In 2018, we published a book entitled A Member Is Worth a Thousand Visitors.
The book is anchored by a discussion of the five forces of online revenue growth through focusing on your best end users. My team and I identified these forces over two and a half years through hands-on experiments with our clients, primary research and interviews, and a review of research projects done by academics. We’ve seen our approach drive 50 to 600 percent revenue growth.
We’re previewing each of these forces to give you a taste of what the book can do to transform your business. You can read about the first force, Focus on Your Whales, here.
So you’ve figured out who your whales are and you have a handle on what they want and what you can offer them to fill that need. Now how do you monetize that information by turning them into paying customers?
There are multiple factors at play here, but the deciding factor I discovered through my research was how effectively you communicate your value proposition. That is, who you are targeting, what problem you solve for them, and how.
I’ve seen it myself a million times. And there has been endless research done that bears it out. Among websites with poor conversion rates, the most common detractor is having a lackluster or unclear value proposition. Don’t let your inability to properly communicate the value of your product be the reason potential customers pass you by.
Furthermore, you have to bring this value proposition to life, not only in the words you use in your marketing copy, but also by letting prospects experience your product in a risk-free manner. To truly be conversion-oriented, you have to strike a deft balance. You need to give enough to your whales to adequately showcase your value proposition without giving everything away.
Conversion Is a New Mindset
Conversion is all about getting the customer to take the desired next step, whether that’s providing contact information, filling out a form, or making a purchase. It’s in this area where most content creators have the opportunity to improve.
Under the current digital advertising model, publishers get paid every time someone clicks on anything. Therefore, site views are often the ultimate goal. Because of this, many sites are visually cluttered messes! Pop-ups on top of pop-ups and auto-playing videos send potential customers in random directions — or even running for the hills. This confusing aesthetic and misplaced focus on mere clicks won’t get you the conversion results you desire (especially in light of recent ad blocking changes).
How Do You Actually Sell?
So how do you take those site visitors and transform them into loyal, paying customers? Well, it’s a three-step process:
1. Demonstrate Value
You need to give a little to get something in return. Putting free, high-quality content in front of your paywall is key to catching the attention of your whales. Make sure it’s search-engine optimized and is representative of what they’ll actually get if they buy your product.
2. Ask For the Email
Once you’ve shown them what you’re all about, you need to progress to opening up a channel of communication with them. You may need to get creative here, as a simple newsletter isn’t really sufficient to reel anyone in these days. Play with different options like a coupon code or a free download in exchange for their contact information.
3. Show, Don’t Tell
Rather than just telling your audience what your product can do for them, show them! By giving them a taste of what they can have if they commit to being a paying customer, you’re giving your value proposition some teeth and making it experiential for people. We explore various risk-free offers in this article.
Always Be Testing
While you need to show, not tell, it can be a delicate balance. Effectively drawing customers in and then converting them properly is part art, part science. You want to give them enough milk to entice them without giving the cow away for free. Experiment to find what suits your business best.
Keep an eye on your customer data and analyze it regularly. Test and retest to find that sweet spot for maximum conversion. If something isn’t working, find a way to tweak it. With time and observation, you’ll begin to see what kinds of content people are willing to pay for and you can more easily anticipate how to best organize your site.
Many companies are leaving money on the table every day by failing to properly convert the audience they already have. Don’t be one of them; don’t let your whales get away! For more advice on how to create the perfect formula for online content monetization, order your copy of my book: A Member Is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method For Making More Money Online.
About the Sterling Woods Group, LLC
The Sterling Woods Group’s mission is to help clients make sense of their data to build deeper relationships with their best customers, launch new products and membership programs, and execute smarter marketing strategies.
We use a hypothesis-driven, data supported methodology to discover your “spin”—a simple insight that no one else is paying attention to. Then, we help you assemble the right technologies, marketing plans, and resources to seize this opportunity.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, founder and CEO of the Sterling Woods Group, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. Throughout his career, his focus has been on embracing technology and analytics to spur strategic development and growth.
At the Sterling Woods Group, he and the team are passionate about helping clients understand their best customers through data, and developing products and membership programs that exceed expectations – and generate impressive revenues.
Committed to spreading this message, Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Digiday.
He holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.