As the buying cycle continues to shrink and change due to technology and other factors, it’s become vitally important that a company’s website help establish trust, reputation and authority in the eyes of the prospect.
If these elements are lacking, prospects will simply leave to find another potential company.
This post is about how to create a home page that sets the foundation for building trust and connection with your prospects.
A website home page has to accomplish a fair number of objectives in a short amount of time and real estate. To be effective, it needs to:
- Communicate your unique story through copy and images
- Quickly tell prospective buyers what your company offers
- Enable prospects to quickly find your Products / Services pages
- Make it easy to contact you
- Include a call-to-action
- Have current information
Creating a home page that meets these objectives isn’t difficult if you follow these seven tips.
Tip #1: Develop your messaging and copy before you do any design work
One reason I don’t like pre-built website themes is because they force you to write to someone else’s idea of what makes a good home page.
Generally, pre-built themes include the ubiquitous slider and some boxes. Often, the template doesn’t accommodate any lengthy (read: useful) copy, another important element of Google’s semantic search.
For this reason, I recommend a custom designed website. With a custom designed site, your strategy, your messaging, and your marketing objectives drive the design vs. the design driving the strategy.
Before I even begin thinking about copy and design, however, I first develop the working sitemap, the project strategy, and the messaging. I do this by:
- Conducting lots of research
- Interviewing the business owner and key team members
- Touring the facility
- Analyzing existing assets and Google Analytics
Once I have a good working draft of the home and Products / Services section, I then begin working with the designer.
The result of this “strategy first — design second” process is a website that projects authenticity and trust because it’s baked in from the get-go.
Tip #2: Use original, high-quality images
As I was writing this post, I had to do research for a client — including looking at all the competitor websites in her industry.
I came away dismayed. They all looked the same due to using similar WordPress themes. And, they all used boring stock images to communicate tired cliches.
To make your website stand apart from crowd — and add some fun and energy — hire a professional photographer to take photos of your products, your facility, or your team. By having photos taken for you, you can ensure they tie into the copy and design — and communicate your story.
You also eliminate using the same stock images used by dozens of other companies.
Another way to build trust and connection is to show the people who work in your business. As I tell my customers when they want to show a picture of their building on the “About” page, “People don’t do business with buildings. They do business with people they trust. So show your team!”
I especially like how ClearView Consulting added pictures of their consultants on the home page with links to their respective bios.
In addition to photographs, you can also do video, the way Acme Wire Products did.
Tip #3: Tell prospective buyers what you offer — in plain English
When buyers get to your website, they’re in a hurry and want to find information quickly with minimal distraction.
You have just a few seconds to help them decide if they’re in the right place once they land on your website.
When visitors arrive at your home page, they use the copy on the page — specifically the headline and subhead — to determine if they’re in the right place.
Your headline or subhead, therefore, needs to succinctly state what you do:
- “Laser Marking Control Boards and Software” – Lanmark Controls
- “Custom Wire Forming and Fabricating” – Acme Wire Products
- “Remote Telepathology Diagnosis in Real-Time” – Remote Medical Technologies
Your goal is to have people read your headline or subhead and say, “Ok, great! I’m in the right place. This company looks like it offers what I need.”
Notice I didn’t say, “Capture their attention.” When someone gets to your website, you’ve already captured their attention some other way (search, PPC, print ad, trade show, etc.) – that’s why they’re on your website.
This means you don’t have to “WOW!” them with a flashy image the way you would a print ad. (Hat tip for this idea goes to Rachel Cunliffe of Cre8d Design who mentioned it to me in passing on a Skype call one night. It makes perfect sense.)
Tip #4: Make Products / Services part of the website’s main navigation
When buyers get to a website home page, they automatically look for Products and Services — as you can see in the data chart taken from the 2014 B2B Website Usability Report that KoMarketing Associates and I published in March.
This means that Products / Services should be a part of your main navigation so that people can see it without having to click around. It also means you give buyers a great user experience — again, building that trust and connection.
Tip #5: Include contact information: Email, phone, and company address
One advantage of being a small business is that you probably have one main telephone number. Include it at the top of your home page. Why? Because people with smartphones can then use “tap to call” and have the phone automatically call you.
You’ll also want to include a link to your email address as again, survey data shows that the majority of buyers prefer email versus having to fill out a form to contact you.
It also pays to include your full address in the page footer.
Having full contact information clearly visible is incredibly important if you want to increase inquiries: If you don’t have it, you lower your credibility in the eyes of your buyer.
Again, a buyer makes this determination within seconds. If contact information isn’t readily available, your prospective buyer may leave your site.
For a detailed analysis of the importance of contact data to the buying process, see my post at the Content Marketing Institute: Why 55% of Potential B2B Buyers May Not Trust Your Website Content.
Tip #6: Include a primary and secondary call-to-action
Depending on your company and your goals, a primary call-to-action might be:
- Request a quote
- Request a demo
- Request a meeting or phone consultation
- Sign up for a trial
- Download a white paper
As a general rule, include one primary call-to-action.
Two or more primary calls-to-action create a quandary in the mind of your buyer — and can lower conversion. (Caveat — test this! Each company, target audience, offer, etc. is different.)
A secondary call-to-action, such as a newsletter subscription, doesn’t require too much effort — but still allows you to connect with prospects and get their contact information so that you can start the conversation.
Tip #7: Ensure all information on the page is current
One tip off that a company hasn’t updated its website in a while is the copyright info.
When you see a copyright date that goes back to when George W. Bush was president — that would be ca. 2006 — you tend to have less trust in the company.
“Hmmmmm . . . if they haven’t updated their site in a while, have they updated their processes? Their products?”
Another tip off that a company hasn’t paid much attention to its website is the dated (I’m talking 6 months to two years old!) press release, blog post or worse, a tradeshow long since passed. Remove these — pronto!
What do you think? Do you have additional tips to share? Leave them in the comments section.