Come on in, take off your coat and stay awhile.
Imagine you're hosting a house party, and the invite list is a gaggle of those you wish to impress. As your guests start to arrive, are you going to greet them at the door wearing your pajamas? When the doorbell rings, are you going to open the door and then walk away, leaving visitors to stand in the archway bewildered? Of course not. You're trying to make a positive impression, and you know that looking sloppy or leaving attendees to fend for themselves will just drive them away. Are you showing that same level of hospitality online?
In honor of International Conversion Rate Optimization Day (CRODAY), we're helping you generate and nurture leads by focusing on the digital doormat, your website's home page. Learn how to be the perfect host and usher visitors into your domain properly with this guide to managed IT services home page optimization!
A lot of companies mistakenly think they can get away with just putting this information on their "About Us" page. They don't take into account that website visitors have short attention spans and may not even make it that far. In fact, according to Interactive Marketing, Inc., if you don't hook visitors in the first eight seconds of viewing a page, they'll leave your site. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
1. Explain What You Do & What You Can Do for Them
Strong, Unique Value Proposition
What's in it for them? Your home page should clearly state the benefit of using your services. What makes you different from your competitors? In order to craft a strong, convincing value proposition, you have to think from the perspective of your target audience. You learned about buyer personas in the Essential Guide to MSP Marketing: Part 1, and the same principles apply. Once you have an idea of who you're marketing to, you can think about what they'd want in their IT service provider.
A great way to craft your value proposition is to identify your buyer persona's main pain point and then describe how your solution alleviates it. As MSPs, you make it easier for your clients to focus on what really matters, running their business. The keeping their business up and running part is all you. What are you selling? [Insert technical jargon here] or peace of mind, the promise that they don't have to worry about their network health since you have it covered?
Summary of Services
Now that you've hooked them with your competitive differentiator, a unique selling proposition, it's time to show SMB clients everything you have to offer. Provide an overview of your products and services. Notice how I said "overview." Don't turn your home page into a novel. You should still have landing pages devoted to each offering. There, you can get more detailed, list features and provide product videos. For your home page, however, you can simply list your solutions with a brief blurb and eye-catching icon for each. From there, you can link to the separate landing pages since the goal of the home page is to get the visitor to explore and convert on your website.
Let's look at how our partner, Digitel, combines value proposition and summary of services on their home page!
Digitel recognizes that offering support for both Avaya and Cisco voiceover IP (VOIP) is a competitive differentiator for their company and lead with this. Then, as you scroll, you see their portfolio of solutions, each with a link to its own landing page.
What better way to explain who you are and what you do than through video? Because we recognize the power of video marketing, we created the following "Why Managed IT Services" video to jazz up our partners' home pages!
2. Show Who You Are and Who You Serve
Humanize your home page with pictures of living, breathing people. Recognized as an inbound marketing content authority, The IMPACT Blog insists on the power of people, stating:
"Homepages that include images of people have double the conversion rate than those that don’t. The rationale is simple: people like working with people, so images of people help to build trust."
Stock photos of overly-manicured models beaming as they answer a call on their headset won't cut it. If a prospect were to drop in to your actual office, would he/she see a man in a three piece suit climbing the ladder to success, briefcase-in-hand? People want to know who they're going into business with. Being able to put faces to your brand name increases trust and strengthens connections. Schedule a team photo shoot day, asking everyone to dress business-professional. Do you have logo T-shirts? Get the team to wear those and a nice pair of khackis or slacks!
Which one of these is better?
Which photo is more believable? In the first example taken from partner, Big Sur Technologies' website, Director of Service Operations Charles Love conducts a network assessment with an actual client. That's a lot more compelling than a staged scene of colorful wires and a model wearing an immaculately pressed button-down, right?
Yoast has an awesome post about why and when client testimonials work. As we explained in our previous blog post, Why You Need Case Studies to Have Clients Lining Up (Part 1), client testimonials contribute to conversion because they're a form of social proof. By this I mean, prospects will be more inclined to do business with you if they see others have had success. They'll expect the same positive outcome if they become your client. Give them that nudge by grabbing a few customer quotes to feature on your home page.
