Starting an Online Business

When your starting your new business, one of the first things you need to consider is how to market to your clients. You will soon learn that marketing is the number 1 priority for gaining customers, closely followed by converting your marketed clients into paying clients, or conversions.

The process is very critical for websites, you want to:

  1. Drive relevant traffic to your website. (Marketing)
  2. Convert that traffic into paying customers. (Converting)

These are the two topics I want to discuss with you today.

Once your website is established, your first priority is to do start getting some traffic. I’m going to assume you have already verified your website is designed nicely, is relevant for your potential market and is created by someone who makes websites for a living successfully. If your getting your nephew who ‘knows everything about computers’ to help you install WordPress and get your website happening, then your wasting everyone’s time. Go pay a professional to design and implement your website, its your shop front after all, and you wouldn’t have your nephew doing your shop fit out, or designing the logo on the front of your window.

Now, back to getting traffic. The easiest way is Google Adwords, the hardest way is natural traffic from search engines through a process called SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation. I won’t unpack this too much as you can read other articles which focus on this aspect, but for now we will discuss Adwords.

The concept is you create a campaign targeting a selection of relevant keywords for your products. You will find the more specific the keyword, the less traffic, but cheaper the bid will be. I would suggest covering all the high traffic keywords with a position 3-5 bid, and trying to take out 1-3 for all the lower volume keywords. This way you will be very visible for your highly targeted keywords, and present for the high volume keywords.

Spend time (as in months) reviewing your Adwords, try different keywords, bid amounts, keyword placement in the ad text, Capitalisation. I even have discovered its better to target traffic Monday through Friday than on the weekends. Adwords will probably be your number one cost centre, so spend the time getting to know it as best as you can.

Now you have the traffic part sorted, lets monitor and review the websites ability to convert your traffic. Setup Google Analytics and setup Goal Funnels. I’m sure you will find detailed help on this, I just want to discuss what the metrics mean and why they are important.

So lets say you have 100 visitors to your website per month, 60% is paid through Google Adwords, 30% is Natural traffic from Google, Yahoo and Bing, and 10% is other referral traffic from your forum posts, blog posts, articles and press releases.

The first thing I would do is evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing budget in each area. How much money or time are you spending on Adwords, SEO and forum posts? Is your spend matching up to your % traffic? I’m not saying it needs to but, its certainly interesting information to have. I have seen businesses where 90% of their budget is Adwords, and others where its more like 50/50 between Adwords and SEO. If your spending 50 hours a month on forums, and only getting 10 visitors/month maybe you need to re-prioritise your time.

Next I would confirm what keywords and converting, and break this down into traffic types. So something like:

  • keyword A, Paid – 2% conversion
  • keyword B, Paid – 4% conversion
  • keyword C, Paid – 1% conversion
  • keyword A, Unpaid – 6% conversion
  • keyword C, Unpaid – 30% conversion

Stats like this might highlight a particular keyword & traffic type combination that should maybe receive more attention. You can even take this to the next step and breakdown each keyword/traffic type in your Goal funnel to see which keywords are dropping out at certain levels.

When your looking at the report for the Goal Funnels, check if there is a consistent ‘exit’ point anywhere in your site. Review that particular page on your site, have friends review the process and see if you can get inside the mind of your visitors and understand why they decided to abort the signup/sale process at that point.

Maybe there are too many steps? Maybe your asking for too much personal information? Maybe your website doesn’t give of a secure transaction feeling? Maybe there are spelling and grammar mistakes? Maybe the website doesn’t instil any confidence in the product?

This whole process will take time and require you really understanding the Analytics reporting and how it can benefit you. Its worth it! Once you are relatively confident in a few of the areas I have discussed here you can really focus on driving traffic to your site. Over time there is a point where Adwords becomes limited, based on your budget vs return. When you get to this place, that’s when you start to branch out and start spending money on SEO.

Well I hope this has helped you get your mind around a few of the elements that are required to build a successful sales/signup website. Best of luck in your venture!