Thoughts + News
Increasing Web Traffic – The Ultimate Guide
Imagine your online marketing as a funnel.
The bottom of that funnel is your goal: customers. The step before that could be email subscribers. And the step before that could be user engagement.
Regardless, each step in your funnel leads people to becoming loyal customers.
And at the very top of the funnel is traffic. Everything you do online starts with traffic.
But not just any traffic.
You need traffic that is going to buy from you and become loyal customers for years to come.
And that’s usually where people go wrong.
Not All Traffic is Created Equal
One of the most common online marketing mistakes is that people focus more on the quantity of traffic, instead of the quality.
For businesses using the internet to get customers, it doesn’t matter if you have 5,000 visits in one day or if your blog gets 100,000 visits each month.
If that traffic isn’t turning into leads, then you don’t want that type of traffic.
You want traffic that converts.
Which means you need to look deeper.
Your website traffic is actually made up of different marketing channels and mediums. So if you want better traffic that turns into customers, then you need to pick better marketing channels.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Great! Just give me those channels and I’ll be on my way.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
Because it all depends on your unique situation.
One tactic might work well for one person, while it’s a complete waste of time, money, and effort for another.
So how do you find good channels?
Here are 5 principles that will guide you.
Principle #1: The most effective tactics lose value over time.
You can exploit new traffic generation tactics for a short period of time… before they start to lose value.
For example, a year or two ago you could use Twitter Search to find out who was talking about your area of interest, and Tweet to them directly.
But then everyone started doing it, and it became spammy and less effective.
Years ago you could easily manipulate SEO and get free traffic from Google. But after a few tweaks to Google’s algorithm and the latest Penguin update, SEO has become much more difficult to master.
And you used to be able to build a business by loading up on cheap AdWords clicks. But now it’s too expensive. Unless you make high margins on each sale, it probably doesn’t make sense to use Google AdWords at all.
Marketing tactics have a brief window of opportunity.
Take Mashable’s article of 5 digital marketing trends that will die in 2017.
You’re probably already competing in these spaces and wasting valuable time and money.
And once your competition moves in, these outlets become too expensive to compete in.
Not only that, but what works well when you launch a new website, won’t work as well when you’re bigger.
So you have to constantly be on the look out for new, fresh ideas.
Principle #2: Experimentation is key.
The biggest problem with online marketing is that you won’t know what will work until you try it.
And the same goes for getting traffic.
Until you try a new tactic and give it a chance, you won’t know how it will pay off.
And as mentioned before, a tactic that you heard worked really well last year may not be as effective anymore.
The solution? Use arbitrage marketing to experiment.
You need to make a few little bets and evaluate their effectiveness.
Once you have a winner (or two), then you need to double down on these – while also cutting your losses on the losers.
Principle #3: Try to get traffic from diverse sources.
In the long run, every business needs to have a diverse set of traffic sources to consistently grow over time.
Sure, some channels will be responsible for the bulk of your traffic. But you can’t rely too heavily on any one, single tactic.
There are three main ways you get traffic online:
- Search: Organic search (SEO) traffic is high value because it’s consistent and based on intent. But it’s also hard to get. It takes time and expertise to build up the right factors, and the “rules of the game” are constantly changing.
- Referral: Referral traffic comes from other websites. Think of these as the communities around other blogs, social networks, etc. They provide great boosts of traffic, but taper off over time. It also takes weeks, months, and years to develop the relationships needed to generate substantial traffic from these sources.
- Paid: Paid traffic is both predictable and highly-targeted. But it costs money up front, and you need to know how to value each lead properly if you want a positive ROI.
In other words, each major source of traffic has their own unique risks.
So diversify your traffic channels like your personal investments.
If Google’s Penguin Update makes you lose half of your SEO traffic, then you need to figure out how the other two are going to replace it.
Or if you rely heavily on Google AdWords, but the price jumps 50% per click and becomes too expensive, then you need SEO and Referral traffic to make up for it.
