How Much is 1 Website Visitors Worth to You?

Part of the reason so many people beg, borrow, and steal for search engine traffic is because so many people have the same thin business models offering the same stuff. Rather than thinking of ways to differentiate or look within for ways to increase value, we figure just getting a couple more links will be all we need to do well. And it may be in the short term, but that is not enough to stay competitive.

Most websites are not set up to convert...even many well known sites ran by marketers (who should know better) do a poor job of converting. And improving conversion rates means you can buy more traffic or brand exposure (affiliates, AdSense, direct ads, paid search, partnerships, and public relations). When I changed the business model of this site there was an initial rush of sign ups, but then that fell off quickly. By spending a couple hours of research, writing, and marketing on this site I have since doubled the daily number of sales, not once, but twice.

At a minimum there are still 3 big holes in my sales process which need improved. But within another month or two I can see the daily rate of new sales with a recurring model exceeding the sales rate from a one off product that was sold at a cheaper price point. It almost seems criminal when you think how hard it is that we have to work to gain mindshare and marketshare, and then just throw away the value by not optimizing our sales process and sales funnels.

My wife is at a conversion conference hosted by these guys. Hopefully I can bug her to make a post or two about all the stuff she learns. And hopefully she can help double our daily conversions again, at least until we sell out.

Published: March 27, 2008

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Comments

March 28, 2008 - 1:10am

Aaron, I was looking at your subscription service and like the idea very much. I am wondering why you've decided to stop selling your ebook as a standalone product (if I'm correct on that)? Do you think maybe you are cutting off your sales a little by pushing just the subscription service by including the book as a free item with the signup? If the book was very popular, wouldn't it make some sense to raise your price on the book a little and still sell it stand alone?

March 28, 2008 - 1:31am

As more traditional internet marketers got into pitching SEO stuff my pricepoint ended up meaning I was getting stuck with their worst potential clients who could not afford their stuff.

And essentially the book model meant that I get to do nothing but answer emails all day. I was literally giving better advice to customers than they were getting from paying other SEO firms thousands of dollars. Yet I did miss some emails and some of those people thought I was a slimeball. How do you manage that? Hire people maybe...but even then it still does not solve some of the core issues with the book. And if I just change the pricepoint on the ebook I look like greedy guy.

Yes I did cut my sales (and short term income) when I decided to stop selling the book by itself, but it was needed if I am to make the membership site as good as it could be. Maintaining that ebook fully up to date AND the membership site would have simiply burried me in complexity.

cra
March 28, 2008 - 3:36am

As a proud owner of SEO Book, I have been thinking along the same lines as Mike recently.

I remember reading your testimonial from a professor and wondering how you can now continue to sell to that market. Maybe some students will still sign-up for it, but the credibility and other ancillary benefits of having a book might dwindle.

I suppose they could sign-up once and effectively get the book for a months subscription cost, but it's seems a slightly awkward process for getting your hands on it. It might also encourage black-market activity? I suppose that type of person can't now try to claim support though :-)

I would consider selling the book for $100, but not make it as easy to find. And, when you get the book you get a coupon for one month free entry into the membership site. So, therefore you can still gain all of the benefits of having the book. And, to those who just want the book, it will seem like a cleaner transaction.

Also the book will have more perceived value to those who are looking to sign-up when they are not acquainted with the Aaron Wall/SEO Book brand.

The massive benefit of doing that, to me, is that people who want to ask SEO questions can be told that they will be able to get answers if they sign-up. And, since you are giving them one month free you won't feel like a dick asking them to do it :-)

But, if they continue to ask question after question you will make residual income from it.

Good luck, and I'm sure you know best. Just giving a 3rd party perspective.

March 28, 2008 - 4:30am

That's a great idea cra. Really great. It would be more attractive for affiliates of SEO Book as well.

March 28, 2008 - 4:30am

Good comments there cra. I believe you are correct on the strategy there. The big issue is that the ebook that could/would be sold for a certain price...I need to make that easier to maintain than the current book is. For me to keep updating the current book and training program in parallel cuts the time I could spend doing either in half or so...it would be hard to remember what I updated where, etc...versioning would get ugly, especially as the market keeps growing more complex.

cra
March 28, 2008 - 5:36am

That's true. When you spend any time on the book, there's the opportunity cost of spending it on the membership element. Focusing on the membership site first and foremost is certainly how I would play it.

