What are the most popular and time-tested ways to monetize your website?
How do you increase profit from an online project that is only a few months old? What CMS should one choose to boost revenue? These are only a few of the most frequent questions that business owners Google in order to make their websites successful.
WordPress is undoubtedly one of the most popular and widely-used content management systems among businesses worldwide. It's currently used to power 25% of the world's ten million largest websites, and more than 59% of sites using a CMS. WordPress themes are listed among the most popular categories of digital products in the TemplateMonster digital marketplace.
It seems we will never be tired of repeating it over and over again that getting started with a WordPress-based site has become really quick and effortless due to pre-designed themes.
However, howdo you make your freshly-launched web project boost revenue during the first couple of months after its launch? I have decided to reach out marketing experts from different industries asking for their advice on the following topics:
- the techniques to use as you monetize your website;
- which ones are the most effective;
- which techniques are a waste of time.
It's always a good idea to learn from the example of entrepreneurs and companies that managed to succeed in running their online businesses. What tips and techniques have proven to be the most effective for the companies working in different business niches worldwide? Keep reading further to see their stories.
Design & Analytics
A website design is one of the crucial, and the most important factors that engage the web audience, make them feel comfortable on the web page and encourage them to order something from a person/brand standing behind it as a result.
In this day and age, it’s essential to have a responsive design website so that your site is readable on mobile devices (because that’s from where 80 percent of visitors are reaching you from). Without this type of design, you’re likely to experience a high bounce rate because of poor usability when customers access your site from their mobile devices.
In addition, be sure to create a landing page for each category of your products that breaks down the product line and makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. (Gabriel Shaoolian Blue Fountain Media)
A website that performs in all web environments perfectly well increases your chances of keeping the web audience more engaged. And what about its visual appeal? In order to find out how the design of a WordPress site can influence the income that it generates, I have reached Job Brown, the eCommerce Manager at Roman Blinds Direct. Here is what I was advised:
Whenever we need to launch a website, the first thing we do is understand what we want our website to be. Not just from a general point of view, like "We want a shop" or "We want a blog", but really understand. Understand the focus of the website, its aims, and how we're going to use it. For instance, when we were building our new Blinds Direct site we knew we didn't want a design that only shows only three products per page if we were going to be uploading fifty new products a day.
Once we've got all our requirements in place we can focus on finding a design. At this point, it comes down to how well it fits our requirements, how user-friendly it is, and how easy it will be to tweak in the future.
One of the benefits of developing a website using platforms such as WordPress or Shopify is the community and the support around them. Developers from across the globe are making designs and plug-ins for these platforms and making them available for free. Over the past few years, there's definitely been a trend towards usability, trying to make designs accessible to non-developers. Many designs nowadays only require the filling out of a few fields, or a little bit of CSS to make it unique.
We use Google Analytics when we want insights into our site's performance. With its comprehensive and detailed analytics suite and the fact that it's completely free, there's no better option. At first, it can appear a little overwhelming, but once you start learning its quirks it's actually remarkably intuitive to use. On its own, it offers the ability to see precise details of your users and how they are interacting with your site - from where they're located, to the pages they visit, even down to the browser they're using.
On top of that, it integrates seamlessly with Webmaster Tools and Google Optimize to give you complete control over your websites' presence. We have a number of sites that all use the same base template, but have been adapted based on their requirements while still remaining true to the brand. The layout that has been chosen for each website differs according to each site's unique audience and testing we have done in the past.
eCommerce Manager Roman Blinds Direct
Reveal Clear Directions & Values
- The copy which differentiates yourself with clear direction. Another great tactic is to make sure your website gives precise instructions to the user, above the fold, on what they should do. According to Brannan Glessner from Express Homebuyers, they've achieved more conversions just by designing their home page like a landing page. Give few options, some information, but more importantly give the user direction on what we want them to do (fill out a form, initial information about our services and why they should use us). Websites that have a lot of links in their menu have low conversion rates. These links will cause users to get lost on your website and eventually leave it.
