How to Increase Qualified Website Traffic

 In Autopilot

Two years ago I spent $8414.76 on content promotion to increase our website traffic. I used Outbrain, the marketing platform that helps you advertise on the web’s largest publisher sites like CNN, Time, and ESPN. You’ve seen the ads before.

outbrain

Our traffic numbers looked promising. Within two months, the top 5 articles brought in a total of 7,910 clicks. We increased traffic like we’d wanted.

The campaign was a success, right? No. Out of the 7,910 clicks we only got 3 free trial signups and none of them converted in paying customers. The increased traffic was a vanity metric that made us feel like we were successful, but didn’t actually lead to a return on investment—the traffic wasn’t qualified in the first place.

In this post, you’ll learn ten ways to get more traffic to your website. The tactics include:

1. Blogging regularly
2. Guest blogging
3. Partner marketing
4. Social media snippets
5. Sponsored social media updates
6. Content syndication and distribution
7. Influencer marketing
8. Sponsored email campaigns
9. Community forums and posting
10. Slideshare event content

As you read, focus on who you’d target with the tactic. Where does your most likely customer hang out? How can you tailor your marketing efforts to them? That’s the key to quality of traffic instead of quantity of traffic.

1. Blog often and enticingly

Blogging is an easy and free way to attract new readers, build your brand, establish domain expertise, build search authority with Google, and create a trove of shareable content for social media. Blogging also fuels the growth of your contact database, by providing great content that can be repurposed in emails to nurture leads into customers. Not to mention, your blog is often the first touchpoint in a customer’s journey as they get to know your brand or product, and is an opportunity to make a great first impression.

All of the above will grow your traffic by helping you get found by prospective buyers, partners, investors and media, as well as customers and employees. Posting as little as once per week can have a dramatic effect—as does publishing much higher volumes.

These proven best practices will help you win with blogging:

  • Inform, educate, and inspire: The single most important component to blogging is generating helpful and enticing content that contributes to a topic of broad interest and leaves your target audience clamoring and searching for more. Even if your post is the “perfect length,” has the right number of quotes or is structured for skimmers, it means nothing if the content doesn’t speak to your most likely customers.
  • Research your audience: Brainstorm and write “quick win” blog posts designed to attract target readers who have never heard of your company before, but are searching for specific keyword terms (e.g. “free personal finance software”). Speak to the trends, pains, interests, or reviews that will earn three minutes of their attention.
  • Write irresistibly clickable blog titles: Ask a provocative question, pique a reader’s curiosity, start the post with a number, refer to your audience, test different strategies (while avoiding spam trigger words like “FREE” and “$$$$”) to see what drives views.
  • Make the post search engine friendly: Define and place target keywords in your post along with mixed variations and synonyms of your keywords. There is not an ideal number of keyword mentions (or “keyword density”), but you want to place your keyword in your headline and several times, as is natural, in your body content.
  • Optimize your page title, URL, and meta description: Include your keyword in the URL web address, meta description, and title when you use a plugin like Yoast SEO for WordPress.
  • Start with one top-notch post a week: The way to cut through information overload is to write high-quality posts that provide tons of value. Your readers will reward you with higher levels of engagement and increased numbers of shares for creating remarkable content.
  • Don’t have a blog or content writers? Consider services like Scripted, where you can outsource blog writing on a per-post basis.

Pro Tip: Run through an editing checklist before publishing to make sure your post is something you’d be proud to put your name on. Ask questions like: Is it scannable? Did you provide insightful or interesting information? Would you bookmark this article?

blog image copy 2

To learn more, check out this in-depth article on how to grow your business with blogging.

2. Guest post for popular bloggers in your industry

A guest blog post is an article you write for someone else’s blog.

Guest blogging increases your website traffic by getting your company in front of another company’s audience. In fact, Moz says “Guest blogging is, indeed, one of the powerful ways of building strong, high-quality relationships that may help you in multiple ways, including developing business opportunities and professional connections, setting brand value and, of course, acquisition of link juice.”

To implement guest blogging in your own business, follow this simple four-step process:

First, identify blogs to pitch. Aim for bloggers who are not direct competitors, have an audience that fits your target audiences, are open to guest blog posts, and make sense for you to pitch based on your audience sizes. Here’s the real emails I send to win guest bloggers.

Second, send a pitch with specific post ideas. Use their blog “contact” page or send them an email on LinkedIn, to intrigue them with specific post ideas. They are looking for posts that are relevant and helpful to their audience. Spend some time reading their blog to get an idea of posts you could write.