A mix of traffic also gives you standards of comparison. So you’ll be able to tell what channels and tactics are working better than others.
If you’re only using one tactic to get traffic, leads and customers, then you really have no idea how well you’re doing.
You have no perspective.
But if you have a mix of sources, and are constantly experimenting with new ones, then you have data and insight to compare against. And you’ll be able to tell the winners from the losers.
Principle #4: Pick traffic channels based on the highest ROI
So you’ve experimented with a mix of new tactics. But how can you tell which ones are worth the time and effort?
Think about what it will cost you to scale each tactic.
Most people (and businesses) are either short on (1) time, or (2) money.
It can’t be both.
So when you’re looking at traffic tactics, figure out what works best for you.
For example, a lot of small businesses are afraid of wasting money on advertising. But that’s because they don’t understand it.
Advertising might be a better option if you’re short on time, because you don’t have to spend time managing it day-to-day. It will also give you immediate returns, where inbound marketing (Content + SEO + Social) takes months and years of effort before you start to see a return.
Now compare that cost to the value of the traffic it brings.
Not all traffic is created equal. Some of it will convert better than others.
And that leads us to the final point.
Principle #5: Prioritize the best performing channels over others.
You can get thousands of visits from Pinterest, but if 90% of it bounces, then it was a waste of time.
Which highlights the last important principle: you need to know how each traffic channel is converting, so you can compare that with it’s cost.
You’ll want to track the total (quantity of) conversions per source, and the performance (percentage) that each converts.
Your marketing time, effort, and investment should go towards these channels that are performing the best for you.
Sidenote: This becomes a problem when analyzing individual social networks. They don’t convert directly… rather they aid the conversion process indirectly and don’t show a high conversion rate (which is why it’s so hard to identify the ROI of social media). So be careful when you’re allocating resources – and not to underestimate the impact of your social media presence.
Bonus Principle: You have to go out and get traffic.
People believe that when they launch a new website, traffic will start pouring in immediately.
That’s not how it works.
In fact, it’s 100x more difficult to build traffic to a brand new site.
So you can’t just sit around and wait for it. You have to go out and get it.
You need to take consistent actions that will drive traffic from other places to your website.
How to Pick the Right Tactics for Your Business
You should now have a better understanding of how to generate high-quality traffic.
Now, let’s take a look at specific examples and try to match them with different types of businesses.
So no matter who you are, you should get several concrete examples and new ideas on how to get traffic that will turn into customers.
Check out Part 2: How to Pick the Best Online Marketing Channels for Your Business below:
How to Pick the Best Online Marketing Channels for Your Business
Not all traffic is created equal.
Some of it will become your loyal customers, and some of it will bounce forever.
If you want the kind that turns into loyal customers, then you need to pick better traffic channels.
But it’s not that easy…
Some channels and tactics might work great for one business, but not for others. Pinterest might work for some businesses, while it’s a complete waste of time for yours.
How do you know what channels will work best for your business?
Here’s a guide to help you pick the best online marketing channels for your business.
Organic Search (SEO)
Every business needs organic search (or SEO) traffic.
It’s one of the best sources because people are showing intent for your product, service, or information (so it converts at a higher percentage than most).
And it flows into your site consistently, growing exponentially over time (so you don’t get locked in a fixed ratio like advertising).
But there’s also a problem.
If you have a small, unestablished site, or are launching a new website, then you probably can’t go after the main keyphrases in your niche.
You’re probably too small, too new, and too inexperienced to compete and win the “money keyphrases”.
Pro Tip: How to Compare Your Website Against the Competition
- You need to compare your site’s “value” against the competition currently ranking for your specific keyphrases.
- Head over to OpenSiteExplorer.com, enter your domain URL and the URLs of the other top competition, and compare the overall “Domain Authority” for each site.
- If you’re close or bigger, than go for it! But if you’re not within a few points, then stick to a long-tail SEO strategy.
