Is Your Site Leaking Traffic? Here's How to Fix It
Your website is leaking visitors.
People visit, look around for a few seconds – and leave as suddenly as they came.
Most estimates say that the average web site visitor will give you only 10 seconds (or less) to make a great impression before they click away.If you don’t make a dramatic impression… *poof!* They’re gone forever.
The painful truth is that if you can’t wow new visitors in the first few seconds, everything else means nothing.
Your top-notch content.
Your amazing products and services.
Your stellar reputation.
It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.
…unless you can get them to stay past those first 10 crucial seconds.
Why Your Monetization Efforts *Must* Begin Above the Fold
If you didn’t realize it, the term above the fold comes from the newspaper business. Since newspapers were folded in half before being sold, newspaper editors quickly realized how significant this “fold” area was.
In order to sell more newspapers, they would put the most important news story, the most striking photograph, and the most powerful headline above the fold in order to catch a reader’s attention.
Your website’s above the fold area serves the important function of answering all of your new visitor’s important questions in mere seconds.
And the most important questions you need to answer in the first 10 seconds all have to do with what I call the 3 C’s.
Clarity - Credibility - Commitment
These are the three things that will make those first 10 seconds productive, get your new visitors to stay on your site and subscribe to your email list.
C #1: Clarity
Try to look at your site through a new visitor’s eyes. Will they immediately be able to tell what you’re about and how you’re unique?
Honestly answer the following questions about the clarity of your site.
1: Does your website provide near-instant clarity of your topic/industry, your message, and your point of differentiation?
In general, does the design and messaging of your blog make a brand new visitor say, “Ohhhh… I get it!” or does it make them say, “What the hell is this about?”
2: Does your domain name provide clarity about who you are and what you do?
Even if you have a very clear and descriptive domain name, you might also consider using a tag line to further describe what you do and how you’re different. That’s what I do here on my site.
3: If you do use a tag line, make sure it helps to sharply focus your messaging and doesn’t confuse people.
A good tag line should be short, memorable, very descriptive, and it should outline a benefit for the visitor. One of the biggest mistakes I see made with tag lines is people trying to be too clever. A clever tag line is fine, but not at the expense of being clear or descriptive. Clever has the potential to confuse or distract if you’re not careful.
When it comes to tag lines, if you have to choose, always choose clear over clever.
4: Does your site design appear professional and clean – or cluttered and amateurish?
In the comments of one of my last posts, Marianne (who’s a talented designer) said something important…
Marianne made her comment from a design perspective since she’s a designer – but she’s 100% right from a messaging perspective, too.
If your above the fold area tries to jam too much into a small space, your visitors will become over-stimulated like a four year old who’s all hopped up on Mountain Dew.
Fat chance getting them to focus, right?
If there are too many things to see, read, and assimilate – you’ll just confuse them.
Keep it clean.
C #2: Credibility
If we were able to slow down and chart the brain activity of your new visitor, we’d probably see them mentally crossing items off of a very important checklist. The first item, clarity, has to do with their ability to understand you and your message.
If you’ve successfully made it easier for a new visitor to understand your message, what do you think is likely the next question they’ll want answered?
How about, “Who runs this place and why should I listen to anything they have to say?”
That’s a credibility question – and your answer must be demonstrated above the fold.
1: Does your domain name (URL) make you look professional or amateurish?
If your domain is www.yourname.freebloghost.com, many visitors will write you off before they even give you a fair chance to impress them. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s a fact – and you need to be aware of that fact. Get a professional custom domain.
2: Are you using a professional, premium theme?
Yeah I know, something else to pay for, right? Hey, I get it. I started this site on a shoestring, too.
But this is one of those areas where you need to suck it up, bite the bullet, or do some other clichéd thing that means, “step up and spend the money.”
While premium Wordpress themes cost $75-$99, they also look great, are easy to customize, provide excellent tech support when you need it, and come with significant SEO benefits. And newer design/hosting services like Wix and Squarespace come with all kinds of professional looking (and simple) design options.
But the bottom line: Your blog needs to look professional - not cheesy.
3: Do you have testimonials visible above the fold?
If you have testimonials, place them in such a way that they’re at least partially visible above the fold.
When we observe other people approving of something, that thing becomes more acceptable to us. That’s called social proof – and testimonials are a fantastic way to show people that you are someone to be listened to.
If you have testimonials from recognized names, do your best to make at least one of them visible above the fold. Even if your testimonials aren’t from well-known people, you can still prominently feature a powerful or dramatic statement from anyone above the fold.
People like to follow people who other people follow. We’re interesting animals, aren’t we? :)
4: Do you use ‘authority by association’ above the fold?
If you have media credits, awards, or “as seen on” logos, you should display those above the fold as well.
When you do that, you’re associating yourself with those other better-known entities and, to a degree, drafting on their reputation and authority.
Don’t invent credits, but if you have some, try to work them in above the fold.
C #3: Commitment
Lastly, after we’ve clearly presented our message and communicated our credibility, we need to use whatever is left of our 10 seconds to get a commitment from our new visitor.
1: Do you have an attractive optin form in a prominent position above the fold?
If you answered, “no” to this one, shame on you. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Ok, so I’m being a tiny bit sarcastic… but seriously… your email list is objective numero uno. No question, no arguments. If you don’t have a strong email list, you don’t have a successful website. Period. This goes for brick & mortar businesses too. I’m blown away by how many don’t have an active mail list.
If you immediately implement just one tip from this post, make it this one. Make sure you have a nice, obvious opt-in form above the fold.
There are several ways to create attractive, attention-grabbing opt-in forms that available to you. Start with your email list provider. Most have several great options for creating forms.
2: Do you make other requests for commitment above the fold?
While the ultimate commitment you want from a new visitor is their email address, there are other types of smaller commitments that can move you closer to that end.
Enticing links in your menu or in your home featured area can also be effective in getting a new visitor to click through to something that interests them – and hopefully subscribe during that first visit.
If you can get them to stay more than those 10 seconds, your chances increase dramatically.
Pages and links like resources, free stuff, call us, or start here (just to name a few) all increase your ability to engage a new visitor, keep them on the page, and eventually turn them into a subscriber.
A Reminder: While we’re talking about all these components of a great above the fold area, I want to re-remind you not to confuse messaging elements with design elements.
You do not have to jam tons of physical design items above the fold to make it effective. You do need to fit in a lot of messaging. Messaging as a powerful force that’s not always visible.
Why Above the Fold Is So Hard to Get Right
In this post, I’ve shared some of the most crucial elements of your above the fold area, but there’s only so much that can be said in a blog post.
Above the Fold is part of your overall messaging and branding. The thing about messaging and branding is that it’s highly personal. In other words, what works for your friends and associates may not work for you.
The branding and messaging strategy for an extreme fitness blog, for instance, would be night and day different from the strategy used by a holistic health blog.
But one thing is true for each and every one of us:If you want to monetize your blog, it all starts in those first 10 seconds above the fold.
After reading this post - what do you think you need to fix on your ‘above the fold?’
What are you doing well?