The greatest compliment you can get about your web site is from your best customer just after they bought something. It goes something like this: “finding the information I was looking for on your web site was a piece of cake”. Your home page is the first step to getting more compliments like that. You need to get your best customers attention, prove to them they are in the right place and guide them to the next step.
Who are your best customers?
Identify who your ideal customers are before you try to sell anything. Is it people who own a pre-1950's house in Kelburn, professionals struggling to find 2 hours to ride their mountain bike on Saturdays, or mums who want their baby to wear 100% natural fabrics?
You wouldn't try to sell 18 year old scotch to a homeless guy, and neither should you try to sell your product or service to anyone and everyone.
What's the most important thing to your best customers?
You have a few short seconds to grab the attention of your busy and impatient future customer.
Simply tell them all about yourself and your product and you're guaranteed to lose their interest faster than you can say ‘click here to visit the competition'.
Show them the thing that is most important to them and you will grab their attention and compel them to read on.
Are they looking for a warm, draft free home? Or maybe an easy to organise way to ride their mountain bike in an interesting new place every week? Or perhaps a wide range of natural fibre baby clothing.
Understand them and show them what they want and you're half way to the sale.
How do your customer groups think?
If all of your best customers want the same thing, your job is fairly simple. Show them what they get from your product or service and they'll want to know more.
Here's a couple of examples:
But most businesses have several different groups of best customers and they all want slightly different things.If you offer lawn mowing, gardening and tree pruning services don't try to sell them all at once to someone who wants a tidy lawn. You'll dilute your message and lose their interest.
This challenge is easily solved on your web site. Focus the message on your home page on your most important group of customers and include a prominent link to a page designed for your less significant customer group(s).
Our web site is an example of how to include a prominent link to a secondary message: www.anyware.co.nz
If all your customer groups are equally significant, give them equally prominent links to other pages that contain the information they need.
Here's an example where the most important things to the different groups of customer are the latest bikes, special offers, finance options and buying accessories online: www.viccycles.co.nz
These 2 examples make it easy for many different groups to browse for the most important thing to them: www.fullcircle.co.nz and www.clives.co.nz
This example has 2 high priorities (large items and furniture) and 3 lesser priorities (small items, auction codes and vehicles): www.shipmytrade.co.nz
And here's one that has many groups with the same priority for each: www.maundersurvey.co.nz
Keep in mind that different groups of customers don't always have different needs. Sometimes one message will work for all your customers. But if and only if the same thing is the most important thing to all of them.
Attention before Detail
If I started this article with a big block of text instead of an interesting headline, you would not have read this far.
The same goes for your readers. Write a headline for each group, based on the thing that is the most important to them, and get their attention.
Ok, now you can give them some details. But not much - this is your home page and we're still trying to show them they are in the right place.
Bullet points are great. Relevant images are even better.
Paragraphs are ok if they are short and few.
White space is good too.
Your readers should be able to glance at the page and know what you are offering.
Use images that really hit the spot to get your message across faster.
Think about a generic image that looks nice but does not say anything. Compare that to an image your future customer relates to and shows that you offer what they want.
Which would convince you to buy?
The VIC example includes an image that shows they have bikes for the whole family - you can pick that up in a split second without reading a single word.
Econo-heat shows 2 attractive heaters in appealing rooms that look warm (also thanks to some good colour selection by our graphic designers).
The ShipMyTrade images clearly show that they can deliver a whole bunch of different stuff for you, from beds to baby clothes to vehicles. Again, no reading required.
A picture really is worth 1000 words.
See if you can figure out what this company sells in ½ second or less! www.ultibend.com
If you have room, a short testimonial can add weight to your credibility.
Written is good. Video is much better.
You've shown your best customer they're in the right place, you can probably give them what they want. They trust you because your web site looks amazing and makes them feel good.
But they still have questions. And maybe some niggling doubts.
And you'd be surprised how many people don't click to the next page to look for the answers to their questions.
Use a clear call to action such as "Browse our range of heaters" or "Services: how can we help you?" to show them exactly how to answer their questions or doubts.
And if they're ready to speak to you "Contact Us Now!" will help more people to cross the line.
Putting it All Together
Browse the web until you find some web sites you like. It's much easier to improve on someone else's good work than to start from scratch. Look for similar services in other countries too.
If you want to do it yourself (and if you're up for a challenge and you don't mind long delays) then start playing with ideas in MS Word.
Avoid using MS Publisher - it does not play nice with other applications and you won't be able to share your document with anyone who does not use Publisher (like your web or graphic designer).
Discuss your home page ideas with us as early as possible. We'll ask a lot of questions you have not thought of, making the process more efficient.
And we've done this before.
Make the whole process REALLY EASY and drop us a line - we'll manage the process for you, exploit your expertise and minimise the time you spend on it so you can focus on running your business.