If you want to captivate a website visitor who comes to your site knowing little or nothing about your brand, nothing is more important than nailing your homepage messaging. You have just seconds to convince the user not to abandon your site. The main message is one of the most prominent elements on the homepage, and if it doesn’t appeal to users within those precious few seconds, they’re going to bounce.
So how do you write a main message that compels users to stay on your site longer than a few seconds?
First, communicate what your brand does:
Have you ever landed on a website, read the main message and realized you have no idea what the company actually does? Unfortunately this happens a lot in the B2B space, where eagerness to sound professional and knowledgeable results in a heavy reliance on jargon and marketing speak.
Your main message has to clearly state what service(s) or product(s) your company sells. Tell it like it is, and avoid vague and generic marketing language.
Then, make sure to include a value proposition:
In addition to communicating what it is you do, your main messaging must also tell users how what you do or what you sell can positively impact their lives -- otherwise known as a value proposition. The most compelling messaging speaks the product’s ability to solve a problem or fulfill a desire.
Remember to put the focus on the user:
You want to communicate both your brand’s purpose and your value, but the trick is to do so in a way that focuses on the user’s needs. You could say, “Our yoga mats are professionally engineered to reduce slip,” and the user will get a clear picture of what kind of products you sell. But the message becomes even more compelling when the same central idea is instead framed as a benefit to the user: “Yoga mats engineered to give you stay-put performance, no matter the posture.” Framing benefits around value to the consumer helps them better understand why they need your products or services.
And always appeal to your audience:
Your main messaging should focus on appealing to people who either already are interested in your services, or are likely to become interested in them in the future. If you try to speak to an audience that is too broad, you won’t be able to be as focused in your messaging and you’ll wind up diluting your value proposition.
In other words, don’t try to convince someone who isn’t interested in yoga to buy a yoga mat. Instead, convince the yogically-inclined user that your high-tech yoga mat will improve their practice. Focus on the user who has a need you can meet and don’t waste time trying to convince those who are unlikely to convert.
With those key messaging tricks in mind, let’s look at five brands offering up great examples of effective homepage messaging.
Slack is the team communication and collaboration tool everyone who’s everyone is using these days.
The main messaging on their homepage works because it puts all the emphasis on users, specifically on what Slack can do to make those users’ lives better. The language is clear and simple, and it resists resorting to buzzy corporate lingo like “productivity” and “efficiency”. The messaging tells users, in the simplest terms, how Slack helps them -- by providing a service that lets them “actually get things done.”
It’s powerful, concise, and compelling.
Asana is a favorite among task management applications and a great example of simple, persuasive homepage messaging.
What’s effective about the messaging here is that in a mere two sentences it conveys the most important thing for users to know about the platform: it will help users get things done by allowing them to easily track their work. The purpose of the platform and a user-centric value proposition, all right there in 17 words.
Also notice the call-to-action that both compels the user to sign up and emphasizes that doing so won’t cost them a penny.
There’s a lot of competition out there in the meal kit delivery space these days, but HelloFresh manages to stand out with compelling main messaging.
Not only does the messaging contain action-based language (“Get Cooking”), and place the emphasis on what the customer will gain by using the service (delicious meals that are fun and easy to cook), but it’s also made a bit more joyful through the mirroring of the phrases “you’ll love” and “you’ll live”. Just reading the main message gives the user the impression that HelloFresh is a service that is both fun and easy to use.
Evernote promises to save all your notes, ideas, thoughts, and scribbles in a single place. The slightly quirky “Meet Evernote, your second brain” line is offbeat in a way that catches user attention, but it’s still evocative and specific enough to also convey clear meaning. The longer subline beneath further emphasizes the benefit to the user, driving the point home with “you-centric” language.
Lyft’s consumer-facing messaging is a bit more complex than the ones we’ve looked at so far, perhaps because they’re working hard to message against their major competitor, Uber.
“A ride in minutes” does the work of establishing the service Lyft offers, while the secondary value propositions, “Serious about safety” and “Happy drivers. Happy riders” are there to act as differentiating factors. Again, action language (“Request a ride” / “Ride with us”) and the repeated use of “you” combine to allow users to imagine themselves using the service.
It’s hard to overstate the power of compelling messaging to get users to take action, and hopefully by now you’re inspired to review and improve your own homepage messaging.
The best thing you can do after you’ve written your main message? Go out and test it. A list of best practices and examples is great inspiration, but it’s no replacement for testing messaging tweaks on your actual users.