I’m on my way to the mountains for a Christmas week. I’ve stopped at a gas station to write this and send it out to you. Being in a giving mood (Christmas and all), I wanted to share something important with you.

Something you might intuitively grasp already. But also something you probably have clearly defined yet.

Today’s article is about a simple yet fundamental idea.

It’s not a tactic, it’s not a tool, it’s not a case study. It needs to be a mindset shift.

What’s the idea?

The first 15 seconds on your site are crucial.

Nothing groundbreaking, right? You probably knew that already.

So what’s so important about it that you need a mindset shift for? Here’s where it gets interesting. So listen up. It’s really important.

You need to think about your customers’ first 15 seconds experience on your site as one project. And the rest of their visit (anything that happens later) as a separate one.

Different, separate projects. With different goals, different KPIs, different way of measuring and optimizing.

It’s hard. You start to think about it as one entity. One experience, one visit, one customer. This is where you need a mindset shift.

Now let’s see why the first 15 seconds are crucial.

If you are a copywriter, you should be familiar with what I’m going to say next. It’s from a legendary copywriter and direct marketer Joe Sugarman shared. If you’re not a copywriter, pay attention.

What is the purpose of the headline in a piece of advertisement? What’s the purpose of graphic elements? What’s the purpose of the sub-headlines, the layout?

The purpose, the sole purpose of all this is to get the first sentence read.

And what’s the purpose of the first sentence?

Yep, you probably guessed it. To get the second sentence read.

And so on, down a slippery slide that leads to your offer and the sale. Whatever “the sale” means for you. A purchase, an email subscription, a click, a call, or a swipe right.

This golden copywriting rule applied to headlines. It was formulated when we still printed ads on dead trees. That’s why it says ‘headlines’.

The equivalent of a headline on a website is the first 15 seconds.

It might be a headline, a picture or a photo next to it, a layout, a call to action button, what you see above the fold. All this has one purpose and one purpose only: get them beyond those first 15 seconds.

Get them interested enough to want to read more.

Get them curious.

Get them to want more.

In the first 15 seconds of any new experience, people are lazy and selfish. That’s human nature.

Lazy? They don’t actually *want* to read what you have. They are distracted. They have no patience. If something new requires too much effort, we immediately drop it. Focus on overcoming this. Make them want to know more.

Selfish? We care for ourselves. For our loved ones too, but it’s a new experience, so you’re not a loved one. Yet. When we engage with a product or service, we want an immediate return that exceeds our investment (of time, of effort to overcome laziness, of forgoing all the other things we could have been doing.) New customers need something quick now, regardless of what they may get later. You need to give them something in the first 15 seconds. Even if it’s curiosity about what’s next.

Once you overcome the 15 seconds hurdle, you can focus on everything else. They took the first step. They’re interested. Now you can start talking about benefits, features, making promises. Now the second (separate!) project comes in.

But this second project won’t even start if you blew the first one.

This shift in thinking is something you probably know but (even more probably) don’t apply to your business.

Once you realize the importance and separation of the experiences, the rest of the goals, strategies, communication come into place naturally. But you need to start thinking differently first.


The First 15 Seconds


PS. Stay awesome!