Your Best Website Yet

building brand trust, content writing, website design

Your website is one of your best tools to help you attract clients and customers.  A great website is designed to be of benefit to the people you are trying to attract and serve.

You are a benefit when you are helpful.

You see, if you’re not helping your customers or clients. you’re selling them and most people don’t want to be sold anything. They want to learn. They want to educate themselves.

Your job as a business owner or marketer is to help your website visitors.  If you really want to be of value, help, don’t sell.

What does that mean exactly?

It’s simple really. Think about all of the questions your customers and clients ask you on any given day and answer them on your website and your social media profiles.

You can do this in the form of blog posts or create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page.

If you need help designing your website or would like a free audit, drop me a line at


How to Become a Thought Leader in Any Industry

How to Do Your Own PR, Influencer marketing, madeline johnson, marketing plans, personal branding, Thought Leadership, video marketing, website design, Wordpress website

Sometimes I work with individuals who are interested in developing their own personal “brand”.  They want to create what is currently called a “thought leadership” position on the internet and social media. This will develop opportunties to meet more clients, customers and well, maybe even new friends.

Often, these clients will have years and years of real-life experience and talent but little knowledge of how to bring that to the world wide web. They know it’s the smart thing to do, the next step in their career and a way to stay relevant, but they don’t know where to begin. It’s foreign territory and it feels uncomfortable.

What is a thought leader exactly?

Someone who demonstrates knowledge and authority on a specific subject that targets their potential customer or client.

“Thought leaders become the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who inspire people with innovative ideas”

Adam at Duke.png

For the past four months, I have been working with Dr. Adam Perlman,  Co-founder of Synchronicity, a Charleston, South Carolina company developing next-generation wellbeing centers.    He is also an adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University, and from 2011 to 2017 was the Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness for the Duke University Health System as well as Executive Director for Duke Integrative Medicine. He’s currently the Director of Duke’s Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare.


We started with a meeting to brainstorm Adam’s core messages, what he felt the world needed most.

Once we nailed down his messages, I created a plan to develop three months (posting once a week on his WordPress blog) of video content. Why video?

  1. Adam is good on video. If he wasn’t easy on the eye, knowledgable and relatable, I would have rethought this approach.
  2. Videos are more impactful and consumers of social media content want more of it.

How to Develop Your Own Personal Brand

No matter where you work or what you do, you need to be continually developing your connections, influence, professional relationships and your network.

A personal/professional website and social media allow you to scale this process on a regional, national and worldwide level. As long as you are creating helpful and useful blog and video content with the proper organic SEO and hashtag strategy you will be assisting others in a very valuable way. At the same time, commenting and sharing your point of view with others in health and wellness or whatever field you are in you will develop an influential presence.

  • A website and social media functions similarly to a resume or a CV. This is also a place for your own personal portfolio. A platform for you to write, offer video sessions and also share books you have written and/or possibly consult and build other businesses in the future.
  • Most reporters, journalists and influencers will search for your name online, you want to control what they discover. They shouldn’t have to patchwork pieces of your CV from different websites or LinkedIn. Your website is a great introduction to you and your unique point of view. Most importantly, your own published content will help them write or produce stories that are more accurate and true to your point of view.
  • If you are pitching yourself as an expert to the media or collaborating with other influencers, most writers and producers want to know who is behind the brand. What the backstory is all about. How the idea evolved. A website and social media gives you the opportunity to highlight your experience and showcase your work and gives you some control over your image and reputation. It will help fill in the blanks for Synchronicity and give the wellness centers more credibility.
  • Your website online platform where you have the freedom to share your own opinion, this includes the inclusion of photos, work studies, and testimonials.


  • The website will also assist you in growing your likes, followers and engagement with those interested in your work, which will benefit you and your future projects.


  • Your own website & social media platforms give you the freedom to try other types of approaches to your community, now and in the future and express yourself the way you want to at any given time.
  • Your voice may convince and convert future clients and customers and become a vital part of lead generation for future members. It may be an article or video that you product that influences them to become interested in your business endeavors.

If you are stuck and don’t know where to begin, get in touch. You can email me at or DM me @madelinemariejohnson on Instagram. I am here to help.


