The first time I started an online business I spent the vast majority of my time actually creating the service.
Web traffic & conversions
Everyone knows that in order to make more money online you either have to increase the volumes of website traffic, or increase conversion rates (or both).
The problem is knowing which area to focus precious resources (manpower and finances), because some marketing strategies may produce better returns than others. It's important to analyze each aspect of your site's revenue stream in order to identify and improve specific areas that will bring about the greatest increases in profits.
This article highlights the different effects website traffic and conversion rates have on earnings, and shares a few targeted marketing strategies to improve both.
How website traffic and conversions generate profit
The money generated from a blog or website might come from a number of different sources - i.e. advertising, affiliates, sales, etc. On the surface things might seem pretty jumbled up. But, we can think abstractly about how websites make money by looking at the process step-by-step, using this simplified equation:
Website traffic (Leads) x Conversion rate x Average value of a conversion = Revenue
You can plug your own site's data into this equation to work out your potential earnings for, say, next month, like this:
Traffic (100 000 pageviews per month) x conversion rate (0.8%) x value ($1) = $800
But here's where the fun part starts because now we can tweak the input figures to see the effects on the profits.
Website traffic vs. conversions
At different points in your business' life-cycle, different aspects of this revenue equation are more important. For example, at the start of any business, increasing Web traffic is arguably the most important area to focus on, because without any website traffic, there's not going to be any money coming out the other side.
Once you are over the initial hurdle of generating sustained Web traffic, things become a little more involved. Is it better to focus on increasing Web traffic or conversion rates, or average conversion value?
The effects of website traffic compared to conversion
It may be that an expensive advertising campaign increases traffic to your website without affecting conversions to bring a small profit, but a relatively inexpensive Web design change improves conversion rates, leading to dramatic increases in profits.
Here's an example showing the profits generated by 20 000 additional visits compared to an increase of 0.3% in conversion rates:
- 120 000 x 0.8% x $1 = $960
- 100 000 x 1.1% x $1 = $1100
So a small increase in conversion rate produced a much greater effect on the profits than a significant increase in website traffic. It may, depending on your unique situation, prove much easier and cheaper to increase conversions by 0.3% than it is to drive an additional 20 000 visits.
In fact, I have a real-life case study that bears this out.
How increasing conversion rates increases profits
On one of my sites, I noted that sign-ups to a service were increasing, but the conversion rate (i.e. customers making a purchase) was very low.
I spent a morning analyzing the purchase procedure from start to finish and found a few areas where customers were, potentially, getting confused. It took a few hours to "tweak" the design of the conversion process.
Immediately, the conversion rates on the site shot up by about 200%. Here's a graph of that site's monthly earnings (Hint: guess when I made the design improvements):
In this instance, providing simple confirmation messages and directions at each stage in the purchase and checkout process made a huge difference for very little investment (in time or money).
Not only that, but often conversion rates are directly tied to the quality of the user experience. People want to accomplish what they set out to do - even if that involves making a payment.
Investing in Website traffic or conversions
Most SEO and marketing companies tend to focus on growing your website traffic because this is something that can, to some extent, be automated or facilitated with software products and services they sell. However, it's really important to look at your own equation and decide whether it is more valuable to increase your conversion rates, or go after more Web traffic.
As mentioned, you must also consider the costs involved in either case, in order to determine which strategies will bring the highest net returns. For example, PPC ads might drive a huge amount of website traffic, but if conversions are not high enough to cover the costs, you are going to lose money despite the increase in Web traffic.
Once you have decided on whether to increase website traffic or improve conversion rates, you can choose from a number of campaigns and strategies to get the best results.
Strategies for increasing website traffic
Competition for highly valuable organic search traffic is pretty fierce, and the only way to capture top page rankings is by consistently and persistently publishing high quality content focused on your target audience.
Every blog or business should be doing a very good job of producing fantastic SEO content in order to compete in the search results.
In addition, you can also try:
- PPC ads: Expensive. No residual benefits once payments stop
- Guest blogging: Time consuming, but potentially effective
- Paid or sponsored content: Effective and long lasting
- Social media marketing: Volatile and unreliable, but potentially huge
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Improve page rankings to drive more organic search traffic
- Get more backlinks: Build authority and page rankings with lots of sites linking in
Strategies for increasing conversion rates
Increasing conversions is slightly more tricky because the strategies you use depend heavily on the unique conditions in your niche market, on the website/blog, and so on. Arguably the best way to increase conversion is to ensure that you maintain contact with existing readers and customers - most often via a newsletter or email marketing campaign.
That's why maintaining a high quality email list is such an effective strategy.
Conversion rates from Web traffic generated by a mailing list should have higher conversion rates because trust has already been established (otherwise they wouldn't have opted-in to your mailing list in the first place).
Here are a few more things to consider when it comes to improving conversion rates...
Simple value offering
Above all else, do your best to simplify your offering. Especially over the Internet, people tend not to read in detail and with much concentration. It is imperative to get your message across quickly and concisely.
