Skip to main content
  1. Projects/
  2. Starting Up/
  3. Notes on "Start Small, Stay-Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup"/

Walling on Your Sales Website

·9 mins

What’s it meant to accomplish?

The Sales Funnel

  • Most people surfing the web will never see your URL…
    • Most people who see your URL will not click on it…
      • Most people who click on it will not be interested in your site long enough to become a prospect…
        • Most prospects will not buy your product.

Therefore, you will spend time…

  • …making sure more people see your URL
    • Getting written up in blogs
    • Testing and increasing advertising that works
    • Monitoring forums and offering your product as a solution
    • Etc
  • …turning browsers into prospects:
    • Engage them with your content
    • Convince them that they stand to gain by providing you with their email address
  • …nurturing an ongoing relationship with your prospects:
    • To turn more of them into buyers
    • Honing your website sales pitch to increase your sales conversion rate

Improving Conversion > Getting More Traffic

  • To increase sales by 10% each month, either:
    • Generate 100 more visitors to your website
    • Increase your conversion rate by 0.1%
  • Your number one goal….is turning browsers into prospects
    • A prospect is someone who has expressed at least a small amount of interest in your product
    • On the web….ask someone to provide their email address
    • Convincing someone to give you their email is easier than convincing them to buy your product
    • Once you have an email, you have the chance to begin building a relationship with the customer
    • As well as to gently remind them, through relevant emails, to return to your website
  • Offering something in exchange for an email address is guaranteed to work better than offering nothing
    • The best rewards are:
      • A contest
      • A relevant 4-5 day email course
      • A relevant white paper
      • A webinar
  • Your mailing list is crucial to your success

Know Your Customer

  • Understand what your ideal customer wants to find:
    • On your website,
    • In your product,
    • What triggers will make them buy
  • (Ask yourself) How should you introduce your product to your customer?
  • What should your copy say on the first page they see?
  • What is going to convince them to provide you with their email address?
  • What is going to convince them to purchase your product?
  • What keeps your customers awake at night?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What are they angry about?
  • What are their top three daily frustrations?
  • What do they desire most?
  • Is there a built-in bias to the way they make decisions? (Example: engineers are exceptionally analytical)
  • Do they have their own jargon?
  • Who else has tried to sell them something similar?
    • How have they failed or succeeded?

Calls to Action Only

  • In a successful sales website,
    • Every page has a single, primary call to action (that you want your user to take)
    • Any page they land on should include a prominent call to enter their email address
    • Perhaps a secondary call to purchase your product (or learn more about it)
  • Every page needs a call to action
    • A visitor may first interact with your website through your Tour, Testimonials, or Pricing page
    • All of them should urge the user to take an action that gets them closer to providing you with their email, trying your demo, or making a purchase
  • Eliminate extraneous functionality and duplicate information
  • Make buttons look like buttons. Make your buttons so clickable that people can’t help but click them
  • No One Reads. Text is a terrible selling tool
    • Audio, video and images are always better

Core Pages

  • The Core Pages:

    • Home
    • Tour
    • Testimonials
    • Contact Us
    • Pricing & Purchase
  • The #1 goal of your home page is to convince your visitors to click 1 link

  • The key metric with home pages is abandonment rate

    • (The number of people who leave without clicking a link)
  • The solution:

    • A simple home page with very few options, and large, clickable buttons
  • If you choose to have an image for your home page,

    • ….choose one that shows the result of your product
    • A home loan website should show people living in a house
    • A backpacking website should show people on top of a mountain

Your Hook

  • Your hook is your four-second sales pitch and it should be the headline of your home page

    • 5-7 word summaries of your product
    • When it launched, the iPod’s hook was “One Thousand Songs in Your Pocket”
    • Each one conveys an image in your mind
    • Each one describes what the product does and (in most cases) who it’s made for
  • Hook ideas:

    1. Explain what your product does and for whom
      • Such as “Simple proposal software made for designers.”
    2. Make a promise to the customer espousing a benefit of your product
      • Such as “Save Time. Get Paid Faster.”
    3. Describe the single most remarkable feature of your product
  • Spend a few minutes brainstorming your hook