How to Build A Brand from Scratch

Blogging, brand reputation, branded content, building brand trust, code of conduct, content writing, entepreneur, Guiding Principles for Success, Marketing Strategy, website design
When building brand awareness, aim for collaboration over self-promotion.
When building a brand voice, shoot for sincerity over originality.
Worry less about being authentic and more about being honest and sincere.
Monday Motivation

How to Build A Website For Fitness Pros

start up marketing, visual branding, website design

Before you spend any money or hire a web developer to create your personal training and fitness website watch this video for the fastest and easiest way to create a website and shopping experience on a limited budget.

I mention , , and the must-have and essential elements of a great user experience that will attract new clients and customers to your new fitness brand.

Check out more of my marketing tips for fitness professionals on my YouTube channel and let me know if you have any specific questions about how to build your personal training brand.


Marketing Secrets. A Look at Conversion.

advertising on smartphones, Brand Awareness, digital advertising, Email Marketing, Experiential Marketing, Marketing in the Moment, Marketing Mavens, Marketing Metrics, marketing plans, marketing rituals, target marketing, web advertising, website design

brainBefore I begin, I must stress that the most effective marketing secret is in remaining “remarkable” @thisissethsblog Why remarkable? Because it really is about creating an amazingly valuable product or service that people just can’t live without. There may not even be a need for marketing. Well unless you have a really bad website. Than you need some help. But if your product is super wonderful, especially when people want to know – where’d you get that? Then you are #mydreamclient

For the rest of the world, marketing comes in handy and increasingly so on the internet.

Statistics vary from source-to-source, but the conversion rates to follow in this post are closer to the truth than what most digital agencies quote.  The purpose of this post is to relate what is most effective when it comes to spending your marketing dollars.

In 2016, global e-commerce sales are expected to reach 1.92 trillion US dollars. This year alone, 1.22 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online. (

While Gartner Research claims that by 2020 customers will manage 85% of their relationships with brands without ever talking to a human because of rapid growth of “marketing automation”, this post is a review of current conversation rates for some of the most popular methods of inbound marketing conducted by mere humans.

It’s important to understand the difference between a CTR (click through rate) which happens during the customer’s discovery and journey and which refers to the percentage of visitors clicking on your online ad or blog post/video link. Divide the number of impressions (people who saw your content) received by the number of clicks to get the CTR. For example if a blog post had 100 shares and two people clicked on something in it, the rate would be 2%.

For this post a conversion rate measures the percentage of your website visitors who actually purchase something from you. Conversion rate measures the number of sales you’ve received, just divide the number of sales by the number of visitors you have had to your website. Focusing on the ultimate user experience, while optimizing the conversion rate on your website is extremely important and an entirely different topic. For this post we were interested in learning which marketing activities attract the highest chances of conversion.

According to Forrester Research the average conversion rates across marketing activities are about 2.9%, while it’s also interesting to note that the average online order value in the first quarter of 2014 in the US was $78.00.

According to 80% of the online population has purchased something using the internet and 50% have purchased more than once while 84% of online shoppers refer to at least one social media site for recommendations before shopping.

Email Marketing

Some interesting findings.

  • Personalized emails improve click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% (Aberdeen Group)
  • Using the word “Secret” in the subject line of your email has proven to get the most clicks. (Hubspot). While “Click Here” gets the highest percentage of clicks over “Go” and “Submit”.
  •  65% of consumers prefer emails that contain mostly images vs 35% who prefer mostly text. (Hubspot).
  •  According to email marketing is the most converting traffic source with 3.3% conversion rate.

Social Media Marketing

So what does a Facebook business page or Instagram account really mean to your bottom line?

  • 52% of marketers cite difficulties in accurately measuring the return on investment as their main source of frustration in social marketing. It really makes you wonder about all the work it took to get those 1K + likes on Instagram, doesn’t it?
  • In 2014 reported an average conversion rate of 1.08% through social platforms like Facebook and Pinterest.
  • According to a blog post by Marc Macdonald on Facebook dominates as a source of traffic and sales with a 1.85% conversion rate and an average of 85% of all orders from social media belong to Facebook. So less than two people out of 100 are actually going to buy anything from you.

You see Facebook and basically all social media are good tools for market research, customer service and customer feedback. Not sales.

