Having an online tech company is a kick arse way to achieve massive scale, but only if you know how to work hard at driving the right people to your site. Yes you can spend a bucket-load on Google Adwords and build traffic to your site, but unless you have a strong content strategy, the only successful business in that relationship will be Google.
Building your community requires a content strategy to drive the right people to your site. This includes having blog posts and a solid underlying SEO and SEM campaign combined with an email content strategy to collect user’s emails to encourage them to engage with your brand and ultimately your site. There are heaps of tools here to manage and automate your content campaigns. Tools include Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp for email, Tumblr, WordPress and Medium for blogging, and of course social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Paid platforms include Facebook ads and Google Adwords.
The conversion of your community to your site is called your “Click Through Rate” or CTR. This is effectively the percentage of people who read some of your content and click through to your actual site. Your CTR is generally higher for email (~10%) and blogging (again ~10%) than paid ads (~4%). Tools to track these include Google Analytics.
You now want to convert visitors to users, this rate is called your Conversion. For every 100 visitors to your site how many of them perform the first action, which is either sign up for a trial or enter in an email address. Conversion rates vary depending on what type of product you’ve got, for example a product or SaaS subscription are different to an email campaign. Typically you want to be achieving a conversion rate of around 7-10%. The way to increase your conversion rate is as much of a science as an art and when combined with a content strategy is referred to as Growth Hacking. (At BlueChilli we have a Growth Hacking team lead by Alan Jones who manage this process for our startups.) You can optimise (increase) your conversion rate by split testing various elements of your site design and layout. This includes changing colours, fonts, button placements, button colours etc. Tools to automat this split testing include Convert and Optimizely.
Ok, now you’ve got people who have accounts with you it’s your job to turn them in to paying Customers. This conversion from Users to Customers is called your Engagement rate. Your site should be intuitive enough for people to use without instruction and designing for your “zero data event” – the first time users engage with your site is the most important thing you can do here. Check out the example below on when first time users sign in to our business CalendarTree.com. Tools you can use include Mixpanel and Kissmetrics for tracking how people engage with your platform and Vero for sending targeting emails based on user engagement.
Finally, your existing customers are your best source of new users so you need to work on empowering them to refer your site to others. Referrals work the best when both parties receive the same benefit – which may not always be monetary. Our payment platform Zwype is experimenting with “buy your mate a beer” where if you invite a new user on the platform you both get a beer on us.