Captivating Your Audience: 8 Best Practices for a Scroll Stopping Hero Section that Converts

No matter how you feel about spring cleaning, I think we can all agree that in 2024 we’ve reached a time where it applies to our digital spaces just as much as our physical spaces—specifically our home pages and more specifically, the hero sections. Many of us were taught that when we’re expecting company, we prepare our space for them. We ensure it’s clean and tidy at the very least, depending on the guests we might provide or display things that make the space more inviting to them. And we know if we’re expecting vegetarian guests we’re not going to serve steak. Your website is the digital home of your business, where you’re inviting and welcoming guests around the clock. 

It’s no secret: if you run a business in 2024, you better have a website. And more than that, you have to ensure that when your ideal prospect lands on your website, they hang around long enough to find out why you’ve got the best solution to their problem. The hero section is the first part they see, and if you fail to capture their attention and then engage them right away, they won’t bother looking at the rest: er go, even if the rest of your website is impressive, they won’t bother reading it, simply because they’ll just never make it that far. That’s a lot of pressure, I know! Which means it’s easy to overthink it, and get completely stuck in analysis paralysis. 

If you get overwhelmed writing for yourself, you’re in good company. Lots of people do. Even professional writers get overwhelmed writing about themselves! It’s human. And even if you ARE a copywriter or marketer, you might still have a hard time getting that mile-high view of your own business. I’ve written LOTS of websites for other copywriters and strategists. I get the business side of the business, and can help them get out of their heads. If that’s you, maybe a VIP day to get you started and on the right track is all you need to reach that perspective. Whether you’re looking for a quick live review, a 60-minute coaching call or someone to do it for you. 

No matter what type of business owner, an all too common trap is to think you should be able to do it because it’s about your business, it’s what you do, and who knows more about that than you? But the truth is lots of people I work with have a hard time separating themselves from the business.

I’ve noticed the ones who face the worst writer blocks are those who struggle to wrap their heads around the fact that it’s actually all about the reader—or the ones who buy-in to the concept quickly, but they don’t know what that means or how to make it happen. I’ve seen so many highly motivated, savvy business owners take this project on themselves because they assume it’s only a few words and an eye grabbing image, how hard could this be really? only to become frustrated when it’s not coming together, when what they’re coming up with doesn’t quite feel right, and they’re not sure what to do next.

This is such a critical sales tool for your business and it’s such a terribly common pitfall for business owners and so I’m here today to get you out of your head and unstuck. To do that I’ve put together the best practices for creating a hero section with confidence

Why “Hero” Section?

What do I mean by the “Hero Section”? It’s everything your visitor sees after they’ve put in your URL or clicked on your link, but before they scroll. Okay great, that’s the section, but why “hero”? 

The language comes from Donald Miller’s book “Building a Story Brand” on how to use storytelling elements to write compelling and effective copy. This works because EVERY ????SINGLE ???? Story has common elements ie. the hero, the villain and the guide

And the secret, one that even some copywriter and marketing biz owners don’t know, is that the hero in the story, even though it’s your website and your business and your solution, is the customer. The hero is the human on the other side of the screen you’re trying to convince to do business with you.  

The most compelling messaging and effective sales tools always ALWAYS portray the reader as the hero with supporting characters, starring the problem as the villain in the story and you/your business as the wise guide that helps the hero defeat the villain. 

You have a critical role to play, but it’s important to understand that it’s a supporting one. Your website, your advertising, all of your messaging should convey that the reader you are trying to reach is the hero of their own story, and get them excited about teaming up with you to slay their own dragons.  

Elements of a Hero Section

The three key elements of any hero section are the headline, the subhead and the call-to-action (CTA). A hero section that converts has well thought out and carefully crafted elements. 

Headline

The headline is the most important piece of the hero section. By far.  

Headlines are tricky for a lot of people, writers included. The secret to writing good headlines is to write a lot of headlines. When I write website copy, I consistently spend a disproportionate amount of time on the headlines. It’s easy to brush them aside and focus on the wordier parts: our brains trick us into believing fewer words means less work. But the truth is if the headline isn’t compelling, it won’t matter how good the rest of it is because they won’t bother reading it. 

Writing more headlines than I’ll ever need is an integral part of the process of uncovering the best ones, because rarely are the best ones born from eureka moments (not never, but rarely).

