Back in the old days, almost every business of note had an office with a receptionist. Nowadays, almost every business has a website with a homepage. A website homepage serves the same function as a traditional receptionist at the office of a physical business.
Indeed, the duties of a receptionist are, according to Wikipedia, answering visitors’ inquiries about a company and its products or services, directing visitors to their destinations, sorting and handing out mail, answering incoming calls on multi-line telephones. Also, importantly, is a receptionist often the first business contact a person will meet at any organization.
So, most first (and lasting) impressions about a business are made at its reception desk. It may well be that a good receptionist adds value to the company’s brand. Or that a bad experience at reception may hurt it…
All right, back to the 21st century: How good a receptionist is your website homepage?
The Website Homepage
The website homepage is mostly the page where your loyal customers land when they visit your website. They have a bookmark that link to your site’s homepage or they type your site’s URL (the web address) directly into a search query.
Loyal customers return to the homepage because they want to see if there is fresh news or new content. In fact, they want to read the blog posts, comment on them and share them – all which is good for your online exposure and the search engine ranking of your website.
But it is not only the returning customers that land on your website homepage. Prospective customers that navigate away from your ad’s landing page to your website will most probably arrive at your homepage.
So, you must give the first time visitors to your website homepage a user experience that they’ll never forget. After all, it must be similar to a visitor enjoying exceptional good service at a bricks and mortar business’s reception.
Deliver Excellent Customer Experience via your Website Homepage
Now, let’s be honest. How many times did you land on the homepage of a website just to exit it after a few seconds? Many times I guess…
Is this what visitors are doing when they land for the first time on your website homepage? Maybe – pay a visit to your Google Analytics account and have a look at your site’s bounce rate. A high bounce rate will tell you your website is in trouble.
Bounce rate is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave ("bounce") rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site. Bounce rate is calculated by counting the number of single page visits and dividing that by the total visits. It is then represented as a percentage of total visits. Wikipedia
Indeed, Emily Kingland head Content Creator of CWS says a high bounce rate may indicate the following:
- The visitors arriving at your homepage is not your target customers;
- Your target customer is looking at your site, but is not ready to commit;
- Your website visitors aren’t getting the information they expected;
- Visitors are getting the information they need, but they don’t know where to go next.
Now, how can you get your website’s bounce rate down and allow visitors to stay longer to visit multiple pages – and, to return?
How to make your Website Homepage Works for your Business
Just having a website and some web presence isn’t good enough to succeed with your online business. In fact, there are so many pages and platforms that visitors can land on – think Facebook – that you’ll probably won’t get returning visitors (or even visitors) if you don’t pay attention to your website homepage.
Gabriel Shaoolian, writing in Forbes, has identified 5 tips to optimize your website’s homepage:
- Test your main message. Truly effective main messaging should tell users who your brand is, what you do, and/or what your value proposition is. Indeed, your copy should be original (unique to you and captivating in some way) and approachable (easily understood by the average user).
- Streamline your navigation. The first priority of the user is to find what he or she is looking for as fast as possible. After all, the goal of anyone who runs a website should be to satisfy that user’s desire for a quick, easy browsing process, and navigation is a major component of that.
- Develop focus. Homepages can quickly become cluttered with too many competing messages, and images that can weaken its effectiveness. Therefore it is better to develop a tight focus for your homepage.
- Invest in imagery. Every homepage needs to include strong visual stimulation. Because visuals capture the user’s attention even before he or she has a chance to read the site’s message. Furthermore, captivating imagery has the power to engage the user long enough to encourage further browsing.
- Improve your call-to-action (CTAs). The CTA is one of the most important website elements because it quite literally tells the user what to do next. Therefore, if you want to improve your CTAs, look for ways to make your language more precise so users have a better idea of what will happen once they click.
Call to action (CTA) is a marketing term used extensively in advertising and selling. It refers to any device designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. A CTA most often refers to the use of words or phrases that can be incorporated into sales scripts, advertising messages or web pages that encourage consumers to take prompt action. Wikipedia
Aren’t the five tips that Gabriel had identified exactly the same as what a job description of a receptionist would look like?
Competition for customers is fierce in the online marketplace. Not only do website owners need users to visit their websites, but visitors need to become users and users need to become paying customers…
To achieve customer patronage, things at the ‘reception’ of your website homepage needs to be in order.
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