Big, popular keyphrases can be worth thousands and thousands of dollars to companies. So they’re going to invest huge sums of money into dominating those search engine result pages (SERPs).
So what’s the solution?
Instead of competing head-on, you should use a long tail SEO strategy.
- Go after less popular and less competitive keyphrases (typically 3-5 words)
- Create awesome content around these long-tail phrases
- Get high quality links back to these blog posts
Online advertising is a great option if you (a) can measure results properly, and (b) have more money than time.
There are a few different types of online advertising.
And there are different ways you can pay for it.
But they all depend on how your product or service is priced.
This is because when you’re doing online advertising, your cost to acquire each customer has to be less than the lifetime value of that customer.
So let’s take a look at some examples.
High Price & High Margin
You can afford (and usually need to) spend more to acquire each new customer.
So you can use Cost-Per-Click type advertising, like Google AdWords, and even Facebook advertising to get more “Likes”, and then drive those “Likes” back to your offers.
Another effective option is paying others for leads or sales (aka Cost-Per-Lead and Cost-Per-Action).
Affiliate or “Joint Venture” partnerships are common online, but offline they’re typically known as Revenue Shares.
You’re essentially giving other people a percentage of the revenue made, when you make a sale based on their recommendation.
Low Price & Low Margin
Because you can’t afford to give away as much money per sale on a low price or low margin product/service, you need to reach people for the least amount possible.
So Cost-Per-Impression (CPM) advertising, like display ads, are typically more cost-effective than CPC advertising.
One inexpensive solution to look at is a self-serve marketplace like BuySellAds. You can also find “direct buy” opportunities, where you pay a set amount for a specific interval (like monthly) that will get you traffic but won’t break the bank.
Another twist on this idea is through reaching the communities of media properties (i.e. content-driven websites, blogs, etc.). Here, you can explore all types of content sponsorships, “advertorials“, and paying for product or service reviews.
One site, ReviewMe, allows you to pick bloggers (and pay them) to write about your company or endorse your product.
Of course, you can also do this manually.
Find relevant bloggers you like and respect, strike up a relationship with them, and pitch them ideas if they’re open to it.
A lot of bloggers don’t have monetization figured out, so they’re woefully under-compensated for all the work they do.
If they support your product and service, then paying them or giving them a share of revenue to endorse you may help them a lot as well.
Referral traffic comes from other websites and blogs.
It usually spikes and tapers off. So you have to consistently “feed” it to keep the traffic coming.
What are some examples?
Content marketing on other sites is a great way to generate inbound traffic, links, and potential customers.
Some of the most popular and well-known tactics are through submitting blog articles, interviews, and product reviews.
Like most tactics, the effectiveness of your content marketing depends a lot on (a) picking the right audience to reach and (b) your execution.
So spend some time picking the best, most active online communities you can find, and look for blogs or media-sites with the most engagement.
Then really focus on your content marketing ideas and make them the highest quality possible.
“Top Down” Partnerships:
You can use social media for business development by getting to know bloggers and journalists, reaching out to other media properties, partnering with complimentary brands for promotions, etc. etc.
This is the best way to drive traffic and grow your brand.
Find relevant communities of people, and figure out how you can give their “influencer” value, in exchange for recommendations (sometime in the future).
Of course, you also have each individual social network…
The social network you should use will depend on either (a) the type of your business, or (b) where your audience is on the technology lifecycle adoption curve.
- Facebook is good for almost everyone – except for the innovators and/or early adopters, who would rather be on Twitter or Google+.
- Twitter is best for early adopters . But it’s also a great tool for getting to know bloggers/journalists, reaching out to other brands, and other business development tactics.
- LinkedIn is great for Business-to-Business leads, and promoting your company/personal brand.
- Google+ is great for early adopters. (But everyone should be figuring out how to use Google+ for business. It’s going to heavily influence the future of SEO.)
- Pinterest is great for visual products/brands, with an emphasis on women.
