WES S02E10: How To Grow Your Purchased Website
So you’ve decided on the business you’d like to purchase, have done your due diligence, and negotiated the deal, and have signed on the dotted line.
You’ve done it! Now…what’s next?
In this episode, we’re looking at the various methods, tactics, and tips you can use to build and grow your website or online business purchase.
We cover both some general growth strategies that are useful/helpful with most websites and online businesses, but we also look at some of the things you can with specific monetization methods and traffic strategies. (Advertising sites, Lead Gen businesses, and service-based businesses, for example)
There’s a lot to cover in this episode and it would be impossible for us to dig into everything, but we wanted to present some ideas and give you resources to dig in even further.
Also – this is our last episode of the season! Season 2 has been all about buying websites and online businesses, but we’re going to take it from the seller’s perspective in Season 3. Expect an in-depth review on when you might want to sell, the steps you can take to prepare the business for sale, and all the way through the negotiation process and hand-off.
We’re excited to bring you another season – expect us back in August (or September at the latest!)
Did you like Season 2 of the show? Please stop by iTunes and leave us a review! We’ll give you a mention when we start Season 3 and we love to read the reviews!
Listen To The Full Interview:
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- General Growth Strategies
- Ad Placement & Optimization
- Test Pricing Models
- New Products, Services, Or Income Streams
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Improve SEO
- Specific Growth Strategies
- Advertising Sites
- Affiliate Sites
- LeadGen Sites
- Service Businesses
Featured On The Show:
- Viral Nova
- Visual Website Optimizer
- Spencer @ Long Tail Pro
- SEM Rush
- Campus Explorer
Justin Cooke: You want to start at the top of the funnel first, because that’s where the most amount of customers are. If you can tweak the click-throughs and everything on the top of the funnel, you’re going to continue down the largest amount of potential customers.
Speaker 2: Buying and selling businesses just got a lot easier! Welcome to the web equity show, where thousands of successful entrepreneurs go to learn about buying, growing, and selling online businesses. Your hosts, Justin Cooke and Ace Chapman share their real life advice, examples, and expert interviews to help you build and grow your own online portfolio.
Now to your hosts, Justin and Ace.
Justin Cooke: Welcome to Web Equity Show, I’m your host Justin Cooke, and I’m here with my co-host, Ace Chapman, and we are talking about our last episode for season 2. We’re talking how to grow your purchased websites. What’s going on Ace?
Ace Chapman: What is up, man? Everybody gets real focused on buying their business. I think it’s appropriate as we wrap up season 2 that we get into how you grow the business once you get it closed and acquired, and it’s yours.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, man. We covered everything in this season, and we talked about how to get started, what kind of skills you need, we talked about due diligence, we talked about how to close the deal, we talked about transferring the site. This is the final episode. What the hell do you do with this business or this website once you purchased it? And we’ve got a bunch of things we want to cover.
Hopefully, any buyers had a plan in place before they actually purchased the site, and for anyone listening to this podcast, they’re kind of listening to this in advance before their purchase, and they can take some of these and decide whether or not it’d be a good buy for them.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. I mean, it helps to at least think about these things when you’re buying the business, and not every person is going to be a good fit for the business, but if you’re looking at a deal, and you know, “Hey, these are all the skills that are needed to grow this. This is what the work is going to look like once I buy it.”
And you can plan that out. Number one, you can figure out if it’s really the right business for you, and number two, you’re able to hit the ground running so that you can start growing that business immediately.
Justin Cooke: That’s right, man. All right, before we get into that, let’s do some listener love. We got a five star review on iTunes from Brad Willitz. Brad said, “I started listening a few days ago and could not stop, what a great show. Thanks for introducing me to a whole new world. I’m learning WordPress, my first attempt is bradwillitz.com, it’s a work in progress for sure. I network with so many business people and entrepreneurs that’d be interested in getting involved. Thanks guys for doing this awesome show, and I hope to get to meet you guys one day.”
I actually think that’s a great way to get started, Brad. If you are brand new to it and you’re like, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” You start off a brand in your own name that you can kind of start … Attach an email address to, attach email subscribers to, set it up in WordPress. I think that’s a really great way to get started. It’s really low pressure. Very, very, very low pressure to get that site up and running, and it gives you a feel for how to start a site.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, and once you … It’s really tough. For a lot of people who the first experience with anything online is buying a site, everything at that first closing is brand new. So, even if you’re not doing that, I recommend starting with a smaller deal just to go through that whole process of getting your hosting setup, getting the domain, getting the WordPress, or whatever platforms, uploaded.
So, all that, that’s a great way to do it, and not have to buy a site.
Justin Cooke: All right, Ace, let’s get into this, man. We’re talking how to grow your purchased website, and we’re going to cover five general grow strategies that you can apply to almost any online business or website, and then we’re going to look at five specific business strategies that may be more for eCommerce, or a lead-gen site, let’s say.
