This is a question for all the solopreneur and microbusiness owners out there. Those of you who may have a company that goes by a different name than your own, but have either no additional employees or only a few: Are you the face of your business? Your OWN business?
I’m running across countless microbusiness websites —including my own, right here—where there is no real face of the business upfront. The company has a unique name, an attractive color palette, imagery, and calls to action on the website, great content, all that—but no human element.
You’re greeted with a home page that has a logo, navigation bar, maybe a headline with a primary call to action, but no human touch.
I have a hunch that the more ‘personal’ a company’s website is, especially when the company provides personal services and it’s clear that company is a microbusiness or solopreneurship, the more effective its website will be.
It’s a hunch.
We are missing the boat here
We’re missing the boat here. Why do we do this? (Note to self: Make this a priority: Ask my wife, who’s a professional photographer, to take updated photos for this very purpose.) I suspect it comes down to three reasons:
- We’re too shy to put our face front and center
- We don’t want to be the face of our own business for some reason
- We just haven’t made the time to get professional photos of ourselves done
Aaron, Amanda, Courtland, Derrick, John, Kevin, Mindy, Tony, I’m calling us ALL out because we all attended the Craft + Commerce conference by ConvertKit in Boise. We witnessed the power of even introverted leaders putting themselves out there, for all the world to see, greeting their website visitors.
Here’s what some others have learned about humanizing their websites
Photos alone have conversion power within them.
Basecamp, formerly known as 37Signals, and formerly the owners of the Highrise product, did extensive A/B testing on the Highrise home page years ago. This is just one snapshot from a lengthly blog post they wrote about their results, below.
They concluded that “big photos of smiling customers work” and that “a specific person didn’t quite matter among the set of people we tested.” (Kind of ironic that the current owners of Highrise aren’t following that wisdom.)
Visual Website Optimizer, A/B service provider, also wrote a post highlighting a couple of their users’ experience with photos vs. paintings or icons. One client saw a 48% increase in conversions (conversion rate jump from 3.7% to 5.5%) with contact form completions.
Marketing Experiments in a post on the effectiveness of real photos over stock photos, came up with this interesting series of questions you should ask yourself about images on your site:
- Is the image related to the core value proposition?
- Is the image relevant to your visitor’s current situation?
- Does the image bring a reality to my offer that words cannot?
Incidentally, Marketing Experiments wrote a post comparing the conversion effectiveness of text vs. images as well. Unfortunately the video that shares all of their insights no longer plays, but here’s the accompanying PDF.
There’s your personal brand, and then there’s your company brand
Okay, so these examples I gave aren’t focused on companies putting their founders front and center on their websites, but I couldn’t find specific studies addressing just that factor—whether conversions increase as a result.
Like I said, it’s a hunch.
But I also think if you offer a highly personal service to the world, where you’re going to be working directly with clients face-to-face and/or counting on them to trust your personal story, you’re missing the boat when you’re not the face of your business.
Let’s take a look at a few powerful examples, where the company name/brand are separate from the person, but the person takes center stage:
While the brand is ’12 Minute Athlete,’ Krysta clearly dominates the site. This is pretty common with fitness blogs and programs. Still, click on her name above and you’ll see how compelling this approach is for her.
Benny has the world’s greatest About page image. Go check it out, then come back. I also love that his company brand is his value proposition, that’s pretty unique, and maybe a conversation for a later day. We can’t all pull that off.
Whether you’re on her home page (where there are two images), her About page, her How I Can Help page, her Client Results page, or even her Resources page, Katya is right there, smiling at you. What a warm greeting if you’re new to her site.
You just can’t tell me this isn’t impactful for new visitors.
Now, I don’t know that we can all pull this off. Nor that we all need to rush to do exactly what Krysta, Benny, Katya, or even Becca and Courtney have done. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some lessons and good food for thought here.
Most of us want our expertise featured first and foremost. Makes sense. But there’s something to be said for being the face of your own business.
A few more resources on the subject: