If you’ve ever visited a website that was so visually overstimulating that you instantly felt the need to escape it, you’re not alone… and if you’re a business owner with a website, it’s time to take a hard look at your own piece of virtual real estate and make sure you’re not serving up a dish of hot mess to your site visitors.
Welcome to the first in a series of posts where we’re going to share some of our biggest secrets to getting your website found, keeping your visitors interested, and turning looky-loos into loyal customers.
The Good Ol’ Days
We all know that the internet has changed the way we do business. We can no longer expect that our customers are so loyal to us that they would never even think of doing business anywhere else.
Also gone is the decade where a one-page website with a little info meant you were solid in cyberspace.
Times have changed — have you changed with the times?
What We Want
It’s common knowledge that IF a potential customer can find your website, that you only have a few seconds to “wow” them or they’re outta there.
We want so badly to make a good impression and to let our website viewers know everything we do, how we do it, why we do it, how much we want to do it for them, why they need to hire us to do it, and how to contact us so we can start doing it, that we might just be giving them too much information. Worse yet — giving them the WRONG information.
And that’s just the homepage!
What Our Customers Want
Neat, tidy, attractive, informative, secure, easy to read, simple to navigate.
That’s a pretty short list — sounds manageable, doesn’t it?
True – the list is pretty short. And yes, very manageable — IF you know what your homepage needs to keep your site visitors interested and interactive.
There are fads in website design just like there are in fashion, furniture, and facial hair. If your website is stuck in the 2000s, your competitors are going to eat you alive.
And in this day and age, it’s about so much more than just design — you must consider the content. What is on each page of your website and is it serving its intended purpose?
Let’s take a look at what should be on your homepage so that you can attract your ideal customers who want to come back to do business with you again and again — all while ignoring your competition.
Just like the importance of curbside appeal when selling a house, your homepage is where your visitors are going to decide to stop and look inside or just keep driving by.
Who You Are, What You Do, and Who You Do it For
The best way to capture the undivided attention of a website visitor is to quickly speak directly to them about what is already on their mind.
Your company name, logo, what you do, and who you serve should be the first thing they see so they instantly connect your business to what they are looking for. Let them know they are in the right place to get their problem solved, their needs met, or their desires satisfied.
The top of your homepage should be a LITTLE about you and a LOT about them.
Design matters here: Make sure your colors, style, branding elements, and info is clear and what will be used consistently throughout the site. They see it here, they’ll see it there, they will see it everywhere… so make it good.
Words are important, too. Remember, this is critical curb appeal so keep the word count low, the value high, and the read easy. PRO TIP: Even your most educated, affluent, or sophisticated site visitors appreciate a quick and easy read.
Let Them Get More Info
Invite your viewers to opt in (sign up) for something that is very valuable to them in exchange for sharing their e-mail address. Then, keep your promise — send them good stuff: reports, videos, e-mails… whatever. Capturing these leads gives you the opportunity to continue to communicate with them so they will come to know, like, and trust you.
Video and Images
Some like it, some don’t. There are people who prefer to watch and listen while others would much rather read it for themselves.
Video is a powerful way to deliver information and compel people to take action. If you use it (and we encourage you to!), be sure to include good copy (words) to describe what the video is about and then some highlights from the video (not a full transcript). Adding the copy will keep the attention of someone even if they choose not to watch the video.
Select your images very carefully. Avoid stock photos — you never know where else your site visitors have seen them (and what they were representing). Even a couple of high-quality images will go much further for your business that dull, boring stock images.
Remember that people process information differently so include a little of everything so you can appeal to a wider audience.
Consumers aren’t just looking for the lowest price on a product or service. They might think they are at first, but what will really get them to connect is to form a relationship with YOU and your business. They will buy into WHY you do what you do, not just the “thing” that you sell.
It’s this simple: Details tell, stories sell.
Even if you have an “About” page on your site, tell a bit of your story on the homepage to let your site visitors get to know you. It’s important to them… and it’s important to your business.
No, you don’t have to tell everything about you and your life — this is about how and why you do what you do. What got you into this business. What is your own story of transformation?
This part of your story can be mixed with your credibility builders.
Make It Easy For Them
Make it so easy for this person to do business with you, that they’ll take immediate action. Be clear about what your site viewer needs to do to call you, come in, order, find out more, get questions answered, etc. Answer the questions before they even pop into the viewer’s mind. This will keep things simple for them and also hold their objections down. Don’t depend on a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to answer all of their questions — the most pressing info and questions should be provided or pre-answered on your homepage.
Content and Copywriting
There’s a difference between content and copywriting (check out this blog post on the subject) but for now, we’ll just say this about that… Content serves to inform, educate, entertain, and build relationships. The purpose of genuine copy (copywriting) is to compel someone to take action. That action might be to sign up to get your free newsletter or it could be for them to press a button and spend thousands of dollars.
On your homepage, be sure to use some of both. Provide value and build relationships with good content (something that will really help the site visitor) and also use great copywriting that will compel them to do the next thing, whatever that is, so that they are taking a step in the right direction to get their problem or pain point solved.
If you have a blog page (and you should!), you can have starter content for a new blog on your homepage and then link to the blog page to access the rest of the article and see other blog posts. Post blogs regularly — don’t let your readers see that the latest post is from 2013, this makes you very out-of-style! PRO TIP: Don’t add dates to your blogs.
Build Your Credibility and Social Proof
Tell your visitors why you are the expert. What is your education, training, and experience? Why should they listen to you? How have you helped other people? Remember, this is the homepage, though, and you want to keep it brief and relevant. You can add these credibility points in with the homepage portion of your story and put more details on your “About” page.
People are inherently skeptical and will believe what other people say about you before they will believe what you say about yourself (you are trying to sell them something!)
Having a couple of testimonials on your homepage is a great way to have satisfied customers speak on your behalf. If you don’t have testimonials yet, start gathering them and use them throughout your site. Even if you have a dedicated testimonials page, it’s good to have them sprinkled around so your visitors see them even without visiting that specific page.
We can’t say it enough. Your website should be clean and simple, even if you go with high design and even if you run a very complex business. Clutter is just that… clutter.
Be sure to include a menu on your homepage where your website viewers can easily click to get to other pages and information. Make it easy for them to get back to another page.
Include your social media links and invite them to meet you there. Don’t worry if you don’t have 10 social media networks going — whatever you do, do it well and post on it frequently.
You May Only Have One Chance
Overall, keep in mind that your homepage may be the ONLY chance you have to connect with a website visitor. It’s always good to gather feedback on your website from your customers so don’t be afraid to ask them to fill out a quick survey or provide comments. You may have looked at your own site so many times that you’re no longer seeing the clutter so you MUST look at it through the eyes of your ideal customers.
Need a little help with your homepage? Contact us — we would love to meet you and show you how we can help you do better business with a better website!