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The 3 Hurdles Your Website Visitors Have To Clear In 8 Seconds Or Less—Or Else You Die.

It’s Your Job To Help Your Website Visitors Make It Over The 3 Critical Hurdles.

It’s Your Job To Help Your Website Visitors Make It Over The 3 Critical Hurdles.

Web Searchers—Your Prospects—Are Subconsciously Making Split-Second Decisions That Will Make Or Break The Success Of A Contractor’s Website.

Okay, so maybe you won’t actually DIE.

But you could lose website visitors that SHOULD be buying from you—which is totally unnecessary.

When somebody lands on your home improvement website, their subconscious brain goes into hyper-efficient mode to quickly make split-second decisions about whether or not to continue looking at your site. My totally unscientific research shows that there are THREE major hurdles you’ve got to help prospects clear if you want them to truly engage with your website and actively consider doing business with you.

Without further ado, here are the three hurdles:

Hurdle 1 (0.5 Seconds): Is This Website Total Garbage? When a web searcher first lands on your site (or any site for that matter), they immediately start scanning the page—even as it’s loading—looking for any sign that the site either IS or IS NOT a solution to what they are searching for.

If the site looks like crap (EXHIBIT A), or if loads too slowly, or if it’s hard to tell what you sell, or if it’s not even for the category they were searching (Example: Searching for siding and roofing comes up on the page), then they’ll bail out in less than 1 second. Literally, LESS THAN ONE SECOND.

Hurdle 2 (3 Seconds): Is There Anything Interesting Here? Assuming your website wasn’t a total train wreck per above, the prospect is now going to take about 2 or 3 additional seconds to see if there is anything interesting on the site that’s worthy of his time to look at more carefully. This is where most contractors’ websites strike out—even reasonably nice looking sites.

The major transgression is “ME-TOO-itis.” In other words, your site looks, feels, smells, and tastes just about like every other website. Don’t believe me? Check these out:

hurdleexample1hurdleexample2hurdleexample3Hurdle Example 4

All of these sites look “okay” and have a certain level of professionalism. But none of them do anything AT ALL to stop the prospects “in their tracks” and make them want to keep looking through the website. Let me be perfectly clear: I’m not saying these websites can’t be successful; I’m just saying they are definitely getting fewer visitors, fewer leads, and fewer sales than they SHOULD be getting.

It’s tempting to think if your website is not HURTING you (like those that fail on the first hurdle), that everything is okay. But trust me, NOT SUCKING (clearing the first hurdle) is not even close to the same thing as BEING AWESOME (clearing the second hurdle).

To make it over the second hurdle, your website must give the reader the promise that you offer a superior value and it’s worth pursuing further.

This isn’t accomplished with design or colors or pictures. It’s done with WORDS. Words that capture your identity. Words that explain who you are, how you’re different, and what people can expect when doing business with you. Here are a couple good examples of clearing the second hurdle:

hurdleexample5hurdleexample6Promises are made. Expectations are set. Words are used to describe how they’re different and how they’re better. A heck of a lot better than “Lone Star Roofing of Texas provides roofing and other construction services for both residential and commercial clients.” Snore.

Hurdle 3 (8 Seconds): Do I Trust These Guys? This is where lookers get turned into buyers. Once the prospect reads (again—words!) your headlines and understands that you offer a superior value proposition, they’re going to want you to PROVE it. They want to know if they can trust your claims… and in turn, trust you. This is where the elements of testimony, social proof and evidence come into play.

Testimony means they want to hear what you have to say. If you tell them (like above) that you’re the right remodeler for persnickety, demanding, hard to please, and picky people, they’re going to want to know more about what that means. There had better be additional clarifying information for them to read and absorb, or you lose. In other words, you can’t just make a claim and the leave it hanging out on the line all by it’s lonesome—you have to back it up. You have to explain it. You have to give examples. Don’t assume they know or believe anything. Use words to give depth and meaning to your headlines.

Social proof means job photos, customer references, and online reviews. They want to see and believe that other people have used you—large quantities of people, preferably—and actually LIKE you. They want to see pictures of your work and hear others sing your praises. They want to shortcut their own due diligence by seeing what others think.

Once they make it over hurdle number 2, they’re going to spend about 5 additional seconds SCANNING THE HOME PAGE of your site to see if the additional information I just mentioned is present and easy to find and read. If they don’t see that it’s readily findable, they’ll bail. If they see that your claims are empty and not backed up, they’ll bail. If they don’t find proof that others know and love you, they’ll bail.

That’s 8 total seconds. Tick tock.

In Marketing, seconds matter. Half seconds matter. Milliseconds matter. Make sure your home improvement website is doing everything it should be doing to capture viewers and successfully guiding them over the first three critical hurdles. If you do, you’ll see your conversion go up EXPONENTIALLY—and you’ll make a ton more money.

© 2014 – 2017, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.

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