In the short to medium term, implementing the strategy mentioned probably wouldn't have too much impact on profitability. I just wouldn't want to lose the credibility the book has inevitably brought.

Maybe, and this might sound crazy, it's the time to bring SEO Book to Amazon?

It could be a one-off version without free updates. And obviously you could have further editions. If it was updated once a year it could be outsourced to your copy editor. They would be able to pull resources from inside the membership site too. Obviously you would need to look over it and things. But, it would probably be profitable and drive your credibility at the same time.

I am guilty of linking to people that have books. I know I'm likely to be linking to a good community. It might bring you links from the general tech community more often. And, the margins won't be there for the affiliates to ask searchers "is SEO Book A scam?" :-)

Someone else is going to spot the gap in the market and jump in on the book front. Especially a consultancy who can even afford to run it at a loss in order to drive sales at the front-end. Maybe a venture-backed outfit :-) Rand seems like the obvious person.

I'm not entirely sure if that's the best strategy.It is just one to consider, but a book's certainly great for credibility in a way that a membership site can never be.

I'm sure the site will continue to be a success either way. I read somewhere recently that some businesses fail through listening to their customers too much. I suppose, therefore, that you should make sure you're entirely comfortable about any strategy you decide to pursue.

March 28, 2008 - 5:58am

Hi cra
I was planning on reviving the book at some point. But I think I need to debate the best strategies for it. 3 different options (all worthy of thought) are

  1. Amazon.com and traditional publisher as a credibility builder
  2. free (and possibly CC licensed)
  3. $100 and get a free month trial

All 3 of those couple be viable depending on how they fit in with the rest of the site...but indeed owning seobook.com and not selling (or offering) a standalone book is a bit of a miss on the business strategy front.

cra
March 28, 2008 - 6:05am

I agree. All 3 are viable options.

March 28, 2008 - 10:39am

Look forward to some conversion posts as it seems like something I need to think about more. I am gaining traffic steadily with my art store and seeing more sales but am still not happy with the conversion rate. With a limited budget I'm looking for intelligent ideas to make them buy more on impulse.

I guess it depends on your market as to the best way to approach it.

March 28, 2008 - 4:12pm

I agree that the loss of the book leaves a gap in the market. There are other books about SEO out there, but reputation means a lot as far as the book being trusted. I used to refer people here and recommend the book, but I don't do that now that it's a membership site.

It appears you had two issues with the book - support and maintenance, then there are ways around those issues. Handling issues with sales/transactions is different than serving as an advisor/consultant. The latter really deserved additional fees.

Maintenance could be resolved with changing the structure of the book. I'm sure there are those with expertise in this area that could provide options.

Something else I thought about when I first read the book, was that there were actually multiple books within it. It was about more than SEO. You may find you could separate it into a series of books, and limit what needs updating frequently.

As a reference, one book I just picked up from Amazon is Web Design for ROI(WD4ROI.com). Taking that approach, coupled with the membership site, may be something to look at. Though honestly, I am thinking membership sites are popular now, but there is going to be a turning point when the market is flooded. Keeping content/resources flowing to those who are paying monthly so that they stay subscribed (see a ROI) may end up being more challenging than the other model.

March 28, 2008 - 4:24pm

Handling issues with sales/transactions is different than serving as an advisor/consultant. The latter really deserved additional fees.

That was the problem though. Perhaps not one that the public saw, but 5% then 10% then 25% of the people buying SEO Book were esentially buying it, not reading it, and then trying to get hours of consulting out of me.

And lots of people were like my great site got banned and I bought your book yesterday. I was making thousands a day and now I am screwed. You better fix it. Could you imagine reading some crap like that everyday? About a person pulling down a half million a year while adding no value to the marketplace and reinvesting nothing into grow, and they end up surprised that their thin affiliate site eventually gets killed...and for $79 it is your job to get them back up to $x,000's per day? And when you mention site quality they say "it used to rank" unwilling to do anything on their end at all.

For people who are serious about learning but need a bit of help there has to be a service between "you're on your own" and "$x,000 a month"...I feel this site now serves that role much better than it did when I was selling an ebook.

Keeping content/resources flowing to those who are paying monthly so that they stay subscribed (see a ROI) may end up being more challenging than the other model.

But what many members want is not only information but specific advice about how to work on their websites. And the community has a lot of great members in it. I have had many more compliments about great value in the month since changing my business model than I did the month prior. And the customer quality (on average on the whole) is much much higher.

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