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Where to Learn Excel: The 10 Best Resources on the Internet

I, like most people, have some experience with Microsoft Excel — but not as much as I wish I did. For the most part, I’ve used it to brainstorm ideas, budget vacations, and make simple traffic and leads calculations.

But thanks to my limited Excel skills, I’m subjecting myself to the tedium of updating my spreadsheets manually. I’m well aware that it’s causing me to miss out on a whole world of reporting automation that could save me hours and hours of time.

But when I asked a handful of my most Excel-savvy colleagues where they picked up their Excel knowledge, they all told me things like, “I mostly learned from colleagues and friends” or “When I have a specific question, I ask someone or search on Google.”

Fair enough … but as a beginner, I feel like I’d have a few too many Excel questions to have to rely on colleagues or friends to answer every one.

Download our complete guide to using Excel here for more step-by-step Excel tutorials.

I can’t be the only one out there who hopes to master the world’s most popular solution for analyzing and visualizing data. (Or at least learn how to create charts and graphs that’ll impress my manager.)

In the spirit of becoming a more productive, data-driven marketer, I scoured the internet for the best online resources for learning Excel. Most of these are free, and the ones that aren’t might be worth the investment to some folks out there. So take a look, bookmark your favorites, and get that much closer to working more efficiently in Excel.

Where to Learn Excel: The 10 Best Online Resources

1) Microsoft’s Excel Training Center

Price: Free

When it comes to learning a new application, why not start at the source? After all, no one knows the Mircosoft Excel better than the people at Microsoft.

In fact, they’ve done a great job putting together the Office Training Center: a resource center for all of their Office applications and services. Their training center for Excel has a whole bunch of free tutorials, videos, and guides on Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone that cover both the latest version of Excel as well as the older ones.

Once you click into a platform, you’ll find resources divided by Excel ability: for beginners (like basic math and creating a chart), for intermediate users (like sorting and filtering data, conditional formatting, and VLOOKUPs), and for advanced users (like pivot tables, advanced IF functions, and how to password-protect worksheets and workbooks).

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2) The Spreadsheet Page

Price: Free

Here’s an awesome, very well organized site that’s chock full of helpful Excel tips collected by an Excel expert named John Walkenbach.

Over the past thirty years, Walkenbach has written more than 60 Excel books for users of all levels and around 300 articles and reviews for magazines like InfoWorld, PC World, and PC/Computing. At one point, he wrote the monthly spreadsheet column for PC World. In other words, the man knows his stuff — and he knows how to present it to an audience, too.

The most helpful part of his website is probably the Excel Tips tab, which has a long list of useful (and mostly non-trivial) tips on formatting, formulas, charts and graphics, and printing. The tips in there include everything from working with fractions, to unlinking a pivot table from its source data, to a spreadsheet protection FAQ sheet.

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Another super helpful part of his site is the Downloads tab, where he’s added free, ungated download links to files he created, including free Excel workbooks and add-ins. Some of the files demonstrate useful techniques that you can adapt to your own work, and others are simply “for fun.”

For example, there’s one Excel workbook in there that gives examples of custom number formats, which you can play with and tweak on your own time to get familiar with them without having to start from scratch.

Finally, there are links on his site to all the books he’s written about Excel over the years, which includes books for each version of Excel from 2016 all the way back to some of its earliest versions.

3) About.com’s Spreadsheets Page

Price: Free

Many of you are likely familiar with the content website About.com. But did you know it has its own spreadsheets subdomain, much of which is devoted to Excel? There are several thousand sets of instructions in there — mostly illustrated, how-to posts — and they add fresh content to it regularly.

Each of the pieces of content is categorized, and categories include everything from formulas and formatting to how-to videos and tools and templates. If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest spreadsheet news and tips, you can sign up for a free newsletter. There are a lot of advertisements on this site, but if you can stand them, the content is pretty darn great.

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4) Chandoo.org

Price: Free

The founder of the blog at Chandoo.org (who’s nicknamed “Chandoo”) says he has one goal: “to make you awesome at Excel and charting.” The blog started back in 2007, and today, there are over 450 articles and tutorials in there on using Excel and making better charts.

He’s built the blog as a community, citing values like humility, passion, fun, awesomeness, and simplicity. He also works to make this a great place for the folks for whom English is not their first language.

Most of his tips start from the forums, where people ask a question about Excel — anything about formulas, formatting, shortcuts, pivot tables, and so on — and anyone can answer them. Chandoo then takes some of the more helpful forum questions and creates articles and tutorials out of them.

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Image Credit: Chandoo.org

There’s some fun stuff in there, too. For example, Chandoo created an easter egg hunt for a recent blog post, which includes a downloadable Excel workbook that has seven pandas hidden within it. Readers can locate the pandas using clues, Excel techniques, or even good ol’ “I-Spy” skills.

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Image Credit: Chandoo.org

While the articles, forums, and other parts of the site are free, you can pay a fee to join one of his training programs like Excel School or VBA Classes, or by getting a copy of one of his books: The VLOOKUP Book or Excel Formula Helper Ebook.

5) HubSpot’s Free Ebooks & Blog Posts

Price: Free

Excel is one of the most in-demand skills for data-driven marketers these days. And because we want marketers like you to succeed, we’ve created a whole bunch of educational content about Excel here at HubSpot — which include free ebooks, templates, blog posts, and video tutorials covering a wide range of topics.

Here are a few of our best:

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6) MrExcel.com

Price: Free

Here’s a resource that puts normal humans like you and me in touch with Excel experts. MrExcel.com’s claim to fame is its interactive message board, which is constantly monitored by its community of Excel “gurus.”

When a user posts a question, a member of the Mr. Excel expert community will reply with an answer. The questions range from simplifying an Excel task to solving an “emergency.”

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Not a native English speaker? You can even ask questions in your native language.

Aside from posting questions on the message board, you can also browse Mr. Excel’s “Hot Topics,” which includes things like finding the cumulative sum of even or odd rows, or removing leading zero with a text field.

They also have a library of helpful Excel books and ebooks on there. If you need help with problems that are more complex, you can even hire an Excel consultant directly from the website for a fee.

7) Annielytics Video Tutorials

Price: Free

Web Analytics Data Expert Annie Cushing created a blog called Annielytics, which includes both a website and a YouTube channel. But don’t let the punny name fool you: Cushings’ YouTube channel is chock full of really good, specific, and in-depth web analytics tips.

While the content here isn’t all Excel-related — a lot of it is about Google Analytics, for example — she does have some really good video tutorials for Excel. One advantage to these videos? They were created with marketing and web analytics in mind, so they’re directly applicable to your marketing data reports.

To find her videos about Excel, click here or search her YouTube channel for “Excel”.

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The Excel topics she covers vary widely: from how to create interactive pivot tables, to how to add a scrolling table to your dashboard using the INDEX function. The videos also range widely in length depending on topic complexity: There are two-and-a-half-minute videos, and there are videos that are over half an hour long.

To give you an idea of what her videos are like, here’s a good one, which covers a comprehensive overview of Excel charts:

8) Lynda.com’s Excel Training Tutorials

Price: Membership starts at $19.99/month (Free Trial Here)

If you’re willing to invest a little cash in your Excel training, Lynda.com is a worthwhile place to spend it. Paying members have access to thousands of Lynda.com courses on business, technology, creative skills, and software that’ll help you work toward your personal professional goals.

Included in these courses are over 100 Excel courses and over 4,000 video tutorials covering every version of Excel and any level of expertise. They cover broad topics like “Excel 2016 Essential Training” and “Communication Visually and Add Impact With Charts,” and more niche topics like “Excel 2016: Pivot Tables in Depth” and “Excel Workshop: Building a Dynamic Heat Map.”

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9) Coursera

Price: Individual courses start at $79/each

While Lynda.com asks for a monthly membership fee that then gives you access to all its courses, Coursera charges on a course-to-course basis. The folks at Coursera have partnered with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer online courses for anyone to take.

There are only a few related to Excel, but if you’re looking for a full, college- or grad school-level course, one of them could be perfect for you. Many of the Excel-related courses come from Duke University, such as “Mastering Data Analysis in Excel” and “Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business.”

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That being said, it doesn’t come cheap. These are real courses taught at top universities around the world. Each course includes video lectures, interactive quizzes, peer-graded assessments, and the opportunity to connect with fellow students and instructors. Once you finish a course, you’ll receive formal recognition, along with an optional course certificate.