Honestly, there’s so much to cover in this. We could have done a whole season on grow strategy, so I’ll apologize in advance, this episode isn’t going to be terribly in-depth. We’re going to kind of cover briefly, or mention briefly, the strategies, and kind of move on, but we’ll put a lot of additional resources in the show notes if people want to take a look.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, and we’re going to … Like you said, we’re going to run through these. There’s so many to cover. We had to cut out a lot, so this gives you a primer, and the truth is, most people don’t do the things that we’re going to list out today, so while there is a lot more, don’t get focused on that, get to work on the things that we’re talking about.
So, let’s jump in. The very first thing is, looking at the ad placement and optimization of the ads. So, anytime I buy a site that has some advertising on it, the first thing I want to know is, are there ads in every possible place that is allowable with the network that we’re using to advertise on the site?
And, are we really maxing out all the available ad space on that site? Because, if you can add an ad, and immediately kind of increase the income, day one, that’s a very easy way to kind of get that initial bump. One of the things that you want to consider with this is doing some split testing where it may actually not sometimes add to the income.
So, with all this stuff, it’s about testing. So, even as you’re adding an ad, or changing the placement of the ad, doing those split tests will give you the clear answer as opposed to just guessing.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, Ace, you’re right. So, when you’re talking about not having enough ads on the page, we’ve seen that with ads on sites we’ve sold where there’s only like two or three ads on the page, where a company like AdSense, for example, allows more ads.
So, adding more ads there could potentially be a big win right from the beginning. If you’re talking about split-testing ads, there’s a … I think it’s a plugin, it’s called AmpSense, and it allows you to split-test the ads, the AdSense ads or whatever, on the page.
I’m also going to put some links in the show notes, too, some other ideas and pieces of content about split-testing ads that I think are pretty helpful.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. The next thing is, are there some opportunities to get direct ads? And, some people don’t want to do the work here, because it does involve going out, approaching people that may want to advertise with you, and bringing them in. There are two ways to attract people. Number one is, you’ve got a site with a ton of traffic. The other way is, you’re actually just in a really, really tight niche.
I remember we bought a site years ago that was in the peer-to-peer lending space, and it was just early on, and Prosper was just getting started. LendingClub didn’t even exist yet, and so LendingClub came later, but because there weren’t a lot of people talking about it, they were willing to pay us for advertising, even though we had barely any traffic, but we bought that site, it was in that niche, and they wanted to be everywhere that that niche was talked about.
Justin Cooke: That sounds like a bit of a hassle, Ace. Did you reach out to the companies directly? And, who did you talk to to try and negotiate that? How’s that work?
Ace Chapman: Well, actually the deal was done when we bought the site, which is one reason that I like to buy businesses, is we didn’t have to do that work. So, the previous owner had done that work, and I mean, it was pretty great deal, especially for the minimal amount of traffic that was coming in, but he had approached him, had negotiated a deal, and actually, it was great income, and he did that work.
So, I agree, that is a lot of work, but for the person that is in a niche like that, it could be worth it, because that site, he wouldn’t have gotten any … Barely any money for it if he hadn’t done the work to do that deal.
Justin Cooke: That makes sense. It’s a profitable niche, too. And so, if the site has a ton of traffic, it makes sense, right? I mean, because it’s worth reaching out because there’s so much opportunity, and there’s people that will want to be placed there, and they’re willing to pay you.
For very tight niches that are very profitable like P2P lending or something, I could see how they’d like to be there, and may be not even so worried about the ROI, it’s more of a branding play for them, right? They’re willing to do it, but it does take some work on your end, right? Some kind of hustle to kind of … To get that up and running for the direct ad.
So, yeah. It’s interesting. These are definitely worth trying out.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Yeah, so we talked a little bit about just working on the ad placement, but one of the things is, really optimizing the ad placement. One of the companies that blew up, partially because of this, was ViralNova, and they would have the ads that were right beneath the arrows to change the page and go from picture to picture, and the ads would look pretty close to an arrow as well, and I was amazed that people continued for a really long time to pay for those ads, but I guess they just wanted the traffic.
But testing out that placement, when you’ve got ads that are, on certain sites, the header can be one of the weakest places to place an ad, even though you’re still going to have it there. Some of the strongest places are when it’s kind of in the content, or it’s just right of the content, right after the title.
So, those are some of the areas that you want to test out.
Justin Cooke: Yeah. I think there’s two trains of thought here, too, with ads, right? One, you can blend in and look like the arrow to move to the next piece, right? If you’re too sneaky with that, you can get in trouble with AdSense, but if you’re big like ViralNova, you’re probably okay.
