Wondering how to make your online business successful? Try thinking of your website as a physical space.

Take yourself back to the pre-pandemic age. You know, the days when you could just take a leisurely down main street and see what captures your attention, not worrying about what you touch, or if your mask has slipped.

Take a moment to shed a nostalgic tear… now focus.

You’re wandering along, and a shop window ahead catches your eye. As you approach it you’re sussing out whether it’s worth going in. Will you enter or will you keep on walking?

That whole thought process lasts, what, 15 seconds tops? Well, that’s the average time spent on a website. That’s how long you have to engage your audience before they disappear.

15 seconds. Short and sweet. You’ve got to make it count! How do you draw them in?

It turns out there are plenty of parallels to draw between the experience of shopping IRL and making a purchase online. Drawing on your real-world shopping experience can help you make better decisions for your online business. It’s an accessible way to get into the mindset of your potential customers, and a great exercise in understanding User Experience (UX).

Translating curb appeal to your online business

So, what are you (the potential customer) thinking about as you approach the store?

  1. That looks cool/interesting/pretty/useful.
  2. What exactly does this store sell?
  3. Can I imagine myself using/wearing that?
  4. Does it look welcoming? Will it be easy to find what I want?

When you land on a webpage, that first section you see before scrolling has a couple of names: it’s called the “above the fold” or “hero” section. Consider this your shop window. It should draw your customers in and reflect that curbside experience.

Let’s take a look at each of those bullet points and see how we can translate ‘curb appeal’ to your online business.

1. That looks cool/interesting/pretty/useful

For each landing page, you want a strong “hero” image that relates to your brand and the content of the webpage.

It shouldn’t be over cluttered with text and images. One image and a few lines of text are all that’s needed.

2. What exactly does this store sell?

You’re 3 seconds in and you’ve piqued their interest. Great! But if it’s not obvious what your brand is about you could lose them.

If you’re selling physical goods, this is relatively straightforward. It’s much easier to describe a physical product that’s familiar (such as shoes or food products) than it is to describe a digital service (such as a B2C marketing platform.)

A common mistake we see is that digital service brands get so bogged down describing the benefits of their products that they forget to describe what it is they actually do.

Take BigCommerce.com for example. This is the copy in their hero section:

“Create an Unfair Advantage
Fuel your business with all the capabilities of enterprise—without the cost or complexity.”

Cool. But do we know what they do? It’s all kind of abstract, isn’t it?

By comparison, take a look at this copy from slack.com:

“Slack brings the team together, wherever you are
With all of your communication and tools in one place, remote teams will stay productive no matter where you’re working from.”

Yes! I’m on board! In short, to keep your visitors engaged, spell out exactly what it is you do.

3. I can imagine myself using/wearing that

Successful online business

Address your customer directly in your hero copy. Write in the second person (you, your.) This invites your visitors to take action.

Ideally, say who it’s for. Look at the copy from Slack again. They explicitly state that their platform is for “remote teams.”

You can also feature someone using your product/service in your hero image – choose a person, or several people who reflect your clients. Are they professionals? Students? Outdoor enthusiasts? Technophiles? It’s an opportunity to get your customers to identify with your brand.

Whether it’s through your image, your copy, or both, make sure your clients know your product is for them.

4. Does it look welcoming? Will it be easy to find what I want?

So now there are only a few seconds left and they’re taking a metaphorical peek through the door of your shop. Is it organized? Will the experience be stress-free?

IRL, unless it’s Black Friday (or T.J.Maxx) nobody’s going to want the experience of trawling through a store to try and find what they want, and exactly the same is true in online business.

Make sure the information they’re looking for is just a click away in your navigation menu. The text should be clear and unambiguous. Include dropdown menus to help them get directly where they want to go.

Ideally, you should also include at least one call to action (CTA) in your hero section to invite your visitors on a journey through to purchase.

Take a look at the hero section on our homepage. When figuring out the logistics of how to make my online business easy to navigate, I knew that CTAs would help lead my time-starved visitors on a journey to get them where they need to be quickly and easily.

So, we created two CTAs based on the different needs of our clients:

  • The “view our work” button is for first-time visitors who want to get to know us and see our portfolio.
  • The “hire us” button leads to our contact page and is for clients who have visited before and want to get in contact right away.

Success!

The 15 seconds are up and your customers are through the door (so to speak). You’ve passed the curb appeal test. That’s half the battle!

Now your customers are fully engaging with your site, the next challenge is to get them through to purchase. But that’s a blog for another day.

Want more advice on how to make your online business successful? We’re here to chat about the needs of your business. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.