Now it’s Your Turn
As you can see, the online marketing channels you should pick depend a lot on your specific business and unique circumstances.
So invest in yourself to learn, grow, and hit all of your marketing goals.
5 Traffic Hacks: A Cheat Sheet to Generate Web Traffic
Everyone has limited resources.
You’re either short on (1) time, (2) energy, or (3) money.
That’s totally normal. Not everyone is blessed with the budget and staff of a Fortune 500.
But here’s the issue… there’s too much noise today. And this problem is only going to get worse.
Because you’re not just competing against the competition.
The first goal of marketing is to grab and hold people’s attention. So that means you’re competing against every other alternative that people can choose from. So everything you do needs to be excellent.
You need to figure out what you’re good at and focus intently to shine above everyone else. And because you have limited resources, that means you need to choose what you’re going to do (and what you’re going to ignore) very carefully.
Below you’ll find 5 different types of traffic tactics to help you generate web traffic on a consistent basis.
Each one has multiple options, and you need to be able to prioritize one over the other (depending on how they fit your business).
- Question #1: SEO vs. Content Marketing?
- Question #2: Email Marketing vs. Social Media?
- Question #3: Twitter vs. Facebook vs. LinkedIn?
- Question #4: Google+ vs. Pinterest?
- Question #5: Google AdWords vs. Facebook Advertising?
Question #1. SEO vs. Content Marketing?
Let’s start off with a trick question.
Search engine optimization seems like the obvious choice here, right?
It’s one of the best sources of direct traffic because it consistently sends people to your site who have intent, and are looking directly for the page they land on.
But here’s the thing.
In today’s post Penguin world, SEO can’t exist on its own. It needs content marketing to fuel it, and social media to promote it.
So what does that mean?
If you want to improve your SEO, then you need to improve your content marketing first.
Outstanding content marketing will attract links, sharing, and visits to your site. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time.
You can easily get more traffic by repurposing your existing content.
Question #2. Email Marketing vs. Social Media?
You should obviously invest in both email marketing and social media.
But which do you prioritize?
I’ll answer that with another question.
What is the “job” of marketing?
The job of sales, is to sell. And it’s easier to sell to higher quality leads than lower ones (obviously).
The job of marketing then, is to deliver high quality leads. These leads are potentially worth the most money to your organization.
Email marketing has the highest ROI of any online channel (by far). So it’s your best source of high quality leads.
According to a recent study by MarketingSherpa (an online market research company),
Email marketing can be amazingly efficient. B2C marketers report an average 256% ROI from the channel — pulling in $256 for every $1 invested.
But when asked if these companies had a way of quantifying the ROI of email marketing, 59% said NO (probably because they were wasting too much time on Facebook…)
And there’s some additional benefits to email:
- Email has a longer lifespan than individual social networks, which trend in-and-out of popularity.
- You own all of your email data – while your Fans and Followers belong to Facebook & Twitter.
- You have more control over that data. So you can see who’s opening emails and clicking through to your website. You can tell exactly who the best leads are.
- And you can easily quantify email subscribers. So you know who your best customers are, and how much money you’re making.
Social media is sexy. Email marketing is unsexy. So people ignore it.
But it’s profitable.
And most organizations don’t have systems for capturing email leads and nurturing those leads over time.
So here’s where you should start:
- Build high-quality, opt-in email lists so you’ll have an engaged audience.
- Send simple emails, highlighting one main Call-To-Action (CTA) for each.
- Mix information and education with selling in your emails.
- Learn some email best practices so you can optimize and improve your results.
- And set up lifecycle emails to go out automatically based on triggers.
Focus on getting the foundation in place, then you can start to experiment in different social networks.
Question #3. Twitter vs. Facebook vs. LinkedIn?
Choose between the big social networks by finding where your core audience hangs out.
There’s typically very little overlap, and users will gravitate towards one over the others.
So that makes your job easy.