The other one is to really clash with the site, right? To be a different color, totally different to where it’s very, very obvious, and it attracts the eye, and the only real way to figure out whether that works, and whether that’s going to work for the visitors, is for the advertisers to test through it.
Ace Chapman: Absolutely. All right, let’s move to the next section; test the pricing.
Justin Cooke: Yeah. I like this. This is really interesting, because a lot of times, websites or businesses, they kind of choose their pricing arbitrarily, right? They haven’t done a whole lot of testing, so it’s actually worth asking the seller, “What pricing have you tested?”
What has pricing been with your pricing model? What were they previously? It makes a lot of sense, and one of the things you can do with pricing, right? Is the first you to do is just split-test the pricing all together. So, if you have a $79 offer, make it 99, make it 129, make it 39, and you can do this with Virtual Website Optimizer, is one, any of the split-testing, page split-testing services we use. I’ll put a few more in the show notes, but you can just split-test the pricing that way and just make each button a different price.
It’s a little weird, right? The consumer could refresh and get a different price, but I think it’s worth testing out, especially right after you purchase the site.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. This isn’t one of those things that you want to test long-term, because like you said, it can hurt you. There are a lot of things that you just wanna always test, but this one, you want to get in, you want to hit the test hard and get it figured out, and not have people refresh their page and see a different price.
Justin Cooke: The other thing you can do, is you can add tiers, right? So, you can put a silver, gold, or platinum pricing. Maybe your platinum pricing was gold previously, or at the gold level, and then you offer a lower price, you offer a higher price, and you add a bit more services for that, and see which one people go for.
One of the benefits here is that you can basically anchor. So, if I have a silver, gold, platinum, it originally was whatever the gold was, and I’m now calling that gold, I can make the platinum really high, right? So, if it’s … Maybe the silver’s 39, the gold is 79, and the platinum is 299. Some people are like, wow, 299, I’m not doing that. The 79 seems way more reasonable next to that $299 price point.
Another thing you can do, is you can add B2B pricing, so if you have one package for one user, one package for three users, one package for five users, you can add a package that’s, “Need more than five users? Contact us.” And you can start doing 20 user, 50 user, 100 user, based pricing for some of the larger companies.
I saw someone that did this recently. There was a case study on someone who’d done this, and they changed their pricing for these B2B customers and got, I don’t know, closed like a $100,000 deal because of it. I’ll try to look that up and see if I can put that in the show notes, but really interesting.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, and a big part of all of this is stepping into the mind of the person that you’re selling to, whether it’s B2B, or it’s the … A consumer, like you talked about with the platinum versus the gold pricing. You want to be able to see things from their perspective, and kind of guide them in the direction you want them to go.
Justin Cooke: Another good opportunity is, if you see an opportunity for recurring, you probably want to take it. There’s a whole bunch of reasons for this. Businesses that have recurring revenue that are relatively stable, and they have nice LTV, are generally worth more, buyers are willing to pay more for them, they’re willing to give you a higher multiple.
So, recurring revenue is nice in a sale, but it’s also just nice to have that stability of income, like if you have the leaner months, so if you can add a recurring piece, I think that’s valuable. Spencer over at LongTailPro did this years ago. I think he was selling his software at a set price, one time download, added some features, and then it just added … It was like 19 bucks a month, but that 19 bucks a month added up over thousands of customers starts to make a lot of sense.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, especially with that business, is you want the motivation of constantly improving that and making that product better, and customers get that as well, so it becomes a win-win.
Justin Cooke: All right, man, and another thing you can do is add new products, services, or income streams. One example of this would be to add related products, right? So, for example, if I buy a drop-shipping site that sells dog food bowls, I don’t know why I picked that, but dog food bowls, you can then take and add products like collars and leashes, and things that would go along with that particular customer. If the business didn’t have that before, I think that’s an opportunity for you to expand.
You may find, I mean, some of them are going to be losers, but you may find that one product that you’re adding does significantly better than the main product that the site was known for, so I think there’s a big opportunity there.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. I love getting into deals and starting to test some of those things, especially now that you can use things like retargeting to pull them back, and you can get them into a contest to win something after, because sometimes you don’t want to confuse them too much when you’re trying to get them straight to the sale, but you can have a pencil there, Pixel them, and follow up with a coupon, or a contest, or some bonuses, and that kind of thing.
So, experimenting with that is huge.
Justin Cooke: You can also take a site where it was kind of a one-off purchase and look for products, even if you don’t make a ton of money on them, even if they’re really low margin, but look for products that have recurring purchase power. So, dog food, for example, that same example, they’re going to have to go back and back for dog food. So, if you can offer them a very specific type of dog food, because not this other thing you can just go to the store and buy, and if you can do that, you’re going to get them coming back and back to your site, and it’s just an opportunity, more opportunities for purchase, more opportunity to be shared, that kind of thing.
