The 3 Hurdles Your Website Visitors Have To Clear In 8 Seconds — Or Else You Die
Web Searchers—Your Prospects—Are Subconsciously Making Split-Second Decisions That Will Make or Break The Success Of Your 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 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, 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, 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 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.
Most sites look “okay” and have a certain level of professionalism. But most don’t 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 your website can’t be successful; I’m just saying that you are definitely getting fewer visitors, fewer leads, and fewer sales than you SHOULD be getting if your website makes these mistakes.
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.
Expectations need to be set. Words need to be used to describe how you’re different and how you’re better. A heck of a lot better than most websites out there.
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 that you’re the right business for 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 photos and customer references. They want to see and believe that other people have used you—large quantities of people, preferably—and actually LIKE you. They want to 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 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.
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