Monday, April 14, 2008

Thousands of visitors daily - 10 things you have to do

Without talking to much, the success behind every great site, blog, social networks community is in it's users. Undeniable fact. In every piece of the website lot of effort, marketing, design, usability needs to be put in.

Here's a 10 things you have to do checklist:

1. Value exchange: If the product involves a registration process (linkedin, facebook, etc) make sure that the process is as simple as possible or ensure a “value exchange” to give the user an incentive to go through the registration process.

2. Niche and branch out: Sometimes it makes sense to focus your first release on niche segments instead of a big bang mass market approach.

3. Let them evangelize: If your product has a premium paid service – make sure there is enough to wow the customers in the free version. Build your product in such a way that the customers can evangelize it.

4. Distributables: Build useful “distributables” that can link back to your site. Make sure that these are simple to distribute online.

5. Downloadables: It’s debatable on how effective downloadable desktop clients are. Some products are web only; some can be download-and-use or can be a hybrid of both. You need to have the right balance for your product. Smilebox’s Yannis said that about 50% of the users dropped out when they encounter a downloadable executable in the process.

6. First 100 users: Once you have built, hopefully, what is a compelling product; evangelize it with your friends and family. This includes relatives, common friends, posts in your alumni networks etc. This should help the user base reach the 100s.

7. The next 1000:The next level of growth can be from bloggers, SEO and SEM - follow some of the prominent bloggers in your area (including techcrunch) and build relationships with them by having genuine interest in what’s covered in the blog, contributing to it (comments,etc).

A positive mention in the blogs could lead to a considerable increase in traffic. No one discounts the value of SEO and SEM. Some free resources on SEO can be found at ( But as a general rule make it easy for users to create incoming links to your site. There is a temptation to create a great “look and feel” by having a lot of flash but remember that this prevents the discovery by search engines, so use them judiciously.

8. Personalization and game behavior: Personalization can be a great asset in retaining users.”My Yahoo” was a great success in spite of a huge proliferation of news sources/aggregators because the user spent more than 3 minutes in configuring the settings that suits him/her. Having done this the user has a great affinity to coming back to what was his/her setup/creation.

Also incorporating competition or game behavior in mundane activities can be a great source of engagement.

9. Market place networks: These are networks/communities that have two user groups with different goals -buyers/sellers, contributors/readers, teachers/students, job-hunters/recruiters, etc- it’s important to move two customer acquisition needles and treat both of them differently, with equal priority as both are equally important to the success of your online network.

10. Acquisition cost: If you are a pure free service (i.e. intent to make zero money from the user/consumer) the cost of acquiring the consumers should be as less as possible (close to zero).

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