You step into a small boutique that has just opened. As you walk through the front door, you feel a blast of crisp air conditioning – an incredible feeling after walking around in the heat of the day – and a smiling sales associate.
As your vision adjusts to the dim lighting, you take a look around and form a
From just this quick glance, you glean an idea of what they sell, the kind of person they sell to, and what makes them different: their carefully curated selection of products.
“Hello,” the associate, named Beth, greets you as you walk into the store. “Thanks for coming in. What can I help you find?”
You explain that you’re in need of a new dress for an awards show you’re attending later that week. She nods, listening to you explain your situation, and her eyes light up. “I have just the thing.”
Does this sound familiar? This shopping experience is one that many of us have gone through in one way or another.
We’ve all walked into a store, formed a judgment about who they are and whether they’ll solve our problem, and (if their employees are well-trained), been directed to just the right solution.
You might be reading this and thinking: what does this have to do with my website’s home page?
Well, here’s the thing. Your home page is there to deliver the exact same experience as we described above.
The Purpose of Your Home Page
1. Tell your prospects what you do, who for, and why
Think about your home page as the front door of your website and – ultimately – your business.
Prospects are coming to your website to do research for their future purchase. Their intent largely depends on what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in:
- Awareness: They’re researching the answer to a high-level problem they’re experiencing but don’t yet know how to name.
- Consideration: They’ve named their problem and are researching different avenues to address it.
- Decision: They’re ready to make a purchase and are evaluating different options for who to purchase from.
For example, if they’re looking for a copywriter, their journey might look like: Low conversion rate (awareness) -> Need to improve website copy (consideration) -> Need to hire a copywriter (decision).
No matter what stage they’re in, the first piece of information they need is who you are, what you do, why you do it, and who for.
This should be stated
2. Explain your business’ value proposition
Once your prospect has formed their initial impression of who your business is, the next question they’ll want to know the answer to is: what makes you different from your competitors?
In other words, why should they make a purchase from you?
In the first section of your home page, you need to make it clear why you’re different from your competitors.
Ways you may vary include:
- Higher quality
- Better customer service
- More personalized
- Brand personality
- …and more
3. Guide your audience to the best solution to their problem/challenge
Just like in the boutique example we illustrated above, your home page should then act as a sales associate, directing your prospect in the right direction.
Your prospect is on your website because they have a problem. Your job is to present them with a solution that will meet their needs. This will also depend on where they are in the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness: Your blog, social media, and/or videos are great places as they will help them determine the next step to solve their challenge.
- Consideration: A downloadable resource, webinar, and/or blog post (more specific to their named problem) will help them determine their best course of action.
- Decision: Your service pages, case studies and/or testimonials are a great place to send them as it’ll help them figure out whether you’re the right solution for them.
Since you get website visitors from different stages, it’s important you make each next step clear on your home page. Add links to each option and lay them out in a way that takes them to exactly what they’re looking for.
In order to do that, here are a few elements you should include on your home page:
6 Elements For Your Startup’s Home Page
1. A captivating headline
They all say not to judge a book by its cover, but we all do. Similarly, we naturally judge how valuable a piece of content is based on the headline.
Headlines sell. That’s what makes us crack open the gossip magazine in line at the grocery store. It’s what made “click-bait” a thing. It’s also what guides the decisions we make as to what we will and won’t read online.
To get your audience interested in your business, you must start with a captivating headline. Here’s a few basic steps to writing one:
- Start with the benefit
- Make your reader curious
- Help them visualize
- Address a major concern
- Specify a goal they’ll achieve
- Identify your target audience
- Tell your story
You can learn more about writing a great headline here.
2. A brief description of your brand
As we mentioned above, your prospect will create a judgment about your brand within a second of landing on your website.
That means you need to tell them up-front
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of startups who do this well.
