Your guide to a successful online business!

Would you buy a product you’ve never heard of from a complete stranger? Or would you rather do business with a well-known brand to buy a product you’re familiar with? Given a choice 99 times out of 100 you’re going to opt for the latter option. But how do things look from the other point of view? How can a company convince people it’s trustworthy, especially if it doesn’t have the brand reach of a corporate giant like Amazon?

The good news is that you don’t need a huge budget to create a sense of trust and familiarity with potential customers. What you do need to do is answer the conscious and unconscious questions people will be asking themselves when they first visit your website. There are the five questions your homepage must answer in order to start convincing people you’re the kind of person they want to do business with.

But before we delve into these questions, take some time to look at the Moz homepage. It answers just about every question a potential Moz customer could have before they sign up. We’ll look at why as we go along.

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Who are you?

This question is foremost in the mind of anyone visiting a website for the first time. Although it’s possible to provide an in depth answer with a “about us” page, you still need a way of addressing the issue on your homepage. Space is at a premium and you don’t have a lot of room to get your message across. It’s important that your name and logo are prominent.

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Here you can see the Moz name/logo is prominently positioned in the top left corner. On the other side of the page is the company’s mascot – Roger the Robot. If people have encountered Moz in the past, either on social media, through advertising or by reading a blog entry, the name, logo and mascot will resonate with them.

What do you do?

Site visitors aren’t going to spend time navigating your site to find out whether you offer the product or service they’re looking for. If they can’t see what you do straight away, and that what you do matches their needs, then they’re going to leave your site and head for one of your rivals. People should know you offer what they want at a glance.

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So what does Moz do? As the big white text at the top of the page tells us – it provides inbound marketing software. Visitors just have to read two sentences of text to be sure that the company offers what they want.

What value can you offer me?

People won’t ask this question consciously, but they’ll be looking for signs of how doing business with you will make their life better. Clearly if you’re selling scented candles, they’re not going to expect you to make them an overnight millionaire but they will want to know your product will provide the benefit they’re looking for. In the case of scented candles, that might be a pleasant-smelling, relaxed atmosphere.

Understanding the value you can offer customers is about understanding why people want a product or service like yours, and then explaining how you can meet these needs.

Moz communicates its value offer in a number of locations on its homepage. The most prominent we’ve already looked at above – Moz doesn’t just make inbound marketing software, it makes inbound marketing easy. We’ll look at the other ways Moz demonstrates its values after the next question, which is…

What makes you different?

Of course, any number of companies will be offering similar products and services to yours so simply providing value isn’t enough. Potential customers could be considering several potential vendors. By standing out you can boost your chances of getting the sale. This unique selling proposition could be any number of things – price, luxury, free delivery or locality to name just three. The important thing is that you have one and people know about it.

Here Moz has combined its value offer and its unique selling propositions. The copy is crafted as if to say “of course you’ll get rankings and everything else you’d expect from this kind of tool, but you won’t have to go digging around for that information” and “if there are problems with your site, we’ll tell you how to fix them”. This sets it apart from similar tools that provide information but fail to organise it well or don’t offer advice on how to solve problems. The final element of this section sets Moz even further apart from its competitors. Who else can offer access to “the most helpful community of marketers on the web”?

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What should I do next?

Once you’ve answered the preceding four questions, the next step is to show people the next step. Without a clear call to action, people won’t know how to buy your product, get more information about your service or whatever it is your page is aimed at getting people to do. Make sure the call to action conveys the benefit someone will get by taking the action. That means avoiding things like “click here” and using things like “Claim special offer” instead.

Moz’s call to action is hard to miss – and note the emphasis it puts on free. That’s the benefit of clicking the button. Just below the button is a link which if clicked will let people learn more about the platform – that’s a good way to overcome any objections that remain. That said, Moz has made it clear what action it wants people to take.

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Next steps

First, assess your homepage and decide how well it answers these questions. Then begin work on any changes that are needed. If you have to redesign elements of the page, you may find these free tools and resources come in handy. You can also learn more about what makes a good call to action here.

Once you’ve made sure your homepage answers these questions, assess how your other landing pages compare. If you’ve got Google Analytics, use it to identify your most popular pages and work through the list.

Any questions of your own? Let us know in a comment.

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