Getting traffic back your shiny, newly-built website is a challenge. That’s OK though! We’ve put together the ULTIMATE resource in acquiring visitors and sales. Part 1 of our epic guide!
You’ve slaved and laboured over your website, built it up from scratch and torn your hair out a million times because you missed a ‘/’ symbol somewhere. It was a labour of love, and now it’s all done. So, now what? One of the most common questions we get on completion of the course is, “How do I get visitors to my website?” Usually, this look is accompanied by the look of dawning horror as the person realises the work has only just begun.
Getting traffic to a freshly built website is always a challenge. The expectation is there is a prescribed process or formula in place, so the last answer people want to hear is, ‘it depends’.
But it does.
Often it comes down to your niche, what you want people to do on your website, and whether you have budget to spend.
There’s also the fact getting traffic back to your website is not enough. If traffic was all that mattered, all you need are some spambots. What you need are customers, that is, visitors that will buy what you’re selling. Even if you run a lifestyle blog that isn’t explicitly selling anything, you need to have high-quality traffic you can leverage off, so when it does come to monetisation, you have the audience to work with.
We call getting that initial demand ‘traction’.
The good news however! There are a lot of ways to get traffic to your site and gain traction. In fact, according to author of Traction, Gabriel Weinberg, there are 19 ways to do it.
You’ll have heard of most, if not all of these channels. The best thing about this particular list is that most, if not all of these, could work for your business! So whether you’ve been running your business for a while, or you’ve just launched, this is a great way to see what opportunities exist.
So here are 19 channels you can use to bring traffic to your website and acquire new customers.
Everyone knows viral marketing. It’s the videos of silly cats, Vine videos, and crazy stunts pulled off by Red Bull. The spread of viral content makes it often a no-brainer. This has led to the phrase, ‘all we need to do is make a video that goes viral’.
However, it’s not as easy as that. We usually define ‘viral’ as something that spreads exponentially due to a high share rate. However, despite what some experts will purport, there is no reliable formula to reproducing virality, and therefore, should not be relied upon as a marketing channel. In other words, you can’t just make something go viral, unless you have big bank.
Yet sharing via social media forms the backbone of viral marketing, and this is something you should encourage. There are certain tools, such as Kick Off Labs and https://gleam.io/, that encourage visitors to take certain actions in exchange for small rewards. While this isn’t necessarily organic, it can be an effective strategy to help you meet other marketing targets, such as building an email list.
Viral marketing also often speaks of unconventional, guerrilla campaigns. For example, false flags videos that show a news segment, but in reality, is an ad for an upcoming movie. You could consider this as just clever content marketing (see content marketing).
A third way to look at viral marketing is baking a sharing mechanism into your product, and making it a core part of your offering. Uber, Dropbox and Airbnb have done this extremely well by encouraging users to invite their friends onto the platform, with benefits for both parties. The key is to build sharing into your product early on, so your business can grow around it.
One thing to keep in mind about viral marketing is the best campaigns are steeped in marketing research. You need to be finding out how users currently consume the industry, where they normally hang out, and how they interact with existing products. Viral marketing needs to fit right in with these, while enhancing users’ emotional connection with your brand and their experience in this industry.
Public Relations is all about trying to get other to talk about you. It’s a great, traditional way to establish and increase your brand awareness.
Speaking of PR often brings to mind the image of a PR agent in a chintzy suit, rubbing shoulders with journalists. But in reality, especially for a new business, PR agents can be very expensive, and the results hit-and-miss.
It’s recommended therefore, to do things yourself in the beginning. To get your foot in the door, it all starts with producing good content (see below), and building relationships via platforms such as Twitter. A great tool we can recommend is justreachout.io, which helps you find journalists who have written about a certain topic recently.
Building good PR is just like making good friends. You don’t usually meet someone and ask them for a favour straight away. Make sure you nurture the relationship by doing them favours (on your own initiative), sharing their content, and just striking up conversation with them. When the time comes, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. It’s important to keep in mind journalists too need to good stories (like yours!) to tell.
Unconventional PR is getting people to talk about you - in unconventional ways. Think publicity stunts.
