Imagine that you're driving down the highway at 70 MPH and seeing billboards every tenth of a mile. They're flying by really fast.
To be effective, they have to be eye-catching and stand out from all the other billboards. The advertiser knows he doesn't have much time to get his message across.
On the web, the situation is even worse.
Your website is not a permanent structure that everyone in its vicinity will see. Instead, it's actually hidden until someone directly goes to it or sees it listed in search results.
And once someone lands on your site, they need only a few hundred milliseconds to click away.
It's critical that you grab their attention, and catch their interest, immediately.
Studies have shown that your window of opportunity is no more than 7 seconds.
The two most important things to do are to have a fast-loading site and one that is optimized for mobile devices like phones and tablets.
These things help with grabbing attention and ranking high in search results which should be another goal for your site.
Your site should have a prominent, simple message that resonates with your visitor's “pain”. This could be the need to purchase something, find information, or take an action.
Your message needs to say, in as few words as possible, “we can solve your problem”.
And you have to show that you have an effective and unique solution so your visitor doesn't click away to check your competitors' sites.
Use compelling images on your home page. In general, photos of people work better than product images. And images of women are most effective, for both male and female visitors.
If appropriate, a short video that tells a story quickly can be effective. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video may be worth a million words because videos have been shown to improve the length of time visitors stay on a site.
Use testimonials (or “social proof” as the cool kids are calling it these days). Your site visitors might not believe you, but they will believe your customers. So show positive comments from satisfied customers, but stick to short ones (at least on your home page).
Have a clear and prominent call-to-action (CTA). Think about what you want your visitor to do if you manage to capture his attention.
If there's no obvious “next step” for him to take, he's likely to just bail out. Instead, make sure you've got a clickable contact link or form if he's seeking information, a prominent “buy now” button if it's an eCommerce site, or another suitable CTA for other types of sites.
If you run a retail store, your visitors have to make at least a little effort to walk in, so they're more inclined to buy something.
But on the web, their effort to get to your site is quite minimal and therefore leaving is easy.
Your goal is to get them to hang out for more than 7 seconds, at which point they are much more likely to stick around.
How do you know if your visitors are leaving quickly?
If you've got Google Analytics set up, there are two numbers to look at…
Bounce rate shows the percentage of visitors that land on one page, then leave your site without visiting another page.
Time on site shows the total amount of time a visitor stays, whether looking at one page or many.
You want your bounce rate to be low and your time on site to be high. Get in touch if you'd like help seeing your numbers.
Time is money, as someone once said, so try the things above to make those first 7 seconds count!
Get in touch with us if you'd like a free, no-obligation evaluation of your website to see how quickly it grabs visitor attention.