If your online store has a steady stream of traffic—but a weak stream of revenue—you know firsthand how challenging it can be to pinpoint your underlying problems.
To improve your ecommerce conversion rate, you may begin to analyze your products and reconsider your offerings.
But before you start dropping your prices, you need to analyze your online store for a flaw that can drain your revenue: a home page message that’s less than clear.
All too often, ecommerce home pages are fuzzy, confusing, and cluttered.
These pages force visitors to become researchers if they want to know who the company is, what the company provides, and the results they can experience. In the end, conversions are low because confusion is high.
In this article, we’re giving you a 9-point ecommerce home page conversion checklist you can use to clarify the message of your online store so you increase your lift.
1 – Immediately Explain What You Sell
The minute visitors land on your home page, they should understand the types of products you offer.
For instance, if you offer paintings, furnishings, and handcrafted art for homeowners, you should explain that you provide home decor goods to the user who lands on your page.
But you’ll need to explain this key piece of information quickly so your potential customer doesn’t need to continuously scroll. In other words, you need to place the purpose of your ecommerce site above the fold.
While many articles claim “above the fold” is a myth, according to the Nielsen Norman Group…
What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will always influence the user experience — regardless of screen size. The average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is 84%.
To see an excellent example of an ecommerce page that explains its purpose above the fold, check out Monrovia’s web page. The goal of the page is obvious—visitors can personally select their favorite plants.
In the same way, you’ll want to help your home page immediately communicate what your customers can expect to smooth their user experience.
2 – Speak Your Customer’s Language
Another key component of our ecommerce home page conversion checklist is speaking your customer’s language.
The reason this is so critical is simple: aligning your vocabulary to the words your customers use empowers you to tap into your customers’ reality and quickly educate them about your products.
Notice how L.L.Bean uses this technique on their home page, employing language that’s common to their target audience of parents.
To direct your verbiage toward specific customers, you’ll want to understand your voice-of-the-customer (VoC) data.
As Qualaroo explains, VoC is the powerful counterpart to web analytics data, providing the “why” behind your home page’s high bounce rate. And using VoC data will help you understand your customers more deeply, providing powerful insights that help you speak their language.
Here is some advice we have for gathering this information based on the ebook Creating High-converting Landing Pages—Seven Steps to Success Guide by Dr. Dave Chaffey and James Gurd…
- On-site surveys. This is one of the most common ways web managers capture data. Customers can view this as a pop-up, pop-under, or a persistent survey.
You can even provide a form for after your customers complete a transaction, asking what was the event or person for which they purchased your item. We’d suggest you check out Qualaroo’s solution for this need.
When it comes to best practices for these on-site surveys, it’s best to keep your surveys as short as possible. That’s because—as a general rule—the more data you try to capture, the fewer visitors will complete the survey.
- Off-site surveys. Inviting your customers to complete an online survey apart from your website is another effective technique for mining VoC data.
For emails or newsletters, SurveyGizmo allows you to include a link to surveys. You can also send surveys through email with Qualaroo or SurveyMonkey.
The downside of this strategy is that it’s better suited for general feedback on your website and products, and you’ll have a harder time tailoring these surveys for your home page.
- User testing. This is perhaps the most insightful type of VoC data. With this strategy, you can have individuals test your home page and provide video feedback of their experience. Most importantly, you can ensure these testers meet the demographic requirements of your target audience.
If you decide to experiment with user testing for your ecommerce store, be sure to check out UserTesting and WhatUsersDo.
- Customer service insights. This can be an untapped goldmine for your business. Every day, your customer service team handles inbound inquiries from phone calls, emails, and web contact forms. More than likely, you’ll find some useful nuggets of information on what your customers think is important when it comes to your home page.
3 – Improve Your Tagline Message
According to Moz, improving your company’s tagline can positively impact your conversion rate and summarize the customer experience you offer.
Refining your tagline message allows you to explain the goal of your online store—while reserving precious real estate on your home page.
Check out Bella Bean Organics’ succinct tagline, “A farmers’ market run by farmers.” As you can see, new visitors can easily understand this company’s mission and how its ecommerce store is unique.
If you don’t yet have a slogan, you can jumpstart your idea generation easily with online tools. For instance, Shopify allows you to enter a word in its slogan maker, instantaneously providing a wealth of potential ideas. You can also check out this article for some practical tips on crafting your tagline.
4 – Clarify the Message of Your Sliders
Refining what your sliders communicate is another key piece of our ecommerce home page conversion checklist.
If your home page uses sliders, these should contain brief, but complete, descriptions.
However, all too often, ecommerce sliders contain cluttered or crowded information that’s difficult to read or understand—a critical mistake if you’re trying to improve your conversion rate.
To see an example of a slider that creates an obstacle in the buyer journey, check out this slider by CreationWatches.com. Notice how it forces the user to read a paragraph of content.
