Lead Generation Starts at Home
If you can show me a small business owner who doesn't want more leads from their website, I'll be shocked. If there is anything we hear on a regular basis from the Presidents, Partners and CEOs at small and mid-sized companies, it's that they want to put their websites to work. Branding and thought leadership are two valuable aspects of maintaining an active online presence, but let's be honest about the fact that we all want to see some ROI. If you're out to increase your bottom line, it may be time to give your homepage a serious performance evaluation. Here are the top 5 questions to determine if your website is a lead generation master or if you need some help:
1. Can Your Copy Pass the 10-Second Test?
10 seconds. According to Microsoft, that's typically all the time it takes a website visitor to decide whether or not they'll stick around. Not even the shortest lunch meeting in history or your best sales person can compete with how fast a home page needs to pack a punch. Remember, no one would be performing Google searches for your product or service unless they had a need, so it's critical to write copy that can pass the 10-second test. That means it needs to be succinct, value driven and explain exactly what you have to offer in just a short sentence.
There's a lot to love about the AmeriFirst Home Mortgage home page from a marketing perspective, but the fact that they succinctly summarize their value in a visible way is a real winner:
Their "value statement" is found in the right-hand corner: "Your First Time Home Buyer Resource Partner." It's just a sentence, but it's clear who their target audience is and what they can do to help.
2. How's Your Loading Time?
No one likes slow websites, but it turns out that mobile users hate them even more. If you thought the 10-second rule was tough, wait until you hear that 70% of tablet users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. At the time of writing, mobile devices are responsible for around 10% of web traffic worldwide, though the number is quickly increasing.
The best way to ensure your website is mobile-friendly is to just keep it simple. Remove flash, simplify navigation and avoid massive, high-resolution images whenever possible. Best-selling business writer Jeff Haden recommends that you take the "fast food" approach to web design for mobile: your website visitors know what they want, they don't want to wait and they're not after ambiance.
3. Who Are You Picturing?
Every homepage needs an image, and it's clear that people are going to be your best bet: home pages depicting people tend to have nearly twice the lead generation as pages with images of nature or animals. Even more interestingly, they'd better be someone you know: data has indicated that images of real people tend to perform 95% better than stock photos for lead generation. The company who performed the study, Marketing Experiments, hypothesizes that it's not so much about who's pictured as how effectively the image can convey value and honesty. It looks like your leads are smart enough to tell that the stock photo of a smiling female with a phone isn't actually working for you.
One company that uses realistic images of employees well is Hubspot, and their recently-launched new homepage has a picture of their actual blog manager, Pamela Vaughan:
Your website needs to communicate trustworthiness, and the data shows that using your actual employees is one of the best ways to kick up your lead generation.
4. Can You Take Them Where They Need?
Ideally, your website visitors won't just stay on your homepage. They'll click around, read about your employees and see what you've been blogging. A logical, clean navigation structure is a necessity for your home page. In fact, more than 3/4 of Internet Users surveyed say easy navigation is their top priority when visiting new websites.
The Mail Chimp website offers simple navigation that isn't cluttered or confusing. The light color stands out well against the background. Visitors have easy access to information that corresponds with their top questions the first time they visit the website:
5. Can They Become Leads?
Chances are, your website visitors aren't going to work especially hard to give you their business. You need clear, visible calls to action and great offers that have real value to visitors. Call to actions (CTAs) are a critical component of lead generation, and make sure yours stand out.
Remote project-management software Basecamp takes a very direct approach to lead generation on their website, offering first-time visitors an extremely simple form for a free trial. The small number of fields are perfectly mobile-optimized and the bright color of the CTA clearly stands out against the rest of the page:
We've said it before: first impressions have never mattered more than they do on the Internet. Your home page has between 2 to 10 seconds to convert a first-time visitor into someone who's willing to stick around and become a lead. Put your website to the test and see if it can stand up to increasing your bottom line.
Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/phanlop88