All right. So where do we start on our conversion audit? Well, unless you're funneling a bunch of money into targeted ad campaigns, your home page is probably your most visited page on your site. That means it's probably the area where you stand to gain the most by making small but significant improvements. But before we get into the details of the audit, I have to clear one common mistake that I see over and over again.
I pretty much spend my entire day looking at e-commerce websites, and I consistently see brands using their valuable home page real estate for all of the wrong things. They're trying to communicate the company's mission or origin story, or they're promoting the latest marketing campaign or product launch.
Or maybe they're pushing that blog post or social media feeds, or worst of all, they're incentivizing offers, like referral or rewards programs. There is just a problem with that approach. The vast majority of your customers don't care about any of that. In fact, when they land on your home page, they only care about two things.
Does your company offer a way to solve their problem and add value to their lives? And two, assuming they found a good solution on your site, can you facilitate a smooth and painless transaction to help them purchase the product that's right for them? And that's it. Everything else is secondary.
We'll talk about why all of those approaches I listed before are bad ideas. But here's what you really need to know up front. Your home page has just two tasks, to help prospective customers research their options and to equip them to painlessly purchase the one that is right for them.
If you make those as simple as possible, your conversion rate will increase. And you'll bring in more revenue, and your customer satisfaction will improve. Everybody wins. So how do you run a conversion audit on your home page? We like to focus on four key areas. One is first impressions.
They say you only get one chance at a first impression and more often than not, that is going to be your homepage making that first impression for you. We'd like to start by running what we call the 5-second test. When someone lands on your site, can they understand within the first 5 seconds exactly what you do, and who is a good fit for your products?
Note that this is probably an area where you, or your team, or even your friends and immediate family are just too familiar with your company to be objective. We recommend branching outside of that closed network, or buying just a few folks a cup of coffee at Starbucks to get their unfiltered opinion. Another aspect of first impressions is site speed.
How quickly does your site load? And does it load without bugs or errors? Does it look and perform the same on phones and tablets? And what about on spotty Wi-Fi connections, like those at coffee shops or in hotels? Finally, are you using interruptive elements like pop-ups or full screen call to actions?
These elements might grow your email list, but they are conversion killers. Imagine if you walked into a retail store, and a salesperson jumped out in front of you and asked for your email address in exchange for a 10% off coupon. That is just cringy. If you really wanted to keep your pop-ups, we always recommend triggering them by something like time on page, scroll depth, exit intent.
All of those are better options than bombarding your users with a discount or promotion right away. Next, let's talk about site navigation. In general, we recommend keeping the number of elements in your primary navigation to five items or less. Our research shows that using high level categories like tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, paired with sub navigation to list out individual product types performs much better than these catch all terms like shop all, all products, or just shop.
Also, contrary to what your marketing team might suggest, this is not the best place for cultural items like about us, our mission, media coverage, or a company blog. In most cases, your company has already produced these messages through an ad, a product review, or a social media post. So you've already won the customer over.
It's time to stop marketing and start selling. There are plenty of opportunities to weave your brand story into headlines, product copy, call to actions. So it's best if we reserve our navigation for shopping links. Ultimately, you want to be clear in your navigation, concise, easy to use, and most importantly oriented around your customers' natural preferences for browsing your product catalog.
The third area is the hero section, so let's take a look at that. This is more valuable real estate than marketing teams love to fight over, and for good reason. Our eye tracking heat maps show that the hero headline and the call to action get the most attention from your website visitors. Unfortunately, most brands use this space to promote their latest product launch or their current marketing campaign.
Now, this isn't necessarily a bad choice, especially around high traffic times like seasonal events, thinking back to school, or holidays. However, unless a significant portion of your traffic is repeat purchasers who already know your brand and products, you're probably not maximizing the value of this space.
Instead, consider using a more evergreen headline in supporting imagery that clearly communicates who you are and the breadth of your product offerings. Now, remember that 5-second test that I discussed earlier? This is the best place to check the box for helping those potential customers understand what you offer and who you serve.
Finally, if you have a button in your hero section, which you should, make sure to use a relevant targeted call to action. Many stores I review use generic call to actions like shop now, that drops visitors into a page with a collection of literally every item in their catalog.
This is not guiding anyone down an intentional purchasing path. Instead, a more direct call to action like shop all pants tells the visitor exactly what to expect and ideally aligns closely with the images and headlines that are also presented in the hero section. OK.
Number four is the footer. So let's talk about how to maximize the value of your website footer. This one is actually pretty simple. But I like to say that just because something is makes common sense doesn't mean it's common practice. For starters, you want to make sure that you have a section in your footer specifically for product navigation.
A handful of high level categories is plenty to help your shoppers move forward without having to scroll all the way back up to your primary navigation. Next, you'll probably want to have a column for utility links, things like shipping and return policies, privacy policies, terms and conditions, or FAQs. After that, you'll probably want to include a column for company links, where you can put pages like about us, press and media coverage, careers, rewards and referral programs, or that company blog.
Those are items that shouldn't live in your main navigation but very likely due today. Now finally, in the bottom right hand corner, you'll want to have a section for contact information. This should start with your logo and be followed by what I like to call the trust trifecta. It includes listing a physical address, an email address, and a phone number.
Those three items are generally all it takes to convince site visitors that you are a reputable company and give them the confidence to make a purchasing decision. Now, I know we've covered a lot of material there. But as I said before, the home page is one of the most visited and highest potential pages on your site.
So it's really important that we get things right here. If you weren't able to take notes, don't worry. We've got a set of downloadable checklist that will help you make sure you don't miss anything during your own site audit. Now, let's take a look at the next step in the buyer's journey, the category page.