Do you know what the most important part of any web page is? It's the part of the web page consumers see before they have to scroll. We refer to this part of a web page as "Above The Scroll" or ATS for short. Why is it so important? Because the content and design of the ATS will determine if consumers engage with your organization or click their browser's back button and move on to one of your competitors.
Above the scroll is a concept we've modified from the newspaper industry. Newspapers typically come folded in half, and the most important section of a newspaper is referred to as "Above The Fold". It's the section of the newspaper you see before you unfold it. It's the section of the newspaper that plays a critical role in determining if you pick it up, browse it, and ultimately purchase it. What do you find above the fold on a newspaper? The day's biggest headline and stories - the content that will engage consumers and motivate them to purchase a copy.
Online, things work a little differently. Consumers can't purchase a copy of your website, but they can and will purchase the services you provide if you optimize the content and design above the scroll on every page of your website.
The purpose of each web page will determine how you optimize above the scroll. For example - the ATS on your home page will be optimized differently than the ATS on your About page. Every web page serves a purpose (or it should) and the way you optimize the ATS of any page should reflect that page's purpose.
Something you need to keep in mind is that every web page on your website is a landing page, meaning, any page can serve as the entry point to your website. In other words not all consumers are going to visit your home page first. This means you need to give careful consideration to the ATS of every page on your website. When a consumer visits your website you only have a few seconds to convince them that they are in the right place. If you can't convince a consumer to stick around and engage with you, they'll move on to their next option - one of your competitors.
A service page is a web page that educates consumers about a specific service you offer. Ideally you'll have individual web pages for each service you offer, as opposed to having one page that lists all of your services. We'll discuss the importance of this in another post. For example, a plumbing company may have service pages for leaky pipe repair, toilet installation, bathroom renovations, etc... However, service pages need to do more than just educate consumers about a particular service, they need to generate leads and customers for your organization.
Here are four critical elements you need to account for in the ATS of your service pages:
Let's take a look at each of these in more detail...
ATS needs to be designed in a way that reflects your organization, and just as important, the desires and intentions of consumers. When consumers visit a web page they quickly process the visual elements. The brain is looking for familiarity and trying to create structure. For example, most websites have their logo in the top left corner, and it links back to the home page. Navigation is usually along the top of the page. There is often some form of media such as a graphic, image or video.
When you pick up a newspaper, your brain knows what to expect, you see big bold headlines, you unfold it, flip the pages, etc... Web pages are similar, our brain knows what to expect. While I encourage you to be creative with the design of your ATS, know your limits. If the design of your ATS causes consumers to stop and process how things are laid out, you risk losing them. The design of your ATS needs to be clean and clear. Don't make it to sparse, and don't over complicate things.
Knowing that you need a clean and uncluttered design is one thing, knowing how to design it is another. In order to design, you need something to design. In the case of a web page, that something is content. To many so called design experts design for the sake of designing. They don't take into account the end user. As long as it looks good they're happy. This is the wrong approach to design. Design serves a purpose, it not only makes things look good, but more importantly, makes them functional. It doesn't matter how great your website looks if it's not functional - meaning it doesn't help consumers and it doesn't add value to your business.
Apart from having a clean design that is easy to scan and navigate, and reflects the purpose of the page, you need to have a message that resonates with consumers. When a consumer reads or hears your message, they should say to themselves "I want to know more." In order to achieve this your message needs to contain the following four elements:
Here's an example of a message we use:
As a service business, generating quality leads in today's digital economy can be challenging. We help service businesses learn and implement a proven 6-step digital marketing strategy, so they can double their leads in 30 days.
Let's break it down...
We start by identifying who we help - service businesses. Next we identify the problem - generating quality leads in today's digital economy can be challenging. Next we tell them about our solution to the problem - we help service businesses learn and implement a proven 6-step digital marketing strategy. Finally, we tell them how they could benefit from our solution - so they can double their leads in 30 days.
If you're a service business that wants to generate more leads so you can win more customers, and there is a 6-step strategy you can use to double your leads in 30 days, would you say to yourself "I want to know more?"
The example we've used above could have been written many different ways. The important thing is that your message includes all four elements.
Now that you have consumers saying to themselves "I want to know more," you need to call them to action - give them a way to learn more. You need to get them to take action that is meaningful to both them and your organization.
Call to actions or CTA's for short, tell consumers what you want them to do. Ideally you'll have two CTA's throughout your website, one for converting consumers into leads, we refer to this as the Lead CTA. And one for converting consumers into customers, we refer to this as the Customer CTA.
You need two CTA's:
The reason you need two CTA's is simple - the majority of consumers that visit your website will not convert into customers on their first visit, and most won't return. If you want proof of this, just look at your website analytics. So, instead of letting consumers leave, you use your Lead CTA to convert them into a lead that you can follow up with.
Your Customer CTA should be short and simple, such as "Request a Consultation", "Schedule an Appointment" or "Get a Free Estimate". These are just a few examples. The purpose of the Customer CTA is make contact with a consumer that is close to making a purchase decision.
Your Lead CTA is a little more complex. You'll need something we refer to as a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something of value you provide for free in exchange for a consumer's contact information. When you capture a consumer's contact information, you gain the ability to stay in touch with them. We'll get into the details of lead magnets in a different post. For now, know that you should use a lead magnet as your Lead CTA.
Too many businesses don't include Lead and Customer CTA's in their ATS and it's costing them business. Don't be one of them, be sure to implement CTA's into your ATS.
In addition to the above, your phone number should be easy to find. Ideally, you should put your phone number in the upper right hand corner of the ATS, and it should be clickable on mobile devices. Often times, businesses omit their phone number at the top of the page for the sake of having a clean and uncluttered design. This is a big mistake. You should never make it difficult for a consumer to contact you. Don't make them hunt through your website to find your phone number - include it in your ATS.
You now know the most important part of every web page, the part above the scroll (ATS). Take the tips in this post and implement them on your website. You may be surprised at the results you achieve. Optimizing this one part of your website could help you double the number of leads you receive each month.
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Toby is the founder and managing director of STRADEGY.CA. He's been helping service businesses grow their bottom line online for over 25 years.
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