10) EdX Excel Courses

Price: Free

If you’re looking for more of a “course” instead of a one-off tutorial, but you’re not ready to shell out any cash, check out edX’s courses.

EdX is a nonprofit that relies on verified certificates to help fund free education for people around the globe. If you take a course that’s marked as “Verified,” then you have the option to pay an amount of money (around $50) to receive an instructor-signed certificate with the institution’s logo to verify your achievement and increase your job prospects. If not, you can take it for free.

To help you choose the courses that are right for you, each edX course includes a rating up to five stars, course reviews, and information on course length, amount of effort (measured in hours per week), level, and video transcripts.

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What are your favorite online resources for learning Excel? Share with us in the comments.

 

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Blogs

Scientists Grow Full-Sized, Beating Human Hearts From Stem Cells

It’s the closest we’ve come to growing transplantable hearts in the lab Of the 4,000 Americans waiting for heart transplants, only 2,500 will receive new hearts in the next year. Even for those lucky enough to get a transplant, the biggest risk is the their bodies will reject the new heart and launch a massive immune reaction against the foreign cells. To combat the problems of organ shortage and decrease the chance that a patient’s body will reject it, researchers have been working to create synthetic organs from patients’ own cells. Now a team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has gotten one step closer, using adult skin cells to regenerate functional human heart tissue, according to a study published recently in the journal Circulation Research.

Ideally, scientists would be able to grow working hearts from patients’ own tissues, but they’re not quite there yet. That’s because organs have a particular architecture. It’s easier to grow them in the lab if they have a scaffolding on which the cells can build, like building a house with the frame already constructed.

In their previous work, the scientists created a technique in which they use a detergent solution to strip a donor organ of cells that might set off an immune response in the recipient. They did that in mouse hearts, but for this study, the researchers used it on human hearts. They stripped away many of the cells on 73 donor hearts that were deemed unfit for transplantation. Then the researchers took adult skin cells and used a new technique with messenger RNA to turn them into pluripotent stem cells, the cells that can become specialized to any type of cell in the human body, and then induced them to become two different types of cardiac cells.

After making sure the remaining matrix would provide a strong foundation for new cells, the researchers put the induced cells into them. For two weeks they infused the hearts with a nutrient solution and allowed them to grow under similar forces to those a heart would be subject to inside the human body. After those two weeks, the hearts contained well-structured tissue that looked similar to immature hearts; when the researchers gave the hearts a shock of electricity, they started beating.

While this isn’t the first time heart tissue has been grown in the lab, it’s the closest researchers have come to their end goal: Growing an entire working human heart. But the researchers admit that they’re not quite ready to do that. They are next planning to improve their yield of pluripotent stem cells (a whole heart would take tens of billions, one researcher said in a press release), find a way to help the cells mature more quickly, and perfecting the body-like conditions in which the heart develops. In the end, the researchers hope that they can create individualized hearts for their patients so that transplant rejection will no longer be a likely side effect.

Blogs

8 simple tweaks to make your OK product shine online

Maybe you’ve been there. Your product is out there, and it’s okay. It’s not great, and it’s not the best one available — although it’s also not the worst — but you still have to sell it!

So, how can you meet your goal of selling this mediocre product? How can you present it in the best possible light and distinguish it from other options?

Thank goodness for the internet; you can make even products that are lukewarm seem red-hot if you market them well. The better it looks and feels when viewed online, the better your sales will be. And if you do a good enough job with this, you can sell even more than you aim to, and possibly raise the price as demand increases.

First, understanding perceived quality

Experts agree that perceived quality is far more important to consumer decisions than absolute (objective) quality. “Perceived quality” is what your customers think about your product and how they feel it compares to others.

In other words, you don’t need the best product to make sales — you just need enough consumers to feel your product is the best.

Quality is a subjective term. Every consumer perceives quality in his or her own way. However, there are general traits that consumers use to decide how much quality your product offers.

Conformity with specifications matters to consumers: Does this product do what you say it will? Durability is also important.

Features are essential to perceived quality, so you must highlight each and every feature of your product, even those that seem obvious to you. Finally, performance is a key element in perceived quality.

