyists at first – but that doesn’t mean your blog has to look amateurish.
If your domain is www.yourname.freebloghost.com, many visitors will write you off before they even give you a fair chance to impress them. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s a fact – and you need to be aware of that fact.
2: Are you using a professional, premium theme?
Yeah I know, something else to pay for, right? Hey, I get it. I started this blog on a shoestring, too.
But this is one of those areas where you need to suck it up, bite the bullet, or do some other clichéd thing that means, “step up and spend the money.”
While premium themes cost $75-$99, they also look great, are easy to customize, provide excellent tech support when you need it, and come with significant SEO benefits.
But the bottom line: Your blog will look professional and not cheesy.
3: Do you have testimonials visible above the fold?
If you have testimonials, place them in such a way that they’re at least partially visible above the fold.
When we observe other people approving of something, that thing becomes more acceptable to us. That’s called social proof – and testimonials are a fantastic way to show people that you are someone to be listened to.
If you have testimonials from recognized names, do your best to make at least one of them visible above the fold. Even if your testimonials aren’t from well-known people, you can still prominently feature a powerful or dramatic statement from anyone above the fold.
People like to follow people who other people follow. We’re interesting animals, aren’t we? 🙂
4: Do you use ‘authority by association’ above the fold?
If you have media credits, awards, or “as seen on” logos, you should display those above the fold as well.
When you do that, you’re associating yourself with those other better-known entities and, to a degree, drafting on their reputation and authority.
Don’t invent credits, but if you have some, try to work them in above the fold.
C #3: Commitment
Lastly, after we’ve clearly presented our message and communicated our credibility, we need to use whatever is left of our 10 seconds to get a commitment from our new visitor.
1: Do you have an attractive optin form in a prominent position above the fold?
If you answered, “no” to this one, shame on you. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Ok, so I’m being a tiny bit sarcastic… but seriously… your email list is objective numero uno. No question, no arguments. If you don’t have a strong email list, you don’t have a successful blog. Period.
If you immediately implement just one tip from this post, make it this one. Make sure you have a nice, obvious opt-in form above the fold.
There are several ways to create attractive, attention-grabbing opt-in forms, but my favorite is a premium plugin called Hybrid Connect. A quick trip through Google will yield all sorts of other alternatives, too.
2: Do you make other requests for commitment above the fold?
While the ultimate commitment you want from a new visitor is their email address, there are other types of smaller commitments that can move you closer to that end.
Enticing links in your menu or in your home featured area can also be effective in getting a new visitor to click through to something that interests them – and hopefully subscribe during that first visit.
If you can get them to stay more than those 10 seconds, your chances increase dramatically.
Pages and links like resources, free stuff, or start here (just to name a few) all increase your ability to engage a new visitor, keep them on the page, and eventually turn them into a subscriber.
While we’re talking about all these components of a great above the fold area, I want to re-remind you not to confuse messaging elements with design elements.
You do not have to jam tons of physical design items above the fold to make it effective. You do need to fit in a lot of messaging. Messaging as a powerful force that’s not always visible.
Why Above the Fold Is So Hard to Get Right
In these posts, I’ve shared some of the most crucial elements of your above the fold area, but there’s only so much that can be said in a blog post.
Above the Fold is part of your overall messaging and branding. The thing about messaging and branding is that it’s highly personal. In other words, what works for your friends and associates may not work for you.
The branding and messaging strategy for an extreme fitness blog, for instance, would be night and day different from the strategy used by a holistic health blog.
But one thing is true for each and every one of us:
If you want to monetize your blog, it all starts in those first 10 seconds above the fold.
(Tweet this quote!)
How This Topic Blew Up My Email Inbox
I originally started writing these two posts because of my friend Sharon’s story.
(She’s doing well, by the way – and her blog revenues have more than doubled now)
After that post went live, something interesting started happening. It seemed like every time I opened my inbox, someone was asking a question about optimizing their above the fold area. Apparently a large number of my followers understands how important the above the fold area is to their success – and they have plenty of questions about it.
Shortly after that, I emailed asking all subscribers to share their above the fold questions with me. I was buried with emails and actually had trouble keeping up. (Sorry!)
Ultimately, this experience underlined for me the fact that this is something many of you want help with.
I’m Looking For A Few Brave Souls
In response to the many requests for help I received, I’m now in the process of developing a custom Above the Fold Analysis service. When it’s finished, it will consist of a customized analysis of your above the fold area, and likely some one-on-one coaching as well.
The details and features are yet to be determined, but two things are certain…
- I’m going to do it soon
- I’ll need a crack team of pioneers to help make this service the best it can be
If you’re currently planning a monetization effort, are having trouble converting visitors, or just want to tighten up your above the fold area, this is for you.
In the days that follow this post, I’ll be sending out an email to subscribers only to give you the details of how a limited number of you can get in on the ground floor of this.
So if you’re a subscriber already, just hang tight and watch for the email.
If you’re not a subscriber, use the form at the end of this page (or the one above the fold) to join us so you don’t miss it.
Having read this post now, what do you think you need to fix on your ‘above the fold?’
What are you doing well?
Let’s chat about it!