So, if it was a one-off purchase, look for products you can add that would be recurring. For example, vapes or something in that space, sell the cartridges, things like that. Another thing you can do with product service or income streams is, start capturing emails for promo offers.
Now, I wouldn’t do this with an Amazon affiliate site, let’s say, but a product or service site capturing their emails provides long term value. You may take a short-term hit. By asking for their email, they may not purchase something, or it may keep them from doing something else, clicking an ad or whatever, but by having that email, in the long-term, a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, you’re going to have this great customer and potential customer email base that you can use to send promos, to send all kinds of things.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, especially if you’re introducing new products like we’re talking about. So, we just did a deal on a product that, basically, is in the cosmetic space, and it’s not very obvious that it’s a business where there’s going to be recurring revenue, but as we started to reactivate a lot of those old customers with the emails, we’re able to get them excited about signing up for this recurring service.
So, what you promote can really tie into some of the other ideas that we’re talking about, but you want to get those emails and you definitely want to test out different things beyond just, “Hey, buy this thing. Buy this thing.”
Coming up with the new services, the new products, the recurring types of concepts with the product as well.
Justin Cooke: I’m not sure I’m with you on this next one, Ace. You’ve got your next note there, I’m going to let you hang yourself, so go ahead and explain this one, and I’m going to come in and see if I can beat you up.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Yeah. So, the other one you definitely have to be careful with is banner ads and selling affiliate products. When you’re in a business, there can be complimentary things that aren’t a direct competitor to you, and this is something that goes back to that whole retargeting thing that we were talking about a bit ago.
So, one of the things that we’re testing right now is retargeting on the front-end when we have an abandoned cart. So, somebody’s come, they picked out the product, they wanted it, and even a lot of times they get to the page, but then we don’t get them penciled on the transaction and completion page.
And so, now, the way you market to that person becomes a lot different than a brand new customer, and so you want to try to get some money out of them, and this is when you can start to market affiliate products, especially if you try to get them back, and they don’t come back, you can start to get just other people that want to sell, even a competitor in some cases, but at the very least, doing some complimentary type of products.
Justin Cooke: All right, man. So, I don’t know. So, you mentioned two things here. So, the first is the banners ads, right? And placing banner ads on your site. I’m against that 95% of the time. Here’s my reasoning, right? Even if it’s not a competitor, let’s say it’s a parallel product or something. Yes, they click through, they go there, in general, you’re still losing that click, so for whatever money you got paid by having that banner there, you’re losing by not having your main product, and your main product should be your best and most profitable offer, right? Whether it’s a product, or service, or whatever.
So if they go anywhere else, you’re losing money. Now, you’re saying if they would’ve gone somewhere anyway, but I don’t know that, and it’s really hard to know. You know what I mean? Okay, you can try to test for that, but everyone says that. The truth is, you’re not going to. I think, ultimately, you’re going to be losing money on that deal.
Now, with the affiliate products, I don’t hate that. So, if I have an eCommerce business and I’m selling this product, I don’t want to stock all the other products that are related to the niche, I’d rather just have them available as an affiliate and send them over to someone else. I … Careful, though. I mean, if they’re selling the same products that I am, and I’m sending them over there, and then they just go back to them next time and not me, that could hurt business.
So, I’m pretty much “no” on the banner ads, I may be okay with the affiliate products, just depending. I don’t know, what do you think, man?
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Yeah, so the real key here is, even with the banner ads, it’s more of an affiliate … It’s like when I put their sale banner ads, so this isn’t AdWords. This isn’t something where you’re just throwing up a ad network, you’ve got to go out and build a relationship with somebody and actually make a sale, and you’re building more of a partnership with them. The ideal scenario would be, “Hey, we’re going to do this, we’ll give you this many impressions. You put ours over here, you give us these impressions. These are customers that aren’t going to buy from us.” That kind of thing.
But, you’re right. I mean, ideally, this isn’t something, especially, that you want to throw on the site as soon as you buy it. All of these thing … When you get into the banner ads, and even the affiliate product testing, you want to make sure that you’re doing it on the backend, that that these are things that you’ve done after you’ve promoted related products, you’ve kind of come up with some promo offers to the email, and done those tests way before you get to these.
Justin Cooke: All right, man. Next thing you can focus on is conversation rate optimization, and you generally, you want to take a top-down approach with this. You want to focus on kind of the biggest, most massive and sweeping changes, down to the smallest stuff.
So, when you’re hearing someone talk about CRL, and they’re like, “Oh, change the button from blue to red.” That’s maybe if you get there someday, sure. Great, that’s fantastic, but in general, as a place to start, no. Make a big sweeping change, and one of the things you can do there is to optimize the first things that are seen.