It’s also helpful to bring in the context of the lifecycle adoption curve:
- Twitter: Is your audience tech-savvy innovators, early adopters or obsessed with pop culture? Then focus on Twitter.
- LinkedIn: If you’re selling to other professionals (Business-to-Business), then LinkedIn will give you the best bang for your buck. The LinkedIn audience is typically early adopters and the early majority.
- Facebook: For almost everyone else, you should focus on Facebook. The Facebook audience is typically made up of everyone between the early majority to the laggards.
Again, this doesn’t mean you should only use one of these.
It simply means that you need to pick one channel over the others.
It doesn’t matter if celebrities are on Twitter and the media always talks about it.
If you’re audience isn’t there, then you can ignore it and go hang-out somewhere else.
Question #4. Google+ vs. Pinterest?
Let’s look at Pinterest first.
Is your product or service extremely visual?
Does using visual images make the experience exponentially better than simply writing about it?
If it is, then Pinterest may be a good bet. (Just be careful of copyright issues).
But you also have to look at the audience.
Pinterest’s audience is predominantly women between the ages of 18-44. So again, if that’s your target customer base, then it’s a great match.
Now Google+’s active audience is mostly tech-savvy, early adopters at this point. But it also integrates heavily with the other Google products, including YouTube. And it’s poised for growth because Google’s search engine serves over 3 billion people per day.
So if you have a (1) visual product/service, and are (2) marketing to women between the ages of 18-44, then prioritize Pinterest.
But if not, then you should figure out how to use Google+’s unique features like YouTube or Hangouts. (YouTube especially will continue to grow, because TV’s are becoming internet-enabled.)
Question #5. Google AdWords vs. Facebook Advertising?
Note: With any online advertising, your knowledge, ability and skill makes a huge difference. Generally, the better your ads perform, the less you’ll pay overall. So invest the time to learn, test, and get good, or invest the money to hire a professional to manage it.
Google AdWords is still the most direct and effective way to advertise online.
The beauty of AdWords is that people searching have intent.
So your advertisement is actually helping them, and they’re much more likely to opt-in or buy something if they go to your site.
But of course, it has it’s own problem.
It’s popular, which means more people are using it, which means it’s more expensive.
So it takes more money up front to get started, and you also have to pay more per click. This is fine if you have a high margin business. But if you don’t, then paying a high Cost-Per-Click (CPC) might not make sense for you.
And that’s where Facebook Advertising comes in.
The traffic won’t convert as well, but it’s also a fraction of the cost.
So if you have low margin products or services, and don’t have as much capital to invest up front, then Facebook Advertising could still be a valuable option.
The Key to Unlocking Growth
There’s no one-size fits all when it comes to marketing.
The way you implement each tactic depends on your business and customers. But there are certain things you should be doing (or ignoring) that will help you see results quicker.
For example, there is a specific approach to social media marketing that accelerates your growth. And there are clear-cut ways to apply SEO, or use content marketing to get traffic and attract leads.
But there’s a catch.
You still have to do the work.
It’s not difficult or very time consuming. But it still takes effort.
Because tactics don’t work if you only do them once or twice. Like anything in life, consistency is the key.
If you’re ready and willing, then all you need is some ideas and insight.
And some personalized help along the way.
New Website Launch: The "No BS" Way to Start Getting Traffic Immediately
Website traffic doesn’t just fall from the sky.
That makes getting a new website off the ground extremely difficult.
You’re desperate for traffic, so you start picking up the latest tactics you keep reading about like Pinterest.
But here’s the thing most people miss.
Not all traffic is created equal.
So who cares if you did actually get 10,000 visitors one day from StumbleUpon or Pinterest. Because this type of traffic bounces immediately and never returns.
Instead you need to build consistent, loyal traffic if you want people to join your mailing list and actually buy something.
So forget about magic potions and secret formulas to flood your site with traffic. Here’s a “No BS” way to manage a new website launch by taking proactive steps each day.
