Let’s continue with the optimization of our website from the Marketing to sales funnel. Today is the turn of Revenues: how to improve your website to make money.
In previous posts I focused on the concerns and motivations of customers that may blockage or make them go ahead on the marketing channel. In this post, however, I’ll focus on aligning your website design with your financial department. In the end, all your marketing strategy is targeted to increase the revenues of your business, isn’t that right?
Let’s start by reminding some basic concepts:
The words sales, revenue, and income have different meanings, and become confusing if used as synonyms. “Sales” refers to the number of units of the product you sell, “revenues” refers to the total amount of money your sales generates, and “income” refers to your profit from those sales. There is not always an exclusively straightforward relationship among the three concepts, that is the reason why you should keep them in mind when designing your website. They must be aligned with your sales strategy plans in order to strike the right balance for your business’s needs.
The purpose of your website is not only to increase the number of sales, it is the image of a brand that has to ensure the profitability of your organisation now and in the future.
Talking about branding, according to Interbrand the measure of brand value is based on three key aspects:
- the financial performance of the branded products or services is measured from financial analysts’ standpoint via a concept (Brealey et al, 2008) that is akin to Economic Value Added to determine the profitability of the organisation as a whole;
- the role of brand in the purchase decision process, which according to Interbrand measures the portion of the decision to purchase that is attributable to brand;
- and the brand strength, which measures the ability of the brand to secure the delivery of expected future earnings.
In fact, the triadic relationship between consumers, marketers and financiers is a topic that has been continually researched by business universities. I recommend the reading of Value creation versus destruction: The relationship between consumers, marketers and financiers by Cova and Paranque.
Why am I saying all this? Honestly, I do not pretend to go deeper on this topic, but the better you control the financial aspects of your business, the better you’ll explode the potential of your website. Moreover, finance should be a source of inspiration for A/B testing; it is a perfect tool to perform any kind of scenario/sensitive (what-if) analysis in your finances.
Selling Goods and Services
Below, I describe a first scenario example for easier comprehension.
In our website, we offer our Nelio A/B Testing service through subscription plans with different pricing depending on the period of subscription and the different features and volume.
As part of the discussion of the pricing of the different plans, we performed a Cost-Volume-Profit (CVP) analysis based on the break-even point.
This is, assuming that all costs and revenues were linear and based on the break-even point, we calculated what is the point where the total revenues equal the total costs (both fixed and variable costs) and, therefore, our company would reach balance (would experience no income nor loss).
Note that the CVP is a form of cost accounting that assumes a constant sales price, a constant variable cost per unit, a constant total fixed cost and a constant sales mix. In more advanced treatments and practice, costs and revenue are nonlinear and analysis is more complicated, but the intuition afforded by a linear CVP remains basic and useful. You may read the article of Reed Fisher for an easy description of how to calculate the CPV.
Let’s suppose, just for demonstration purposes, that we performed the following calculations:
- First, we started calculating our Fixed Costs.
- The second number we needed to know was the Contribution Margin per Unit (CMU), i.e., the difference between the sales of a unit and the variable cost. We established an initial price for the different plans and then calculated the variable cost. The latter was particularly difficult to know, since our variable cost depends on the use of the service by our customers, not on the number of subscriptions.
- Then the third easy number is the Contribution Margin (CM) Ratio for each service, i.e. the difference between selling price and variable costs per unit (or revenues and total variable costs), expressed as a ratio or percentage of the selling price.
With different assumptions (what if we only sell subscriptions of just one plan or certain percentage of each one), we obtained the following charts:
This first chart above shows the numbers if we suppose that we only sell subscriptions to the Basic Plan. The horizontal line shows the number of sales units. The green dotted line shows the amount of fixed costs (let’s suppose it is $10,000), the orange dashed line shows the total costs (fixed ones plus the variable ones). The blue line shows the total revenues. Therefore, when selling around 455 monthly subscriptions of the Basic Plan, our revenues would cover all the costs. This is, we’d reach the break-even point.
Similarly, if we consider that we only sell Professional Plan subscriptions, the chart is the following:
In this case, when we reach the total sales of 157 monthly subscriptions of the Professional Plan, we’ll reach the break-even point.
Now, let’s see the chart if we only sell Enterprise Plan subscriptions:
In this case we only need to sell 61 subscriptions a month to reach the break-even point.
However, a more realistic situation would be to consider that we sell units of the three plans. For example, a 60% of the Basic Plan, a 30% of the Professional Plan and a 10% of the Enterprise one, as shown in the chart below:
With this you know what your marketing goal is: to sell, at least, a total of 205 monthly subscriptions (123 of the Basic Plan, 62 of the Professional Plan and 20 of the Enterprise Plan). To keep this numbers in your mind, it might be useful to design your marketing strategy (and your A/B tests) focusing on how to reach them. This is, if for example you are only selling Basic Plan subscriptions, even though the numbers are increasing, you should try to analyse how to improve the sales of the other plans, and so on.
Let’s see the different A/B tests we could perform:
Example 1: Offering Exclusively One Service in Your Pricing Page
Let’s consider that after our financial analysis, we conclude that out of the three offered services, the one that we clearly want to promote is the Professional one. Ok, then, let’s go for it!
