How do you make an impression with your website?
Or more to the point how do you make an impression to entice readers to stick around? After all, you may have less than a minute to convince a visitor your website is worth a closer look and that means you have to get your words right 🙂
Unfortunately there is no secret formula to the perfect home page. However, there are things you can include to help you stand out from the crowd and make visitors feel at home.
1. Homepage headline
If the title on your home page says “welcome to business name” I want you to change it. In fact, if you do nothing else after reading this article do that one thing. And here’s the reason? Your homepage headline will make a huge impact on your website’s stickiness…
You see the “welcome approach” is predictable, boring (sorry) and just doesn’t do enough to make visitors stick around.
Now lets give this argument some perspective.
- Your headline is the most read part of your page.
- In fact 80% of people will read your headline whilst only 20% will read the main body.
So you can see that your headline is prime real estate. It can (and will) make the difference between visitors taking a glance at your page or committing to reading some more.
So instead of simply welcoming a new visitor, you need to step into their shoes and work out the most compelling thing you can say to attract their attention and hook them.
To give you an example, for Gem Writing I ask this question “Wish you had more customers?
It doesn’t immediately shout copywriting, but it does capture the essence of what my service offers as well as tapping into the one thing all micro businesses desire. My visitors will probably answer “yes” and then start reading on to find out what else I have to say.
And it’s worth remembering that each sentence you write has just one job…
To get the next one read.
What’s the right angle for you?
Aim to pinpoint the thing that makes your business special, identify how you uniquely serve customers and then capture that into eloquent words.
2. Show off your USP
What makes your business different? How are you enticing customers with the personality of your business? How do you stand out from the online noise?
Even if you’re operating in a niche you will still have competitors who overlap your offer in some way.
And whilst you don’t need to go into the nitty gritty of what you offer on your homepage (direct customers elsewhere for that), you do need to capture your unique promise.
What’s more, you must make it abundantly clear why customers should choose you over everyone else. If you don’t answer this on your homepage, you could lose potential sales.
3. Showcase your tagline
Your tagline is important. It’s job is to summarise what you do in a sentence. Your tagline should help readers get orientated, check you’re relevant and grasp how you can help them. Here are three tag lines I think are very effective.
- Copyblogger – “Content marketing solutions for WordPress that work”.
- Chris Garrett – “Build your business by sharing what you know”.
- Pushing Social – “Equip and empower your people with content marketing strategies that work”.
4. Answer WIIFM?
Customers don’t care too much about you. What they are interested in is WIIFM? (that’s What’s In It For Me?)
If you fail to address this, you’ll turn customers off and send them elsewhere.
So don’t make the mistake of writing your home page in the first person. Do this and you’ll risk boring your visitors. Instead shift your emphasis away from “I” and “we” and instead use the most powerful word in advertising – YOU. Phrasing your homepage in this way allows customers to see you are relevant to them. In addition you’ll naturally attract more attention.
Try it and see 🙂
5. Benefits NOT features
If visitors have read your headline and are preparing to read your body copy, don’t lose them!
It can be tempting to focus in on the features of your service or product and tell visitors what it does. The problem with this approach is we don’t often buy based on need. We buy becasue we want. And the way to generate that desire is to focus on benefits.
Take the iPad. Apple’s advertising focuses on the benefits the iPad will bring to your life. Happy children learning with apps, communication with loved ones through FaceTime, elegantly organising your music and photos so you can share with others. These are all powerful images that expose how you can use the iPad in your life. As a result you want one. Would the iPad seem so appealing if it was sold on it’s dimensions, technology and functionality? I doubt it 🙂
6. Call to action
What do you want visitors to do after reading your home page?
It seems obvious but it’s really important you hone the copy of your website to drive visitors towards taking your preferred action. So if you want them to ring for a free consultation ask them. If they should be signing up for your free download, make that instruction clear. Don’t leave visitors hanging. They won’t have given your words their full attention and if it’s not obvious what they should do next, you’ll risk them simply clicking away.
And don’t make your request too complicated. Focus on one call to action per page and you’ll see better results.
7. Clear navigation
Your home page will often be the springboard to entice customers to explore elsewhere on your website.
And that means you need to:
- Make it clear where you want them to go
- Draw visitors further into your website
- Entice them to explore what else you have to offer
You can use internal links within your homepage text in addition to your main navigation bar, although don’t overwhelm with choices. And then ensure the words you choose are descriptive, explanatory and clear.
However keywords and keyword phrases are still absolutely critical. The reason is these are the very words your potential customers are using to find you. As such it makes sense to integrate keywords seamlessly into your homepage. It will help build rapport with your audience, and allow them to see they are in the right place.
9. Hone in on your target customer
Don’t try to appeal to everyone. In fact that’s a big mistake.
Instead write your home page so it appeals to your target audience.
We’ve already mentioned the use of keywords to build rapport with your readers. You can go a step further and refer to your ideal customer. For example at the Hub, we would refer to micro business owners. This tactic instantly helps our target market know we’re relevant.
10. Is it really a home page?
It’s worth remembering visitors won’t necessarily arrive at your home page.
For example they could:
- Arrive at your latest blog post after seeing a tweet in Twitter
- Land on your services page after finding you during a Google search
- Stumble upon your shop after seeing a picture of an item they wanted to buy
The lesson here is to treat each page of your website as a separate landing page and potential “home page” for your visitors. You can achieve this by ensuring each page makes sense in isolation.
Your home page is pretty important.
In fact it’s likely to be the most viewed page of your website. And that means your home page deserves some regular TLC to check your message is still current and relevant. Don’t be afraid to tweak your words, change the focus or add something new. After all, your business has probably changed since you first wrote it.
Today’s Micro Action
- Check your homepage headline. If it starts with “welcome” change it now!
- Read the other 9 points in this article and decide what you need to implement to shape up your website’s home page.