Today I will talk about something that all of you are working hard for, but when it really happens, nobody knows what to do next.
I’m talking about success. Day in and day out you are tweaking, testing, tracking and improving your website to get more traffic and a better conversion rate. Slowly you are seeing better results. You are receiving more traffic. You’re making more sales and that’s what makes you more successful, but what exactly does success mean?
The real phenomenon in an online business is the unconventional way success manifests itself. The increase in traffic to your website doesn’t happen linear. It is more in the shape of a wave and spikes all over the place. You never know when the next wave of traffic will hit your web server.
The first time I experienced one of these spikes was when one of my websites was featured in a member’s only site with a large subscriber base. My traffic stats went through the roof. The site visits were more than tenfold than my average visits per day. This went on for a couple of days, but suddenly the traffic dropped to previous levels again. This is a typical reaction to an announcement like being featured on a respected website. It doesn’t matter if you initiated the announcement or somebody else did.
Once you notice the traffic jam on your website for the first time, it will keep you up all night long. What if the web server is not big enough? What if the shopping cart database crashes? Did I setup the autoresponder messages correctly? A thousand questions and worries are going through your head. Did you do the right thing?
What I just described is also known as “fear of success”. You work so hard to be successful, but when it finally happens, you’re like the deer in the headlight. Believe it or not, but that’s the only difference between you and all the hot shoot internet marketing gurus out there. They didn’t do anything different than you do. They have the same tools and ingredients to work with. The difference is that they know how to capture the sudden attention and turn it into even more attention.
When I experienced the sudden attention I did exactly what all you would have done too. I spend too much time answering every single email. I went out of my way to redesign my website, because I thought that having all the attention I needed a better design to please my new visitors. While I was busy doing all this, the traffic wave hit rock bottom again and nobody was there to enjoy my pretty new design.
What exactly did I accomplish with all this work? First of all my website was featured before I did the total renovation. Therefore somebody liked it for what it was. No need to do anything. Second, I didn’t trust my autoresponder or the quality of my messages. End result; automatic messages got mixed in with emails I personally wrote. You can imagine the confusion I caused with my new customers. Instead of being in a position to create easy follow-up sales, I upset my new customers and my sales plumed to zero.
Overreacting to sudden success is as bad as not reacting at all. So what should you do now? Before you spend all your energy in generating traffic to your website, you need to have everything in place and ready to flawlessly serve any new customer that wants to buy from you or simply requests more information.
Here are some fundamental things you need to take care of before you can handle the increased workload during peaks.
Plan you autoresponders in advance. Have multiple autoresponders for different purposes like an online course, more information about your products or your very own newsletter. Good autoresponder systems let you choose a different reply-to address than the from address. This allows you to setup a single email autorepsonse telling the subscriber to send their feedback to your ticket system.
I use ticket systems with great success. They are commonly part of your web hosting package and are easy to setup. A ticket system keeps your inbox clutter free and allows tracking of every inquiry. It also allows you to hire help. If you ever received more than a hundred emails a day, you know what I’m talking about.
Shopping cart software:
Don’t waste your time to create your own shopping cart system. Unless you want to sell the software later on it is not worth the trouble. There are many great systems available. Don’t install a system on your web server if you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing. Ready made systems are easy to work with and guarantee availability and reliability.
Having these two simple things in place will enable you to turn on your traffic generation machine. The key is to automate as much as possible. If you can handle one single customer smoothly and without manually completing a step, you’re ready.