Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Your Website’s Door
The contractors who built our house obviously had a sense of humor.
What happened is, they put the front and side doors pretty much at opposite ends of the house. Not all that unusual in concept, but our house is wide rather than deep. So we have to negotiate several rooms in order to get from one door to the other.
Consequently, when the doorbell rings, the scene inside often resembles a Marx Brothers’ movie, with Harpo and Chico chasing after each other.
It usually goes something like this: A visitor comes to the side door (which is closest to the driveway) and rings the bell. Inevitably, I’m in my office, which is close to the front door. By the time I get to the side door, the visitor has decided the bell doesn’t work and goes to the front door. A couple of back-and-forths like this and I finally open the door, stick my head out and negotiate a meeting point.
And speaking of points. Believe it or not, I do have one.
Too often, it seems, companies design their websites under the assumption that visitors enter through only one door — the home page. And once inside (that assumption continues) those visitors will easily find their way around.
But in the words of that famous Web copywriter, Ira Gershwin, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
In general, there are two ways visitors enter your site: the front door and the side door. No, I mean directly and indirectly.
includes stuff like PPC and banner ads or embedded links in an email. In these cases, you get to decide which door (landing page) the visitors use.
includes links from organic search results, or from someone else’s website, blog article or online community page. In these cases, others get to decide.
The thing is, you don’t always know which bell will ring.
Why does it matter? A couple of reasons…
- The motivations are different. In the direct case, visitors are responding to a specific offer, such as a whitepaper, webinar or product advertisement. Or to a long-tail search like, “highest rated nail polishing software.” In the indirect case, they’re looking for more general information – industry trends, research data or that wacky video that went viral.
- The transitions are different. In the direct case, visitors know they’re coming to your company’s website. There is no confusion. In the indirect case, they’re walking into a door not completely sure whose house it is. It’s up to you to let them know where they are before they run away.
How do you do these things? Here are some first steps…
- Figure out how many doors you really have. Use Web analytics and tracking tools to collect data about where your visitors come from, what pages they land on, and what they do once they get to your site. You can refine the data by adding UTM tracking tags to URLs you create.
- Ease the transition. Take a look at the most popular landing pages. Does each one stand alone? Ensure that the text on each page establishes the proper context. Highlight specific actions that help to further explain that context. On the “Contact Us” page, for example, create a big “More About Who We Are” button.
- Make them feel comfortable. Placing a “Request a Quote” button on product and services pages makes sense. But it may be a little too pushy for other pages. Consider calls-to-action relevant to each page’s purpose, such as a blog post or white paper, newsletter sign-up or link to the how-to videos.
The bottom line: You never know who’s going to show up or which door they’ll use. In any case, it’s good business to greet them and let them know where they are.
Now if you’ll excuse me, someone’s tapping on my window.