If you have an established online business, what’s the most effective way to grow?
Some would tell you to blog every day, start a new podcast (or vlog), and share every minute of your life on social media.
Personally, I’ve tried each popular approach and found them exhausting. They simply aren’t sustainable, even when they create some level of flash-in-the-pan success.
Still, the question remains: what’s the most effective way to grow your online business?
If your website has thousands of visitors every month—that's great! But how many of those visitors join your email list, or buy one of your products?
If you’re only getting 100 new email subscribers per month, that doesn’t sound like much… unless you do the math and realize that half of those subscribers bought your $1000 product.
Effective growth is more than just getting results. It’s about finding the best bang-for-your-buck, the highest return you can earn on investment of your precious money and time.
I spent years trying the popular approach of creating more and more content, on as many platforms as possible—but ultimately came to believe that there had to be a better way to grow.
After reading Essentialism, I started using a less-but-better lense to evaluate each area of my life. It took me a while to realize that applied to my marketing strategy, too, but once I did the answer became clear.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the most effective way to grow an online business. Here’s why:
1. The Hamster Wheel Effect
Creating new content on a consistent basis can very quickly become exhausting.
I’ve often heard bloggers and podcasters refer to the “hamster wheel” of content creation—heck, I’ve used the same phrase myself!
When you’re just starting out, it’s important to publish new content at least once a week. As we teach at Platform University, you’re still developing your “voice” and a unique, compelling perspective that will resonate with a new audience.
That said, once you’ve published dozens (hundreds?) of blog posts, podcasts, or vlog episodes… it’s time to take a break.
Publishing new content just because you’ve always published new content is a poorly constructed growth strategy, at best.
2. Depth VS Breath
For your online business to lead to long-term success, you need a strong foundation in the form of an engaged, loyal audience.
Short, hastily-written articles with punchy headlines are a decent way to get new eyeballs on your website, but behind those eyeballs are real people, with real problems.
To gain their trust, and long-term loyalty, you’re going to need to do more than throw new listicles at your audience every week. At some point, you’re going to have to choose to pursue deep, lasting transformation in the form of in-depth, massively valuable content.
That means that sometimes the most effective way to grow your online business is to stop creating new content and double down on the content you already have.
3. Ego Is The Enemy
In addition to being the title of a bestselling book, Ego Is The Enemy is an important online business principle.
Like I said, sometimes the most effective way to grow your online business is to stop creating new content—but how do you know when that is?
The reality is that there are hundreds of moving pieces in any online business, and thousands of different types of data you can track. Along the way, it’s incredibly easy to be distracted by vanity metrics.
Vanity metrics are growth numbers which look exciting, and may provide an ego boost, but don’t necessarily affect the success of your online business.
These include metrics like Facebook shares, Instagram followers, and even visits to your website (whether you’re tracking unique visitors, pageviews, or sessions).
Would you rather have 10,000 website visitors who collectively buy 10 of your products? Or 5,000 website visitors who buy 20?
4. Conversion Rates Scale
Every time you publish a blog post, promote a new product, or send an email broadcast, you should be asking how effective was that initiative?
If blog post A led to 20 new email subscribers, and blog post B led to 35, which was more effective? The answer, it turns out, is it depends.
Specifically, it depends on how many people saw each blog post, and what percentage of each group those new subscribers represent.
If 500 visitors saw blog post A, and 900 visitors saw blog post B, then blog post A was actually more effective! You simply need to get more traffic to that first blog post, to grow your email list.
Conversion rates are the only marketing metric that remains relevant at every scale of your business. You can safely compare conversion rates between a single blog post, a group of social media posts, and a massive online marketing campaign.
5. The Proof Is In The Profit
At the end of the day, your business exists to generate profit. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, that’s a noble thing!
A profitable business is a sign that you have identified people with a real problem, and offered an effective solution—but profit doesn't come from pageviews!
Profit comes from sales, sales come from customers, customers come from leads, and leads come from traffic to your website. At every step in that journey, there’s a conversion rate that measures how well you’re communicating a solution to somebody’s problem.
If you’re not measuring your conversion rates, you’re effectively flying blind.
As a final exercise, to drive this point home, which of the following (mythical) online businesses would you rather own?
- SuperBlogger.com consistently gets 10,000 unique visitors per month. That traffic leads to 100 new email optins, who collectively buy an average of 10 products each month.
- OnlineNinja.net consistently gets 2,500 unique visitors per month. That traffic leads to 50 new email optins, who collectively buy an average of 5 products each month.
- WowzaWebsite.org consistently gets 1,000 unique visitors per month. That traffic leads to 50 new email optins, who collectively buy an average of 10 products each month.
Which one would you choose, and why? Share your answer in the comment area below 🤓