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On Wall Street, financial investors speak of CEOs improving their companies’ “top line” by increasing sales volume. Their “bottom line” by reducing their expenses to expand the margins from their current sales volume.
For Internet companies a similar “top line – bottom line” approach should be taken by business owners determining where to direct their improvement efforts.
Defining Top-Line versus Bottom-Line Business Growth
An Internet business improves their “top line” by increasing the number of unique visitors to their website or their “bottom line” by increasing their “visitor-to-sale” or “visitor-to-lead” conversion rates.
Let me illustrate.
After an online business establishes their performance metrics, it can predict with confidence the expected results from their visitor traffic. For example, a business’ performance metrics may show that for every 1,000 visitors received, 15 sales are complete – a sales conversion rate of 1.5%.
With this understanding, the business can increase its “top line” growth by driving more visitors to its website. For example, if the industry invests money in traffic generation efforts to improve their visitor traffic from 1,000 to 10,000, 150 sales will be achieved from the 1.5% sales conversion rate – a ten times growth rate.
What are “traffic generation efforts”?
In brief, traffic generation efforts are ways a business attracts visitors to their website. They may include online initiatives such as search engine optimization, pay-per-click search engines, affiliate marketing, email campaigns, and media or offline ones like direct mail, television, radio, and public relations.
On the other hand, the business may decide to spend their money on improving their “bottom line” by concentrating efforts on website conversion strategies.
For example, if the high business invests money in website conversion strategies to increase their sales conversion rate from 1.5% to 2%, then for the same 1,000 visitors, sales will increase from 15 to 20 – a 25% increase.
So what are website conversion strategies?
Website conversion strategies are website design changes that connect with your visitor’s wants and persuades them to take action to achieve your goals as well as theirs. There are endless strategies to increase your bottom line to establish your business growth although some have greater significance than others.
Depending on your type of online business, different strategies may achieve more significant results for your website and offer greater relevancy for your visitors.
If you manage a consumer or business product website than website conversion strategies that focus on reducing shopping cart abandonment may provide the most significant conversion improvement. Meanwhile, a service business’ lead generation website will find improvement from website conversion strategies focuses on “contact us” form completion.
There are website conversion strategies that will improve conversion rates for all online businesses regardless of their objectives. These strategies include improvements to:
Website’s sales copy including writing headlines and sub-heads with stronger visitor appeal, defining stronger calls-to-action, using more visitor-relevant and benefit-oriented words and positioning popular visitor keywords in prominent areas connect with visitors and persuade action.
Your decision to pursue “top-line” or “bottom-line” improvements should be evaluated by:
Establishing a plan before you make any decisions is critical. As the old joke goes, “I’m making progress climbing the ladder of success–I just don’t know if it’s leaning against the right wall.”
Knowing your budget is essential in the selection process. Why, because specific conversion enhancement strategies can implement for a small investment of your time and effort. While traffic generation efforts may require greater investments of time, energy or both, figuring your budget enables you also to forecast the potential return you may receive from improving your top-line versus your bottom-line. The areas that provide the biggest bang for your buck are the ones to start one first.
Identifying your current visitor traffic volume and conversion rates, especially for new Internet businesses, is also very important when determining top-line or bottom-line improvement. If you currently have low visitor traffic, then you will have difficulty in deciding if a conversion enhancement strategy had a real effect on improving your conversion rates.
Improve Your Bottom-line
For example, if your website receives 100 visitors a month, it will take you at least a month or two before any real, measurable changes occur to your conversion rates.
In this case, you would be better off focusing on top-line (traffic generation efforts) first and then returning to bottom-line improvements for increasing your conversion rates.