This post is the 2nd in my series and covers the topic “acquisition“—getting traffic to your website. In my previous post in this series, I talked about the importance of correcting any conversion problems you might be having before wasting time trying to acquire new or more traffic. Assuming you have done so and are ready to continue, let’s talk about “acquisition”.
Acquisition: Driving or acquiring traffic to your website.
Traffic to your website is basically going to come from 4 major sources:
Search—Google, Bing, Yahoo, MSN and others provide an excellent source of traffic for many websites. This type of traffic will be either be free (“Organic“) or paid (“PPC“). Getting highly ranked in the organic search engine results pages (“SERP“) depends upon whether or not your “score well” in the search engines’ algorithms, which attempt to determine whether or not your content is relevant to the user’s search query.
Social—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc.
Referring Sites—When someone visits your site by clicking a link or banner ad from another site or by clicking a link in an email*, this is known as a “referring site.” Building links from quality referring sites can also improve SERP as many search engines use this as one of the ways to measure the importance of your site (“PageRank“).
*Direct—These are the visitors who are demonstrating brand awareness by typing your website address into their browser… but direct traffic can also be any traffic that is not recognized as coming from search or from a referring site.
Content Marketing (“Inbound”) vs. Traditional Advertising (“Outbound”)
Blog posts such as this one, videos, whitepapers, infographics, case studies, etc. are examples of content or inbound marketing.
Content marketing is a process of creating search engine optimized content that is focused on teaching, communicating, entertaining, informing or otherwise providing value to customers or prospects. Visitors to your site from search or referring sites are generally “pre-qualifying” themselves as someone who is interested in the content you have created.
You can amplify your content marketing efforts by combining it with both email marketing and social media strategies to help further disseminate the information to your audience who are likely also interested as well as by providing social sharing tools so your visitors can share with their audiences.
Traditional advertising or outbound marketing refers to newspaper ads, fliers, brochures, cold calling, email blasts, billboards, tv commercials, direct mail, trade shows, etc. While these efforts can often reach a broader audience, they are harder to track, are generally costly and are becoming less and less effective.
Research conducted by HubSpot, “The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing,” offers a great deal of information and explanation about inbound vs. outbound and concludes that businesses who are the first to shift their approach from outbound to inbound are more likely to have an advantage over those who don’t.
Successful content marketing requires a content marketing plan and a social media strategy—a “plan.” Your plan is then used to determine what content you need to produce, where the content will be published, how the content will be promoted, etc. Your plan should include setting “SMART” goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) and it should be part of a larger overall marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute has some great “getting started” articles for those who need to learn more about content marketing.
“OK, I’m sold on content marketing, now how do I go about acquiring traffic to my website?”
- Research keywords and explore trends in your niche. There are many free and paid tools that you can use to do your research. Remember, it is more important to get the right kind of visitors to your website (people who are actually interested in your topic) rather than just getting “more” visitors.
- Focus your efforts on “the long tail” of search. In a nutshell, a top keyword such as “wrist watches” will not only be extremely competitive, it is also less likely to convert than someone who searches for “steel chronograph mens watch” who is later in the buyer’s journey. The long tail of search may contain millions or hundreds of millions of unique searches that, when taken together, comprise the majority of the search volume.
- FREQUENTLY update your website or blog with original quality content. This is really the most important step of all. Without a lot of original, quality content, you are very unlikely to be able to acquire any real amount of traffic. According to HubSpot, companies that blog at least 20 times per month generate 5x more traffic and 4x more leads than those who blog only a few times per month. Make it a goal to blog every day, Monday thru Friday, and you should have it covered.
- Optimize your content so the search engines can find it. You can learn a lot about SEO at Search Engine Land.
- Include forms to generate leads and gather email addresses for follow up and email newsletters. I recommend MailChimp’s Forever Free email program if you are just starting out.
- Include social sharing links, such as the Social Warfare Plugin (affiliate link).
- Setup social media channels and build your audience. Try to think outside of the “Facebook box” and include other platforms as well. I have found tremendous success for myself and the clients I manage using Google Plus.
- Build links from quality sites to yours—(if only it were that easy)—here is a good article from seomoz about attracting authority links. In the process of link building, remember that quality is more important than quantity. Tip: My business Pinterest account is showing up as an authority link for my business site as is my free listing on dmoz.org, one of my blogs on blogspot.com and a free site on wikidot.com.)
- Consider setting up PPC ad campaigns, especially if or until your site has achieved good results in SERP. Google Adwords and Bing Ads both offer PPC.
- Think of ways to reach OPA “Other People’s Audiences”. Research complementary blogs in your industry and become a guest blogger. Hopefully, you will be allowed to include a bio with a link to your site and possibly even reference content on your site within your blog.
- Submit your website to the top search engines and search directories.
- Include your website or blog URL on your email signature and link it from all of your social media sites.
Here is a list of 101 Ways to Drive Traffic to your Website for more ideas!
*Google Analytics is a terrific tool for tracking, measuring and analyzing your traffic; however, it is not perfect. Here is a very good list of inaccuracies and setup mistakes with Google Analytics – and kudos to +Andy Crestodina for not just pointing out the problems but for offering solutions as well!
The 3 Keys of Online Marketing
One you have nailed down both acquisition and conversion, you can move on to the 3rd key of The 3 Keys of Online Marketing :: Retention
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