Your homepage is the first impression most prospective customers will get of your business. It’s the online equivalent of a brick and mortar store’s ambiance. Your virtual lobby. That first hand shake at a sales meeting.
Your homepage is your first (and sometimes only) opportunity to show off what you have to offer—the set of unique skills, services, and perspectives you bring to your business. Every page of your website is important, but your homepage in particular is one that needs a bit of extra TLC.
Unlike other pages on your site that have a strong and sales-focused close, your homepage is there to captivate and direct your traffic to deeper pages of your site. If you’ve done your job well, your site visitors will stay and get cozy with your brand–reading your blog content, signing up for your email list, or checking out your social media profiles.
To measure success, you’ll need to focus on what I think of as secondary conversion metrics (those that aren’t direct sales), like:
While most homepage visits don’t result in a direct and immediate sale, there’s a ton of inherent value in optimizing and measuring the effectiveness of this page. When your homepage is operating at peak performance, you can expect it to serve a few core purposes for you: directing traffic to deeper & relevant pages on your site, added awareness and trust for your brand, and a positive first impression.
Research shows you have about 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression on your website, and if the bulk of site visitors land on your homepage, well, it’s worth spending your time optimizing above the fold. Most first ‘impressions’ are probably related to your design; but that doesn’t mean your headline and sub-head don’t contribute. Here are some pointers for nailing your UX and perfect initial impressions of your site:
Take this example by Peep Laja at Conversion XL. At a glance, I can glean quite a bit of information without the design distracting or getting in my way:
It’s important to consider where you want your site visitors to go. The Rule of 7 tells us people likely won’t purchase from you the first time they interact with your brand. That said, homepage visits can happen at any stage of the buyer’s journey. There’s a good chance that a site visitor IS ready to at least see your offer, and so pick the best and meatiest page you can to link to.
Once you’ve chosen your page (which is likely your services, price comparison page, or sales page), use consistent copy for your button, and make it as actionable as you can.
Avoid vague and unclear next steps:
Ok…perhaps the rule of thumb here is to avoid “learn more” when what you really mean is “take this action.”
What better way to prove you know what you’re doing than to have other people do it for you? It’s important to show that you’re trustworthy, legitimate, and an expert at what you do. Mix and match several kinds of social proof appeal to different readers with different preferences around authority:
What makes you different from all the other service providers or coaches in your space? Your differentiator can look like a distinct brand voice or design, or it can be a phrase or statement about why you’re different.
Here’s a great example from life coach Andrea Owen. There are likely 100s (if not 1000s) of life coaches out there, but hers stands out in an instant.
Just like your differentiator, your process defines you. It gives visitors a sense of what to expect if they decide to work with you. It helps with future pacing—that is, your visitors can imagine what’s next and what’s possible, which just might be the deciding factor in choosing you over a competitor.
Like this example from Coaches and Co. that helps remove risk by giving a concrete overview of what comes next after purchase:
One of my pet peeves as a copywriter is seeing headers that read something like this: “Benefits,” “Solutions,” “Services,” or “About.” Of course, clarity is very important on your homepage, but don’t miss an opportunity to be persuasive and address your reader. Now, to be clear. I’m not advocating for fluff, extraneous words, or jargon here. But there is a middle ground where you can strengthen your copy without being obnoxious or confusing.
Try to focus on the benefits and outcomes for your audience, and go from there:
Benefits > “Save 30 minutes a day & become more efficient with administrative tasks”
About > “Meet the team behind [company name]” or “How I went from part-time bartender to multi-millionaire” (ok, this is a stretch but you get where I’m going here)
Especially if you’re a personal brand, you need to include your face and a bio on your homepage. Prospects want to connect to the person behind the website. We have an innate need to form connections with others, and that first glimpse of your friendly face may be just the thing that makes your prospect decide to keep reading.
One way to build trust and show your authority is to provide upfront content that’s super valuable…and free for users. Link to your blog, add articles, or include a few of your best-performing podcast episodes right on your homepage. This not only shows visitors you know your stuff, it also encourages them to stay on your site and check out what you have to say.
Generate leads with a newsletter sign up or free downloadable offer. Not only is it a great way to provide value in exchange for an email address, it also shows off your knowledge and gives prospects a taste of how you can help them if they decide to work with you.
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