Right? So, the headline, right? The sub-headline. The first bit of content. The first things customers see on the homepage or elsewhere are a great place to start when it comes to conversation rate optimization. Ultimately, you’re talking about a funnel, right? Of people that are coming to your site. You want to start at the top of the funnel first, because that’s where the most amount of customers are. If you can tweak the click-throughs and everything on the top of the funnel, you’re going to continue down the largest amount of potential customers.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, and people get into the small stuff before they test the big things. When it comes to the headlines, email headlines, we’ve been doing a lot of testing with just … When we send an email out, what’s going to compel them to get it open? What can we put in that first sentence that’s going to get them to read the rest of it? And most importantly, what’s going to get them to click? Because they’re not going to do a transaction in the email, so what’s going to get them to click to get them back to the site?
So, and even kind of on that backend, once they get to the site, what’s the content that’s going to keep them there? What’s the related content to get them to go around on the site? And what’s going to get them to eventually check out or click an ad, or become a lead, depending on the type of business it is?
Justin Cooke: Yeah, 80/20 over here, right? Focus on titles and headlines, look at email headlines, look at the first sentences, and look at your calls to action, right? If you cover that, you’ll … I think that’s a great place to start. Now, you can dig further and further as you go down the tunnel, but that’s, I think, a really good place to start.
It brings me to another point, Ace. Let me ask you this as kind of an aside, but definitely related to this. We have buyers that have two trains of thought, right? One of them will, they won’t touch the site or business, they’ll generally leave it alone, just continue doing exactly what was done before, and they’ll do that or three or four months, and they do that to kind of establish a baseline, see where they’re at, and then start to make the improvements.
Others, a week after they have purchased it, they’re already making changes, they’re getting into … They’re adding SEO, they’re adding pieces of content, they’re offering … They’re changing the conversion rate. What do you think, man? Do you start messing with the site right away? Do you wait a few months? Or, does it depend?
Ace Chapman: No. Not … Definitely, never a few months. If anything, a few weeks just to make sure that the purchase is real, and everything checks out, and is working the way that it’s supposed to. So, we may give it a couple of weeks, and so I’m probably right in between. I don’t think you need as much time as a couple months. Really, all you need to do is just verify that what was happening with the previous owner is now happening, and that can happen in a few days, because the truth is, in due diligence, you’ve got that history. You already know what it’s been doing for the last three months, so you don’t need another three months. You know, in it’s current state, this is what it’s been making.
So, you take a few days, make sure that is continuing, and then you can get into making changes. So, I really like to get in and start working on it, hopefully improving it, as quickly as possible.
Justin Cooke: All right, man. Let’s move into improving the SEO, and this is something you can do for almost any site, any site that relies on organic search traffic, for sure. And, a lot of times when you’ve built a site, and you’ve got anything from 20 to hundreds, or even thousands of pieces of content in there, is you miss things, right? The builder missed things, they didn’t tweak everything, they didn’t optimize everything, so going back through and fixing some of those things can be really valuable.
For example; title tags, meta descriptions, right? That page is ranked in the search, and that meta description is showing up. It’s not just about the SEO value, it’s also about the click-through value, right? So, if you can change that meta description to be more interesting or enticing to get people to click on the page on the Google search page, they’re more likely to visit you, and your click-through rate on the search engines improves.
You can do content tweaks, you can also start doing some social media promotion. I mean, just kind of fixing things that weren’t done, and making little tweaks to it in terms of SEO, I think is a quick one.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, and those content tweaks are something that you do have to be a bit careful. You don’t want to go in and start making a ton of changes, especially if you’re dependent on some SEO juice. But, the other thing is, once you’ve got some great content, you need to let people know, and so doing some internal linking on the site can be huge for a lot of these sites, because if somebody comes in, they come to a one article, and they’re reading it, and you don’t want them to make them have to search for the related content, or search for another great article that they’re going to love.
So, doing some internal linking is a lot more about just getting great stuff in front of the visitors than it is any SEO juice, but the … Also, you want to have the external links, and the key here is making sure that it’s real. We have done couple of deals where people have had links from very high-profile top 500 in Alexa type sites that are well known, and … [crosstalk 00:25:36]
Justin Cooke: Huffington Post, and Forbes, and that kind of thing. Yeah.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Yeah, that kind of thing where it’s like, okay, Google is not going to punish you, ever, for a link from Forbes, and so, when you’re getting those kind of things, that’s super, super valuable.
Justin Cooke: Yeah. I think internal links can be really valuable, but external links are going to make or break you, right? There’s always going to be the really good ones and the really bad ones, and one of the things that a lot of people have success with, but it is scary, are PBNs, right? Those are the private blog networks where they either own it themselves, or they’re paying someone else for links from their PBNs.