Pair those quotes with images of the customer. Speaking of success stories, in a recent blog post, KISSmetrics shared the greatest conversion optimization case studies. By adding a picture of a happy customer to the background of one of their product pages, 37signals saw a 102.5% increase in sign-ups!
3. Engage and Encourage Engagement
Authentic images of personnel and customers aren't the only things that build trust on a website or web page. Visitors expect you to be thought leaders in your industry. You have to provide rich, educational content that signals to prospects that you 1) know what you're talking about and 2) understand their needs and concerns and are there to help.
Did you know that about 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy? In a perfect world, prospects would land on your home page, seek out your phone number (more on this later), and call you immediately. Unfortunately, that's just not how the buying process works. As explained in our 7 Things to Know about (Inbound) Marketing presentation, clients are interacting with your website before ever reaching a sales rep. You have their interest, just not their wallets...yet! Ease these visitors into the sales funnel, and link to the content they're searching for. It can be your blog, an eBook landing page, your media library of how-to videos, etc.!
If you visit our partner, Nashville Computer's home page and scroll, you'll find this content offering:
Nashville Computer recognizes that their website visitors may not be ready to buy, but still nurtures them with this educational eBook.
Add Social Plug-ins
Given that the majority of your visitors aren't ready to buy or will click away from your site if you don't grab them immediately, you want to think about how you can get them to return to your website. The answer is social media! By subtly embedding social follow plug-ins on your home page, you're ensuring they'll stay connected to your company after that web session expires. Then once they're following you on your respective social channels, nurture your leads by posting the valuable content we just talked about! If you follow us on Twitter @FollowContinuum, you know we're constantly tweeting out blog posts to stay top-of-mind with our audience.
4. Make Website Navigation Easy & UX-Friendly
The IMPACT blog recommends your navigation be intuitive, claiming:
"[Y]our navigation should be easy to understand and use for a first-time visitor. Avoid over-generalizing the titles on your navigation menus, but provide enough context that the user will know where the link is directing them."
Often, marketers think Google is the only website optimization judge whose opinion matters. While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is fundamental for any web design project, the highest performing site marries SEO with a user-friendly experience. People are navigating your website, looking for content that matches that their search query. Are you helping them along that path, minimizing steps until their first conversion?
5. Enable Conversion and Follow-up
Don't leave your sales team hanging! What if a prospect wants to call to speak with a representative directly? Is that phone number easily found on your home page? You may have live chat enabled instead, but the idea is that you use your home page to increase conversion. You're not just using your website to convert visitors into leads. You eventually want to close those leads as clients.
Check out Computer Solutions Group, Inc's home page banner below:
Our partner's phone number is in the top right corner, and notice those social plugins? ;)
Calls to Action (CTAs)
Include a CTA for each stage of the buyer's journey on your home page. CTAs come in all different varieties. There's the "learn more" CTA that's great to place under your summary of services, directing visitors to your solutions landing page. Maybe your prospect isn't there yet, but your content section made them want to download the eBook you highlighted. Add a CTA there as well. For your "schedule a demo or consultation" CTAs, these are best to anchor to the top of your home page to stay top-of-mind. When visitors land on your home page, you want to keep them on your website and set the optimal path of pages to direct them to. CTAs are the perfect mechanism for this!
For our last example, look at the various CTAs on HTG Peer Groups' home page:
Their home page includes CTAs for visitors exploring the idea of joining their peer group organization, as well as for those ready to commit. Notice also the use of testimonials and facial recognition!
There are many similarities between welcoming someone into your home and onto your website, and your home page is that threshold that can make or break your MSP business. If you want that person to return and come to your next party, take their coat, offer them a glass of wine and connect over shared interests to build a long-lasting, meaningful relationship.
Ready to dive into MSP marketing? Check out these two blog posts:
- Tackle MSP Marketing in Bite-Sized Chunks - Your 2015 Workout Plan: IT Resolution 4
- MSP Marketing: Monitor All Your Website Metrics with This Google Analytics Dashboard!
By Nate Freedman
By Nate Freedman
By Derek Marin