websiteHere’s How to Make Sure They Keep Reading…AND Become Customers.

A headline and the first two paragraphs…that’s about all the time you have to hook website visitors and get them to opt-in without clicking away from your site.

But unfortunately, most businesses fail this 3-second test — or worse, they ask website visitors to make too many decisions when landing on their homepage.

What Your Website MUST Have in Place to Generate Both Instant Income and Long-Term Revenue

Most business owners understand the need for a website, but all too few understand what a website is really supposed to do. Your website is a delivery vehicle for your message, just like newspaper ads, postcards, telemarketing or direct-mail packages. And like those other devices, your website must immediately capture the interest of visitors — then convince them to identify themselves as prospects for your product or service.

To begin with, your website must convince visitors to provide their name, email address and other identifying information in order to access a free giveaway that has value — such as a buyer’s guide, online tutorial, savings coupon, newsletter subscription, evaluation, self-audit or other instant download. The format of your giveaway item doesn’t matter–whether PDF, audio MP3 or other format–just as long as it can be easily opened, read, listened to, viewed or otherwise used by the people who opt-in at your site to get it.

It should be downloadable at your website to keep your delivery costs at zero.

And it must be compelling. These days, convincing visitors to opt-in isn’t as easy as it used to be–mainly because registrants know they’ll be emailed advertisements and promotions later. You need to provide a tangible benefit in return. Even giving things away for free requires a persuasive and specific offer.

“We have great prices!” is not an offer. Similarly, “27 years in business!” is not an offer. And “Sign up for our newsletter” has not worked as an offer for at least a few years.

The Process Begins With a Compelling Headline

An easy way to create a compelling offer is to start with a persuasive headline about the giveaway item they’ll be downloading for free. Then, describe the actual item they’ll receive, detail the benefits of instantly downloading it, and tell why you’re providing it free. Finally, this offer on your homepage should close with a simple opt-in form and give visitors exact instructions for completing the form–along with your promise that they’ll receive their information instantly.

Once visitors fill in the form and hit the “Submit” button, two things should happen: (1) Their contact information should be collected into a database linked to the opt-in form, and (2) Visitors should be taken to a simple thank-you page that confirms they’ve opted in successfully and tells them how to download the free giveaway item.

At the same time your visitor is accessing the free giveaway, your database should immediately begin delivering every 2-3 days (for a fixed period of time) a series of pre-written marketing messages. Within these messages should be other helpful information. Then, starting with the 5th or 6th message, they should contain language about the first product or service you plan to sell to your visitors who opted-in. Weeks and even months later, you can offer other products, more services, and new offerings to this rapidly growing visitor list.

Taking visitors through a compelling opt-in on the homepage… selling them an easy-to-buy first purchase a few webpages later… following up with other compelling offers on subsequent webpages… then reconnecting via a logical series of offers emailed weeks and months later is called a marketing path.

But no matter what else your website does, it must contain a compelling offer that persuades visitors to identify themselves to you as a likely buyer.

While direct-response marketers and copywriters have known about this lead-capture approach for decades, few mainstream businesses even know about this strategy. This means you can outmarket and outmaneuver virtually every one of your competitors simply by making a specific offer to visitors who land on your site. Once you capture their name and begin communicating with them via future emails, it’s likely you could own that customer for life.

Not only that, but there’s a lot of future revenue in a carefully built list of names like this. Unfortunately, most companies either don’t have a list or don’t market effectively to the list they’ve built.

Don’t Ask Visitors to Make Too Many Decisions

One word of caution in developing your home page copy: Make sure your free-giveaway offer is prominent — not limited to some tiny box in the upper right hand corner.

Why?

Because reading your offer — then opting-in — are the only two things you want a website visitor to do… initially.

Decades of direct-marketing research tells us that, if you give the visitor too many options on your home page, they will often take no action at all. I recommend that you feature no more than three clickable options on the home page “above the fold”–and most preferably just one…the free-giveaway offer.

(“Above the fold” refers to that area viewable by most people’s web browser window upon landing on your home page. It’s similar to the newspaper advertising term of having a press release or display advertisement appear in the upper half of the newspage — or “above the fold.”)

It’s far better to talk about the product or service that a first-time buyer would most likely purchase (and probably the one they searched for in order to find your site), than to overload your home page with everything you have to sell.

Give people too many choices and they will make NONE.

What Could You Give Away on Your Home Page?

There are many options, but the key is to give away something (downloadable) that will ultimately compel your visitor to buy products and services from you later. You want the giveaway item to address visitors’ need or problem — but also familiarize them with you, your business, your expertise, the benefits of doing business with you, why you’re trustworthy, why you’re better than competitors they might encounter, and so on.

It also has to be compelling–remember, you’ll be “selling” your product, your service and your company from the very first headline. Take a look at the list below of what you might give away:

* A special report or white paper on a topic of interest to your potential website visitors such as Retirement Investing in the Coming Downtime, Using CRM Software to Double Your Sales, The Million-Dollar Investment Portfolio for Kids… A Simple Guide for New Parents, or The Doctor’s Guide to Mastering HIPAA Regulations and Avoiding Prosecution.

* An assessment tool such as a checklist given out by financial planners called Are You Ready for Retirement?…a time-share seller’s guide called Is Your Time-Share Property Sellable in Today’s Market?… a guide for small businesses written by a local labor consultant called Ten Common Problems Affecting Employee Productivity and How to Recognize Them.

* A buyer’s guide detailing how to purchase an expensive item such as Buying Diamonds in Today’s Troubled Gemstone Market, Where to Shop for Hard-to-Find Hand Tools and Woodworking Supplies or 27 Ways to Cut 50% Off the Cost of Your Wedding.

* A coupon for a special discount, reduced shipping or a free bonus gift consumers can use when purchasing their first product or service from you. These can be seasonal or year-round. One home-décor retailer offered The 12 Days of Christmas, with a different coupon every day for 12 days if you opted in–for discounts on pillows, fabrics, trims, upholstery services and more.

The key is to make the give-away item enticing enough — and explain it in enticing enough terms on your home page — so that visitors will opt-in to download it. Only then will you capture their email address for future marketing.

Because this “3-Second Strategy” and marketing path concept is so important, I’m writing a special report about it that will walk you through the exact procedures for upgrading your website’s homepage to keep visitors at your site longer — and get them to opt-in as interested prospects. After all, who COULDN’T use more prospects in this economy?

Watch for this unique report (downloadable for free) in a couple of weeks.

Creative Commons License photo credit: E_Symphony

Check Out These Related Posts