When wanting to gain new website traffic and visibility for your product or service offerings online, there is an order of priority for how to attract the most qualified visitors and be found by those who are expressing a need or an interest. You want to be present online in the places where people are searching for the types of products or services you are offering and make sure it aligns with your business goals and website KPI’s and will ultimately come out of aligning them to a core digital marketing strategy. Here is a list of the different tactics and channels that could be helpful and why and the order that I generally recommend for small businesses wanting new leads to prioritize and drive traffic to their site.
Paid Search is where your advertising dollars can go the farthest. Searching in Google (or Yahoo and Bing) is where the most qualified traffic is (when the settings and the geotargeting is done right) and will provide the most results for your investment. In general, it is flexible and works well with an ever changing message and the client is paying for immediate results (traffic).
Search Engine Optimization
SEO (search engine optimization) is about being found organically through the search engines for terms and search queries that are closely related to your product or service, whether brand related terms or generic terms. Do not confuse this with black hat SEO tactics of the past where you try and develop link farming to gain as many links as possible in whatever way possible. The local search ranking factors is my favorite tool for a practical understanding of how to support organic results and how to think strategically about it. Unfortunately, while this shows how to affect it, it doesn’t list what you should not do. But, I find, when you keep genuine communication as the goal, then you will get more of it right than not. Creating helpful, valuable, and shareable content is the goal of all content. At a base level you should be found for your brand terms high in the search results due to a large majority of content on your site related to those terms and natural references to them. After this ‘low hanging fruit’, there is a larger SEO and content strategy that needs to be developed to improve your results in the search engines and build your authority organically.
In order to give yourself every chance to be found in the search results, there are SEO audit tactics that can help ensure that your site is given the best opportunity to be found. These can be whittled down to two primary concepts, indexability and accessibility, and as you might imagine, are very important and multi-layered that your site must address and make a big priority. Where paid search is a tool for seeing immediate return by paying for a presence, SEO is the program to set up for the long-game and consistency over a longer period of time is needed. It is a slow, methodical approach to creating content and keeping an eye on the SEO factors that will make your site ‘sing’ in the eyes of Google. If you are crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s for Google’s algorithm, the indexing engine, the other search engines will follow suit and give you additional visibility. Google has the most advanced search process and algorithm of search engines and with 74.54% of the global market share according to Net Market Share which I found via an article by Smart Insights. This is definitely where you should focus your efforts first and foremost. Remember that SEO is the ship that needs to be pointed in a specific direction and only take slight redirections to get you to where you want to go. You cannot change the strategy too much and expect to see results. Do not neglect the influence that you are working to slowly gain in the search results by forgetting this important piece and make sure to excavate and begin to share your distinct voice to develop authority and trust in an ongoing effort to market yourself online.
Content on your site was referenced in SEO due to it’s nature. Many ‘experts’ are trying to diminish the impact of search engine optimization and suggest that it’s all about content and you can practically ignore SEO. Well, not quite. It is primarily about content and that should be your core focus, but don’t forget the core elements to be indexable and accessible according to Google so that we are giving our content every opportunity to be found in the search engines.
Your Next Best Online Channel Depends on the Business, Your Goals, And Your Bandwidth
After these three tactics are put into place and have a strong strategy and presence in your marketing processes regarding implementation and ongoing improvement, the direction that you go depends on the type of business that you offer and what your desired outcome is. Here are my next step recommendations after you’ve established your core marketing structure and voice. A small aside, you need to set up a reporting system to gain insight from your data-driven marketing efforts that will help inform better business decisions.
Email Marketing and Inbound Marketing Tactics
We are talking primarily about driving traffic and not the conversion or nurturing part of the process. But, I would consider capturing an email address and doing email marketing or another inbound marketing process beneficial to engage with users on an ongoing basis. Email needs to be mentioned as you could spend all of your time on paid search, SEO, content, email marketing, and improving the user experience of a site for most product based websites or 1 and 2 person online, niche category small businesses. Another potential option for physical retail-type products would be Amazon advertising and feed management to other aggregated online product sellers. Stepping back out of my digression into Amazon here, when you consider email marketing and inbound marketing in general, a word of caution. Tread lightly in this realm unless you know what you’re doing and don’t want to annoy them constantly. A strategy and plan for ongoing communication in an email inbox should be done right. You risk alienation and totally destructive failure otherwise. Do not be a pain to your audience, be a delight. What that means to you and your business will differ. For starters, you could do some market research and work to understand your user personas and what digital channels they are present on, how they consume media digitally (or offline) and how it makes sense to communicate with them in an ongoing fashion.
