Essential Web Skills Every Modern Entrepreneur Must Have
Everyone and their great-grandmother has heard of the internet. It’s lowered the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs worldwide. It’s also leveled the playing field where your target audience can be global rather than regional. But some entrepreneurs still don’t want to pick up web skills. And if you’re on the business/marketing side of things, I can understand why.
But remember, you don’t need to be writing algorithms for Google to be tech savvy. I’ll cover a few topics worth studying that will expand your horizons and improve your online presence without the need to become a master coder.
Split testing and conversions.
It’s crucial to understand A/B testing for conversions. This is naturally important for ecommerce websites but also for any business site where you want visitors to perform certain tasks.
Take a law firm, for example. They want to encourage visitors to setup a free consultation. You can run split test campaigns to see which colors, written copy or layout designs work best to drive more people to setup an appointment. You can even do this for free with Google. There’s no right or wrong answer because A/B tests rely on several factors like audience and conversion goals.
If you can understand the importance of case studies, you’ll be well-equipped to put them into action and make the necessary changes to improve conversion rates. Try reading some case studies to learn what has worked for others. You can always try changing a few different elements on your own site to see how visitors react. Here’s a small list of ideas to get you started:
Change button/link copy
Increase font size
Increase white space
Clarify the page title/headline
Add quotes & reviews
Managing a blog.
Just the idea of a blog might put off most non-technical entrepreneurs. But there’s a lot of value in content marketing if you learn to do it right.
The first step is creating a blog. There are plenty of detailed setup guides you can follow to get a new WordPress blog up and running without much effort. In fact, once you understand the setup process, you can have a new blog online within 30 minutes.
You’ll spend most of your time managing the blog and creating content. This is where the entrepreneurial value comes in. If you blog frequently and create valuable content, you’ll slowly rank in Google for certain keywords. And, you are providing information to people who need it.
Related: 17 Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Blog
The benefits of content marketing can only be seen by actually doing it. You can read case studies until you’re blue in the face, but you won’t see real growth until you setup your own blog, and give it a try. Check out this beginner's guide to learn how content marketing works and why every business should run at least a small online blog. More people have access to the internet now than ever before. And many of those people are looking for information that you can provide to build reputable credibility for your business.
Learn to track the most important visitor metrics through an analytics tool like Google Analytics. It’s completely free, and it’ll help you get a picture of people’s average browsing habits.
You have many different options for trackable metrics, including referral traffic, top pages and top search keywords. These are all important because you might stumble onto something novel you didn’t expect to find. For example, if your highest searched keyword is your company’s name, this means you’ve built a recognizable brand that people know by name.
Another example can be landing page metrics where you have a specific goal like increasing email signups or increasing sales. The obvious metric to track is a conversion funnel from the landing page to the completed conversion. But also consider metrics like time on page and bounce rate.
The key is learning which metrics to track and what they mean. I recommend this guide if you want to get started with landing page metrics. Unfortunately it’s hard to understand these concepts in theory. You really need to toy around to understand what these metrics mean and how they can affect your creative decisions. The good news is that it’s super easy -- and free -- to get started, and once you get moving you’ll learn a lot very quickly.
Basic coding for troubleshooting.
I don’t believe that every entrepreneur should understand how to write web apps from scratch. But any entrepreneur in the modern age should understand the importance of the internet and websites. Internet product sales are not slowing down. In fact we saw a 15 percent increase in online sales over 2014 and another 14 percent increase in 2015. It’s also predicted that online sales will reach half a billion dollars annually by 2020.
More customers are transitioning online, and this trend simply cannot be overlooked. Whether you actually sell items online or not, it’s still vital to have an online presence for your business.
If you don’t know anything about web hosting, domains or basic coding, then you’ll be at the whim of a tech-savvy webmaster or creative agency for every step of the process. This can be very costly. But you can save a lot by understanding some basic techniques.
So what should you actually learn? Here are my suggestions:
The basics of HTTP/DNS and how web hosting works -- or at least enough knowledge to pay for hosting and get your site online
The basics of WordPress installation and configuration
If you plan to sell items online, you should learn the fundamentals of SSL certs
If you want to customize the design of your site, you’ll also want to learn rudimentary HTML/CSS
The goal isn’t to be your own server administrator or your own web developer. But you should know enough to fix basic problems, or at least guide someone else towards fixing the problem for you.
Small issues on your site may only require changing one line of code or installing a free WordPress plugin. If you know how to do this yourself, you’ll have a much easier time managing your online presence without heavy reliance on a freelancer or agency. In fact, that’s exactly the goal of everything mentioned in this article. The more you understand about business on the internet, the easier it’ll be for you to conduct your business digitally. With so many consumers already online, this skillset is a huge asset in the modern age.