Shop the Change is an online marketplace that provides instant access to transparent information about the companies behind our shopping lists. When we consciously choose brands that meaningfully demonstrate their commitment to making the world a better place, we change the status quo.Shop The Change
Who They Are: “An online marketplace…”
What They Do: …that provides instant access to transparent information about the companies behind our shopping lists.”
Who For: While they don’t say explicitly, we can make the assumption this app is for a) household decision-makers and b) those who care about where the products they buy come from (and who they benefit).
Why: “When we consciously choose brands that meaningfully demonstrate their commitment to making the world a better place, we change the status quo.”
We’re Billie. We’re here to give you everyday TLC from top to toe. We deliver award-winning shaving supplies and premium body care products at a fair price without the pink tax. Women’s razors cost 10–15% more than men’s razors. Not cool. Billie was built for all of womankind, celebrating our choice to be shaggy, smooth or anything in between.Billie
Who They Are: “We’re Billie. We’re here to give you everyday TLC from top to toe.”
What They Do: “We deliver award-winning shaving supplies and premium body care products at a fair price without the pink tax.”
Who For: “Billie was built for all of
Why: “Women’s razors cost 10–15% more than men’s razors. Not cool.”
3. Product/Service Overview
Before your prospect knows where to go next, they need to have a basic understanding of what you can offer them.
For example, Billie offers not just razors, but also skincare products. If they didn’t put that on their home page, it’s unlikely their potential customers would know unless they took the time and energy to search the site.
As a female founder, you know how much extra time we all have on a daily basis…next-to-none. That’s why you want to make sure your prospects know right away what products/services you offer.
Then, link to your individual product and service pages so it’s easy for those in the decision stage to dive deeper into how you can solve their problem.
4. Your Credibility
The Internet has become so accessible that it’s now possible for anyone to buy a domain, build a simple website, and say whatever they want to say – all for less than $30.
In a world full of fake news and scams like Fyre Festival, we’ve all become a bit skeptical of what we find online. That’s why credibility is so important.
To help build the credibility from the very beginning, include any awards, press mentions, client logos, testimonials & reviews, and anything else you can to prove your business is legit.
5. A Clear Call-to-Action
Your customer has gone through your home page. They understand who you are, how you can help, and that you’re the real thing. They’re ready for the next step. So…what is the next step?
You should have one single call-to-action (CTA) across your entire site. It should make it clear what your prospect needs to do next to make the purchase. For us, it’s scheduling a consultation, and you’ll find a button to do so on every single page.
This is called your direct call-to-action. It’s the equivalent to asking someone “will you marry me?”. It’s your “Shop Now”, “Schedule Your Consultation”, and “Contact Us”.
But not all of your prospects will be ready to “marry you”. Many of them will want to be taken out on a few dates to get to know you better. This is where your transitional call-to-action comes in.
This includes things like “Get a free demo”, or “Download the free Ebook”, or “Subscribe to our newsletter”. Essentially, you’re asking your customer for the next step – without asking them to make the full commitment.
6. A Focus on Your Customer’s Problems
One thing we come across often with many startups’ websites is too much of a focus on them and what they can offer. After all, the website is about selling your business, right?
The thing is, people are selfish. They’re on your website to solve their problem. Not to make a purchase from your website.
This might not sound like much of a distinction, but if you think about it, there’s a huge one. It’s all about the intent and how it affects how we perceive messages.
Because your prospects are focused on their problems, your home page needs to:
A) Identify their challenge(s)
Figure out what your prospects’ primary challenge is and focus on that in the beginning. Then, address additional symptoms, side effects, and secondary challenges later on.
B) Empathize with them
Relate to your audience by showing that you understand their challenges and where they’re coming from. Tell a story that evokes emotion. Write in second-person.
C) Introduce the solution accordingly
Explain the primary benefit of the solution and how it relates to your audience’s values. Will they save money? Make more money? Sleep better? Make more friends?
In other words, put a bigger emphasis on how your solution will make their life better.