It’s probably rare that anyone walks into a physical store, unaware of what products or services they sell, but (thankfully) this happens every day online. Because of this, websites have the challenge of explaining what they do in a snapshot. Ah, but so very few do it well.
What if you went to a health supplement store and this happened?
Nutritionist: “Tacky font logo! Top navigation! Select product category! $49.95! Buy now?”
You: “Um, yeah… Hi, I’ve recently become a vegan and decided to cleanse my digestive system. There’s a history of colon cancer in my family and, uh, I want to be proactive about it while I’m young–not to mention that the word ‘Gastroenterologist’ makes me cringe. Anyway, I’ve never taken natural supplements before, so I’m pretty skeptical about the claims they make. Are there any in particular that have worked well for your customers?
Nutritionist: “Sale items! Add to cart! More info! Click here!?”
You: “Okay, well, uh… Wow, look at the time! Nice talking to you.”
Proper Fitness is an example of one such customer un-focused website. They neither explain what they do nor show how their value is unique from competitors. But they are good at providing us with an example of what not to do.
When thinking about landing pages–homepage or otherwise–you should keep in mind that a portion of the traffic coming to your site are first-time visitors, and they’re all coming at different stages of their own buying process. Although it’s nice to to think you can go straight for the sale, your sales process isn’t of much concern to the visitor at this point. Have you ever gone out of your way to buy something at a store just because you know they have better customer service? Such is buying online (although it happens much faster).
Your potential customers simply don’t have time to figure out who you are and what you do unless you explicitly tell them. Unlike Proper Fitness, you need to present this information to them within the active window (read: top-center) of your homepage and within the top banner of every landing page (we often call this the Unique Campaign proposition) on your site.
Contrast the previous example to one of our newer clients, Detoxologie.com. See how quickly showing your Unique Value Proposition makes all the difference?
Introduce yourself in terms of the value you offer your customers. Use a clear logo in the top-left corner and provide the visitor with a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) next to the logo that reinforces the visitor’s sense that he’s in the right place. Place this on every page throughout your site. (Remember, your homepage is not the only entry-point, so each landing page needs to make this same introduction.) This is especially critical on those Pay-Per-Click (PPC) landing pages you create.
The UVP is your site’s first chance to begin a dialogue with its visitors. In very simple language, clearly describe what you do, how it’s unique from your competitors, and how your customers benefit from your products and/or services. Don’t try to figure out the magic of persuasion until you’ve first addressed this one critical–and criminally overlooked–element.