When two-year old site workz.com hired new VP Sales and Marketing Dennis James in June 2000, he had a clear-cut goal: to increase traffic 15-20% a month.
workz.com was trying to get attention with a moderate budget in a noisy, competitive, marketplace. However, James knew his target audience, larger small businesses with an average $200,000 Web site budget, was highly influenced by personal referrals. He explains, "There's a Wow Factor; i.e., 'Wow! I gotta tell Bob about this!'" James decided to focus on this Wow Factor and hope the rest would follow.
James used several guerrilla tactics to find out what his target audience really wanted in a Web site like workz.com, and then redesigned the site to match their desires.
Luckily the site itself ran an email discussion group on the topic of great Web design. James "read between the lines" for ideas on how to improve workz.com for his audience as they openly discussed the design preferences. He says, "For example, we learned to put the newsletter sign-up in a consistent place on every page where people can see it. You know when you look at it, what it is and we call it what it is. Also we reduced images and kept access fast, and redesigned our home page to be more like a table of contents."
James also learned what users wanted, "by just asking them." The feedback he got from emailing a group of users to ask for their opinions convinced him that the Web site's navigational paths needed to become more obvious. He says, "We brought all the information to the surface so people can take a look and make decisions about where to go without having to dive in two-three levels deep." James and workz.com's design team also added navigational tools on the home page to allow visitors to search by topics such as Web design or by what he calls "How-tos" such as how to make money.
Last but not least, James carefully analyzed the site's traffic logs to find out exactly which topics and how-tos were the most popular (and which the least.) He says, "Getting started is the one of the number one click throughs on the site." As new content was created, James made sure it matched the most popular areas.
James says, "The redesign made a stunning difference for the site. We tripled the number of pages users visited and doubled the amount of time they spent on the site. Plus we have a high number of people who come back."
With the help of workz.com's in-house design team, James met his goal of 15-20% traffic growth per average month. workz.com's total traffic as of January 2001 was about half a million visitors a month. The site's email newsletter subscriber lists have swollen to 170,000 opt-in subscribers.
NOTE: James is interested in talking partnerships with "any kinds of companies that are interested in contacting small business people who have a technical understanding. If you have products and services that can help those people, then it makes sense to do business!" Potential partners can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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