A Startup Owner’s Black Book of Web Conversion

Starting a business and selling your product is a daunting prospect in itself. But the intermediate steps of attracting customers and convincing them of your product’s worth can stop you in your tracks long before you get anywhere near the break-even point.

A much-quoted study by Forrester Research found that for every $92 spent on acquiring website traffic, a measly $1 is spent on optimizing it. (Page 9, Endnote 3)

This post assumes you fully understand the importance of optimizing every page of your website for conversion. While there are umpteen beginners’ guides and advanced blogs that spell out every little nuance in CRO for you, here are a few “Just Do This” kind of recommendations for you if your site – or idea, for that matter – only exists in a wire frame at present.

Start with a well-defined launch and marketing strategy, and put a system in place to continuously evaluate your cracks at lead generation and conversion.

Have a Clear Launch and Marketing Plan

A solid launch plan is not a ‘little thing’ by any stretch of imagination. But it’s startling to see the number of websites that are launched every day without a thought given to how they will be marketed or how they’ll attract visitors. Don’t be one of them.

Develop a brand personality – logo, color scheme, taglines, tone of voice, etc. – and using these, work on your brand positioning. Figure out who your target audience is and identify the media platforms best suited to reach out to them. Figure out how to promote your business on these platforms with laser precision.

If you are a cash strapped new business, you could try to build up inbound traffic by utilizing free or cheap marketing options before scaling up to bigger and more expensive platforms. You can choose to go in this order:

  1. Social Media
  2. Blog and Content Marketing
  3. SEO
  4. Email Marketing

If money is not an issue and you have managed to build up a good marketing budget, make full use of it. In this case, apart from the free options listed above, you could also use:

  1. Pay Per Click (PPC) Search & Display Ads & Retargeting
  2. Affiliate Marketing
  3. Sponsored Posts & Ads on Social Media
  4. Traditional Marketing like Television, Print or Outdoors

A great free option for e-commerce brands to get word of mouth publicity is through their core offering itself – the product and its packaging. Hotmail did this brilliantly years ago with its ‘Sign up for Hotmail’ link with every email sent out. Many social gaming apps request you to ‘Invite Friends’ to proceed to the next level or gain extra points. In the retail space, Johnny Cupcakes belongs in a league of its own for making their packaging so über-creative that they’ve barely ever done traditional marketing for the brand.

Set Up Web Analytics and Measure Obsessively

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

– Yogi Berra

Set up your web analytics account – Google Analytics, Site Catalyst, Piwik – before you launch your website. Set up your conversion goals, tracking URLs, and other metrics in the analytics package to see the movement of your visitors on your site, their interactions with various site elements, micro conversions, and user profile information.

set up analytics A Startup Owner’s Black Book of Web Conversion

Once the site is launched, keep monitoring your KPIs on a daily basis. Track goals that have been set up, your conversion funnel, e-commerce metrics like products sold, items added to cart, page views, and any others that are specifically relevant to your business. Tools like the new VWO can help you figure out which combination of website elements brings the best conversions.

These numbers are not just a measure of where your web presence is going; rather, they quantify how far you have succeeded. Identify the metrics you can improve upon and work on those to accelerate performance in specific areas.

Rev Up the Site Engines

OK, now that you have a marketing and measurement plan, let’s go ahead and see what things are critical to guide your hard-earned visitors towards purchase.

Experience, ‘must-do’ guidelines of web gurus, and good old common sense guide most of our digital adventures. From web design holy grails to conversion optimization rule books, every website owner worth his salt has likely read and digested multiple versions of these.

Sometimes, it helps to look beyond the rule books and explore what else can make the difference between a good website and a great website.

Here are a few conversion essentials that certainly deserve more attention than they are getting…

Read more

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