How to Create Content that Connects: Your Homepage

This is the first post in a series to help you create website content that connects with your dream customer!

Every little bit of your website, from the copy to the navigation to the photos and your products, is considered “content” and is a highly valuable opportunity to grab your potential customer’s attention and draw them into your world. We’re going explore how to use all that content in a way that creates an immediate connection with them so you can start to build relationships, create trust, and make more sales!

We’ll start in the most likely first place your customers will come to your site through – your homepage.

creating content that connects

Connecting at the moment your customers land on your site: homepage content

The most important thing to consider when you’re creating your homepage content is your customer’s perspective and what their experience will be.

Take yourself out of your own head for a moment, and all the ideas exploding around the potential of what you could do with your homepage, or what you’ve heard you should do with your homepage, and instead put yourself into your ideal customer’s shoes.

Think about how you feel when you land on a new site you’ve never visited before – it’s like landing on a foreign planet. If you don’t understand what’s going on, where to go and how to get to whatever you’re interested in, if your attention isn’t immediately captured, well you can just hop back in your virtual rocket ship and be outta there in t-minus 5 seconds via the back button on your browser.

If, instead, you land in a place that captures your aesthetic interest right away, where you see familiar markers and are handed an easy map to get around with, then you’ll feel more comfortable sticking around to explore this new world for a bit.

You only have a few seconds to capture your potential customer’s interest and to help them orient themselves to your little piece of the internet world. To do this, you need to have clarity, clarity, clarity in every morsel of your content. And you want to think about the path you’d like people to take from your homepage – once they land there, where do you want them to go next? What do you want to draw their attention to most?

Let’s break these ideas down in all the different elements of your homepage…

Header 

At the very top of your homepage is generally where you’ll want your business name and logo to go, and is the very first spot to grab your visitors’ attention. Greet them with a well designed logo that is representative of your brand as a whole, and it will help draw your right people in aesthetically as well as give them immediate visual clues about what your site is all about. What does your business name and logo communicate about your brand? If it doesn’t seem to be saying what you want it to, that might be the first place to start with a homepage makeover.

The header is also the place to consider adding a tagline. A tagline can help give definition and context to your business name, and help immediately orient a new visitor by summarizing exactly what you have to offer and who you’re offering it to, in just a few simple words. This is especially important if your business name is more creative and not necessarily descriptive of what you sell – take Aeolidia, for example!

Helping your little business become a “big little” business” is Aeolidia’s tagline, and it lets you know in a millisecond that we provide services for small, indie businesses to help them grow. Bang. Clarity. Think about whether a tagline could help you better clarify your brand so those potential customers understand exactly what you have to offer from the moment they land on your site.

This is also a good spot to mention any permanent incentives you might have, like “Free shipping on orders over $100,” or “Free returns, always,” “$5 to ship anywhere in the US,” etc. You don’t have to offer such incentives, but if you do, this right at the top placement is a prime place to put it and can encourage someone to explore your site further.

Navigation

Your site’s navigation bar and/or menu are the map you hand to visitors upon arrival. You want them to be as clear and understandable as possible, which means sticking with tried and true, expected titles like, “About,” “Contact,” “Shop,” “Blog,” “Portfolio,” “Wholesale,” etc.

As creatives, we can have a tendency to want to get a little creative with everything we do, including navigation titles, but this isn’t the place to be imaginative or branded, cutesy or clever, as the goal with your navigation is to help your customer understand immediately what kind of information is hiding under that link.

For example, I call the marketing consultations I do for clients “mojo sessions,” but if I were to put “mojo sessions” as the main navigation title on my site, a visitor might be like, “Huh? What’s that? Where’s the info about the marketing consults?” because they’re not seeing the words they expect to find. Any small point where a customer might feel confused, even for an instant, is the point where they’ll potentially lose interest and click off. So, instead I have “work with me” as a navigation title, which is clear and obvious, and on that page I describe my mojo session options.

Also beware of vague titles that can be taken in multiple ways, such as “Gallery”- does that mean you have art for sale? Is it like a portfolio page? A gallery of sold items? A photo gallery of some sort? Gravitate towards what’s clear, cut & dry and easy as pie.

Main space

The main shebang of your homepage, beneath the navigation, is your place to hang a virtual welcome sign to your internet world, grab your visitors’ attention and show them where to go. This is your highest priority spot. So, if you’re a product seller, you want to get people into that shop, right? How will you grab their attention immediately and direct them there?

This is the place for big, beautiful product images, slideshows, lookbooks, portfolios, etc that show off what you have to offer in the most eye-catching way, and link directly to specific sections or items in your shop so that customers can potentially BUY them. You’re selling something, remember? Don’t shy away from that!

If you’re a service provider, this is the place to lead them to your best content, get them looking around your portfolio or the services you provide. People don’t usually buy services on a whim or as quickly as they might buy a product, more trust usually has to be built up first, so this could also be the best spot to lead visitors to sign up for your mailing list so you can stay in touch with them and start to build the relationship that will help you make sales down the road.

