We talk about your website frequently in Common-Sense Marketing Revealed, as it’s a huge opportunity to gain new customers and enquiries.
If someone wants to know a bit about your business, most search for you or your products and services on the internet – and there they will usually land on your homepage.
But exactly what will they see?
In my experience, the prospect’s experience is often one of disappointment or frustration, or simply so-so. And that’s usually because the owner of the web site has followed one of the following 6 approaches, which all lead to poor (or even zero) results.
Take a look and see if you recognise your web site here:
Example #1 – Why Us?
Why Choose Us? – Here are 10 Good Reasons….
The reader may well skip this as they know you are about to hit them with a list of how brilliant “You” are. But they don’t care about you – only about themselves and their own problems.
Example #2 – Think Again!
Do you think Critical Illness cover / Five Star Dining / a Quality Italian Suit is expensive? Think again!
This statement is almost encouraging or challenging your prospect to find cheaper prices elsewhere, before they even delve deeper into your pricing structure or anything to do with your products and the value they may offer. It’s based on a premise of saying ‘You’re wrong, not let me prove it to you’. Not surprisingly, this approach fails to engage visitors.
Example #3 – Copy Written For Search Engines, Not Humans
Bob’s cheap Colchester plumber is the best cheap Colchester plumber for all your plumbing needs.
This looks more like an obvious tactic to fool search engines, rather than friendly, helpful advice directed at a prospect looking for a Plumber. With this approach, your prospect learns nothing about your service or your credibility and how you can service their need.
Example #4 – Bland Claims About You Customer Service
Big enough to cope – Small enough to care
It’s unclear and non-specific…and it’s all about the business, not the customer. What do they care about? Every other business says they “care”, so what really makes you so different?
Example #5 – Emotional Blackmail
Are you going to burden your children with your funeral costs??? – It’s time to think again!
This is almost offensive, sarcastic and accusatory to the reader. You wouldn’t use this kind of language if you were speaking to a prospect, and it does not pay to try and use emotional blackmail to motivate people to respond. Make sure that your headline is respectful and informative.
Example #6 – Telling A Story
How a trip to Yorkshire Made Me Give Up Holidaying Overseas
A loose definition of a shaggy dog story is any story with an excessively long build up for an unrewarding or even infuriating ending. These headlines can work, if it’s interesting and relevant. It’s still more about the business than the reasons your prospect has come to visit your page. Use this kind of headline in an About Us page.
These examples give you an idea of what really doesn’t work for your homepage. So, What does?
Well, the key is to make it more about the visitor, less about you. Ensure that you avoid using “we” in your copy wherever possible, not just within a headline. Instead, use the words ‘you ‘ and ‘your’.
Describe their problem or answer potential questions, then introduce your solution. For example, “7 Key benefits of fitting a water softener in your home” This headline is both answering a potential question that a prospect may have, whilst also giving the prospect some assurance that your content will be informative and help them to make the decision as to their need for your product.
It helps if you open with a headline that focuses on the end result. Then get into the problem when you write the main message.
How you apply your headlines will depend on the type of Home page you are using.
Here are three typical home page types:
(1) …Highly visual, with buttons leading to more detailed content.
For this, you want a headline that tells the visitor they’ve come to the right place to solve their problem. Then consider adding a short video that tells them which links to follow for specific details. You need to sign-post the next part of their journey through your site.
(2) …Long copy, with a specific offer and call to action.
As always, start with a headline and possibly a video. Then write in a conversational style that demonstrates you know what it’s like to have the problems that the prospect will be experiencing. Gets your reader nodding in agreement, and then tell them what to do next, and why.
(3) …Sign-up, where you offer some kind of ‘ethical bribe’ to capture the visitor’s details.
If your offer is easily understood and valuable, then a short page can work well here. You need a headline and summary copy with compelling bullet points, explaining how your free guide, report checklist, video tutorial, case study etc. is going to help them take the next step. Add a sign-up form towards the top of the page ‘above the fold’ i.e. immediately visible without the visitor having to scroll down the page. Also include some kind of visual representation of your free information or ethical bribe.
To get the best results i.e. the maximum number of enquiries from your web site,you will need to test different layouts and headlines every few months. For example after the home page has received 500 visitors, check your page stats, and then test one new element on the page. This will allow you to find out which format and content works best for your business.