And, what a PBN is for anyone that’s not clear, it’s a huge amount of blogs that are not necessarily associated with the site, that are normally kept relatively private, that have a bunch of link-juice, and you can put links on those sites to your money site to give them additional link-juice, and you use the right anchor keywords, and you can help get them ranked for certain key terms.
Now, it’s a gray hat or black hat, it’s not illegal, but it is against kind of Google’s interests. It’s against what they say they want from you, so you always run a risk with PBNs, but having those links, especially for something that’s kind of a boring niche, if you’re not getting Forbes write-ups, or having them post write-ups, can be really, really valuable.
In terms of tools you can use to do some of this stuff, I mean, Moz is something we use, the Moz Pro account, and you can SEMrush, I think, to kind of review your back-links, review your page, and see where the link juice is going, and where you have some value, and where you don’t.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, you want to do that research, really, from the beginning. So, definitely check out Moz and SEMrush.
Justin Cooke: All right, man. Let’s talk specific growth strategies. The first one we have is for advertising sites, and we’d want to say, one of the things you can do, and we have a customer that does this very specifically, is he looks to purchase AdSense sites, and he only buys AdSense sites that he can convert them over to Ad exchange.
He knows how to make quite a bit more money with Ad exchange, and so he looks for sites that are exactly in that position. Now, for adverting, if you try media.net, you can give them a shot. What is it? Text links and stuff, you can give them a shot, but a lot of times, they’re going to be worse than AdSense, but you can improve on AdSense by converting to Amazon, converting to a lead-gen site.
Now, it may require quite a bit of work to make those changes, and you have to do that over time, but you can start adding content. Instead of messing with the content that’s already there and risking hurting those … The rankings, you can start adding new content that has Amazon affiliate links, or that is a lead-gen for something else, and kind of see how it goes from there.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, and one of the things that I love with buying the AdSense sites is that, that is kind of at the bottom. I guess, text links is even lower, but all of the monetization strategies that you’re going to do after that should lead to a higher ROI, and so as you’re climbing up that ladder, tying out some of those things can be really valuable.
The other thing is to just allow at least four product bidders. So, we talked about some of the headache of going out and trying to sell the ads, if that’s literally your only monetization strategy, but if you’re getting traffic and you’re making good money from Amazon, or lead generation, or AdSense, to be able to go and at least have the possibility of talking to somebody who is interested in advertising on your site, that could be a bonus income, and not necessarily something you’re dependent on.
So, just add a new page, “Advertise on our site.” And allowing people to sign up there could be valuable.
Justin Cooke: All right, man. Let’s talk eCommerce. And here, the first one, the major piece that really sticks out to me is expanding the use of an email or customer list, right? Because a lot of times, an eCommerce business, they have an email list, they’re not utilizing it well, or they don’t have cart abandonment follow-up emails. They may not even have an email list at all, they just got a list of customers, and by turning that into a customer list, you can start to use things like sales, discounts, coupons, to bring those customers back and have them buy more from you already. That’s a quick one.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Another one is the offering free shipping. So, we’ve got a site we just started doing this a bit on, and we’ll see how it turns out, but it seems that there’s a bit of a bump, not anything huge, but I think Amazon has got … With Amazon Prime, the really heavy buyers online are just … They don’t want to pay shipping. It’s like, “Oh, what’s this extra cost? I thought I was paying this, and now I have to rethink, do I want to pay for this?”
And so, obviously, as the seller or the eCommerce business owner, from your perspective, you got to raise that price. You’re not going to just eat that cost and let it eat through your margin.
Justin Cooke: This urge to … All right, dude. This is a pet peeve, man. I don’t understand this either, but it’s totally psychological. The free shipping thing, it blows my mind. It’s not free, someone’s paying for it. You’re paying for it in the cost. It doesn’t make any sense, but I think people think in their head, they see the price, and they go, “Oh, that’s a reasonable price.” And then they see the free shipping, it really feels free.
So, they were already in when they saw the price of the item, and they’re like, “That’s a reasonable price. I’m willing to pay for it, I guess I’ll have to pay shipping.” And then they go through, and they’re like, “Oh, shipping’s free, that’s awesome. Done. I’m in.” Right?
Ace Chapman: Because it really becomes another sales job. When they see … Especially on the smaller items, they see something, it’s $15, and they’re like, “Oh, great. That’s a great … ” It’s a $200 thing, and a lot of times, it’s not as big a deal. But then, when it comes to the shipping, and it’s like, “Oh, six more bucks.”
$21 is … It’s actually just psychologically a big difference from 15.
Justin Cooke: All right, man. Another thing you can do with eCommerce is, just by adding a phone number, it can improve your conversions, and again, this is crazy, but by putting the phone number up there, yes, you’re going to get some calls or whatever, so have it go to a number that you can respond to. It can even be an automated message number or whatever, but just by having a phone number on there, it improves the trust factor for someone that’s looking to purchase from you. It’s like it gives them the warm and fuzzy, “Oh, there’s a phone number I could call. I don’t need to call, let me just go ahead and purchase this.” It’s a crazy psychological trick.
