First Impressions: Is Your Home Page About Positioning or Proposition?
After you’ve hacked away at the inessentials in UX, and you understand where your biggest conversion drop-offs are, it’s time to think some more about how you can best guide your customers’ decision-making process.
First impressions count. And the home page is the first place those impressions are made. We know you already have a fabulously clean layout and sharp design in place, so we’re going to focus on your positioning and proposition.
As we know, your proposition includes your product, price, service, and delivery. Your positioning, however, is more brand-oriented — who you are, what you stand for, and how you stand in relation to the competition.
The important thing to remember is that when a customer sets out to shop, they begin with fairly well-defined needs. They have a budget in mind, they’re clear about the product they are after, the specs, features, and so on. But once they encounter your online store, the stories you tell about your positioning and proposition create expectations. And, as we’ll see, they also affect expectations of your customer service.
Most web store owners just do what feels right on their home page, then test and improve, which is ok. But if you want to do it better and faster, then try asking the questions below.
Goal: What is your most important business goal right now?
Audience: Who are your key customers and what are their needs?
Message: What is the thing that will best meet their needs and trigger them toward your goal?
By using that little framework (Goal, Audience, Message) you will be able to sharpen both your positioning and proposition and adapt your home page content accordingly.
The important thing is to prioritize. You can’t be all things to all people all of the time. But you can adapt your messaging over time as you change your goals.
Below there are some great examples from stores across the web. Some focus on proposition, others on positioning — and some mix it up a bit.
When looking at these examples, think about what’s worked for you in the past and what hasn’t and consider your goals.
Sum-up your whole brand positioning in a single big image, like this example from Shwood, so your customer gets a great feel of your brand values. This is most useful when your market is a higher-end “aspirational product” in apparel for example.
Immediately focus on features and benefits like in this example from CardinalCase. The customer knows in an instant whether your site has the product they want. This idea is most effective when you are in electronics or offering less expensive, faster-moving SKUs.
Surprise your customer with a big, quirky personal image, like in this example from Kinkytease. It triggers the consumer to find out exactly who is behind your brand. This is most useful when you have a clearly defined niche audience, and a personalized product, that you totally identify with.
Communicate a top-line proposition in just a few words, like in this example from MyNaturalForce. This page taps directly into customer needs. It is most useful in highly competitive spaces when the final purchase-decision is in the details of your proposition.
Hit your customer with an offer they cannot refuse in just a few words, like in this example from Made. Trigger your customers to start shopping as quickly as possible. This is best used when your price proposition is your biggest competitive edge.
Let’s back up a moment. None of these examples talk about customer service on their home pages explicitly, right? Yet every single one sets customer service expectations.
If you contacted MADE, you would probably expect a tight, professional service. If you were to contact Kinkytease, it would look like you were in for a fun ride. CardinalCase? Probably good, but not as personal as the Kinky team.
As we said earlier, as a small E-Commerce site owner responsible for customer service, it’s important to be aware of the expectations your home page creates. That’s half the battle in meeting those expectations.
With all of this in mind, we’ll move into optimizing your product(s). Don’t fear, we won’t be reinventing the wheel, we’re simply going to focus on key things to keep you on a competitive customer service playing field. And any good team has a strong defense…