No business owner or entrepreneur can afford to ignore the importance of having a well-designed, user-friendly website. More people than ever are researching products, reading reviews and making purchases online. Having a great website that attracts customers is not optional – it’s a necessary part of doing business.
One of the trickiest things for any business owner is figuring out how to attract traffic to their website. If your business is well-established it may be a bit easier, but in order to use your website effectively you need to do more than have a simple splash page that directly people to your brick-and-mortar location. The key to online success is engaging your customers, making them feel important and valued. It’s important to make your customers feel that you are offering them something of value when they visit your site – something entertaining and sharable, that makes them want to come back to your site again and again.
There are many different ways to attract traffic to your site. This article will focus on both free and paid methods of generating traffic. Even a small or start-up business can attract traffic using some of the inexpensive and free suggestions contained here.
Build Content On Your Website
You might want to consider adding the following to your website. Having content on your website is vital in order to drive more traffic. You might have found this piece of content through a search engine and you otherwise would have never visited my website if I hadn’t produced it.
- Product Reviews
- Information & Advice
There are many different options, but the main thing is to pull first-time customers to your site, and give repeat visitors a reason to keep returning.
In addition to creating great content, you can take advantage of free traffic-generating ideas.
Free Methods to Drive More Traffic
- Using social media to build your base of customers and interact with them
- Send out an email newsletter to your email list
- Guest appearances on podcasts
- Guest appearances on webinars
- Guest blogging
- Cross-marketing with other businesses in your niche
In addition to free strategies of driving traffic, you may also want to look into some of the different paid options. You can use paid options to drive traffic to your website or optimize for a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) like leads or sales.
Here are our favorite methods of driving paid traffic.
Paid Methods to Drive More Traffic
- Google AdWords and Bing Ads
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest Ads
- Remarketing/Retargeting Ads
- Google Shopping Ads
- Display Advertising
- Native Ads
- Email Promotions
This article will review each one of these options in detail and give you the information you need to get started.
We will go over everything you need to keep in mind in order to get started with driving traffic to your website.
How to Build Content
No conversation about how to drive traffic to your website would be complete without a discussion about content. Every other method you can use, whether it is paid advertising, social media promotion or email marketing, can be enhanced with a strong and consistent content development strategy.
What is content? Simply put, it is any material that you make available on your website. It may be original content that you created, or it may be curated content – something you found elsewhere that you are sharing with your readers. Content can take many different forms, and most of the time, it is better to vary the content you are providing as much as possible. You want to give customers and potential customers a reason to visit your site regularly. All of the advertising in the world will not help increase your traffic on a permanent basis if your site has dull, uninspired or dated content.
As we enter 2017, people are consuming content in different forms whether its written, visual, or audio content. Your job is to use every form that makes sense for your business and maximize them.
Finding Your Niche
Before we talk about specific kinds of content, let’s talk about how you will decide whether content is relevant. You might think that cat video is hilarious, but unless you are marketing a product aimed at cat owners, sharing it on your site is most likely not a good idea. The key to creating and curating content that will be entertaining, informative and relevant to your customers is to have a clearly defined niche.
Finding a niche is about identifying a unique place for yourself online. Given the sheer number of websites out there, it is unlikely that you will be the only person selling a particular product. Some things that might help you carve out a niche include:
- Your personal experience
- Your deep knowledge of a subject
- Your passion for a particular topic
- Your creativity
- Your unique voice
- Your ability to inspire people
After you have identified your niche, you can begin to create and curate content for your site. At all times, your niche should be your guidepost in terms of what content will interest your readers and keep them returning to your site. Do not worry that having a narrowly-defined niche will make it difficult to come up with content. While it is important to have fresh content at all times, the quality of the content you post is far more important than the quantity. You do not want to do anything to dilute the power of your site or make it difficult for people who visit the site to identify who you are and what you are doing.
Keywords and SEO
Creating entertaining content is only part of the equation. In order to increase traffic to your site, you need to include keywords in your content that will enable people who search for information in your niche to find your website. If you are just starting out, it is best to aim for long-tail keywords, as they will increase the chances of your site being near the top of the search results. So for example, if you are selling sunglasses, it is better to shoot for a keyword such as “cool sunglasses” or “retro sunglasses” as those will return a higher search result than simply using “sunglasses” as your keyword.
In order to optimize your website for search engines you will need to make sure that you are using your keywords effectively – in the headline of any new content you are posting, and in the first few sentences as well. It may be helpful to make a list of potential keywords for your site and search them to see where your site appears in the results. You can then choose the words that will be most effective and use them in order to move your site up in the rankings.
Now that we have a better understanding of keywords and search engine optimization, Let’s take a look at some of the different forms of web content, and how you may be able to use them to drive traffic to your website.
Written Content Overview
The most widely available and least expensive content to produce is written content. Written content may include:
- Blog posts
- Product reviews
- Customer testimonials
- Press releases
The key, always, is to keep your focus on producing written content within your niche. Let’s talk about how each kind of written content can fit into a given niche.
