The ultimate guide to a more customer focused website: Part 2 the headline

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This post is the second in a series on how to make your website much more engaging for visitors. In the first post, which you can read here, I talked about your company logo and why it should almost certainly be smaller. In this post I am going to look at another really important aspect of your website homepage, the headline. As with your logo, it’s not about you or what your company has achieved, but rather what you offer the customer. How are they the hero in the story?

Is the headline on your homepage really powerful?
Does it grab your visitors’ attention?
Do you even have a headline?

These are all very important questions.

When we craft headlines for our different e-commerce sites, we try to remember that a headline has to grab the visitor’s attention is nano-seconds. Page abandonment is so quick these days, you haven’t got time to say anything complicated. When we were writing the content for our e-commerce course and website, the headline we used was ‘Deliver e-commerce WOW’. We could have said any number of things like ‘make your e-commerce website work more effectively’ but it wouldn’t have been as impactful as ‘Deliver e-commerce WOW’.

A company that does headlines really well is Netflix. They have since changed their main headline but at the time of writing, it was ‘Watch tv programmes and films anytime, anywhere’. Netflix have, incredibly clearly and simply, told their website visitors what they can do and how they can do it. It is really powerful. It grabs your attention and it’s completely customer-centric.

How do you craft a really powerful headline, that is clear, engaging and cannot fail to get your potential customer interested? The headline needs to be all about the customer. As soon as you start talking about what you have achieved you have really strayed from the path! It needs to be completely irresistible to the customer. A quick search online will bring up many articles on how to write a great headline. However, I have put together my top six tips specific to writing a great headline for an e-commerce website:

  1. Do you understand your customers and their needs? Who are they and what do they need?
  2. How can you simply demonstrate what you can do for your customers? What they get out of it?
  3. Be specific
  4. If relevant add a timeframe
  5. Don’t ‘stuff’ your headline
  6. Use a verb

When you are crafting an engaging and powerful headline, always try to keep your customer in mind. Put yourself if their shoes. What do they really care about?

1. Do you understand your customer and their needs?

Lets take the property sector as an example. Imagine you are an estate agency. What headline might you use to draw people in? I looked at a few different estate agencies to get some ideas. One company, Jones and Chapman, a locally based agency, do not appear to have a headline on their homepage at all. The main title, if you can call it that, reads Jones & Chapman estate agents, established in 1923. Jones & Chapman may be excellent at selling and buying houses but their headline isn’t engaging. It focuses solely on the company and not on the customer. Compare this to Rightmove, a national online real estate portal. The headline on their site is ‘Find your happy’. When I read that I subconsciously add the word ‘place’ to the end of the sentence.  It draws me in and its relevant to the sector. It is simple and compelling.

2. How can you simply demonstrate what you can do for your customers?

In the case of Rightmove, their headline implies that you will find somewhere wonderful to live or sell your property, enabling you to be happy in your new home. Certain industries, accountancy firms, estate agencies etc, seem to have default way to create and populate a website. What if there were a different way, one which is much more engaging for your customers? When your customers become the focus, for your business and specifically for your headline, engagement always improves. Website visitors leave the homepage and go to whichever landing page you want them to go to: buy now, sign up etc. It sounds incredibly obvious but I am constantly amazed how many businesses are still focusing on what they have achieved rather than on their customers.

3. Be specific

On first glance the Rightmove headline, ‘Find your happy’ doesn’t seem that specific. However, when coupled with their sub-headline ‘search properties for sale and to rent in the UK’ it is crystal clear what they can do for their visitors. Your customers do need to have more specific questions answered, such as rates and reviews, but the homepage is not the place to include this level of detail.

*'Your headline, along with your sub-headline needs to answer the customer’s initial questions, draw them in and then take them to the next landing

The take away point here is, be clear, not clever.

4. If relevant add a timeline

It is well documented that people scan a webpage, looking for something that stands out. Even in a simple headline, visitors will scan the text, rather than reading every word. If it makes sense, including a time frame can really make your headline jump out. Netflix change their headline fairly regularly, but it has included phrases such as ‘watch anytime, anywhere’. Other key words that work well include ‘now’, ‘immediately’ and ‘in seconds’.

5. Don’t ‘stuff’ your headline

Have you incorporated key words just because they help with SEO? Web development teams will often recommend including key words to improve your search engine ranking. The technical term for this is ‘stuffing’. If it works to include the word then fantastic, if it doesn’t need to be there, don’t include it. As long as you are clear, less is definitely more.

6. Use a verb

Where possible your headline should start with a verb. The verb immediately tells the customer what they can do (or be). The verb you use should make sense for who you are, what you do and what you customer can experience with you. For example, our e-commerce training business has the headline: ‘Deliver e-commerce WOW’. The verb ‘deliver’ makes sense in the world of e-commerce. It ties in nicely with that industry. It also works well as our clients deliver products. 

Your headline should be a statement of what your customers can do. It’s about their transformation. They are the hero. Not you. The golden rule is ‘be clear not clever’.

In my next post, the third in this series, I will be talking about the sub-headline and its importance in a customer focused website.