If your offering is fair complex, then break your landing page up into sections that provide ever more in-depth information should the reader require it.
Provide evidence of previous success
No one wants to be the only person using a product or service. Everyone wants to use sites that they know other people use. You have to show off any and all success or positive reviews you have received in order to convince other people of the quality of what you are offering.
Effectively, people are more inclined to trust a site or blog that they know other people trust.
Make it easy to convert
This point might sound redundant, but you'll be surprised by how much easier you can make it for people to take action on your site. How many clicks does it take to make a purchase on your eCommerce store? How many fields to new members have to fill in on sign up? Are there "Add to cart" or "Buy now" buttons readily available?
Once a visitor has made up their mind to take action, they should be able to do so quickly and with as little fuss as possible. The last thing you want is for people to lose patience during checkout or sign up.
Inspiring marketing message
Possibly the most important point of all is that it is necessary to inspire people. Convince them that they're getting a great deal. Make them excited about taking action.
People will only take action if:
- they are sufficiently motivated to overcome their apathy about pulling out their credit card or filling out yet another sign up form
- they are convinced that the value they will receive from your offering is worth more than the asking price
- they are inspired by your message
Here's a list of a few more conversion oriented strategies you might want to consider:
- Improve performance and speed: Better user experience leads to higher conversions
- Better Web design: Quality landing page Web design improves conversions
- Analysis of Web traffic analytics: Understand visitors' behavior and user intent
- A/B (split testing): Create multiple versions of one landing page to see which converts better. Select the best one, and repeat
By constantly analyzing where and how your blog/websites generates revenue, and making informed decision about where to focus your efforts on improving the site, it is possible to ensure that your profits are optimized.
How SME Pals' earnings grow with traffic levels
To finish off, I'd like to add some actual figures from SME Pals to give you an idea of how traffic volumes and conversion rates combine to generate money online.
After a domain name change in late June, 2013, we experienced a drop in traffic (as one would expect), but here is a month by month picture of how we made a recovery from July to September:
Website traffic: 13 283
AdSense revenue: $64.06
Total revenue (including affiliate links): $174.33
Website traffic: 17 891
AdSense revenue: $93.59
Total revenue (including affiliate links): $378.25
Website traffic: 31 123
AdSense revenue: $225.46
Total revenue (including affiliate links): $697.23
What may not be immediately obvious here is that the rate of earning, often expressed as RPM (Revenue per Thousand Impressions), also increased. I'll leave it to you to calculate the RPM for each month (hint: divide the total earnings by the traffic and multiply by 1000).
What marketing, design, and advertising strategies do you employ to increase profits from website traffic and conversions? Share your tips and ideas in the comments.
Imagine you could hire a Jedi to sell your products and reach out to new people using their famous mindtricks. Seems almost unfair, right?
Coming up with marketing ideas for small business can be a challenge.
Starting an affiliate program to market your business online is a great way to get real growth - but it comes with dangers that you must manage pro-actively from the start.
By definition, affiliate marketing hands a degree of control over to the publishers who market on your behalf.
Because these publishers are incentivized with sales commissions, they may end up using advertising and promotional strategies that your own company might not be comfortable with.
When I started my first company some years ago I placed all my focus on creating a great offering, but almost no effort went into sales and networking. Needless to say that it took an incredibly long time to get off the ground - 6 years in fact.
During that time I learned a lot about how business works, and my focus has shifted almost completely onto sales, marketing and networking.
Nowadays, a good idea with a quality product backed by excellent service is the bare minimum required to succeed. Because there is so much competition (especially online), what sets companies apart these days is how effectively they can network and promote themselves.
If you're in the business of making and selling unique stuff then the marketing strategies you use should reflect the creativity of your products in order to reach out to the right people.
Fortunately the Internet is full of the "right people" just waiting to place an order. But your message has to find them in the right place in the right way.
That's why it pays to think creatively about marketing instead of following the pack and doing the same old "tried and tested" things.
Social media marketing is one of those things that most entrepreneurs and small business owners wonder if they really need.
In general, my answer is yes, but I need to qualify that by saying that the amount of time, effort and cash you invest must be proportional to the returns you want (and can realistically achieve).
I serve on the board of a wonderful not-for-profit, registered charity, and we have utilized the tools and technologies provided by the Web, and in particular, social media, to drive visibility, engagement, and awareness that would simply be out of reach otherwise.
Use three quick and easy steps (plus a few secret SEO & marketing hacks) to research competitors online, learn what they are doing to succeed an
Take charge of your business' growth by mastering one or more of the leading digital marketing tools and learn to make better strategic decisions to save mon
The other day I decided to get some coverage in the news - actually, I wanted to get some exposure for a particularly nice bit of research we'd done - and st
Online marketing is about much more than introducing carefully selected keywords and phrases into content to optimize for organic search; or build up backlin
Word of mouth referrals come with built in levels of trust that ensure higher conversion rates and better returns, making it a great 'low hangin