After helping our clients build successful businesses with their websites, we decided it was time for us to take a stab at launching a site of our own. With the help of 11 Online copy editor, Suzanna Garcia, we launched our own niche site, the Ever After Report. Here on the blog, we want to share our successes, challenges and failures for everyone to learn from. This first step in our journey is about why we decided to switch from a modified premium WordPress Theme to a custom WordPress design.
We launched the original Ever After Report in late 2014 as a resource to help people better enjoy their Disney vacation through tips, articles, ebooks and potentially travel planning services in the future. We wanted to put something up to see if we could get some traction with the idea. Suzanna worked at Disney World, is a Disney expert and enthusiast, and people gave great feedback about the value she was providing with the concept of Ever After Report.
So she started blogging, and the traffic came in. Ever After Report has gotten over 1,400 Instagram followers in a matter of about 6 months, and the site traffic increases every week. As we saw the growth potential, we felt like the idea had legs, and decided it would worthwhile to invest some time into it and work to really get the site going.
Why a Custom WordPress Design?
Through research and LOTS of trial and error, we came to the conclusion that the new design needed to focus on two main elements: 1) to position Suzanna as an expert in the field, and 2) to better target a select audience. These two criteria are crucial to building a successful business from this website, and we knew that we wanted to take the time to create something we could be proud of.
We knew the first step was to create a custom WordPress design.
Expertise is best established through amazing content, but unless you have a website that looks professional, many people won’t even give your content a chance. Since people spend a lot of money on Disney vacations, it was clear that the new design needed to exude confidence.
By creating a professional, elegant website, we wanted to instill the credibility of Ever After Report into the consumer’s mind. Think about any website you’ve seen. ANY website. If it looks professional, you automatically assume that this is a business of repute. If it doesn’t, well . . . I’ll let you fill in the blank.
Positioning is a vital part of any business strategy, online business included. It may be even more important in the online market since there is so much noise to cut through on the Internet. Positioning helps shape a brand and determines how consumers view it.
We wanted Suzanna to be positioned as an elite expert in the field of Disney vacation planning, and we knew that her time working there was something we could use to our advantage. Many of Ever After Report’s competitors, while experts, aren’t positioning themselves as former employees of the company who really know the ins and outs.
So we decided to tackle this one major element of positioning with the design: that Suzanna is the ultimate insider, willing to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do to have a great time and get a great value on a Disney vacation. Her credibility lies in the fact that she not only has spent a substantial amount of time vacationing there herself, but she worked there and is a true expert.
We felt this key point is what differentiates Suzanna and the Ever After Report from the competition, and also gives her audience confidence in any advice she has to offer.
While positioning helps establish a brand and an audience, we knew that we really needed to target that audience in a meaningful way. With the sheer volume of web pages to compete against, it’s crucial to target the right groups of people to find your valuable content – and make sure they will find your content valuable.
Targeted marketing is important to any business (11 Online included) and is what keeps people coming back to a website time and again. Good design will groom the right audience to appreciate the authority and value of any given site and eventually place them in a position where they are ready to purchase a product or service.
We determined that the target audience for Ever After Report is broken into 4 unique markets: Disney for First Timers, Disney with Kids, Disney on a Budget, and Disney for Adults. In our custom WordPress design, we wanted to present an obvious option for each of these groups to quickly find relevant content on every page. So every blog post falls into one or more of these 4 categories. This will help users find the specific content they need and stay on the site longer, building more loyalty and better establishing Suzanna’s expertise.
As a side note, this is an area where customization is really key. A premium theme will always look nice, but may not give you the functionality your website needs to reach the right people.
Segmenting our audience also allows us to offer each of the 4 groups a free resource that is relevant to them (these are still in the works at the time of this post). The goal here is to capture their attention with something that is of value and offers no risk to the consumer. All they have to do in exchange is offer their email address.
Automated Email Marketing
Once a reader offers their email for the lead capture, we will follow up with them via an automated email marketing campaign with more targeted content and offers. Although we aren’t offering any services yet, we are working to build a solid email list for when we launch our first paid ebook. Industry standards are that companies should earn about $1 per month per email subscriber in sales through their email marketing efforts.
As we have the first iteration of the new design up, we are finally ready to launch. But no website is ever really complete. We will continue to iterate, add new features and adjust as we learn more about our audience. We are excited for the next stage of this journey and we will continue to share our experiences here!
Let us know your thoughts on custom WordPress design. We love this stuff, and always welcome questions and comments!
Also be sure to follow @everafterreport on Instagram.