It’s getting tougher to get people to your website. Here are advanced tactics online marketers use to attract higher levels of traffic. By FRED SCHEBESTA
By Fred Schebesta
It’s getting tougher to get people to your website. Here are advanced tactics online marketers use to attract higher levels of traffic.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
First off, a warning: This article might not be for you if you are in the process of sorting your online marketing fundamentals or have just built your website and need to get some traffic.
These tactics are advanced, and will mainly help people with serious websites who already get thousands of visitors and are looking to take it to the next level.
These tactics are going to require more investment, more time to implement and will need to be monitored and updated.
Why you need to try harder
Let’s start by taking the top five competitors in your market in Australia and the top five competitors in the United States and Britain. I am sure that you have looked at these sites before, but I want you to feel a bit overwhelmed. I want you to feel that competition in your market, and realise that the websites you are up against would do just about anything to get the traffic that you already have – and to get the next level of traffic that you want.
This competition is going to drive something in the market that hurts your growth; noise.
Type in the main keyword or keywords that drives most of your profitable traffic and just look at the sheer volume of websites that are pumping out content trying to attract that traffic.
There is so much information on the net. Some of it is going to be super trafficked and other parts are never going to see a visitor. The bigger investors that provide more value to their visitors eventually win out – cobbled-together content that adds little value will always be beaten by in-depth guides.
Websites are moving the boundaries of what they are willing to give away for free in order to attract the higher volumes of traffic. This investment balancing game of deciding what is given away for free as opposed to what is charged for, is what you need to play in order to get to the next level of traffic and revenue.
You need to be prepared to invest money into projects, not just media, to bring in traffic. These projects are planned and require serious time and money investment.
It is tough to get people to your site, and it’s getting tougher.
There are three key advanced traffic tactics you can use that will guide your website to the next level.
Why your basic tactics are not working so well:
What are all the basic tactics that you employed to get the first level of traffic and interaction on your website? Here are a few you are probably using now:
1. Writing articles. Content like “The 10 secrets to growing business faster”, “How to start a business” and “Who else wants a beautiful baby?” These articles are from the textbook of tested advertising methods and did work for a while. But the internet is full of these now. The basics have been covered. The only times when this tactic will get traffic include:
- New technologies – for example, “How to get rid of user control on Windows Vista”. When new technologies become widely used there are opportunities get traffic by producing guides and information on how to do things. “User control” was the most frustrating thing on Windows Vista and these guides were great traffic drivers.
- New market/industry – look at, for instance, doghouse architecture; no one has covered the basics, so basic articles will get traffic.
- Unique way of doing something that no one has ever thought of – how about “How to charge your iPod with an onion”. These unique techniques are tougher to discover although do come about every now and again.
2. Search engine optimising your website. That is; <title> tags, <h1>s and content. This is a 2001 tactic – but it’s now 2008 and the stakes are higher. Anyone can hire an SEO company and turn their website into sexy search engine spider food.
This basic tactic still works and drives lots of primary traffic, but it isn’t going to give you a giant leap in sustained traffic. SEO needs to be considered with all of these advanced tactics, but we are assuming here that you have already search optimised your website.
3. Pay per click. Boring, expensive and not going to win the war. Sure, you might win a few battles, but you have to accept that paid search relies on people typing in the keyword you have purchased to go to your website, which means they are already motivated to find your website.
I refer to these types of visitors as the latent demand in a market – these are the people that will still be looking for websites on the search engines in your market if zero marketing was done. But you have to use other tactics to increase demand in the search engines and the performance of your pay per click. The main reason for this is that the other marketing persuades the visitors to commence their search.
For example, after seeing banner ads about debt reduction this will persuade a visitor to search for “effective ways to reduce debt” in the search engines. Without that other marketing, you would just have the same number of people searching.
4. Building a database of subscribers and emailing them valuable content and offers. Online Marketing 101 would put this in the second chapter, after building a website. It’s an important tactic, but it’s a mandatory of any traffic program. Later in this article we will reveal how to combine this with another tactic to increase its effectiveness.
These four tactics are effective and if you only implemented these your traffic-driving program could be classified as “good”. But in order to raise yourself above the noise of the internet and get noticed you need to be better than good. You need to be great. If you aspire to just write good content you will only have a good business and a good level of traffic.
The first thing you have to realise is that you are playing in a bigger league now. You have to get some serious attention and propel yourself above the noise of the internet to get new visitors to notice you and go to your website.
Two people can help you understand the difference between good and great:
1. Seth Godin – In his book The Purple Cow, he essentially said that in order to cut through all the marketing going on you need to build a product that stands head and shoulders above others. The marketing will take care of itself. Good examples are the mini, Google and Schindler escalators. Remarkable products get word-of-mouth (traffic) because the investment has been made to make them great, not just good.
2. Jim Collins – His book, Good to Great will help you understand that companies who aspire to be great and are happy with good will never be leading businesses. If you are happy with good, somewhere at the end of your life you will turn around and have to admit to yourself that you were never great, you were only good, like the other billions of people in the world.
