Director of Marketing, Sportsman Boats
Do you know, on average, how many visitors you get to your homepage a month? It is no secret that the homepage is the one of the highest trafficked page of your site. But yet so often, examples pop up of underutilized real estate or outdated content being shown. So, what separates a great homepage from an “ok” one? While difficult to say what it should be exactly in your particular segment of the business, there are some guidelines that should be considered.
It all starts with understating your “Customer Journey” and more importantly understanding where the customer currently is in that journey. Examples of this will range from the “just looking” phase to the “ready to buy” phase. Does the content that attracts the “just looking” buyer also attract buyers in other phases? More often than not, it would not. For the first guideline, dedicate sections of your homepage to 3 to 4 major phases of your customer journey and don’t forget a section for those that are already your customers. Delighting your current customer base will turn them into brand ambassadors, the ultimate goal.
For the next guideline, let’s talk about crafting your brand’s first impression with potential buyers. For most of your visitors, the homepage will be the entry point into your brand. To put this in a real-world analogy, imagine you walked into new restaurant, within seconds you know if this will be your next favorite spot or the place you talk badly about the next day. This lasting first impression of you and your brand is conveyed by your homepage. A bad first impression here, will drive potential customers away. Major factors for a bad first impression are slow load speeds, unattractive design and out of date content. Let’s break these down one at a time.
Slow Page Load Speeds
In an ever-accelerating world, slow page speeds are amongst the highest culprit for high page bounces rates and low session duration stats. What does this all mean?! The bounce rate measures how often a user land on your site and does not move on to see a second page. The goal is to capture every single visitor and move them to as many subsequent pages as possible. Keep them in a never-ending loop of information about your brand and services. On the other hand, session duration is the measurement of how long a user stays on a page before moving on to another page. Very similar goal for this statistic as well, the goal is to keep users consuming your site for as long as possible.
A slow load time for your site will turn away customers and leave you with less traffic overall. The great news here is that it’s often a simple fix and small optimizations can be done fairly easily. Aside from slow or dated servers or infrastructure, improper image sizes are the biggest culprit for slow page loads. Make sure that every single image is the exact size that is required for the design and optimized for the web. A 2-megabyte file can easily be optimized to have a ~90% file size reduction.
Web Design & the Mobile-Friendly Era
A clean, easy to navigate and approachable design has been the trend in web design and there’s very good reason for that. Your homepage’s design should incorporate your branding and be easily recognizable at first glance. A mobile-friendly page layout optimized for smaller screen sizes is a must. On average, major brands receive over 55% of their traffic through mobile devices. A mobile layout will often eliminate unneeded parts of a site in an effort to be more concise and adhere to the limitations of a smaller screen size. Items like images and videos can be delivered in an on-demand manner to compensate for the slower loading speeds of cellular networks.
Your homepage design should incorporate your brand colors and logo first and foremost. They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and this could not be truer for our industry. We have the privilege of working in a very photogenic industry and this should be reflected in your homepage. To step it up to the next level, incorporate a short video in your homepage that can autoplay and show off your products and services. While this video could contain music, make sure that it’s muted by default and that the cinematography is engaging enough that it doesn’t need the music to stand out.
Out of Date Content
One of the biggest pet peeves of any shopper, and they will often voice this, is dated information on a website. If they pull open your site expecting to see the current model year information or updated imagery of your products or services and instead, they are greeted by the same old info, this will often lead to a high bounce rate. The perception of “I’ve already seen this” will kick in and they will move on to the next thing, which may be your competitor.
Keeping your content fresh is extremely important, especially for your homepage but it can be costly and sometimes difficult. It takes some creativity and ingenuity to find new ways to generate new content that is more attainable in a week to week basis. And this applies to your social media platforms as well. We live in a world where your content needs to be evergreen. Content is king.
To grow your visitors organically, create an engaging and welcoming experience for your visitors on your homepage that can be beneficial to buyers in different phases of the customer journey. The methods we discussed are suggestions and are just the beginning of a never-ending pursuit to optimizations and tweaks. Get your team involved in a brainstorming meeting to come up with as many “out of the box” ideas as you can to improve your homepage. Then, narrow it down into short goals. Always remember to find ways to track the impact of each of your endeavors.
That will wrap it up for now but remember these guidelines as you continue to enhance your customer experience on your website. You may reach me at any time through LinkedIn.