Your job, especially with products that are just okay, is to convince your shoppers about the perceived quality of your product. These are my best tips for boosting the perceived quality of your okay product online:

1. Please, please use professional product photos

It’s a well-known fact: Products that look great get purchased more. If you were an actor trying to land a plum role as a millionaire character in a blockbuster movie, you wouldn’t send the director a selfie you snapped with your phone. You’d send a professionally done head shot — a photo that displays you at your very best. The same is true for products you sell online.

Quality isn’t what sells your product — perceived quality does. This means that your ultimate goal is for your customers to feel that your product has value.

Feelings are what shapes customer opinion. Your potential buyers look at your product and imagine how they will look to others using it, and how the product will look, feel, taste and otherwise provide a sensory experience.

Professional images are the most important element here because the human brain perceives and responds to images in a profound way. A picture doesn’t really say a thousand words, but according to research, every picture does “say” about 80 words’ worth of information to a viewer in a matter of seconds.

So how do you create the best, most communicative and professional photos for your products?

Use custom images. If you want your product to get noticed, make sure to take the time and spend the money on professional photography.

Invest in your images: Hire a professional photographer to get a nice bank of high-resolution, beautiful photos of the product. Your custom photos will be unique, and this makes your product seem unique, too.

Professional photos will increase your click-through rate and allow you to demand a higher price point. If you have an expensive item, you simple cannot sell it online with cheap photos.

Use large, high-resolution images. Large images perform better, increasing sales by nine percent. Large images allow the viewer to see and assess the product more easily — especially on a mobile device. Your images should ideally be big enough to allow for a zoom feature.

Show multiple views of each product. How many times have you seen something online that appeals to you but been frustratingly unable to see the view you need in order to make up your mind? Buyers have different reasons for choosing different products, so maximize your chances with multiple views.

Give context for the product. Don’t tell me how easy your product is to use; instead, show someone using it effortlessly. If you want me to use your kitchen appliance, show me what it makes.

When you do this, you’re prompting the imagination of your shopper; you’re helping them to create a mental image of themselves in the photo.

Show the end result of using the product. Selling shampoo? Show me how beautiful my hair will look by giving me an image of someone with amazing hair after using the product.

Will wearing your suit make buyers more attractive to others? Show your suit on a model who isn’t just standing there — show the suit on a man with a beautiful woman on his arm. This is common practice in TV commercials. When it comes to product photos online, it’s also effective.

2. Invest in a great graphic designer

Almost half of the human brain is used in visual processing, so visuals are critical to success. The human brain perceives, analyzes and understands your brand and logo in about 400 milliseconds.

What’s more, the average human attention span is shrinking; in 2000 it was 12 seconds, but by 2013 it was only eight seconds — shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. This means your message needs to be understood almost instantly, and even on a very small screen.

A professional graphic designer can create compelling visuals that have instant impact and are effective at even very small sizes. They can also make sure that your videos, infographics and images are the best they can be.

To ensure that your brand is relevant, recognizable and speaks volumes about your product, use professional graphic design services. This is especially important when your product is only so-so and doesn’t “sell itself.”

I have to admit when I first got into online marketing I would always cut corners here. I would design things myself or use the cheapest designer.

But in today’s online space, you cannot skimp on this. It is simply too competitive. A high-quality design can significantly increase conversion rates.

It is all about the online shopping experience. Think about shopping at Nordstrom, as opposed to the local swap meet. The same concepts of shopping experience attracting certain customer types apply online.

3. Create plenty of high-quality content

Whether you love or hate writing, it is unlikely that as a business owner you have the time or ability to create the highest-quality copy every day. In fact, unlike the technological side of your business — which doesn’t need to be created from scratch — your content and product copy must be absolutely unique and extremely valuable to rank well in searches.

Awesome product pages need to be first on your list. Maximize your conversions by focusing on the purchasing page for your customers. You need more content on these pages for SEO purposes anyway, but these pages are also your chance to describe your product in a compelling way.

Use powerful, specific descriptive language, and highlight each and every benefit.