Why Additional Paid Traffic Opportunities?
In regards to bringing in traffic, you want to use your other opportunities to target specific audiences and make your presence known with timely and helpful information and stay as far away from interruption as you can. If you say, hey Scott, if we’re running ads online, aren’t we annoying them? To that I say, yeah. But, that doesn’t stop most people. If we are going to drive traffic and have the budget to do it, try to do this as naturally as possible instead of interrupting their regularly scheduled programming and making them totally hate you like I do commercials. If you boil marketing down to a basic science, it is all about putting yourself out there which could be consider interrupting, so you can’t avoid it, just try to think about how it is being done. Ads can and should be served with taste and tact and with the capability that we now have to match behavioral and contextual details to make sure it is not fully irrelevant, ads can have a positive impact for brand recognition, offering timely promotions, specials, and event based offerings.
Facebook is the largest social platform with the widest active engagement offers unparalleled targeting capabilities for connecting with a narrowly defined audience based on behavioral and contextual characteristics as well as essentially building a persona through look-a-like audiences and matching existing email lists to find others with similar patterns of activity on Facebook and target those audiences. Facebook’s ad environment is on a cost per click basis and is currently really inexpensive compared to many other ad channels. Generally speaking, it is less qualified than paying for advertising in the search engines resulting in, more often than not, less last-click conversions. This is overwhelmingly my experience with lead generation organizations that have less of an engaged audience in Facebook organically and have smaller budgets. If you already have a very engaged organic audience on Facebook and lots of fans, then you might see better bottom-of-the funnel results for your ads as you’re already seeing good engagement in this platform.
Retargeting allows you to send advertising messages across the web to those who have previously visited your website. This is a great way to remind the visitor of your brand with customized messaging based on users doing certain actions on a specific page like click a button or specific page visits. Retargeting is a great way to remind a previous visitor of their experience, gain additional brand recognition, and ideally entice them to come back for another visit to your website to again explore what you are offering.
Geotargeting targets web application users on their mobile phones through GPS to send display advertising based on a determined radius around a physical location, most often a retail store or event and can be a great way to improve foot traffic or offer a promotion.
Display Prospecting – Contextual and Behavioral
Display prospecting is outreach to new audiences across the web via ad networks through various contextual and behavioral targeting capabilities. This can be done through Google AdWords website network or other tools that have connected to various audiences through ad networks and ad exchanges.
LinkedIn is the premier business networking social channel. Engage with business professionals and drive traffic with ads to audiences, among other features available, targeting specific companies, employees based on position in the company, and geotargeted to a certain area.
Instagram is another social platform with targeted advertising has similar targeting options as Facebook (due to its being owned by them). It is an image sharing network and I’ve seen it have a higher cost than other platforms. There are strategic opportunities to advertise here for the right company.
Pinterest is a social networking site driven by images that help people gather ideas about lifestyle and idealization through a digital dreamboard. If I was in the market for a new pair of shoes, which one would I love to have? If your product fits in a lifestyle category then Pinterest is a place you might want to consider being present and potentially advertising.
This was a high-level overview about my general order of priority for driving new traffic to your website. There are certainly other opportunities for advertising, connection, and conversation with your potential prospects, leads, and clients. You always want to think about why a consumer uses a particular channel going back to your ideal persona and connecting with them in the channels that they are engaging in. In most cases, paying for online advertisement now is more of an extension in reach of the organic nature that you are already facilitating with your current audience. Speaking on a broad level, for more visits to your site I would start with Paid Search, SEO, content, and Facebook advertising. These are good places to start and test for bringing in new traffic and interest. For soliciting new prospects, leads, and clients and gaining more conversions, retargeting would be the next best option in my book followed by others for strategic purposes based on the need, goal, or campaign outcomes.