Disclaimer: Our website doesn't currently abide by these rules. We're working on that.
There exists the cliche about never getting a second chance to make a first impression. It is catchy and technically it is correct. In the digital space this is probably more true than ever. The real world doesn't allow you to walk away from a person that doesn't interest you. If only this were socially acceptable. But digital spaces are too easy to close and "walk away" from.
This first impression, when people are visiting your website, is vital. A person will instantly decide whether they are interested in what you have to say or if they will leave and find something else. The goal of your first impression is to engage the viewer. It needs to make them curious. It needs to make them want to know more. It needs to make them agree to give you their precious time and attention.
So how do you accomplish this? How can you increase the chances of your audience entering your website and staying? It starts with understanding which pages, or views, your audience are likely to land on as a first entry. These are called "Landing pages".
A landing page is nothing more than this first entry point to your website. A landing page is not always the homepage of a website. There may be multiple landing pages due to different promotional campaigns or search engine results. Regardless of the number or type of landing pages, each one has a different strategy with the same purpose — to convert. This conversion could be to get the user to signup to a newsletter, request a consultation, download an ebook, or purchase a product, along with other examples that don't need explanation.
Whatever the conversion goal is, the strategy for how to accomplish this can be broken down into some simple rules.
The hero section
This is the first thing your audience will see when they land on your page. The hero section is the topmost section of your landing page. It can be compare to the large image on the front of newspapers. Its purpose is to grab attention and create interest. "Tell me more" is the reaction you're looking for with this section.
The idea goes back to the "hero prop" in theatres. Read more about that here.
The trend with hero sections used to result in full screen images or background videos. Luckily those trends are fading. If adding a stock photo or a generic panning of a skyline is all you have for here it's probably better to go without them. What is important is to provide relevant, captivating, and informative content.
Within this section should be a header, sub-header, and a call-to-action (CTA).
The header needs to be specific about what is being offered. If it doesn't resonate with the reader then it's more likely that they will navigate away from your website. They might continue skimming through the rest of the page, but they will not be committed to finding out more.
It is here that you should share your most unique value proposition being offered.
The sub-header serves as an additional description for what is being offered. It should support the header to describe how it is that you provide your offering. Without this text to ground your offering it becomes magic and not something people will easily believe.
You will hopefully have offerings that differ from your competitors. It is within the sub-header that these can be described and highlighted.
Providing your viewers with a CTA in the hero section isn't essential. This depends on your goals. The value of presenting your users with an action right up from is that they can easily convert should they want to. There's no need to scroll down or navigate around.
An important thing to note about the CTA is that it's not just a button. Additional information is valuable to provide your audience with more details on what will happen.
Variations of this CTA should appear in different sections of the page. It serves as a reminder and provides your viewers with an easy way to call it without having to navigate to find it. Be sure to not become overly repetitive and pushy.
Although it's not required to use an image or background video in your hero section, it can be worthwhile doing so. People respond to images and videos. But if the imagery is not relevant to your business and offering, it's best to think of a better way to engage your viewers.
Your landing page needs to be interesting. Being creative and clever is fun, but if your audience can't relate to what you're offering they won't convert. Use this space to tell a story, people love stories. Share the narrative about your offering in a genuine way.
Your existing client list is proof of your offering. There's no need to present testimonials for all your clients, most people won't be bothered to read them anyway. A simple collection of logos could be enough.
"What else will I get out of your offering" is what most people will wonder once they've decided to continue reading. This section is where you want to provide your audience with those details.
Keep these points concise and don't overdo it with text. Strip it down to the essentials of what you want to say and when you get there, strip it down some more.
If available, have some sort of statistics to jump out at someone while they're scrolling through the page.
Additional points to keep in mind
- I've already mentioned to keep things interesting. It's so important that I'll mention it again. If your page is not interesting it's not worth reading.
- The content makes sense as a whole. If a person were to read it from start to finish then it needs to make sense and work well together. The tone of voice should be clear and the message being communication should be unified.
- The content makes sense broken up into sections. Many people will skim through the page and stop at sections that grab their attention. Each standalone section, or element, should make sense on its own.
- I will end on the most important point. Be honest and true to your business. The landing page needs to correctly represent you, your business, your service, and your audience. If you are not honest it will show through.