The Point

Posts Tagged ‘copywriting for the web’

Dec

How to Write a Home Page Headline that Gets the Job Done

Home page headline

You’ve arrived, but feel lost. Or confused. You’re being bombarded with stimuli. Or too many choices. You’re unsure what to do next.

I know exactly what you’re going to do next. You’re going to leave. You’re off in search of a place where you feel comfortable, confident, more “at home.”

Now here’s the rub. You actually were at someone’s home—their home on the web—their homepage, but something went terribly wrong.

The problem’s simple enough. The homepage isn’t simple enough. The host made you work. As a website visitor, you don’t want that. And as a website host, your goal must be to invoke a sense of belonging.

The home page has a job to do: get clicked

Bounce rate, which is revealed in your analytics, indicates the percentage of web site visits where only a single page was viewed. Translation: zero clicks.

For a blog site, you need not get overly concerned about bounce rate. One-and-done visits are common. However, those that enter your site via its home page are likely to be first-timers. In this case, a high bounce rate is deadly.

So how do you inspire a visitor to click a page deeper into your site? You interest them. And how do you interest your visitor? You communicate an idea that is easy to understand and memorable. Marketers often describe such ideas as “sticky.”

Made to Stick, the bestselling book by Chip and Dan Heath, spells out the formula with six principles. The first, and perhaps, most vital, is simplicity.

I’ll paraphrase from the book where they ask and answer the question, “How do you find the essential core of your ideas?” They submit you must be a master of exclusion. You must relentlessly prioritize.

The book’s chapter on simplicity also offers the following:

  • It’s hard to make ideas stick in a noisy environment
  • You must weed out ideas, even if they’re important, in an effort to highlight the most important one
  • Uncertainty—caused by multiple choices—tends to paralyze readers
  • Powerful ideas are compact and meaningful

Is your homepage simple? Does it elicit the response you want from visitors? If it’s not clear and compact, it’s time to review and revise it. It’s time to simplify. It’s time to learn how to write a home page headline that inspires visitors to stick around and click around.

What’s in it for me?

If you’ve studied copywriting even a wee bit, you’re likely to have read the “WIIFM” lesson. A common derivative of it goes: readers don’t care about your company or product; they care about themselves.

I want to say you get the idea. I want to say everybody does. But they don’t. In fact, I don’t think it’d be outrageous to say a painfully large majority can’t (and maybe never will) comprehend the concept. And it’s a pity because when you shine the spotlight on yourself, you lose business.

Your headline has a job to do

While your typical web-browsing human is obviously not a goldfish, researchers like to explain his or her average attention span falls short of the little orange pucker’s.

This means your job is to create a page, which is capable of expanding the average attention span. You need to grab ‘em fast. This is the headline’s job. The headline on your home page is the first line the visitor reads and therefore the most important line on your entire website.

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