Imagine this scenario: You have a beautiful new website incorporating your latest imagery and using all the digital marketing ploys recommended by your agency. Yet the bounce rate remains stubbornly high. Potential customers are landing on your homepage but then leaving, maybe to book with an OTA or, even worse, with one of your direct competitors.
Customers have an expectation of what awaits them on the landing page. Just as when people do a Google search, they want relevant, tailored content. If your homepage, the grand entrance to your site, disappoints then they will leave at the front door. And, more subtly, it’s not just about form; it’s also about function. If the way the homepage works confuses them, again they will turn and leave.
In this blog, I’m going to look at three key areas which influence homepage engagement and then at how they can be incorporated into a great, high converting design. Booking panel styling, special offer presentation and voucher buttons can make or break a homepage in terms of bounce rate, engagement and, crucially, direct bookings.
1. Booking panel
An open booking panel is the most important call to action (CTA) on the homepage. Think about how many sites you have seen without a booking panel or with a ‘book now’ button tucked away in a sidebar or footer. Users don’t have the time to be searching for the booking panel and they want to know what they are getting when they ‘book now’. An open panel can be used to display your key booking advantages: guaranteed best rate online, unlimited super-fast wifi, free drink at the bar.
Across our websites an average of 33% of bookings come directly from the homepage booking panel. We have tested Aró sites’ performance with the panel closed or open; positioned at the left or right hand side of the page; and dates entered or not. Engagement ranges from 13% with a closed panel to 39% for an open panel.
What does this mean for your business? Simply, more direct bookings. For every 1000 visitors to an Aró website, when the booking panel is open, on average 130 more will check availability.
2. Special Offers
Offers are a key channel for increasing direct bookings as they are under your control and the OTAs don’t have access to them. Used sparingly, they are brilliant for driving business, particularly for customers who already know your brand.
Engagement with offers from the primary menu is generally low (1-2%), however a suitably placed panel on the homepage will dramatically increase uptake.
When we have done comparisons, we have found that even just altering the position of an offer panel on the homepage affects conversion. For one hotel, moving the offer panel to the right-hand side increased revenue through the special offer channel by 48%.
What does this mean for your business? A focus on homepage special offers for one hotel helped contribute to a 94% increase in offer revenue in a four month period (compared to the previous year).
Like special offers, vouchers are a key driver for increasing online revenue. Vouchers should be used seasonally e.g. Christmas, Easter, Mothers’ day afternoon tea, and they can be appropriately styled to fit the occasion and the homepage design. Placed next to an open booking panel for maximum effect, they always provide a dramatic sales boost as your customers look for that last minute gift.
What does this mean for your business? For one of our top performing hotels, 21% of visitors who engaged with the homepage voucher button converted to a purchase.
Can I have great design and high conversion? Yes!
Beautiful, smart design is part of your strategy when it comes to boosting your conversion rate. A study by Adobe showed that more than 64% of all consumers prioritise design and display when viewing content, and 38% of users will leave your website if the content is unattractive in its layout or imagery. This applies across desktop and mobile devices.
As a rule of thumb, you have approximately 8 seconds to engage a user when they first visit your site. The term “Above the Fold” refers to the part of the page visible to the user without scrolling. The sole purpose of the above the fold content is to engage customers enough to get them to take some action.
So, let’s take a look at how an ideal homepage might be designed.
This desktop page incorporates all the elements we have looked at in this blog. The specially designed mobile page retains most of the conversion points. It has a beautiful, high quality image which displays well on desktop and mobile.
It has a clear, easy to use booking panel with consistent styling; a clear central caption with a ‘Read More’ call to action; a sleek special offers slider on the bottom right and a gift voucher panel under the booking panel. Here, the desired visual impact is maintained whilst keeping crucial conversion points to maximise customer engagement and conversion.