Today we have an article from serial entrepreneur Rohan Gilkes. This article was originally posted on Reddit, but I’ve brought it over here and added the images so that you can gain the value. Here’s Rohan Gilkes on company growth and more!
TLDR: So this is my 4th post on /r/entrepreneur in 4 years, but in that time I’ve built the following companies (revenues):
And combined we’re doing over $2.5 million per year in revenue.
And many of you know, I did it in a crazy transparent way right here on Reddit and completely bootstrapped with a couple hundred dollars in seed money.
Today I want to share the website strategies I use to improve conversions, but from the angle of a website visitor looking for a simple home cleaning.
This is the stuff that works, regardless of the industry we’re in! For some of you it’s going to be so simple as to be a waste of time, but hopefully some folks get something out of this!
How to turn more website visitors into customers!
(Read time: ~15 minutes).
Grab your favorite puffy slippers and kick back! I’ll get right to it.
I love simple, predictable businesses, that require no magic or fancy technology. And those are the type of companies I continue to build.
Backstory: Setting the Stage
So I wanted to attack this from the angle of a visitor to your website. This visitor happens to be someone needing cleaning service (cause I’m sure you guys are tired of wetshaveclub stuff).
But I promise you the stories are the same regardless of what you’re selling: You have someone that is looking to solve a problem, you’re selling something that solves that problem, yet somehow your website gets in the way! Click to meet Rosa, and see the problems she’s having booking service
Strategy 1 for More Customers: Use more images
Here’s the thing, people rarely read a full paragraph online. Even the most compelling news story is skimmed, and best believe people are skimming on your website as well. So we keep things as light on text as possible while setting the mood with images:
Strategy 2 for More Customers: Use more videos
So this one will automatically set your website apart from about 90% of your competition. Videos are super easy to make, and they completely raise the trust level on your website and engage the customer at a much deeper level than just having traditional text testimonials. These could be short 30 second snippets like the one Rosa might see, or longer form ones like we did for wet shave club:
Strategy 3 for more customers: Borrowing Credibility
So this one is pretty straightforward but you’ll be surprised how many websites either miss this completely or hide these logos on inner pages that no one ever sees. For us, if it does not happen on the homepage, it could as well not happen at all! We borrow credibility from other sites that have mentioned us that Rosa would immediately recognize, and this would increase our standing in her eyes right away. Simple stuff but it works.
Strategy 4 for more customers: Answer Objections
So far so good, and really we’re only a few seconds in real time as Rosa starts to take in our website. She’s probably feeling okay at this point but there are still certain high level questions she has in our mind, that we’ll call “Objections!” These are the same objections that sales people have to overcome in a sales call, except in this case we can overcome them in many cases with very simple markers like these:
Strategy 5 for more customers: More human faces
As Rosa gets further and further down our website page, we’re looking for more ways to make deep connections. One way we accomplish this is with human faces.
People connect with people. Not with pictures of mops and gloves or lawnmowers or whatever tools you use to deliver your service.
Think about it, when was the last time you felt a personal connection with a wet mop? So we aim for at least 5 or 6 people that are super happy. And that’s why we hit Rosa with images like this:
Strategy 6 for more customers: Start Checkout Above the fold
Above the fold is just the area of your website that your visitor sees when they first get there and before they start to scroll. It’s usually your main image with text to show what your website is about. IMAGINE YOUR HOMEPAGE IS AN ICEBERG. The only part of your website you can guarantee people will see is the part that’s sticking out of the water. Assume they’re only going to see the top of that iceberg, and make sure you don’t waste that opportunity to get them moving along your sales funnel. For us, we start the checkout process as soon as Rosa lands on the page:
Strategy 7 for more customers: Short One-Page Checkout
Have a checkout form where you asked the customer 9 questions when it could have just been 5? You just cut your conversion rate from 13% to 10% and increased your cost to acquire a customer by $2 . The longer your form, the less money you make! Keep things simple. For us, we do a simple, one-page checkout for every website and keep things as simple as possible for Rosa:
Strategy 8 for more customers: Better design and customer experience
So the way I see it, building a business is like being in a boat race across the Atlantic. Fortunately, most of your competitors enter the race using a website that is akin to an ugly handmade dingy, with a few half-broken oars, and a ton of leaks that require them to stop every few minutes to scoop out water. Sad to say a lot of these folks won’t make it. We make sure not to create a website and make it just as shoddy as the ugly handmade dingys the competition use. I don’t launch until I have a freaking speedboat. A Professionally designed, cohesively branded website, with good copy, and a simple process to convert visitors into buyers. I want to make that race as unfair as possible.
So while the competition is running something like this: http://rcmoving.com/
I launch with this.
They don’t have a cohesive brand? I create a solid appealing brand. They don’t have a video? I go get one. They don’t have online chat? I set up online chat. And on and on…
Strategy 9 for more customers: External Reviews Brought on-Site
So this is not unique to local services by any means. Any big ecommerce store that can see data at this level knows of this phenomenon: 1) Customer comes to the site and wants to buy 2) Leaves the site to look for reviews and 3rd party feedback and 3) Comes back to buy (Or Not)! Our goal here is to remove the need for them to leave for more research by providing the most pertinent 3rd party reviews right on site.
Here’s what Rosa sees as she is shopping around the site:
Strategy 10 for more customers: Upsells & Add-ons
So this one is kind of a no-brainer, but we’re looking to increase our average transaction size in any way we can. And one way is to upsell at checkout. Rosa, as she’s checking out will have the opportunity to add extras and complementary services.
