Marketing executives at solar power companies already know that the homepage is the most important page on their website. And savvy solar marketers also know that their homepage is such valuable real estate that every inch of a homepage needs to have a purpose.
But sometimes, given different opinions of managers inside a company, it’s easier said than done to make your homepage effective.
Homepage hijacked by company politics
While a homepage needs to be attractive enough to establish credibility and build a company’s brand, attractive design is only the beginning. Mainly, the homepage needs to help turn visitors into prospects and customers by providing qualified leads to the company’s sales effort.
Unfortunately, too often a solar website’s homepage becomes political. That is, every department that ever talks to outside audiences wants to be represented equally. While designing a website like this might make in-house managers happy in the short run, in the long run it’s better for everyone at the company if the homepage brings in new customers and helps keep current customers happy.
And that means making smart choices about leaving some things off the homepage to leave enough space to put other things on without creating a cluttered mess.
Solar marketers also know that they only have about three seconds to grab the attention of their audiences online — which means a homepage has to be clean and uncluttered.
SunPower’s homepage is better than yours
Our friends at HubSpot have identified 12 Critical Elements Every Homepage Must Have (see infographic to the right).
If you’re a solar marketing exec, you may find this information helpful in discussing website changes with your colleagues. We apply the first six to the homepage of one of the leading solar companies, SunPower:
- Headline: “No other solar panels generate so much energy. Or envy.” This headline appeals briefly and in simple language to the two main motivators for residential solar customers, energy savings and social values like leadership in going green.
- Sub-headline: “SunPower systems are as desirable as they are powerful.” Also clear and short, the sub-header elaborates on the message of the headline, “powerful” (energy) and “desirable” (social value).
- Benefits: What’s in it for the visitor? The SunPower homepage elegantly supports the message from the text with an attractive and impactful background photo of a roof-mounted PV array overlooking the pool of a clearly upscale home, the right target customer for residential solar.
- Primary calls-to-action: SunPower put the main call-to-action front and center, “Schedule a Free Home Solar Consultation” where nobody can miss it on the first screen. The company also fits in two more calls-to-action above the fold: “Get started” in the top navigation menu and “How can we help you?” at the bottom right. Good design enables the first screen to display all three calls-to-action without looking cluttered.
- Features: Case studies further down the page show how the company provides the two benefits of affordable/reliable power and social values in real life, adding credibility. Just to take a single example: “SunPower solar panels are good for a New Jersey family’s pocketbook.”
- Customer proof: These case studies, along with customer testimonials, add even more credibility. The testimonial on the homepage is especially effective because it’s accompanied by a large photo of a real person, in this case, a mom holding a young child, who turns out to be Rebecca Amato, Solar Homeowner from Oakland, California. Her quote will be more impactful because we know that she’s a real person: “The efficiency of the solar panels and seeing how much solar energy our home really did generate was the most surprising. It’s exciting to get an electrical bill every month and see a zero!”
You get the idea. If you look at HubSpot’s infographic, you’ll see how SunPower checked off the other six critical elements on its homepage. Then, ask yourself, is your solar homepage this good?
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group