I’m a big believer in the power of first impressions. In less than a minute, someone can form an entire opinion about you, your business and your brand. First impressions can also impact whether or not a click becomes a customer. I think that’s incredible, and it’s one of the reasons I got into marketing in the first place.
Digital marketing, including website design, is such an exciting field because it allows you to shape and manipulate first impressions. When your customers see you online for the first time, you, with the help of the right marketing team, have the opportunity to show them exactly how you want them to feel and think about your brand. How? A huge part of it begins with your website, especially your homepage.
Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression, let me take you through five things I believe every homepage needs to do or include to create a powerful first impression.
1. Communicate your brand.
Regardless of your industry, your homepage should communicate your brand effectively. Your brand includes your name, messaging, strategy and logo. Each element needs to be cohesive, effective and appropriate for your industry, but it must also express something about your company specifically. Do you want to be known as accessible? Trustworthy? Affordable? Innovative? Once you know what you want to say, it becomes easier to say it.
The homepage of your website should feature a design that ties in with your logo and correlates with a particular brand style, whether that be clean, modern, bold or formal. When it comes to first impressions, the design of your homepage is often more important than anything else. Before a user reads any messaging, they will look at the visuals.
2. Be memorable.
Do you remember your first impression of your spouse or significant other? What about your favorite book? Memorable first impressions are often what lead us to take action, to find out more or to make a purchase.
Your homepage should include something that sets you apart from the competition — something your customers will remember. This differentiator could be anything from an enticing graphic to a surprising statistic. It could be a helpful tool or a feature that helps you build connections and establish relatability with your audience.
3. Convert customers.
As I mentioned, first impressions, if positive and effective, are what drive us toward action. When it comes to your homepage, encouraging customers to take action through the strategic placement of CTAs is paramount.
You need to decide what action is of greatest significance: Do you want them to call, email, buy, or fill out a form? Then, give them ample opportunity to perform that action. Most of the businesses that come to us for help are interested in increasing their conversion rates. You may be a master of SEO, but it doesn’t matter how many people come to your website unless they feel compelled to do something once they’re there.
Most of the time, a CTA alone will not be enough to convert your customer, but it could be the tipping point. An effective strategy involves including a reason for your customer to follow through on the action. For example, “Call now” is not as effective as “Call now to book a free consultation.”
Bonus Tip: Speaking of free, your homepage is also a great place to showcase any sales, offers or promotions you may be running. A great promo deserves top real estate — in the banner, for example — and should be accompanied by a stellar CTA.
4. Educate and inform.
I know what you’re thinking — you have your entire website to educate and inform your audience; is it really that important to include this on the homepage? Yes! Your homepage is the most significant landing page on your site, and if by some chance it’s the only page someone visits, it needs to include a little bit about you.
This piece goes hand in hand with communicating your brand. As a general guideline, your homepage needs to answer three essential questions:
• Who are you?
• What do you do?
• What makes you the best?
5. Optimize for SEO.
This tip is especially important for small businesses that don’t have recognizable brands or huge followings yet. SEO is the No. 1 way to increase site traffic. If you want to rank organically on Google, I recommend optimizing your homepage above any other page on your site. Select your most important keywords, and remember that an increasingly significant aspect of SEO is high-quality, coherent and well-written content.
Think about first dates. They can be awkward, confusing and downright terrible, but maybe that’s what makes it so magical when you go on a first date and everything just clicks. Your homepage is like a first date. If your competitors’ sites leave customers feeling awkward and confused, you now have the key to getting that second date. Now, with a great first impression out of the way, you can focus on making sure the second impression is just as good!