We meet new people every single day. Butdid you know that it takes only 10 seconds for people to form a first impression of you? Your appearance represents you, so you really are your own marketer. In that same way your website, the homepage in particular, represents your company. Thefirst 10 seconds of the page visit are critical for users' decision to stay or leave. So make sure to impress visitors with your homepage, because those seconds could bring you tons of leads!
1. Send out a clear message to your customers
A study by Microsoft Research shows that the first ten seconds of the visit determine whether or not to stay on a website. So here’s the difficult part: how do you keep one’s attention during those 10 valuable seconds? ‘What you see is what you get’ seems to be the decisive rough-and-ready rule. Two principles are essential:
You provide a website with an attractive design
You send out a clear and powerful message, which points out how your products and services can solve the problems your prospect is dealing with.
Note that promoting your product itself isn’t an effective approach to win over customers. Because let’s face it: people aren’t interested in your products, they are interested in what those products can do for them. Keep in mind that emphasizing the added value of the product is a much more effective way to increase your customer base.
2. Use empathic pictures
People like to connect with people and not with faceless companies. So here’s the deal: show your customers the personalities behind your brand and they’ll be much more likely to do business with you. Why? Because people want to do business with people they know, like and trust. You enhance your credibility by the simple fact that you're not trying to hide. Because let’s face it: would you buy something from someone wearing a mask? I certainly wouldn’t.
Let’s go back to the homepage. An essential goal of this page is to grow a relationship of trust with your prospects. Knowing this, you must think very carefully about the people who represent your brand. As being the ambassador of your brand, the message they convey must be congruent with the message your company stands for. Secondly, it’s very important that your representatives make a professional impression. You also might want to pick someone with the ‘like factor.’ You know, a person who every single soul on this planet seems to like. Take for example a look at the pictures below:
Which one do you like more? I’m guessing your eye falls on the right picture instead of the left one. What I’m trying to say is: you don’t need to look grumpy in order to come across as a (serious) professional. Showing friendly looking faces on your website is of great value to your company image. Therefore, a reliable and sympathetic looking person is much more likely to persuade visitors to become leads.
3. Distinguish yourself
When the competition is fierce, you’ll have to find a way to distinguish yourself. A frequently used strategy is the one of being a thought leader. Note that this is not an easy position to achieve. Indeed, most companies will never obtain this position. In order to become a thought leader, you not only must be the expert in your branch, you also need to score high in terms of trust and credibility. But that’s not just it: thought leadership requires vision. A vision like Steve Jobs used to have: inspirational and unique. Having the status of a though leader results in a very powerful image and a strong customer relationship. Define the competencies that differentiate you from other companies on your homepage:
Does your product have excellent design? Use the beauty of your product by making slick photo’s and give them a central place on the website
Does your company provide superb customer service? Use your homepage to emphasize that your company’s staff is always at the customer’s beck and call.
It is a long way to becoming a thought leader, but by following those two steps, you’re on the right track. Are you having trouble defining the aspects that distinguish you? Then ask yourself the following question: whatwould a customer say when asked, ‘what is so special about this company?’ Would you like to know more about the ways to differentiate yourself? This list might be a good starting point.
4. Gain trust among your visitors
Today’s customer is skeptical. Can you blame him? Most companies aren’t interested at all in ‘share of heart.’ A ‘share of wallet’ is more appropriate, as Henry Robben nicely articulates. Yet, for a long-term relationship with the customer you must win his trust. Case studies and testimonials are a great way to start with, because other customers confirm your expertise. Think about it: for prospects, other customers are a much more reliable source than you, a company whose main goal is to sell products. Make sure your homepage contains at least one link to a case study or testimonial, clearly visible and above the fold.
5. Make sure your homepage is ‘sharing friendly.’
Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube and Google+ offer great potential for your content marketing strategy, since sharing has never been easier. Did you know that social sharing generates more than 10 percent of all internet traffic, and 31 percent of all referral traffic? Social sharing has become a very essential aspect in marketing, so be sure to integrate this in your homepage and any other page present on your website. Every type of content being shared makes your brand grow a little.
6. Create a mobile version of your homepage
Times are changing. I remember feeling very cool about having a nokia 3310. That was a decade ago. Now, the only appropriate phone seems to be an iPhone. Not having a smartphone by our side, makes us feel insecure and ‘naked’. It even turns out that the number of people visiting websites on mobile devices has exceeded the number of people visiting websites using their ‘old-fashioned’ laptop. It is even estimated that the number of mobile Internet users will pass the billion at the end of this year.
Conclusion: mobile internet has become an important part of our lives. As you might know from personal experience, homepages that don’t fit your ‘small’ mobile screen can really drive you up the wall. Furthermore, it takes about an hour to load those pages. So take the effort to create a mobile version of your homepages. Otherwise you’ll scare off a lot of potential customers. Now, wouldn’t that be a waste?