Create an A/B Page experiment of the Pricing Page with an alternative version offering just our star product.
In general, instead of trying to please everyone who visits your site by offering a large range of products with minimal detail about each one, if you offer just one product –or one set of related products– you can really focus on one key set of benefits and answer all the possible questions and doubts your visitors might have about your product.
Example 2: Highlighting Our Star Service
By continuing with our previous decision that we want to particularly promote our Professional Plan, another alternative would be to create different options for highlighting the service.
Create an A/B Page experiment of the Pricing Page with an alternative version highlighting our star product.
Example 3: Heatmaps After Changing the Order of Our Plans
Since people starts reading from left to right, another alternative to highlight a plan out of the three is to change the order of showing them.
Create an A/B Page experiment of the Pricing Page changing the order.
Below you can see the heatmaps of our original Plans and Pricing Plan from experiment we created.
Now, take a look at the heatmap of the alternative Plans and Pricing of the Page. In this case, at the left we showed the Enterprise Plan and at the right the Basic one.
Now the Professional Plan has reached more attention. However, note that this is not sufficient to evaluate conversion. You’ll only know which alternative is better when you analyse properly the results obtained with the A/B test experiment.
Other Ways to Increase Your Revenues with your Website
On the previous examples we’ve been considering different alternatives to promote your services. However, there are other ways to make money with your website. To start with, you can read the exhaustive list on the article by Daniel Scocco: 28 ways to make increase your revenues with your website.
My recommendation is: be careful with advertising. Remember that the trust of your visitors is everything for ensuring conversion. You may find out that your visitors start off generally believing what you say until you demonstrate that you’re just a salesperson trying to make a quick buck.
Let’s consider that your financial department has analyzed alternative ways to increase the revenues and has opted for advertising. In general, the way to advertise in your website is to join as an “affiliate” of various companies or sites, either directly or through an affiliate network. An affiliate network is simply an intermediary with whom you can sign up to get advertisers (as opposed to dealing with individual companies separately).
Before joining any program, your financial department should analyse the different payment schemes available: Pay Per Impression (CPM), Pay Per Click (PPC) and Pay per Sale or Lead (also know as Cost Per Action or CPA) to see which one best fits to your company.
After deciding the best payment schemes for your company: Pay Per Impression (CPM), Pay Per Click (PPC) and Pay per Sale or Lead (also know as Cost Per Action or CPA to see which one best fits your company, you should analyze and test different alternatives to increase said revenues in your website. As said before, your website is one of the best tools to test which alternative works better to increase revenues!
What variables are important to analyse when advertising on your website?
1. The Target
Unless you signed up for one of those programs that will rotate ads on your site automatically, you should try to fit the banners and links you display on your site to the audience that you expect your site to attract. The trick of course is to analyze what your audience will like.
2. The Placement
The golden rule is that a CTA or an Ad should be placed above the fold. However, some experiments have shown just the opposite. Therefore, you may consider placing the ad above the fold, integrating it with your site’s content, or placing it near your call to action. In any case, make sure you do not confuse users between the call to action button and the advertisement to ensure a good user experience in your website.
3. The Design
Regarding the design of an ad, keep in mind some of the rules that I also mentioned for call to action buttons in How to maximize conversions of your landing page:
Contrasting colors is the best way to make your ad stand out from the rest of the page. Choose the color that makes it stand out the best, rather than the color you like the best.
Make it look like a button! If it looks flat and unclickable it could be just another design element on the page.
Size matters. If your button is buried on the page, it’s less likely to be clear that it’s the target element for a conversion. Go big or (your visitors will) go home.
- Ad Copy
The text on your ad is of paramount importance. As a general rule it should describe exactly what will happen when it’s clicked.
- Supporting Information
A short statement that supports and clarifies the purpose of the ad can allow you to keep the ad copy short and to the point, while adding extra detail. This text is typically smaller in size than the main button text and sits either inside or below the ad.
If there is a time or quantity limitation on the offer of your ad, be sure to re-state it beside your ad to encourage the click. For the text on your ad, try including words like “Now” or “Today”.
Example 4: Changing Placement of Adverts
We have a Spanish blog, WPrincipiante.es, where we discuss topics, tips and other ideas related to WordPress. As a blog, the only revenues from that website are adverts.
Create an A/B Widget experiment changing the layout of the different ads on the Sidebar.
Look at the new position of the adverts on the alternative page.
Taking into account all the variables mentioned above you can create any kind of experiment with all the adverts that appear in your website. Note, however, that before doing any test, decide with your financial managers the strategy to increase the revenues of your website, and then perform the test that will provide you more information to analyze the financial hypothesis previously established. A/B Testing has to be focused on increasing the revenues of your business.
You may be interested in the full series that shows you the importance of conversion rate optimization through all the marketing funnel and provide different ideas and examples to improve your website:
- Motivation – Optimizing Your Visitor’s Journey
- Acquisition – Optimizing Your Website for Customer Acquisition
- Activation (I) – How to create a great first experience in Your website
- Activation (II) – How to Improve the CheckOut Experience
- Retention – How to Retain Your Customers
- Revenue – How to Increase the Revenues on Your Website
- Referrals – How to Improve Your Customers Loyalty and Referrals
Featured Image of Sagrada Familia by SBA73