We will discuss blogging and guest blogging in great depth later in this article. Blogging is an inexpensive and easy way to keep your site evergreen, with regular new content. It encourages customers to subscribe to the blog and comment so you can interact directly with them. Blogs posts do not have to be long, and if you update a blog once a week you will always have fresh content.
Articles are similar to blog posts, in that they need not be long and can be a quick and simple way to keep fresh content on your site. If you choose to write your own short articles, some good ways to come up with topics include:
- List the top 3-10 mistakes people make in a particular area
- Answer a common question
- Give 10 pieces of advice that will help your readers
- Provide troubleshooting advice for a common problem
- Create a how-to article
You can either write articles yourself, or find content elsewhere online and repost it on your website.
Interviews can be a great source of relevant information for your readers and customers. You can either conduct the interview yourself, with another expert in your field, or you can re-run an interview from another source. You might also consider posting a transcript of an audio or video interview.
Getting interviews early on might be difficult but once you build somewhat of an audience, most people are ready and willing to interview and be interviewed.
Your customers and potential customers may be interested in hearing your opinion of the products you sell, or of other products that are relevant to the niche you have chosen. The important thing is to give your honest opinion, because you want customers to trust what you are saying. Make sure to choose products that will interest your core customers – someone may offer you an opportunity to review a big-screen television, but if your website is geared toward home cooks the television is simply not relevant.
I like using product reviews by basically recommending products that I actually use. Therefore, your sales pitch is authentic and you can speak to the consumer easily.
If you receive particularly useful or complimentary feedback from a customer, you might consider getting their permission to share their feedback in writing on your site. You can also turn a customer testimonial into a longer interview, if you wish. Customer testimonials are great for helping to drive sales and conversions since they give your website proof.
If you have a new product or an improved one, you can put out a press release that may entice media outlets and sites to write about you and your product. Their write-ups may lead to additional traffic in turn, as they will most likely link back to your site.
However, be wary of spending hundreds of dollars on a press release when it doesn’t make sense to. Many press release companies offer paid services and I’ve seen companies with press releases that ended up being a waste of money.
Audio Content Overview
Audio content is an alternative to written content. It is fine for written content to make up the majority of the content on your site, but some of the items listed in the written content may lend themselves to being presented as an audio file. Some examples include interviews and client testimonials. In addition, you may want to consider the following:
While podcasts are most frequently associated with iPods or iPads, the term can refer to any audio file that you make available for playback on the internet or for download to a mobile device. Releasing regular podcasts can be a very effective way of engaging with customers on an ongoing basis as they can subscribe to receive new podcasts as you release them, and also share them with others
If you think you have a knack for teaching people something new about your field of interest, hosting teleseminars (seminars conducted via telephone) and then posting them on your site as audio files can be a way of increasing traffic to your site. The best way to keep people coming back to your site is to make them feel that they are getting something of value every time they visit.
Video Content Overview
The final kind of content we will discuss here is video content. While some of the kinds of content we discussed earlier (interviews, customer testimonials, etc.) may lend themselves to video content as well, let’s talk about a few others that were not covered earlier in this chapter.
Not every piece of content you post has to be serious. While you could certainly produce a video version of a serious interview customer testimonial, if you have an idea for a funny and entertaining take on some aspect of your area of expertise, it might be worth producing a video that you can share on your site and encourage your readers and customers to share as well.
You can also focus on creating videos that are useful and help solve a problem for your customer. How-to videos tend to perform well when you can quickly and easily solve a problem. You can also use your written articles and create video content based on them.
A webinar is simply a seminar that you teach online. While they can take different forms, some examples include straight video, or a screen capture video that allows you to display charts and other infographics to educate your audience.
The main thing to keep in mind with any form of content is that you want it to be informative, entertaining and relevant to your niche. Any content you add to your site should leave your customers feeling as if they have received something of value after viewing it.
Paid Advertising Overview
Now that you understand the importance of having great content on your site, let’s talk about some of the ways you can pay to increase traffic to your website. There are several kinds of advertising you can use on your site that can help drive traffic to you.
Google Adwords is an advertising service provided by Google and Bing Ads is the advertising services offered by Microsoft. You can target keywords and have a relevant advertisement show at the top of search results pages. You specify your keywords and Google AdWords and Bing Ads help you reach relevant customers as they are searching. You can also target specific demographics, domain names and topics in addition to keywords. With this kind of advertising, it is your responsibility to make sure that your keywords are up-to-date and relevant so that your ads will be effective.
The flip side of Google AdWords is AdSense, a service that you can use to earn money by allowing Google to place ads on your site based on keywords identified by their algorithms. These will probably not help you with traffic, but are a good companion to AdWords and can help you to further monetize your site.
Bing Ads are very similar to Google Ads – they are search-related ads that use algorithms to display your ad above, beside or beneath a given set of search results. Bing is owned by Microsoft, and has partnerships with Yahoo and Facebook.
Bing Ads allow you to target your audience based on things like:
- Geographical location
- Time of day
- Day of week
- Type of device being used
- Operating system being used
You can then choose keywords using their keyword tool, which also allows you to track performance and conversions.
