Many customer journeys start on your homepage. So if you don’t get this key page right, you end a potential customer relationship just as its beginning.
In this article we explore how companies are decreasing bounce rates and increasing internal link CTR and ultimately sales revenue.
Read on for examples from a supply chain management company, sports card website, and ecommerce bicycle shop.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
Your company’s website is its front door to the world. Many potential customers who hear of your company at a trade show, see an ad, or get a referral from a friend or colleague will start their journey with your company on your website’s homepage.
Which is why many marketers who smartly try to send traffic to optimized landing pages still see that their homepage is the top trafficked page on their website when they open up their analytics platform.
If you want to improve homepage performance, before you pick up your pen or change a single pixel, you should determine the objective of the homepage. To help you clarify that objective, feel free to watch Optimizing Homepages: How a clear objective can increase conversion from MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister publication).
Once you have defined a clear objective, read these three quick case studies to get ideas from your peers’ successful homepage changes.
CTSI-Global launched a redesign of its website, which included an entirely new homepage. “We took a look at our overall go-to-market strategy, and we knew that we were now much too narrow on our pitch compared to the evolution of the firm,” said Trey Willis, Chief Technology Officer, CTSI-Global. “The website project represented, sure, the challenge, but also the opportunity to dig into our DNA, think about what we really sell, and then think about how to communicate that more broadly and effectively.”
Creative Sample #1: Original homepage for supply chain management company
While a key driver for the homepage and overall website redesign was the messaging (and we’ll get to that in a bit), the supply chain management company used the project as an opportunity to improve the entire website. For example, the redesign included a series of technical changes. The new site was secured with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and thus able to have an https web address (versus the http of the previous website). The new site was made mobile responsive. And the site layout was made edge-to-edge for better appearance on a range of devices.
The team made visual changes as well. The logo was updated and modernized. The homepage was also updated and modernized – the original looked dated with an obsolete widget-style and too many icons and tight columns.
The user journey was accounted for by making the navigation more specific. For example, instead of just having the generic words Solutions and Services in the nav, the actual solutions and services are named in the nav – Logistics Management, TMS, Freight Pay, and BI.
Creative Sample #2: New homepage for supply chain management company
On the first scroll down the homepage, information pertinent to the objectives of the visitor is communicated – gain global visibility, maximize supply chain efficiency, reduce transportation spend, and leverage strategic outsourcing.
Creative Sample #3: New homepage for supply chain management company after first scroll
Lower down on the homepage, data is provided to help build credibility for the firm as well as help the visitor quickly understand the company’s capabilities. When the user scrolls to this section, the data is animated showing the numbers count up until they reach the final tally.
Creative Sample #4: Animated data on new homepage for supply chain management company
The navigation is again clarified in the footer in the form of an organized site map.
Creative Sample #5: Footer of new homepage for supply chain management company
The website redesign was completed in six weeks, launching in November 2018, thanks to successful collaboration between CTSI Global and its vendor. “Put in the effort to give that company [the vendor] sufficient guidance – not just ‘make it look better’ but what constitutes ‘better?’ In what WAY do you need it to be better? Put an internal person on the project that truly represents the company consensus on where it should go. Don’t start with 11 different visions – get that together first and the project will move in a timely manner,” said Brian Scott, EVP of Sales, CTSI-Global.
Collaboration was key between the vendor and CTSI-Global to discover the most effective messaging for the new website. “Honestly, getting the core messages for the site was streamlined by involving Sales,” said Daniel DiGriz, Digital Ecologist, MadPipe (the vendor on the project). “We’d ask questions like, ‘What phrases close deals for you?’ and ‘What gets people to say no and to say yes?’ We tapped the international team, had calls at weird times to accommodate time zone, and interviewed them on ‘What does the team in Europe know that almost no one else in the company knows?’”
“Enable people to speak freely without concern for professional consequences if their views are in the minority or they step on someone’s toes,” said Steve Pruneau, Solutions Architect, Free Agent Source, Inc. (an enterprise consulting firm and MadPipe’s parent company). “What you learn when people open up is often genius. In this case, a lot of that messaging went into the mix and paid off. It’s a richer marketing presentation because of it.”