Strategy 11 for more customers: Cart Abandonment and instant discounts in exchange for the sale
Say someone starts to book service, enters their email or for some reason or not they don’t complete the checkout. Using Carthook we grab their email and automatically send them follow up emails to remind/incentivize them to complete the booking. This not only improves conversion rates but allows us to track the overall performance of our booking form to see how well it is working. If you start filling out the form, you should finish…and carthook helps with that tracking and management. Click to see this in action
Strategy 12 for more customers: Exit Monitors
Emails peeps. Little messages that are the closest thing we have to free ATMs in the internet marketing world. And these are ATMs that you go back to over and over and over again, insert some nice words with beautifully designed images, hit send…and wait.
If done right, sometimes in mere minutes, money flows out the machine!
There is no single better converting medium that a well-nurtured email list. Nothing beats it. Not search, not social media, not display ads. Nada. And it’s not even close.
Strategy 13 for more customers: Refer a Friend
Another absolute no-brainer but this works like a charm. Nothing beats a recommendation from a client so we set up a way for customers to get a credit off future service for each client they refer our way (the new client gets a discount as well).
Here is the email we send out to get this moving:
Strategy 14 for more customers: Show other customer transactions
This is a fairly new strategy we’ve seen on travelocity and other major ecommerce sites and we figured we would try it out. And it works like a charm. It’s basically a way for customers to see that OTHER customers are also buying stuff, and it gives folks more confidence to get moving.
Here is what our friend Rosa would see:
Strategy 15 for more customers: Built in Recurring revenue
We try to build a recurring component into every business. Even if you’re selling one-off items like cars, try to upsell a monthly service package of some sort to keep that relationship alive. And one way to structure this is to give different commitment levels with higher discounts based on the lenght of the commitment.
So for example: A 1 year subscription is $19.99 per month, while a 3 months subscription is $24.99 per month. This works beautifully, helps to increase conversion rates for longer commitments which in turn makes our cash-flow smoother and more predictable. And of course if you can have your recurring transaction happen seamlessly or with one click, you’re way ahead of the game.
Here’s what Rosa sees when it’s time for her to book another service!
Company Growth – Wrap Up
So if this is executed properly it ends with a happy Rosa having more time for her friends because we delivered a seamless website experience. Everybody wins!
So hopefully you guys see (and sorry if this was simplistic for some of the internet marketing gurus out there), that building a successful online business is far more than just throwing up a website and pulling up the brink trucks to collect the cash. A great website is just the beginning, a lot of what we do to get over that hump happens with the tools and ideas I laid out here.
——END OF CASE STUDY!
This wraps up the case study but I wanted to add this section because I think it may be helpful for some of you guys as you are getting out the gate, and what would be one of my case studies without a rant? : -)
Fear is Mostly a Lie
And I say mostly because it’s useful in some very specific scenarios. Being chased by lions in the plains of Africa, fear is a super helpful thing. It triggers adrenaline glands to make your body do some amazing things.
Beyond situations like this though, and especially for new entrepreneurs fear is a lie. It’s by and large a cognitive error that exists in our heads that essentially creates a fantastically negative story about all the bad things that happen if your business fails.
But as someone who has gone through business failures before, here’s what really happens: Nothing.
Like Kevin says, fear of a business failing is like being afraid of the dark. There’s nothing there.
So what do I do after I try something and it doesn’t work?
I wrap things up, go catch a movie or something, and by the next day I’m thinking about what’s the next thing. Because in reality, in the big scheme of things none of this matters. The earth will still take a year to revolve around the sun, the tides will still come in and go out, and the next business opportunity will still be there waiting to be attacked. I can hear some folks say “well I don’t have much money so I’m afraid of trying something and losing the money”. Meh. If you start businesses like we do, you’re never in more than a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to start something. We build businesses that heavily weighted towards success being determined by time/effort not some huge wad of cash.
And so what if you lose a bit of money building something and failed
Many of you dropped $50K -$100K on college without blinking an eyelid, and came out not having the first idea how to actually earn a living that is not dependent on having a boss. But somehow the idea of $2K to start your own business with a chance to fully control your lives and the thought of losing that is crippling.
Makes zero sense
You probably paid $2k to comcast in the past 6 months anyhow. lol By the way, the reality of business building for me wasn’t launch a business and win! It was more, launch, fail, launch, fail, launch, fail, win, win, win. What happened with all of those failures? I got better, accumulated a host of experience, learned a lot and now wins come a lot easier. So for $2k I end up learning a shit ton more than I learned in 4 years and $50K at college. And that’s the win.
Launching a business is the cheapest MBA you’ll ever get!
So at the end of the day, look to launch, get failures out of the way, learn, and get to winning. The real world is where it’s at. With folks like myself and Kevin Pereira and others here that have gone through this so many times, and are open to share, you get to reduce the chances of failure (embrace that), but you have to get closer to the not giving a fuck attitude we have, and enjoy the experience for what it is.
And and yes, I’m wrapping it up with Kanye once again! People are so afraid to lose that they don’t even try
And because we’re at that no-fear point, you can watch us launch a new product in real-time!
So we’re launching Groovejar today. What does it do? Groovejar helps online entrepreneurs increase revenue, email sign ups, and sales online. You’ll have access to a wide range of website optimization widgets and pop ups that will help turn visitors into customers, and we add new stuff every month! All of the conversion optimization tools in this case study are Groovejar tools and you can see more demos here as well
Oh and if you click the launch button, you’ll see everything we do for the launch, updated in real time. Watch us win or fail…haha but watch it! : -)
And as usual if I can answer any questions, fire away!
Tools and resources:
Conversion Optimization Tools: www.groovejar.com
Local Platform: www.launch27.com
local web designs: http://demo.themestreet.net/launch27/index.html
Cart Abandonment: www.carthook.com
If you’re a sucker for punishment here’s my other big case study
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