Banner ads are those wide and prominent ads that appear at the top and on the side of certain web pages. They are eye-catching and nearly impossible to miss. They are one of the oldest forms of online advertising.
Banner ads are probably more effective in terms of brand awareness and eventual purchase than they are in terms of generating clicks and immediate conversions. For example, an effective banner ad might garner only 5 or 10 clicks – but it can still be an effective way of increasing traffic. Because these ads are impossible to miss, they can help to keep your brand in the public’s mind and make it more likely they will think of your company the next time they are shopping for something in your niche.
You might not have known what they were called, but chances are good that you have seen a remarketing ad at some point online. Remarketing ads are the ones from companies you have purchased from previously.
Everyone has experienced the phenomenon of visiting a particular website, and then returning to a search engine, only to find that the page is now displaying an ad for the site you just visited. Those ads are remarketing ads, and they are geared toward finding your customers when they are the most engaged with your product, and the most likely to make a purchase.
The helpful thing about remarketing ads is that you can target them to reach a very specific audience. For example, you can set up a remarketing ad to target customers who have visited your website, added something to their shopping cart, and then abandoned their cart. You can tailor the wording to that specific demographic so that it serves as a reminder that they have not completed their purchase.
Google offers a service that allows you to easily create and target your ad so that you can reach a wide audience.
A Native Ad is an ad that appears on a website, and is designed to look like the regular content of that site instead of like a traditional advertisement. Another word for this kind of ad is an advertorial – a word that is a combination of “advertisement” and “editorial.”
Like banner ads, this is a form of advertising that you may be able to swap with another website in your niche. The idea, again, is to choose a site whose content and products are highly complementary to your own. In order for a native ad to be effective, it must appear at first glance to be native content for the site on which it appears. You will probably need to work closely with the entrepreneur with whom you are swapping to come up with mutually beneficial content that will serve both of you well.
It is important to make this kind of advertising as entertaining as possible. It is not a simple ad with a few choice words and a call to action. A native ad is a long-form advertisement that you want people to read through and act on, so take the time to familiarize yourself with your target site’s content before approaching its owner about a swap.
Social Media Advertising Overview
With the overwhelming majority of adults active in some way on social media, no business can afford to ignore the benefits of social media advertising. Ads on social media tend to far outperform other forms of advertising, allowing you to reach as much as 89% of your target audience. Regular online ads reach about 38%.
Part of the reason that social media ads are so effective is because, unlike other digital ads, they come with social proof. What this means is that your potential customers can see if their friends or followers have liked or followed your page, increasing the chances that they will follow suit. Let’s talk about some of the most effective ways to use social media advertising to boost traffic to your website.
Facebook is the most widely-used social media platform, with 1.35 billion monthly users as of the third quarter of 2014. That is a huge potential audience for your website and products. Facebook offers several different kinds of advertising that can help drive traffic both to your company’s Facebook page as well as to your website.
Facebook Website Clicks
You can set your Facebook targeting and then bid to drive clicks to your website from Facebook. It’s a great way to drive targeted traffic to your website for a small cost.
Facebook Website Conversions
Offering a discount or a freebie to your Facebook followers can be a great way to increase sales and bring people to your website. People are more likely to respond to this kind of offer than to a traditional advertisement because they think they are getting a deal. If you have a new offer for your fans, you may want to consider using Facebook website conversion campaigns and implementing the Facebook pixel to optimize for a conversion.
Facebook Boosted Posts
We will talk more about specific free way to use Facebook later on in this article, but if you are concerned that your posts are not reaching a large enough audience, paying to boost the post can be a very effective way to get your post in front of more people. Boosted posts appear in the news feeds of your targeted demographics. It will cost you a minimum of $5 per boosted post, but if you have a new product to launch, or an ebook to sell, it may be worth the money to get your post to a broader audience.
Types of Facebook Campaign Goals
Facebook allows you to fashion a unique ad that will allow you to reach your intended audience and achieve specific goals. Some of these include:
- Increase Likes on your page
- Clicks to website
- Website conversions
- Offer claims
- Event responses
- Video views
- App installs
Facebook also provides advertisers with a number of tools to control spending and track the performance of a particular ad. You can specify a cap on the amount you want to spend per day, and then Facebook will send you an email once a week showing your ad’s performance and giving you a breakdown of how much you are paying per page Like or whatever other barometer you have specified.
Like Facebook, Twitter offers a number of different advertising options geared toward achieving different goals. Twitter allows you to custom-design your target audience for a particular ad. You can include keywords, interests, and television programming and follower types, among other things. Twitter offers advertisers a separate dashboard for each ad product. It allows you to track ad performance, including impressions, new followers, and demographics, among other things. Below are some of the different goals.
If you are new to Twitter or have few followers, you can use Twitter advertising to build a larger following.
Website Clicks or Conversions
If you want to more fully understand how social media advertising can impact your business, you can set up conversion tracking on sponsored Tweets with Twitter cards.
