So how can you analyze your home page to determine if it is under-performing? How can you be sure to maximize your yield per visit? What can you do to increase the visitor penetration levels of your site?
Researchers at MarketingExperiments.Com have developed a 22-part Site Diagnostic Tool that can help a “Web Doctor” determine “what ails” a home page. This is what we call a Level 1 analysis. After these 22 questions are asked, we delve even deeper with a Level 2 analysis.
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Section A – HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR SITE’S INTEGRAL APPEAL?
DIAGNOSTIC 1: Is your site focused around one, clear objective?
Our research indicates that many sites try to accomplish too many (sometimes conflicting) objectives. Pages are often cluttered with affiliate links, and superfluous offerings that compete for the visitor’s attention.
An effective web site should have one major objective, with one to three supporting objectives:
A site’s main objective might be: To Sell Jewelry
It supporting objective might be: To capture as many email addresses as possible from potential jewelry buyers.
DIAGNOSTIC 2: Has a clear problem/solution process been communicated?
Communication requires two entities: one to send, and one to receive. If your signal has not been received, then it has not been communicated.
The same principle applies to your website. If your message has not been received, then it has not been communicated.
A radio tower does not have the right to choose whether or not it receives a message, but a person does.
If you want a person to listen, then you must make them WANT to listen. But how?
You must communicate a solution to a relevant problem. This is the fundamental rule of effective marketing.
DO NOT present your solution until you have presented (and perhaps amplified) the corresponding problem.
DIAGNOSTIC 3: Does your home page have a strong enough “hook” to seize a prospect’s attention within five seconds?
Your “hook” should typically focus on the problem. If your page immediately emphasizes the right problem, you will attract the attention of qualified prospects.
How do you capture their attention?
It will take effective text… and nothing is more effective than the (admittedly old-fashioned) headline.
You can use design elements to focus on the text. The five principle elements are:
To learn how to develop the tone of your headline, and supporting copy, see DIAGNOSTIC 7.
DIAGNOSTIC 4: Is there a sufficient incentive for every action you are asking the prospect to take?
In our shortsighted me-centered thinking, we often ask the visitor to take actions for which he has no reasonable incentive.
Websites are replete with “Register Here” requests, but many of these requests lack any intrinsic appeal. The visitor must be given a strong enough reason to part with his precious time or his private information.
Here is a (very rough) mockup of an effective incentive. It is designed to capture an email address.
This example could work well for a Travel Agency. Here is why:
The prize is related to the product that the merchant hopes to sell. This helps to generate leads from prospects that are truly qualified.
The description of the prize is specific. This adds credibility.
The request for contact information is phrased in such a way as to encourage participation. If you win, you will, of course, want to be notified.
The visitor is assured that their privacy is respected.
The opt-in for more mailings is courteous and motivated by the chance of saving money.
The recognition of a previous winner emphasizes the legitimacy of the opportunity.
DIAGNOSTIC 5: Are you offering successive degrees of involvement for a prospect who is not yet committed to the full process?
This point is closely related to DIAGNOSTIC QUESTIONS 5 and 6. Not everyone who visits your site is ready to buy… but if you do not have some way to “move them incrementally” towards a purchase you are probably losing significant revenue.
What do we mean by the phrase “move them incrementally”?
Here is one example. Even if they don’t buy, will they at least provide their contact information for one or more of the following benefits?
To maintain a “wish list”
To be notified of specials, clearances, or other purchase opportunities
To receive an INFORMATION RICH newsletter
To win an attractive prize
Your site probably needs at least 2 compelling ways to involve your visitors and capture their contact information.
DIAGNOSTIC 6: Have credibility indicators been subtly placed throughout the site?
As intimated earlier, you need to STOP the visitor from surfing elsewhere. If you are a retailer, you must quickly communicate three keys:
That you have the inventory they want
That you are offering a price that they cannot easily “beat”
That you are a safe business with which to trust their money
Most smart merchants try to claim these points, but whether or not the message is believed has a lot to do with the “credibility indicators” that are sprinkled throughout the site.
What is a credibility indicator? It is an outside element that verifies, or supports a marketer’s claims. It can take one of several forms. Here are a few:
You do not need all of these… but you need enough to comfort the buyer. It is especially important to place them in close proximity to key decision points on the site. i.e., order forms, registration forms, etc.
It is growing increasingly difficult to persuade the Post Modern Consumer. Here is an excerpt from our feature article on this subject.
How To Earn The Trust Of A Skeptical Consumer
OK, marketing pro, let’s take a quick test. The following sales copy is excerpted from the Altoona Tribune. Just how effective do you think it could be? Is it persuasive? What is your instant reaction to the tone of the message?
“Modoc Oil – The greatest medicine on earth. It has no equal. It relieves all pain instantly: Toothache in one minute – Headache in one minute — Earache in ten minutes – Sore Throat in one night – Neuralgia in from three to five minutes. “
“Modoc Oil can be used internally as well as externally without the least danger. It has never been known to injure anyone young or old. One of the most valuable properties of this oil is its adaptability in painful diseases of children. Should your babe show any symptoms of pain in the stomach or bowels, wet immediately a flannel cloth and lay it on the seat of pain. Relief will certainly follow in less than ten minutes.”
“Modoc Oil is a sure and speedy cure. Every family should have a bottle within reach. It’s a doctor in the house.”
Brash, isn’t it? Would you rush out and buy a bottle of this miracle cure? Would anyone? In 1885 the demand was so strong that the Oregon Indian Medicine Company had to build a new plant encompassing an entire city block of Corry, Pennsylvania. As late as 1912, the Company was still in full production with a popular price point of fifty cents per bottle.
What about today? How would such blatant copy be received in our cynical marketplace?
Researchers at KeyProjects.Com recently endeavored to place the very same ad in the Altoona Mirror (The Tribune is no longer published). But the Mirror wouldn’t accept the copy, and neither would any other major metropolitan newspaper.
A fairly predictable result – but it demonstrates a vital point. This original ad worked only because people trusted and believed its message. Not anymore.
With each passing nanosecond, consumers are growing more and more jaded. It is difficult to fathom just how skeptical this generation has become – skeptical and wary.
The average person is assaulted with a barrage of 577 new marketing messages per week.
If we could somehow wire the mind of the consumer as they sift through the conundrum of emails, snail mails, banners and commercials, we would probably hear a resounding response:
“I don’t have time to listen, and I don’t believe you anyway.”
Indeed, experts tell us that people sort their mail in order to find an excuse to trash it. And even if by chance, a message somehow escapes this ruthless purge, it probably won’t be remembered.
Statistics indicate that we retain less than 1% of the marketing messages we encounter.
That means that this very week, your company’s pitch is just one of another 577 being hurled at the prospect. You may be #11, or you may be #450, but whatever number you are, it is imperative to win a place among the fortunate 1% that are actually “heard” and remembered.
And this is only half the battle somehow you must be believed… (To Read More, Log Into The Lab. The link is in the resource section below.)
In the next reports, we will address (at least) 14 more critical diagnostic questions. We will examine how to control your visitor’s eye path as they browse the site, and we will explore how to cluster your content into “digestible chunks”.
Read our article, “Transparent Marketing“
Read Jacob Nielsen’s “Top Ten New Mistakes Of Web Design”:
Read reader comments on poor web design:
Visit usability.gov – Is the combination of usability and government an oxymoron? Not in this case. Check out this site:
(*1) This number is an estimate. We cannot validate it (yet).
(*2) This chart was extracted from 50 referrers.
(*3) This chart was extracted from 51 referrers.
(*4) This number reflects a close estimate. We cannot define it for certain because of outside influences such advertising.