Search Engine Optimization

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (like direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. (Search Engine Journal).
  • A search for a product had an average 2.27% conversion rate for online US Shoppers in 2014. By referrer, Google had a 1.71% conversion rate in 2013 according to

Content Marketing

  • Marketers who have prioritized content creation and curation (ie. a brand blog) are 13x more likely to enjoy a positive return on investment.
  • Content marketing generates 3 x as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less (Demand Metric)
  • The top three most widely adopted content marketing tactics are videos (87%), website articles (86%) and in person events.
  • 79% of companies that have a blog have reported a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013. (HubSpot State of Inbound 2013).
  • It’s interesting to note that 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video and videos in universal search results have a 41% higher click through than plain-text results. When optimizing for universal search, pay attention to keyword intent and be sure to use informational keywords vs transactional words.

Referral Marketing

The trust factor becomes important with referral marketing as consumers rely on recommendations from people they know. According to a Neilson Trust Study, word-of-mouth referrals are the most trusted form of “marketing”, while editorial content, a mention or feature story in a magazine or newspaper fell behind a great branded website and online reviews.

Make it easy for customers to refer your products and services and be sure to respond to online reviews for engagement. Shopify has a number of great app recommendations to help referrals including Referral Candy, Friendybuy, LoyaltyLion and Referrify.

Paid Search

It depends on what you read, but the average click-through rate for paid search in 2010 worldwide was 2% (Convario Jan 2011) and in 2014 about 3.58% for shopping, 6.12% for banking, insurance and finance, 1.45% for the travel industry, 2.21% for home and garden and 4.79% for computers and technology.

Mobile Advertising

While about 8% of purchases come from desktops with a tablet purchase close behind, only 4% of purchases are made from a smart phone. But don’t you worry, that is growing. Thousands of blog posts will tell you so. In the meantime, there is a lot of mobile frustration, as potential customers complain of difficulty viewing product information, a challenge comparing product features and costs to others and slow connection speed as just a few of the setbacks to purchasing on their phones.

Affiliate Marketing

Conversions by affiliates have the highest order value with an average of $445.00 per sales order according to Hubspot and online surveys demonstrate a 1-3% conversion rate for affiliate marketing.

While we continue to study what marketing activities are worthwhile and actually lead to sales and have a return on investment when it comes to building a business, we agree with Seth Godin. “Being the best in the world is seriously underrated.”

Ready to Launch Your Brand

Earned Media, editorial know how, Uncatergorized, website design

At least weekly, we will get a call or email from a client asking the same question – what should we work on first? Our website or hiring you to get us press?

What do you think customers are going to do after reading about you? Sure, we help produce a great editorial placement or television segment about your new innovative breakthrough and where are those new customers going to go? Yup. Right to your home page.

Budget for Both

If your company has a limited marketing budget, you must divide and conquer. It’s a daily thing, and should be a part of your business plan – website and earned media together. Making improvements to your website should become a daily habit.

Building a robust website with a great user experience will only help your PR efforts lead to business growth. The most important thing to remember is that you want to make a great first impression with an efficient and easy to navigate home page. Read here for the five most important web design tips ever from @volusion.

PR begins with the creation of a communication plan with well-written releases, a calendar of launches and professional images of your products and services. Both can be done at the same time to set your company up for social sharing success.

20 Questions about Website Design

Uncatergorized, website design

If you haven’t played the computer game 20 Questions it’s pretty accurate and a whole lot of fun. The link is at the bottom of this post.  It is totally worth the click.

Now, we’ve recently began working with a new client and we are starting with their new website design before we bring them national. What they have created is a very cool new diet program called Our Skinny, its brought to you by a doctor from Savannah, Georgia of all places, home of the deep-fried, low boil everything. Looking to shed a few pounds? You can start getting ready for swimsuit season here.

As we recreate the user experience, we’ve naturally been talking to web developers about helping us with “the back-end” of our new redesign for what is probably the easiest diet ever.  One programmer in their “discovery” process actually emailed us this long list of questions below. At first, we were taken back. We asked ourselves, Why are they asking all these questions? Why don’t they just go to the existing site and read and review it to find out the answers? But they have a point. Most clients really don’t know what they want from a website, let alone how to maintain it. They know they should have one, because, well you must have a website right? The best thing you can do before asking anyone to design your website is to know –

1. Why do you want to have a new website, or have your current site redesigned? 

2.What will happen if you don’t have a new website? 