Another thing you could do, is if you buy an eCommerce business that doesn’t have great product selection, start to add those kind of parallel products, and we mentioned this earlier, add products that customers are going to buy, especially if they’re recurring.
So, if you can get them … Add products, even at low margin, but to get them to come back and buy some of the higher margin stuff, and to get on your email list, and to come back regularly, that’s great. And, the last piece for eCommerce sites will say is, you can perform a product profitability analysis. So basically, go through product-by-product, and look at how much profit each product is actually bringing you, and you can adjust your pricing strategy to match that.
So, if you’ve got some products that are way profitable, try to move those to the forefront. You can offer deals on them, you can really try to get them front and center. If you’ve got some products that aren’t as profitable, either move them to the back, consider dropping them, or increasing the price so you can make them more profitable and get to margins you needs.
Ace Chapman: Well, this next one we’ve been doing a lot of lately, these are affiliate sites, and there’s a few ways to grow these. A lot of people feel like, “Oh, if I get an affiliate site, there’s not a ton that I can do with it to instantly grow it.” And, when it comes to eCommerce, I mean, they’re just very specific things, we can even talk about improving the ads or doing retargeting for shopping carts, et-cetera.
But, all the affiliate sites, you can improve them. One of the things is to improve the sales copy. It’s great to be informative, and that’s the job of a lot of the affiliate sites, but you’ve got to understand that your real goal is for them to buy the product that you’re talking about.
At the end of the day, you’re trying to make a sale, and so, well, a lot of what we do with this content is really adding in calls to action. Another thing is cleaning up the links. Oh, and when you have these affiliate links, you really don’t want to have any non-affiliate links in any prominent places. You also want to make sure that all of the affiliate links are your affiliate links.
We’ve seen deals where they’re stealing them things.
Justin Cooke: Oh, and them sellers … Yeah, the seller will still have that link there or whatever, yeah.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Yeah, that … [crosstalk 00:33:44] [inaudible 00:33:44]
Justin Cooke: Yeah, that can be a problem, and I think, yeah, having no loss, right? What is it called? There’s a term for it, but having no leakage, right?
Ace Chapman: Leakage, yeah.
Justin Cooke: Leakage on the page. So, you don’t want people clicking on links that aren’t affiliate links. You want them going through, you want them buying stuff, you want to make your images affiliate links. Every single thing someone can click and go somewhere else, you want that to be an affiliate link. You can also improve the product copy fits, and sometimes it’s talking about, whatever, a particular topic, and the product that’s being offered doesn’t really fit as well, or that product doesn’t convert as well, so it might be worth testing some of the other products in there that might be a better product copy fit.
One of the things you can do, too, is improve the visual appeal. If something … If the site doesn’t look terribly trustworthy, and it just kind of looks like something that’s thrown together, improving the visual appeal can be helpful. It can also hurt you though, too, so if it’s … I’d only do that if it’s particularly bad, or I have bigger kind of long-term vision for it that I need to layout and the design to be better, to be higher quality.
Ace Chapman: And this last one, this here, Justin, the honest reviews, keyword being honest. Now days, people are really reading through a lot of fake stuff, and I tell people, here, you want to do the opposite of what we said before with sales copy. Here, you do not want it to sound like sales copy at all, it has to sound like two real people having a conversation, and when two people are just having a conversation about a product, they’re not acting like a car salesman, they’re just having a conversation.
So, make sure you have that very conversational tone when you’ve got those reviews, and just real honest reviews.
Justin Cooke: Yeah. Non-honest reviews can sell okay, right? I mean, they do okay, let’s be honest. I saw … They do okay, but honest reviews are more enticing. You’re going to get more people that are like, “Oh, okay. I see the difference between this product and that product.” You’re an affiliate for either, right? You make money on either. You’ve given me an honest assessment, and I feel comfortable making my decision based on that. That’s helpful. It’s truly and genuinely helpful, and people are going to appreciate that, and go through you to get the deal done.
All right, man. Let’s talk lead-gen sites. One of the first things you can do with a lead-gen site is attest from a second or third lead-buy, or let’s say you’re buying a site and it’s QuinStreet, why don’t you test out, at least on a few of the pages, Campus Explorer, right?
So, you can start testing out a few different providers to see if you can make more money with them, and make them compete against each other. You can also test direct. So, in the education space, and set up QuinStreet or Campus Explorer, and if you have one that’s converting really well, reach out to that school and see if they’d be willing to pay directly.
