Eight seconds is the sound of someone leaving your website!

Companies that have a website should really have everyone they know take the eight second test. On average, B2B customers looking for solutions to business problems, search on a topic, click on the first three to five choices they see on page one, spend five to eight seconds on the home page and then leave. (If you don’t believe this, ask five business people how they search.)
Recently at the YTA Marketing Bootcamp hosted by Marketing CoPilot on April 29, 2010, I had participants take the home page challenge. Each participant brought a printed copy of their home page. I asked them to pass their home page, face down to the person sitting two from their right. (This eliminated pre-conceived notions about their company that might have occurred during pre-event networking.)  On the count of three they had eight seconds to turn over the paper and circle the answer to the following three questions:

  1. Where are you? (brand)
  2. What can you do on this homepage? (conversion)
  3. Why would you do it? (value proposition)

Of the 30 participants in the room, only two companies passed the test with their tester having good answers to all three questions stating they would stay on the site and dig deeper.  6% is a pretty low percentage but probably not far off the industry average.
Your website has become your receptionist, your sales rep and your customer service department all in one. It’s hard to ignore the cold hard truth: you have less than eight seconds to tell your story and it better be a good one or your potential customer has left for your competitor’s site.  And to make it worse, your competition isn’t who you think it is…. It’s anyone who ranks above you on a Google search return.
So what’s a marketing consultant from Toronto to do to help clients?
First, make sure you have a clear understanding of your keywords. A great keyword workbook I use can be found at www.gshiftlabs.com. It will take about 20 minutes to complete and gives you insight into whether your content is well positioned on your home page.
Second, take a look at your home page and check to see if your value proposition is dead centre on the home page and if it’s clear enough to attract your ideal prospect for longer than eight seconds. Many companies give up valuable eye tracking real estate to graphics and stock photography that don’t support the value proposition. Or worse, they bury the lead in the “about us” section. Giving a prospect a reason to stay should never be a click away.
Third, make sure you have used your keywords somewhere obviously visible on the home page so that your ideal prospect knows they are in the right place. The biggest culprit for bounce rates is when a prospect Google’s a topic and then clicks through to a site that has nothing to do with what they searched on. When this happens you have a nanosecond not eight.
The road to turning your website into your best sales tool is a long and arduous one but at least you can start by making sure you have something in big bold letters to get people past the eight second mark. If you really want to mine the data to get the home page right, consider coming out to our breakfast seminar on June 1st, 2010 called “Web Presence Analytics in Action”. We’ll show you how to track content to see if it’s engaging your audience. But we’ll take longer than eight seconds to explain it!

Marketing CoPilot