We’re definitely not asking you to graffiti the Sydney Opera House however. A great example of unconvential PR is Blendtec’s ‘Will it blend?’ series on Youtube. What seemed like silly videos where people put random objects into a blender, were actually cleverly disguised advertisements for a their blender. These videos became popular, until publications started to write about them.
Unconventional PR ties in with viral marketing. It’s a dash of creativity mixed in with marketing research. In the case of blenders, one of the most common questions consumers might ask is, ‘How strong is your blender?’. If you can come up with novel ways to produce content around what people are asking questions about, then you might be onto a winner.
Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to the ads placed in search results (think the sponsored Google results). SEM is a great traction channel, especially if people are actively searching for what you’re selling. By placing your ads exactly where people are searching ensures you’re getting visited by people who looking for businesses just like yours.
However, you may have heard SEM ads are expensive, and this can be true. Because of how successful SEM could be, some keywords can be quite competitive, and competition drives up the price. The key to doing well here is to target ‘long tail keywords’ - longer, more specific phrases. For example, a long tail keyword is: ‘buy brown leather women’s boots Melbourne’, rather than ‘women’s boots’. Long-tail keywords show user intent, as the user has narrowed down what they’re looking for. As a result, they’re more likely to convert.
Social & Display Ads
Social and Display ads are the ads you get in your Facebook feed, and in the banners on the websites you visit. Display ads are relatively cheap (compared to SEM and other paid advertising methods), and if targeted correctly, can be quite effective.
Usually, display advertisements are shown to designated audiences, i.e. people who have displayed some type of interest in what you’re targeting. Where display ads really shine however, is retargeting, where you show ads to people who have already visited your website. Dynamic retargeting is often also available, where you show ads based on the specific products visitors show interest in.
The great thing about social and display ads is they’re channel is scalable. If you’re getting a certain result with a certain budget, increasing budget would often mean an increase in results. That means you can often start on a small budget, and increase if you see results.
Billboards, flyers and posters. Offline ads are your old school type of advertisements. Contrary to what some people might have you believe, can still be efficient. Local businesses, such as cafes, can still find a lot of value in providing vouchers to neighbouring suburbs. Similarly, sticking up flyers before a show at the venue can serve as a ‘Recommended Similar Events’ function to patrons. Billboards and larger, less hyperlocal efforts are reserved for brands that already have large brand awareness (and usually the budget to back it up).
The one thing to remember is implementing ways to track how effective your offline efforts have been. A popular way to do so is to use a discount code people quote when making a purchase. This code will then show you how many people have come to you as a result of something they saw.
Search Engine Optimisation is the art of getting your website to rank high organically on search engine results. We say ‘art’, because SEO is a multi-faceted and complicated endeavour.
On the technical side, there are many of the simple things you can do as a web developer. Several things to keep in mind are:
- Optimise your images
- Fill in your meta and alt tags
- Reduce 404 errors or otherwise buggy pages
- Website is mobile responsive
Good search engines, such as Google, want their users to generally have a good time on your website, so it’s all about making sure when people click through to your website, they have a good experience
Otherwise, a huge component of ranking organically is content, and building links. Google wants to show people websites that are valuable and authoritative. When another website shares and links to content on your website, it’s endorsing your website. We call this link a ‘backlink’. The more backlinks a website has from other trusted websites, the more trustworthy Google sees your page as, and the higher you’re likely to rank.
The reality is however, SEO takes time. Age of a website plays a factor - the longer a website has been around, the likelier it’ll fare better. Content and backlinks also take time as well to build.
One last thing: a lot of people believe SEO is for free because it’s organic, and therefore, place it high on the priorities list. However, to do SEO well, you’ll likely have to invest in relatively expensive tools which help you search for keywords and analyse competitors (we recommend Moz). Also, it’s likely you’ll need to hire someone to do it for you professionally. While SEO is great, don’t operate under the assumption you won’t need to spend a cent to get up there.
One of the pillars of drawing visitors to your website is by providing visitors with value. Nothing does so better than content marketing, which is why it has been dubbed ‘the king’.
By producing and publishing good content such as videos and blogs on your social media and website, you’re not only drawing visitors to your website, but also building trust between them. While they may not be purchasing anything on the spot, data shows ~ the more someone visits a website, the higher the likelihood of them converting into a paying customer.
The key is to actively build trust. That means no hard selling through your content, rather, aim to educate and entertain.
