You might have alreadry met my friend Carrie Klassen (pictured here). She’s released her very first product I want to tell you about.
A while ago, I released my first product. It’s all about a simple thing you can do to your homepage which can have way more people opting in to be on your email list.
But quite frankly, it’s of little use if a certain part of your website itself isn’t working. So, I want to talk to you about your website.
More specifically, it’s about a particular part of your website.
It’s a part of your website that is absolutely, no questions, no debating it – the most vital part of your website. It’s the first thing people see and it makes or breaks you website. Full stop. Period. End of discussion.
Any marketing consultant would agree with me on this.
What is it? Well, as the blog post title suggests, it’s . . .
And I want to be lovingly blunt here: I would give a failing grade to most homepages I see. And I’ve looked at a lot of them trying to find examples of homepages that kicked ass. I can count on two hands the number of kick ass homepages I’ve seen.
But I think most people think that their homepage is ‘good enough’.
This could be true, but the vast majority of homepages I’ve seen are either: boring as hell, all about the business and how great it is, full of jargon, confusing or arrogant.
And, of course, you don’t want any of those.
Because you’ve got about three seconds to win them over. Three seconds before they decide ‘this isn’t relevant to me’ or before they break out in a huge smile because they finally found something just perfect for them.
You want a homepage that is clear, loveable, honest, warm and compelling.
You want a homepage that you love and are so excited to share with the people you meet.
You want a homepage that your ideal clients land on and it’s as if they walked up to your home and you opened the door and said, ‘It’s you! Welcome!’ and gave them a hot cup of their favourite drink as they smell the wafts of their favourite meal coming from your beautifully crafted, oak wood front door.
You want a homepage that your ideal clients will love.
And, I mean this with so much love and understanding of how overwhelming business can be . . . your homepage probably isn’t there right now.
Tough love (but I love you!)
So, what can you do?
There’s a simple, 15 question diagnostic quiz you can take to find out for sure (and workbook you can use to make it just perfect). If your website is the happy exception then you’ll only need to spend five minutes at the most and have something to brag about all week.
I always speak about the importance of having a great homepage at my workshops, but I’ve never considered myself an expert. And, for years, I’ve been craving a resource that I could whole-heartedly recommend on this topic.
It’s called the ‘ How to Write a Lovable Homepage ‘ workbook. Note: This eBook is no longer available but may be rereleased soon.
I can’t rave about it enough.
And, once you get it, you’ll be raving too.
It is charming, easy, fun, affordable and will help you create a homepage that has zero grossness, hype, arrogance or dullness.
Carrie has an incredible gift of helping her clients creative marketing that is so clear, irresistible and lovely all at once. It’s candle lit marketing – not neon lights. It’s piping hot, organic tea – not coca cola. It’s warm sweaters on cold days. She’s got a gift for helping people find their own unique voice.
When I heard she was writing this ebook I couldn’t have been more excited.
I promise it will be worth every penny you spend.
To give you a bit of a teaser and some good direction – I did a little interview with Carrie I’d like to share here.
why are you writing an ebook about website homepages?
Every day I hear from amazing entrepreneurs doing such important, good work. And they’re struggling to attract enough clients, to pay their bills, to really enjoy their businesses. And they’re not helping as many people as they could. (Lots of “my people” are holistic practitioners so their reach is really important for more reasons than money.) When I’d look at their websites, it would be clear to me that a huge part of why they’re not reaching enough clients or the right clients was an ineffective homepage, or, worse, one that was harmful.
I ached to re-write these homepages for them. (Running your own business is hard enough, but if your website is working against you, well that just makes my stomach hurt.) But many entrepreneurs don’t feel confident or able to invest in their businesses when their income is unpredictable (which I totally get). For those in that situation, I didn’t want them to feel on their own, rudderless. If they’re in a position where do-it-yourself marketing makes most sense, then I wanted them to have really good support.
why do you feel credible to write an ebook on this topic?
I’m an award-winning copywriter whose been writing for the web for 11 years, so there’s that.
I’m also an award-winning marketing strategist, so while I love beautiful words, I want them to be smart too. I poured my own professional experience into this workbook, but I also researched best practices for website content and engagement from other perspectives. I learned from other writing instructors (like my own cherished writing coach, Chris Kay Fraser at Firefly Creative Writing). I ran live workshops with the same exercises as in the workbook so I could see which were easy to follow and which weren’t. I conducted focus groups for the workbook and then revised it based on the feedback.
I knew that I knew my stuff but a couple weeks ago, when I attended a talk by online strategist and researcher Brian Cugelman, PhD, a fellow who happened to write his dissertation on persuasive websites (among other things), I left feeling giddy. He quoted study after study, outlining the essential components of an effective landing page and while he used bigger words, he was essentially describing my little-workbook-that-could.
why do homepages matter? what are the stats and reality that you can give us?
Homepages are so so so so important.
I just read a Razorfish study that said 64% of consumers have made a first purchase with a business because of a website experience.
No other marketing medium has ever had that kind of effect. But it’s what we do now – we consume information online. Your homepage is the top entrance point for your site. It’s the place where critical decisions are being made by your visitors – Do they trust you? Do they like you? Do you have what they’re looking for? If your homepage content is properly structured, you’ll engage the right clients and they’ll continue through other parts of your site right on to whatever your call to action is (buy a product, book an appointment, call for a consultation, etc).
If you mess up with that first page, they’re gone.
