When a visitor first lands on your website they don’t know yet if your website is worth reading or paying much attention to. People aren’t unintelligent or lazy but they are very time and energy efficient. You have to earn their time and mental energy, until then they will commit very little of it to your page. They skim your page to start with.
At first they don’t know the answer to many questions which are important when it comes to deciding if your proposition is even worth investigating.
To make things worse, if they came from Google then they know there are many other websites out there which they can get to by pressing the back button. They will decide within seconds if they should press back or not. So if all they can see is a giant stock photo and they have to scroll just to find the title of the page they are more likely to press back. Without seeing the title they wont know if the page is relevant and if it was where they were expecting to land.
Pressing back is easier than scrolling down.
They will leave if you haven’t hooked them in before they get to that pivotal “should I press back or scroll down” decision point. Just one poorly worded heading or difficult to comprehend sentence and a percentage of visitors will press back.
If the page seems like too much effort to comprehend then more visitors will choose the back button. This is often the case. When it comes to writing marketing copy, authors like to sound smart and interesting by using long sentences with lots of metaphors. Making it more work to understand the page.
For one of our clients with call tracking, we ran a report and it showed 1/3 of all visitors that went on to make a telephone enquiry did so within 30 seconds of landing on the page, that means they decided to call after the time it takes to read two to three paragraphs worth of text. Although they probably skimmed twice that rather than read three full paragraphs. Our fastest caller rang within 7 seconds. Your page is in trouble if three paragraphs in you are still talking about how proud your firm is that is can trace its roots back 100 years.
(This is an extract from my ebook. The full ebook is aimed at Lawyers but anyone that offers a service and has a website will find it useful: http://sols-uk.com/ebook3.php.)