These are similar to promoted Facebook posts, in that you pay a small amount to get your Tweet in front of a large, targeted audience. Paired with a Twitter card, this can be a powerful tool to market and track your campaign’s effectiveness. Some examples of ways to use promoted Tweets include:
- Getting people to click through to your website
- Getting people to download your app
- Advertising a promotion or discount
- Announcing a new product
Leads on Twitter
This is another version of a Twitter card that allows you to include a button to collect contact information from a lead from within your Tweet. You can also track conversions and overall performance.
Advertising on Linked In, like the site itself, should be geared toward other businesses, recruiters and job seekers. Like other social media sites, there are several kinds of advertising available:
- Sponsored posts: Linked In’s sponsored posts appear on the home feed when your targeted audience logs in. What’s more, they appear in a priority position, which increases the chances that your target audience will see it.
- Display ads: These are ads that appear next to the feed, and include the “People you may know” displays that appear on the site.
- Sponsored in-mail: Email marketing is still a very effective way to reach potential customers or B2B partners. Linked In offers this option that allows you to reach potential customers or business partners on a one-to-one basis.
- Pay-per-click ads: These work the same way as regular PPC ads, but as with any other form of advertising on Linked In, it is important to target your ad to the specific audience you can expect to reach on the site. You can use a combination of text, visual and video formats to reach a targeted audience and generate leads.
Linked In offers an advertising interface that allows you to track clicks, impressions and click-through rates.
Advertising on Pinterest is a relatively new option, but considering the rapid growth and popularity of the site, it is likely to become a valuable option for many small businesses. As of the end of 2014, sponsored pins are still in the Beta stage and are available only to select businesses. However, the content on Pinterest lends itself to sponsorship and advertising, since so many of the items pinned are aspirational. Their ads run on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis, and like Facebook ads, you can set a daily maximum cost. You pay only when a user clicks through to your website from the ad.
Like Pinterest ads, Instagram ads are still fairly new. However, since they can harness a lot of the same power as Facebook advertising, you have most of the same capabilities in Instagram as you do in Facebook. Not only can you run campaigns that drive website clicks or website conversions, but you can also run video ads. In addition, you can incorporate Facebook interest-based targeting to reach a relevant audience.
Other Advertising Options Overview
In addition to on-site advertising and social media, there are other kinds of ads available to you that can help you increase traffic to your site. Before you spend any money on advertising, it’s important to understand the benefits of each kind of advertising. If you are just starting out, you want to make sure you are choosing an option that will get you the best possible return on your investment.
A solo ad is a one-shot advertisement that allows you to take advantage of someone else’s mailing list. To do a solo ad, you need to find someone in your niche who has a large mailing list, and work with that person to come up with an ad or promotion that they will then send out to their list of email contacts.
Payment for a solo ad can be on a flat basis – with a cap on the number of clicks – or you can choose to do a pay-per-click, pay-per-conversion, or pay-per-sale option. If you are just starting out, you may want to choose the flat payment option so that you have complete control over your expenses. Then simply write some great copy, make sure you have that you are directing potential customers to the right place – a sales page, for example – and wait for the traffic to roll in.
Mobile Marketing Strategies
Research shows that 91% of adults in the United States own a mobile phone, and 61% own a smart phone. The average person is now spending upwards of three hours a day surfing the internet on a mobile device, and those numbers are only going to increase as the use of mobile devices increases.
Those numbers tell the whole story in terms of why you should consider mobile marketing. You can reach more customers on their mobile devices than on desktop or laptop computers, and you can reach them when they are out and more likely to stop by a brick-and-mortar store, if you have one. Mobile marketing can include any or all of the following:
- Mobile Website Optimization: Since a significant percentage of your customers will be accessing your page on a mobile device, this is not really optional. You want to make sure that your page automatically redirects mobile users to a mobile version of your page. The mobile page should be readable, easy to navigate, and contain all of the relevant information from your regular web page.
- Text Messaging: Find a way to capture your customers’ mobile numbers so that you can communicate with them via text message. SMS or text messages are relatively inexpensive, and they allow you to communicate with your customers in real time, wherever they are. The open rate on text messages is over 90%, which means that money spent on SMS marketing is virtually guaranteed to get your message in front of your customers.
Some of the ways you can use text messaging include:
– Sending out timely offers and promotions
– Soliciting customer feedbacks
– Announcing new products
– Advertising upcoming sales
- Create an App: This option may not be for everybody, but if you have a product that lends itself to an app and you have an idea for one, it’s something to consider. You can sell your app on your website or on the Apple store, Google Play store or Amazon. Make sure that you keep your focus on the value the app is delivering to your customer. It won’t work if it’s simply a marketing tool – you need to make it fun and functional, so that customers want to download it, and will continue to use it on an ongoing basis.
Many mobile marketing options are inexpensive to do and have the potential to reach an even larger audience than traditional online marketing.
We mentioned blogging in the chapter about content, but now it is time to get into more detail about how maintaining an active blog on your site can help you to increase traffic permanently.
