Monthly Archives: October 2004

The Internet – a numbers game

If you take a close look at this ‘working online’ business, you will see that it is quite simply a numbers game (this is actually the case with most if not all businesses).

At the most basic level, building a successful website is just a matter of getting sufficient visitors to the site and ensuring that some of them purchase something.  I am a firm believer that you can sell pretty much anything if the price is right and whilst your products may not appeal to everyone, they will appeal to someone.

So, back to the numbers game.  Once you know the percentage of visitors to your site that will actually buy something (the conversion ratio), you can give yourself something to aim for…

If one out of every 100 visitors buys something then you have a conversion ratio of 1% (which online is actually not that bad).  This means that 500 visitors to your site should result in five sales.

To increase the number of sales there are a couple of things you could do.  Firstly, you could increase your conversion ratio by improving your sales page or reducing your prices etc.  Alternatively, you could work the numbers game and increase your traffic – you already know that 500 visitors will give you five sales so if you can get 1000 visitors to your site, you should generate ten sales (assuming that the quality of the traffic is equal to or better than that which you are already receiving).

This may seem obvious but it is often the most obvious things that people miss.  I was talking to one of my customers recently and they had managed to build their site up to the point whereby it was receiving around 250 visitors a day and was generating approximately $50,000 a year in sales (this was a site selling physical goods so this figure is the sales cost, not profit).

Despite this, my customer was finding it hard to visualize the steps that he needed to take to improve his business further.  His target was for the business to generate sales of $200,000 a year and the difference between the current earnings and the target earnings seemed too great to be achievable.

To get over this perceived problem, I asked my customer to look at things in a slightly different way.  I asked him to forget about the sales figure and concentrate on visitor numbers to the site.  If 250 visitors a day generate $50,000 a year in sales, then it is fair to assume that 1000 visitors a day will generate $200,000 in sales (as long as the quality of the visitors remains constant).

This made the task seem fair more achievable since my customer ‘only’ had to find another 750 visitors a day instead of $150,000.

Of course, finding that many new visitors a day is a big task but if you are mentally prepared and believe you can achieve your target, you are far more likely to succeed.

This numbers game principle can be applied to pretty much any aspect of an online business, for example…

If you write a newsletter and you have 1000 subscribers that generate income when you promote a product of, say, $100, then to increase this figure to $500 you simply need to increase your subscriber numbers to 5,000.

If you know that each time you add a new page of content to your site that this will generate, on average, ten extra visitors a day from the search engines (once the page has been crawled and indexed) then adding 100 pages of content to your site should earn you an extra 1000 visitors a day! 

If you are a regular contributor to online forums and know that each post you make (that contains a link in your signature to your website) will gain you 5 new visitors to your site a week, then making 10 posts a day should boost your visitor numbers by 350 a week.

If you create your own products such as eBooks or software and currently earn $250 a month from each one, then it is perfectly possible that every new product you develop will earn you an extra $250 a month (once marketed and established).

And finally, if you have one website that earns you $50,000 profit a year, what would happen if you had two websites?  Or three? Or five?…

Online business is just a numbers game – the principles behind the numbers are far more complicated and I am not suggesting for one moment that doing any of the above tasks is easy BUT if you keep the numbers at the front of your mind it should make the targets seem far more achievable.

Selling online? Get ready to meet these guys (and girls!)

If you are thinking about starting an online business, I need to warn you about some of the people that you are going to ‘meet’.  Once you have a website or any form of online presence, these people will seek you out – I guarantee it!

The Advisor
The Advisor is far more common than you might think.  He (or she) will choose your website at random and then email you (often at considerable length) to explain exactly what is wrong with your site.  The Advisor will often not have a website of their own but will be a self-appointed expert in website design and online marketing.  The beauty of this advice is that it is free and you don’t even have to ask for a review – The Advisor will just send his opinion to you.

The Advisor is ALWAYS right.  Regardless of how successful your site may be, The Advisor will always find something wrong with it and kindly inform you so that you can correct it.

Irritability Factor:  7 – fairly irritating but easily ignored.

The Whinger (also known as The Whiner)
Whingers and Whiners are a breed unto themselves.  As the name suggests, they will whinge and moan about ANYTHING!  You can spend hours helping these folk (free of charge) yet they will still find something to gripe about.  It is impossible to please a Whinger and the best thing to do is to avoid getting involved in the first place.  Learn to spot the signs of a Whinger from the first email they send you.  If the email contains more than three ‘moans’ in as many paragraphs, you have probably got yourself a Whinger. 

Irritability Factor:  5 – best to ditch the Whinger ASAP or they will become highly irritating.

The Magical Critique
These are one of my favourite types of people.  The Magical Critique surely does possess magical powers.  They are able to review your products without ever having seen them!  That’s right, they will offer their considered opinions on your products (whatever they may be) regardless of the fact that they have never made a purchase from you!  The review will almost always consist of just a single sentence (but hey, this is magic so you really should be grateful for whatever is thrown at you!).  An example review could be:

‘Your eBooks is complet and utter trash and anyone that byes it is an idiot’

Quality stuff I think you will agree.  Also, please note the spelling mistakes – The Magical Critique will invariably have a poor grasp of the English language but as I have already said, this is magic so don’t knock it.

Irritability Factor:  4 – more amusing than irritating.

The Furious Emailer
I think it is fair to say that the Furious Emailer probably has serious personality issues that need to be dealt with.  You will recognise the Furious Emailer immediately as the first email you receive from them will be full of CAPITAL LETTERS and obscene language.  It is likely that the reason for the initial contact will be that the Furious Emailer has made a purchase from you and something minor will have gone wrong (for example they did not receive a confirmation email after paying etc).  Whatever the problem, it will always be obvious to any normal person that it isn’t your (the sellers) fault as they will realise that computers and the Internet are not 100% reliable and these things do happen.  Unfortunately the Furious Emailer will not realise this and will spend a few minutes working themselves up into a rage before blasting you with the email equivalent of an Exocet missile!

Strangely enough, when you reply to the Furious Emailer and resolve the problem, they will usually roll over and become one of the nicest people you have ever corresponded with.  Apologies will flow and everything will be happy and calm once again – like I said, serious personality issues.  Be aware however that this is not always the case and in the event of further ‘furious emails’, you may well have found yourself a Complete Fruitcake (see below).

Irritability Factor:  8 – can be very irritating simply because of their lack of manners.  After all, they wouldn’t walk into a store and speak to the assistant in the same way would they?  Easily dealt with though (especially if they are asking for a refund).  Simply reply and explain that you don’t respond to abuse and if they would like to apologise and send a polite email, then you will deal with their request immediately.

The Complete Fruitcake
This type of person is difficult to quantify and will often display traits of several different types of character.  It will usually be possible to spot a Complete Fruitcake due to the fact that their emails won’t make any sense or will not even relate to your website or products.  If you reply asking the Fruitcake for more information or details about their purchase etc, you will simply receive further emails that make even less sense than the first. 

Irritability Factor:  9 – The only way to deal with a Complete Fruitcake is to reply with a similar nonsensical email to that which you have received.  Be warned, this can result in you going round in circles having a meaningless conversation with someone that really needs medical attention.

On the plus side, if you do work online, you will find that 99% of the people you meet are perfectly pleasant folk.  I have made some excellent online friends since I started my web businesses in 1998 and I don’t include any of you in the list above (because I always delete members of the above groups from my mailing list as soon as I possibly can!)