Imagine a shop window with nothing but a picture of a mountain in it; imagine the outside of the shop didn’t tell you from a glance that you were looking at a shoe shop. Would you feel compelled to go in? What if the window were overcrowded and untidy? Doubtful that you’d feel like going into that shop either.
Love it or hate it, most of us will have spent time shopping on the high street. The shoe shop, the jewellery store, the bike shop, the clothing retailer: all the usual suspects are there. Maybe something about one of them will catch your eye and make you want to go in for a closer look.
The same principle applies to websites. Even though you may not have an ecommerce site, the home page still needs to act like the high-street shop fronts. The proposition on your home page has to entice your website visitors, making them want to explore what’s on offer, and ultimately buy from you.
Where home pages go wrong
It’s usually when a company has a service to promote, rather than a product, that the home page becomes fraught with problems. How do you depict a business that values and sells other companies? It’s difficult, without resorting to clichéd images of the City. That’s why, when it comes to marketing, a few carefully chosen words are worth a thousand pictures!
Don’t get us wrong, words can go oh so very wrong too. Here are just a few ways that home pages trip up:
- Ambiguous copy – which doesn’t tell the visitor what the company does or where it adds value. Often self-indulgent, when stripped back, these words usually mean very little.
- Copy hidden below the fold – ok, maybe not such a big deal – people will scroll to find out more if they like what they see when they land. So make sure whatever you say above the fold is compelling too.
- Stock imagery – lacks personality, and doesn’t say anything original about the company or differentiate them from competitors.
- Irrelevant imagery – even worse than stock imagery, is stock imagery that bears no relevance to the company or what they do. Words that are clear, concise and rapidly informative are far more powerful than a beautiful image of a whale.
- ENTER HERE – where exactly? Aladdin’s cave, a house of horrors?! Don’t expect anyone to go any further if you have one of these home pages; it’s not enticing, it’s off-putting.
So, what can you do about it?
Website visitors want to know exactly what you do, and they want to know straight away. The majority will bounce off a website’s home page in just a few seconds.
If you’re to stop this happening, you need to a) tell them what you do and what your value-add is upfront*, and b) make it as clear as possible, so they don’t have to spend lots of their time trying to figure it out.
Think of your home page like a poster site that you might drive by. It needs to be eye catching, interest the reader, create the desire and make it clear what action they should take, all in a split second. Think how billboard advertising works; for a fleeting moment you catch sight of the poster. Taking Specsavers as a well-known example, you’re presented with an image of someone wearing glasses and a relevant, straightforward proposition: 2 for 1 from £69.
I’m sure my website does this already…
‘Wait a minute, isn’t this information on my website already?!’ Yes, it probably is. In fact, it’s probably found on your ‘about us’ or ‘what we do’ page. The problem with having all of that juicy information tucked away on your site, is that it assumes the visitor will go looking for it.
Of course, the ‘what we do’ page is a great place to go into some more detail about how you can help your potential customers. But it shouldn’t be the only place that website visitors can find out how you can help them. 60% of website visitors jump off a website home page in less than 10 seconds, so messaging is key here: tying together copy, images and design to leave the people that land on your home page in no doubt about what you can do for them.
The mobile hang up?
In the digital world we live in, where smartphones are rarely far away, websites have to be mobile-friendly! Indeed, over half of all traffic to websites and shopping is now done on a mobile device. So we are frequently told. Of course, it is true that mobile is an unfightable force in the modern world. However, B2B websites shouldn’t sacrifice desktop experience in favour of mobile.
For one of our clients, who sells to corporates, 88% of their website traffic comes from desktop computers. While mobile is clearly important, don’t forget about context and the needs of your target market. For many B2B businesses it’s paramount that their desktop experience is prioritised, because that’s where their potential customers are looking at them.
And in the B2B world, service orientated websites have one key function – reassurance. At Essentiamail, we’re in the business of sending traffic to websites and if that reassurance isn’t there, you’re unlikely to see results. So, before you dive into developing an expensive new site, why not give us a call? We’d be happy to share our thoughts and to discuss how you could encourage potential customers to your site and provide them with the reassurance they need to buy from you.
*and it’s not that you’re ‘passionate’ and you ‘listen’ to your clients’ needs!