The anatomy of a six-figure website: 7 essentials to attract, nurture and convert
I’ve compiled some solid insights about what it takes to build a high-converting website. If you are in the process of building or updating your website consider these 7 essential elements that will help you attract, nurture and convert more customers.
Though I’m technically not a designer, I love building websites for my businesses as well as for my clients especially since out-of-the-box platforms like Squarespace (which I use for all of my projects) make it easy to put together a beautiful website in days or weeks instead of months.
From my experience working as a digital strategist for e-commerce shops at brands like Ralph Lauren, eBay and Gilt — as well as experiments with smaller clients and my own brands — I’ve garnered some solid insights about what it takes to build a high-converting website.
Below are the top 7 essential elements that you need to incorporate into the design of your website if you want to attract, nurture and convert customers.
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1. Landing Page
The landing page is the main page used to communicate who you are, who you serve and how you serve them. Depending on your business model and product offering you may strategically use a variety of landing pages, but for most businesses this main page is the homepage. In fact, visitors may reach your website in different ways but will automatically navigate to your homepage if they feel compelled to learn more about you.
For instance, most of the traffic on this website comes in via my blog posts. From analytics I know that a certain percentage of blog visitors will want to investigate more before they will engage with me. So in addition to the navigation, I included a small Start link in the footer navigation as well to lead them to my homepage.
Given its importance, the landing page has to be designed to do a lot of heavy-lifting in terms of resonating with your audience, engaging them and compelling them to take action. I’ve experimented with many different landing page layouts and have found the following components to be most necessary.
Powerful Headline — this is a short but significant statement about who you serve and what you have that benefits them.
Strong Call-to-Actions — this is a clear indicator of how you want you want your visitors to do next (such as a Shop Now button).
Relevant Imagery — a highly effective image (or set of images) that help you visually connect with your visitors
Informative Story — a longer summary statement about who you are, who you serve and what you offer (your value proposition)
Features Snapshot — a benefits-focused outline of your offerings so your visitors understand what they can expect from you
Streamlined Navigation — an easy way for visitors to explore more by directing them to the secondary pages on your website
Footer Section — a section at the bottom of the page where additional information and navigation can be found
Trust Factors — supplemental elements that help establish familiarity and build trust with your visitors.
My homepage is primarily designed to incite readers to take the next step (sign up for my complimentary offerings) so I can continue adding value before I position my paid products.But, as mentioned, some businesses will have more than one landing page and strategically determine the layout based on their goal.
I use a different format for the page that discusses my coaching program. Here I completely remove the navigation and footer and withhold the CTA until the bottom of the page. This eliminates distractions and ensures that only qualified individuals reach out to me. I want serious inquires only, so if someone can't take time to read the information then they probably aren't a good fit for my program.
Likewise, when building your landing page(s) always keep the end goal in mind and design the layout to nudge your audience towards that goal.
2. Email Capture
Your website must include elements that turn a visitor into a lead. The best way to do that is to create a sales funnel with email capture as the key goal and then figure out how each page of your website will support it. Capturing email is critical as it allows you to communicate directly with individuals who’ve expressed interest in your business. According to eMarketer, email is the best channel for customer acquisition given its high conversion rate and return on investment.
For this website, I employ a few different email-centric sales funnels based on the source of traffic. However, most of the traffic on this website comes from Pinterest. So my sales funnel for Pinterest visitors is as follows:
Pinterest » Blog Post » Homepage » Email Capture » Email Series » Landing Page
Or, for those who navigate to the homepage to investigate more:
Pinterest » Blog Post » Homepage » Email Capture » Email Series » Landing Page
Pinterest — this is my primary source of traffic so I spend a lot of effort pinning my blog posts to lure pinners into my website.
Blog Posts — as I’ll discuss below, consistent content creation is one of my most important means of attracting and connecting with visitors.
Homepage — as mentioned above, my homepage is my main landing page and designed with email capture in mind.
Email Capture — I capture email using high-value complimentary opt-ins, making sure visitors know that turning over their email will be worth it.
Email Series — for all of my sales funnel, I take subscribers through a robust evergreen email series to educate, engage and further establish trust before pitching my products.
Landing Page — in addition to my homepage, I have landing pages set up for my products and will link to those from in my email sales pitch.
I can’t stress enough the importance of putting a mechanism in place to attract qualified visitors, turn them into leads, and nurture those leads until they are ready to be converted into customers. No matter what type of business you run, take time to build an effective sales funnel and have a point of entry (i.e. email capture) on multiple areas of your website.
3. Visual Identity
A stunning design is not a nice-to-have but a must-have. You only have a short period of time to convince your visitors that you are relevant to them. For my clients, both large and small, I typically see, on average, visitors stay on a website for only 60 seconds with over 60% leaving before even navigating to a second page.
