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Why your homepage content is failing

You’re at your desk, rocking that 4 o’clock Thursday hunch. It’s been a long week of banging your head against the wall and you have nothing to show for it but bloodshot eyes and defeated posture.

“Every problem has a solution,” you sigh, before getting to the bottom of your fourth coffee. You tap your foot against the leg of your desk, then it hits you. A new idea.

You open a new tab and punch in a new search query. The page is littered with purple site titles, signalling the options you’ve already investigated. But then you see it, a lone blue title. A new search result. An unturned stone.

You read the site description and it sounds promising. “This might be it,” you think to yourself, clicking the site and opening the homepage.

There’s a big bold statement with an artsy stock image of someone who looks like you, smiling, interacting with the product. You scroll down to reveal three points, each represented by a fine-lined icon. You scroll back to the top of the page and take in the bold statement once more…

What the hell does that mean?

You turn to your neighbour. “Hey, can you take a look at this? What are they talking about?”

Karen wheels over to weigh in. “Something about efficiency? I don’t know.”

“Well, that was a waste of time. I’m going home!”

Did you know people form first impressions in under 7 seconds?

There’s so much to consider. How do you look and sound? How do you make a first impression that buys you more time? More time to interact. More time to engage.

I’ll say it again, there’s so much to consider. It’s why you dress the way you dress or think about the grip of your handshake. You put time into thinking about your presentation because you know how people work.

You should think about your homepage in the same way. What considerations have you made when choosing your words and phrasing? Are they based on what businesses sound like and what competitors say? Or are they based on your audience — people, and how they work?

There are hundreds of competitor sites that your audience can bounce to, so it’s scary to think your homepage could be ineffective. Keep reading to learn how your content may be falling short because you only have 7 seconds to shoot your shot.

THERE’S NO STORY

Stories are important. They draw people in. No one wants to read a business report or infomercial. They want a story.

Stories are engaging. They’re exciting. I know it’s well documented that audiences don’t like big blocks of text, but the pendulum has swung too far and the point has been lost. It’s not that people won’t read content, they won’t read bad content. That means scrapping your dry, jargon-filled paragraphs with messaging that packs a punch.

I know what you’re thinking, “What about those pages full of beautiful white space and small, to-the-point snippets?” I’m all for them, but it’s crazy to think people will eat up your content just because it’s bite-sized.

You need to give enough to hook the audience. If you can do that in 10 words, fantastic. But don’t sacrifice effectiveness for the sake of character counts.

THERE’S NO EMPATHY

Years ago, when my girlfriend had a problem, I rarely had the right response. When presented with an issue, I immediately looked for a solution.

If that sounds logical, that’s because it is. That was the problem, though. She wasn’t looking for logic. She was looking for empathy. She was looking for the “wow, that’s terrible,” response, not the, “okay, so what you need to do is…” response.

A good portion of your audience will come to your site as a result of an issue they’re facing. Before jumping to problem-solving, try some empathy. Identify their struggles, their demands, their ambitions. Tell a story about the customer and acknowledge where they’re at before making everything all about you.

YOU’RE NOT SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE

Part of knowing your audience comes down to knowing their language. Are they technical? Do they like buzzwords? Or will buzzwords set off their bullshit detectors? Use words your audience uses and deliver them in a way that aligns with your service offering.

For example, if you’re a tech company that provides software with intuitive design and no-brainer usability, you better keep the deep tech-talk to a minimum. If they’re looking for simplicity, your potential buyer isn’t going to know or care about daemons, Raspberry Pi, or anything else pulled from Mr. Robot. If you provide easy-to-use solutions, use phrasing that’s easy to understand.

THERE’S NO “SO”

A lot of homepages are full of “We do this” messaging. We streamline workflows, we increase engagement, we use three points when giving examples — but all too often it stops there. There’s no “so”, and the “so” is the selling point.

Any and all “we do this” message should be followed by a “so you can do this”.

  • “Get Spotify premium so you can listen without commercial interruption.”
  • “Use Scene points so you can earn free movies.”
  • “Buy a Kryptonite bike lock so you don’t come out of your doctor’s appointment to see your bike’s been stolen, leaving you to take the bus because your phones dead and it’s only Tuesday morning…”

More often than not, you’ll sell your product not on its capabilities, but its user benefit and enablement. The “so” communicates these outcomes in the most effective way, presenting a reason to convert. Without the “so”, your CTA is just a button. The “so” is what inspires someone to take action.

HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE?

Content is so much more than words on a page. Pull up your own homepage and see where you can improve by reflecting on these questions:

  • Is the content all about you, or the customer?
  • Do you have “so” points? Do you address reasons to convert on a CTA?
  • Does the user have enough information on the homepage to lead to further navigation or conversion?
  • You know what you’re saying. Will the customer?
  • Are you identifying both the audience’s problems and your role as the solution?
  • How will users find your page? Will they immediately see the connection between their search and what is on your homepage?

Kyle Weber

Marketing Coordinator

Kyle began his career in digital marketing as a graphic designer then shifted his focus towards account management. He paints, writes, and compares his every experience to Seinfeld.