Remember, creating more content is the complement to large, stunning images. The words and images work together to achieve that feeling of value for people interested in your product.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to product description on your product pages, either. Load your pages with all kinds of content: bullet lists of features and benefits; charts and diagrams; endorsements and reviews; FAQs, product specifications and customer Q&As; “how-to” sections and tutorials; infographics; information about the product’s design, materials and creator; videos; user-generated content; and social sharing widgets. They all can give you the quantity and quality of content you need on these pages.

As a side note, if you write unique content for your product pages, they will rank better for SEO. In most cases, many websites are using the same descriptions for their products.

One of the strategies I do with clients is write all new copy for their product pages; it always results in big traffic and ranking jumps.

4. Do not underestimate the power of words

For the sake of both quantity and quality, use an experienced copywriter.

A professional copywriter knows how to tell your story to maximize sales of your product and how to communicate quality. To sell a mediocre product, you need a very clickworthy headline to draw attention.

You need content that establishes you as an authority (and, by extension, your product as authoritative). You need copy that shows off the benefits of buying your product and conveys its uniqueness. And you need copy that is free of annoying errors and verbal static.

You also have a much better shot with quantity of content using an experienced copywriter. Longer product descriptions, a more detailed discussion of elements, benefits and additional features make your product appear better than the others, and a professional writer can make these truly stand out in a crowd.

To sell a product that is just “okay,” your copy needs to be many times better than that of the competition. You’ll also need to draw more great prospects to sell it, so use an experienced copywriter.

What is your user’s pain point? What problem are you really solving with the product? A professional copywriter can help you nail these points.

5. Hire advanced, experienced pros to run your ads

Targeting your ads means making your ads serve your primary goals, and advertising to the people who will best respond to your product. For this reason, you need an ad team that knows how to target and maximize your results.

Your customers benefit from targeted ads because they get to learn about new products that are right up their alley. Especially if your product isn’t for everyone, find out who it is for, and target that demographic.

There may be many cases in which “the best” product isn’t the best choice. Find out who needs your less stellar product and target them.

You benefit, too, because targeted ads maximize your ROI (return on investment) and make the most of your advertising budget.

Your ad team should be able to target potential users in a variety of ways. They must know how to target ads contextually, creating ads to dovetail with web content.

They should be able to target based on behavioral patterns like shopping and buying trends. They should also be able to target based on demographics and geographic location. Make sure your ad team is up to the targeting challenge.

Make sure you have an experienced online advertising team; they could be costing you thousands a month in sales.

6. Cite research and experts. Put pain point front and center

Citing expert opinions that relate to your product is a great way to boost the perceived quality of your products. You don’t need a top expert to say your product is great (although social proof doesn’t hurt); you only need support that justifies its use.

So if you sell shoes, provide the right information for your kind of shoe. Show customers advice about why the right shoe matters to athletic performance, how wearing shoes that are bad for your feet is detrimental to your health, or how the right footwear can improve the first impression you give to others. (See how easy it is to back up arguments in favor of your product?)

Cherrios - Health Stats on Box

The same principle is guiding companies that highlight things like “lower cholesterol,” “gluten-free” or “naturally high in fiber” on the packaging of their products — even if these are obvious benefits that aren’t unique. But that is the exact pain point of the demographic. That is what they want to see and solve for.

For example, of course carrots are naturally gluten-free, but highlighting that kind of product benefit on the package can increase your likelihood of a sale. Don’t miss the chance to market even a less exciting product as if it’s an amazing new choice.

7. Be clear about what is different, no matter how small

Research by the Harvard Business Review shows that clearly defined, understandable differentiation is the common thread between more than 80 percent of consistently high-performing businesses. Follow the lead of these big brands: Find and emphasize what makes your product different.

Remember, the difference between your product and others can be factual, or it can be more of a perceived difference or aesthetic difference. And even if your product’s features aren’t technically unique, you can emphasize them in new ways for shoppers.

8. Get interactive whenever possible

Interactive marketing comprises almost 35 percent of the $200 billion spent every year on advertising. It isn’t transmitting information to potential customers for passive consumption; it is engaging with them using a unique, creative experience chosen by the consumer.

Interactive marketing strategies are usually online and involve an exchange that is two-way or multi-directional. Some interactive marketing strategies and tools include: surveys or assessments; calculators or tools which offer results and answer questions; contests, challenges, events and giveaways; interactive funnels that send users on the path they choose; interactive infographics that let users choose which information they want; and purposeful online quizzes.

