When you think of all the objectives your website has to meet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Not only do you need to draw new people in, but you have seconds to make a strong first impression and get them to take an action.
This often leads to home pages that are packed with information and competing calls-to-action.
And because a confused visitor is a lost visitor, this can be a huge problem for business owners marketing their work online.
But not every site suffers from this problem. What differentiates those sites from the rest?
They answer three key questions right off the bat.
1. Am I in the right place?
Imagine for a moment that you’re out shopping in a busy commercial district. Maybe you’re looking for a birthday gift on Michigan Avenue, or just browsing cute shops while on vacation.
As you pass each storefront, you’re making snap decisions based on the store’s name, the merchandise on display and the overall vibe and aesthetic of the shop. Maybe a cute sidewalk sign lures you into one store in particular.
You look around. And within seconds, you’ve either entered deeper into the store or turned right around and left.
The same is true on the web. You’ve got less than 15 seconds before a new visitor to your home page bounces.
In those 15 seconds, your visitor is making all sorts of snap judgments about your work. They rapidly evaluate whether you offer something they want, and that first impression will determine whether a new visitor stays or goes.
While it can be tempting to do something clever with your home page, savvy marketers know that clarity always trumps cute.
Can a new visitor tell in 15 seconds what your site is all about?
2. Do you have what I want?
Knowing that you’ve only got 15 seconds to make an impression, understanding what kind of “something” your visitor wants can help you design a sticky website.
Generally, people are looking for one of three things:
1) Information. A lot of businesses assume that what that website visitor wants is to buy something from you, but that’s usually not the case. At least not right when they land on your website. More often, people are gathering information. This is nearly always the case for those of us who offer services or products at a high price point. Very few of our clients and customers are looking to buy right now. They’re comparison shopping.
Is your target audience gathering information when they land on your site? What are they looking for?
2) Something to buy. But that doesn’t mean that no one ever impulse buys a product on the web! While this is a rarer breed of website visitor, you can find people ready to buy at low price points, and at times of emergency.
Maybe they’re hosting a baby shower next week, and you offer 2-day shipping, or their site has been hacked, and you offer emergency tech support.
If your core desired audience wants your product or service now, your first goal is to get it to them.
3) Distraction or entertainment. We’ve all been there. Maybe your visitor is up late at night clicking anything in their Facebook feed that looks interesting.
If you’re a content or gaming company, your audience might just want distraction.
3. How do I get it?
Online, all the information, products and entertainment you could ever want is available at your fingertips. If you can’t find what you want right away, it’s easy to click away from the site you’re on and find it elsewhere.
This is why it’s so important to understand what your audience is looking for. And give it to them.
Right away. At the very top of your site.
In other words, if your audience is coming to your site comparison shopping photographers, you want them to immediately see your product. And have a chance to opt in to get a free download that really shows them what makes you the best choice.
Or, if your audience is in the midst of a crisis, let them know right at the top that you specialize in fast turnaround times, and give them a way to contact you.
And finally. If your visitor is looking for a little distraction, ignore the marketers who say you should always ask for the email. Give them the entertainment they’re looking for. Let them buy your online game now, not sign up to get info on how to buy later.
Then, once you’ve understood what your audience is looking for and figured out how you’re going to deliver it, you can add more elements to your home page.
Once you’ve helped your site visitor decide that you do have what they’re looking for, you’ve got a little more leeway to add in more of your story. As they scroll down your home page, you can help them get to know what sets your business apart, what else you offer, and make a second call-to-action.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the about page on your website is about, well, you.
The words are right there at the top, after all. About. About me. About us.
So I can see why so many about pages focus in on your experiences, your likes and dislikes, and your favorite hobbies.
But there’s just one problem.
Making your website’s About page all about you wastes one of your best opportunities to connect and convert. Tweet
To understand why, let’s imagine the journey of your reader.
Let’s say you just published a blog post and shared it on Facebook. One of your fans loves your post so much she shares it on her personal feed. And one of her friends is intrigued enough to click over to your site.
This is a likely scenario, since Facebook now accounts for 1/4 of all website traffic.
Let’s continue this scenario by imaging this new visitor is right in your target market. She’s read your blog post, and she’s starting to think that you have what she needs.
What does she do next?
If she’s like most website visitors, she checks out your home page. And then your about page.
Your home page. And your about page.
As she lands on your about page, she’s really intrigued. She wants to know more about your business, of course.
But what she really wants to know is what your business can do for her.
Visitors to your about page are looking for information on what you can do for them.
But what does she find instead?
I’m a blogger, a mom and a coffee lover…
My paintings use an ancient technique called…
We came together to found the Cupcake Factory out of a deep desire to…
Copy that’s clearly not written with your audience in mind.
So instead of converting into an email subscriber, she clicks the tab closed and disappears.
Telling a personal story on your about page can be effective, but is the story you’re sharing relevant to your audience? Does it make the case that your website visitor should like like you and trust your business to deliver what she’s after?
Sharing your approach to your work can give your customer a treasured glimpse behind-the-scenes, but is your artist’s statement focused on what your customer values? Are you making it easier or harder for her to say yes to what you create?
Talking about the mission behind your company can help your customer understand what makes you different in the market, but are you burying your uniqueness with jargon and vague language?
Reading your about page now, is it more focused on your or your audience?