3.How do you describe your organization in just a few sentences. 

 4. What is there about you and your background that sets you apart for a special (niche) group of potential customers?

 5. What problems do your prospects have that your business solves? 

 6. How can your particular work background help prospects, compared to others in your industry? What’s special about your products or services? 

 7. Why do you believe site visitors should do business with you and not with a competitor?

 8. Do you have a slogan or tag-line that clearly describes what you offer in terms of benefits or  features? 

 9. How do you describe your potential customers? Pay special attention to their income, interests, gender, age, even type of computer they use, e.g., old with dial-up account or newer with broadband. If your website is a business-to-business site, what sort of companies are you hoping to attract?

 10. What is your budget for this project?

 11. Who are the decision makers on this project? What is the turnaround time for making a decision?

 12. What staff will be involved? What are their roles? Is there a webmaster on your staff?

 13. What is your deadline for completing the site? 

 14. List the names of five other sites that you like. Why are they attractive to you? 

 15. Have you researched your online competition so you have an idea of what you do and don’t want on your site?

 16. What do you NOT want on your site in terms of text, content, etc?

 17. Where is the website content coming from? Who’s responsible for updating it? Is it ready for use on your website? 

 18. Are you planning to do online sales? If so, what is the product, and how many items do you want to sell online?

 20. If you’re planning to sell online, are you set up to accept credit cards?

 21. How much time will you be able to spend online, responding to inquiries that come in via your website? Once a day? Several hours a day? 

 22. If you were using a search engine, what words or phrases would you use to find your site? Which of these words or phrases is most important? Second? Third?

 23. Other than what search engines will produce, what methods do you have in mind to spread the word about your website? 

 24. Once your website is completed, how long do you think it will be before you begin bringing in significant business from the website? 

25. How do plan to market your website?

 26. How do you plan to encourage repeat visitors and referrals?

 Following are the “must answer” questions; please do no leave any of these.

  1.  What do you want someone to do once they’ve visited your site—that is, what is the call to action?
  2.  How should a user feel when they visit your site, and what should be their lasting experience?
  3.  Name three sites that appeal to you and explain what it is you like about them.
  4.  Name three sites you don’t like and explain why you dislike them.
  5.  What is your budget and ideal time frame?
Here’s the 20 Questions link.

App Happy

Uncatergorized, website design

Sure the mobile web is projected to surpass desktop usage by 2015, but does that make it absolutely necessary for you to create an app for your business? Appsolutely not. If you are a company looking to grow your target market base, than a smart SEO strategy with a mobile optimized website is less expensive and more beneficial to your business.

Consumers are already on app overload.  The most popular apps are games and sites that serve up news that people can use every day. If you aren’t offering something your customer really craves with a new app (and that even means scheduling and booking a service at your spa) then the world can probably survive without your app.

Build your own Mobile Website in minutes with services like and

Pictured here, the Samsung Galaxy Note. We bought it for our daughter for her birthday. It’s ridiculous and fabulous at the same time. I’m very jealous and she’s very happy.

Website Design Essentials

Uncatergorized, website design

A tidy, up-to-date website is one thing, a well-designed one is quite another. Today we interview NYC design industry professional Matt Hocking on the essential elements of website design.  Matt Hocking has international management experience within design schools and studios. He has a proven ability in design, management and strategy, together with a solid understanding of business and the creative process.

Q. What are the essential elements of a well designed website?

A. The essential elements necessary for a well designed site come from successfully answering the question ‘What are people coming to your site for?’. Depending on how someone uses your site, the elements essential to the site’s success in each circumstance will change in importance as the needs of the user are catered for. In order to do this, a well designed website in my opinion is one which organizes it’s content well.

If I’m buying, allow me to access and browse your merchandise with ease and make me feel safe entering my payment details. If I’m reading the news, make it easy to get to the information I need and set the type so that I can comfortably read it.

In every site there will be elements of navigation, content, branding, social media etc. In a well designed site, all of those elements will fit together seamlessly so that the user can fulfill the function they visited the site to do with ease.

