Using a Home Page Introduction to Capture Your Visitor’s Attention

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Since most website visitors only spend a few seconds analyzing a new website before deciding whether to engage with the content further or click the back button to search for an alternative, your home page content plays a vital role in capturing attention and encouraging visitors to stick around long enough to turn into customers.

So today, let’s look at few different ways you can use home page introductions and other site design elements to capture these cold visitors and ultimately improve your site’s conversion rate.

1 – Styling your home page

The first thing you’ll want to decide when creating a home page introduction is how your page should be styled.  For example, when you land on the Single Grain website home page, you don’t see any old blog post or a page that lays out everything about the company right away.  Instead, what you see first is a home page introduction that shares the most compelling reasons to work with Single Grain right away:

This type of home page introduction – basically, a separate home page that’s designed to capture visitor attention quickly – can be seen across a number of other major sites, including Crazy Egg, Zaarly, Rhapsody and more.

However, this isn’t the only type of home page introduction you can – or should – use.  The specific type of home page introduction that’s right for your website and your business will vary based upon a number of different factors, and can really only adequately be determined by split testing.

The following are a few examples of other types of home page introductions you may want to experiment with.  First up is the traditional, long form sales letter, which is most often used if you’re selling a single product at a high price point.  In this example, the Market Samurai website uses a traditional copywriting headline and video clip to capture interest:

Yet another alternative can be found in sites that don’t use a separate home page, but instead integrate a message to visitors into the home page alongside other content.  In this example, blogging expert Chris Garrett introduces a main focus element that serves as a home page introduction for new readers without eliminating the presence of other types of content.

It’s also worth considering that your site might not technically have one “home page”.  If you receive traffic from a number of different sources – for example, organic search, PPC ads and social networking sites – these visitors may all be landing on different pages throughout your site.  For this reason, it might make sense for you to create multiple landing pages – each with their own unique, targeted home page introduction – that can be customized to each specific referral source.

As an example, web designer Eric Hall uses the following Twitter landing page to connect guests that click through from the social networking sites with the information they’re looking for right off the bat:

2 – Use traditional copywriting techniques

Of course, while it’s important to choose a home page introduction style that’s appropriately targeted to the type of visitor you’re receiving from each traffic source, it’s just as important to use the right words in each of these instances to encourage prospects to stick around.

For example, in Chris Garrett’s home page introduction featured above, the words “Sign up right now for email updates and get these two free ebooks” follow established headline guidelines that promote a feeling of urgency (“right now”) and demonstrate value to the user (“two free ebooks”).  Garrett has seamlessly integrated standard headline techniques into his site’s design in order to create a compelling home page introduction.

The Single Grain home page also makes use of traditional copywriting techniques by starting with a “feature” – in this case, “More Traffic” – and translating that feature into benefits for the user (stated here as, “Rank Higher. Get Exposure. Increase Revenue.”  This home page introduction takes the obvious goal of improving traffic and transforms it into benefits readers can imagine, all while encouraging them to take the next step of either downloading a report or working with the company.

Now, plenty has already been written about how to write the compelling headlines that’ll make visitors want to stick around on your home page for a while.  Check out any of the following articles to learn more about how to incorporate traditional copywriting techniques into your home page introduction:

3 – Test your home page

So now you’ve got your landing page structure and you’ve got a fancy headline that’s sure to generate interest in your site.  Here’s the problem…

As webmasters, we pour so much effort into our sites that it’s hard to imagine that we haven’t come up with the most perfect page possible.  After devoting hours to building a new page or to creating just the right headline, it’s nearly inconceivable that a better, more effective solution might exist out there.  But the truth is, the only way to know for sure that your page is as good as it could be is by backing up your assertions with actual data.

For this reason, it’s critical that you test different elements of your home page introduction to be sure it’s working as well as you imagine that it will.  The following are a few of the different types of tests you’ll want to conduct:

  • The “Five Second” Test – Essentially, the five second test script attempts to replicate a user’s initial viewing of your site by giving testers access to a screenshot of your site for just five seconds and then requiring them to answer questions based on what they perceived.  This can be a fascinating way to determine whether or not viewers are able to identify and process your home page introduction within that crucial new site visit window.
  • A/B Split Testing – Even the smallest elements can make a big difference in user engagement.  For example, swapping out a different home page image or even changing your font color could result in dramatic improvements in your average time on site.  To get started with split testing, check out Single Grain’s list of “Different Elements to Split Test on Your Website.”
  • Heat Map Testing – Another great way to determine whether or not readers are honing in on your home page introduction is with the use of heat maps, which track users’ mouse movements across your site.  There are plenty of different heat map scripts out there, all of which operate by displaying a graphic overlay of your website that indicates “hot” areas of your site (where readers are focusing and clicking).  If your home page introduction isn’t a “hot” area, you’ll want to rework your page to feature this element more.

It may take some time to find the ultimate combination of layout, design and wording that results in the highest possible level of visitor engagement, but as your conversions start to increase and your average time on site improves, you should quickly see the benefit of investing time in these efforts.

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