Your home page. For many companies, it’s where first (and only!) impressions are made. What you may not know, however, is that your home page could be wrecking your conversion chances right out of the gate.
As a whole, customers don’t ask for much from the companies they choose to do business with. They come to your website to find out more. They want to be able to browse without being bothered and buy without being limited. They want to learn. To be informed. To be entertained.
And yet so often, website owners put up stumbling blocks in order to turn what should be a smooth, seamless experience into a giant digital obstacle course.
Of course, to start with, it pays to know where you stand. What exactly is a good baseline conversion rate to measure against?
According to a study last year from Wordstream, many people believe that a conversion rate of 1 or 2% is both normal and expected. But this study showed that the top 10% of Adwords performers were enjoying numbers as high as 11.45%.
Of course this number isn’t a fluke or some extremely lucky opportunist discovering the marketing equivalent of a goldmine. While conversion rates do vary by industry, this number (or an even higher one) is absolutely attainable.
But what may be keeping you from it is none other than the home page itself. Look at your home page through the eyes of your customers and see if it does the following:
Answers the Customer’s Questions (Before They Even Ask!)
One of the fastest ways to increase your conversion rate and improve your ranking in the search engines is by answering your (prospective) customer’s questions. This means creating a powerful, engaging and compelling statement that tells them “I’m in the right place. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.”
Search engines, like Google, notice this too. Sites which don’t answer the customer’s questions or don’t give them a reason to stay suffer from a high bounce rate. Sites which are continually plagued with this issue will gradually fall in rankings as the search engine algorithms determine that the site doesn’t accurately answer the user’s original query.
So what exactly should you be answering?
- Who – Here, “who” is the brand and the people behind the company. Who are you? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? Do you have any special recognition, awards, or history?
- What – What are you offering? What does it cost? What does it include? What’s the difference between your offer and others in your industry? What do you do that the customer should choose you over them? What guarantees or assurances does the customer have that you will do what you say?
- Where – Although the internet has made the “where” of a business nearly obsolete, it still plays an important role in local businesses or businesses who look at their heritage or history as a prime selling point.
- When – When is a vital point in both product and service oriented businesses. Most importantly when will the product arrive? When will the service be completed?
- Why – This question has a great deal to do with your offer versus that of your competition. Why should the customer choose to do business with you? Why does that matter? Why should they do business with you versus doing nothing at all or continuing to do the same thing they’ve always done?
- How – How much is the product or service? How does the customer take advantage of the offer? How do they take the next step?
Of course “the next step” can be a conversion-crusher in itself. Many people spend a great deal of time answering all of the questions above only to leave the customer thinking, “Great – now what?” Which is why you should…
Give Visitors A Compelling Reason to Take Action
Even after you’ve answered the questions above, you should still include a “Call to Action”. This is typically a very visible button or link that will take the customer to a sign up form, an order page or another area where they can take the next step with confidence.
In order to get them this far, however, you need to not only answer the questions above, but do so in a way that the customer couldn’t imagine going anywhere else for that particular product or service. This requires some deep thought about your universal selling proposition as well as the ways in which you differentiate from your competition.
Remember, the call to action is much more than just a button. It’s everything about the home page that ties it together into one, cohesive unit. Look at Evernote’s home page, for example:
See how all of the devices, notes and screens are coordinated into one image with the simple statement: Remember Everything. A supporting statement below that explains exactly what Evernote is and does.
Now if you’ve actually used this program, you’ll no doubt know that Evernote exists in practically every form and format you can imagine — as an app for your phone and tablet, a browser plugin and a standalone software. But they don’t spend time talking about those versions, features or pricing — at first.
Judging from this screenshot, it may seem like the home page itself is very empty, but if you scroll down, you’ll see all of the ways Evernote distinguishes itself from its competition, and why it’s worth paying attention to.
So why make the beginning of the page so uncluttered? Simply put — the top part of the page was made for the “impulse clickers” — those people who visually scan a few words and say “This is what I need! *click*” For those that need more convincing, there are supporting blocks of content below.
Make Taking the Next Step Rewarding
Whatever step you want your visitors to take in order to achieve that coveted conversion, make it rewarding. Oftentimes businesses segue right from their homepage introduction into their pricing or features — without making it rewarding or relevant to the customer.
Instead of talking to them, frame your content so that it works with them by showing them what kinds of results they could when they choose your solution or product. Demonstrate how it could impact their lifestyle through testimonials, screenshots and other supporting information.
With every step you take – continually ask yourself “what does my customer get from this?” This same idea applies whether you’re selling a product, promoting a newsletter or advertising a service. Every step should be small, calculated, and used as a building block to further the customer-brand relationship.
Notice how Dropbox does this with their home page. Every opportunity to learn more is propped up by reasons why you’d want to use Dropbox. Convenience. SImplicity. Security. These are the very words that Dropbox hopes that customers associate with their service. Peppering these words into the copy reinforces this impression so that even if the visitor has never heard of or used Dropbox, they immediately associate these same terms with it.
Even when customers do sign up (for free) there’s the added bonus of referring friends in exchange for even more space — a win win for both people involved. Look for ways that your business can also leverage these “little wins” as icing on the conversion rate optimization cake. Continuing to build on this foundation helps you create a much stronger, more relevant, more loyal customer base – both from the home page as well as external sites that feed into your own, like social media or video.
Who knew that so many pivotal points related to your overall conversion rate could hinge on how well your homepage performs?
The Bottom Line on Improving Your Home Page for Better Conversions
By following the aforementioned tips, you’ll be well on your way to improving your website’s conversion rate, and by extension, potentially its search engine ranking as well. Remember, however that although the homepage is the first stop for most of your visitors, that other pages on your site (particularly landing pages, faqs or anywhere customers could potentially arrive) benefit from the same kind of attention and careful planning – so don’t neglect them either!
Have you followed these tips and techniques on your own home page and seen a lift in your conversion rate? Or are you still struggling to lower your bounce rate and convert more casual visitors to paying customers? Tell us about your triumphs and your concerns in the comments below!
And don’t forget, if visitors are leaving without taking the action you want them to take, Picreel is the ideal way to win their attention back and “reel” them back in. Sign up today and take our free trial for a spin. See all the advantages that exit offers can bring to your marketing campaigns. Sign up below – no credit card required.