The homepage is where your visitors will first meet you.
It’s where they’ll form their first impression of you, learn what your products or services are, and based on their experience, decide if you have the solution to their problems.
While you don’t expect the homepage to convert visitors outright, it should be designed so that it prepares them for the conversion. An effective homepage should immediately convey trust, help visitors decide if you’re the company for them, and guide them towards areas of your site that they’re interested in.
If you have the skills and the traffic, then start learning how you can optimize your homepage by doing split tests. Here are nine a/b tests you can do on different parts of your homepage so you can make it more effective:
1. Intellectual vs. Empathetic Headlines
Visitors usually arrive at your homepage and read the headlines first. As such, it is important that your headlines are able to immediately establish relevance and maintain information scent. It is your headlines’ job to capture your visitors’ attention and convey what your page or offer is all about.
Few people would go on to read your copy if your headline isn’t interesting enough for them. So it makes sense to test your headlines for visitor engagement and conversion. For instance, you can test different types of emotional response in your headlines: intellectual, empathetic or spiritual. You can also experiment with adding a little humor into your headlines to see what kind of headlines your visitors like or respond to.
2. Generic vs. Emotional Call-to-Action (CTA)
Your call-to-action is what you want your visitors to do.
The CTA should be as clear as possible so visitors know exactly what to expect after they click on the CTA button. A lot of CTAs on the interwebs, however, are generic: “Submit,” “Learn More,” “Download.”
Instead of these common CTAs, test variations that conjure the benefit of taking action from visitors’ perspectives. For instance, instead of “Download,” how about using “Get the Free Copy Now.” You can also try a variation that connects on an emotional level with your visitors by suggesting a sense of ownership. According to Conversion Conference chair Tim Ash, even simply changing the pronouns on your button copy can have a significant effect on your visitors. Instead of “Get the Free Copy Now,” test “Get My Free Copy Now” and see how visitors respond to this CTA.
3. Feature vs. Benefit-Driven Offer/Value Proposition
A lot of marketers are still using the feature-driven approach to promoting their products and services. Potential customers however, are not really interested in the features but in how the product/service can actually help them. Focusing on features also assumes that online visitors are willing to do the heavy lifting that comes with analyzing how these features will actually improve their lives or social status.
So if your homepage is still relying on features to sell, you should run some split tests to check if you can actually get more conversions from benefit-oriented offers. If you’re selling an ebook, for instance, highlight what your visitors will get from reading it instead of rambling about how it’s a 200-page read with illustrations and graphs.
4. Short vs. Long Copy
Here’s what we already know about online visitors: They don’t read.
So the shorter your copy is, the better, right?
Not in all cases. Neil Patel, for instance, found out that long-form copy brought in 7.6% more and better-qualified leads than shorter copy when he tested his personal website.
The key here is to keep your copy friendly enough for online visitors to scan. And of course, your copywriting should be engaging enough to keep people’s undivided attention. What you’re selling is also a factor: you might need long copy if you think your visitors need some convincing before they buy the product.
5. Rotating Banner/Slider vs. Static Image
Usability and conversion optimization experts agree that rotating banners/carousels/sliders are a bad idea on your homepage. Conversion Conference chair Tim Ash explains that it’s because the motion from these sliders, when they move automatically, are distracting for online users.
Actual tests on sliders that are interaction-dependent, meanwhile, show that the first slide or banner got the majority of the clicks. Which means online users only noticed the first slide and not the succeeding ones, making the slider pointless.
If you’re not convinced that rotating banners aren’t doing anything for your business, then do some split- testing. Test replacing your slider with a static image to check if it’s bringing in more customers or you’re leaving money on the table because of it.
6. Existing Image vs. A Different Image
Images can make or break your homepage.
People are visual creatures. We are not only drawn to visuals, we also process it quickly. In fact, “more than half more than half of the brain is devoted to visual information processing.” The kind of images you put on your homepage will affect how visitors perceive your brand and your products. Which in turn has an impact on whether they’ll stay on your site to explore or get as far away as they can from it.
High-quality images of real people, places, or products are recommended in lieu of stock imagery. Still, not all photos are created equal when it comes to persuading visitors. So it’s still a good idea to test whether certain images work better for your visitors.
7. Reorder or Remove Navigation Items
Your homepage should provide clear and adequate navigational information to direct the visitor to their preferred destination. The problem with most site navigation is that they tend to overwhelm visitors with too many choices.
Improve your homepage navigation by checking analytics to see which pages of your website are critical conversion areas. You can then test reordering your navigation bar to make those pages more accessible to visitors. You might even test removing nav items from the homepage that are extraneous at this point and are better reserved for other pages.
If you run an ecommerce site, for instance, you can test whether giving highly in-demand products prime real estate would bring in more sales.
8. Reduce Form Fields
A lot of sites have forms on their homepages either for contact or lead generation. From the perspective of your visitors, the web form is a barrier that prevents them from doing or getting something they want. Reduce that barrier as much as you can.
If your objective, for instance, is to get more visitors ask for more information, then you should test removing form fields that aren’t necessary to completing the task. Try asking only for their number or email address at this point.
Testing the number of form fields will allow you to strike a balance between the minimum amount of information you want to get high quality leads vs. the maximum amount of information that visitors are willing to give out in order in exchange for content or information.
9. Add Social Proof and Trust
Trust seals, security guarantees, testimonials and other forms of social proof are known to improve the trustworthiness of web pages. However, you should know which ones to use on your homepage and where to place them. Otherwise they’re a potential source of distraction and clutter on your homepage.
Test adding a testimonial to your site to see if your visitors are swayed by them. You can also test for the optimal placement of social proof and trust items on your homepage. For instance, try putting a security guarantee near your CTA to see if more people will be encouraged to click on it.
Test for Conversion Impact
These nine ideas for a/b testing should get you started with optimizing various aspects of your homepage.
As caveat: A/B or split testing is a significant aspect of conversion rate optimization but you shouldn’t equate it with conversion rate optimization. Don’t test for the sake of testing; Make sure that you’re testing based on sound theory and that your traffic is enough to get meaningful insights from testing results.
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