Whatever your main goal is with your website, use this main space to direct people right to it!

Secondary space  

Beneath your main content area is the spot to direct visitors toward your next priority goals. This could be further entrances to your shop via featured, favorite or new items. It could be a good place to direct them to your mailing list so they can stay in touch, or to lead them to your blog if you have awesome content to share or want them to learn more about the you behind the brand.

It could be a good spot for some welcome text, if you feel a greeting about what you do and why it’s unique would be helpful to orient your customers. It’s also a great place to incorporate some testimonial quotes which can often speak much louder to potential customers about your work than your own words can (we’ll talk more in depth about these later in this series!)

If you have some great press, like blog or magazine mentions, maybe you’ll want to highlight them with some graphics here. If you offer a freebie, are running a contest, or have an event coming up, put info/a graphic about it here to give it some attention!

The sky is really the limit when it comes to how you can use this area, so really consider your particular goals and your particular customer – not what you see other sites doing – and use this space to further direct your visitors’ attention where you’d most like it to go. If you can create this area to have changeable/editable elements, so it can shift as your goals shift, that’d be ideal!

Stay-in-touch system 

Of course, the main goal for your site is most likely to sell things, but it can take time to build up the relationship and trust necessary to lead to sales. That’s why it’s so important to have a stay-in-touch system to capture those potentially interested folks before they click off, never to return again. If they don’t buy right away, what’s the next best thing they can do? Give you their email address so you can contact them, stay on their brains, and start to build that relationship!

I mentioned a mailing list a couple times above, and if you don’t have one yet, it’s time to start one, as it’s really the most effective stay-in-touch system around, far beyond social media, and can help you form a familiar, intimate connection with potential customers.

The key with getting people to sign up for your mailing list through your homepage often lies in the verbiage itself. “Sign up for my newsletter” is a surefire death march to getting very few sign ups. People don’t willingly sign up for more mail to clog their already overflowing inboxes, but they will hand their email over if they feel they’ll gain something valuable in exchange. So, you want to incentivize your sign-up text, emphasize the value they’ll receive from it.

What will people get out of your newsletter? Will you offer freebies, discounts, coupons, specials? Will they be first to know what’s new, or on sale, or get behind the scenes sneak peeks? Will you offer free advice, tips, how-tos, tutorials? Will it get people inspired, or motivated?

These are the kind of specific things you want to pull out for your sign up text, so instead of “Join our mailing list,” you can try something like…

  • “Get the scoop on what’s new & on sale:”
  • “For new arrivals and subscriber only specials:”
  • “Get exclusive first peeks & discounts:”
  • “Sign up for free printables, inspiration & special sales:”
  • “Free tutorials & tips straight to your inbox:”

Be specific! Be incentivizing! And you really can leave the words “newsletter” or “mailing list” out of it entirely.

Footer 

Last but not least, the bottom of your site is for your lesser priority goals, for things that are important but not important enough to have in your main navigation or main body of the site.

Contrary to popular belief, this is where I’d recommend putting links to your social media accounts. Why? When a potential customer lands on your homepage, you have them right where you want them, right at that moment – the goal then becomes to keep them there, engage their interest, get them looking around, and hey maybe even buy something! The last thing you want to do is send them right back off to the MOST DISTRACTING SITES ON THE INTERNET where they may start following you but then forget all about what they were just looking at and spend the next hour pinning and tweeting, never to return again.

In general, you want to use social media to drive people to your site, not vice versa. Consider what your most important goals are – if, at the moment, it’s to build your pinterest following, then maybe you’ll want to draw attention to your account higher up on the page. But if your goal for right now is to sell more, then stick to social links in the footer and on your contact page. Don’t get suckered into the feeds and funnels, widgets and whatsits you see many other sites using that are eye catching, sure, but effectively sending their site traffic bye-bye.

The footer is also the place to reiterate your navigation from the top – if you have a long page, that can be helpful so your customer doesn’t have to scroll back up to navigate to the next spot. You can also include links to lesser priority info pages here that maybe aren’t in your main navigation, such as policies, shipping/returns, FAQs, etc.

This is also a great spot to include a link to your contact page, or if you’re a brick and mortar store, your shop’s address, hours and phone number would be helpful here. You can have a search bar down here (or potentially in the header if you think it’s a tool that’ll be used often on your particular site.) And of course, copyright info.

There’s always room for creativity and diversity within this general context, of course, but I hope this can help you better prioritize your goals for your homepage and really consider what path you want to lead your potential customers down and how to get them there.

Next up in the series, we’ll tackle your about page! I’ll help make it easier for you to figure out how to write about yourself and your work, and how to use your about page to connect better with the kind of customers you most want to attract, and start to build trust.

Until then, let us know in the comments if this post got you thinking differently about your homepage content, or if you have any questions!  

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