Monday, August 26, 2013

MLM Marketing Part 1: Website Design

The real title should be MLM Marketing and SEO Dangers.

In the last 8 months, we've seen a growing swell of companies seeking every venue they can to increase their sales and penetration into the MLM Industry.  Many companies will place tools at the finger tips of distributors, while others hire SEO Marketers.  Both meet a similar fate.

Today, we will begin a 4 part series on several marketing methods, their pros and cons... (at this point in time).  One of the most important things to understand in marketing your MLM Business is that successful marketing practices are continuing to change.

The series, as first planned, will cover 4 primary areas.

  • Website Design
  • Admin and Distributor Tools
  • SEO Marketing
  • Clear Marketing and Advertising

Website Design

It may sound strange to start off with this category, but this is a critical key to marketing.  SEO Marketers will push that keywords in the head section are important.  Let me share a FACT, from one of our own websites... 

Jan1-Jul31 2012 3% of our traffic used Mobile Devices
Jan1-Jul31 2013 33% of our traffic use Mobile Devices!

Mobile Devices include Phones and Tablets, thus represent a huge range of sizes.
To my surprise, Nokia Lumia models were dominate, very dominate.
Also, where I view Internet Explorer as becoming less important for desktop viewers, overall, it was extremely dominate, due to the mobile devices they are embedded in.  Due to the new Windows 8 for desktop and cloud-based Microsoft Products, the won't be going any where.

I only highlight a couple items from our research and data.
These items can be shocking.
Simply take a moment, lean back in your chair and consider that 1/3 of your traffic is from Mobile Devices.
Hmmm, so with the discussion of MLM Marketing and SEO Dangers, we will start off with this discussion of MLM Website Design.

Currently, there is a laundry list of things to do, including:

Responsive Design

Some build from PC down to smaller devices, others build Mobile First... that is small layout first, then scale up.  Today, people are using iPads, iPad Mini, Kindles, Net Books, Smart Phones, and hundreds/thousands of other devices, each with different dimensions or viewports.  We have past the era of building a mobile app for your website.  Those are very limiting.  They are handy if you have a particular tool or video training series you wish people to access.  The fact is, your entire website is needed, not a widget/app.  We are quickly finding apps as you know them, from last year to be seldom used.  That said, there is a new vein of Apps... Web Apps, i.e. web-based third party plugins.  That is another story, but accounting, lead capture, newsletters, analytic, all are available as third party plugins.  Of course, you need to consider the value of someone else holding your data.  Thus, Web Apps exist, are usable, but we are holding back on them, at this point.  Responsive Designs are important so the larges number of visitors can actually visit and view your website.


HTML5 is a bit more streamlined structure of coding, however also introduces additional element tags, which can better define regions of the webpage.  As soon as HTML5 becomes fully defined, the next version of HTML will come out.  That said, programming your MLM Software and MLM Website with HTML 5 will render it more view-able across devices and should provide better speed.  The kicker is that many programmers have used elements or methods which required Transitional doc type.  Going to HTML5 requires a true rebuild.  When we get into responsive and HTML5, Bootstrap, Shim, Normalizers and other items will be thrown on the table.  They may be needed for your site, but only your programmer can tell you.  The purpose of this article is to discuss Marketing and not to provide programming instructions, so you can appreciate the pull back here.


CSS3 is soon to be out dated... imagine that!  But, CSS3 is the most current that your programmers will probably utilize.  It allows for animation on the page, circles to spin, text to slid in, all with CSS and without scripts.  Why is this important?  Many devices don't render scripts correctly, if at all.  Additionally, a paragraph of text in javascript, animated to the page, will often never be seen by Search Engine Bots, thus content and contextual relevance is lost.  CSS allows the existing text on page, that which is viewed by Search Engine Bots as content... this text is animated, thus not hidden with javascript.  Both methods render animation to a user, some devices don't render.  Most important is that CSS method also provides better content reading by search engines.
Now, the flip side... not all browsers are compatible with CSS3 or the pseudo classes that it utilizes.  Generally, the most current browsers today are good, but those that have not updated will have issue.  Thus, your MLM Software Programmer has to account for and provide fall-backs methods for other versions... argh!


