Rob Walling @ Business of Software. A Developer’s Guide to Making Your Website Profitable.

The Primary Goal of Your Website is not to Sell

What’s the primary goal of your website? Not to sell software. With most visitors returning multiple times before making a purchase, your primary goal should be to draw visitors back to your site. In this talk, Rob looks in-depth at why this is the case, and how to make it happen.

Bio – Rob Walling is a serial entrepreneur and author of Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup. He blogs at about building self-funded startups and runs the Micropreneur Academy, an online learning community of like-minded founders designed to get a startup from zero to launch in six months. Walling runs 11 one-man technology businesses and has been building web applications professionally for 11 years.

Rob Walling Confesses

Rob Walling Confesses

Rob is a one person company, outsources everything that he can, errs on the side of specificity at all times.

Software entrepreneurs typically think that the number one goal of a website is to sell software. Rob believes this is the wrong answer. If your software costs more than $ 20, it is very unlikely that this strategy will work.

“The ineffective marketer asks you to buy too soon”.

Reasons people don’t buy from your web site because:

  • Not enough information
  • No trust
  • No $$$
  • No need – right now
  • Some people will NEVER buy

Examples from some of Rob’s companies. Returning visitors are defined as more than two visits to site (though underestimates returning visitors as someone may visit site from more than one PC therefore returns on returning visitors are even higher.


  • Over 3 years, he saw at least 450% more revenue from returning visitors than first timers.


  • In one year, 77o% more sales from returning visitors vs first timers
  • Per visit value$17 for returning visitors vs $1.53 for first timers

CrazyEgg (Not Rob’s)

  • Over 60 days, 1585% more sales to returning visitors

Returning visitors are much more likely to buy and likely to be much more profitable, so, How do you get the right people to return?

Email – always better than social media.

The quality of email interaction is higher, blogs are time intensive, emails have highest click through rates. You can test email quickly and most tests with small time investment will lead to 10% increase in revenue. Email also allows you to do personalised broadcasting, A/B splits, test offers and all sorts of things that just don’t work with social media. You can throttle volume of activity really easily.

Three steps to putting email follow up in place

  1. Have a killer landing page that does everything you can to get their email address and permission to talk to them. Invest in good design.
  2. Give something away but it has to be unique, useful, cool.
  3. Set up the follow-up right.

Goals, address the barriers to purchase.

  • Not enough information -. provide informatin
  • No Trust -> build trust
  • No $$$ -> Try discount options
  • No need right now -> stay in people’s minds
  • Some people will NEVER buy -> ignore them

You are permission marketing but there are still some things that mean you will get stuck in SPAM filters

Not-so-common Spam Filter Triggers

  • “Extra Inches”
  • “Dear”
  • “Stop further distribution”
  • “You registered with a partner”
  • “Oprah”
  • Poorly coded HTML

Worst words to include in subject lines for open rates

  • Reminder
  • Specials
  • X% off
  • Help

Rob wrote a book about engaging customers on your website in a small software business – ‘Stay Smart, Stay Small’. You can get a 72 hour Business of Software discount at

Did Rob just sell something…?

One response to “Rob Walling @ Business of Software. A Developer’s Guide to Making Your Website Profitable.”

  1. Rob Walling’s slides can be viewed at:

    Well worth a look.