“My website is different because my clients sign up with us in person, not online.” The myth embedded in this commonly heard answer from non-ecommerce business owners is that their website isn’t supposed to be profitable. The reality is that all websites should be profitable. They should produce tangible results that directly contribute the betterment and growth of the business. Let’s look at how you can boost the profitability of your website, regardless of your business model.
Focus On the Right Things
Increasing the profitability of your website begins by focusing on the right things. This is about identifying the goals of the website. Think about who will visit your website and why. For e-commerce websites this is easy. The primary goal of the site is to make sales. The more challenging situation for non-ecommerce business owners is identifying the goals of their site. Often when people don’t think their website should produce a profit, it is because they are thinking about how they work with their clients and how they receive payment from clients and not about who visits their website and why.
When you consider who visits your website and why they visit your website, you are able to see how having the right pieces of information and presenting the right image of your business will either help or hurt your sales, as prospects visit your site when they are considering doing business with you.
Quantifying intangibles isn’t about attempting to do the impossible. Rather it is about identifying the benefits that a website should reasonably provide to your business and then dollarizing the benefit. This is not dissimilar to the way that large corporations commonly arrive at a dollar amount for goodwill that appears on the company’s balance sheet. The purpose of estimating a dollar amount for the amount of benefit that a non-ecommerce website provides is that what gets measured grows.
For example, think about the value of a typical new client and then begin asking new clients if they visited your website before doing business with you. Talk with them to find out what they looked at on your website and why they went there in the first place. As you do this, you’ll get a good sense for how well your website assists the sale process. Find a way to quantify this. The goal here is to be able to measure the intangible benefit that your website provides to your business. After all, what gets measured, improves.
List Building and Lead Generation
It is often said that the money is in the list. This is just a way of expressing that a good list of prospects or customers is very valuable. One thing that needs to be done, but frequently isn’t, is to calculate the value of a new subscriber to your list. This is done by taking the income generated as a direct result of mailing to people on your list over the course of a year, then dividing that by the total number of people on your list. The result is the average income that a person on your list generates for your business in the course of a year. Now that you have this number, you can work on boosting the profitability of your list in your business by focusing on increasing the size of your list, or by increasing the revenue generated by your list.
For lead generating, the same things hold true, even though the list of leads may be used a little differently. Once you can put a dollar amount on the value of your list and the people on it, you’ve got the basis for measuring the result of efforts to boost profitability in this area.
Measuring What Matters
There is an incredible amount of detail and information that you can know about your website. This works as a two edged sword. The information available can be used to boost the profitability of your website, if you aren’t overwhelmed by everything that is available and distracted by a lot of data that matters little. The key to making the data work for you is to focus only on those pieces of information where increasing or decreasing those numbers will make you more money.
For example, once you know how much a new subscriber on your list is worth, focusing on increasing the number of subscribers (while continuing to keep an eye on average subscriber value) makes a lot of sense, because doing so will grow your business. Focusing on decreasing the bounce rate for your website’s landing pages makes a lot of sense, because doing so will increase the number of subscribers or prospects that your website provides you with. Focusing on increasing the open rate of your ezine or other email mailings makes a lot of sense because people who aren’t reading your email can’t take action on what is inside.
There are lots of things that matter and can be measured. Realize that the 80 / 20 rule applies. Of all the different things that can be measured about your website, what one or two items can you focus on that would likely provide you with substantial improvements?
For example, speeding up the load time of your website so that it loads faster will result in people staying on your website longer. However, unless your website is very slow, you will see much greater benefit to your business by focusing on increasing your rank in the search engines for certain key phrases.
Support Your Mission
Your website should support your mission, not weaken and undermine it. Sounds like common sense, but as old saying goes – common sense is surprisingly uncommon. I regularly encounter people who are a little bit embarrassed by their website. Usually they are to be applauded because they are taking steps to fix what they have come to recognize as a great barrier to the growth of their business.
The key here is to be very clear about what your mission and purpose in business is and then to make sure that your website helps you with this. When prospects visit your website, they should be made to want to do business with you. When customers visit your website they should be made to want to refer you to their friends and family. Investing in your website so that it accomplishes these goals will provide big returns over a long period of time.
Boosting the profitability of your website is about recognizing that your website can and should provide great financial benefit for your business. What are the ways that your website can help or hurt you financially? By fixing the ways that it may be hurting you and building upon the areas where it can help you, regardless of what business you are in, you’ll enjoy the benefits that come with having a website that works like an ATM!