When people arrive at your website’s home page, you have about 10 seconds to win them over. The majority of your visitors will decide in that short time whether to stay or leave. They have heaps of other websites they can easily visit if they find your home page confusing or unhelpful.
In view of this, the tagline on your website home page (and the underlying meta tag) is an important factor in influencing visitors to stay or move on. The more visitors stay, the better your results.
A tagline is a short description of the business
A tagline is basically a short description. For a home page, the tagline summarizes what the business is about. A tagline summarizes the overall benefit being offered by the organization, bridging the gap between its products or services and what the customer wants. Whether it is a product, business, service, or idea, the tagline offers helpful information that can easily be remembered.
Using a good home page tagline is a fundamental principle of good website design. A good tagline is all too easy to forget about when providing the content under pressure from marketers to feature the slogan of the day.
Don’t confuse the tagline with a marketing slogan. The purpose of the tagline is to briefly describe what your organization does, while a marketing slogan is often just hype that doesn’t relate to site content that the search engines want.
The tagline should encapsulate what you actually provide. Visitors don’t want to read clichéd ‘solutions’ that say little about what is actually provided on your website.
Find out if your tagline is suitable
How can you determine whether your tagline is suitable? Usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, advocates asking two questions that can help you assess your own tagline: Would it work just as well for competitors? Would any company ever claim the opposite?
Another suggestion is to collect the tagline from your own home page and from the home page of your closest competitors. Print them in a list without identifying the organization’s names. Read them and ask yourself whether you can tell which organization does what. Then ask a sample of external people the same question. If the readers can’t readily identify your organization, you need to rewrite the tagline to be more descriptive.
Good taglines can be written relatively easily for most business-to-consumer (B2C) sites, but are more difficult for business-to-business (B2B) sites, which tend to sell products or services that are more complex. Summarizing the purpose is much harder with B2B sites, but is worth the effort.
Software sites are a classic example. If you read the tagline in most software sites, you will usually find a lot of waffle and puffery that only confuse the average customer.
How to develop a tagline
- A tagline should be a short summary.
- Be creative, and avoid making a bland, vague, or meaningless statement. Use dynamic verbs that will move the audience toward a problem area.
- Offer a solution to the issue, and people will begin inventing their own reasons to take advantage of what is being featured.
- Use simple language that is clear, easy-to-read, and understandable. Focus on a friendly approach that will build a lasting connection with the viewers.
Three steps for writing a good tagline
Neville Medhora from Kopywriting Kourse recommends these easy steps for writing a good tagline for your business:
- Summarize your whole business in a few sentences – describe what you do in the shortest space possible.
- Trim it down.
- Trim further so it is one short sentence.
Tagline example for SUMO based on the formula
Step 1. Summarize your whole business in a few sentences.
“We create tools that go onto any webpage that help promote and share your website to get more traffic through several tools: Share buttons, welcome mats, pop up email collects, and more. We make these tools really easy to use.”
Step 2. Trim it down.
“Tools that go onto your webpage to help promote and share your website to get more traffic.”
Step 3. Trim it down further to one short sentence.
“Tools to grow your website’s traffic.”
Compare GEICO’s tagline with two of its competitors’ taglines
The GEICO tagline, above, is very clever. Compare it with two competitors, Statefarm and Allstate, whose taglines are weak:
Statefarm tagline: “Like a good neighbour, State Farm is there.” This is as vague as you could get.
Allstate tagline: “You’re In Good Hands.” Same with this. Sounds like a medical firm.
Good tagline examples
- IBM – “IBMers believe in progress—that the application of intelligence, reason and science can improve business, society and the human condition.”
- New York Times – “The New York Times is dedicated to helping people understand the world through on-the-ground, expert and deeply reported independent journalism.”
A good and a bad example
The lead text from the home page of a multi-billion dollar engineering and construction company is shown below. The first sentence (What makes…etc) is what appears in Google. It is completely meaningless to a visitor who is unfamiliar with the company:
“Welcome to [Name}
What makes [Name] worth talking about is our proactive “can do” culture. We continually seek opportunities to improve our performance and provide high quality solutions to our clients.”
Perhaps the in-house writers think the company was a household name and therefore they can make the home page cleverly understated. Perhaps they were so close to the subject that they couldn’t see the wood for the trees.
The problem for such companies is that they aren’t a household name for everyone. Such a home page won’t convey what their business is about in the search engines. And therefore prospective employees will find it unnecessarily difficult to find.
Compare the above effort with one of their competitors. Here how the the competitor’s tagline showed on Google:
“XXX is a fully integrated and diversified business with operations in Property Funds Management, Property Development, Construction and Infrastructure …”
Not exciting, but much more explanatory.
You can find many similar examples on the web.
Marketing slogans are not suitable
Marketing slogans often don’t enlighten – they are just clever use of words (some not even clever), such as the following slogans:
- AbbVie Inc. – “People. Passion. Possibilities.”
- Apple – “Think different”
- Best Buy Co. Inc. – “Expert Service. Unbeatable Price.”
- Coca-Cola – “Open happiness”
- Ford – “Go further”
- McDonald’s – “I’m lovin’ it”
- Microsoft – “Empowering others“
- News Corporation – “Fair & Balanced..”
- Ryder System – “We promise to deliver.”
- Southwest Airlines – “Stop Searching. Start Traveling.”
- Wal-Mart Stores – “Save Money. Live Better.”
- Wells Fargo – “Together we’ll go far”
- Whirlpool Corp – “Work Globally, Act Locally”
Some of the biggest companies don’t even bother with a tagline
For whatever reason – perhaps because they think their company is a household name – this sample of billion-dollar companies doesn’t include a tagline on their home pages. The nearest thing to telling about their company is their “About” page, often with its link buried at the bottom of the home page.
Business slogans list from the Fortune 500
As a matter of interest, Neville Medhora has tracked down the slogans from every firm in the Fortune 500 list of companies. Some of the slogans, which are mainly used in marketing and advertising, are equally suited to be taglines on website home page as well, but most are too vague and hyped up. Medhora doesn’t say when he posted the list and examples.