- Get your name out there. Hire a PR firm or self-promote. According to the Founder of Blue Fountain Media, Gabriel Shaoolian, the more people that read/hear about you, the more likely they are to visit your site and purchase your product or service. Also write and distribute press releases about your company and services, new product launches, and other newsworthy activities, and promote these press releases on the Internet. There are free services and very low-cost services like PR Underground – that will move you up in the rankings.
- Multiple Lead Capture tools with Hooks. If you're offering just a lead form, you might be losing more than your fair share of leads, the reason being that you need to develop a funnel of some sort. It can be a long funnel for more expensive products or it can be a short funnel, but there needs to be some thought behind your website and the customer’s journey.
For example, having just a lead form and a phone number isn’t enough anymore. You need to give the user information, something tangible and a clear benefit. Some visitors aren't going to be ready to purchase your product or service so give them something for free in exchange for their email address.
This way you can set up email and remarketing campaigns on Facebook and Google Paid Search to capture them when they are ready.
Which tactics are a waste of time?
- Lead Form with No Follow-up process. The biggest mistake for a business owner is to have a lead form with no follow-up process clearly defined. For example, someone fills out a form on your website and you don’t respond within 5 minutes? You might as well say goodbye to that lead because chances are you’ll never hear from them again. Have auto responders set up, hire Virtual Assistants, if necessary, and make sure that you have follow-up processes clearly defined for a reason. Think like a consumer!
- On-Page SEO without an off-site SEO plan. On-Page SEO is great, but the majority of SEO is done through link building and other citation building activities. On-page SEO is always good for a website, but in my opinion, doesn’t move the needle enough to justify investing a lot of effort in it. If you want to put a lot of SEO effort into your website, you need to do it correctly. Build local directories, Google Local, Social Media channels and other easy tools that will help you get picked up by Search Engines.
Monetize Your Website via Landing Pages
With new websites, one of the most important things to focus on is the primary landing page (not necessarily the homepage). This is about generating revenue, not about increasing traffic, so a blog shouldn't be the first thing on your mind. Of course, this is assuming the product/services pages and the About Us page are decent.
The landing page has to be conversion-focused. Start testing different layouts and copy variations to see what converts best. Test out which keywords work best to convey your selling proposition. The CTA button has to be truly compelling too.
If you're looking for test subjects, you can always get heuristic evaluations from family, friends, and colleagues. Or if you have a budget, you can setup a PPC campaign to drive test traffic to your landing page. As a matter of fact, once you know that your landing page converts well, you can always use paid advertising to scale up your revenue-building efforts.
Pierre de Braux,
Content Strategist Spiralytics Inc
How a New eCommerce Site Can Rank on Google Thanks to SEO & Content Marketing
It's not easy for new eCommerce sites to rank high in search engines. Strategico (an SEO and Content Marketing agency based in London) knows it better than most. Their team of marketing experts is not afraid of challenges. They decided to run an experiment to find out if it were possible to rank on Google a new eCommerce website and generate sales relying only on SEO and content marketing. Here are the results they achieved.
One day, we simply went for it: we put together a strategy and started implementing it to see what kind of results we could generate in 12 months. Our only investment: a pallet full of Spanish food, a domain, and a web space.
The only thing we couldn’t foresee? 10 broken jars of delicious spreadable chocolate that never made it to our UK warehouse 🙁 Note - our 12-month experiment is now over, but you'll see that we generated traffic and revenue from month one.
We used the combo WordPress + WooCommerce because it was 100% free to use (we later bought a couple of plugins to make our life easier) and we designed website and logo in-house. Since a member of our staff is Spanish, we decided to go for the niche of “spanish food online” and sell food with a long shelf life that doesn’t need controlled temperature to be transported.
We used a tool called Ahrefs to understand which products we should buy based on the number of searches for these products in Google UK.
We set up our eCommerce with SEO best practices and all around our main keyword “spanish food online”. To boost eCommerce performance, we optimized each product page to rank for a specific keyword (we identified more than 60 keywords, one for each of the chosen products).
How We Did it?
The strategy to generate long term traffic to the website was a mix of on-page SEO optimization around product-related keywords, and content marketing.
