In his book "Maverick Startup," serial entrepreneur Yanik Silver lays out his "X Factors" for turning your big idea into a profitable business, without taking on debt, partners or even a business plan. In the following excerpt, Silver details X-Factor No. 8: Keeping your customers on your site.
Here's something that you should immediately put into action on your website. This concept is so simple, yet most of the time extremely overlooked: With every single transaction, you should be controlling where your customer goes next. I see so many people missing out on this golden opportunity for additional profit. For instance, the thank-you page after an order might only say, "Thank you for your order. It will be shipped out soon."
Where's that customer going to go now? We have no idea, but I would doubt it's back to one of your other sites to spend more money with you. But they could, and will, if you give them the opportunity. There are so many little tiny "profit leverage" points on your website, and this is one of the easiest to increase any transaction.
Here's one way: a thank-you page after an order. If someone just whipped out a credit card, he or she is way more likely to spend again if you offer an opportunity and an incentive. The old-school direct-marketing formula is RFM: recency, frequency and monetary value. This is one reason why direct-marketing companies look for "hot line" names, the most recent purchasers of a particular product, when they rent lists.
On your thank-you page, you've got people at one of their most responsive points.
For example, our thank-you page for our Public Domain Goldmine product offers customers who've already spent up to several hundred dollars a $200 discount for another, related product. It only takes a few paragraphs for 10.5 percent of the customers to buy an additional $497 course.
This works all the time for a related product at a discounted price. For example, the thank-you page offer from Vista Print gives you an opportunity to get additional magnets just like your business card at a discount if you order within 10 minutes.
And if you don't have another product to sell? No problem.
Your thank-you page could easily be used for affiliate offers. My buddy John Reese used to have a five-page thank you that explained his story and then recommended additional products for sale, for which he got an affiliate commission.
Another overlooked spot for so many sites is the opt-in page confirmation or thank-you page. With almost every email auto-responder company you can specify what the "success" or "confirmation" page will be. In most cases, you can put some sort of offer on the thank-you page.
Go through each of your sites and think about where there are overlooked profit opportunities on the thank-you, opt-in and registration pages.
Everybody loves to be remembered on his or her birthday. I'd bet you're no different. Usually the only people who'll give you birthday cards are your parents, your spouse or your sister.
In Harvey Mackay's book, "Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," he asks if there is any coincidence his company, Mackay Envelope Co., gets some of their biggest orders from customers when sales reps call on the day of their birthday.
Recently I've been experimenting with capturing birthdays on the bottom of our order forms. It just says, "Optional: Let us know your birthday -- just month and day -- and you'll get a special surprise from us on your big day." About 47 percent of customers give us this info at the point of sale.
The special birthday gift is a downloadable package of goodies on a private page, plus a discount on some of our products.
Right before the beginning of the month, I send out a spreadsheet of all the upcoming month's birthdays to my mail house. It then personalizes birthday cards for our customers mailed out in an envelope.
We have the opportunity to ensure our customers are always excited about what's next and create that feeling of fun anticipation. An easy way to stop being boring is to use out-of-the-norm events for your marketing. A lot of people might do sales or events based on typical calendar dates like Christmas or New Year's, but I doubt many of us do Flag Day sales.
Betabrand, a somewhat quirky brand that sells "cordaround" pants -- the fabric's cords are horizontal instead of vertical-offered 17.76 percent off their red, white and blue products on Flag Day.
Pretty smart and clever.
In our 24/7 society, you should be fleet of foot and quick to capitalize. Enter the conversation already taking place and see how you can turn it into a promotion opportunity.
Yanik Silver, a serial entrepreneur based in Potomac, Md., is the author of Maverick Startup: 11 X-Factors to Bootstrap From Zero to Six Figures and Beyond from Entrepreneur Press.