Content is also great at supporting your other channels, such as SEO - you build backlinks almost exclusively through your content efforts, and Google likes websites packed full of good information.
Content, similar to SEO, is playing the long game. It often takes a while for your efforts to pay dividends, but companies that persevere will reap the benefits.
For many businesses, the email list is one of the most valuable assets, and building one should always be a new business’s first priority.
Many people turn away from email marketing as they see it as spammy. Email campaigns reign as one of the most highest converting marketing channels, with a purported 3800% ROI.
It’s also important to note customers who are in your email list have already given you their details. This in itself, is an investment in your business and a display of trust. Having this touchpoint means they are interested in what you have to say, and are far more likely to purchase further down the track.
Like content marketing, an email list is great support for all your other channels as well. For example, social media and display ads allow you to input email lists as a target audience, which means you’ll be only targeting warm prospects.
To manage your email list, you’ll need a CRM or email handling service. Here at IOC, we use Mailerlite - it’s cost-effective, and has advanced automation features you usually only see on high-end services.
To build an email list, you’ll most likely need a website first. It’s your job to build that email list as fast as possible with any and all new traffic coming to your site to make the most out of this channel.
Engineering as Marketing
If you have a talented engineering team (or you yourself can get down with some coding), it’s possible to build tools or simple platforms that visitors can use. These tools will push visitors towards your website. Examples include simple calculators people can use to determine how much they can save by using your product, chatbots that dispense canned advice based on user interaction, or even fitting services for fashion sites.
These tools are often called ‘lead magnets’, as they provide a lot of attractive value, and encourage users to leave behind their email addresses in exchange for using the tool. Like content, they’re great at establishing trust and your expertise in your niche.
You don’t necessarily need an engineer to put something together - in many cases, all it requires is a dash of resourcefulness. Typeform for example, is a great way to build a simple survey that produces advice based on the user’s input. After using the lead magnet, it is up to you with how you draw people to your site!
Target Market Blogs
Writing for other websites in your niche is a great way to get in front of that website’s current audience. In launching your website, chances are you’ll be joining leagues of other blogs and publications in the same industry. A few of these websites, particularly ones with established amounts of content, will allow you to contribute.
This is a not an opportunity to shamelessly plug your services and products! Websites that regularly receive guest posts will often have many guidelines, including writing style and content type. Most, if not all, have strict rules around promotional content. The thing to remember is good blogs only stay good if they’re valuable. When you’re pitching topics, always try for something that’s informative that readers can learn from.
But what’s in it for you, and how do you generate traffic from that? Most websites will allow you to include a biography underneath the post, with a link back to your website. Having that one backlink can be invaluable; it’s great for your SEO (see SEO section), and you’ll be leveraging off a website that’s already found their audience - an audience which might readily share content from a site they trust. Having a few of these links, especially in websites with a high domain authority, can work wonders.
Finding blogs that will accept guest posts might take a bit of simple Googling - a good place to start is searching ‘[Your niche] guest posting’. Some blogs, such as those in professional fields such as digital marketing, will only accept guest posts if you have a track record of guest posting for others, so try aiming for smaller websites first.
One important thing to remember is duplicate content is bad for everyone, so make sure you’re pitching and writing content that is genuinely unique.
Business Development is striking up strategic partnerships with other businesses. It could be promoting each others’ products, sharing ad space, or packaged deals. The partnership is one that is mutually beneficial, without major costs on both parties.
The best partnerships are with companies that do not compete with you, but you users also use, and provide additional value to your customers. This just comes down to a bit research and observation. A cool way to get started is going on Facebook and searching ‘Pages liked by people who like my page’. While this usually leads to massive, established pages and companies, it might give you some ideas about how some people interact with your niche.
Sales is the old-school, direct selling approach. This approach will usually work best if your business is B2B, i.e. selling to other businesses.
Usually, sales implies picking up the phone and calling prospects up. However, this isn’t usually a scalable way of doing things, especially if you’re making cold calls. Sales as a traction method is usually stronger if used in tandem with other channels. For example, you might use advertising to find people who have never heard of you before. From there, you nurture these cold prospects with emails until they become warm leads, which is where you might pick up the phone and call them to seal the deal.
