ilya

Selling CRO as a service

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I’ll tell you guys exactly how you can earn at least $1000 per month with very little work compared to other methods such as SEO, blogging and social media.

As many of you know, I’m very much into CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization). By using CRO methods, such as A/B testing, you are able to improve a website. The most important improvement is of course the sales or leads it generates.
The beauty of CRO is that this industry is pretty much unknown, compared to SEO – which is extremely competitive.

A few months ago I started looking for CRO clients, some bigger fish. My strategy has always been to have a couple of big clients. These provide me with a stable cash income (at least $1000/mo per client). This way I can earn well, make my clients very happy with a VIP service and have a lot of money to re-invest in my main projects.

I don’t like doing a lot of service-based work, such as taking on clients for a long term. Unless I am very confident that I can help them scale. But they also need to have really great products.

What you will do

You are going to sell CRO services, instead of web design, graphic design, social media marketing or SEO. Why? Because all these industries are saturated and everyone is tired of hearing about them already. It also becomes increasingly more difficult to sell them. There is sooo much competition and so many alternatives. Trying to be “the best” SEO-er is almost impossible, unless you have a very solid strategy, partners, alliances or you’re just very lucky.

Why CRO?

Because you can provide CRO services with high confidence. Nobody can guarantee you top rankings with SEO. But CRO on the other hand, is pure scientifically supported. You will always be able to deliver good (or bad) news to the client supported by data. Speaking morally, this makes me sleep better at night.

You are going to introduce CRO to entrepreneurs and companies who are getting a good amount traffic, either through SEO or PPC. These people have spent a lot of money and resources to climb the ladder. But 95% of them don’t have a clue about CRO, A/B testing or MultiVariate testing. Thus they are leaving A LOT of money on the table… It’s your opportunity to help them and get that money!

How can CRO help them? Everything comes down to A/B split-testing.
Every website, every business has defects and elements that can be improved. By improving these small little defects, we are able to increase sales.

Here are two examples:

The original headline saying "grow your strength":
v1.jpg

The second version of the headline saying "get a six-pack fast!":
v2.jpg

We track the clicks to our CTA (Call-To-Action), in the above example it's the "become a member" button.
After ±1000 visitors we will see a pattern emerge. One of the two versions will have more clicks on the button than the other.
This also means that one headline will result in more members / buyers than the latter.

Here's another example where we test the background image:

v1.a.png

This is the new (second) version of the background:

v2.a.png

 

You are able to test anything!
Images, headlines, content, colors, and other simple HTML / CSS elements.
The amazing part is that you don't need to edit the website and mess around with code.
You can use your favorite A/B software to get the job done is seconds.

  • If you, or your client, already has landing pages or a website, then you can use an A/B testing tool with a visual editor. Most such tools have a free / trial plan and you can literally go live in a few minutes.
  • If your client doesn’t have a landing page yet, then you can use A/B testing solutions from LeadPages or Unbounce – these also include heat map analysis and more. But most importantly, you can use their free templates to create your first landing page in minutes.

How much can you charge for CRO services?

If your client is selling a product for $100 a piece, and currently they get only three sales per day on average. Their monthly revenue is $9000.

You will optimize their landing page / website by improving the first impression of the website or landing page. You can purchase one or two other stock images and create an A/B testing campaign to test 3 different images, and track the amount of clicks on the “buy” button. You will see, after about 3000 page views, a pattern will start emerging. There is a very high chance that one of the three images will result in a higher conversion rate than the two other ones.

Use your common sense to create A/B tests and improve their website in general.
Mess around with the headline, the colors and small details in the copy that. Because the copy on a lot of websites isn’t optimized for sales, it’s usually very boring – it’s not written by professional sales experts. Also make sure to A/B test the CTA (Call-To-Action) on each page – which is usually the “buy now” button or the “contact us now” link.

Here's an example where I've changed the "add to cart" button to "buy now" and made it more clear.

Version 1 (original) on the left and version 2 on the right:

add to cart.pngbuy now.png

 

If a website relies on have contact form submission, then optimizing the contact form is the way to go.

Version 1 (original):

c1.jpg

Version 2:

c2.jpg


If all goes well, you can increase their daily sales from three to six. Now they’ll be making $18000/mo. In reality doubling sales is a very optimistic scenario, most of you (as newbies) will manage to get them one extra sale per day. But even in this case they’ll be earning $12000/mo. Thanks to your effort and service they are now earning $3000 extra, so you can easily charge a $1500 per month.

These are the skills you need:

  • Basics of HTML and CSS.
  • Time, patience and dedication.
  • ± $200 investment.

The method that I’m about to explain, consist for three parts:

  1. Finding a client.
  2. Closing the client.
  3. Delivering.

Part 1. Finding clients
I have tried various ways to find clients, here are my most favorite ones:

Scraping forum questions and contacting people directly:

You have to look for people who ask for help, and who have money to spend. Make sure they are a legitimate business, no a garage-store.

