Driving Traffic to Your Homepage All the Time May Be a Big Mistake

You’ve read up on all the traffic generation tactics and optimized your site to rank high on major search engines.

You begin to see great results with hundreds of new visitors coming to your site everyday. You are excited until you see two key site statistics that burst your bubble. They are:

1. High bounce rate — is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entry page. A high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren't relevant to your visitors.

2. Low conversion rate — is the percent of site visitors who take a desired and measurable action. For example, fill out a form to download a white paper, register for a webinar, submit an order etc.

The above two web analytics are not mere statistics for your webmaster. They have a direct impact on your bottom line.

Why? Hordes of traffic that convert poorly are useless for generating qualified leads that convert well into paying customers.

What’s the solution? Let’s look at the bounce rate first. The primary reason for high bounce rates is a strong disconnect between the visitor’s intent for coming to your site and the purpose of the page where they land.

That’s why your Home page may not always be the best entry point. A Home page is great for attracting prospects at the top of the sales funnel that may have found your site using generic search terms and are just looking for information on companies in your market. For example, the search term “industrial valves” yields 238,000 pages in Google.

You do want your Home page to rank high here if your intent is to increase awareness about your company and its industrial valve line. However, about all you can expect here is the visitor bookmarking your site for future visits.

On the other hand, if your goal is to attract qualified traffic for “safety relief valves” and your visitors land on the home page that has very little information relevant to their search, you will get a quick exit.

What’s the solution? Create landing pages that are specific to the visitor’s intent. Drive traffic to these landing pages and your bounce rates will decline and conversion rate will climb.

The only purpose of a landing page is to persuade visitors to take a specific action. A good analogy is to think of a landing page as the putting green on a golf course. Once you get there, your only objective is to put the ball in the hole.

Any page on your website can become a landing page as long as you follow these three principles:

  • Have a very clear understanding of your prospect’s intent (what are they looking for? How did they find your site?)
  • Provide information that match the visitor’s purpose for landing on your page and have a clear call to action
  • Make sure there is a strong overlap between the customer’s expectations and your goals. Your objectives must be driven by the former and not the other way around

Creating high converting landing pages

Here are the steps you should take for creating optimized landing pages that convert well:

  1. Do some research – don’t guess or go by your gut feel as to what your prospects are searching for. Use a free tool like Google’s Keyword Tool to find search terms and long-tail keywords that people are using to search for information related to your products and services. That will give you an idea of demand.
  2. Check your competition — review your competitor’s design and the flow of their landing page. Are there areas where you feel confused and/or reluctant to continue? Do they ask for information that you feel is irrelevant to your intent? Try to eliminate these bottlenecks on your landing pages because your prospects will be far more critical and suspicious then you are.
  3. Follow the golden triangle – several tracking research studies have shown that site visitors tend to track through content in a rough F-shaped pattern (see Jakob Nielsen’s eyetracking study). Place your logo at the top left. Visitors expect it there so display your branding where it counts. Place the keywords and/or key phrases at the top of the page, which will reinforce the visitor s/he is at the right place.
  4. Keep it simple– follow a one-column format with plenty of white space for the eyes to rest and the brain to assimilate the information. Put your main message, visual and unique value proposition (UVP) in the middle of the column and above the fold. Don’t make the visitor scroll vertically or horizontally to read your primary content.
  5. Calls to action– be absolutely clear about what you want the visitor to do. You can offer choices of different formats (PDF, Podcast, PowerPoint presentation, video etc.). Make it standout from the rest of the copy by using a different color and place it above the fold and to the left.
  6. Basic information only – don’t ask for more information than is necessary to complete the call to action. Keep your lead-gathering forms simple; Name, Company Name and Email address should suffice. It is okay to ask for job function or title if it is relevant to your offer. Avoid asking for phone number if the call to action is a download, it’s not necessary and will seem like a return sales call is imminent and will lead to high rate of abandonment. Same goes for budget, time frame, company size, gross sales etc. That level of pre-qualifying is best left for the lead scoring stage. Make sure you add some verbiage about protecting their email address and your policies about sharing information.
  7. Build credibility — place assurances, testimonials and guarantees in the far-right hand area. This is also the place for showing off your credentials like certifications, special recognitions, reliability and warranty information.
  8. Clear the clutter – don’t put any external links or be tempted to send visitors deeper into your site right now. Save that for the confirmation or the thank you page where you can add content about what your visitors should expect next (email with download link, return phone call etc.). Here you can add a link to your Home page or a product page. Add a link to your privacy policy in the footer. This instills confidence.

The copy and design of your landing page should put the focus on grabbing the visitor’s attention, fulfilling their self-interest, heighten their desire to do business with you and motivate them to take action now.

One of the best landing pages (actually targeting several different audiences, all rolled into one) that I’ve seen is for Cisco Eos software platform. It was developed to help media and entertainment companies create and maintain content-rich, community-driven web experiences. It is a great way to combine storytelling with product demonstration tailored to a specific target audience. It is definitely worth a visit.

3 replies
  1. Greg Campbell
    Greg Campbell says:

    I absolutely agree with your points about landing pages and including specific information on products or services on those pages. I would say that most people typing general search terms are just gathering info. But those looking for specific information are the ones who make better prospects.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    Reply

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