In an offline world it might be ridiculous to expect a sales person to be able to sell you on a product or service in 5 seconds, but online, that’s exactly what you’ve got.
Studies have shown that a website visitor will make a decision to stay or leave (bounce) your site within 5 seconds of hitting your landing page. While you don’t necessarily have to sell your product or service to them in 5 seconds, you certainly do have to sell them on the fact that your site is relevant to their needs. Think about the last time you did a search. You probably went through a couple of results before you found the site you felt did the best job of satisfying your search query. How long did it take you to decide whether or not a page was relevant to you?
Whether you’re selling cookware, signing people up for a service, or publishing a blog, you’ve got a finite amount of time to tell a site visitor that you’ve got what they need. Here are just a few things you can do to send signals of relevancy to your visitors/potential customers.
1) Do some research.
Hopefully, you’re doing some Search Engine Optimisation and are very aware of how visitors are finding your site. Either way it’s a good idea to routinely check which keywords users are most likely to find your landing pages with & which websites are referring people to you. All of this information is readily available in Google Analytics under the “Traffic Sources” section. Analyzing they keywords used to find your site will help you determine the best way to be relevant to the majority of visitors coming to your landing page. For example, someone searching for “compare LCD TVs” are at a very different point in their purchasing cycle then someone who is searching for “buy sony lcd tv”, and while you’re website may be able to help them both, you need to tailor your message accordingly. Similarly, if the majority of traffic is being referred to you from a webpage called sonylovers.com, you may want to revisit promoting Panasonic front and centre on your page.
2) How fast are you loading?
Try running your site through Google Page Speed Tester. It’ll give you recommendations to implement (some will likely require the assistance of your web developer) that can greatly increase your site’s load time.
3) Just like a newspaper, headlines make a world of difference!
A headline is likely the first thing your visitor is going to see when they get to your landing page. What does yours convey to them right now? Capture your visitor’s attention with big, relevant headline text on your landing page. Your headline is the first tool available to you to tell your visitor that they’ve found what they’re looking for, and that they need not go anywhere else. If people are coming to your website for Sony TV’s, use your headline to tell them you’ve got Sony TV’s. For more tips on writing headlines, we’ll defer to the folks at copyblogger.
4) Don’t forget images.
Images are a great way to reinforce that the page the user is on is relevant to their needs. The images you select should reinforce the relevancy you are hopefully relaying to people with your headline & page copy. Images are also good for breaking up content so that a web page does not overwhelm a user with the amount of text on it – nothing scares people off a landing page faster than paragraph upon paragraph of text with nothing breaking it up. All that being said, your image should be there to reinforce your message, not distract users from the actual content of your page. Avoid using too many images, or distracting large images that push relevant content below the fold (definition: not visible without scrolling) of your page.
5) Where’s your value prop?
Communicate your value proposition early on in your landing page’s content. Your value prop really should be above the fold, and a focal point on the page. Tell your visitors why they should want your product, service, or as the case may be, your content and why you’re the right company or person to get it from.
6) Give them a path forward.
Give them a clear-cut, above the fold, call to action that gets them moving in the direction of the next step. Show them that you have what they want, and then give them a way to get it.. This could be a “buy now” button, “get a quote” link, newsletter subscription form, or any other action that you want your user to take, as long as it relates back to why they’re on your page in the first place.
7) Give them the benefits, not the features.
Focus on the benefits of your product/service/content to your visitor – show your visitors how what you’re offering will benefit them, and put less focus on the hard features of the product. A person going into a hardware store looking for a 1/4″ drill bit does not want a 1/4″ drill bit, they want a 1/4″ hole. Your landing page copy should focus on giving the individual what they want, not the features of your product/service.
8) Don’t distract them from what they came for.
Once you’ve got someone on your landing page, one of the worst things you can do is distract them from what they came to find. Avoid pop-ups, advertisements for unrelated products/service, unnecessary navigation points, and multiple calls to action all distract users from their original goal, and in turn will also cause them to not complete the action that you consider your business goal.
9) Always be testing.
While you may come up with a great combination of headline, image, value-prop, and benefits that are converting well for you, there may be a way to squeeze more out of your landing page. That’s where A/B Testing comes into play. You should always be running test to realize performance improvements on your landing pages. Switching out various elements such as headlines, images, buttons, text, etc for new versions and comparing how they perform against the original version will help you constantly refine your site to maximize your site’s potential. There are a number of tools to help you run a/b tests on your site. Google Website Optimizer is a free tool that requires a little bit of code installation on your site. For those of you looking for a very simple way to run a/b tests, a newer tool called Optimizely offers the easiest & fastest interface for A/B testing that we’ve seen to date.