"Growth Basics" Archive
Capturing the User’s Email Address
Quite often on your site, you’ll want to capture the user’s email address. With spam and phishing attempts increasing daily, though, that’s getting harder and harder. People are just rightfully much more protective of their email address.
Strategies for loosening their grip abound, but I’ve never seen one better than this one. I instantly wanted to see they said some of my domains were worth, so I didn’t hesitate to enter them. On the next page, though, they prompted me for my name and email address so that they could email the report. That would seem perfectly legitimate to most people, and so I bet their conversion percentage is well over 50%.
And that’s the key: users will give up their contact information if they feel compelled enough. You can do that by offering something of exceptional value, as most people advocate, but this way seems much more effective. Just get creative as to how you can make it a reasonable step in the process.
Quit Waiting for Your Google Analytics Invite
If you’re still waiting for your Google Analytics invite, stop wasting your time. I’ve used it for several months now, and it just isn’t worth it. I’m not sure if Urchin was this bad before Google took it over (I never used it), but Google’s version just isn’t very good. There are basic stats (like a list of all my referrers) that I still haven’t figured out how to get, and they’ve totally outthought everyone by trying to group the reports by corporate function. I’m just one person; I just want simple reports!
Thank you, StatCounter.
I can’t remember how I found StatCounter, but I’m eternally glad I did. Wow. That’s what a stat program is supposed to be. And it’s free! FREE! Unreal. THE best stat program I’ve ever used — bar none.
I know virtually no one who can understand most of the more complex reports that stat companies provide these days, and that’s not necessarily a knock on those companies. Omniture, for instance, has some fantastic reports, but it basically takes a full-time person who has gone through training to be able to use them all. And at the end of the day, it’s really only the very largest web companies who need a package so complex.
If you’re trying to grow your website, all you really need is StatCounter. Trust me on this. It gives you everything you need to know and more.
(Did I mention it’s free?)
Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Free Web Stats That Actually Pay You.
What Your Best Employees are Doing Right Now
They’re starting companies. Heck, even some of your worst employees are starting companies.
If you’re not treating them like you value them, sooner or later they’re going to look for an exit strategy. And if they’ve never thought about starting a company — and there may be ten people who haven’t — the latest issue of Business 2.0 clues them.
In 5 ways to start a company (without quitting your day job), Erick Schonfeld details five startups that started during work and went on to great things. It’s definitely worth a read.
And on the B2 blog, he details the five steps to moving straight from a day job to being your own boss:
- Use Your Salary as Funding
- Turn Common Complaints Into a Business Plan
- Make Your Boss a Beta Tester
- Cash In On Your Company’s Reputation
- Convert Your Employer Into a Business Partner
Cost-of-living raises and nominal bonuses don’t say, “You’re an important part of this company.” They say, “This is the minimum we have to do, and if you leave we can just replace you — and probably pay your replacement less than we were paying you. It’s really a win-win for us.”
If you can’t answer the question, “Why would a top-level employee want to work here?” you’re probably already starting to see the exodus.
Free Web Stats That Actually Pay You
In a perfect world, the stats you need to make your site successful would be free, and they would be much more accurate than the free stats that your web host gives you.
In a really amazing world, the company providing the stat tracking software would actually pay you to use it.
Well, guess what: we live in a really amazing world. My latest advice article, Free Web Stats that Actually Pay You, details just such a service. The biggest surprise may be that it’s one you already know—you just never realized that they provide some of the most reliable stats available.
Current Style in Web Design
Just found another great web design article over at Web Design from Scratch. It focuses more on the actual physical appearance than the website design how-to I posted Friday, so it’s a great complement to it.
They give lots of examples and note seven common features among today’s best websites:
- Simple layout
- 3D effects, used sparingly
- Soft, neutral background colours
- Strong colour, used sparingly
- Cute icons, used sparingly
- Plenty of whitespace
- Nice big text
New Website Design How-To
When I’m buying sites, I especially like ones with bad design—the worse the design, the better. That’s because nothing makes more difference in the success of a site than design. On sites with little more wrong with them than the design, a good renovation usually doubles the site’s peformance at least, and in most cases that I’ve seen, the results are much greater.
So the key to making your site more successful may be the design. If so, I’ve just posted a great new article titled Website Design: Step by Step. I can say it’s great because I didn’t write it. It comes courtesy of Peter Flaschner, the founder and creative dictator over at The Blog Studio. I owe him a huge thanks.
Even though the article was originally focused on blogs specifically, the advice is just as applicable for websites in general. I think you’ll find it a great start if you’re looking a new design for your site.
Convenience Stores a Growth Business?
Here in Canada, we have changed the rules. So says Alain Bouchard of his chain of convenience stores, Alimentation Couche-Tard, which saw fiscal 2005 sales of $8.7. He’s created a successful business by doing the same old thing in a much different way, and has begun to acquire U.S. convenience stores at a rapid pace to bring that different way to America. Read more about it here (registration required).
Doing the same thing in a different way is a great growth strategy. I think it was Tom Peters in his book The Pursuit of Wow who said that some of the greatest growth opportunities lie in mature, even stagnant, industries—places where no one is innovating anymore. That opens the gate for an innovator to blow in, shake things up, start doing things a better way, and take over the sector.
As new as the Internet is, there aren’t nearly as many opportunities like that, but we’re already seeing new companies arising as part of “Web 2.0″ where the rules are being changed yet again. Are you doing the same old thing, the same old way, or is there something new and different to what you’re doing? One is obviously a much better growth strategy than the other.
So Easy, an Eight-Year-Old Can Do It
Hilarious entry over at VentureBlog yesterday. Venture capitalist David Hornik relates how, after a discussion with his eight-year-old about what daddy does for a living, the eight-year-old really took it to heart:
A couple nights ago my son came to me with a handful of papers with various designs and announced that he was ready to start his skate brand. After an exhaustive process, he had decided to name his company Ollie King ™, and he was ready to go. I told him that he would have to wait because I was reading to his sister, at which point he stormed up stairs to his mother, ripped up his skate designs, threw them in the trash, and screamed to her “daddy won’t fund my company!” This did not sit well with my wife — apparently, as his father, I have an obligation to fund my son’s skate brand. I was instructed to do something to fix the problem I had created.
After that, using some of the interactive tools of the new web (namely TypePad, GoDaddy, and CafePress), he launched his own skate brand in a matter of just a few hours…at eight years old.
The whole entry is definitely worth a read.