A website homepage can make or break a business. For a homepage to be effective, it must:
- Look good
- Effectively present the product or service it offers
- Encourage potential customer to buy.
To do these things, there are five elements the page must have.
1. Hero Image
As soon as a customer clicks your website, they should see a picture or video that depicts an ideal customer, known as a hero image. This image of a happy customer encourages the customer to buy from you.
Make sure your hero image reflects your primary target demographic.
Beacon Wealth’s homepage makes excellent use of a hero image, portraying a smiling couple who appear to be in their fifties or sixties, placing them neatly in the business’s target demographic.
Your homepage should also feature three testimonials. These should be praise for your business from more happy customers.
The number of testimonials is very important. Only having one or two may lead viewers to suspect you do not have many satisfied customers to draw from. Having an excessive number of testimonials, on the other hand, makes you look unfocused and overbearing.
Placing exactly three testimonials on your page gives the impression of confidence and authority.
The placement of these testimonials within the page may vary. One design method is to place the testimonials in a row simply.
Many companies, such as Infusionsoft, use this format, as shown below.
Another way to format your testimonials is to intersperse them throughout your copy, as renowned speaker and author Michael Hyatt does on his site.
2. Call to Action
As with all forms of digital marketing, calls to action are the keys to success with your business’s website.
There are two types of calls to action: direct and transitional.
- A direct call to action invites the customer to purchase immediately. The most easily recognizable direct call to action is, “Buy now.”
- In contrast, a transitional call to action is an attempt to get the customer to learn more about your good or service, usually by giving you their contact information. It could say, “Create a free profile,” or, “Download this free pdf.”
Companies use transitional calls to action to move the customer toward a direct call to action. If a customer declines your direct call, you should redirect them to another transitional call.
Calls to action should display in the most valuable real estate on your homepage.
The single most important place to put a call to action is the top right corner of your homepage. Customers’ eyes are naturally drawn to this area, so you should keep it uncluttered and emphasize your call to action.
For most businesses, this should be a direct call. However, for some, such as those with extensive onboarding processes for new customers, a transitional call may be preferable.
Infusionsoft, for example, is a software company whose program, although extremely useful, is also very complex, so their homepage features only transitional calls to action.
Someone who downloaded the program and jumped right in without any training or explanation would find themselves lost, so all of the calls to action on their homepage lead the customer to more information about the product.
Another business that places a transitional call to action in the upper right-hand corner of their page is Domino’s Pizza.
One would expect Domino’s to have a direct call to action – “order now” – in this area, as pizza is fairly easy to understand. Instead, they have an invitation to create a “Pizza Profile.”
At first, this seems like a bad marketing decision. As a general rule, any business that can place a direct call here should do so. Domino’s, however, makes up for this with a clever strategy.
Every customer with a Pizza Profile will receive an email shortly before their local NFL team kicks off asking them if they want to order a pizza. With the push of just one button, these customers can get their favorite pizza delivered just in time to watch the game.
Furthermore, the call to action itself is carefully worded. It doesn’t simply say, “Create a Pizza Profile,” or, “Click here to get started.” It says, “Don’t have a Pizza Profile? Create one.” This text suggests the reader ought to have a profile and is missing out by not having one.
It is also worth noting the homepage is not lacking in direct calls to action. After opening the page, the customer can see no less than five buttons to click to order pizza.
Another prime real estate location on your page is the center of the page above the fold, which remains visible when the reader scrolls down. This area is an excellent place to put a phone number, especially if your target demographic consists largely of older customers.
People who are uncomfortable using the Internet will be much more likely to do business with you if they can quickly find a way to contact you offline.
When designing your website, feel free to try out different calls to action. Direct calls to action are often the most effective, but transitional calls can also be great marketing tools.
3. Three-Step Plan
No matter how complicated your product or service is, you must present your customers with a three-step plan on your homepage. A short, concise plan of action will establish your brand as an authority in customers’ minds.
It is tempting to go into great detail about your business in this plan because you want the customer to know about everything you offer. Simplicity, however, is the key to the three-step plan. Its purpose is to reassure the client you know what to do and encourage them to learn more.
Take, for example, the company One Trusted Advisor. The founders built this company around one person who is a financial advisor, an attorney and an accountant.
Obviously, this gives them a lot to talk about, but they have managed to condense a description of their services into a short and sweet three-step plan.
In some cases, a four-step plan may work, but there’s a catch. The fourth step should simply describe the benefits of buying your product or service. If you run a pizza shop, and the first three steps of your plan describe the ordering process, the fourth should simply say something like, “Enjoy!”
One business that does this is Simple Sleep, which makes custom mouthpieces for sleep. Their first three steps outline the process of getting a mouthpiece made, and the fourth step says, “Sleep better.”
Some marketers believe the number of steps does not matter, but the truth is a plan with too many steps will leave potential customers bored, confused, or both. Your plan should never have more than four steps.
A three-step plan is best because people can easily understand a simple beginning – middle – end structure.
4. Fresh Content
Another thing that needs to display on your page is content. This tip may seem simple, but developers often skip over it during the web design process.
Content can take many forms – videos, blog posts, podcasts, etc. On our homepage here at Content First Marketing, we feature blog posts like this one to give potential customers an idea of the insight and expertise we can offer them.
5. Marketing Automation
The final key element of a good business homepage is marketing automation. Your homepage should include transitional calls to action that invite the customer to share their email address.
However, simply asking people to sign up for your newsletter or to asking for an email address to “stay in touch” will rarely work.
One of the best ways to get people onto your email list is to offer them something in exchange.
Michael Hyatt, for example, offers a free eBook to those who subscribe to his email newsletter.
Michelle Prince, another successful motivational speaker, offers a free training video in exchange for an email address.
Beacon Wealth is a very different business, but it, too, offers something for free. In exchange for your contact information and a list of your biggest investments, they will provide you with a free assessment of your portfolio.
Once you have a potential customer’s email address, you can begin sending nurture emails to encourage them to make a purchase. You can perform this task with auto-responder software, which automatically sends emails to those on the list.
To maintain a customer’s interest without annoying them, send an email as frequently as every day or as rarely as once every week or two.
Many of the best auto-responders follow a five to seven email structure. First, they send a welcome email sharing basic information about your brand and your mailing list, giving the customer the option to confirm their email address.
The next three emails will tell a story or share other useful information to nurture their interest in your company.
These emails should be related to each other, but different enough you can use them to segment the customer, using their click through data to determine what interests them.
The information gained from segmenting allows you to tailor your advertising to each customer’s needs and wants.
The next email will make an offer. This offer could ask to set up a meeting or consultation, or it could jump straight to “buy now.” The next email asks them to subscribe to weekly digest emails, giving them more detailed information about your company, and the seventh makes another offer.
Obviously, you shouldn’t stop emailing a customer until you have completed this formula, but you should have enough information to customize your marketing to each.
These five elements are the building blocks of a great homepage. Using them effectively will help you capture your customers’ attention, nurture their interest, and boost your sales.
To learn more about homepage design, watch this video: 3 Things Every Website Needs
To learn more about marketing automation, click here.
Do you have any great advice on homepage design? Anything we missed? Leave a comment below!
5 Elements Every Homepage Must Have
A website homepage can make or break a business. Here are 5 elements every homepage must have in order for it to be effective.