First Off: Forget About SEO Traffic
SEO is one of the best sources of consistent traffic to any website.
But if you’re new, then forget about it.
When you start a brand new site, you won’t get any traffic from search engines, because you’re too new and lost in the sea of millions of other websites.
Search engine algorithm’s are designed to reward trusted, authoritative websites that people like and recommend.
But when you’re new, nobody knows whether you’re an authority or trustworthy.
So if you can’t count on SEO, where will your traffic come from in the beginning?
Your Early Traffic Will Come From Other Websites
In the beginning, you need to spend your time where your audience is, get in front of them, and bring them back to your own site.
If you do it right, this Referral Traffic will be some of the highest converting traffic sources you have.
So this is how you’ll get the best marketing ROI from your time and effort.
Influencers with Communities
The most obvious source of referral traffic comes when other sites mention you.
Think about traditional PR.
When a major site links to your business, you can expect a large amount of high quality, relevant traffic.
Now there’s a few different ways to do this. You could use newsjacking to slide in front of journalists.
But that’s hit-or-miss.
For this tactic to really work well, you need to first build relationships with these people.
Partner with people who influence communities of your target audience. That could be a journalist, niche blogger, even a complimentary business that serves the same customers.
But this takes time. You need to invest some weeks, months, and even years for the best partnerships to pay off.
So let’s look at some other sources of referral traffic that can give you a quick win today.
Content Marketing & Syndication
Content syndication basically means getting your content on other websites.
This is a valuable option because media and content-rich sites are always on the lookout for new, good content.
Let’s say you create high quality videos that are informative and entertaining.
Video is a tough skill and not everyone is good at it.
So reach out to media sites with your same audience and offer your content to them. Give them the embed code, and all you need to ask for is a link or two back to your site.
Now you can publish this same material on your site, and others.
Another option is to write guest posts and distribute them on larger sites. This is a great way to include your links on other people’s sites, and get the right kind of traffic coming back to your website.
Besides getting referral traffic, you’re also able to build your brand recognition and SEO link profile at the same time.
Online advertising should be an investment, as long as your driving people to a goal.
That means you take someone to a relevant, dedicated landing page for your service, product, or mailing list.
Here are some of your options:
- Direct Response: Google AdWords is one of the best ways to advertise directly to people looking for you. But unless you a high margin product, it will probably be too expensive.
- Brand Advertising: You can use a marketplace like BuySellAds to get inexpensive banner ads on different websites in most industries. You can also use this service now to have a website “sponsor” or tweet about your company, website or product.
- “Advertorial” Reviews: Another affordable option is to pay other people to review your product or service. You can use ReviewMe to pick a blogger to write an “advertorial” that puts your sponsored message directly in front of readers.
- Social Media Advertising: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon each have millions of users and provide easy, inexpensive advertising opportunities. You should try all available options with $20 on each, and then use arbitrage marketing to find the winners.
The key to online advertising is to have a purpose.
Get them to sign up, subscribe, or purchase.
Don’t just send them to your home page, a random blog post, or worse – one of your social media profiles.
Wait… I thought you should forget about SEO traffic?
You should, but you need to start building a foundation.
If you use a long-tail strategy, you should start to see consistent SEO traffic in a few short months.
I’ll give you an example of how this works.
I have a relatively new site (roughly 6 months old), and organic search was the largest source of traffic – accounting for about 37% of the site’s total.
But the largest keyphrase that sent traffic only accounted for 1.3% of overall traffic.
That means all my search traffic is coming from a ton of long tail keyphrases that aren’t difficult to pick up, and aren’t subject to danger from Google changing their algorithm.
Great. How do you do that?
You should target highly-relevant, but less competitive keyphrases using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
Start by entering relevant phrases that describe your site, and it will also recommend new ones to choose from.
Note: Please understand that these numbers aren’t very accurate. So you’re looking for relative positions, not absolute data. And make sure you switch from “Broad Match” to [Exact Match] so it’s more accurate.
