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On Wall Street, financial investors speak of CEOs improving their companies' "top line" by increasing sales volume, or upping their "bottom line" by reducing their expenses to expand the margins from their current sales volume.

For Internet companies, business owners determining where to direct their improvement efforts should take a similar "top line, bottom line" approach.

Defining Top-Line and Bottom-Line Growth

An Internet business improves its top line by increasing the number of unique visitors to its Web site, or its bottom line by increasing its visitor-to-sale or visitor-to-lead conversion rates.

Let me illustrate.

After an online business establishes its performance metrics, it is able to predict with confidence the expected results from visitor traffic. For example, a business's performance metrics may show that for every 1,000 visitors received, 15 sales are completed—a sales conversion rate of 1.5%.

With this understanding, the business can increase its top-line growth by driving more visitors to its Web site. For example, if the business invests money in traffic generation efforts to increase visitor traffic from 1,000 to 10,000, 150 sales will be achieved from the 1.5% sales conversion rate—a 10-fold growth rate.

Top-Line Improvements

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Kevin Gold is cofounder of Enhanced Concepts, Inc. (www.enhancedconcepts.com).