This is a big issue, as MLM Software Platforms rely greatly on creating tables dynamically, with large volumes of data, to deliver a table or grid of information on the screen, either in shopping areas or in back office areas.  Tables don't play well with responsive design and can make an overall design function poorly.  That said, it is a slow migration for the core source code of any MLM Software Provider to change.  Modifying to Div based structures and the CSS to control the layout is a completely different build.  I do expect changes to come soon in the flexibility and redering of tables, but at this point in time... divs are the preferred.


In 1996, I stated "The internet is like a haystack the size of the Moon!  There are millions and millions and millions of Needles In the Haystack and ONE is Yours!  It is much worse than trying to find a Needle in a Haystack, the world must find YOUR Needle in a Haystack the Size of the MOON, among Millions of others!"  Get the picture?
Now, there are 2 primary fronts.  Your Content being Contextually Relevant to a User and Other Sites deeming it relevant by Linking to your site, thereby delivering a path to find it.  Those sites can be other contextually relevant sites that discuss or provide a path to yours or search engines.
In recent years, we have placed a huge focus on search engines.  Why?  for most sites, 60-90% of a site's traffic will come from a Search Engine (Google, Bing, etc.).  At the end of the day, a user performs a search and the Search Engine determines if your site is contextually relevant, and how relevant is it against other relevant sites.  Everything that happens in a Search Engine Algorithm is an attempt to weigh your Contextual Relevance against others, to deliver a list to users.
Take time to make sure your website is designed with relevant content for your market segment.


Yes, with Content, plan out a series of downloadable whitepapers.  This serves several roles.  1.) It helps you to think through development of rich and informative content.  2.) It provides downloadable resources for your users and distributors.  3.) It can fill a nice Corporate Resource area in your MLM Software Back Office for Distributors.  4.) It can become the launching point for article/press releases through other channels.  5.) It can be used as lead generation... "Enter your email for the free downloadable ..."  6.) Weekly Newsletter providing list of whitepapers.
In the end, you set yourself up as the center of the universe for your subject, product, service.


Visible clean layouts have become more desireable than cluttered sites.  Rich images, large fonts, padding and space.  Not much more I can say about that.  You simply need to roam the web a little to see some cool sites that are simplified, contextual, with open space.


Saturday evening, I was having dinner with my wife when a call came into my mobile.  The gentleman had a business providing towing and road-side assistance.  He was requesting a new website design.  I took a moment to ask him about the situation, and why the odd call.  He told me I should just look up his site when I was home, as he didn't understand it.  While he was on the line, I pulled it up on iPad, iPhone and other devices.  Nothing.  Infact, on some devices, it rolled to a .mobi version that was offline completely.  Devices that did not roll to a .mobi version also appeared to be a landing page of a parked domain for sale.  It truly looked bad, very bad.  I explained... it looks like you may have not renewed the domain in August and someone bought and parked it.  He assured me that was not the case, and I would not figure it out until I was home.
Guess what... he was right.  His entire site was built in flash, the head, content and foot.  Furthermore, some script was on the page that generated random links if flash was not shown...
So, if the device you are using does not view FLASH, not content of company is shown, no design, nada, only random links like a parked page... ouch!  On a PC, the page showed and took me 3 seconds to figure out his issues.
I truly believe that Flash will soon be as readable as Text and CSS, but today is not.
Sunday, I was looking up a Cafe in an area we were visiting and found a Franchise Chain that didn't open on the iPad.  Fortunate for them... a message "you need flash to view".  So, the viewer knew the issue, and the franchise Cafe lost a customer as the searched for another one on their iPad.
Get the picture?

Width, Padding, Content, Whitespace, Flash Objects... there is a lot to do.

But wait, there's more!