The trick is to search in parallel industries, such as PPC and SEO.
If you google the following keywords, you will find a lot of potential clients.

looking for PPC expert forum
looking for SEO expert forum
looking for PPC professional forum
SEO expert needed
PPC expert needed forum

Many results will be that of BHW, WF, TFL, etc.
And if you already are a member of one of these forums, you can immediately contact that person.

pt1 expert.png

Scraping businesses through Google (PPC):

Pick a niche you like, with a lot of money.
Let’s try this one “offshore company formation services”.

adwords.png

We immediately see there are 4 ads – these companies are spending money on Google AdWords (duh!), this also means they are losing a lot of money. But most importantly, they have the money to pay you for increasing their sales!!!

Another thing you will notice is that so many ads are not redirecting to a landing page, but just their homepage. This is a terrible strategy for 90% of businesses who are selling, especially products. You should also convince them to change their PPC strategy.

However most of these companies have PPC consultants, don’t be too cocky. Just give them advice, or they will have a hard time trusting you at all.

Scraping businesses through Google (SEO):

This is the exact same process as for PPC (above), except we take the top 10 websites for our keyword. These companies have paid a lot of money to rank themselves on top, and now they want to have a good ROI. Luckily you can take care of that using CRO.

Scraping review sites:

Find websites which have bad reviews, but are ranking high in SERPs or paying for traffic (PPC). Instead of selling them reputation management (ORM) services, we will help them make more sales. Screw those bad reviews, bad publicity still sells – turn those bad reviews to their advantage!!!

When searching for business leads, don’t limit to these four. They are great for starting out with, but not the end of the world. Try LinkedIn, Bing and Yahoo to find clients, heck even go after Alibaba listings – most of those Chinese companies have terrible websites, take a look if you want to laugh.

How to identify good clients? Which ones to contact?

  • Make sure you understand what they are selling. It makes no sense to help a business if you don’t understand their audience or products.
  • They have a crappy landing page, bad reviews, terrible homepage, lousy first impression or a boring copy.
  • They must be making sales and must be earning money (getting sales). Otherwise they’re not going to afford paying you.
     

Part 2. Closing the client

Closing clients is a numbers game.
The better your communication skills are, the faster you’ll be able to get clients.
But if you don’t succeed on your first day, then keep pushing on. Nothing comes easy, we all have to learn how to play the game like a pro.

Once you have a list of emails addresses or websites or phone numbers start preparing your pitch.
What I’ve learned through out the years is to never send SPAM. Nobody likes being sold to. If I get an email from someone I don’t know, and never heard of, I will just delete your email, always!

How do we prevent our email from being blocked / deleted?

It’s easier than you think, and it takes no genius.
If you are being introduced to someone new, are you going to sell them on your business? No, if you first have a chat. You try to find common ground, figure out what the other person likes and dislikes. It’s the same thing in cold mailing.
Either send your pitch by email or through their contact form. Here’s my example:
Hi there!

Quote

My name is Ilya. I’m the manager of [internet sales company XYZ].

A few weeks ago I’ve found your business on Google and have been following you around since. Your product has a lot of potential because your market will grow immensely in the next two years.

I strongly believe I can increase your online sales since I am very familiar with your audience.
May I send you more details about this business proposal?

Thank you for your time and have an amazing day!
Ilya Nevolin


Now don’t be silly and copy-paste my introductory pitch but write your own. As you can see, it takes no genius to write something so simple. You are NOT going to say a single word about what you do, how you do it or any other details. All we need is for them to reply to your email.

Secondly, the person who replies should be an executive (preferably the CEO), not the gatekeeper. If it is the gatekeeper, try to get through them, make something up.

What to say when they reply? Your second point of contact.

Even now it’s way too early to tell them anything in detail, we have to figure out if they can afford CRO services and if they want to make more sales. Maybe they are going bankrupt, in this case stay away from them. You can immediately sense which companies are worth dealing with.  If they are very positive and motivated, then they are most likely going to buy from you. But if they are very short / rude in their replies, then don’t waste too much time. Life is already negative most of the time so stay away from more negative influences. They are not worth the money.

You will notice that 90% of the people who reply to your question will ask for more details. They will want to know what you have in mind. The key in your reply is to create interest in your service. Try to get them on Skype for a live chat, it makes it much easier to communicate and ask questions.

If they do have Skype and they start chatting with you, the conversation can go like this:
 

Quote

You:  Hi there! Thank you for taking your time to chat with me. How are you doing today? :)

Client: I’m doing well, thanks, how about you?

You: I’m doing great, thanks for asking!

Client: Can you tell me more about your proposal, I’m very interested!

You: Definitely. I strongly believe that I can improve your business, by improving your website.
But don’t worry, I am not here to try and sell you some new web design project.
Have you ever heard of CRO (conversion rate optimization)?

