Ultimate conversion guide 1 of 10: homepage optimisation
Once you’ve done all the hard work to win site visitors, conversion rate optimisation or CRO is the next frontier of digital strategy, which seeks to maximize audience engagement and ensure visitors actually become customers. After all – traffic is just a vanity figure if nobody’s buying from you, right?
CRO is about consistently removing barriers to conversion, as you discover them – as well as leveraging tactics that are working well for you.
There are many ways to come at this, so I’ve broken the strategies down into 10 crucial areas. This blog series covers them one at a time so we can deep dive each element.
I found some killer resources for this. Definitely check out KISSmetrics 100 Conversion Case Studies and the Moz Holy Grail of Conversion Optimization Checklist, as well as the other gems I sprinkle through the posts.
Note: Ongoing testing and analysis is key! The colours, layout and approaches that work for you will likely be completely different from those that work for your direct competitors, so as always, test the outcome of each change to be sure you’re on the right path. Here is a great resource from Google Devs on Content Experiments, to help set up multiple versions of your landing pages and test for optimal performance.
Part 1: Homepage optimisation
Your homepage is the front door of your store. First impressions are paramount, so you don’t want to lose people before they’ve even had a look around.
De-clutter and simplify
Bombarding prospects with too much promotion or information makes for a confusing experience and encourages inertia or a swift departure, so keep your homepage clean, simple and focused on your primary conversion goal. Every new button and link just competes for attention, so exercise restraint, and help your audience make decisions more easily.
This example has lots of different products and offers competing for your attention:
In this alternative, the focus of the homepage is clear:
Promote what you do best
There is a percentage of people who hit your site and leave almost immediately, never to return. You lost them at ‘hello’. We want to minimise that percentage by winning curiosity and interest right out of the gate. Show people what others have fallen in love with you for – show them your best work front and centre. Your most beautiful garments, your most popular services, your pioneering technology. Because we all like to see what others are doing from time to time, show off your bestsellers, top-rated products and customer favourites.
Consider placement here. A percentage of new visitors to your homepage will never scroll down so it may be wise to display these bestsellers above the fold.
Trust and credibility
You need to actively earn the trust of your prospects and customers. They have many options readily available to them. Why should your customers pick you? A good litmus test to determine your Unique Selling Points (USPs) is – How do you differ from your closest competitor? Are you showing off your awards, accreditations, big wins and partnerships?
Secure payment options, Google Analytics accreditations, trusted suppliers and trade association memberships all help to reassure your potential customers that their money is safe in your hands.
UK ecommerce retailer Express Watches ran A/B tests comparing an image saying ‘Never Beaten on Price’ with a variation saying ‘Seiko Authorized Dealer Site” and saw an 107% increase in conversion with the badge of authenticity (from 1.8% to 3.8%).
Fresh content, fresh vibes
Nobody wants to be a static brochure site. Awesome content can transform your brand into a dynamic, interesting publisher with a killer story to tell. Showcase your fresh, timely and ‘hooky’ content by adding a blog or news section to your homepage (above the fold, or many won’t see it) and be sure to date stamp the articles to show recency and relevance. Some sites have ‘latest news’ that’s three months old – be better than that!
This example has fresh content on the homepage every day:
Prime real estate – above the fold
We discuss areas of ‘prime real estate’ with our clients often, when referring to anything above the fold. This area can become somewhat of a battleground, with land fought over intensely by internal teams. Everybody wants their material front and centre. Decide what your absolute mission critical calls to action, product links and information are, and ensure they’re given the appropriate position.
Localise your store for visitors
Enable the functionality for your site to detect different countries (based on a user’s IP address), and provide crucial reassurance and confidence that shipping is straightforward.
This is a nice example from Crate & Barrel:
UI, design and iconography
Whether its switching up the colour of your buttons, introducing iconography for better subliminal trust from users, redesigning the visitor flow or overhauling the design for something breathtaking, aesthetic is huge. Don’t scrimp on this. Make your domain beautiful and a joy for people to discover. See the fantastic post from KISSmetrics with 100 awesome case studies on UI/CRO. I’ll dig deeper into this topic later in the series.
My next post will hone in on the About Us page, so you can make sure you’re telling a truly powerful brand story that captivates your readers.
Have I missed anything vital? Have another tip to share? Comments welcome in the section below!!
By Esther Tankhilevich