On a side note, it’s important not to get sales confused with marketing. If your first port-of-call is sales, or you find you’re relying on hard-sales, high-pressure tactics, then chances are your product doesn’t quite fit the market. While you might be getting sales on the spot, you aren’t doing much for general user experience, possibly leading to higher rates of post-purchase dissonance and user churn.
Affiliate programs are where you pay other companies or individuals for making a sale or bringing in a lead for you. This might be through endorsements or product listings on their own site.
Affiliate programs are big drivers of traffic to many e-commerce websites, including Amazon. Referral programs, such as those set up by Airbnb and Uber, would also fall into this category.
By flipping this model the other way, you can also use affiliate programs to draw traffic to your website, as well as make a little bit of startup cash. By writing reviews for products in your niche, you could potentially draw traffic to your website from people who are looking for information about these products.
Many successful products have used another platform to jumpstart their business. Games, such as Candy Crush (annoyingly) extensively used Facebook’s sharing mechanisms to bake viral sharing into their app.
However, there are ways to be less intrusive. The Apple and Android Play stores are of course, the obvious places to partner with if you’re launching an app. Other things to think about are using Youtube to post your videos, or blogging platforms such as Medium to post your articles, and drawing the existing audience back to your site.
Trade shows are another form of old-school, face-to-face marketing. However, they still can provide much value to businesses.
Many niches still run conferences and trade shows, where businesses are able to hire booths and show people what they do. As with all offline efforts, try to pair it with online analytics to measure your results. For instance, if you’re handing out flyers with your website (or a QR code people can scan), try to use shortened links (such as https://bitly.com/), where you can exactly measure how many people visited your website after receiving your brochure. It’s also handy to keep a tablet or laptop nearby, where people can leave their email addresses behind so you can contact them further.
Holding events is a great way to build brand awareness. For new businesses, it could be something as simple as holding a launch party. Another good idea is putting together a ‘try-it-before-you-buy-it’ event. For example, a company selling consulting services online could run a free in-person workshop, so people could get free value that sets the company up as a trustworthy authority. Another example is company selling goods online might host a physical pop-up store to attract a local audience.
The great thing about events is you’re able to meet your audience members and grab feedback from the on-the-spot. Even the most off-the-cuff remarks can lead to massive improvements to your business.
As with many other items on this list though, be careful of hard selling people. If people don’t like being hard-sold to on the internet, they like getting pressured in real life even less. The key is to provide heaps of value, whichever even format you choose.
If you’re starting a business, chances are, you’re good at what you do, and you know a lot about your topic. If you’re confident enough, finding a speaking engagement could be a good way to not only build your company’s brand, but also your personal brand (something that is often neglected!)
Community groups are often looking for experts like you to come and share your knowledge, whether it be for a panel talk, Q&A or workshop. If public talking on a stage is not your thing, then podcasts can be extremely popular as well.
When it comes to speaking engagements, try to bring some simple slides along. Not only are slides pretty useful for talks, you can also upload these slides via Slideshare, as well as a recording of the talk online, and use them as a form of content.
Can’t find anywhere to talk? Why not start your own series of events or podcasts? Sharing knowledge, inviting other guests and building a network is the offline equivalent of guest posting, and can be extremely effective for your business.
Humans are undeniably social creatures. We like our groups and communities, and thrive most when around them. That’s why building a community based around your niche is often a good idea. Forums, Meetups and Facebook groups are great for organic conversations and quietly establishing yourself as an expert in the field.
Listening in on conversations and establishing a place where like-minded people hang out is also a great way to gather content ideas. For example, if the same questions are repeatedly raised by members of the community, it might be a good idea to write a blog post about it. People outside your community might also be searching for answers to that question, so placing your answer at their fingertips is a great way to establish yourself.
The problem with many communities is they die over time. Communities take time to run, so make sure you are setting yourself time to really work on them.
That’s the 19 channels you can use to acquire traffic to your website and customers to your business.
“Whoa!”, you say, “That’s a big list! How do I possible tackle them all?
Well, you don’t! Keep tuned for part 2 of this guide, where we’ll talk through how to best work with these 19 channels, and how to make the most out of your resources.
Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to be the first to know when part 2 comes out!
Written by: Josh Li
Digital Marketer at Institute of Code