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On Marketing: Essential habits of effective homepages

by JOSH GORDON Published: November 1, 2016 6:30 PM

Last week we talked about the basics of a quality website.
Today we confront a fundamental truth about all websites that often goes missed.
Your website is the essential marketing material for your business.
We usually don’t think about our website that way, though. It’s a “have to” item to check off the marketing to-do list. If that is the way you have approached your website in the past, it’s time to update your thinking. Your website is the marketing material worth putting your energy into because you are able to constantly leverage it to support your growth and service ambitions for your business.
The fact is, a well completed and maintained website will help your business grow.
A website is your most important marketing material for three reasons:
1. You can change and update them as you change and update your business (obviously).
2. The more keyword-rich pages you have in your website, the more opportunities your website has to be found in search engine results – add lots of pages!
3. It is the hub of your business… the place where you can tell your elevator speech and give the specific details behind what makes your business great.
It’s easy to overlook the fundamentals sometimes, especially when technology is moving so quickly. Hence the topic today of the homepage – one of the most important elements of your website. Still.
There are some fringe theories out there that work hard to debunk the fact that the homepage is still vital.
These theories are wrong.
The homepage still gets the lions share of initial website visits. If someone types your web address in, they find the homepage first. It also is the place visitors to your website find when they click the logo in the top left. Nearly 100 percent of your website visitors will see your homepage, whether enter the site on an inside page from a search result, or click a link from an email newsletter or social post.
Get the homepage right, and you will build some loyal customers and a curious group of prospects.
Four Habits of Effective Homepages
1. Tell your story quickly. There are a few methodologies of storytelling that work here, but it should be clear to anyone reading your homepage what your business is all about. It should take between three and seven seconds to figure out. If it takes more time, you have lost the interest of a prospect. Take a look at your site now (well, after you’ve finished this column) and time how quickly you can figure out what your business does. Be honest!
2. Enable curiosity by making it clear how to find more information about your business or products. You probably sell more than one thing, so make sure the most important stuff you sell – the highest margin, most popular products or services – are evident quickly on the homepage. Use this real estate to persuade your website visitors to click on more detail pages to get them deeper into your content, and closer to filling out a form and becoming a lead.
3. Focus on product / service benefits on the homepage. Let’s face it, it’s easy to talk about features. But, on a homepage, your visitors need to know what your product does for them (benefit) not what it does (feature). Features are important to search engine optimization, product descriptions, and more. But that content belongs deeper in the site.
4. Feature a single, clear call to action. What do you want your homepage readers to do next? Should they browse more of the site? Should they call you? Should they read a few more product detail pages then fill out a form? Tell your website visitors what you want them to do, then make it obvious and easy to do it.
Your homepage deserves a thoughtful approach that is grounded in science (use your analytics!) and highlights the most important elements of your company story.
If you are doing any advertising at all right now that includes your website – and you’re not sure if you have a good homepage – take some time to study your homepage and website. If you don’t like what you see make a plan to improve your website overall, starting with your homepage.
Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and President of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency with digital roots based in Kent, Ohio and Wooster, Ohio. You can reach Josh at jgordon@fullspectrummarketing.com.


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