Third, write a remarkable post with a call-to-action at the end. Bloggers want guest posts for their target audience that are well-written, scannable, need zero editing, and are ready to copy and paste into their CMS with zero work on their part. If you can do these things, bloggers will love you and look forward to you guest posting again.

Fourth, include a call-to-action at the end of your post. Link readers to an opt-in offer to sign up for your newsletter or download something valuable in exchange for their email.

Then rinse and repeat with others bloggers in your space.

3. Partner marketing

Double your impact by co-marketing with a partner who serves similar customer demographics and is committed to making your campaign successful. Activities often include:

  • Co-webinars
  • Co-sponsored emails
  • Social media banter between companies
  • Sales promotions
  • Co-sponsored product launches and/or press commentary
  • Happy Hours, Lunch and Learns, group training, or other events with respective teams
  • Trade show or conference co-sponsorships, including post-event networking events, booth staffing, and pre/post promotion
  • Website or in-product mentions of one another’s brands or services

To run a successful partner promotion, keep these things in mind:

  • Good partnerships mean both parties are successful. Seems obvious, but many partnerships lose their way when one side fails to live up to their end of the deal.
  • Be targeted and mission-oriented by working with partners with whom you already share a meaningful number of joint customers or prospects.
  • Involve a joint customer in your webinar, interviews, or content creation. Doing so keeps you focused on delivering value, and helps define interesting content.
  • Don’t over-commit. Your best results will come from great campaign execution with one good partner, rather than trying to pull off five big-name yet mediocre partner campaigns.
  • Have skin in the game by considering purchasing one another’s products, by setting mutually agreed goals or targets, and by agreeing to set deliverables and timeframes.
  • Avoid being labeled as a spammer by notifying your audience when they opt-in to a partner promotion that they will be contacted by a partner.
  • Figure out the plan with new leads from the promotion. Be clear about who gets what leads, and when those leads will be shared.

Similar to guest blogging, a partner promotion exposes both companies to new audiences and multiplies the leads and sales generated by both parties. Done well, it’s a win-win.

4. Social media snippets

Are you suffering from “set it and forget it” syndrome, or not being effective in how you are reusing your hard-earned (and well-liked) content? This is when you publish a piece of content—say a blog post, and instead of promoting it over and over again to maximize coverage, your post is linked to once and forgotten.

A better approach is to copy quotable quotes or passages from your posts, then share these “snippets” in a thorough, pre-scheduled manner, for example using Buffer, Hootsuite, or Edgar. To show what this looks like, let’s come up with a variety of snippets for a post called “The Secret Life of Sommeliers” using six proven strategies:

  • Test different headlines: “A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Sommelier’s Life”
  • Pull statistics from the post: “88% of sommeliers grew up on a farm, learn more in this post”
  • Pull “Tweetables,” i.e. really good quotes: “My great grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents are sommeliers, I knew it was the life for me.”
  • Write different post descriptions: “Take a peek at Arthur’s life, one of the wine connoisseurs of Red Fields in Napa”
  • Ask different questions: “Ever wondered what a sommelier’s life is like?”
  • Mention different influencers the post includes: “Learn from Bob Goff, grandfather of wine country, as he shares from his decades of experience tasting fine wines.”

Pro Tip: To optimize this process, you could hire a copywriter to write 20+ snippets for each blog post and then schedule them into your social media queue.

5. Sponsored social media updates

Facebook has 1.5 billion active users, Twitter has 236 million, and LinkedIn has 364 million. There are potentially millions of potential customers hidden amongst these fan bases if you target the right, qualified leads.

Sponsored social media updates are a targeted and cost-efficient way to reach these groups of people. Disguised to look like ordinary posts, sponsored updates show up in a person’s content feed amongst updates from friends, colleagues, and other businesses. Choose the social networks where your potential customers pay attention. As an example, a wine company looking to grow their contact database would be better off sponsoring posts on Twitter or Facebook, targeting wine bloggers, instead of targeting LinkedIn members.

6. Content syndication and offsite SEO

Wouldn’t it be nice to not only get traffic to your lead magnets, but also to attract quality backlinks too? Backlinks are links to your website from third-party sites. Because these programmatically “lend” their own domain authority to yours when referring to your site, backlinks can become a major driver of offsite search engine optimization (SEO).

Securing quality backlinks is not only valuable because it builds domain authority (DA). It also increases your chances of ranking higher in search engine results. The more links you have, the more chances you have to appear multiple times on the front page.

