Your website is the online portal for your audience, and your website's homepage is the cyber front door. How you welcome your viewers will be the first impression of your brand and is critical to move them through the sales funnel to become your brand advocates. As the old saying goes, "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression," so no matter how important your invention or novel your product, you better write a homepage that entices them to learn more.
There are four things you need to remember when you write and design your content to achieve this goal.
Know Your Brand
One of the most deadly mistakes I see early stage companies make is creating a website before they've figured out their brand. Usually, this happens because someone told them they had to have a website.
Fair enough. It's nearly impossible to survive in business today without an online presence, but you need to know more than just about what you are selling if you want to build a loyal audience. Homepages are about values and building relationships. Even well-established brands go out of their way to welcome back their customers.
That's not to say there shouldn't be an invitation for your audience to purchase what you sell; it's just shouldn't be the first thing they encounter.
A homepage is about explaining the "why:" why you are in business, and why should your audience care. You might be intimately familiar with what you make, but your homepage has to reach out to the audience and create a kinship both through its design and copy.
Know Your Audience
I can always tell when a company has written their website because it screams ME! ME! ME!
- Look at how wonderful we are!
- Look at what we've created!
- Look at how much smarter we are than the competition!
My response to ME! ME! ME! is WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
If you have raised children, you are likely familiar with the phrase, "It's not about you." The same goes for creating a website homepage.
You may indeed have created the best invention since sliced bread, but if it's not meaningful to your audience, you're going to sell a whole lot of nothing. The same principle applies to books, movies, or any other form of entertainment. You have to draw your audience into your world.
So, as you are writing and designing a website, imagine the person you are communicating to and ask yourself:
- What does he/she look like?
- How old is he/she?
- Where do they live?
- What do they drive?
- What do they wear?
- What kind of educational background do they have?
- What do they care about?
And so on. Your audience isn't a reflection in the mirror, so your prose needs to be on your audience's level, and your design needs to meet their expectations of your brand. You contradict yourself, for example, when you refer to your company as innovative, but pick the same cheap, off the shelf Word Press template that everyone else is using this year.
People Care About People
Say it with me, "People care more about people than they care about things." If I had a dime for every website I saw (particularly in the B2B space) which featured an invention, product or concept smack in the middle of the homepage, I'd be on the cover of the Financial Times.
Individuals and companies can and should be proud of their achievements. Years of hard work and sacrifice deserve to be noted, just not on your website homepage.
So please, if you're in the biotech space, don't make the first thing your viewer sees is a microscope or the double-helix you've reconfigured. If you're in agtech, please don't show me a stalk of corn; and if you're in cleantech, I don't want to see the barrel containing the chemicals you created from captured carbon.
Your audience wants to know how your inventions are going to improve their lives and those of their loved ones. They want to see people like them. How you did it? What kind of credentials you have? That's why there are website subpages. If you've hooked them initially, they'll be far more likely to dig into the other pages where they can learn more about your team and your process.
Hire Outside Help
There are many reasons to turn to a marketing strategist or agency to help create an integrating marketing communications plan. At the top of the list, though, is just like a doctor should never treat him/herself, a company founder, CEO or insider is the worst option to write the company's website homepage. They are too close to the subject.
Having a dedicated team is a good thing, but dispassionate outsiders can speak the truth and see the company's goals from a different perspective. An outsider is invested in the company and its people, not necessarily the inventions.
If you'd like to talk about how to establish your company's brand story online, contact me for a free 30-minute consultation.