4 Essential Strategies of an Effective "Minimum Viable" Website

 This strategic guide to the "Minimum Viable Website" is in answer to one particular question I’ve gotten again and again: “What’s the minimum viable version of a website I can create for my business?” Click through to get the full-on MVP strategy AND a free website checklist!

One of the things I love most about my work with Crafting Creative is that I get to talk to people like you —to share ideas and ask/answer questions. And this guide to the minimum viable website is in answer to one particular question I’ve gotten several times:

I’m just starting out and I don’t know where to begin with my website. What’s the minimum viable version of a website I can create for my business?

The “Minimum Viable Website” in context:

Your minimum viable website needs to be part of your “minimum viable” online strategy to be the most effective. That means you’ve got to have a way to drive traffic to your site, a way to capture that traffic to nurture the relationship, and a way to offer them something to buy.

At the most basic level, your website is essential for the 3 primary pillars of a profitable online business:

  1. Traffic: Drive traffic to your website by going where your people are and engaging with them (social media marketing, blogging, and SEO).
  2. Audience: Capture traffic by offering a problem-solving free opt-in offer and nurturing them through a series of emails (email marketing).
  3. Sales: Convert your audience to clients/customers through your sales page and signature offer (copywriting, design, strategic packaging).

What that means for each of those pillars:

In order to drive traffic, you’ve got to have a website that they go to. 

In order to attract your audience, you’ve got to have a standout brand, messaging that resonates, and design that appeals. 

And in order to get those sales, you’ve got to have a sales page that excites them about the possibility of working with you through the copy and design.

Thinking about it in these terms, you can see how your website is mission-critical to your online business.

Your minimum viable website must do 4 things:

  1. Let your visitor know who you serve, what you do, and how you’re different (i.e. your brand positioning or USP).
  2. Show who you are, give some relevant background (aka your street cred) because humans buy from humans they know, like, and trust.
  3. Give an irresistible free offer to drive people to your list (which means you do need an email list).
  4. Excite them about your paid offer and provide a way for them to buy it, book it, or apply for it. 

And, good news!
You can really do ALL of this in just 2 pages: 

1) A long-form homepage that covers steps 1-3 (check out my free Homepage Blueprint Masterclass for this step-by-step strategy)

2) And your sales page for step 4 (if you’re in my QuickSell Kit program, then you’re golden)

Combine your minimum viable website with a strategic email series...

The less “selling” your website does, the more YOU need to do the selling in your other touchpoints on social media and, most importantly, through email. Here’s how the journey from driving traffic to converting a sale might look when we combine email strategy with your minimum viable website...

PART 1 (on-site) Homepage:

  1. State who you serve, what you do, and how you’re different
  2. Provide street cred (aka “social proof” like credentials, testimonials, or “featured on” brand logos)
  3. Give a brief “about” section that shares a peek into your journey
  4. Have a free offer that’s aimed at solving a SPECIFIC problem (or piece of a problem) for your ideal client that will drive people to your email list

TIP: Be more specific than you feel comfortable with, in your copy. Anytime you can use tangible/concrete images and specifics, your words are going to resonate more with your right people. Just do it (mentally insert Shia Labeouf GIF here). 

 You could swipe this structure, an example from  Michelle Mazur's site , for your minimum viable website homepage.

You could swipe this structure, an example from Michelle Mazur's site, for your minimum viable website homepage.

PART 2 (off-site) Email nurture series:

  1. Welcome them in, tell them what to expect, and tease what’s coming next
  2. Share another great insight to make the most of your freebie (mention what you’ll share with them in the next email)
  3. Go a bit further into your own journey and how you got from A to B (and WHY you created your paid offer)
  4. “Open the doors” to your paid offer in a succinct message about the problem it solves, the results they can expect, how much it costs, and link to the sales page.

TIP: Don’t get distracted by the medium of writing. As Rob Bell says, YOU ARE the medium. Get the words out however you do best —by talking or writing or singing or doodling. Then shape them into your emails in a way that makes sense for your people.

 An example of how your minimum viable website can work strategically in tandem with your email marketing in this simple sales funnel example.

An example of how your minimum viable website can work strategically in tandem with your email marketing in this simple sales funnel example.

PART 3 (on-site) Sales page:

  1. Start at "problem aware" stage (have a headline that meets them where they’re at, speaks to the problem and hints at a solution)
  2. Agitate the problem by painting their “BEFORE” picture
  3. Then let them know that solutions do exist and this problem can be solved (paint the “AFTER” picture)
  4. Now introduce your offer as the BRIDGE that gets them from the “before” to the “after”
  5. Include testimonials from clients, managers, or peers, if available
  6. Let them know what happens after they click the call-to-action button (to eliminate all doubt and reduce friction)
  7. Include “frequently asked questions” that overcome common objections
  8. Put the benefit in your button (as Ash Ambirge says). Rather than “sign up” or “buy now”, either tell me what clicking that button will do or get me excited about the end result (e.g. “Apply for a spot” or “Launch your MVP Website”) 
  9. The CTA (call-to-action) button will link to an online scheduler, an application form, or a payment processor —these things can be housed on-site but often don’t have to be.

TIP: DON'T WRITE ONE WORD before doing extensive undercover research of your audience. Get to know them, their struggles, their desires, what or who is influencing them, and where you could really make a difference in their lives/businesses. Once you’ve got the research, you can fit the words into the proper parts of the page and then finesse it so it flows.

PART 4 (off-site) Email nurture series:

  1. If they didn’t buy, send a follow-up email with a reminder that the offer is expiring soon (for example) —or an FAQ email overcoming objections.
  2. After you’ve sent a total of 5-7 emails, mixing value-driven content with your call-to-action, then simply add them to your regular newsletter list and you can offer them your next service whenever you decide to launch it.

TIP: Create a folder in your inbox where you save any email series/funnels that you found particularly effective or compelling. Then review these and try to pick out the skeleton behind the words. How can you use a similar structure to write your own series?

BONUS (off-site) Social Media: You also need a way for them to remember you and keep them engaging with you (this is where social media comes in).

  1. Pick 1-2 platforms where you are most excited to share and where your people are most likely to hang out.
  2. Then plan to show up there, regularly. Try to share more of yourself, the behind-the-scenes, the messy middle, your thoughts, experiments, and challenges.

TIP: I’m no expert on social media but I’ve learned from watching others like Jasmine Star. The best way to make social media work for your business seems to be about showing up consistently to serve + share —not to sell. Sure you can extend invitations to people when it makes sense, but social media converts because your people like you, not because they saw you were selling something.

Does this feel more doable now?

Now that you have an actual step-by-step of what goes into your minimum viable website and how that fits into your larger online business strategy? My sincere hope is “YES”!

Ready to elevate your website above the MVP level?

I recommend my FREE Stand Out + Sell Out Website Checklist as the next step. This will elevate your site above the “minimum viable” version, it’s flexible, scalable, and strategic.

And I made it specifically for service-based business owners like you.