Now again, that’s a ton of work, so you’d have a lot of work in front of you, but you could cut out the middlemen completely.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, and it’s … We’re actually doing this exact test right now where we’ve got QuinStreet, we’re adding Campus Explorer on some of the pages, and just doing a test to see which one is paying out the most, because part of it is the conversion, but then the other part is, what’s the actual payout? And all of that. So, it takes a little [crosstalk 00:36:50] …
Justin Cooke: Also, it’s worth split-testing the forms, too, right? So, if they have different lead forms, and they pay different amounts, you can test those out, too, and see, “Okay, which one converts better and makes me more money, and we’re all happier with?”
Make sure on lead-gen sites that you have lots of internal links, more for navigation than anything else, not really for SEO, but so they stay on the page, so they’re enticed to go to another page to get more information, and then potentially fill out that form. If they … If page views are 2.1 per user, and you can improve it to 3.2 page visits per user, you’re going to make more money, you’re going to get more leads.
Another thing you could do is ask, especially for the smaller companies, but ask them for a better rate. Say, “Look, we’ve been doing this for a long time. I really want to grow with you. If you can give me a better rate above and beyond X amount of leads per month, I’ll continue to work with you.” Right?
“I was testing out your competitor, but I’ll work with you if you give me this better rate.” It never hurts to ask.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, it doesn’t, and you’re building a relationship, so staying in touch with them also keeps you top of mind so that they’re coming to you with things. With the networks that we’re on, they come to us first like, “Hey, we think this is going to make you a lot more money.” That kind of thing. “We’ll bump you up to this if you test it.”
Or, if you could tell them, “Hey, you know? Well, I’d love to test this out and help you guys, but can I get a hundred percent of the commission?” Or, whatever.
The next thing is service businesses, and we don’t do a ton of these deals. We’ve got a couple of them, we got one service business we actually bought from you guys, but when it comes to the service businesses, you want to make sure, first of all, that you’re going to be able to go in and deliver, but after that, one of the big things that we’ve seen with our deals is improving that conversion rate.
The thing with a lot of the service businesses, is they do get focused on the delivery, and the front-end sales isn’t as good. People have to reach out, they’re kind of coming after them to get the service, access to them, because the person who’s running it is tied up actually delivering to the other customers.
So, you want to make sure that you have a presale strategy, that you have a funnel, that your OptiBuys, your conversion, and you’re making as much money as possible. That’s the biggest opportunity with these.
Justin Cooke: I like that, Ace. That’s an interesting point you make, too. A lot of times … I’m going to repeat it, because it’s worth repeating. A lot of times, the person delivering the service is also doing kind of the front-end sales and answering questions, and so you run into this feast or famine mode, right? Where they’ve got a bunch of deals they’re trying to deliver the work on, and then they’re free up and they can do sales again, so you’re missing out on deals if that person has to do both and gets too busy delivering to actually kind of handle those presales questions.
So, having someone separate for the presales, or having that not be a bottleneck for the guy delivering the service, or whatever product or service it is, is really important. I also think it’s important to add real testimonials from customers, let them know that, “Yes, here are the people that are actually buying this. Yes, they’re real people, you can go look them up.”
And again, you can add a phone number. I think it’s a nice touch. Plus, you can start to get feedback from these people on why they like your service, why they don’t like your service, and actually talk to your customers, especially after buying a new business, talking to some of these customers that are looking to pay for a service will really help you improve that service.
You weren’t the creator, and you weren’t the one that built this from scratch, so getting a feel for them as a new buyer, I think is really important, and I think with any service-based business, talking to your customers as soon as you take it over is a really good idea.
All right, man. So, let’s do a wrap-up for this episode. Of course, we couldn’t cover everything, but that should give our listeners a pretty good idea on what they could do next, and some ideas and strategies they can start to implement. And, this is a wrap for season two, buddy. Our best tips, tricks, and strategies for website and online business buyers.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, so we’ll be back for season three in a few months. Thanks for all the feedback, the emails, the social media love, and next time, we’re going to be talking about sellers.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, buddy. We’re talking about sellers. We’re going to take them all the way through the beginning of kind of creating their business, some of the things they can do, a long-term down the road, they don’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but things they can do from the beginning to set up their business the correct way to help sell it, all the way through actually getting the deal done, and so we’re going to talk from the seller side. It’s going to be the same idea, but we’re going to talk about it quite a bit differently and look at it from a different perspective. I think you’re going to like it.
So, we’re going to be gone a couple of months. We’ll probably be back, we’re thinking, maybe July or August, but if you want to say hi to us in the meantime, you could check us out on Twitter. I’m @EmpireFlippers, Ace is @AceChapman, or you can go to empireflippers.com, or acechapman.com and say hi, send us a contact, something like that. So again, if you send us any emails, or leave us any SpeakPipe messages, we’ll be sure to put them in the next season.
Bye, for now.
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