In contrast, check out this slider by Smartwool, featuring two brief sentences that clearly communicate the company’s value.
To test the effectiveness of your sliders so you can refine their message, you may also want to use heat map software, such as Crazy Egg, Inspectlet, Lucky Orange, or ClickTale, to see if your sliders are creating any clicks among audience members.
5 – Reduce Home Page Clutter
Crowded content makes for confused or distracted buyers. And when your ecommerce home page has clutter, you can be sure that your conversion rate is suffering.
Take a look at Harry & David’s home page, and notice the overwhelming amount of content and pictures.
Unfortunately, this design can be detrimental for ecommerce store owners looking to maximize profits.
The home page contains a lack of whitespace.
If you’re wondering what this term means, Unbounce explains that whitespace is…
A conversion-centered design technique that uses areas of blank space to emphasize a landing page element of your choice. Whitespace allows you to direct attention to your call to action by giving your prospect’s eye only one thing to focus on.
If your conversion rate is low, you’ll want to examine if your home page has an absence of whitespace and a plethora of cluttered content that distracts your users. To get an objective opinion, you can use EyeQuant, which will give you a clarity score that reveals if your page contains tightly packed information.
6 – Ensure Clear Direction
If you want your visitors to become customers, then you’ll also need to ensure they understand the actions you want them to take. Unless you make it clear how users can shop for your products, you can’t expect your sales and revenue to increase.
To ensure clear direction for your customers, you’ll want to…
Avoid unclear calls to action. Your customers shouldn’t have to read the fine print to begin to shop. Here’s an example of an ecommerce home page that leaves a visitor fuzzy on what the next step is.
Notice the words underneath the hook, “Comfort is a place called home.” In small text, Crate&Barrel has written, “Shop Monochrome Home.” The problem is, readers have to hunt for the text that’s asking them to convert.
- Use contrasting colors for your call-to-action buttons and your web page background. Crazy Egg notes that this is a key characteristic for high-converting CTA buttons.
- Clearly explain what action visitors should take. Here’s an example of an ecommerce home page that leaves users guessing what the online store is asking them to do.
Visitors have to assume that the shoe company wants them to click on the icons to begin making purchases.
- Think for your customers. Alex Designs instructs ecommerce owners to provide segmented categories so customers don’t have to think about navigating, and this article also suggests including your best sellers on your home page. Strategies like these help take the guesswork out of shopping for your customers.
Tip: Before you alter your current calls to action, you might want to take the advice of Alex Designs who also suggests testing your optimization strategy on your highest-traffic landing page before you alter your home page.
7 – Explain Your Order Process
Another key technique you can use to increase lift is to explain your order process immediately.
According to statistics from Baymard Institute, 27% of cart abandonments stem from a long and complicated checkout process. While simplifying your order form will go a long way, you can also leverage your home page.
Explaining your order process empowers you to set customer expectations and possibly decrease your cart abandonment rate.
To see an example of what we’re referring to, take a look at PetCareRx’s home page.
PetCareRx conveniently defines how a customer can purchase an item—the company even explains that they’ll ask a question about the customer’s pet and vet.
Providing content like this can help your customer avoid frustrations as they place orders so you improve your numbers.
8 – Communicate Company Values
In addition to explaining the order process, you’ll also want to define your company values on your home page. This is especially true if your ecommerce store features products that are fair trade certified, locally sourced, or handcrafted.
By placing your company’s mission on your home page, you gain a technique to help you attract customers who make purchase decisions based on their beliefs and personal commitments.
See how Serrv’s home page appeals to a distinct segment of ecommerce customers by defining its overarching vision…
If your company has a number of values you stand for, you may be wondering which you should include.
Remember that your home page has limited space, and you’ll need to provide only a high-level overview of your company’s mission…you don’t have the luxury to go into detail.
We’d recommend you read this article by Marcia Riefer Johnston which provides some examples to help you prioritize your message. You can also check out Michael Aagaard’s advice for structuring your content to get an idea of how to write about your company values on your home page.
9 – Resolve Customer Questions
Even with the best optimization strategy, your visitors can still encounter obstacles in their journey to purchase. When your customers do have questions, you’ll want to ensure they can easily contact your online store—so they eventually convert.
It’s important that you make connecting with your company convenient by providing…
- Your phone number.
- Your email address.
- Live chat access.
- Online self-help resources.
REI provides a great example of offering phone, email, chat, and online resources for customers needing direction. Check out this example from their home page below.
In our 9-point ecommerce home page conversion checklist, we’ve given you a number of tips to increase conversions by creating a message that’s easy to understand and convenient to navigate.
However, knowing how to adapt these tips for your unique audience begins with understanding your ecommerce customers better.
Discover our 3 important tips for gaining insights on your audience, when you check out.