Did you know that it takes only 50 milliseconds for users to decide if they are going to stay or leave your website?
That’s not a lot of time to make a first impression. The real question is: What makes a visitor decide to stay or leave your website? Designers will tell you it’s about design and aesthetics. Marketers will tell you it’s about the wireframe of your content. SEO specialists will tell you it’s about website speed. So who’s right?
While I would agree that design, wireframes, and speed all have a central part to play in a quality website, I’ve found that first impressions are won by words. That’s right. Words. Not just any words, of course, but intentionally crafted words that hook a user into reading more.
Words are king. They trump everything else when it comes to leaving an impression on visitors and that role becomes even bigger when converting visitors into customers.
Your brain is trained to prioritize words because words are the foundation of your understanding and comprehension and all human language.
Think about it with me for a moment. What is the first thing you naturally seek out when landing on a website you’ve never been to before? Unless your specific job description is “designer” or “marketer”, you’re likely not waiting on the other side of the screen to see a beautiful design. Nor are you worried about how it’s wireframed or that it loaded 0.4376 seconds faster than the last website you were on.
Instead, I guarantee your eyes are immediately drawn to the first words you see on the screen and whether or not those words make enough sense for you to keep reading.
In this article, I want to give you 4 key elements you absolutely must have on your homepage if you want to win more customers. And no surprise, all of these key elements are based on the logic of using your words wisely.
Key Element #1: An easy to read one-liner that emphasizes the benefit of your product.
One-liners. They’re not a thing of the past so don’t overlook the importance of having one for your business. In fact, if written correctly, one-liners are so powerful they can literally be the difference between winning or losing a customer. I even recommend having one for each product or service you sell, but that’s for another day and another post.
What you need right now on the home page of your website is a one-liner that is easy to read, front and center, and clearly states the core benefit or core solution your product provides.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their websites today is they do not clearly communicate what it is they do and why it matters. Your website may be beautiful and fast, but if you cannot tell your visitors with simple words why they should stick around, they’re already gone.
For example, the other day I was doing some online shopping. I somehow ended up landing on this random website and the first words they use in the main hero section are, “Let the Sparks Fly.” Let me ask you, based on that one-liner, what kind of business do you think this is? A fireworks shop maybe? Or perhaps a jewelry store? No and no. It was an apparel store that sold graphic tees and sweaters. After spending nearly 10 minutes on their website I still couldn’t figure out what really made them unique or why I should buy from them. That’s bad for business. And guess what? The website was beautiful and it loaded rather quick from what I recall, but it left me with no real understanding of what benefit this company provided.
The point is, you don’t just want any one-liner. You need a very specific, carefully crafted, one-liner that states what you do and how it benefits your customers. Take the time to think of what core benefit or core result your product promises and write your one-liner around it.
Take a look at a few of these great examples from other websites.
The truth is, it’s not hard to write a one-liner if you just keep it simple, short and sweet… oh and use a little of your gut instincts. It’s only when you begin to overthink it that it starts to become ineffective.
So you want to sell more? Get that one-liner nailed down today.
Key Element #2: A thought-provoking question that hits a core pain-point.
Questions are a powerful tool to hook your visitors into reading more. They also happen to be a great way to introduce a core pain-point or problem that your product can solve for your customer. In fact, questions in general help better engage visitors through curiosity, intrigue, and interest while also helping you build better content around a foundational point. Can you tell I’m a big fan of questions?
(Psst… Check out my other blog post "How to engage your customers using this one simple hack that never fails” to learn more about how questions play a powerful role in selling your product.)
On your homepage, preferably right after your main hero section, you need to ask a question and it needs to funnel your visitors into understanding what pain-point your product actually solves. Remember, the goal for asking this question is to engage your customer and position your product as the perfect solution.
In order to do this, you need to determine what pain-point is most relatable to your visitors and how you can turn it into a thought-provoking question. I’ve found that hypothetical questions often work best because they imply a solution worth buying. Questions that start with “What if...”, or “Imagine if...”, or “How would...” are a great way to start asking.
Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say you own a car mechanic shop. The obvious pain-point for your customers would be a broken down vehicle. So your question might be something like, “What if you could have a car that never broke down?” Or you might say, “Imagine if your car was always reliable and well maintained?” Or even, “How much easier would your life be without car problems?”
All of these questions imply the need for a solution. That’s exactly what you want to do because this kind of question primes your audience to want the solution and now your product or service can be the answer.
Check out a few of these examples from other websites that are doing it right.
If you want to beat your competition, all you need to do is ask the right question and sell your product as the answer. It’s really that simple, and it’s something you should be doing right on the homepage of your website.
Key Element #3: A clear solution that answers the question and fixes the core problem.
Going hand in hand with asking the right question, you also need a clear solution that answers the question and fixes the problem. There’s nothing more disappointing than feeling empathy from someone who understands your pain, but then their solution is way off the mark or even worse… they don’t have a solution at all.
You need to make sure you answer your own question with a singular solution that actually fixes the pain-point or the problem.
Let’s go back to our car mechanic illustration from before. So you land on this car mechanic’s website and it asks, “What if you could have a reliable vehicle 365 days out of the year?” This is a perfect question and a great start. You’re interested. You’re engaged. You want to know how, especially if you drive around an old beater. But then, as you proceed to scroll down the page all you find is a list of services and how much they cost.
You’re not ready to buy yet. You don’t want to know about what services the mechanic offers. You just want to know the answer to the question just asked. You want to know, plain and simple, how you can have a reliable vehicle 365 days out of the year.
Now, let’s change the scenario a bit.
Instead, let’s say you scroll down after being asked this question and there is a simple paragraph that reads, “We understand the frustration of car problems. That’s why we offer all of the services you need to keep your car maintained and healthy year around. Give us a call today and we can discuss the best plan to keep your vehicle serviced.”
Do you see the difference only 3 sentences can make? It’s the difference between being the solution for your customers or just being a trouble maker. All you have to do on your homepage is answer the question plain and simple, using your product or service as the obvious solution.
Key Element #4: A bold and ever-present call to action that’s obvious
You’ll be surprised how lazy website visitors are. Surfing the web is a passive activity. If you don’t call visitors to take a very specific action on your website, they just won’t.
Perhaps the most important key element you need on your homepage is a call to action. This call to action needs to be an obvious clickable button that tells your website visitors what step you want them to take next on your website. It should say something like, “Shop Now” or “Schedule a Call” or “Register Today.”
This call to action also needs to be bold, and it needs to be everywhere. Let me say that again. It needs to be everywhere! Don’t use it just once, or splattered here and there. It should be in your navigation and in each section of your homepage. Make sure it’s consistent and always takes the user to the same place. The last thing you want is for your visitors to be ready to take action but they have to work to find the button. Make it easy for them. Don’t worry about whether or not it feels redundant. It’s not. It’s just smart.
Wordstream discovered that by just focusing on a single call to action in their emails increased their clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%! If it can do that for email, how much more can it do for your homepage?
Here are 5 quick tips to making sure your call to action is the best it can be:
Keep it the same color. Give it a unique color if possible.
Make sure the language actually calls the visitor to action. Don’t make it passive. For example, use “Start Now” instead of “Get Started”.
Use urgency to your advantage. Say “Call Today” instead of “Call us”.
Keep your calls to action clear from clutter and enough space to make it stand out
If possible, keep it ever present in the top right corner of your homepage and website. This will help the user always know where to go to take action.
Over to you:
Winning customers, more often than not, boils down to clear words and simple ways to communicate the value your product brings to the table. One of the most strategic things you can do for your business, as we learned, is to use your words wisely and intentionally on your homepage.
So take these 4 key elements we learned about in this article and run with them. There is no limit to the results they can produce for your business.