Now search for long-tail keyphrases that usually have 3 – 5 words.
Look at the “Local Monthly Search Volume” column for keyphrases with less than 500 Local Monthly Searches.
That’s the great part about creating content.
You’re able to add content and hit less-competitive keyphrases on a daily or weekly basis.
Then once you build high-quality links to these posts, you’ll start to see some results.
It will start slow at first.
But in a few short months with consistent effort, SEO will be your main source of traffic.
Not All Traffic is Created Equal
You need traffic to start getting customers online.
But you don’t just want any traffic.
Getting mentioned on a huge site will net you a huge spike of traffic… but most of them will leave your site immediately and never come back.
Instead, you need consistent, high-quality traffic that actually joins your email marketing list and eventually buys something.
So it’s crucial to understand that you have to make daily, persistent actions to get this type of traffic to your site.
You can’t just hope for the best.
You need to identify what tactics you’re going to use, and figure out what steps you have to take to get reach your sales goals.
Because when you focus on taking these daily actions towards your traffic goals, then the results will take care of themselves.
3 Website Traffic Tips to 2X Your Growth
Most companies know how to grow their website traffic 10% year over year.
But how do you grow it exponentially?
One of the most common questions we get when speaking directly to business owners, or to the entire management teams (CEOs, CMOs, VPs and Directors of Marketing) is how to prioritize their promotional efforts.
They more or less know where the traffic’s coming from currently. And they might know how to get it up 10% or 20%.
But how do you really start growing 50%, 100%, 200% year over year?
There are many different ways to answer this, but one of the ways we personally like is to figure out what internal resources the company has and where are they short.
Today we’re going to walk through three simple website traffic tips that depend on which resources — time, labor, capital — you have, and where you’re short.
Tip #1: Short on Time?
If you’re short on time and need relatively quick results (i.e. you need to see things happening now, you need traffic coming in now), then the only logical solution is paid traffic.
There are various forms of paid traffic though.
The most direct method is to send people directly to a product page and hope you may buy.
However, a lot of times this either might be too expensive (the numbers don’t work because you don’t have enough margin) or you have a consultative sales cycle, so you might need a more indirect approach that generates leads first, before selling them later.
In this case, you’re probably already creating different landing pages.
On your landing pages you’re testing messaging, what kind of buyer personas you’re going after, and other major page elements (not just small things like buttons or colors).
Then you are hopefully testing those against each another with different opt-in forms, different form lengths, different form fields.
For both of these methods, your best advertising bets are usually a Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per Impression (CPM) model.
These options range from intent-based methods like Google AdWords to more display options you might see on Facebook or other advertising networks like BuySellAds.com.
If you’re not looking for either one of these — a macro conversion (sale) or a micro conversion (lead opt-in) — and you’re maybe looking for brand awareness, then the best option is going to be some sort of content distribution.
Here, you’re sharing a blog post, article series, video, info-graphic, eBook, and other forms using social distribution options like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, or something like Outbrain, which has your content show up as recommended links on big sites like CNN, ESPN and more.
Tip #2: Short on Labor?
What if you have a longer timeline, but you’re short on man-power?
Usually organic search is best because it combines many different “inbound” methods like content creation and promotion, while also providing the best long-term ROI (based on how the compounding benefits provide additional scale over time).
However before we get to all the fun things like social media, link building, and other “classic” SEO activities, it’s really important that you start by diagnosing any existing website problems or issues that hurt indexation and provide a poor user experience.
For example, these will help you figure out if you have broken links currently on your site, or if you’re missing major elements like title tags or meta descriptions.
They’ll also help you diagnose speed problems on your website with pages loading.
These critical website usage problems, like slow loading times on mobile devices, are the leading cause behind why people “bounce” and leave your website immediately.
The second area of focus is content creation and optimization. But more specifically, we want to focus on un-branded or non-branded content.
