Home Pages: To Infinity and Beyond!

If you continue to have company discussions about the Web site’s home page and how to make it better, it’s time to accept the reality that the home page as you know it is gone. The new paradigm (the infinite home page) is less a page than a dynamic experience. The home page becomes a virtual catchall to describe the place visitors land when they get to your site. From visit to visit and from person to person, the only thing that might be the same in this model is your logo in the corner (it could be left corner for some visitors, the right for others). To paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, it’s time to take home pages to infinity and beyond!

My colleague and fellow ClickZ columnist Jason Burby has been preaching the big message for a long time. The ROI (define) on Web analytics is zero if you take no action. In other words, stop reporting and start acting. Action really means optimization. The best place to start an optimization program is on your existing home page.

Building an optimization program focused on the landing page can yield immediate impact on key metrics. If you track conversions, you should be able to test various offers on the landing page and see how they perform. If you track time on site, you can determine the content that seems to keep people around the longest. Regardless of the metric, landing page optimization helps you to carefully craft your “handshake” with a visitor and continue to tune it over time. Once you start with landing page optimization, you can dip a toe in the water for more complex initiatives. The experience of being able to take immediate and continuous action on a site and to watch the subsequent improvement in key metrics is very satisfying.

Getting started on landing page optimization is a very straight-forward process. Jonathan Mendez has a nice blog entry entitled, “7 Rules for Landing Page Optimization.” It’s a great place to start planning. There’s also a variety of software packages available that do everything from simple A/B testing to complex behavioral targeting for your site. Before you make an investment in one, make sure you have a plan of action.

Taking an optimization program beyond just the landing page and moving outward to online media is an easy next step and a very powerful model. When you’re doing PPC (define) and advertising, you can start to move beyond just measuring the “click” into exploring the entire lifecycle of a visitor from click to conversion. In this lifecycle optimization scenario, you can continuously adjust the entire experience to drive the specific outcomes necessary to grow your business. Imagine being able to fine-tune ads so some push visitors into your purchase funnel, while others push through to deeper brand engagement.

Ask these three questions now:

  • Am I taking action based on my analytic data?
  • Can I fine-tune my visitors’ experience to drive success metrics?
  • Do I manage the entire visitor experience from off-site click (PPC, ads) through to on-site conversion?

Remember, no action means no ROI. Take your home page — and your customers — to infinity and beyond!

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