The wonderful thing about a blog is that the content is free and easy to produce, and that it doesn’t have to be long to serve its purpose. It is important to make and stick to a blogging schedule, so that readers know when to expect new content. If you haven’t blogged before, it may seem intimidating to have to come up with new content on a regular basis, so here are some ideas that may help you:
- Make a list: On any given day, you probably see dozens of lists come across your homepage or Facebook feed. People love them. Make a list of the top 10 things people like about a topic related to your niche, of the five most common mistakes.
- How-to Articles: People who are on your site are already interested in your niche topic. Think of something you know how to do that your readers might like to try, and tell them how to do it.
- Current Events and News: Is there something in the news that pertains to your usual topic? Write about your opinion of it, or put a new spin on it.
- Review Something: People who follow your blog already are most likely interested in your opinion of products and resources within your niche. Pick one, and give your honest opinion.
- Link Roundups: Chances are you have a list of favorite sites that you visit regularly that would be relevant to your readers. List them, and give a snippet of information about each.
- Answer Reader Comments or Questions: Not only is this a great way to get a new blog post out there, it also builds trust and camaraderie with your customers. People love to feel that their comments have been noticed, or that their opinions are valued.
Keep in mind that an effective blog post need not be long. A well-written and relevant post of 400 or 500 words, once or twice a week, is all you need in order to hook readers and give them a reason to return to your site.
Increase Blogging Traffic
All of the ways listed above are solid ideas for a blog post, but how can having a blog help you to increase your traffic? Here are a few ideas:
- Host a Giveaway: People love to get something for free. You can either do a sponsored giveaway, where you pair up with a manufacturer or another blogger to donate a product they donate, or you can purchase the prize yourself. Either way, you can give readers several ways to enter. The first can be as simple as leaving a comment on the blog post. Then, give ways to gain additional entries, by sharing your blog post on their Facebook page or Tweeting about it. Have readers leave separate comments for each entry with a link to where they shared your post so you can verify. You can use a random number generator to select a winner, and every entry will be a way of getting your website in front of new customers.
- Use Keywords: Once you have written a blog post, pick out a keyword that you believe is representative of what you have written and will draw readers to your site. Make sure to then use the keyword in your headline, in the first few sentences, in the labels of any pictures you include, and in your tags. Keyword concentration is part of how Google ranks pages in its search results, so be consistent with this.
- Include Outgoing and Internal Links: Google’s algorithms like to see outgoing links on a page, so just including them may help increase traffic. In addition, if the administrator of the page you link to notices incoming traffic from your site, he may link back to your site as well.
- Add Social Sharing Buttons: Why not make it easy for your readers to share your blog with their social media contacts? It’s simple to imbed share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and other sites on your website, so put the buttons at the bottom of each blog post and encourage readers to share.
- Write Descriptive Titles: Let’s face it, often a creative and intriguing title can make the difference in attracting a reader’s attention. With so much content competing for our attention online, you have to do everything you can to get readers to click on your link. In intriguing title that promises interesting content can lead directly to more clicks.
- Include Helpful Photos: Blogs with photographs appeal to more readers than plain text. There are lots of websites where you can find royalty-free photographs to use with attribution, or if you don’t mind paying a small fee, you can do that as well. Make sure if you do use photos that you include your keyword in the tag on the photograph, because that will help to boost your standing in the search results, as well.
Guest Blogging Overview
One very popular way to drive traffic to your blog is to do a Guest Blog on someone else’s blog. Many bloggers welcome guest posts, and even those who haven’t done so previously may be willing to consider it if you ask. How can you find opportunities to guest blog?
If you build up authority yourself and make a name for yourself, the first thing you want to do is research high-traffic, high-authority websites where posting your articles would make sense. Instead of trying to find a small blog, see if a website like Forbes or Huffington Post will accept your post, or look for large websites in your niche.
Smaller Blogs In Your Niche
Guest blogging only makes sense if your post is going to be featured on a blog that will appeal to your readers, too. Familiarize yourself with other bloggers in your niche. Read their posts regularly, comment thoughtfully on them, and pay attention to the kind of engagement their posts elicit from readers. If you see that their blog posts are receiving lots of comments and interest from readers, guest blogging might be a good idea. You can either suggest a swap (meaning that the other blogger will guest on your blog as well) or – if you see that the blogger in question regularly accepts guest posts – simply ask if they’d be willing to consider a guest post from you.
Guest Blogging Website Page
Put up a blog post letting readers know that you are open to guest-blogging opportunities. Chances are at least some of your readers are also blogging on your niche – after all, you’re reading their blogs, too – and they may contact you if you let them know that you’re open to the possibilities.
Use Guest Blogging Forums
If you want to save yourself some time, consider checking out some of the sites that are specifically geared toward helping bloggers find guest opportunities. My Guest Blog is a site that connects bloggers with one another. Once you create an account you can go to the Welcome Forum to introduce yourself, and then there are special forums to help you find other bloggers or guest posting opportunities. Another site that may be helpful is Guestr. Members’ blogs are listed by category, making it easy to find other bloggers in your niche.