There are many advantages inherent to interactive marketing. This kind of marketing provides you with more customer information that can improve your ROI stats. It offers you details about customer preferences and demand.

Interactive tools provide a more memorable and unique customer experience. Finally, it keeps your approach current; consumers today expect more active options for consumption, not just passive, one-way information.

Conclusion

It’s not always easy to sell an okay product online; if it were, we’d all be millionaires. But if you work at your marketing strategy, you’ll find that you can sell even mediocre products effectively online. By making your okay product stand out online, you’ll achieve the conversion results you’re hoping for.

The main key is to invest in quality, quality, quality. From your photos to color scheme to shopping experience to your website to your copy to your ads, it all needs to be 100 percent professional. Take the time to ensure you put your best foot forward. It will result in more sales.

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15 Ways to Drive More Home Page Conversions Without Reinventing the Wheel

If you’re serious about generating leads through your website, you’ll probably have several landing pages set up for a variety of content offers, with multiple conversion paths for visitors to take. That’s great, but it’s surprising how many people miss relatively straightforward opportunities to drive conversions on their home page.

Think about it – your home page is almost certainly the most visited page on your site. But how many people arrive and bounce straight off? If you can keep them there and push that conversion rate up by just a couple of percentage points – that’s potentially a big increase in leads.

Many home pages underperform because people are reluctant to change them. The design, layout and content were probably settled on following hours of discussion involving multiple contributors during the initial website project. So there can be some anxiety about tweaking that formula. Understandably, because the home page is so important, some people just won’t want to mess around with it once it’s done.

However, there’s no need to treat your home page like a sacred text – and making changes doesn’t have to be a huge project. This list contains 15 things you can do to drive more conversions on your home page without reinventing the wheel. And by sharing the rationale for such changes with your colleagues, you should be able to ease any lingering doubts.

1) Put people on your home page

Think carefully about the images on your home page. If you don’t include images of people actually using your product or service (or looking like they need to), it could be difficult for others to imagine themselves doing so. Using images of people in industries and scenarios that your prospects will recognise and identify with is a simple way to add the human element to your business, and could be the simple prompt a visitor needs to click your ‘contact us’ button or another CTA.

2) Avoid poor stock photos

Putting people on the home page doesn’t mean using the first stock photo you find. Be careful about the images you select – many of those available in stock image libraries are bland and cheesy. A poorly chosen image will quickly send visitors away. You need images that relate to your target industries, will resonate with your prospects and most importantly inspire action.

3) Use emotional language on your home page

Don’t overdo it, but rewriting the copy on your home page to provoke an emotional response in your visitors is a good way to increase conversions. The first step is to think about your potential customers and identify their emotional needs. You can then write copy that taps into those emotions. HubSpot recently shared this list of emotional words that could help you to get started.

4) Show your product on your home page

It’s surprising how many businesses don’t show their product on their home page. If you’re a huge organization with a strong brand, you probably don’t need to. But if you’re struggling to convert people on the home page, this could be a reason for your problem.

Software firms are some of the worst offenders here. People want to know what your product looks like – can they see themselves or their colleagues using it? They shouldn’t have to delve further into your site to find out what it’s like. Including a few screenshots is a simple way to give people an initial idea of your user experience.

5) Get to your value proposition quickly

Research has shown that a large percentage of website visitors will leave between zero and eight seconds of landing on the page. You only have a few seconds to get your unique value proposition across, why people should do business with you and the benefit of it. You need to make this clear with a simple, punchy and jargon-free headline at the top of your home page.

6) Try different CTAs on your home page

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different calls to action on the home page. You don’t always have to offer content to generate leads. Sometimes you may instinctively feel that the home page is just too early on in the user journey to justify pushing your white papers and guides. But sticking to a generic ‘contact us’ or similar CTA probably won’t set your conversion rate alight.
Think about what your visitors are likely to respond to and experiment.

One of our software reseller customers recently boosted conversions by changing a home page CTA to ‘Request a demo’. Their prospects were clearly engaged by the prospect of signing up for a demo, rather than just making contact.

