Why “Welcome To My Site” stinks

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

And other observations about web site conversion rates

I am a subscriber to the Monday Morning Memo – and if you are interested in conversion rates, then I encourage you to subscribe as well.

For years now, I’ve been pushing people to change their headlines on their website.

You have a few, brief seconds to engage your visitor, and if you waste the first 3-5 seconds on “Welcome to my Website” you have just wasted 80% of your ad budget.

80% comes from a quote from David Ogilvy, decades ago:

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

Write your headline carefully.  You have mere seconds.

Write a headline that does three things well:

1) Gives your visitor the right “scent”.  They followed a scent when they came to your site – whether it was a Google Ad, an organic Google listing, or a referral from a friend – and your headline needs to confirm that scent.  It should say “You are in the right place – what you are about to read is what you were looking for”.

2) Teases them with an answer to every visitor’s question: WIFM (What’s In if For Me?). Every visitor wants to know this.

3) Is visitor-centric, and passes the “we-we” test.  “We We” is a measure of how much your site talks about you and your company versus how much it talks about your visitor, the benefit they can expect, and the value they will receive.

A good headline gets the visitor to spend a few more seconds on your site, and potentially start reading your body copy.

Write for Skim-n-Scan Readers

My consistent recommendation is to write for “skim-n-scan” readers. Your copy doesn’t need to be short (people will read, contrary to popular opinion) – but it does need to be structured well, interesting, and compelling.

Skim-n-scan readers will not ready every word.  Rather, they start scanning the page – when they see something that interests them, they slow down and start skimming the copy.  If it’s truly interesting and engaging, they may slow down and read – but probably not for long.

Use effective subtitles, bold key phrases, and keyword-rich links (which also benefit SEO) as techniques to give those readers something to move quickly over.

Write shorter, easier to digest paragraphs.  When a visitor is scanning, most often they skim the first line of your paragraph.  More paragraph breaks gives you more chances to engage them in the top, and more importantly, prevents your point from being buried in a paragraph that is half a page long.

When writing for conversion, you’ve got to consider what your visitors are interested in, and speak to them in their language.  They don’t want to know about you – they want to know what you’ve got for them.  It’s not until they are convinced you have something to offer them do they want to know about you and your company.

Interested in more on conversion? Read our other articles about Conversion Rates.

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