Subheading

Self-described, the subheading is a bit of text just below your headline that gives you the opportunity to explain more about how you deliver on your big promise. A run-on headline looks clunky and out of place, but a headline followed by a subhead looks cleaner, more professional and flows better visually.

Call-To-Action (CTA)

A call to action alerts the reader to the action you want them to take next. A good CTA clearly outlines what they get by clicking, and is written from their perspective 

blah: “Contact Us”

better: “Yes I Want a Better <<thing you do>>!!”

Learn more about taking your CTAs from blah to better

8 Best Practices for a Hero Section that Converts

Demonstrate empathy by using Voice of Customer

Speaking the language of your prospect is the only way to make sure the right audience knows you’re talking to them. How do you learn to speak their language? The answer is through Voice of Customer (VOC) research. We find VOC in reviews, customer interviews, social media comments and other places your audience is talking about themselves, their problem and the solution they need. Some of the words and phrases may surprise you, especially if you’re very different from your target audience, and those are the hidden VOC gems that will help you connect and resonate deeply with your audience

Highlight benefits (WIIFM) over features 

WIIFM means “what’s in it for me”, and at this stage, that’s all the reader cares about. There is a time and a place to dive into all the cool things you know and you do, and the hero section isn’t it.  

When your language reflects hey! look how good we do the thing, you know you’re talking about a feature. When the language helps the reader picture how their life will be better after using your product, you know you’re talking about a benefit (this is me vs you language).

WIIFM also means using you language, not me language.

Be concise BUT also give reader all the info they need 

Every line of copy has one job, to get the audience to read the next line and/or take action. Your copy needs to guide them to a decision before you lose their attention. That means being hyper clear… without jamming it down their throats in a single sentence! 

In marketing we talk a lot about being clear over clever. In earlier days of the Copysnacks brand, my CTA to book a call with me was <<Get Snackin’>>. It felt fun, engaging, on brand, short and sweet. But it wasn’t clear. My conversion rate soared when I changed it to <<Book a Call>>.

Show them what they need to see to keep their attention

Don’t prompt them to keep scrolling, prompt them to take action, even if that action is technically to keep scrolling, because you want to get them to the next section 😉 What are some of the more powerful words and phrases you unearthed in your VOC research? Make sure you’re fitting them in where you can. Use images that are true to what you do and your brand, but make sure they connect with your audience. 

Use your USP as the base for your hero headline

USP stands for Unique Selling Point. Chances are you have a number of selling points, but your USP = THE thing that stands you out from your competition. So what is your USP? It explains who you help, how, and what they get as a result. Seems simple? Right? As with all things it’s a bit more complicated and nuanced.

Check out this free training on leveling up your USP in under an hour!

Hero headline must convert/direct them to take action 

Remember, your headline has to tell them WIIFM, and it has to do it using very few words. If you understand their journey, imagine yourself in their shoes, what were they doing right before they landed on your site, how did they get there, what are they looking for when they arrive, how are they feeling now, this becomes much easier. 

Tell a cohesive story 

For your website overall, you want to make sure every section of any page supports the promise you make in the hero section, and that the content in each section supports its headline.  And remember in the story, you/your solution have the supporting role as the hero’s guide.

Make a promise 

Your hero headline must make a promise–a big promise, but one with an achievable outcome as long as they use your solution. 

If you make this promise to them speaking their language and starring them as the hero of their own story, your conversion rates will jump right up! 

Putting Best Practices into Action

Need just a little help to take what you’ve learned today about the captivating hero section and tune-up your own website? You can save this article and come back to it as often as you need to guide you through the process. If you do that AND use my ULTIMATE Website Copy Checkup, you’ll have everything you need to turn your website into a fine-tuned, highly effective, 24/7 sales tool! If you’re wondering, the check up is basically an inside look at how I audit websites and includes 30 quick fixes you can make to improve each of the areas I focus on. 

Feeling overwhelmed and maybe a little out of your element? If you’re thinking you need to hand this whole business off to an expert, here’s what to expect when we work together—agreeing to work together, getting clear on your brand strategy/messaging, diving into market research, drafting all the web copy, editing, live reviews, the hand over, and a final live review. Book a chat and we can get clear on what you need and how I can help!

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