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Website Optimization

The Static Homepage Is Dead

This article first appeared on MarTech on 11/1/2022

While most people associate first impressions with meeting someone in person, the same phenomenon occurs when someone lands on your website for the first time. Sometimes you know who they are, but oftentimes they are anonymous. In fact, 67% of the buyer’s journey is done before they indicate any buying signal and just about two-thirds of potential buyers walk away after a bad experience. 

When you think about it, your website is your storefront, it’s the window into your brand. It says who you are, what you do, and tells the visitor what they can expect and how they should feel.

Many companies fall short because they don’t spend enough time thinking about the first time someone will experience their website. They usually have one static homepage and then create zillions of landing pages to personalize for promotions because it’s troublesome to get the website changed. Even if you have first party data, much of what you do will be lost on anonymous visitors because they’ll land on your site and leave before they’ve had a chance to soak in all you have to offer. The static homepage is dead.

Research shows that people make up their minds about something in less than half a second. They form an impression when they first see your site. If that impression is positive, it’s likely they’ll continue to explore your site. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll leave. Studies show that customers who have a positive experience tend to spend 140% more with a given brand.

So what should you be doing?

  1. Check your site speed often. Page load times have the biggest impact on your website’s first impression. For example, a recent study showed that a 2-second delay in load time resulted in abandonment rates of up to 87%.
  1. Focus on the customer experience and put your critical content and messaging above the fold. While customers are used to scrolling through websites, you have less than half a second to get your point across and once you grab their attention, it takes approximately 2.6 seconds for the consumer’s eyes to focus and influence their first impression.
  1. Avoid flicker whenever possible. Flicker refers to when a webpage loads in one state and then quickly transitions to show a different website experience—typically a dynamic variation with personalized elements. While this may seem like a somewhat innocuous side effect of website personalization, it can have lasting effects on your conversion rates. In fact, in a recent study by Radware, Walmart found that for every one second of improvement in regards to their page load time they increased their conversions by two percent. 
  1. Personalize for all visitors, even anonymous ones. When you know some attributes about your web visitors, such as the ad they clicked on to get to your site, machine learning powered personalization can help you take it a step further and dynamically customize your message or product or image shown based on firmographic, behavioral, and contextual data. According to a study by Segment, 71% of customers feel frustrated when their experience with a brand feels impersonal.

  2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and poor design is often associated with mistrust of a brand. According to a recent study, first impressions are 94% design related. The most important things you can take into account are the imagery, typography, and overall aesthetic. Does the image or video convey the feeling you want the buyer to experience? Does it inspire the visitor to take the desired action?

Regardless of whether you're a B2B brand doing Account Based Marketing (ABM) or a D2C brand with an online store, first impressions matter, don’t waste yours. To learn more about making a great first impression with your website, talk to our experts and request a demo.

~ Tracy Sestili, VP of Marketing

Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is a tenured marketing executive leading teams at Intellimize, Fountain, SparkPost (acquired by MessageBird), Cisco, and TiVo. She has previously served on the board of Women for WineSense, and co-founded a nonprofit for lung cancer, for which she received a Bay Area Jefferson Award.

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