Organic traffic to the site increased 246% in the first year. “Google indexed it better for search, and the company ranked high for 183 search terms,” DiGriz said.
Visitors stayed 13% longer and converted 36% more frequently. Marketing expenses dropped 39% as a result. CTSI-Global was able to cut its paid ad budget by 300% and still grow. Sales revenue went up 242%. The company got leads and closed deals with marketing attribution showing a direct relationship to the website as a primary source.
Another result that is harder to quantify is having a more cohesive message in the marketplace that does a better job communicating the firm’s unique value proposition.
“We needed to reframe the way we…shared the message to our new audience, which is the purpose of the new site. Once you’ve been clear about what you’re bringing to market, you have a basis for extending that into new conversations, like those we’re having on LinkedIn, or engaging in more effective co-marketing with other firms, and getting feedback from major industry commentators who can give us a lot of insight into what can be improved. Gartner comes to mind, for example,” Willis said.
SportsCardPro launched in October 2020 with a homepage, but the team behind it wasn’t sure what parts of the site users would really be interested in…so the homepage they launched was based on their best guesses.
Creative Sample #6: Previous homepage for sports card website
After launch, the team realized they should work to improve site engagement because the bounce rate was too high. They looked at analytics data and discovered that search was the most popular feature followed by browsing for cards.
So they redesigned the homepage and emphasized search by moving it to the middle of the page instead of the very top and made a bigger search box. They emphasized browsing by moving the links to browse for cards above the fold and moving the tools section down lower because tools were less popular with users.
The team also added a splash image behind the headlines and search so users saw more color on the page and a visual indication that the site initially focused on basketball cards. They tried to keep the image subtle so it didn’t distract users from the main purpose of the page – getting them to use and browse the site.
Creative Sample #7: New homepage for sports card website
“We added the sub-headline as well based on some Google and Facebook ad tests we did,” said JJ Hendricks, Founder, SportsCardPro. The new sub-headline is “Free PSA, BGS & Ungraded Sports Card Price Guide.”
The team tested four approaches in Google Ads. They focused on clickthrough rate (CTR) instead of conversion rate because they wanted to use the winning copy on the homepage to engage people and felt that CTR measured how engaging an ad is.
The winning ad had a clickthrough rate of 3.74%.
Creative Sample #8: Ad with highest clickthrough rate for sports card website
An ad with a focus on free basketball card values received a clickthrough rate of 2.98%.
Creative Sample #9: Second-highest performing treatment in advertising messaging test for sports card website
A basketball card prices message received a clickthrough rate of 2.68%.
Creative Sample #10: Losing treatment in advertising messaging test for sports card website
An ad with messaging focused on the 100,000+ basketball cards on the site that did not prominently mention the free values received a clickthrough rate of 2.05%.
Creative Sample #11: Losing treatment in advertising messaging test for sports card website
“After finding [the best-performing] headlines on Google we also validated on Facebook. Google targets people searching for a specific thing. Facebook would be people who are interested but might not be actively looking. So we tested on Facebook to make sure that headline won there, too. If it won in both places, then the copy was engaging to people actively looking for prices and those generally interested in sports cards,” Hendricks said.
The changes improved the homepage’s bounce rate, lowering it from 41.7% to 20.4%.
“Effective homepage design sometimes means standing out in the crowd, but just as often, it is about subtle changes to familiar formulas – especially in ecommerce,” said Jonathan Frey, CMO, Urban Bikes Direct. Here’s how a small change yielded results for the bicycle shop.
Originally, the primary link to the shop’s guide section lived inconspicuously below the fold of the homepage. The team moved the guide link to the top nav.
Creative Sample #12: New nav link on ecommerce bicycle shop homepage
After this simple change, the site got a nine percent internal link click-through rate increase and an average three-minute time-on-page boost across the guide section posts. This, in turn, has led to increased sales.
“We believe these increases were largely driven by a two-part sequence that begins on our homepage. First, our guide link’s clearer, more immediate position on the homepage draws in customers looking for advice and assistance. Second, our educational guide content informs those customers’ buying decisions sufficiently enough to boost sales,” Frey said.
“A simple tweak to an otherwise tried-and-true homepage layout can make a world of difference,” he advised.
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