Eliminating the Guesswork: Knowing Just How to Change Your Website to Get More Business

Believe your copy isn't working? Don't stab in the dark with your changes - try Optimizely, covered as part of our new Digital Business Course.
Believe your copy isn’t working? Don’t stab in the dark with your changes – try Optimizely, covered as part of our new Digital Business Course.

In a recent post we talked about using web analytics to generate more business and we’ve also talked about the value of web analytics to any small business’ website, because it isolates information you can use to increase your conversions rates, among other things.

Because web analytics is something we cover in our Digital Business Course, we’re not going to spend much more time on that here, but we do want to talk about a great new tool that you can use in-conjunction with web analytics: the web optimization software, Optimizely.

Testing Out Different People’s Responses

Web optimization, or A/B split testing, acts almost like a focus group where, without being told, a small number of customers will be diverted to a slightly different version of a web page and their behaviour compared with that of the users on the standard site. If the updated version of the web page results in more clicks, longer visits or more purchases, the updated version will displace the original; if the new version is inferior it will be phased out with very few people ever seeing it.

Web optimization has long been the open secret of high-stakes web development companies, like Google, but Optimizely’s foray into the marketplace makes it possible for small businesses to have the same data and insights available to them as a big businesses — and cheaply.

While Optimizely — which was founded in 2010 by Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen, who were both product managers at Google — may be used by a number of big players like MTV, Disney and Sales Force, it’s most useful for time-strapped small business owners, where making changes to web content has always been a time-consuming process.

If you have been using web analytics and made adjustments to your web content in response to data you’ve received from your analytics software, then you know how tedious the process can be — but importantly you know how much guesswork is involved in making changes to some elements of your web pages, like copy, for instance.

Are Folks Subscribing to Your Newsletter?

If you’re not using web analytics (and you should be!) it goes something like this: you notice users are landing on a particular web page in response to searching at particular keyword, but they don’t choose to sign-up to your newsletter. Why?

You guess that maybe there’s too much copy and it’s overwhelming the user so you decide to reduce it. You check your analytics — still no joy. Now what? Do you undo those changes and try something else? Or keep those changes and try something else? What if that still doesn’t work? Then what? Also, how long is a piece of string?

Eliminating the Guesswork

Optimizely eliminates all of that guesswork and for as little as $17 a month, it’s a lot cheaper than retaining the services of a web developer to provide this information just once, never mind for an entire year.

Optimizely is another tool small businesses can use to increase their productivity and increase their sales. If creating web content that’s efficient and highly targeted to your customers is a priority for your business, we recommend you give Optimizely a try.

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If your business is about to make the transition online, you can find more information on our digital business course here, or by subscribing to our blog.

The Lowdown on Zoho Invoice

If you're mainly just invoicing your clients, Zoho Invoice may be all you need by way of bookkeeping software.
If you’re mainly just invoicing your clients, Zoho Invoice may be all you need by way of bookkeeping software.

In a previous post we discussed Zoho and the range of turnkey solutions they offer small businesses. We specifically mentioned Zoho Books, which is the bookkeeping component of the Zoho Business Apps package and not that dissimilar to MYOB.

We offer training courses in MYOB, because it’s the market leader in accounting software and because it’s the preferred software of choice for most accountants. For start-ups or other small businesses, however, Zoho Books or Invoice might be all you need for your business, which is why we’re going to provide some videos on how to use Zoho.

Just What is Zoho Invoice?

For now, though, we’re going to look at the functions of Zoho Invoice. If you have recently started your own virtual assistant business or another business that really only requires you to invoice your clients, then Zoho Invoice is all you would really need.

The best thing about Zoho Invoice is that if you have 5 or fewer customers and only need access for one user, it’s completely free — forever. After that, the next step up is the standard plan, which allows you to have up to 500 customers and 3 users for $USD15 a month; the professional plan costs $USD30 with unlimited customers and unlimited users.

Even if you use the free plan, you can still access all of Zoho Invoice’s features, including time tracking, recurring invoices, expense, tracking, multi-currency, payment gateways and automated overdue payment reminders; you can even customise your invoices with your company logos and branding.

As your business grows, you can upgrade your plan to the standard or professional versions of Zoho Invoice, or even upgrade to Zoho Books if you’re in need of a more comprehensive piece of accounting software. There’s also an iPhone and Android app for Zoho Invoice, which allows you to create invoices on the go.

While Zoho is an American owned and operated company, you’re still able to customize the settings for an Australian business. This means you’re able to charge in Australian dollars, add GST, and you’re able input information like ABNs.

The downside is that there isn’t a local number for their customer service team, so you have to get in contact via email. That being said, Zoho has an online forum where you can ask and answer questions and they also provide a number of videos to help you with troubleshooting.

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Overall, Zoho Invoice is a good piece of cloud-based invoicing software that is both inexpensive and highly functional. For a virtual assistant or a start-up that only needs to invoice customers, it sure beats the hell out of that tired, old Excel invoice! Stay tuned for more on Zoho and the Zoho Office Suite.