  • Discuss it with a friend or colleague in your target market

  • Once you’ve decided on a hook, put it as the header on your home page

  • Consider using it as your tagline

    • Allows you to tell someone in 3 seconds what your product does

What Else to Include

  • Include medium-sized screen shots of the major screens filled with data
  • Include a one-minute screencast (video demo) of each page
  • Do not launch without testimonials
  • You will have beta testers, friends and colleagues who try your software
    • Get a handful of testimonials and create this page
  • Monitor mentions of your product using Google Alerts
    • Add choice quotes and backlinks to this page
    • Include any relevant logos to break up the page
    • Shows people that you will link to them if they write about your product
  • Provide both a contact form in the browser and a separate email address
  • Always provide a toll-free number, even if you let it go to voice mail and return the calls
  • There is a great service called “Earth Class Mail”
    • Allows you to pay around $20/ month for a P.O. Box in a number of major U.S. cities
    • They scan the first page and you receive an email notification
    • You can visit their site and tell them to shred it, forward it, or archive it

Pricing & Sign-up

  • Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise,
    • Put this as the link on the far right of your top navigation
    • Add subtle highlighting either by bolding the text or changing the color
  • No small text on pricing page – no paragraphs of description. Only large fonts
  • A call out to a 30-day free trial in large text
  • The pricing plans are shown with minimal description and in large fonts
  • One plan is highlighted as the best deal. It really makes you want to click it
  • Logos are shown just below the offerings
  • If you have add-on modules or services offer them here
  • If you have nothing else, allow customers to buy an extra year of support at a discount…
    • or purchase priority support for an additional cost
  • If you don’t offer a free trial, then at least offer a 30-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee
    • It may sound like crazy talk to do this with something like software, but…
    • people will purchase the product because of this guarantee

Email Marketing

  • Email is the most pervasive online communication tool
  • Email has real potential to create substantial long-term value as you build your list over time
  • Never email someone without their permission
  • Only send relevant emails to a small group of people who signed up
  • Every email you send will include an unsubscribe link
  • Never sell or rent out your email list. To do so would destroy the trust of your list
  • Targeted means the subscribers are interested in the laser-focused niche you’ve chosen
  • If you sell beach towels, offer a free report on the Top 10 Expert Tips for Saving Money on your Beach Trip (an actual report I gave away on
  • I recommend shooting for a PDF report from 5-15 pages
  • The key is finding a topic that your audience will not only be interested in, but will be ravenous for
  • If you target a niche with a common interest….providing ongoing content every 2-4 weeks is the best way to build a relationship
  • Think of your mailing list as a blog with a new post every 2-4 weeks
  • To gain SEO benefit from your newsletter content, you should also post it to your blog
  • Use an autoresponder series, which is…
    • A series of emails sent in a specific order to new subscribers with pre-determined gaps between each email
  • Start your mailing list not by sending broadcast emails every 2-4 weeks, but…
    • ….by building your autoresponder series with a 2-4 week gap between each email
  • The key is to be relevant. Maintaining high relevance is critical to keeping people subscribed
  • Monitor the following news sources and report to your audience on new happenings in their niche:
    • Google Alerts
    • The popular blogs in this niche
  • Time of day and day of the week you send your email will have a major impact on how many people open it
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days, between 7am and 10:30am
  • Write engaging subject lines in 7 words or less
    • The shorter the better
    • Ask a question in your subject and answer it in the emails
    • Use the recipient’s first name in the subject line
  • Have One Goal for Each Email
    • Is this a relationship-building email filled with information?
    • Or do you have a call to action for it?
  • Every fourth or fifth email can contain a more sales-y message
  • Six months before your launch date, use your audience ….to send traffic to your startup’s home page
  • Offer them a deal if they provide their email address to be notified of the launch
  • Create buzz around your product by:
    • Guest blogging
    • Sending interesting updates to your social networks
    • Commenting on blogs and forums
    • Generally engaging your target audience
    • Always sending them to your home page
  • One week before launch (preferably on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday):
    • Email your list of targeted email addresses
    • Let them know that your product will be launching next week and…
    • Since they are on your mailing list, they will receive a special price
  • On launch day, email your list. Almost immediately, sales will start rolling in
  • Thirty Six Hours After Launch:
    • Send your list a final email informing them that the deal will end in 12 hours
    • You will receive another few sales before you close down your special pricing