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Over the last eight seasons, ABC’s “Shark Tank” show has dealt with all the ins and outs of the startup business strategy. But what about their websites? Online startup marketing strategy can be an important factor for who sinks or swims on the show.
There’s usually not time on a primetime TV show for a thorough discussion of content management systems, e-commerce SEO, AdWords marketing or Facebook marketing — but there’s plenty of time for that here. Here’s how the pros build an e-commerce powerhouse and marketing strategy that Shark Tank would buy.
1. Start With a Great CMS
The right pick of content management system (CMS) for your business website can set you up for success right from the start. WP Engine looked at the websites of 222 businesses that have appeared on the show.
The overwhelming choice of CMS platform for Shark Tank contestants was WordPress, with 84 businesses (38%) opting for a WP website. Another 26% went with Shopify, 10% for Magento, 5% for BigCommerce.
So why WordPress? Search engines love this platform because e-commerce SEO is easy to set up correctly. Designers and site owners love it, too. Web designs are flexible, and businesses can tweak or update their site easily with a browser-based management.
2. Add the Right Ecommerce Solution
After your CMS, the most important choice for your site is your e-commerce solution. The right online store software ensures you customers can easily and efficiently buy your products. It also makes sure online transactions are secured with the latest encryption.
For a long time, industry titans like Magento were the top choice for startup businesses. But Magento’s competitors are catching up. WooCommerce is now the top choice, which makes sense since this platform integrates very easily with WordPress as a plugin app.
WooCommerce can do quite a bit more than put products in a shopping cart. One Shark Tank alum, Villy Customs, created a WooCommerce shop that lets customers build a custom bike with visualizations along the way.
3. Secure Your Site With Premium SSL
With money changing hands, you want to protect your customers with the latest Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. This type of security is not just for your payment details page. It’s also beneficial on your homepage where customers have their first impression, enter their email address for newsletter signup, or fill out personal information for quotes or membership info.
Premium SSL encryption offers the highest level of protection today. But even first-generation SSL encryption will make data transfer between servers more secure, elevate customer trust, and bring you higher conversion rates.
Still, not everyone is on board yet with SSL encryption. About half the web is missing out on the benefits (and being penalized in their SERPs by Google’s algorithm). Many Shark Tank alums missed the mark here, too. Only 39 out of 302 sites (13%) reviewed by WP Engine were using SSL.
4. Get People With the Right Expertise
Shark Tank’s investor “sharks” know a good business opportunity when they see one. But they also know how to share their expertise so that their business investments produce the best possible results. WP Engine’s review of the batting average of sharks like Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran showed that only a few of their funded ventures have websites that went dark. Most were still up and running.
If you want your startup website to do well, it’s well worth it to have the right folks advising you on e-commerce and CMS options, SEO, AdWords marketing and Facebook marketing, and so on. Whether that comes from their VC investor or whether they spend their funds on hiring experts, it’s crucial for startups looking for funding to get the right advice so they can build a business even Shark Tank would buy.