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5 Homepage Blunders Purpose-Driven Companies Make (and How to Fix Them)

Amy Lipner May 1, 2018

Your homepage is one of your company’s most valuable pieces of digital real estate.​​​​​​​ Yet purpose-driven companies often undervalue their homepages and miss a big opportunity to connect with their customers.

As a creative conversion copywriter, I help purpose-driven companies amplify their messages. This means I spend a lot of time crafting homepages that not only guide visitors to take action, but also help build brands.

With this in mind, there’s a good chance your homepage could use some attention. Below are five common blunders I see purpose-driven companies make when it comes to getting their message out into the world. The good news is that addressing even one of these missteps can help build a homepage that connects more easily.

1. Headlines that fall flat

If your homepage was a building, your headline would be its curb appeal. Why? Because the headline is where you’ll get the most attention. With most readers skimming these days, you’ll often get five times more eyeballs on your headline than you will on the rest of the page.

So, what makes a great headline? A great headline:

  • Builds brand capital
  • Catches the reader’s interest
  • Highlights a benefit
  • Communicates clearly and succinctly

To be frank, great headlines require work. So much that I regularly spend the majority of my time on projects crafting headlines.

Too often, I see purpose-driven companies waste this prime real estate with headlines as weak as diner coffee. Headlines like “Welcome to ” or simply “.”

Compare these to a few great headlines: “Shine a light on food waste in your kitchen” from Winnow Solutions or “Turns out, the world’s most comfortable shoes are made of wool” from Allbirds. Both of these headlines are specific and intriguing. The best part? They use memorable on-brand language that helps build brand capital. Phrases like “turns out” from Allbirds create a casual, slightly quirky rapport while highlighting what makes the company unique — wool.

The fix

Here’s a quick test for your headline. Imagine you are reading it as someone who has never heard of your company, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I interested in this company/product?
  • Do I have a basic understanding of what the company does?
  • Am I intrigued enough to keep reading the text below?

If you can confidently answer yes to each question, you are on the right track. If not, don’t be discouraged. A good headline is often the hardest piece of copy to create, so take some time to thoughtfully consider how to up your headline game. It may change your whole homepage for the better.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​2. Passing up the power of social proof

Social proof is a power tool for your homepage. You are not your best salesperson — other people are. Consider this, nearly 63 percent of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. In short, people trust people more than they trust any company. And that holds true even if your company is doing great, mission-driven work.

When used correctly, social proof helps counter objections, neutralize anxieties, and build customer trust, but it is woefully underutilized (and often not even present) on many homepages.

The fix

Two factors can help you harness the power of social proof:

  • The type of social proof — testimonials, trust icons, reviews, or numbers on things like customers served, trees planted, and money saved.
  • Deployment of social proof — where it appears on your homepage.

A great place to start improving your use of social proof is to consider what objections your customers may have and target your social proof to those objections. This will help you answer the question of what kind of proof to use and where to put it. For example, if you have a new company, you will want to build trust with your visitors, so put some social proof from actual customers high on the page.

Take a peek at the project management software company Basecamp and its current homepage. Before you hit the middle of the page, you are told, “4,625 businesses signed up last week to get results like these . . . 89 percent have a better handle on their business.” Basecamp uses quantifiable social proof over a very recent time period. It’s a double whammy and incredibly effective.

Needless to say, there is plenty of opportunity with how and where to deploy your company’s social proof. However it is used, it is far too valuable to overlook or apply haphazardly.

3. Buttons that don’t beg to be clicked

Buttons — you know, those little things that get people to take action — aren’t the sexiest part of your page. But this is where some of the most important things take place, such as collecting email addresses, joining networks, and, of course, buying products and services.

Buttons are where missions thrive. So yes, the copy on your buttons is important — and that means moving away from any buttons that read “Sign Up Now” or “Learn More.” There is nothing inherently wrong about this copy, but it misses a real opportunity to increase conversions and build your brand capital.

The fix

Organic personal care and feminine hygiene products company Sustain Natural does a great job building brand capital with its homepage button “Shop Period Stuff.” It’s direct and still a bit edgy. For a brand built for women’s bodies, it makes perfect sense.

Take a look at your buttons and see how you can not only get more “on brand” copy, but also encourage the action you are looking for.

4. Too much talk about all the wrong things

A good homepage is never about your company. It’s not even about your mission. It’s about your reader, because visitors — even the big-hearted ones — are selfish. They want to know what’s in it for them, and that’s true no matter how important your mission is. Your reader will be most captivated when you speak directly to their desires.

The socially conscious bank Aspiration does this beautifully. Check out its current headline and subheadline: “A financial firm you can fall in love with. Banking and investing that puts you, your conscience, and the planet first.” This is a great example of customer-centric copy, because it speaks directly to the customer and the benefits they will receive from Aspiration. It’s all about the customer and their values.

The fix

Here’s a great way to test how reader-centric your copy is — compare the usage of words like “us” and “we” against words like “you.” Yup, I’m encouraging you to actually count these words on your homepage. In good customer-centric copy, the use of “you” ideally outweighs first-person.

Frankly, this is one of the most powerful ways to improve your homepage — always remember to think like your visitor.

5. Overextension that creates clutter

Here’s what I haven’t mentioned about homepages — they are hard. That’s because homepages are visited by everyone under the sun, from returning customers to new customers to other stakeholders and everyone in between.

Companies often try to make their homepages speak to each of these visitor segments. But a homepage shouldn’t be a sales machine, a megaphone for your mission, and a storyteller all at once. A good homepage is clear and clean enough to direct everyone toward where they need to go.

The fix 

My recommendation? Write a homepage for 30 percent of your visitors who you identify as your ideal customers. Give those visitors the information they want, but make sure your navigation and tools make it easy for everyone else to find what they are looking for.

For example, Aspiration’s homepage mostly talks to new visitors or prospects. It introduces the company’s unique value proposition (a bank that is actually good for customers and the planet) and offers a high-level overview of how banking with Aspiration looks different. A current customer probably knows this information and wants to get right to their account, and with a clean navigation bar, it’s easy to sign in.

A homepage shouldn’t be everything to everyone. Write yours specifically for a narrow segment, and make it easy for other visitors to find what they need on your webpage.

In the end

Homepages do a lot of work for your business, so it’s worth putting in the time to make them impactful. There are plenty of ways to do that, but the process starts with focused attention. Look at some of your most glaring blunders to see how some fixing-up may improve your digital property value.

Social Entrepreneurship / Stakeholder Capitalism
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