January 21, 2019 | Sean Foo
If you have been running a blog or selling products online, you probably have seen the rise of Start Here pages.
While their naming might vary – Start Here, First Time Here, Begin Here – this page serves a very important purpose:
To guide first-time users in a clear direction where they can get the most out of your blog or best understand your product.
When a new reader stumbles onto your website chances are one of these 3 things will happen:
– Scroll through your homepage and click away
– Head to your About Us Page to understand what you are about…then click away
– Go to your pricing or services page, see the prices, get scared and click away
What you don’t want is your precious traffic to leave before fully understanding what your site has to offer.
If you are running a blog, your reader most probably was led to your page by search engines and after reading the article he might just leave.
Because your blog to new readers looks like a huge maze stacked with books and tomes of knowledge. They don’t know what to pick up and are at a loss, the result leads to them leaving your website so they won’t have to deal with a headache.
Most of us running blogs know our content at the back of our hands but new browsers have no idea, your blog might as well be a new country to them.
It’s our job to make our reader’s experience as smooth as possible and that is where the Start Here page comes in.
While the About Us page is just as important, it serves a totally different purpose.
An About Us page tells your company story and how you started the blog, why you started it and why you do what you do.
When a reader visits your About Us page, they want to know the story and journey behind the brand and why they should listen to you.
A Start Here page, however, is like an expert guide guiding the visitor down the corridors to the best parts of your castle.
Your reader needs a guide.
What is most valuable to your reader (actually all readers) is time. A well constructed Start Here page directs them to the best parts of your blog that bring them the most relevant value.
While you might be tempted to jump straight to directing the reader to your best pages…don’t.
There is a good chance they still don’t know what the blog is about or what your mission is.
A great way to start is to either :
A) Highlight the main challenges your readers might be facing to add relevancy and context to your blog
B) Showcase the big benefits that your blog or website can offer to your reader
Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income does the first method by mentioning the struggles and challenges facing his audience: how to build a blog and generate income from it.
His intended audience will immediately connect with that and be hooked.
While this method works, an even more effective approach is to showcase the benefits of what the reader will attain from your site.
Michael Hyatt does a fantastic job weaving the benefits his reader will expect to get into his mission.
People respond to what they can get from a blog (or any website really), show them the big benefits to get them scrolling and consuming your awesome content.
You know, content that you are proud of.
Timeless articles that will not only showcase your best work but also benefit your readers the most.
Now, these articles don’t need to be highly complex pieces that were featured in Forbes and Entrepreneur magazine but rather articles that help them solve a problem.
While there might be a number of subject matter experts and veterans hungering for advanced knowledge, I can bet you the majority of your audience will be beginners.
This means your best content should be the ones that bring the most value to that group of people.
These can be specific articles that provide clear actionable content – valuable content that your readers can immediately use to improve their lives/business.
Or you could choose to use featured categories that lead your reader to highly curated content all solving a particularly big challenge.
Gary Vaynerchuck highlights his best keynote speeches and articles for his new fans to explore.
He purposefully selects articles that are timeless and will provide value whether someone reads it today or three years down the road.
While it might be tempting to select that new trending article you created, opt for evergreen content that will stand the test of time.
ProBlogger takes another approach by leading their readers to the various sections/portals of the blog, each portal addressing a big challenge facing their target audience.
Now while this method works beautifully, it should only be reserved if you have a huge amount of content and your blog covers diverse topics.
After a reader clicks on a portal, they get led to a dedicated landing page that showcases highly relevant curated content according to the topic.
Click “Start On A Blog” you get to see…
But Wait, Content Doesn’t Just Mean Articles & Videos
Perhaps you have affiliate discounts to offer to your readers or maybe you created a kickass plugin that brings value to your audience.
There is no better place (and time) like the Start Here page to bring them to the attention of your reader!
Smart Passive Income does this directly in the middle of their Start Here page by telling their fans to download their in-house podcast player.
It is this offering of free value upfront that not only helps cement their reputation as a helpful blog but works wonders when it comes to building a strong readership.
While you might be thinking ‘this is such a self-serving step’, you are both right and wrong!
Yes, it’s true that collecting their emails helps (actually it is critical), to building your readership base…
You will be (and should be) providing them with useful information that will help them the moment they finish reading it.
It could be incredible offers directing them to new spicy hot deals helping them save 30%…
To weekly inspirational and actionable emails that get them off their butts into gym or office or yoga studio…you get the idea.
Find out why you need to collect their emails here, this article here will wake you up if you are still in the dark about email marketing (and why it is just so good).
Now going about it is deceptively simple, because your readers have read all the way to the end of your Start Here Page, you can be direct about it.
1) Tell them why they should or need to subscribe
2) Tell them to subscribe now with a call to action
Nothing complex about it.
At the end of their Start Here page, Problogger goes directly for the kill and immediately makes it easy for the reader to become a subscriber.
Throw in a little social proof of 300,000+ current subscribers together with the carrot of tips, advice and tutorials, it’s just that simple to build a solid readership base.
BlogTyrant takes this a notch higher by offering a lead-bait in the form of a free report. While this might involve an extra step to collect the emails, the conversion rate could be higher as a tangible full product is offered upfront.
Notice the same mentioning of current subscriber strength and the benefits of subscribing…
There isn’t a need to reinvent the wheel in this area to collect those emails.
Make sure the rest of your Start Here page is solid then just go straight for the Ask.
Want more email collection strategies?
Here are 8 onsite strategies to supercharge your subscriber growth!
Start Here pages serve an important purpose and will most likely be here to stay especially in blogs and content providers.
While website designers focus on UX or ‘User Experience’ as blog owners and marketers, our version will be how friendly our website and content is to our readers.
If you seem to encounter high bounce rates or keep seeing traffic flowing to areas of your website that doesn’t reflect your best work, then it’s time to invest in the creation of a compelling Start Here page.
You won’t regret it, I promise!