Keeping the attention of visitors to your website is not as easy as you might think. You need clear, effective messaging from the start.

How many times have you landed on a website, looked at the main headline and image, and still had no idea what the website was about? And when that happened (as I’m sure it has at some point), what did you do? My guess is you didn’t stick around.

https://ebenpagantraining.com/ coined the phrase the 3-second rule. Now you’ll hear different variations on it, including the 5-second rule and even the 15-second rule.  But the gist of it is the same: as a website owner, you have precious little time to explain to a new visitor to your site what kind of website is this, who is behind it, and how they can benefit by sticking around instead of instinctively heading up to the Back button.

Let’s face it, you’re not going to get many clicks on your calls to action or conversions to sign-ups and contact submissions if half your audience vanishes before they’ve even seen who you are and what you do. So it’s super-important to grab your visitor’s attention immediately with clear, high-impact messaging so you can bring them into your page and allow them to understand why they need to stay on your website.

Let’s talk about how to do that.  But first, you need to keep in mind that we’re not necessarily only talking about your home page here.  Granted, it’s logical to focus on that one, but visitors to your site may come in by all kinds of other “doors” – blog posts or pages that Google returned search results for after a search for a particular keyword.

Given that, the theory behind what is needed is the same: Who are you? What kind of website is this? What’s in it for me? Are the key questions your visitor is going to ask.

If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll find that you do the same thing when you visit a website. Whatever link you clicked to get there (who remembers?), you are still going to ask those questions in your mind, even if you’re kind of half-expecting to see what you see on arrival at the site.

Let’s say you’ve been Googling “how to make money in the stock market”.  You’re going to get a lot of search results with all kinds of services and informational sites selling advice.  When you click on one, there’s really no telling which kind you’re going to get.  Guaranteed, those questions are going to pop up in your head.

Let’s look at them one at a time and see how we can best answer each in a second or two:

1. What kind of website is this?

Legitimate question. Google is getting a lot better at realizing the intent of search queries. Your search term “how to make money in the stock market”, though, could be interpreted as a request to see services for hire such as financial advisors, or simply a call for information websites and research material. So any website optimizing for those keywords has to be extremely clear which one it is. Otherwise, you’re going to be taking a quick trip to the Back button and be gone.

Let’s look at both of these scenarios:

If the website is a financial or stock market advisory service that charges for coaching and advice, the primary headline should say so. Take this site for example: marketbehaviortrends.com The headline right away speaks to what is being offered: a way to capitalize on something. That sounds good. The subhead continues that thinking by telling me how and why this website is going to help me “capitalize”. What will I get if I stick around? Unique insights to benefit me. Like what? Strengthening my portfolio. And as a bonus, I also get the “how”: by detecting existing and shifting market trends.

At this point, as an investor, I’m intrigued enough to scroll further down.

If on the other hand, I’m a novice investor just looking for some general tips on dipping my toe into the stock market, this website is not for me.  And that’s ok too. The point is that it’s a clear message about what is offered to who, and how.

2. Who is behind this website?

Market Behaviour Trends doesn’t tell me anything about who is behind the website, which is a bit of a downfall. And they did such a good job on the initial message! There could be other reasons too. They might be using this site as more of a landing page than a website for cold visitors, in which case, visitors will likely already know who they are.  A better example of a site that needs to communicate the “who” would be an author or coaching site.

Take a look at this one: https://www.anniegallielc.com/

website homepage effective messaging

This site does a great job telling me who is behind it. I see a photo right away of the person who owns this site. I also am very happy to see the headline that tells me what the benefits are to me of sticking around this website: clarity. Not only that, but she qualifies who the website if for: high achievers. But still I’ve got questions popping around in my head: I know Who she is, and what she’ll help me do. But I don’t know WHAT she is. In other words, I don’t know what kind of website it is.  Is it business coaching? Clarity about what? How much money want to make next month? Or how I want to bring up my son?

A bit more scrolling and scrutiny tells me that the site owner is a life coach. There may be some business coaching involved but primarily the site is about coping with and enjoying life.  After scrolling to the bottom of the page, I finally saw the sentence that should have been a lot closer to the top: “I can help you gain clarify, learn how to enjoy your life and your job without burning out, and actually have fun along the way.”

That is a fantastic sentence, but I had to scroll to the bottom to see it.  The next person might be in a bit more of a hurry.

3. What’s In It For Me?

Fedex.com is a great example of benefits-up-front. The headline is Ship, manage, track, deliver. And the subhead is Manage your shipments and returns. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Fedex homepage messaging

Al of it is in front of a FedEx truck driving through a fairly remote area (evoking neither rain nor sleet nor snow…”?). There is a big button in the middle of the page that says “Track”. My guess is 90% of people who come to the website are looking to track a package.  That’s a prime benefit, right there.

What’ s in it for me? A number of options, yes but they are presented in a simple, clear format with a descriptive visual to support it.

Now in this case, FedEx has a tremendous amount of brand recognition, so that gives this website a head start in terms of the 3-second rule.  So let’s look at one more that is not quite as well-known: dustinhogan.com

effective home page messaging example

Clarity, Courage, Confidence: my benefits up front. Check.

Counseling in Calgary for men: what the website is about. Check.

Logo and image – Dustin Hogan: I see right away who is behind the website. Check.

Nice example of navigating the 3-second rule successfully.

So give your website the 3-second test.

Does it answer all 3 questions in 3, 5 or even 15 seconds?

If you’d like a free evaluation of your website, just book a free 20-minute call. Be sure to include your website in the message.