Think about your traffic driving projects and say to yourself, “How can I crank this up head and shoulders above what everyone has ever done to stand out and get the attention I want?” Keep asking yourself, “How can I dial this up more? What is the next level? What is going to make people remark to other people about it? Is it amazing and remarkable enough?”
How to define remarkable? Good enough that someone will talk to someone else about it. If you can achieve that behaviour you have created something remarkable.
Tactic 1 – CREATE FLAGSHIP CONTENT
Let me tell you a story. From all the clients I have worked with I have noticed that most companies have a flagship product, service or “majority revenue driver”.
- Sanitarium – Weetbix
- Telstra – landlines
- Qantas – Sydney to Los Angles route
- Nestle – Nescafe
- Macquarie Bank – equities and investment banking
These flagship elements power these businesses and sometimes 80% of their profit comes from them.
Now, start to imagine what flagship content would look like on your website – something which powered in huge volumes of traffic for you.
What form can flagship content take?
Definitive resources – these are definitive guides for specific niche topics in your market that are entirely comprehensive and complete for a first-time user. Your guide is the first thing someone reads when they want to start in your market. Usually you will request an email address in return for the resource. Examples:
- Pay per click: Perry Marshall’s Definitive guide to adwords
- Search engine optimization: Aaron Walls’ SEO Book
- Copywriting: John Caples’ Testing Advertising Methods
There are many other definitive guides that people in a market refer to. What are they in yours? Is there an opportunity to create one?
Software – this is software that everyone in your market comes to your website to get and use. The software fulfils a specific purpose and is head and shoulders above any other software attempting to solve the same problem. For example, I have used Firefox plugins for SEO from specific websites. I always return back to those sites when I have a new computer to install the plugins.
An amazing video – television trumped radio and magazines because it had sound, visuals and movement in one. Videos can haul in traffic, but remember you are going to be competing with all the other video out there (there are 100,000,000 videos on YouTube). What you make has got to be amazing. Practice will be required and I would advise you to read this guide first.
Super useful tools – some little tools on the net are just so handy that people keep going back forever, and they recommend them to other people, which brings you more traffic. There are billions of tools out there, but think about your target audience and do the research in the search engines as to what they are looking for. Always go back to these tools: Babelfish for my language translations, keyword discovery tools, and I use Yahoo Finance all the time to get stock trends and comparisons, because I think its stock tool is the best.
Thousands of other ideas – games, flash animations, website designs, spoofs… the list goes on. But the one thing is that it has to be great – good just won’t cut it with all the content on the internet choking up your visitors’ attention.
That’s good content, but you can do better
Once you have a little short list of ideas and you tell other people and they like it, think how you can make it better. If you have never done one of these flagship pieces of content you won’t know where the bar is that determines where success is, and you will probably shoot too low.
Dial it up some more. Search Google, search the forums, search IRC and check that no one has done what you have done before. Planning increases your chance of luck. At the end of the day you are going to need luck to carry it to the level you need. You are also going to need to do the hard ground work and promote it like any other thing you have promoted.
Expect your plan to change along the way. As soon as you commence your plan and get it out there, you will learn things, get feedback and the original plan will have to be slightly adapted.
Expect that, but do the groundwork beforehand to give yourself a better chance. Really do it, don’t just read this and skip over it. The better you plan the more likely you will be to create flagship content.
Get a feedback loop and listen to it
You need critics, because they care and actually take the time to improve your marketing. If you have no critics, people have stopped caring. You need the honest truth here and you need to listen to it, don’t fight it. The tough words that you need to hear will earn you serious money. Do you know who this person is? If not, here are some places to look:
- Your customers/visitors – they choose your product with their wallet or their time.
- Your family and friends – sometimes they can be too nice. You need the ones that don’t hold back.
- Mentors – People who guide you by giving you raw honest feedback.
Think of creating your flagship content as if you were a TV company. You get ideas for a show, you promote the hell out of the pilot to get people to watch, you get feedback, and then determine if you are going to continue with the show. Do the same with your flagship content.
Tactic 2 – CLONE YOUR TRAFFIC BY CONTINUING THE INTERACTION
Once you have developed your traffic magnet, it’s time to give it some longevity and keep it bringing in traffic. Bringing people back to your website needs to be for a reason. Here are some suggestions:
1. A follow on. The perfect way to follow a great “how to” article is an email series with follow-up insightful articles. For example, you could dissect your other high-quality content and put it into an email series. Or bundle together all of your most popular into a single follow-up guide.
2. Software updates. You can drive people back to your site to tell them what the updates were and deliver a marketing message there. Ensure people are redirected to your site as soon as they update it.
3. RSS and bookmarks. Encourage bookmarking your site. An oldie but still a goodie, even if it’s a reminder to bookmark the page as opposed to a button.