Word of mouth is the absolute most important contributor to business growth. We know from research that over 70% of buying decisions are made because someone we know made a recommendation. 70% of those recommendations happen online. These are important numbers when it comes to homepages for two reasons:
- If your homepage is well-structured, I will understand it and be able to articulate what you do to my friends. (Women, in particular, are continually considering “who can this help?” while they take in information. So even if your service or product isn’t right for me, I am thinking about whether my sister could use it.)
- If I like your business and your site is decent, I will share it with my friends and colleagues directly and on social media sites. The power of that is magnificent! By changing your homepage alone, you can supercharge word of mouth marketing – the most effective influence – in your favour.
what are the three biggest blunders you see people making on their homepages?
The top one has to be starting off with “At [Business Name], we offer…” It’s like marching over to a stranger at a quiet cocktail party and announcing “I’m going to tell you about myself right now”.
Websites need social graces too.
Start with what I call “The Inviting Proclamation” – that’s a headline that tells your reader what becomes possible for them when they work with you. It’s about them, not you. It’s nice. Same with the first section, which I call “The Current Troubling Situation (and How it Feels)”. Empathize with your reader. Acknowledge the challenge they’re having that led them to you.
Another mistake is having too little content. If you have fewer than 250 words on your homepage, you have some writing to do. There are lots of different opinions on the subject but many search engine optimization (SEO) experts suggest 500 words is a good number. Having Google find you would be a bonus. I just want you to be genuinely compelling, and you need more than a few sentences to do that.
The third most common mistake I see would be a lack of any clear “call to action”. I read the page and then it’s fuzzy what I should do next. Should I call you? Or read your testimonials? If there’s no discernible flow, that, however subtly, stresses people out. Be kind and be helpful… add that one-line instruction at the bottom of your text.
What’s are the three/four/five? things that a homepage must do to be a successful homepage? what are the goals of a homepage in your mind?
A homepage must sincerely engage the right reader (you don’t want to appeal to everyone, just the folks who are most likely to love you and want what you’ve got). It must reflect the tone of your business. (Professional? Playful?) It must simply and memorably articulate what you do. It must inspire readers to connect with you (either through an immediate purchase or a newsletter sign-up… some form of relationship must begin).
What are the key elements behind a great homepage?
For content: an inviting headline, an assessment of your reader’s “problem” and “hopes”, a short introduction to the real people behind the business, a clear list of services (that hyperlink to other pages within the site) and a direct call to action.
For design: simple navigation, proper treatment of headings and subheadings (this is important for SEO too), real photography of you and your business (not stock photography).
Can you give three examples of homepages you love and maybe tell us why you love them so much?
Three entrepreneurs I’ve seen who have made great homepages for themselves are Danette Relic, Tami Smith and you, Mr. Hargrave.
Danette’s Radical Creative Sanctuary: http://www.danetterelic.com/
So, Danette had me right at her business name (so awesome!) but I also love her headline so much: Your life is meant to be beautiful and meaningful. Don’t you just feel that right in your stomach? She goes on to write a homepage that feels like we’re having a conversation in a cafe. I already feel safe with her. That is profound for a coach. I like how she’s structured all her content, and I also like the richness and earthiness of the colours she’s chosen. They’re kind of lusty, and that’s very “Danette”.
Tami’s Targeted Traffic Strategies: http://www.targetedtrafficstrategies.com/
Tami’s homepage feels like a fresh, spring day to me. All the windows are open and the curtains are billowing. It is so clean. That’s gracious design, because it allows the reader’s eye some peace and it gives the reader psychological space to insert herself. I also love what Tami’s written. Her voice is so welcoming. “I’m Tami Smith and I’m a searchologist. That means I make it my business to know how search works, what makes Google love you and how to show up when someone is looking for your solution. I guess you could say I’m a match-maker; I match you to your perfect people when they are searching.” SEO is complicated and Tami could impress you with lots of buzz words and jargon and the fact that she used to work at Google (Tami’s a pretty big deal), but instead, she keeps it friendly, setting a positive tone. You can do this.
Tad’s Marketing for Hippies: https://marketingforhippies.com/
Tad, I like your headline so much, I use it as an example in How to Write a Lovable Homepage: “Conscious Business Folk: Are you struggling to attract enough clients?” It isn’t doom and gloom. You don’t use fear as a motivator (that goes against everything I believe, despite what many “marketing experts will say”) but you do, gently, hit that nerve. And if I am a conscious entrepreneur struggling to attract enough clients, right from the very first line you’ve made me feel like I’m in the right place and you’re going to help me. That is so kind. You’ve offered me a post-marathon glass of water and foot rub.
Our homepages aren’t just marketing tools or faces for our business – they’re our arms and mouths in the world too. They can be used for good. We can write things that inspire, that reassure, that inform, that help, that heal. That doesn’t mean you don’t ask, too. But make buying your book or signing up for your newsletter – your ask – make it an invitation to continue a relationship. We’re all hungry for connection and what you do, Tad, is give that so generously.
Can you tell us a bit about your workbook?
It’s a labour of love and a gazillion hours worth of Carrie. 🙂 I’m so excited about it. It really feels important. It isn’t just an e-book that you sit back and read and then have to figure out how to apply what you’ve learned to your own situation – it’s a workbook. You’ll roll up your sleeves and I’ll take you through a series of very short (a few minutes each) writing exercises. At the end, I tell you how to put them together and – voila! – you have a new homepage, in about two hours’ time. I don’t know of anything else like it.
And the thing I really love about it is that even if you only get one new client because of the workbook, you’ve made back your investment. Just like that. That makes me feel amazing.
Note: Carrie’s How to Write A Loveable Homepage workbook is no longer available but may be rereleased soon.