A lot of people do not understand online sales fundamentals. So I think it is vitally important to cover the fundamentals around Internet business strategy and make sure they are understood and valued, as successful Internet marketing strategies will not happen if each Pillar is not given its due attention.

The Four Pillars of Online Sales Success

When I develop a conversion optimization roadmap there are 4 Pillars of an Online Sales Strategy I consider.

1 – Good Web Design

2 – Good Website Coding

3 – Driving Relevant Visits

4 – Maximizing Conversion Rates

Good Web Design

illustration of a website

My first Internet profession was as a Developer. After five years of programming, I thought I knew something about good web design. I knew nothing! It was not until I moved to the business side and was charged with increasing conversions, in that case, B2B leads, that I started to really consider what good web design is.

Good web design is not making things look pretty. Good web design is achieving the objectives of the site or page. Normally the objective is to drive conversions, and that is the disconnect on this point. Sure, things need to look good and professional or they hurt conversions, but this is only part of the web design equation.

Business objectives need to drive the design of a website or landing page. There has to be careful consideration of what information is present where, and how it is presented. The information that the user wants to know must come first with anything you are trying to sell or tell them being secondary. Good web design can place a focus on the user better, but its primary role is to answer the immediate questions and get them where they and you both want them to go.

To learn a bit more about Web Design, and the importance of it beyond (or better said, before) look & feel, see Nail a Niche with Landing Pages and Homepage Strategy & Tips.

Good Website Coding

As a former developer, this is the area I mastered early on but was all I really knew. Not only do people have a hard time following things like navigation “image maps” (several links in one menu), but so do search engine bots.

Another mistake is drop down menus (this is poor web design as well since people can’t “see” the options without having to take an action based on the limited information they get from the main menu title). Drop down menus are often done with JavaScript and search engines don’t read this type of coding very well, therefore, may not follow the navigation. With the search engines looking at internal links as a factor in ranking a site, sites with an image map and JavaScript drop down menus miss out on being most attractive to search engines and could result in less inbound traffic from the search engines. aka, you’re not being found.

Drive Relevant Visits

This is the one Pillar most businesses focus on despite really needing to first handle Good web design and coding first.  Nonetheless, it is a key Pillar when considering strategy and is where I spend a lot of my time as an Internet strategy consultant. Driving people to a site that is converting poorly is a waste of money if the traffic is paid and a waste of effort if the business is engaging in social media or SEO efforts.

Once a site is ready to receive traffic and can convert well, it needs to start driving relevant traffic to it. To drive relevant traffic, a business needs to know it audience, where they are online and how to best engage them. For instance, if you know your audience is interested in “home decorating” and are women between the ages of 30 and 60 and reside in the Metro Denver area, then you could target them with PPC, Social Media Ads and other tactics that allow you to target by demographics and geography. You just want to make sure your traffic is relevant and highly targeted, as Internet marketing is very unforgiving to those who don’t target well.

Maximizing Conversion Rates

To achieve success online, you need more than good web design, good website coding, and Relevant Traffic. You need to to focus on conversions.  Your site has at least one objective. It might be to generate a lead, to make a sale, or have someone donate to your cause. Whatever the site objective, you need the following to start achieving them.

  1. Make it easy – don’t have too many steps to achieve something – registration, for example, should only collect essential info
  2. Keep it simple – don’t overwhelm people with too many options
  3. Relevant Offerings – if someone is seeking information about cooking, don’t try to push lawn equipment on them
  4. Good Placement – make offers
  5. Clear Calls To Action – don’t have a button that says “submit” – make the button have meaning like “Book your package today”
  6. If possible, offer things that are unique and valuable, preferably both
  7. Have special or free offers your site audience would really want. – this is related to nurturing business and something we’ll go into at a later date


Streaming is identifying an audience and taking them through your site in the way you want them to proceed, but more importantly, the way they want to proceed. Calling out to specialty customers and leading them into a part of the site that addressed their needs, separately from regular customers would be streaming. As long as you provided all the information the audience wants, they will be where you can offer them relevant offers and in a place dedicated to your selling to them. Streaming audience types to areas meant for them will increase conversions.

Test & Tweak

All the best practices in the world will not make the best website. You need to analyze your site statistics, talk to your customers, learn from it and try new things. Try a new Headline or image. Move an offer up. Take out offers that are not performing. There is always better results with testing. I think what and how to tweak is a future post as well.

I hope this offers a foundation on Internet marketing. It is important to understand the value of each Pillar and approach your web presence from the first to the fourth in order to save time and money.