4. Add to the webpage. Continue the traffic gold on the page that had the original flagship content. Most people return to it to show other people and you will find that you can easily promote the next stage of the content or an accompanying course/product along with it. Think broadly about this; it only needs to be polite and small for the person who is returning to notice something new. If visitors learn that the site is going to keep refreshing then direct traffic is going to be a big friend of yours – people will just memorise the domain and go from there.
Most great content drivers are one-hit wonders because continuation is not thought of at the start. Assume success with your flagship content and assume that you are going to want to get these people back to your site. While you need to be realistic and realise most of the traffic you will get will never return, the real gold is to get the potential prospects back.
Prepare follow-on content before the big rush. Think of this like a theatre play; you need to prepare for scene two while you are doing scene one.
Tactic 3 – PARTNERSHIPS
Have you ever had your mother tell you a restaurant near your place was great, even though you’ve never heard of it? The holy grail of getting more traffic is to get it from other companies who endorse you to their customers. By enlisting the other company to endorse you, your competitors will struggle to target customers as effectively as you.
Big corporations have been doing this for years. For example, the alliance partnerships between Qantas and QBE for insurance fits like a glove because both win from the partnership. Qantas gets a commission and QBE sells new policies to committed buyers without having to market their product to them. Partnering up with other companies is a textbook advanced tactic to drive targeted traffic to your website.
How to form a successful partnership that drives you traffic
The success of approaching a partner is usually determined in the planning you do before hand. The key to success is to bring something of value to the partner and know specifically what you want in return.
A casual offer asking for a partnership is not going to work. You need to know specifically how you can help them (a website banner on your homepage promoting their top-selling product, or an email to your database endorsing their website and promoting a free eBook they are offering, or inbound links from high traffic pages on your site) and what you specifically want in return (two email-outs with them endorsing your hottest selling product, new flagship content, free eBook or a discount on your store).
Flagship content rental
Sometimes other websites in your market have developed tools and resources that would be of significant value. It isn’t always possible for you to develop your own, and doing so would just be a repeat of what is already out there.
Instead it can be a good idea to just borrow the flagship content and rent it. This way you will at least not be at a disadvantage in getting visitors to your website and keeping them coming back.
Good examples of this are: Renting comparison tools, review tools, online calculators and video content. The best situation is when you rent the content from another site and you market it better than the original owner – hopefully your website becomes the destination that people think to return to. Usually this will be tough unless you slightly modify it and improve it beyond its original design. For example:
- Add a guide to use it – this will help users engage better.
- Translate it into other languages.
- Improve the quality of the video, graphics or sound.
- Change the language and messaging to make it easier for someone to comprehend and understand.
Virgin has done this for years with its credit cards, home loans, mobile phones and broadband. Virgin just rebadged an existing provider in the market, created a killer offer, made it simpler than the original provider and marketed it heavily.
Virgin essentially acts as a big affiliate to the original provider and tends to exit from the business after it has gained enough market share by selling it back to the original provider. Virgin companies run at very thin margins although they never have the large overheads and can quickly get into new markets. This to me is the ultimate in partnerships as Virgin are taking a company’s product but just marketing it better for a portion of the revenue.
Big email marketers who have lists over one million deep never have all the actual email records in a database, they establish partnerships to do it. Deals need to be made with companies that have large lists in order to grow their list.
Usually there is some sort of incentive given to the partner list or an exclusive special offer given to their list that makes them feel special. For example, credit card companies do alliance partnerships with telcos in order to sell their card holders mobile phone contracts. Normally the telco doesn’t have to pay the credit card company if they provide a special offer (big discount) that no one can refuse, take credit card payments for the bills and provide all of the creative.
The credit card company benefits because it is giving something special to its card holders and it also gets its card holders to spend more money on their card to pay for the mobile phone bill.
These kinds of high level mutually beneficial database swaps are advanced traffic tactics that will require you to brainstorm potential partners that you can work with. Remember to think first what you can bring to them and then know exactly what you want in return before you make your approach to the company.
It’s tough at first to think of why other websites would ever want to send traffic from their website to yours. But while basic online marketers would not be happy to do this, more advanced marketers would be inclined to definitely do this because they realize they can get traffic that normally they wouldn’t be able to tap into.
If you were to do a straight traffic swap with another website, what would happen? Visitors who are happy with the website would engage with that site whereas visitors who are not will go to the other site and hopefully this will provide them with what they want.
This is quite similar to McDonald’s setting up a store right next to KFC. Sure, they will lose some customers to the other store, but the total number of visitors to both stores will increase. You can see this tactic in advanced markets like pornography, where sites will link to and from each other in order to keep the traffic in the network of sites that have partnered together. This deal will generally only work when the websites are on a similar level to each other – if one site has drastically more traffic than another, then it would not be likely to work.
Pay it forward
If you have other great ideas on advanced traffic secrets add them into the comments below. Your contribution will come back to you in the future.
- >> 7 secrets the web industry doesn’t want you to know
- >> 7 secrets web creatives don’t want you to know
- >> 7 of the web industry’s ‘off the shelf’ secrets