7) Use testimonials/social proof on your home page

Social proof and testimonials build trust. You need them on your home page, not tucked away in a corner of your site. Select a few of your best quotes from satisfied customers, with names and photographs if possible. You can also link through to full case studies if appropriate.

This kind of content can be particularly persuasive for prospects who shortlist your product alongside several others and are looking for a reason to make a decision. Putting it on the home page shows you can afford to be open and transparent about what existing customers think.

8) Keep your forms simple and short

Forms on the home page should be as short as possible. You can use a larger number of fields on your landing page forms for high-value content offers, but remember that many people arriving on the home page are engaging with your business for the first time. Don’t give them a reason to leave, which they almost definitely will if faced with a form that looks time-consuming.

Think carefully about what you really need on your forms and remove anything that is surplus to requirements.

9) Include a great content offer

Many people will want to find out more about you before they download some content, but there’s nothing to stop you from promoting a really great white paper or downloadable guide on the home page. Choose the content offer that best represents the current focus of the business and create an outstanding CTA to tempt visitors into downloading.

Don’t forget that your navigation also needs a clear link to a resources/download center, where people who aren’t yet ready to download can see the content you have to offer.

10) Add a video

Video can be a powerful conversion tool for your home page. According to Crazy Egg, people who watch a video of your product are as much as 85% more likely to buy.

For IT and software companies, demo and walkthrough videos are particularly effective. You can’t explain all the features of your software in text on your home page, and few people would take the time to read it anyway. A video can explain what your software does and why it’s better than the competitors all in less than a minute. Due to the abundance of screen capture and recording tools now available, making this kind of video is also relatively cheap and straightforward.

11) Don’t use a slider/carousel

The use of home page sliders, also known as carousels, was identified as “one of the most prevalent design flaws in B2B websites” by Search Engine Land in 2013. They were right, but there are still too many sites clinging on to this feature – and it can damage conversions.

Sliders are problematic from a number of different standpoints, including SEO (multiple slides means multiple H1 tags to dilute your keyword relevance) and website performance (slides featuring hi-res images typically increase page load times). The potential result is that either people don’t find your site in the first place, or they’ll get frustrated and leave before you even have a chance to convert them.

12) Optimize your home page for search

More traffic to your home page means more conversion opportunities, so don’t treat SEO as a separate job best left to your technical colleagues. Before you convert, you need to get found – so your home page has to be optimized for search.

Identify your main keyword, plus supporting keywords and phrases, and follow SEO best practices with the content on your home page. It’s important not to neglect any aspect of your page, from the meta description to the H1 tags and image alt tags.

13) Put CTAs above and below the fold

Placing a call to action below the fold (where visitors must scroll down to see it) can seem counter-intuitive. After all, you want people to see your CTA button and click it straight away to maximise conversions, right?

Of course that makes sense, but several tests including those highlighted here by Kissmetrics, show how some pages with CTAs placed below the fold have out-converted pages with a CTA right at the top. The key thing is not the placement of the CTA in itself, but where it is placed in relation to the copy on your page.

Do you need to explain the benefits of your product in more depth before asking your visitor to click? Or can you convince them with one or two lines of copy and a well-chosen image? These are the things you need to consider when placing CTAs on the home page.

14) Make it fast

You simply can’t afford a home page that doesn’t load quickly. The impact of a slow page on conversions can be huge. One Aberdeen Group survey found that a single second delay in page load time typically results in 11% fewer page views, a 16% customer satisfaction rate and a 7% loss in conversions.

15) Test everything

The final point goes back to one of my original recommendations. Unless your conversion rate is already sky-high, don’t treat your home page like it’s set in stone. Test different approaches, different headline copy, an alternative CTA placement, a new image style or form. Monitor your results. Keep working at it and you’ll see a much better return.

See, that wasn’t so bad, wasn’t it? The truth is that no homepage is perfect and you shouldn’t worry about trying new things, especially when the benefits far outweigh the risks. The trick is to understand that improving your homepage conversion rate doesn’t have to be a huge project.

All you have to do is start small and focus on a few of the areas above for some quick wins. Maybe add a video, hone your emotive language, try a couple of different CTAs, and then continue optimising from there. Pretty soon you’ll have a homepage that swaps bounce rates for greater user engagement and helps improves conversions across the board.