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Home page dilemma





 
Subject: Home page dilemma...
From: "Peter Sandeen" <peter@petersandeen.com>
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Date: Thu, Apr 25, 2013 5:36 pm
To: bob@mistersalesman.com


Got a great question from Faige, one of the readers, after yesterday's email.


Does that mean you don't believe in a regular home page with the latest posts?


(A "regular home page" now refers to a blog page that only lists the latest posts.)


There's no universal answer, though I usually advice against it.


But here's how you should look at the question...


What's the purpose of a home page?


Actually it has at least three:


1. It "greets" new visitors. New visitors don't know what your site is about or why they should stick around. Your home page has to convince them to stay.


2. It gives returning visitors an easy way to get to the content they're looking for.


3. It helps "lost" visitors find what they're looking for. (Note: if your site is built well, people rarely get lost, so this isn't as important.)


Looking at those, you could argue that you shouldn't have your latest posts on your home page.


But you could also argue that you should...


If you DO have your latest posts on the home page and there's nothing else on the page (besides the normal header with navigation and footer), it's unlikely that new visitors would really understand what the site is about. If the latest post isn't super interesting to them, they won't start reading and they leave the site.


If you DON'T have the latest posts on the home page, but instead dedicate it to explain what the site is about, returning visitors who are looking for the latest post will need to click one more time (the "blog" link in the navigation) to find it.




It's easy enough for returning visitors to change the bookmark they have to include the "/blog" at the end, so they won't have to make the extra click.


But there's another reason why you might want to have the latest posts on your home page.


You need to give new visitors something to click after understanding what the site is about.


The latest posts are one option.


And it's one of the best options because starting to read an article is a very low commitment, and people are ready to do that right after coming to the site. For example, joining your list is a much bigger commitment.



One of the easiest ways to add an introduction to a blog style home page is to use a "sticky" post.


The idea is that you write a "post" that's always shown at the top of the post listing as if it was the latest post.


It's usually very easy to se up, and it's a decent solution (especially if you don't know how to build a custom home page).


That sticky post is, however, on the way of the latest posts.


And ideally, you won't show it to returning visitors.


Fortunately, it's quite easy to set up.


That is, if you use Visual Website Optimizer or some other tool that allows behavioral targeting. (Step-by-step instructions at the end of this email.)


If things aren't confusing enough by now, then let's add the question of conversion goals into the mix.


What is it really worth for you that the visitors read your posts?


Are they more likely to join your list if they're directed to a landing page from the home page instead of a blog post?


Or do you want them to share the post?


Or are you hoping they'll buy something on their first visit?


Or that they contact you?


Your primary conversion goal, the action you're hoping visitors take, should dictate what your home page is like.


Its purpose, like the purpose of your whole site, is to lead people toward that goal.


If you believe the best way to do that is to show them the latest posts, then you should do that.


But it's rare—I'm not sure if the case even exists—to have a site where the home page shouldn't have at least some kind of an introduction for new visitors.


The only way around that is to show first-time visitors a different version of the home page that has the introduction.


And that's really worth considering if you're serious about improving your results.


The sticky-post solution is usually easy to set up, so don't shy away from it just because it might seem difficult or "too fancy."


And even if you don't set it up so that returning visitors don't see the sticky, it's still better than no introduction at all.



Maybe this is what you'll do this weekend? :)


Cheers,
Peter






---Here are the instructions if you want to show a different home page for new and returning visitors with Visual Website Optimizer---


Just set up a new "test" and pick "Geo-Behavioral Targeting" as the test type.


Then write the URL (your home page address).


Then select the sticky post in the editor window and click remove.


Then specify that this version should only be shown to returning visitors.


Set the goal to engagement (or whatever you want).


And finish the setup just like any test (two more clicks).




If you need help, let me know.


And just so you know, the links to Visual Website Optimizer are affiliate links. It's the testing tool I use and always recommend, so the tiny commission I can get isn't the reason I use it as an example.








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