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Cutting-Edge Web

Websites That Convert: Best Home Page Design for Building Your List

Photo by cirox

Does your website build your mailing list every day? If not, then you’re missing a huge opportunity to increase profit and help more people.

The right home page design can convert 10-20% of new visitors to your mailing list, while a poorly designed home page converts just 0-1%. The difference to your bottom line and personal impact is huge.

If you get just 30 visitors a day to your website, that means you can add 3-6 new subscribers to your mailing list every day. That increases your list by 100-200 new subscribers a month or 1000-2000 subscribers a year.

Compare that to a poorly performing home page that maxes out at just 300-400 new subscribers a year.

Every single expert, coach and entrepreneur that I know wants a larger mailing list, but few are taking the matter in their own hands and redesigning their website to get results.

I’ve scoured the web for the most effective business websites I could find and fine-tuned these best practices through all the client websites I’ve built over the past couple years. Now I want to share them with you, so you can get your message out there in a bigger way.

Visit Pinterest for more examples of best home page designs by top women entrepreneurs (and a few men too)!

Here are my top 5 strategies for building a website that converts:

  1. Minimize the logo and company banner on the home page – The top 300-500 pixels of your website is the most important space on the page, since 90% of all visitors can see this area without scrolling. But so many sites waste this valuable real estate on their branding, rather than using that space to build their mailing list. David Neagle’s website gets this right. Notice that the branding takes up just a narrow band at the top – enough for you to know where you are and what the promise of the site is, but not so much that you focus on the brand rather than the call to action.
  2. Put the opt-in box above the site navigation – Most website navigation gives people at least 5-10 options of where to go next. By putting your opt-in box above this navigation, you’re directing people straight to the #1 action you want to take, rather than distracting them with all the choices of what to do next.Ali Brown takes this approach and maintains it across every page of her website.

  3. Feature a video that really sells the opt-in – Many people include an opt-in box without a video, but a good video always improves your conversion rate because it gives visitors a very real sense of who you are, what you do and why they should care. Kelly O’Neill does a great job of this on her site. Her video automatically plays to make sure people watch it. However, many of my clients prefer to allow their visitors to choose whether or not they want to watch the video. So they use the still frame of the video to feature a compelling image that prompts a visitor to click play. Here’s an example from a website I built for Coach & Grow R.I.C.H. that uses a action-oriented poster frame to encourage the play.
  4. Use cookies to change the opt-in area after a visitor has signed up – Many websites focus on the opt-in box, but don’t change this content area after someone has signed up. This is an advanced tactic that I use for my clients, but that I rarely see anywhere else, so the best example I could find of a website that convertsis my own. Once you opt-in on the home page, the top area above the banner changes to my second most important call-to-action – an invitation to my signature 30 Day Challenge program(NOTE: you can only see this if you opt-in.). This ensures that I’m always funneling new visitors to the next thing that I’d like them to consider.
  5. Funnel visitors from the home page into the products and services that are right for them – The purpose of your home page is to direct people to the actions you want them to take. Most often the #1 call-to-action is to sign up for your mailing list (since that gives you control over how and when you communicate with prospects) and the #2 action is to check out one of your products or services (this is often a best-selling product or an entry-level product that isn’t a huge investment or commitment to buy). If you serve multiple audiences, you can also direct each audience to the right products for them. Fabienne Fredrickson does just this on her home page.

Check out more examples of best home page designs and websites that convert on Pinterest.

If your website isn’t building your business and making you money, then something’s wrong. If you want a website that gets results, then contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Stephanie

    Hi Marisa! Do you have any suggestions for WordPress themes that have these various header options built in?

    Your ideas are awesome and it’s time for me to start redesigning a few of my own sites!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi Stephanie! I don’t know of any out-of-the-box theme with this header option built-in. My guess is most of these sites (including mine) are custom themes.

      Reply ·
      1. Stephanie

        Thanks for the prompt reply Marisa! I’ve peeked further into your site – you have some amazing information on here – love that it’s up to date with the latest trends and pointers that WORK for this day and age of the web. I’m looking for a new theme for 2 of my sites that can incorporate the points and tips mentioned this blog post and was wondering if you or any of your commenters here know if Genesis or Thesis would be able to work with the header tips above? Just looking for a place to start. 🙂

        Reply ·
        1. Marisa Murgatroyd

          Hi Stephanie – Genesis and Thesis are both great, flexible theme frameworks. We don’t personally work with either one, so I can’t tell you what it would take to hack the theme to build these headers. You can probably ask on a Facebook Group like Internet Marketing Super Friends…

          Reply ·
          1. Stephanie

            Thank you Marisa!

  2. Danette A. Malcolm MS

    This is great thanks!

    Reply ·
  3. Andrea T.H.W.

    Very interesting idea Marisa. Strange as it seems I’ve never thought to put the subscribe box at the top. I’ll do it now, thanks for the hint.

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi Andrea – Definitely. This one change has boosted my opt-in rates and my clients’ rates exponentially. Good luck!

      Reply ·
  4. Cesar Malacon

    It is impressive how all your tips make a lot of sense and seem to be pretty obvious -Once you read them in your post! – because as you said it’s hard to find good websites. The cookies tip is basic!
    Keep it up! I’m glad I found you out there

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thanks, Cesar! These tips definitely make sense – and they work. Unfortunately, most web designers and programmers don’t take the time to implement this level of strategy. That’s why I want to get this info out there…

      Reply ·
  5. John Bailey

    Thanks, Marisa, for the great tips, well presented!

    The article got me so excited about the obvious sound strategies that I rolled up sleeves and got under the hood of my WordPress sites – all SEVEN of them.

    It only took me a little tinkering with child themes and the header.php file to figure out how to create a home page implementation like yours.

    The tests worked great. So, it’s time to re-design the banner graphic and shoot the video intro. It may take me a couple of weeks to get it all done, but we’ll have this implemented ASAP.

    Anxious to see your next installment!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Hi John! That’s awesome news. I’m so glad you’re implementing these strategies and look forward to hearing about the results you get! Leave us the links to your sites once you’ve made these changes, so we can check them out. I’d also like to hear about the results you get…

      Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

What's the Business You're Truly Meant to Build?

You have a purpose here on Earth that you’re supposed to fulfill. And certain people here to serve. Watch this Masterclass to discover the business you're meant to build & how to share it with the world.