How you can double conversions in your startup’s homepage – TechCrunch
As Head of Content at Demand Curve, Nick writes actionable insights from growth marketing.
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Between our work at Demand Curve and our agency Bell Curve, we have rewritten over 1,000 websites for startups in most industries.
Do you want to convert twice as many visitors into customers? Follow these copywriting tactics.
Everything “above the fold” must have a purpose
The area of your homepage that is immediately visible to a visitor before they start scrolling is known as “above the fold”. (Think of a printed newspaper: anything above the literal fold in the newspaper is the most important piece of information.) When a visitor sees the content above the fold, they choose to either continue scrolling or leave your website.
In a matter of seconds, they are trying to figure out what you are doing and whether you are a good fit for them.
The most common mistake startups make? Your “above the fold” is either uninteresting or confusing. This often happens when marketers try to squeeze too much content into the fold.
The most common mistake startups make? Your “above the fold” is either uninteresting or confusing.
The truth is that most of the information on your website is irrelevant to new visitors. Therefore, the area above the crease should be used to explain how you can help new visitors solve a specific problem.
For example, you may see a homepage promoting the latest technical blog post that the company has published. But that’s not useful to a visitor who doesn’t understand what you’re doing.
To further confuse the visitor, many companies add an extensive navigation bar at the top of their website. In theory, this gives your visitors easy access to any part of your website. In practice, this leads to decision fatigue and low conversion rates.
Unless the content directly contributes to what you do and whether you are a match for that visitor, it should be removed.
There are three things you can do to improve your homepage conversion rate:
- Make a sharp header.
- Use a supplementary subheading.
- Design on purpose.
Let’s get to the tactics of these three areas of improvement.
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Write headers that appeal to a person (not a crowd)
Your header is the largest piece of text on your website. In less than 10 words (roughly the longest we would recommend) your header needs to do three things:
1. Identify how customers are getting value from your product.
This is your most important value proposition. If you can’t explain in less than 10 words how someone is getting value from your product, it will be a challenge to keep visitors’ attention for much longer.
Here’s how we determine your most important value proposition:
- What bad alternative do people turn to when they lack your product?
- How is your product better than the bad alternative?
- Now turn the last step into a statement of action – that is your value proposition.
- The bad alternative is to be stuck in a sterile hotel without experiencing any real culture.
- Airbnb’s product is better than the bad alternative as it allows you to live with a local.
- So when we turn the second question into a statement of action, we get a value proposition like: Experience new cities like a local.
Here are some more examples from top startups:
2. Add an enticing hook to keep visitors reading.
Telling your visitors what you do is a good start, but now we need to get them excited about your product.
A huge missed opportunity many startups are doing with their website copy? It’s not action oriented. In a world where customers can shop around the clock, there is very little urgency for your visitors to take action now.
Adding a hook increases the likelihood that a visitor will buy from you on their first visit.
There are two ways to write hooks:
- Make a bold claim: something very specific that makes you think, “Wow, I didn’t know it was possible.”
- Or address common objections: questions or rejections that your visitor is probably already thinking about. Addressing objections right away may seem counter-intuitive, but pointing out your weaknesses will make your visitor trust your brand more. Without a direct sales team, your copy will have to work hard to answer as many questions as possible.
Here are some value propositions from top startups that consider their biggest objections upfront.
3. Speak directly to your ideal customer personality
To get your visitor’s attention to the message in your header, rewrite your value proposition to speak directly to your customer personas.
List your two to three most important customer personas. Rewrite your headers to target the part of your product that they value most. Use your own language, not industry jargon. The best way to find out what your customers love about your product is through face-to-face customer interviews or reading customer success tickets.
Now you have headers that speak directly to your ideal customer personality. You can either A / B test which header leads to a higher conversion rate or create custom landing pages using each header to direct traffic from different sources to specific pages.
For example, if you include a link to your website in a guest blog post, you will redirect that audience to the page with the most relevant header.
Here are some examples of writing multiple value propositions for the same startup:
Use a subheading to explain how your heading can be possible
We recommend that you spend about 50% of your time writing the header and 25% of your time writing the sub-header. Why? Because if your header isn’t interesting, your visitors won’t even bother reading the sub-header.
Your subheading should be used to expand two things:
- How exactly does your product work?
- Which of your characteristics make the bold claim of our header credible?
You can use your two to three main functions to explain how your header is reached.
For example, let’s say the Airbnb headline reads, Enjoy Your Getaway Like a Local. No minimum stays.
To make this statement credible, we need to explain how it is possible to vacation like a local and how “no minimum stays” are possible.
For example, a subheading could read: An online rental marketplace with thousands of short term rentals near you.
Do not use industry jargon or technical terms in your subheading or heading. Use words that a fifth grader would understand. Use short sentences. Long paragraphs kill your reader’s momentum.
Here are a few more examples of using the subheading to explain the heading:
Make your homepage feel familiar and work as expected
The final aspect to consider when creating a high conversion homepage is design. We see a lot of high tech startups trying to use their website to show their creativity.
In our experience, your website is not the place to try to be original.
The design of a website should rarely be unique. Your product should be unique. Your website is just a familiar medium to communicate the uniqueness of your product.
Using familiar buttons and navigation that have popularized other websites will save your visitor the trouble of familiarizing themselves with how your website works. For example, we expect there to be a “Home” button in the top left corner of the page. Trying to put the same button in the lower right corner for clarity will lead to confusion and possibly a lost customer. Stick to what works.
Keep these goals in mind when adding images to your homepage:
- Eliminate uncertainty by showing your product in action. GIFs, or looping videos, are a great way to demonstrate how it works without taking up extra space.
- If you’re selling physical goods, use pictures to show different use cases and close-ups of the material and texture. This will help your visitor assess the quality of the product and further confirm that the product is suitable for them.
With your call-to-action buttons (CTA) you can turn a visitor to your website into an active buyer. Hence, your CTAs should be a continuation of the magic you teased in your header copy.
Focus on the CTA button copy action and let your visitor know what happens when they click on it.
Here are some examples of CTA buttons that feel natural because they continue the narrative that started with the header copy: