A first impression can be lasting, so a website home page, where lots of customers have their very first contact with a company. If a home page is in any way displeasing to visitors, they will bounce before engaging in any type of conversion – registering for something with an email address, taking a free trial or advantage of a huge discount or sale, or navigating to other pages on the site that have conversion pulls as well.
In short, that first impression can kill conversions if it is not exceptional and engaging. It is therefore important that web designers and marketers work very closely to optimize that home page for maximum engagement.
Here are 5 things you need to look at very carefully if you are not getting the conversion rate you want. For more tips, read our conversion rate optimization guide.
If You are Not a News Outlet, Don’t Publish News
Updates and news about your company can be interesting and engaging to readers. They help you build relationships with your target market, especially if you have stories to share. But the news does not belong on your homepage. The place for your news items is either on social media, on your blog or on a link or via a menu item. Visitors/potential customers will read that news if it’s engaging, but they will then be distracted from what you want them to do. The purpose of your home page is to be visually appealing and to get conversions, no matter what they be. News items do neither of these two things. Here is an example of myemma.com – an email marketing service. It only wants conversions, so here is the homepage:
Unclutter a Busy Homepage
Business owners and many marketers are focused on visitors not missing a thing. Here again, they are thinking of what they want, not what the customer wants. A recent study reported that a large percentage (75%) of visitors form impressions of companies based upon their reactions to web design. Too much text and too many images clutter up a home page and readers are irritated and a bit confused by it all. Another study by the Nielson Norman Group found that just cutting the amount of text in half increases visitors’ feelings about the usability of a site by about 58%.
Finding the balance may be tricky. On the one hand, you want enough writing content so that it will get indexed by search engine spiders, but not so much that it becomes cumbersome to a reader. Get the important content above the fold and keep it pretty “short and sweet.” And once you get the page cleaned out of text and images, trash the advertising too. When you take up space with announcements about free shipping and fill the rails with even more advertisements, you are giving your reader too much to try to focus on. Amazon may be able to get away with this because it has a long-standing and solid reputation with its customers and visitors. You are not Amazon. Here is an example of the difference.
Limit the Number of Calls to Action
If you give a reader too many options, s/he will be distracted and paralyzed. They will not be able to decide which one to choose. You should limit CTA’s to one or two on your home page. You decide what it is you want your customers to do in the way of conversions. Is it a free trial, a demo, or a tour? Then this one conversion CTA must be prominent, above the fold, and somewhere in the middle, surrounded by some white space. Users should be able to find it in 3 seconds or less or they will bounce. Research demonstrates this quite clearly. Too many CTA’s will discourage your visitors and they will choose none of them. And each CTA should tell the visitor exactly what they will get by clicking on that button. Misused phrases on and around your CTA’s will confuse customers.
Give Your Blog a High Priority on Your Homepage
Search engines like blog posts more than they do a static website. And when organic searches are conducted, many of the top results are blog posts, not websites. In fact, research shows that when businesses blog regularly, they are able to get 88% more leads each month.
Now, this does not mean that you put any of your blog posts on your homepage. It does mean that you have a prominent link to your blog on that page because you will lose lots of leads if you don’t. And don’t hide that blog in some type of “resources” drop-down menu. Give it its own link.
A blog is where you develop trust and relationships. And, often, visitors will not make a purchase the first time they come to your site. But they will also come back and search around. Make sure that they can get to your blog easily. And all of those posts that you are regularly creating ad publishing. Make sure that they are of high value, inspire, educate or entertain, and that you use proper language. You never know who will be reading them.
You Need Really Fast Load Time
3 seconds – that’s all you have. And if your site’s homepage has not loaded in that time, your potential visitors/customers have moved on. And, in relation to purchases and shopping carts? Current research shows that shoppers abandon shopping carts because of slowness at a rate of 51%. And here’s another reason to increase your speed: Google is factoring in load time in its rankings. Need still another reason? A study by Kissmetrics determined that there is a 7% decrease in conversions even with a single second of extra delay in load time. You need to analyze your load time on all devices through consistent and regular testing. You can go through the Pingdom Website Speed Test Tool or you can have actual testers on all devices. If your load time is anything more than 3 seconds, get busy on a fix. And remember, average load time is actually 2 seconds so you are going for that.
Now you have 5 things that you can do to increase conversions from your home page. There are lots of other tactics too, and you may have some that will contribute to this conversation. Please share!
About the author:
John Unger is a UK native writer, idea guy and difference maker. He’s interested in business, marketing and success, so mostly he covers these topics in his articles, hoping that his writing inspires and helps his readers. More articles you can find in his educational blog. Get in touch with him via Twitter, or Google+.