Blogroll Link Swaps
One final, low-key way to use your blog to generate traffic is to use your blogroll. A blogroll is simply a list of blogs that you read – you have probably seen them on other blogs, even if you do not have one yourself. Before suggesting a swap, make sure you have a blogroll of your own. Don’t hold back on listing a blog there, even if you think the other blogger is someone you might contact for a swap. Sometimes, if a blogger looks at her statistics and sees multiple guests coming in from your site, she might ad you to her blogroll without you having to ask. You will most likely know if you have been added to someone’s blogroll because you will see that you have received some traffic from the link.
Once you have created your blog roll, reach out to other bloggers in your niche and see if they might be willing to add your blog to their blogroll. Getting included on a blogroll for a large and popular blog in your niche can give a significant boost to your traffic immediately. Don’t forget to also leave thoughtful comments occasionally on any blogs that include you in their blogroll. Comments can often generate a few clicks on their own, and someone who sees your blog’s URL in the comments and then sees it on the blogroll may be more likely to visit your site.
With any of the advice regarding blogging, the important thing is to be consistent. Make sure that you are producing entertaining and useful new content on a regular basis. Respond to readers’ comments and questions when appropriate, and make yourself a well-known presence on other blogs and websites in your niche.
Organic Social Media Marketing Overview
As we discussed earlier, advertising on social media can be a very effective way to increase traffic to your website. However, the wonderful thing about social media is that there are plenty of ways you can use it to boost your traffic for free. The important thing is to remember that each social media platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. Before we discuss the specific ways you can use social media to get new customers, let’s talk about each form of social media and what it can do for you.
Social Media Channels
- Facebook: There are a lot of social media options now, but Facebook is still by far the largest site, with over 1 billion unique monthly users. Facebook lends itself to all different kinds of promotion because you can share text, photos and videos.
- Twitter: With its 140 character limit, Twitter lends itself to quick promotions and sharing links, and you can also share photographs.
- YouTube: YouTube is all about video and visual content.
- LinkedIn: If you are looking to pair up with other entrepreneurs and look for cross-marketing opportunities, Linked In is the best place to make those connections.
- Pinterest: This online scrapbooking site is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms and can be a wonderful marketing tool. If you have a product that lends itself to effective photographic presentations, creating Pinterest boards can be a great way to get the word out about your product.
- Instagram: Like Pinterest, Instagram’s main purpose is to allow users to share photographs. However, you can also share links to your site or to a blog post.
- Google+: No one knows the long-term future of Google+ but for now it’s worth sharing your posts there since it’s a Google-owned property and it certainly won’t hurt your search engine rankings.
Now, let’s talk about the specific ways you can use social media to increase traffic to your website.
Building and Engaging an Audience
Create Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter pages for your company. Once you have created the page, it’s important to keep it active and interesting, just as you do with your blog. Below are some ways to use your social media accounts to share content.
Interact Regularly and Authentically
You do not have to respond to every comment you get, but customers want you to care about their thoughts and opinions. They want to feel valued. This is especially important for Millennials (adults from age 18-32) who will soon be the biggest demographic on the planet. Personal connection with the companies they buy from is a priority for them. Monitor the comments of things you post to make sure that you are responding to questions and comments. Even negative comments or experiences are opportunities. If someone comments and complains about a product or experience, seize the chance to turn their experience around. You’ll have an audience watching to see how you deal with the challenge, and if you are calm, helpful and proactive you can not only turn your customer’s experience around, you may actually attract new customers because of how you handled the situation.
Don’t Just Focus On Sales
While it may be tempting to give your strongest sales pitch every time you post new content, resist that urge and focus on providing your followers with entertaining and useful content that they will want to share with their friends and followers. It’s certainly a good idea to share blog posts and information about your products or services, just make sure to do it in a way that makes your customers feel valued and not harassed. They will be much more likely to respond to a call to action that you put out after they have become accustomed to seeing quality content from you.
Monitor Online Reviews and Feedback
If your company is listed on peer-review sites like Yelp, make sure that you or someone who works for you is monitoring those sites and responding to customers. Peer reviews are very important to customers, much more so now than reviews in the traditional media. As is the case with comments on Facebook or Twitter, even a negative comment or review is an opportunity for you to show that you care about your customers and want them to have a good experience with you and your product.
Facebook, in particular, lends itself to storytelling. People love to hear stories, and it can be a hugely effective marketing tool to attach emotion to a customer review. Facebook allows you to present a story using a combination of text, photographs, links and video. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it. Think about ways you can illustrate the efficacy or value of your product, and have fun. Customers are much more likely to engage with a compelling story than they are with a dry sales pitch, or a recitation of statistics.
There’s a fine balance between providing fresh content on a regular basis, and spamming your followers. It’s important to make sure that your page or feed doesn’t look stale, but at the same time, if you post too frequently your fans may start to regard you as a nuisance. Think about where that line would be for you, and then don’t cross it.
