When you have multiple objectives, the urge to “kill two birds (or more!) with one stone” makes good sense. Maximizing your efforts is generally a good plan.
Except when it’s not.
As long as I’ve been building websites, I’ve been stressing the importance of your site – your home page, in particular – making VERY clear these three things:
- who you are
- what you do
- for whom you do it (stated in terms of how they benefit)
As you’ve probably heard me say, your home page should answer this question for every pair of eyes that land on it: “Am I in the right place for what I’m looking for?” In fact, I would go so far as to say this is your home page’s most important job. The “who you are”, “what you do”, and “for whom you do it” pieces aid the answering of that most important question for the visitor.
There are many other ways you can help your site visitors answer that question, and we’ll likely talk about many of them in the coming weeks. But today, I want to talk about the very next question in the sequence if the visitor’s answer is, “Yes! I am in the right place!” And here it is:
What is the one action you want them to take now?
Because you know they’re going to do something and we hope it’s not leave, right? This is the moment of truth, really…they’re primed and ready, they know they’re in the right place…what do you want them to do next?
If you don’t have an answer that supports the goals you have for your business, it pretty much doesn’t matter how nice looking your website is, how much traffic you’re getting to it, how many “right” people show up…your website’s not going to be of much help in moving your business forward.
Here are some example goals based on the type of business:
- Coach (Life, Business, etc.) – to convert visitors to clients for my business.
- Physical Retail (with no e-commerce element) – to convert search traffic into in-store sales.
- Bed & Breakfast – to book reservations.
- Artist – to sell your art.
- Author – to sell books.
- Consultant – to start the prospecting cycle.
- Speaker – to book speaking engagements.
Are you with me so far?
Maybe even more important to consider are the things that detract from your goals:
- links to all your various social media accounts
- menu overload, which is when you try to put every little thing in the menu
- bad design (or lack of design) – when your site looks bad
- glaring errors – trust issues
- no way to take that one simple action you want folks to take
Let me expand on these a tad…
Links to your social media accounts – these belong on your website but not on your home page. Especially in the absence of that obvious next action you want people to take. A better place for them is your About page, your Contact page, and/or the footer.
Menu overload – it is absolutely unnecessary to have every page on your site represented in the menu navigation. Dropdown menus are helpful in cleaning up the top-level menu, but even dropdowns can get out of hand quickly. Keep your menu streamlined – remember: having too many choices often leads to making no choice at all.
Bad design – I’m betting I really don’t have to say much about this one. This is the online version of “curb appeal,” and it’s important. Beyond that, there is a subliminal message that says you know what you’re doing, that you’re trustworthy.
Glaring errors – oh boy…this is a biggie. All the other hard work you’ve put into making your site effective can be wasted in a heartbeat if there are glaring errors of any kind.
No next step – as self-explanatory as this one is, let me reiterate: If people are confused about what to do next, they’ll usually opt to go away. Not exactly the behavior you desire most.
What is your website’s one action for that new person who lands on your home page and identifies themselves as being in “the right place” for what they’re looking for?
Do you need to address any of the above-listed (or any other) detractors?
I know it’s incredibly difficult to boil your website’s goal down to one action you want people to take, but without it, your website will not earn its keep. What helps me when I think about this is to add the phrase “right now” to the “one action” idea.
If the one action you come up with also “kills some other birds with the same stone” for you, then great. But this is one place where it’s more important to get one job done really well. They’re at your site, they decide they’re in the right place…what’s the one action you want them to take next?