You website is your online store…take care of it
Many business owners today do not understand the importance of their online store (ie. their web site and web presence). Whether you accept payment or donations, provide SAAS, or provide a professional service, a website is an extension of your online store. Just as you wouldn’t just set up some half-ass store front and then never update it, clean it or test its effectiveness-gone are the days that we can do that with our online stores.
Websites are business tools that help us accomplish business goals. A site’s look and feel, navigation from page to page, content and messaging play a vital role in the experience of your users. If your website is missing these elements, your customers are going to be more likely to find what they want elsewhere.
It’s important to add that all of these elements should be tested, monitored and iterated on an ongoing basis for optimal results.
This following is a list of the elements that should be found on your home page in order to convert more visitors into customers. Here we go…
Essential elements for a successful home page
The importance of some elements will vary between industries and will depend on the business goals for your online store. But overall, these are crucial to conveying your product and message to users in hopes they they will buy into what you are offering.
1. Value Proposition
This includes a quick and dirty explanation of what it is that your company or product does. More specifically, the problem it solves for customers, benefits it provides or what sets it apart from your competitors. The value proposition is usually a block of text that includes a headline, sub-headline and one paragraph of text or bullet points.
Make sure it is simple and easy to understand. Remember to speak your user’s language.
Good Value Propositions
“Start accepting credit cards today” shows what the product does, and how it benefits the customer.
“Email for Salespeople.” This is a clear headline of what the product does with benefits listed underneath.
User test several different value propositions to find out which one does the best job converting visitors to customers.
2. Quality images and/or photography
A successful home page needs some type of visual anchor that will break apart the text and capture the visitor’s interest right away. This is part of the look and feel of your website and adds to the experience of your users as well as their perception of the company. Having stock photography or poor quality images weakens your brands credibility. If you are not putting forth any effort to demonstrate your product or service in an attractive, professional manner, you cannot expect customers to have faith in your product or service.
Images can also do a great job of showing the customer what your product does or is without them having to read. You know, people hate reading.
Square (above) and RightInbox (below) have great imagery that show the customer what the product does.
You should always user test which images work better at converting customers.
3. Social Proof
This can include:
- Customer testimonials
- Product or service reviews
- Case studies are a great way to gain credibility and demonstrate to your customer that your product or service works.
- Logos of companies you have worked with
RightInbox shows logos of credible companies they have worked with on their home page.
HubSpot highlights one customer testimonial with a link to the full story
You should test which social proof appears on the home page to determine which one is getting the best results.
4. Videos & Tutorials
Depending on your product or service- a video, tutorial or virtual tour may be necessary to better explain it, show the product in action, give a testimonial, etc. As I mentioned earlier, people hate to read, so videos are a great way to engage a potential customer on your site.
Make sure the video is high quality audio, visual and messaging and helps to achieve your business goal(s). If it’s not all of these, then you could risk hurting your credibility and losing a customer and would be better off not even putting up a video. Don’t rely on just the video to do the job of your value proposition-video is extra, supplemental information.
Check out this article from KISSmetrics on How to Create Your Own Promo Video for Under $100
Evernote’s video is brief, visually appealing, easy to understand, proper messaging and has a clear call to action.
Terrible music and sound, unlicensed photos, hard to read text and a confusing call to action.
You should user test different videos and where they are located on the home page to see which combination yields the best results.
5. Calls to action
What is the goal of your website? Don’t be afraid to tell your users what you want them to do-regardless of whether you’re asking them to download a PDF, fill out a form, buy a product, or even just click through to another page.
A call to action (CTA) should be above the fold (in the top part of the page) designed in such a way that the eye will naturally travel there as soon as the page loads. You can include multiple CTA’s if it makes sense to do so.
Test different calls to action, different buttons, different colors, different messages, location of CTA’s, etc. Here are a few case studies of which CTA’s worked better. Source: unbounce.com.
The only way to know which is best, is to TEST!
For more case studies on Calls to Action visit: 10 Call-to-Action Case Studies w/ Takeaways & Examples from Real Button Tests
Test! Test! Test!
Just because you and your designer think yo’ve “got it right,” you should continually test the effectiveness of your home page. Testing is not difficult nor time-consuming, and it can be the quickest way to increase your revenue. Testing your assumptions and trying different variations of a layout or message could drastically increase your conversion rate. A/B test your value proposition, different photos, videos, calls to action, layouts, etc.
It’s amazing how changing some very small on you home page can cause a huge change in your rate of conversions.