To accomplish this, syndicate your content using third-party services like Scoop.it, which is a content curation platform where users collect their favorite content from across the web and publish it in a magazine-like format similar to Flipboard. Or, use a paid social boosting targeted at segments you think are most likely to convert. These third-party services can amplify the reach of your content and draw people back to your website.

7. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is where you leverage relationships with customers, marketers or partners to share your content. You can raise awareness, engage other customers, or increase confidence and certainty. This could be through their social media channels, email newsletters, on their blog, or in conference speeches. Ideally, you already have relationships with influencers in your space who will advocate for you naturally and organically.

If not, a simple strategy is to tweet quotes from influencers, like so…

seth godin quote 690px width 01

The hope is these influencers with large social followings will retweet it and then their followers will see it and possibly retweet it to.

8. Sponsored email campaigns

Marketing in partnership with online publications is one effective way to expand your marketing reach outside of your existing contact database and gain exposure for your business. By working with a sponsor, you leverage their established community, marketing resources, and industry expertise to promote your own brand.

To maximize your sponsored email campaign, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Select the right promotional partner. Important factors to consider are site traffic volume, community engagement, and which programs best fit your budget, target personas and available resources.
  • Determine your offer. Take an “educate now, sell later” approach where you offer an ebook or whitepaper in exchange for contact information. You could also try other creative ideas like special offers, a webinar invitation, case study, video, or infographic. Your high-level goal is to drive the recipient into your contact database and take them into a nurture flow.
  • Craft your messaging. Your objective is to quickly show value and get the audience to click through to your landing page. Best practice is to focus on a single, primary call-to-action. Too many offers or opportunities for the reader to click can be confusing.
  • Create a targeted landing page. Message match your email copy to your landing page copy and include one focused call-to-action to drive conversions.
  • Measure your results. You can expect a third-party send to perform half as well as your in-house list, since you are dealing with the challenge of an unknown list and an audience that hasn’t necessarily opted-in to your content.

A good idea is to conduct a post-mortem on the campaign: collect the quantitative data you have available (conversion rates, total spend, number of leads, opportunities and deals) as well as qualitative data from your lead qualification and sales reps. Analyze the campaign’s performance by evaluating the quality of the leads and comparing the lead acquisition cost and average annual customer value with your other channels. Then decide…do it again?

9. Community forums and postings

Another trick to maximizing the value of your newly-created content, is to submit your top-performing content to community forums. Forum websites are typically half social network, half news site, and a source of entertainment for new readers. Registered members submit content, such as articles, images and/or original posts. Think of them as online bulletin boards. A few of the most popular ones include: Quora, Growthhackers.com, HackerNews and Reddit.

These websites are so valuable to your distribution strategy because they receive a lot of traffic from very dedicated, niche audience segments. The same rule of thumb applies: go to the forums where your potential customers are.

Pro Tip: If you want to get to the front page (and above the fold) on your first shot, then reach out to a moderator. Ask them to review your piece of content before you submit it then they’ll be much more keen to boost your article once you do submit it.

10. Slideshare content from events

Forbes coined Slideshare as “The Quiet Giant” of content marketing. Did you know it receives 60 million monthly visitors and is one of the top 200 websites in the world? Slideshare is the go-to spot to post your slide decks and presentations to reach an audience looking to learn.

You can take a 1-2 punch approach by publishing your presentation on Slideshare’s platform and embedding it in a post on your company blog. As an example, you could republish the slide deck from your most recent webinar or consistently create original decks for Slideshare if your audience is made up of die-hard slide presentation lovers.

Here are a few best practices to give you a jumpstart:

  • Show, don’t tell. Your slides should not look like a text document, but instead be driven by powerful imagery and concise messaging.
  • Stick to a 30-point font size (hat tip, Guy Kawasaki) to make your slides digestible.
  • Tackle a big picture problem your audience has and a provide a solution through a methodology or innovative approach.
  • Use a clear call-to-action to drive traffic back to the lead magnets on your website.

Slideshare is a powerful channel to publish content that increase brand awareness, helps out your customers, and grows your contact database.

Wrapping it all up

As we have covered above, there are many ways to increase website traffic. Start with the tactic that makes the most sense for your business with your available resources, focus on executing that well, track your performance, and then decide what to tackle next…all with a focus on quality traffic, not quantity of traffic.

Want to learn more? Here are little-known tactics to drive traffic to your website.

This post was originally published on Autopilot

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