For more generic keywords related to Spanish food, we created long form authoritative blog posts targeting each of the keywords (like Spanish Christmas food, or Top 10 Spanish recipes to do at home). After publishing the articles, we reached out to various influencers to get shares and links. This way, we started getting more traffic and we increased our rankings in Google.
In only 6 months:
- 90% of orders came from organic traffic;
- 10 products were ranking as the first result of Google after 6 months;
- Some article pages generated 1K visits a day just before Christmas holidays (great for new orders!).
founder of Strategico.io
Why It's Difficult to Boost Revenue from the Start
It takes loads of time and effort to begin making revenue at the start of a web project. Gabe Lumby from Lumby Industries LLC runs a few websites of his own, so he knows a lot about the process of launching a website and the techniques one needs to apply in practice to establish its monetization. I emailed Gabe, and here is what I was recommended to me.
My name is Gabe Lumby and my brother and I run Lumby Industries LLC. Our primary site is Cash Cow Couple where we educate readers on how they can live their best financial life. My primary role is digital/online marketing activities to get eyeballs/buyers to our sites.
We are currently partnering with another individual to build out a site focusing on an efficient home design where we will be selling e-books, custom plans, and other similar info products, so we are going through the planning process and projecting when we will see revenue.
It is clearly becoming more difficult to earn revenue right from the start once the site is finished. Here are my reasons why I think that is true:
- It is much more difficult to earn search engine traffic in the early stages of a website. It used to be very easy to build a site, do some back-end SEO and link building, and start seeing traffic a few months later. Now we're seeing at least 6 months before Google really starts to pay attention and rank your site/articles.
- Because search engine traffic is slower, many webmasters look to social media to drive traffic to the site. That is great, but although many social sites are easy to get traffic from, but the traffic usually doesn't convert. Pinterest is the worst for that in our opinion 🙂 Facebook's algorithm continues to make free traffic and sharing more difficult, thus pushing people to pay for views, clicks, etc.
- Display ads continue to pay less and less. You used to be able to make decent money on with Google AdSense, but not anymore. You need hundreds of thousands of views a month to make a fair amount each month.
- Affiliate earnings are great, but without much traffic and without earning the trust of your readers, it can be very difficult to see much traction.
So in summary, I think it is becoming much harder to monetize newish websites because of the reasons outlined above.
It isn't all bad news, though. Here are some methods we will be implementing to earn revenue more quickly:
- Creating our own products. Most webmasters try to monetize by promoting someone else's product. That can be through display ads, affiliate relationships, Amazon eCommerce, and a bunch of other options. The main problem is you are acting as the middleman which translates into much lower profit per transaction. For example, if I promote a $500 product and earn a $100 affiliate commission when sold, I need to make 5 sales to capture the revenue from one $500 product. If I have my own product on my website that sells for $500, I only have to sell one to earn the same revenue.
- Using paid traffic. As mentioned above, relying on Google for early traffic is a pipe dream at this point. We will be using the Facebook Business Manager to run a lot of tested, targeted ads to build awareness, get email signups, and possibly make sales (though cold sales through Facebook is tough). We will be monitoring the campaigns closely to make sure they are profitable.
- Offer a lot of value. This might seem like common sense, but there are so many people trying to make a quick buck who are offering no value to their readers. This is short sighted. We will only be offering only products for sale after conducting tests with our target market and getting feedback to make sure our value proposition is clear and that we are delivering on that value proposition.
CMO at Cash Cow Couple
As you can see, no matter to which business niche your website belongs to, it should be visible in the search engines, engage with the social media followers, feature a captivating landing page, and boast an appealing design that will lure your target audience and monetize your website.
Special thanks to contributors
Gabriel Shaoolian, Blue Fountain Media
Job Brown, Roman Blinds Direct
Brannan Glessner, Express Homebuyers
Henry Francis, Today's Football Tips
Brad M. Shaw, Dallas Web Design Inc.
Pierre de Braux, Spiralytics Inc
Matteo Gasparello, Strategico.io
Gabe Lumby, Cash Cow Couple
Jason Scott, Archway Cards
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