Repurpose and Share Other Content
Sharing your blog posts or other content on social media is a surefire way to boost traffic to your site. It’s natural to want to maximize your traffic, so the temptation to re-share the same blog post over and over again may be strong. One way to get around this is to make a sharing schedule and stick to it. Each time you share the same content, vary it a little bit. Pull a different quote from the blog post you are sharing, or ask a question that you promise to answer within the post. This will keep the content from looking stale to people who have already seen it.
Utilize Analytics and Insights
Look at each post or Tweet or photograph you share and see what kind of response you are getting. If you find that photographs are getting a much larger response than text, it might be that you need to revisit your text and make it more compelling. If your soft (meaning, non-sales) content is consistently outperforming your sales posts, perhaps your pitch is too aggressive and you need to dial it back. Pay attention to how each post affects your traffic, and also look at things such as Likes, Shares, and ReTweets to get an idea of which content is truly resonating with your customers.
If you’re not comfortable with a video camera, it might be uncomfortable for you to think about creating a video. Think about how many times in the recent past you have shared a funny or clever video that you found online. Chances are at least some of those have been marketing pitches for companies. If you are comfortable creating a script and filming the video yourself, you can save some money. But don’t be afraid to hire someone to write a funny script and film it for you.
There are many other ways in which you can use social media to increase your traffic. Don’t be afraid to experiment. The most important thing to remember is that your emphasis should on the “social” in social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are meant to be fun – so have fun with them. Create great content, engage your followers, and watch your traffic increase.
Email Marketing Overview
After talking about social media, perhaps the thought of email marketing seems outdated or quaint to you. Don’t be misled by the fact that email marketing has been around for longer than social media. It can be an extremely effective way of increasing traffic, and sales. In fact, a relevant email list can be a great way to actually cross-promote your social channels and building your brand.
How to Start an Email List
Simply put, the way to start an email list is to start collecting email addresses. If you are already doing that, then you have at least some addresses to start with. Even if you are collecting some, though, the important thing is to be offering value to your customer so they feel incentivized to give you their email address and join your list. Some people may not be willing to give you their address, but many of them will be – if you give them a reason to.
Email promotions have a fairly high conversion rate compared to other forms of advertising. Plus, for very little money you can maintain a list, create content, and build trust and loyalty with your customers.
Creating a Page To Collect Leads
Many times this is called a ‘squeeze page’ and it is the page your customers will land on when they first come to your website. It is this page you will use to squeeze the most valuable piece of information they have – their email address – from them. You could simply put up a form requesting an email address, but most customers will not give up that information unless you give them a compelling reason to do so. In other words, you need to offer them something of value in return for their address. Some examples are below.
- Tips on how to avoid common mistakes: People who come to your website for the first time are there because they are interested in your niche topic. Offer them some free information in return for their email address.
- A video: It doesn’t have to be long – but if you record a short video with advice or information about something related to your niche, you can grab email addresses and send them the video as a thank you.
- A webinar: Write three or four short articles, or record videos, explaining a certain aspect of something in your niche. You can space them out and send a new article every few days.
- A free eBook: A short and helpful eBook can be enough to get new people to give you their email in exchange for the book.
The value of collecting email addresses this way is that your customers will feel that they are getting something of value in return for their email address, making it more likely that they will fill our your form.
In terms of the form, keep it as simple as possible. It may be tempting to ask for information in addition to an email address, but keep in mind that even one additional field is doubling the number of fields your customer must complete. You don’t really need a first and last name, or other information in order to run an email list. Stick to the email address.
When you have a list of emails to start with, you need to make a plan that will enable you to follow up with your subscribers on a regular basis. You will of course want to immediately send them the freebie you promised the in return for their email address. It is also important to have a plan to follow up on a regular basis – and in a way that makes it likely that they will read your emails and respond to any offer, promotions or calls to action.
An autoresponder is an email that gets sent automatically at a specified time. The simplest example of an autoresponder are the “out of office” emails that you can set up on many email systems. When a message hits your inbox, the autoresponder sends back the message you have specified, letting the sender know that you are out of the office.
There are several websites that will allow you to set up and manage your autoresponders. One good source is GetResponse and another is MailChimp. Unless you are very technically savvy, you will probably find it easier to use a site that will do the programming for you. The one thing you will need to do is to provide the content for the autoresponders you want sent. Below are some things to remember in terms of the content.
- Keep it Conversational: The more engaging your email is, the more likely that your customer will keep reading, and possibly share it with friends and family.
- Focus on Your Customer: Just as you do when you are on Facebook, hold back on the hard sales pitch. Keep the focus on your customer and what you can do for him.
- Include a Call to Action: While it is important to keep the focus on your customer, you also want to make sure that she remembers your site and why she wants to visit it. Including the call to action is also vital because if your customer forwards your email, you want the people to whom she forwards it to be able to find you.
The key with autoresponders is to send them regularly but not too frequently. You do not want your emails to become a nuisance. In addition to your regularly scheduled autoresponders, you can also use your email list to send out coupons and special offers and promotions.
Working With Other Companies & Websites
We have already discussed several ways that you can pair up with other entrepreneurs to increase traffic: guest blogging, banner ad swaps, and networking on sites like LinkedIn. If you want to set your sights a little higher, though, there are other ways that you can use your business connections to increase traffic to your website – and sales, as well.
