Lesson 9: Focus Your Homepage
Written by Noah Kagan at OkDork.com
Earlier this week we looked at the top landing pages you should have on your site.
But there is one landing page that EVERYONE has, but almost NO ONE is optimizing.
If you have a website you have this…
…and it is probably your #1 most visited page…
…and you can easily turn it into the #1 source for new emails…
Remember: Always work with what you already have.
As we’ve already seen in the lesson about content upgrades, it’s easiest to optimize and get more emails from highly trafficked pages.
In 2013, I looked at Google Analytics to see where most of OkDork’s traffic was going.
It’s so obvious, right? But I was spending time on content and other strategies that were less effectives.
So where was most of my traffic landing?
Answer: My Homepage
Here’s a look back at the homepage of OkDork, my marketing blog, in January 2013.
Yes, it looks like many other blogs you’ll find. There were articles to read and links to Archives and the About page.
When I made growing my email list my #1 goal, I realized the articles, archives, etc were all distractions. These distractions meant that many readers (even the readers that came back consistently) were NOT doing the #1 thing I wanted them to do: sign up for my emails to get future articles.
So where WAS I asking for emails?
1- At the bottom of email posts
2- Via List Builder
3- In the sidebar
While there is nothing wrong with these methods (you should be using List Builder), they are all very light and passive ways of asking for an email address.
At that time, my overall email conversion rate was around 3%.
With the majority of my traffic going to my homepage I wondered how I could re-focus the reader to make it easier for them to subscribe and enter their email address.
I then took the page where the majority of my traffic landed and made that the starting point for my top priority.
First, let’s look at some example of great homepages that prioritize email addresses:
Notice anything in common?
They all want your email first. (For a great group analysis of the best landing / homepages check out this quora post.)
First, I tried using a plugin called “Interrupt”
It worked alright, but it was ugly.
Next, a friend of mine, Donny, created the WordPress plugin so my homepage looked like Andrew Chen’s blog.
The result: Conversion overall came to around 5%. That seems small but it nearly doubled my conversion with a change that took a less than a day.
Now my homepage was the #1 source for new email subscribers. It was beating out my sidebar and the opt-in at the bottom of the blog posts.
Because that small change was so successful I wanted to optimize it and see what would happen if I put more time into it.
For myself, I wanted the page to be as appealing as possible so that if I was landing there I would want to give my email address.
To do that I did 4 major changes to the homepage:
1- Sexy Design.
Got a designer to make a sexy looking homepage:
2- Copy that Benefits the Reader.
I focused the copy on the benefit to the reader, not the features.
The readers that get the most out of the content on OkDork are entrepreneurs and marketers. Many of them are looking for help, hacks, and new ways to grow their own business or their startups.
Originally, the copy read “I like you,” but I soon realized that was a bit strong for a first time visitor to the blog. They don’t know me or even like me yet.
Remember to be a “Giving Gary” not a “Leeching Larry.”
Instead, I changed the copy to appeal to both new and repeat visitors (while still keeping my personality—I still mention tacos).
3- Added Social Proof.
Next I added quotes from Hiten Shah and Andrew Warner.
Many OkDork visitors already know Hiten and Andrew and respect them greatly. Adding the quotes, increased sign-ups further and gave people reassurance that I wasn’t going to send them spam.
4- Removed the Menu/Header Bar.
While it’s important to have easy to use navigation, the menu/header bar is often the most distracting element on a homepage. Use a tool like Heatmaps to find out where your visitors are actively clicking and more importantly where they are NOT clicking.
Here’s an example. Before I made the change, a ton of people were clicking on the menu:
With my new homepage, visitors couldn’t skip around unless they left their email address or scrolled past the quotes and clicked “Read the Blog”.
Once all of these changes were implemented, email conversions increased to 8% of all site visitors.
Always focus your site, especially your homepage, so that visitors can easily take actions you want them to take.
Lesson 9 Task
- Install Heat Maps to see where people are (or aren’t) clicking on your current homepage
- Add an email sign up box above the fold with “Giving Gary” copy next to it
- Remove the sidebar and menu/header bar from your homepage.
- Add 2 quotes for social proof (from customers, clients, or industry authorities).
Leave a comment on Email1K here with the 2 social proof quotes you’ll use.
Set up SumoMe’s free Heat Maps tool. Heat Maps show you instantly where people are clicking so you can improve your page to get them to do the things you want them to do. If you’re already using SumoMe install it from the Sumo Store (it’s free) OR install SumoMe first.