We all know there are a million things that can go wrong with internet marketing; far too many to name. Getting a handle on every single one of them is impossible, but we all do the best possible when it comes to generating leads and growing our businesses. Your marketing efforts can be sabotaged by your website’s home page without you even being aware. You are constantly looking for shortcomings in our marketing, honing our messages and testing them for the best possible return, but when was the last time your review included your home page, and what it may be saying about your company?
Website visitors are a great filter by which we can learn what is working and what needs refinement, and that includes the company home page. Your home page analytics will reveal how many unique versus return visitors, how long they viewed the home page, and where they went from there. If they left your site immediately, chances are your home page is failing the 5 second test. The 5 second test is just a way of saying that visitors will come upon your site, take a look, and if they see something to capture their attention, they will read on, delve deeper into your site’s content, or simply leave the site without a second thought.
Understanding the basic analytics isn’t quite enough though; the response you give the analytics by making adjustments and corrections to your website’s home page could make the difference between growing your lead base or simply just surviving on the Internet. All too many businesses have a website, but haven’t even taken a look at it, perhaps in years. The company website should be reviewed regularly, improved at least monthly, and always under scrutiny. You know the visitors are taking a hard look at it, shouldn’t you? Here are a few things to remember to avoid home page self-sabotage.
Begin With a Unique and Clear Message
You have approximately 10 seconds to make a new friend, so make certain your message is clear, concise and especially unique. Make sure the type is big, bold and crisp, explains what the business is about, and provides a clear solution to your ideal customer’s points of interest. These points might be to acquire something new and exciting, or something to fix a problem they are experiencing. Relieving the points of pain will win new leads. Offering enticing information with well-thought messaging will grow your lead base as well. If you do it correctly, your lead generation will grow.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is the home page filled with industry jargon. People don’t speak the same language that business speaks, especially when industry terms are used frequently. Jargon will drive everyone except those that are in the same industry as you away, and even they might be repelled.
Being unique is one of the biggest challenges for small business. Large corporations with huge marketing budgets can employ experienced marketers to craft just the right message, but small business owners don’t have the same sized coffers. Therefore, when crafting your web copy, make sure your message is something no one else can state. It must pass this test: “Who else can say that?”
As an example, let’s take a look at a typical hair salon ad on yellowpages.com. The talented team at ____ ____ offers precision cutting for men, women, and children. Our experienced stylists create beautiful color that is dimensional, high-shine and personalized to every client. At ____ ____, we understand the importance of treating our customers’ right.
Who else can say that? Just about every hair salon in the world, that’s who. And people are paying money to have this ad placed every month.
Here’s another test your marketing messages must pass: At ____ ____, we understand the importance of treating our customers’ right. Well I would hope so!
You must out-win the competition at every turn, or else you will suffer loss of sustainability. Your home page is your online brochure, your Internet billboard, your electronic lifeline to new customers. Make sure your message is clear, concise and unique. You never want to be just another “hair salon.”
What is your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP? What makes choosing your company the most sense in lieu of all the other competitors? What clear and unique message sets you apart from everyone else? That’s what you should be shouting from the rafters.
People Buy from Real People
It’s true; studies show that people relate better to information and companies that have real people in mind. Here are some tidbits to remember:
Personalized Content – Does your home page provide a feeling of personalization? Can the visitor “get personal” with you by providing their personal identifying information in exchange for a personalized review, assessment, consultation or some other method of communication that begins the relationship?
Your business more than likely has more than one ideal customer type (persona); are you offering targeted messaging for more than just one? People visit websites for specific reasons, and if your home page doesn’t have something interesting to tell them, why bother sticking around?
Photos that Relate – Photos of people relate better; your new widget isn’t all that emotionally charged. Use images of real people interacting with your product or service, your staff members, favorite customers, or any people that reinforce the message and generate emotion, engagement and/or empathy. If your home page photos can elicit a positive reaction, you are that much closer to gaining a new lead. People buy from real people.