Q. What is crucial to a great user experience?

A. Keeping it simple. Allow the user to know where they are and where they need to go to get what they need at all times. It’s all about trust. As soon as the user can’t get to what they need or you try to lead them to something else that they aren’t interested in or is unexpected, it begins to break down that trust. How many times have you simply closed a browser window due to an unwanted pop up ad or a page taking too long to load because of unnecessary animations? A well designed site should make the experience easy and intuitive. Relevant content is brought to the front, while everything else steps back. No instructions necessary. Always ensure that the site is designed from the perspective of the user. They are the ones that will be using it -so look at it through their eyes.

Q. What specifically (colors, photos, illustrations, fonts) build trust?

A. I wouldn’t say that there is a specific recipe for building trust, any design should always be critiqued in context. However to get your design off to a good start, I usually start with a few basic building blocks –

• Set a rigid grid and be consistent in the placement of consistent elements (navigation, branding, etc)

• Set your copy in a basic serif or sans-serif typeface and in a neutral color. Don’t use crazy colors.

• Try not to reverse a lot of copy out of dark colors as it’ll make it harder to read. Use this technique to contrast and draw attention to smaller packets of info.

• Subtly introduce color, scale and spacing as the information becomes more important (Headings, links, etc). A sub heading doesn’t need to be 5x as big as the copy its leading.

• Keep imagery and headings closer to the content it relates to than other content on the page.

• Be consistent. If two elements are at an equal level importance, style them the same. If one is more important, make it look like it is (bolder, more colorful, different typeface, etc)

Q. How important is white space?

A. Extremely important. White space is the frame. The more important the content the bigger the frame (more white space). By spacing elements appropriately, it can really aid the hierarchy of your information and allow it to be easier to navigate.

Q. What fonts build trust?

A. For me it’s using fonts which display the same qualities I look for in the organizations and people who I trust. If your font looks healthy, honest, wholesome and well established it’s a good start. Try to avoid display typefaces that maybe represent a specific period in time or person. Oh and never trust a website that uses black-letter type – Odds are they are probably pirates ;). No seriously, again it all comes down to context, but the easier a font is to read the more trustworthy it will generally be.

Q. How about infographics and data visualization? Are they a better way to share information?

A. They are definitely interesting and can add value to the information if designed well. I think the fine line is always whether the design actually adds to or takes away from the legitimacy of the information. Most of the time, infographics are a good way to draw the attention of the user and easily allow them to make sense of otherwise complex or even confusing facts and figures. If something is worth drawing attention to, why not make it stand out! Check out Nicholas Feltron’s work ( for some examples of really interesting info graphics.

Q. Photos vs illustrations?

A. Depends completely on the person you are designing for and what will speak to them. Whatever you are going to go with, do it well! Hire a photographer or an illustrator and use treatments and color palettes which keep your look and feel consistent across your entire site. Avoid at all costs using imagery which appears low res or stretched. If your image is too small for the intended application – Get it resupplied at the right size, reshoot it or don’t use it at all. Never resample. At the end of the day your site is a reflection of how you run your business. If the content on your site looks unconsidered and inconsistent, people will draw the same conclusions about the way you do business.

Interested in learning how you can improve your website design? You can reach Matt Hocking on LinkedIn and follow him @matt_hocking for more.

Friends with Benefits & Word-of-Mouth Referrals

customized promotions, future of marketing, location based marketing, Uncatergorized, website design, word of mouth campaigns

refer a friend program at

When asked what sources “influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product”  71% claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence(Harris Interactive, June 2010)

We created a website referral program for one of our client’s that has proven to be a very successful marketing program. We know that word of mouth referrals are one of the best promotions our client has (as with most businesses), so when we redesigned their website, we thought of every possible way to get these customers to refer friends online right from the home page.

1. Customers are prompted to offer referrals by clicking on the home page “Refer a friend” button. This simple pop-up takes all of ten seconds to fill out  and allows these customers the ability to refer friends to a location nearest them while earning reward points.

2. Even better, the auto response email then thanks that customer for the referral (via email) and directs the new referred customer (via email) right to a location that is convenient with them. The new customer also receives an automated email letting them know that a friend referred them and the benefits of our client’s services.

3. Thirdly, the location that was “referred” gets an email notifying them that this new customer should receive 10% off their first time service.

You can check it out here.

Our newest client, a cosmetic dermatologist, liked this idea so much he wants something similar for the new website we are going to design for his practice.