How to Build a Home Page That Sells

Remember those Columbia House Record deals? Eight records or tapes for a penny? Do you think they really needed the penny?

They probably would have saved a lot of money on postage if they had not included the penny. However, they understood that if you get people involved, you're more likely to make the sale. Their evidence showed them that they sold more records when people had to go through the trouble of taping that penny (included) to the order.

When people visit your website they want to be engaged. They're at your home page because they are in need. In need of medical advice, of lawn care, of a general contractor, of a ceiling fan.

To succeed, your website needs to immediately engage your visitors and get them to take an action. You don't want people to just surf through your website. Surfers aren't buyers. Since most people are going to land on your home page first, make sure it grabs them right away.

Talk About Your Prospect, Not About Yourself
Home pages that read like About Us pages are a real turn-off. No one but you and your mother care about your mission statement or how long you've been in business. At least not at first.

Instead, talk about (and to) your visitor. Use words like “you” and “your.” Talk about the pain your prospect is feeling. Address her needs and concerns without talking about your products or solutions. If a prospect feels that you understand where she's coming from, she'll be more receptive to what you have to offer.

Get Your Prospect To Take Action
The great thing about the Web is that it requires interaction. Clicking on links, typing in URL's, filling out forms, and so on. It's the modern equivalent of taping a penny to your order form.

You just need to get your visitor to step it up a notch. Providing a free report or white paper for download is a good idea. Real estate sites invariably use mortgage calculators to engage their visitors. Is there something that you can calculate for a visitor–such as return on investment for your product or service–that would get them to click on a link?

Capture Their Contact Information By Capturing Their Interest
Many of us aren't ready to make a buying decision when we first come to a website. It's even more unlikely we'll continually revisit a website until we are ready to buy. What's a website owner to do?

You need to capture your visitors' contact information as soon as possible, since they might click away at any time. Once you have their contact information, you're able to continue marketing to them long after they've left your site. (Always be respectful when marketing online to people…and offline for that matter.)

You might start by collecting email addresses for your email newsletter. Do this by having an email subscription box right on your home page. People are more likely to subscribe to your newsletter if they can sign up right on the home page rather than having to click on a link.

An email newsletter can exponentially expand the reach of your website by delivering itself directly into your customers' email box on a regular basis. Plus, email newsletters are easy to forward to friends, making them a great form of viral marketing.

If you're interested in collecting more than just an email address, be ready to provide something of worth to your visitors. Go back to why the visitors are there in the first place. Perhaps a well-written report or white paper for your target audience will get them to part with their contact information. Other options might be a raffle or giveaway.

Calls to Action
I've written about calls to action before. Your home page isn't done until you've asked for the sale, or at least the next step in the sales process. Whether it's continuing to the next page (hyperlink,) completing a contact form, or picking up the phone, make sure you have a call to action at the bottom of your home page.

What Not to Do on Your Home Page
Here are a few tried and true methods to keep your phone and contact form quiet:

  • Splash page/Flash intro. No one wants to wait through a meaningless Flash intro when they want to reach your content, no matter what your overpriced Web designer says.
  • Slow loading, graphic-heavy page. Just because you're on a high-speed connection doesn't mean everyone is. If a visitor is waiting and waiting and waiting eventually they'll just hit the back button.
  • Too many options. In your goal to be all things to all people, you can paralyze your site visitors with fear that they'll make the wrong decision. Replace unnecessary options with white space.

If you have any questions on how to develop a home page that sells, please contact flyte new media.

–Rich Brooks
President, flyte new media