Strategy: “A high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty” (Wikipedia).
There are dozens of definitions for what a strategy means.
For the context of this guide, strategy is the following: “How to convert users into profit”. Just about every agency out there creates a happy-flappy facade around strategy, to avoid sounding like the center of greed.
You won’t get that in this article. What you will get, are in-depth, actionable tips on how to actually improve your bottom line.
Kickstart your Web Design Strategy & Get Results
1. Know Exactly What Results You Want
There’s a point in all our lives, when we’re a little kid, and we know exactly what we want. Specifically when it comes to Christmas! For boys, it’s: “I want the big red firetruck”. For girls, it’s: “I want the pretty barbie doll”. We have some sort of clarity and fixation with the thing we want.
When it comes to your website, you need to be the same. You need to know what your big red firetruck is!
This represents the absolute numero uno result you want from your website. In the context of strategy, this result needs to be implicitly a business result, not a vanity metric.
Getting more visitors, more shares, more time spent on your site and so forth are called vanity metrics. Metrics that don’t actually help your bottom line, because they’re not actionable or insightful enough to leverage. Having a million page views might make you feel good, but what does it actually tell you, and what does it actually achieve? (Hint – not a lot really).
When you think of the result you want, let’s use: convert more free-trial users to paid-users (say by >20%), you want to think of the result as a process. Knowing the result you want is one thing, but what will actually get you there is focusing on the process. Ask yourself this: what can I actually do to get more users on the trial to pay for my service?
Firstly, you want to ensure you have excellent analytics added to your website, that track the user-behaviour
(see bottom of post for links). Then, look deeply into the data you’re collecting
, specifically for the users on the trial-period, and try to determine why they don’t signup
to a paid plan after 30 days. (Hint – maybe it’s because they signup and forget to use your service within the 30 days. This can be tracked via the open-rate and click-rate email metric, and login metric).
Finally, the solution! Once you look at the real data, and gauge an idea on how to achieve the desired results, it’s time to implement! In this case, your solution might be setting up a few automated reminder emails for people on trial accounts. So that every 10 days in their 30 day trial, they’re sent a reminder email like: “Don’t forget to test the service out”.
Pro tip: if users don’t use your service at all during the 30 day trial, send them an automated email saying: “We see you didn’t get a chance to evaluate our service during your trial. We have extended your trial an additional 14 days, for free”. This not only gives them a reminder, it gives them a second chance to check it out, and pay for your
2. Profile your ideal user like an FBI investigation
Take ‘know your user’ to the extreme. You know those hollywood crime movies, where a team of investigators has a giant wall full of information about their suspect? Sticky notes, photos, affiliations with other people, and just about every detail they can dig up. It looks like one big hierarchy, breaking down that person’s entire life. For one of many reasons, it helps to know the users habits and key characteristics, to predict their next move.
When it comes to knowing everything you can about the users / audience of your website — although you don’t need to hire a private-investigator to stalk them — you do need to ask a lot of relevant questions, that will lead you to the best solutions.
Think about it. It’s so important to know your target audience. That’s a no-brainer. Business owners who run an established company know exactly who their customers are. A real-estate agent knows their customers are people looking to buy or rent a house. A Victoria’s Secret store knows their customers are younger women wanting to look sexier.
But it doesn’t stop there. The real-estate agent breaks it down. They know people in their early 20’s are mostly looking to rent. They know people in their early 30’s, mostly couples, are looking to buy a house, usually via a mortgage. At the end of the day, this allows the real estate agent to tailor their entire experience around these users, and give them relevant information.
This information is structured in a way that takes the customer on a journey, their preferred journey, which ends with them signing a contract.
When you’re profiling your users
, there are two common procedures to follow. User personas and user journeys
. A user persona is are a profile of the user. Imagine a persona as their Facebook page, but deeper. You have basics like gender, age, ethnicity, location, relationship, profile picture and general interests. Then, you need to dig deep to find the information that matters. Information like their worldview, what their goal on your website is, what their motivations are, and what their technical abilities and pet-peeves are.
Once all of that information is put together and you have a crystal-clear idea of who your users are, it’s time for the next step, making it all come together.
3. Tailor your website to the results and users
Tailoring your website to your desired results and users can mean the difference between a viable website, and a hobby that never takes off.
For example: if you have a donut stand, you wouldn’t set up your stall in front of a gym where the users are opposed to that sort of eating. That’s a bad user-experience.
To begin with, you want to determine what your goal is. What specific business result do you want? Maybe the number of donuts you want to sell every day on average. Who specifically do you need to serve your donuts to in order to get that result? Maybe it’s a mother ordering donuts for her children.
That’s the name of the game, personalising everything, and basing your decisions on real data, not made-up assumptions that will fall flat if they’re ever questioned. That will ultimately bring you no success.
SO, the big question: at the end of the day, what’s the most effective way your website can turn users into profit? It’s to make the website feel like it was literally designed for them. It’s to design the site specifically around the users persona, and your goals.
- If your users goal is to order a donut online, then make the simplest donut ordering-system you possibly can.
- If the users fear is not receiving their delivery, add a prominent money-back guarantee.
- If your users order 10 times more jam-donuts than cinnamon-donuts, put jam donuts at the top of the list, before all the other types of donuts, to make it easier for people to access what they’re looking for (give them relevant information).
Think really hard about the steps the user needs to take to achieve their goal of buying a donut. The key is to look at this in reverse order. Imagine the user has ordered their donut already, and work back, step by step.
For example: They need to find the donuts they want, read more info about the products, add them to the cart, enter their personal, location and payment details, then click ship! (You can go into much more detail in your own time, these are the basics).
By understanding the ideal process to take your user through, you know exactly what the layout of the page needs to be, and how each step needs to be presented to the user. The great part is that it’s all backed up by real-world data that you have collected.
Success happens for a reason. Creating a successful website means having a killer, data-backed strategy, that drives how your entire site looks and functions. It comes from designing the perfect experience for your users, which will naturally get you the results you want.
The most important step is to stop wishing for things to work out, and apply these strategies with diligence, to make 2015 the year your website goes from a hobby to a real business!