I’ve surveyed over a thousand visitors to my website and found that the aesthetic is a primary determinant of whether someone will stick around or not. Beauty buys you time so it it pays to spend time building your brand strategy.
You brand strategy touches on various elements of how you position yourself but the outcome should be a style guide that you use to design a consistent visual identity (logos, fonts, colors, images, etc.) that make your site look polished and professional. I provide guidance on how to design a strong visual identity in my branding course.
Branding comes into play once again with your voice and tone as you want to be consistent in the way you message and communicate with your audience. Once you have a strategic plan for your voice, it is worth investing in a copywriter to bring it to life (if you don’t consider yourself to be a strong writer).
Because I love writing so much I do the bulk of the writing for this website and my other businesses. However, for most of my clients I highly advise finding a skilled writer who knows how to write high-converting copy — especially for the sales-driven email and product pages. But if you are a good writer then keep in mind these tips:
Use your own voice — be consistent and genuine. If you are a person, write like you speak in reali life. If you run a brand with a distinct identity (apart from you), then stay true to the brand voice you developed in your brand strategy.
Keep it simple — because you are ultimately selling products to visitors with short attention spans, get to the point. An online business website is not the place for overly flourished, academic, or hyped up writing.
Understand your audience — focus on your niche and build your persona so you use words that they can relate to. Don’t be so broad in who you are trying to reach that you end up watering down your message.
Focus on benefits — the reader needs to clearly and quickly understand how what you offer is valuable to them. When discussing your products highlight the benefits and why it solves their needs
Insert emotional words — because you are solving problems or meeting needs you need to incorporate words that connect emotionally with your audience. Humans may be rational beings, but we make decisions with our emotions. Power words are those that stir up feelings and only through feelings can you inspire action.
Have a strong CTA — if nothing else, be direct about how you want your audience to engage with you. Don’t assume they will know what to do next, lead them to it. A call-to-action is what prompts a visitor to your website to do something — it’s pretty hard to convert without them.
5. Blog Posts
Consistent development of value-added content is the lifeblood of websites, and what easier way to accomplish this than via a blog? Blogs are an excellent means of serving your audience, building authority and thought leadership in your field and driving traffic to your website. Particularly if you blog with the end goal in mind (i.e. understanding that you ultimately want to generate quality leads that you can eventually convert to customers).
If it wasn't for my blog, I wouldn't have a business. I initially attract the vast majority of visitors via my blog posts. The insights I provide serve as proof that I’m a skilled professional who can help them. As a result, my blog fuels my sales funnel and most of my opt-ins come directly from my blog posts.
Visitors to my blog are not always potential clients. Sometimes journalists, brands and other partners and collaborators find me after happening upon one of blog posts. So I’ve been able to expand my reach and unlock additional revenue opportunities all from blogging.
Starting a blog and maintaining it on a regular basis will be one of the best things you can do to market your business and attract your perfect customer.
6. High-Quality UX
The most important considerations for a high-quality user experience (UX) is to make sure your website is performing optimally when it comes to the following elements:
Ease — Visitors need to be able to navigate your website with ease so build your interface with flow in mind.
Speed — People are impatient so your web pages need to load fast (use Google PageSpeed to assess the speed of your site and make any recommended improvements)
Responsiveness — Your website needs to look good on multiple devices (especially mobile as, according to Statista, over 50% of website traffic is via mobile devices).
7. Trust Factors
Trust factors are all of the supporting elements that convince visitors that you can legitimately add value to them. These are the things that make a visitor think I like them and I believe they can help me. All of the aforementioned elements of a website serve as the most important ways of building trust. However, I’ve found that the strategic use of different content formats also works wonders in connecting with visitors.
Most websites rely almost exclusively on words and images to communicate. However, given the rise of video and audio I think we’ll soon get to the point where you'll have to offer content in a wider variety of formats.
Moreover, people prefer to consume information in different ways. I love to read and almost always prefer words over other formats. But it’s clear that most people have short attention spans and limited time so I’m in the minority. Reading is increasingly taking a back seat to listening and watching.
Because of these trends in content consumption, I use audio clips in key places on my website to support my message. In my courses and opt-ins (such as my masterclass) I use a full range of formats: video, audio, words and images. I'm also working on incorporating gallery slideshows and animated icons to add movement.
I think the key takeaway here is that words and images can be quite flat and static. Alternate formats create depth and texture — leading to a more dynamic experience that builds trust.
Now, other common trust factors are press mentions, client Logos and testimonials. These definitely play a role but I tend to see websites overuse them and as a result I don't believe they are as convincing as they once were. I still use these elements but do so more subtly as I’d rather play up the creation and delivery of highly valuable, irresistible content in multiple formats.
And keep in mind, no matter how much effort you put into your website, the underlying strategy needs to connect back to value — for yourself and your audience. Take my masterclass that outlines a unique blueprint for personal and business growth.