Included in the dozens of marketing-related emails I received today were articles about the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence-powered chatbots, Snapchat Spectacles, predictive analytics, and real-time interactive ads for smart TVs.
Then why, you might ask, am I writing about something as basic as what to say on the Home page of your website?
Fair question. Simple answer.
You have to master blocking and tackling before you can run a double reverse. You have to field a ground ball cleanly and make the throw to first before you can turn a lightning-quick double play.
Feel free to insert your favorite sports metaphor here.
Basic marketing fundamentals, my friends. You can talk about all the modern tools and capabilities you want, but unless you understand and apply basic marketing fundamentals, none of that other stuff matters.
And when it comes to the Home page content on the average small business website, most companies fail to provide the basic information that people want and expect.
Why the Right Home Page Message Is Critical
The Home page of your website is usually the first page a visitor sees. For first-time visitors, it’s often their first interaction with your company. Ideally, it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship.
It could also be the end of the relationship if your Home page doesn’t do its job, which is to move the visitor one step closer to a conversion.
A conversion doesn’t just have to be a sale. The desired action could be downloading a document, filling out a form, calling or emailing your company, or completing a survey.
The Home page doesn’t have to provide every detail about your business, but three simple questions should be addressed on a high level if you expect to move the visitor one step closer to a conversion.
Question 1: What Are Your Customers’ Most Common Pain Points or Challenges?
Website visitors know the answers to this question. It’s your job to remind them of those pain points and challenges, and maybe even agitate them a bit.
You don’t have to list all of them. Focus on the top three. If there’s one prevailing problem universally shared by your target audience, focus on that.
Too many businesses launch right into self-promotion mode on the Home page of their website. Problem is, nobody cares about your business until you’ve explained how you can solve a problem, fill a need, or make someone’s life better.
Reminding them of the things that frustrate them, aggravate them, or keep them up at night is the first step to making someone care about your business.
Question 2: What Is the Desired Outcome?
This is the second step. People give you money for a product or service. What they’re ultimately investing in is the end result of doing business with you.
Again, website visitors basically know what they want from your company. It’s your job to preview the outcome. That said, you have an opportunity to introduce them to benefits they hadn’t considered.
For example, someone might be interested in life insurance for the death benefit, but they might not realize whole life insurance is also a long-term, tax-friendly investment.
I just met with a travel agent to discuss next year’s Disney vacation (don’t tell my kids). I can probably rattle off at least 10 things I hadn’t considered that make the investment in a travel agent well worth it.
Preview how someone will feel and how their life will be better when the problem is solved, the need is filled, and the pain goes away.
Question 3: What Are Your Solutions and Process for Alleviating Pain and Achieving the Desired Outcome?
Obviously, you don’t want to just depress the hell out of website visitors by reminding them of what makes them miserable. You also don’t want to just tease them about how great it would be if that misery disappeared.
You have to explain who you are, what you do, and the value of what you do. You have to explain how you help people overcome the challenges of Question 1 and realize the results in Question 2.
This positions you as a solution to a problem rather than a seller of a product or service. It helps you earn trust and build credibility. It differentiates you from your competition.
What are your solutions and processes? How are they unique? Why do they work?
On the Home page of your website, you want to keep it at a high level, but avoid stale marketing clichés and claims that can’t be validated (highest quality, best service, knowledgeable staff, yada yada yada). You can provide more specific information on the inner pages of your website.
One Important Side Benefit of Approaching Your Home Page This Way
I go through these questions with all my clients. Many realize their value proposition isn’t necessarily what they thought it was. Maybe they’ve been emphasizing the wrong things. More often than not, their marketing has been too much self-promoting and not enough talking about what really matters to their target audience.
If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, ask your clients. What pain were they experiencing? What did they expect to gain from their investment in your company? What made them choose you in the first place? Clients are a valuable and underutilized source of information about your company.
One Final Note
When writing your Home page content, you don’t have to address these questions one by one in this order. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. You have to weave the information together in a way that makes logical sense while connecting with the visitor on an emotional level.
And don’t forget your call-to-action. You might need multiple calls-to-action, strategically placed at various points on the Home page, to guide visitors to the next step on their journey.
Remember, good marketing solves problems. Remind people of common pain points, explain how you make that pain go away, and preview the desired outcome. Nail the fundamentals before you start playing with the bells and whistles.