Growing a business is all about building relationships, and relationships are built on trust. The goal with your home page is to begin that relationship of trust, and using multiple ways of doing so is critical. Make certain your home page contains the following:
- Testimonials – Real people that have resolved whatever issue brought them to your website are invaluable. Real genuine testimonials reinforce the trust factor in several ways and do much more than having someone bragging how good your product or service is. Make sure you can add their photo if at all possible. A face with a claim of trust goes much farther than just a written statement. Video testimonials are even better. Continually add to your testimonials to provide a fresh viewpoint, especially if you introduce new deliverables. Testimonials tell the world that you are a good firm that has good products or services, and you care enough about them to show their true feelings about you. You’re proud that your customers are happy!
- Case Studies – Businesses with more complex or comprehensive solutions to customers’ challenges can do well to offer real, verifiable case studies. Downloadable reports help more then mere written information, but make sure that well-written case studies help tell your story in a compelling fashion. Business to business websites should always have a few case studies.
- Sharable with Others – Regardless of your personal feelings, social media is critical to growing your business. Social media is constantly evolving, so try to keep up. Having share buttons on everything you produce online; home and blog pages, email marketing campaigns, downloads, videos, landing pages and any other online marketing. Reports show that social media produces at least 10% of Internet traffic, so what’s wrong with that? As for growing fans and followers, they are great ways to increase your marketing reach, eventually converting a percentage of them to customers. It’s a win-win for certain.
Do you know that people are accessing the Internet from their hand-held devices much more than the computer? It’s true, we are becoming a Smartphone and tablet economy. Smartphone sales have gotten to the point that there are more Smartphones and tablets being used to search for goods and services than ever, and the rate is skyrocketing.
As the Y Generation replaces center stage with the Boomers, this shift in search has already eclipsed desktop or laptop search. If your website is not mobile optimized, you are losing out. Simply having a “responsive” site isn’t enough. The fact is that 8 out of 10 websites are not mobile friendly, and the same ratio exists for companies without mobile websites. If your site is not viewable, you’re in trouble. If you don’t yet have a mobile site (they are specifically designed to offer as much or little as you wish) you should consider one if you want to stay current with the marketplace. Remember, your customer base is constantly getting younger and more tech savvy. If they can’t access the data they want, they simply move on.
Showcase Informative or Educational Content
People on the net are researching for something they either need or want, and doing so makes them ripe for educational or informative content that solves a problem, makes their lives better or simply embellishes their desires. Having it buried in the support pages of your site doesn’t make enough sense unless it is highlighted on the home page with a well-designed Call to Action (we call them CTA’s). People crave information, so make it available in multiple ways.
- Webinar Invitations – In addition to your web page content, blog or other content, offering webinars by invitation is a great way to provide education and information AND grow your lead database. People will happily share their contact information if in return they can access valuable information that reinforces or establishes their buying decisions. Webinars are easy to produce and present. They should however, be no longer than 45 minutes in length including Q & A at the end. People need and want information, but are always pressed for time. Make sure to provide a replay for those that signed up but didn’t make the presentation time.
- Downloads – This is an opportunity to showcase your company’s Special Reports, eBooks or White Papers. Make sure that what you are offering for registered download is worth the visitor’s contact information. Original content such as mentioned will benefit the registered with valuable content unavailable elsewhere. Highlight the availability on the home page with a special colored box, graphic or font type and color. Additionally, if you curate others’ material and make it available for download, you should not be requiring registration due to copyright violations. Seek permission from the originator of the content when offering it for download.
- Videos – Video is fast becoming the most sought after medium for identifying and presenting content. Using video as a download or simply on the home page is proven to increase visitor return and sign up more than any other medium.
As you can see, the home page tells a lot about you and your company, so make sure it is telling a compelling story. I hope some of these tips help you make improvements to your existing site, but if you are considering an upgrade of your current site to incorporate these ideas, we are happy to provide a no-cost consultation to help in your decision-making. Simply call me to set up a phone conversation about your needs, and how we can help. We’ll be glad to sit down at a formal meeting if we feel we can help.