If you look at your website right now, you’re going to have a lot of content about your company, about your team, about your philosophy, your approach, your products, your services, your location, etc.
All those things are great because for the right people, that content is instrumental in providing additional information.
However, most people visiting your website might not be ready to make a purchasing decision.
Or they might not even know they need your product or service yet.
Instead, these people need to see un-branded or non-branded content that focuses on their pain points.
In this case you are not mentioning your company or products or services at all.
What you’re doing is you’re focusing on their point of view and you are widening the top of the funnel to bring more people earlier in the buying cycle.
Once you’ve fixed all major errors and optimized your content, then it’s time for promotion and link building.
Link-building means many things to many people, but one of the most basic exercises is to do a simple competitive analysis.
Look at your competitor’s websites. Where are they getting press mentions from? Look at the news section on their sites. Look at their own PR materials and try to figure out what they are doing, and why they’re doing it.
You can also look at Open Site Explorer, which will give you a detailed breakdown of a website’s “link profile” (or all of the individual links pointing to a website from other external domains.)
Now you can start to draw assumptions based on their marketing strategies.
For example, where are their products are getting reviewed? Are they focusing on big media blogs, are they focusing on specific locations, or maybe they’re doing a really good job on partnering with associations and different types of groups or events (which we’ll cover in a little bit)?
The biggest thing here is that we’re not just doing link-building for link-building sake.
Don’t mistake quantity for quality.
Instead the goal is to reverse engineer what competitors might be doing, and figure out how you could create marketing strategies or campaigns that take their direction but go above and beyond in some way, shape or form.
Tip #3: Short on Capital?
Every business is short on capital.
But if your business is TRULY short on capital for one reason or another, then we generally recommend focusing on partnerships and some form combination of PR + social media outreach.
In this last scenario, it’s all about hustle.
The first place to start is looking for complementary businesses who might be targeting the same customers as yours (but they’re not necessarily competitive).
For example, if you had a hotel in San Diego, then you could look for rental car locations, airlines, the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, restaurants, bars, San Diego Padres, San Diego Chargers, convention associations… the list goes on and on and on.
Then you need to ask yourself what the most appropriate value proposition is for each.
Typically, this comes back to where THEY’RE short.
If you could figure out where THEY’RE short, and you could supply that in exchange for promotion, then you can get a ton of leverage for very little cost out of pocket.
The second area of focus is targeted outreach. In this case, you’re creating a prospecting list of relevant bloggers, journalists and any other influential media sites.
Then you want to segment these people based on who needs (or deserves) a custom, tailored approach versus those sites you can get away with automating outreach in some fashion.
Nevertheless though, the goal is still to build a long-term, ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship (as opposed to one-off links).
It may not pay off in the short term. It may not pay off in a month or two like paid ads might. But this is something that’s high ROI and the leverage is there if you do it properly.
Finally, you should look for existing communities (think events & networking) that you can potentially piggy-back on.
There are many different ways to get involved with events.
Maybe you can sponsor them.
Maybe you can do something as dumb as going and helping them set up or take down at the end of a meeting.
Maybe you can go and speak or provide educational content.
One simple example is Meetup.com.
We had a client years ago who would go to Meetup.com and record the audio / video presentations being given. Then they would make that content available to all the members of each group afterwards (through their own website).
So they’re providing a value-added service to all members of that group in exchange for valuable promotion and brand awareness by figuring out an appropriate value proposition, and then hustling to make it happen on a consistent basis.
Most companies probably already use a combination of these activities mentioned above.
A lot of these times you’re going to mix and match different tactics.
But the goal of this exercise is to help you figure out where to focus 60-70% of your attention should be.
Usually that means doubling down on the strengths you already have.
If you can leverage the key resources you currently possess to their fullest extent, while minimizing the downside of your weaknesses, then you’ll be able to make HUGE improvements in growth and performance — despite perhaps not having enough time, labor or capital.