  • Page Speed, keep to under 4 sec.  1.2-1.7 is awesome but hard to achieve
  • User Friendly URL's, not dynamic stuff like
  • Dom Elements, keep to under 900 400-700 is awesome
  • Limit number of calls for external JS scripts and css files by combining and minifying
  • Limit image loading by combining to sprites
  • Images loaded through CDN
  • Images should use Alt Tags on ALL Of Them
  • Scripts and even CSS, try loading through CDN
  • MicroData should be added to give better detail information on page
  • WAI-ARIA Landmarks helps those users that use assistive technologies to navigate a page.  Adds roles to elements, such as Main, Navigation, Form, Search, Banner, and more
  • Favicon to aid in Branding
  • Robots.txt file to give directives to robots that crawl and index site, telling them when and where to crawl is important.
  • Meta Descriptions in the head are helpful
  • CSS Meta Queries in the CSS to define portions to be used based on size of device or monitor
  • Twitter Cards, when users Tweet a link to your site or content, a Business Card of sorts is then attached with the Tweet
  • OpenGraph/Facebook integration
  • Windows8/WindowsPhone fall-backs, custom buttons and banners, based on device.  Allows your site to be almost Native to the user!
  • Apple iOS fall-backs, custom buttons, etc., allows your site to be almost Native to the use
Few people are aware of Threads.  Threads are like little pipe worms between a user's computer and your server.  Most servers allocate a thread to a user, so multiple threads are available to other users.  Imagine a single thread or pipe worm pushing data to a computer screen and the user clicking, pushing data back.  The pipe work get's bloated and the delivery slows.

Now, the true secret.... a user's browser is capable of connecting to mulitple Threads during a single session.  So, the limit is from server side, but we are open from the user side.  When we put in the code for images to load from a CDN, we tell the user's browser to open another thread and connect to the CDN to retrieve the images, while continuing to retrieve code/content from the website hosting server.  That is why a CDN is important.  The user's browser opens additional thread connections for each external load, allowing the original session thread to your website to be lightened up and deliver quicker.  Order of objects and programming can cause an external javascript file to block the rendering of the page until loaded, so proper programming is important.  That said, multiple threads loading external data will allow the scripts to be loaded in parallel to the web page, making such block situations minimized.

Did you get an ear full?  Yes, that is a lot to do.  Make no mistake, each are important.
All these requirements add to the code, adding to the ratio of code against content, which is also a factor.  They also add to page load.  Proper planning is important, as well as watching for the next level of requirements to come out.

You don't begin marketing an MLM Website until it is properly built.
Furthermore, many people approach starting an MLM business on a shoe-string.  As you can see from above, a lot goes into the programming/design of a modern website.  Skin Templates are NEVER going to achieve the above, as tremendous hours must be spent, leading to a cost.  Reasonable MLM Website Designs should run $3,500 to $10,000.  Yes, that seems large, but we aren't talking about a design as a Screenshot, or a Mock Up.  We are talking about the actual implementation and code involved.  In fact, just the responsive side of the design is like doing individual hours of design to 15 different widths.  Each takes time.

Cut Corners = Cut Sales = Cut Income = Cut Lifespan of the Company
Shoe-String Budget = Shoe-String Sales = Shoe-String Income = Shoe-String Lifespan of the Company

Before I close, best practices regarding the Content

MLM Companies with no experience love to design the website for the opportunity.  They love to put a link to the "Opportunity" and put a comp plan online.  They love to show fast cars, boats, etc.  I will table this for a separate article, or call me.  Sell your product first, let customer conversions of working with distributors be an internal process to start.  Keep a clean public image on the Product.  Let member access provide additional information and resources (comp plans).  Keep comp plans simple to start and don't show the whole plan.  Give instructions for the first 3 advancements only, no more.  As someone advances, show them more.  Never make guarantees or claims.  The only guarantee you should provide is in areas you can control and perform, such as Customer Support, Response to Questions, Warranty on Products.

For more information, visit 

MLMSoftwareCentral is a division of Inspetta.  Inspetta provides web, consulting and marketing solutions for business.  Solutions include websites, hosting, advertising campaigns, marketing campaigns, ecommerce, mlm software, business plans, marketing plans, product development, consulting and more.

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