In this post you're going to learn how to optimize your website homepage and boost your online conversion rates. Are you ready? Let's do this!
Remember the saying that you’ve only got sixty seconds to make a great first impression?
Well, it applies just as much to your website’s new visitors as it does to people in the flesh.
I don’t know the exact figure, of course, but I think I’d be justified in saying that you’ve got to knock the socks off new arrivals pretty darn quick!
In fact, recent psychological research suggests that you might not even have that long!
How would you feel if I said that you haven’t actually got sixty, thirty or even five seconds?
Try one tenth of a second!
When somebody arrives on your homepage, they take in thousands of micro-impressions, processing everything from the layout to the copy to the colour scheme.
All of these factors determine whether or not they’ll convert in the way you want them to - whether that’s entering an email address, starting a free trial, or even clicking through to another page.
The fourteen tips I'm going to share with you in this post, almost all of which are backed up with real-world data, will help you design your homepage so as to best encourage visitors to do the right thing, and give you the info that you want.
Let’s dive straight in!
Landing Pages vs. “Blog Pages"
I think it’s worth pointing out that, generally speaking, most webmasters will have one of two possible types of homepage: Either a landing page that’s designed to capture information (such as the one you see on this site), or a dynamic page where recent blog posts are listed.
Nearly all of the tips here apply to both.
This is a principle that project-management SaaS provider Basecamp have really used to their advantage, see their site here.
Their homepage is free of any unnecessary clutter. The simple truth is that you don’t always need fancy images, animations or a design that’s worthy of spot in the Louvre.
Take a study from Marketing Sherpa, where a simple de-cluttering of the "Notify, Weather Channel" home page (at the time), resulted in a 225% increase in conversions.
You can see from the image below, that they removed the big walls of text, extensive feature lists and unnecessary statistics on the right, whilst also adding an easily-understandable visual explanation of their service.
If you’re struggling to put together a landing page, ask yourself this; “What is my core value proposition?”
In a world where everybody is adding more features to their products, trying to capture attention by being louder and more colourful, getting back to basics can often be the more remarkable thing to do.
This is actionable advice that you can utilize almost immediately. Though you may be a bit hesitant to plaster your ugly mug onto the front of your site, however, the data is pretty clear on the benefits of doing so.
Highrise used the simple inclusion of a human element to double their sign-ups.
Compare the relatively cluttered, somewhat bland homepage above, with the one below. The difference is stark. Another little tip? Women tend to perform better than men... don’t blame me please... blame the chauvinistic web users!
People respond better to shorter headlines. Specifically, titles with a count of between 12 and 14 words receive the largest amount of social shares - a strong indicator of overall engagement.
The idea of the feature box gained quick popularity in the blogging world because of Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. It was quickly taken up by many top bloggers because, simply put, it works!
Don't believe me? Well check this out... Adding a feature box like the one above increased subscribers to the Thesis blog by 51.7%.
You see the beauty of this strategy folks, is that both those with landing pages and static blog pages can add an above-the-fold opt-in box to their homepage.
If you’re using WordPress, there are many simple plugins that will allow you to pop one up quickly, including the one I use, love and recommend, Thrive Leads.
You want your call-to-action button to stand out as much as possible, remembering to keep it in fitting with your blog or website design.
Women’s Health magazine have a wonderful example of how you can do exactly that, without sacrificing aesthetics.
Another site, Performable, used this strategy to increase their conversions by 21%. And all they did was change their sign-up button from green to red!
Have a tweak with your buttons and call to actions, see what works best for you. If you're using Thrive Leads you can create simple A-B testing to see which colour contrasts works best for increased conversions.
Just to drive the point home I’m not going to include an image on this one.
160 Driving Academy tried an experiment where they replaced a bog-standard stock photo on one of their pages with a real one.
The result? >> An astonishing 161% rise in conversions.
The key is in understanding that now, more than ever, internet users want their experience of digital companies to be genuine. They want to know that there are "real people" and a real ethos behind the clean front-end.
One trend that is definitely on the rise is the use of unique and intriguing CTA text.
Rather than simply saying “Sign Up”, Neil Patel implores the reader to subscribe by asking them to agree with him: “Yes, I Want Neil to Teach me how to Grow My Business.”
You can see that he’s also got a presentable image of himself, a simple headline and a totally clutter-free design - the guy knows what he’s doing!
There’s also a good shock element here too, as readers are so used to seeing typical button text - have a play about and see what you come up with for your own button text CTA's.
Testimonials are nothing new and they still work very well today.
One issue, however, is that because people are so used to seeing them there’s a certain blindness.
“Oh, another testimonial, the same as every other site.”
The key is in featuring them where you know that your visitors are going to see them, without any unnecessary text or design elements to distract from them.
They took the above page and simply added three testimonials under their web copy.
Another way to overcome the sameness of testimonials is to spice yours up a bit.
Quotes from well-known experts are great, as are the addition of pictures and verifiable, quantifiable results.
In a research carried out a few years ago on 'truthiness', results indicated that images displayed next to testimonials, do very well in increasing trust. So if you're able to add a photo to a recent client testimonial or two, take every opportunity to do it!
Another simple way of increasing the trust with your consumers is to add award badges.
Bagservant increased their conversions by 72.05% by including just one award badge in their header.
If you really want to see this advice in action, check out the top-section of Matthew Woodward’s homepage.
He has some interesting case studies about how simple header elements can affect page engagement and ultimately conversions.
If you don’t have any awards to brag about, consider getting in touch with smaller sites that offer them and have them review yours. You’ll be surprised how many are willing to do this.
Strong, actionable words have a direct effect on conversion rates. One study cites nearly a 100% increase after including direct action-orientated language.
Remember, certain words trigger specific emotions and should be included in the main part of your blog or website homepage copy.
Words like “free”, “you”, “start now”, “better”, “easy”... they all have a place.
Live Chat is becoming increasingly common on websites, and the inclusion of a little pop-out in the bottom corner of your homepage, can have a drastic effect on your conversions. It offers an immediate opportunity for a potential buyer to engage directly with somebody.
You can see an example of a live chat option on BuzzSumo’s home page. It’s nondescript, and doesn’t detract from the design, but is available to users if they want to use it.
Remember that these types of service can be easily outsourced for very little cost. You can always trial a provider and evaluate the change in your conversions, dropping them if the change is minimal or nonexistent.
Every second counts! Run your site through a service like Google PageSpeed and check if there’s any improvements that you can make.
Simple plugins like W3 Total Cache can dramatically boost conversions if they’re added to a slow site.
Check out this post for tips and ways to improve your website page load time.
Rasmussen college optimised their home page and achieved a 256% increase in lead generation.
If your site isn’t mobile ready then it needs to be! It’s not just a case, however, of sticking a mobile-responsive site up and then sitting back to watch your conversion stats go through the roof.
Many of the other pointers in this list also need to be applied. Simplicity, clarity, direct calls to action - they all need to be included in a way that fits with a good mobile design.
Just take a look at the data below about the (continued) increase in mobile usage around the world. If you’re not already taking advantage of the opportunity that it provides then you could really be missing out.
When’s the right time for you to start split testing?
There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t start cost-effectively split-testing, whatever the size of your blog.
So there you have it peeps, 14 ways to optimize your website homepage to improve conversions.
I hope you've enjoyed reading through them and hopefully you'll put a few of these tips into action. If you have any tips or tactics you'd like to share with me, please drop me a comment below as always.
Have a great rest of the week.
Fabrizio Van Marciano.