Three Conversion Tips from Highway Billboards for your Homepage
The Web is often (perhaps too often) compared to a freeway, namely the Information Superhighway. The comparison
is apt—unlike television and print, where you have viewers and readers, you have traffic; traffic that is constantly
moving, changing over, passing by, dropping in and shifting direction. It’s a constant game of grabbing attention and
directing traffic to your door, rather than somewhere else along the highway.
Now, we can drop the metaphor and get straight to the point: we’re talking about conversion. Getting web traffic
to your website is half the battle, but the next challenge is turning your visitors into customers. Returning to our
analogy, we can learn some important lessons from the agents that drive business along the highway: billboards. Here
are three important lessons that billboard advertising can teach web developers:
Keep it Simple
A universal piece of wisdom, of course, but it’s even truer for the web. Like billboards, homepages are viewed
not by patient audiences, but by web surfers flying by at 70 MPH. You’re lucky if your homepage gets looked at
for more than 15 seconds before your visitor decides whether or not to click that back button. With that in mind,
you’re going to want to pare down the elements on your landing page to the most essential and compelling details.
This is harder than it seems. If you’re passionate about your product, you’ll likely have a book’s worth of content
and bullet points you want to discuss with your potential customer. But exercise some restraint for now—you’re goal
here is to present the most enticing tidbits so you can hook your reader. Don’t bombard them with infos, offers and
specs until you’ve got their attention.
Include a Call to Action (CTA)
Okay, you’ve hooked your audience—now reel them in. This is the number one mistake that online businesses make
every day. Once you’ve convinced your readers that they’ve found what they are looking for, it’s important to
make it easy for them to know what to do next. Don’t make them scroll back to the navigation menu at the top
and sift through your “Services” section or click through to your “Contact Us” page. Instead, at the end of
your copy, give them a button or link to click right away. Think of those billboards again—you’re hungry and
on the road and you see a picture of a succulent hamburger that makes your mouth water. Then, you see “Take
Exit 45 and Turn Right.” That’s your call-to-action. Make it that easy for your web visitors, rather than
sending them searching. Deliver their next action to them on a silver platter—ask them to “Click Here” or
“Buy Now” or “Start Your Free Trial” right now.
Make it Clear
Clever advertising that works is the exception, not the rule. You may have been inspired by some of the memorable,
off-the-wall or just plain zany advertisements that make you think. But achieving something that breaks conventions
while achieving that clarity in communication is harder than it looks. When people land on your website, you want
them to be able to understand who you are, what you’re offering and why they should accept your offer with minimal
effort. Even highly intelligent audiences read web copy differently than they would survey a piece of high literary
art—they aren’t going to work hard to decipher your punnery, symbolism and satire. Instead, they’ll click that back
button and visit your competitor, who doesn’t confuse them. That’s not to say that you should be boring or predictable.
It just means you should be kind to your audience. Instead of challenign them, reassure them, guide them and instill
them with confidence in you and your service.
The takeaway lesson from all of these three points is this: traffic moves fast on the Internet. Each time someone
lands on your homepage, you’ve got a window of opportunity that only remains open for a few seconds. Get your
message across quickly, clearly and effectively before that window closes. Give them a reason to take that
metaphorical exit that leads to your storefront and make it easy to close the deal.
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