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Clicking Me Softly: A Five-Day Crash Course in Conversion (Day 3)

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • Why focus is vital for conversion—and why your cluttered homepage undermines focus
  • Four reasons why you might want to forego using your homepage as your landing page

In days one and two of our five-day crash course on conversion, we covered the economics of conversion and how to effectively use a "call to action" (CTA) to get results. In part three, you'll learn why your homepage is likely not the right choice for conversion success.

Day 3: Sorry, your homepage sucks at converting!

Conversion is about focus—slapping blinders on your customers and shuffling them toward the bright light that is your call to action. Your every marketing campaign should have distinct conversion goals and metrics so that you can design experiences that maintain focus.

For most businesses, however, their homepage is simply not the most focused page on their website. Why? For various reasons...

1. Your homepage has too many messages


Even if your website promotes a single product or service, there is the potential for message overload. Perhaps you are driving prospects from your email list, encouraging them to visit you for details on a new feature. If they arrive at your homepage—where there might be other features, seasonal promotions, and special offers—they could get distracted and wander from your intended goal.

A common train of thought is this: "Well, as long as they buy something, I don't care where they go, or what they do."

The problem with that approach is that the campaign you are running, measuring, and paying for isn't being given a fair opportunity to succeed (or fail). Marketing can only really be effective when it's measurable and you are accountable.

2. Your homepage has too many interaction points

Similarly, there are likely way too many links on your homepage for it to be a closely guided conversion experience.

3. Changing your homepage can be difficult

As companies grow in size—adding departments and products—getting buy-in from different stakeholders to "test your new idea" can become fraught with political challenge.

IT, software, or QA personnel can create roadblocks due to the risks of changing your most frequently viewed page. Corporate infrastructural rules may also mean that updates to the site are published to the production servers only on a defined weekly schedule, by which point your campaign may have lost its timeliness.

4. Changing your homepage can have knock-on effects

Imagine that you made messaging changes on your homepage to improve SEO, or to better align with an email or social media campaign. All of a sudden, your pay-per-click quality score dives (due to decreased message match with your ads) and your cost of acquiring a customer via that channel rises.

It might well be that your SEO rank improves instead—great! But you can see where this is going: Change creates risk, and monitoring the impact of changes when you have multiple inbound marketing channels becomes complicated.

That's not to say you shouldn't change your homepage. On the contrary, you should be continually optimizing to increase conversions. Rather, the problem lies in how you are driving the traffic to your site.

What's the answer?

The solution to these problems is to use campaign- or promotion-specific landing pages that can be managed and optimized in controlled isolation. And that—landing pages—will be the topic of discussion on day 4.

Day 3 Task

Go to your homepage and count how many different messages, paths, links, and CTAs you have. Those numbers will be useful for comparisons when you get to day 4 of this crash course on website conversion.

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Oli Gardner is a co-founder of Unbounce.com—The DIY Landing Page Platform. He writes about conversion-centered design, landing pages, and marketing theory. Reach him via email at oli@unbounce.com and Twitter @unbounce.

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