Client: I’ve heard of it, but never messed around with it…

You: Exactly. There are very few who know about CRO.
Most businesses think that having a website and paying for Adwords will make them successful. The truth is… this idea is a big scam / illusion. A website is like a business, there is more to it than just making it look “good” and driving traffic. It matters a lot who that traffic is, making sure it’s targeted and they can relate to your products / services. You can agree to this, right?

Client: Yes you made a good point!

You: Everyday I come across websites that just “look” good. Some web designer made the site look good, but what looks good doesn’t necessarily convert well. I’m sure you agree with this statement? :)

Client: Very.

You: Visual aspects are very subjective. They’re based on opinions of one or two persons. Even if we ask our visitors if they can rate our website’s design, they may rate it a 10/10, but if no one ends up buying, we lose, right?

Client: Yes.

You: I’ve been in web design for many years. Unfortunately, too many of my clients were blaming me for bad conversions and low sales. I had to re-think my business and methods. That’s how I’ve gotten into CRO – the science of optimizing websites for sales.
Here’s my proposal for you:
I don’t take just any client I find, unless I’m very confident that I can help them. Neither do I take clients with products I don’t like and cannot relate to. I am very selective with whom I work with. You certainly understand that by helping someone’s business, your own business will grow…

Client: Oh that’s so true…

You: I did my homework and found out that you’re ranking pretty high for some keywords on Google and you’re running AdWords campaigns, meaning you have a decent amount of traffic and must be making some sales already. I would like to work with you to improve your online sales and conversions. Will you allow me to do that for you?

Client: Sure, how much will it cost me?

You: I want to prove that I’m no joke. I’m not after your money, instead I am looking for a long-term partner to join the ride with. That’s why for the first 1-2 weeks I’m not going to charge a dime. By doing so I can prove to you how powerful CRO really is.  Can you kindly tell me how many sales you have on average per day?

Client: Five sales per day on average.

You: I’ve noticed that your product costs $100. This means you’re making an average of $500 per day. I am very confident to ramp up your sales to seven sales per day, and you’ll be earning $700 per day.  Thanks to my efforts you’ll be earning an additional $6000 per month.

You: Because CRO is an ongoing process, I keep optimizing your website to get the most out of it. Which is why I am going to charge $2000 per month for my service to you, once I’ve increased your daily sales.

Client: That sounds fair! When would you like to start?

You: Great! :) I can start in a few hours.

 

You can also pick up the phone and call them. Use the above conversation as a blueprint.
But if you don’t like using Skype, or they don’t have Skype and you don’t feel like calling them then re-write the above conversation into a PDF document and send it over.

Part 3. Delivering

As mentioned earlier, you can use your favorite A/B testing tool to optimize their website.
You will need to wait a few days / weeks to get enough visitors to visit the page, to have meaningful (statistically significant) results from clicks to the CTA.

Don’t mess up. Before you start any A/B test, send screenshots to the client explaining what you’re going to A/B test. This way you keep your client updated and you don’t get into arguments of messing up their brand / image.

Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process. Once you’ve identified a winning A/B version, change it on the website for good. But don’t stop yet, try to find an even better A/B version for the same website element and/or other elements.
Here’s a good blueprint to start with:

  1. Request access to their Google Analytics account.
  2. Find the pages with the highest bounce rate (usually the homepage), these pages must have a meaningful CTA (call-to-action). The about-us page usually doesn’t need optimizing.
  3. Choose max. 3 pages to optimize.
  4. Look at the CTA, is it standing out enough? If not, start by A/B testing the CTA, highlight it, use more vivid colors, make it bigger, change the font size, etc... Do what looks “better”. A/B tests are all based on our opinion of what looks “good”, but we have to test them against each other to know for sure which is the best one.
  5. What do you see when you first open the page (= first impression) – are there elements that bother you, that aren’t visible / clear? Optimize the first impression, A/B test the positioning of elements, A/B test images, test the font size, etc.
  6. Does the copy make any sense on the website? Sometimes the copy isn’t telling a story, but just explaining technical details about the product. A/B test the copy, re-write it into good story that visitors will enjoy reading.
  7. Keep finding elements to improve, even small details such as icons on navigation menus can increase CTR (Click-through rate).

My two cents:
Personally, I enjoy A/B testing, since it is way more fun than designing websites from scratch. I’ve been in the web design business and had clients. But now I stop taking any clients that need a website or re-design, it’s not worth my time and it doesn’t make me happy inside.

You can use a hell lot of twists right here. If you already have clients for web design or SEO, then you can pitch CRO to them. It takes no genius to provide CRO services, especially if you have a web design background.

* ± $200 investment: You may want to invest in getting a video done, explaining how CRO works. I like using Dorrell Productions for this. You should also invest in a good website, using  a premium WordPress template, as a portfolio for your work.

** Since CRO isn't very competitive, you will be able to rank #1 for "conversion rate optimization company" in your country easily.  I am currently doing this using LukaB's SEO service.

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