Three basic tricks to make your homepage more effective

In recent years, the thinking on building websites for new businesses; or even new websites for old businesses, is ‘the slicker the better’. That means scrolling social media feeds on the homepage to show everyone so active we are, video testimonials so we can instantly show everyone how great we are, and visual content sprawling in every direction.

homepageThe thinking behind that is obvious. Every visitor to your website is a potential customer. To most of us reading the homepage, every customer counts. More so than large corporations, we need our websites to sell ourselves and everything we do forcefully and quickly. Laying all the content right out in front of them as soon as they log on just intuitively feels like the right thing to do.

As you may have guessed from the tone of this article so far, it couldn’t be more wrong.

Google routinely measure something called the ‘bounce rate’ of web pages; it’s statistical data which covers the amount of time someone spends on your website, and how many pages they visit, before they leave, or “bounce”. The longer your website takes to load, the less likely a potential customer is to spend any time on it whatsoever. And the really worrying news? Your bounce rate dramatically increases if it takes more than two seconds for your homepage to load. That means, contrary to what your gut tells you, it’s probably time to simplify. Here are three principles you should always stick to.

  1. Make an instant offer to your potential customer

People love free stuff. It doesn’t even always matter what it is; the psychology of seeing an offer for something free the moment they connect to your site is more likely to make your viewer open to staying around and finding out more. What you can offer will of course depend on your own individual business. Could you offer a free quote? A free PDF full of information? A discount code for another local business? Even if you already do some or all of these things, make it sound like you don’t. Emphasize the ‘FREE’ and make it front and centre of your website. That’s how you make an instant connection.

  1. Take before you give

Here’s how you now turn that casual viewer into a potential lead; you collect their contact information before you give them whatever free item you were offering. The viewer, having arrived on your site and seen what you’re offering for free, will quickly make a decision as to whether or not they want it. When they decide they do want it, they’ll accept a transaction in order to get it, because that’s how we’re all conditioned to think. In this case, ask for their contact details. If you’re sending them a PDF, insist on sending it by email, and collect their address. Same with voucher codes. If it’s a quote, you’ll have to be able to contact them anyway. Within a few seconds of arriving on your site, your casual viewer is now a lead, who you are able to contact.

If you’re trying to visualize this, the UK online slots website does it exactly right. Converting views to purchases is essential to the day to day business of online slot websites, and so they have it down to a ‘T’. The first thing you notice when you log onto their site is an attractive-sounding offer for free spins. Try to claim it, and you find yourself going through the registration process. If you still want those free spins, you’ll sign up. This is what’s commonly referred to as a sales funnel. It’s simple, but very effective.

  1. Stick to the essentials

We’ve already covered the reasons why you don’t want too much content on your homepage; it will take too long to load, and people won’t wait. We’ve also just agreed that one of the things that will be on your homepage is an offer for free stuff. So give careful consideration to what else needs to be there. We’d suggest no video content whatsoever, and minimal use of images. Your homepage should contain the  ‘free’ offer, your business or service name, your contact information, one background image that clearly sums up what you do, and your slogan. That’s enough to draw people in.

There’s nothing wrong with having video testimonials, or video demonstrations of your products or services. Put them on the relevant pages of your website, and let people click through to them to find them. Let it be their decision. Have the confidence that arriving on the page in a timely fashion is more important to the viewer than being bowled over by excess content, and let the free offer do the rest!