If you’ve been blogging and following other blogs in your niche, you already have a list of potential sources for the kinds of marketing discussed in this chapter. Before you approach anybody, make sure that you have as complete an understanding as possible of their product and their customers. There is no point in suggesting a collaboration if your products are not complementary.
Paying for Promotion
You can contact companies similar to your or large social media profiles to pay them to promote your business. It can be everything from a large company to a YouTube star. For example, if you are selling makeup, you might want to come up with a contract for YouTube users with large audiences who appeal to the makeup audience. They can advertise your product while using it and direct people to your website to buy your product. It’s a unique way to promote your business and many are already taking advantage of it.
Cross-marketing can be a very effective and inexpensive way to promote your site and your product. It can be similar to guest blogging, but instead of just putting a link to your blog at the end of a post that appears on someone else’s site, you and the person with whom you have partnered will each be actively promoting the other’s website.
There are various ways that you can cross-market. One example would be writing a blog post about your partner’s product or website. For example, if your website is geared toward healthy cooking and you sell cookbooks, you might pair up with another entrepreneur who sells cooking equipment of some kind, or a particular ingredient. You could even branch out further and cross-market with someone who markets workout videos or exercise equipment. The key here is to keep squarely focused on adding value for your customers. It is not going to help you to partner with someone who sells a product that is not related to your niche. You might pick up a few followers or sales purely by chance, but your goal here is to permanently increase traffic and gather faithful repeat customers.
The other thing to remember is that many of the traffic-increasing methods discussed in this book could be used for cross-marketing purposes. You could promote your colleague’s product on your social media accounts, write a review, or include a mention, review or testimonial in an email you send out to your email list. Put your head together with your colleague and see how creative you can get in terms of ways to take full advantage of the crossover potential of your products and websites.
Maybe, as you thought about ways to cross-market your product and website with other entrepreneurs, you also came up with an idea for a way that you could work together in a bigger way. One example might be forming a short- or long-term joint venture that could benefit both of you.
Customers love to feel that they are getting a bargain. You might consider forming a joint venture to offer both of your customers a discount if they purchase products from both of you. If your products are compatible in a way that allows for this, you might also consider setting up a new website for your joint venture. For example, if you sell equipment for white-water rafting and you pair up with someone who’s a rafting guide, you could set up a joint venture that offers customers a rafting trip along with all of the basic equipment they will need, for less than it would cost them to book a trip and buy the equipment separately.
As with the cross-marketing ideas, the key thing to consider before forming any joint venture is the value you will be offering to your customers. You will want to make sure that your partner is able to fulfill his end of the bargain in terms of customer service and quality, because anything he does will reflect on you, and vice versa. You should be prepared to volunteer any relevant information he requests, and to ask him whatever questions are necessary for you to feel confident that your customers will have a quality experience.
Driving traffic to your website is an important part of running a successful business, whether your company is online-only or you have a brick-and-mortar store. With the use of computers and mobile devices at higher levels than ever before, no business owner or entrepreneur can afford to ignore the power of the internet.
If you follow the guidelines laid out in this book, you will find that traffic to your website increases exponentially. You may have to experiment a bit to find the mix of techniques that works best for you. For people just starting out, it probably makes sense to choose some of the less-expensive options to increase traffic at first, and then build an audience using some of the higher-cost methods outlined here combined with the free options.
The great news is that even if you have a small budget, you can increase traffic to your site without spending a dime. If you want to save money, start by doing the tasks below.
- Write a blog and keep it fresh with new and entertaining content
- Comment on other blogs in your niche
- Write guest blogs
- Set up a Facebook page for your website and blog
- Start using Twitter
- Interact with customers on review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and TripAdvisor
- Collect email addresses
- Collect mobile numbers
- Remember to keep the “social” in social media and interact with your customers and fans in a friendly and helpful way
- Start a podcast
- Start a helpful YouTube channel
You don’t have to do all of the things above, but combining blogging with a podcast can be very successful for example. Find the mix that works best for you and a content development strategy that will ultimately grow your business.
On the flip side, if you do have money to spend on advertising, do your research to find out which options will be most effective. You have many options to choose from including:
- Social media advertising
- Google AdWords
- Bing Ads
- Remarketing ads
- Banner & Display ads
- Native ads
- Solo ads
- Email marketing lists
- Mobile marketing
It may take some time to land on the mix that drives in the most traffic. Be patient when you are starting out, and realize that you may need to tweak what you are doing depending on the results you get.
The main thing, at all times, is to keep the focus on your customer. Increasing traffic is about soft marketing techniques, not hard sales. You may be eager to push your customers to buy your product, but those tactics rarely work online. There are too many options available. Instead, take an easy-going approach and look at things like social media as opportunities to build customer trust and brand recognition. If customers and potential customers feel that you care about them, value their opinions and want to hear what they think, they are much more likely to turn into loyal, long-term customers who will recommend your product to others.
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