Many people reading this post will have seen the film Field of Dreams. It’s a story about a farmer who keeps hearing voices from a cornfield that say “If you build it he will come”. The film isn’t really my cup of tea and I’m not going to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie – but (spoiler alert) – the ghost of the farmers’ long last father eventually comes to visit after the builds “it” (“it” being a baseball field). A lot of people seem to think that if they build a website, “they” (being customers) will come. Here’s another spoiler alert. It just ain’t so.
Imagine for a moment that you set up a billboard in the middle of the desert. The billboard might be advertising air conditioning – which will probably seem like a damned fine idea to anyone who has ever spent time in a desert. It’s hot and any message about how to cool down might be welcomed. One problem. Very few people are ever going to drive by that billboard. Of the people who do drive by only some will be interested in air conditioning. Fewer still will want to buy air conditioning from you. Fewer again will want to buy air conditioning, right now.
Chances are that your website is just like that desert billboard. It’s got a worthwhile message targeting people who are likely to be interested in what you sell. The problem is that too few people are “driving by”. In the business it actually called web traffic – and web traffic is what you need.
A variety of tactics can be utilised to drive discovery of your website. Those tactics should be informed by your digital marketing strategy. Here are a few traffic generating tactics which are in common use.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the science (some say dark art) of driving traffic to your website via organic search results, primarily on the Google search engine. For most small, local businesses SEO is an effective, low-cost way to generate targeted website visitors. Just be aware that it can take a little time to produce results with SEO, so it’s not always a great way to generate immediate website visitation.
Pay per click (PPC) advertising allows you to advertise to potential customers and pay only for the clicks that result in a visit to your website. Google AdWords and Facebook ads are the two best-known examples of these types of ads. PPC can get your business at the top of search engine results TODAY and done properly can be an effective, profitable driver of website visitation and new business.
Remarketing and retargeting are very similar to PPC ads, but with the advantage that ads are served exclusively to people who have already demonstrated an interest by visiting your website. Remarketing ads can be served across a variety of “partner” websites and social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Personally, I think that almost every business should be using this very effective medium of reengagement.
Content marketing focuses on producing, publishing and distributing content that is likely to be of interest to your targeted audiences. That content may consist of such things as blog posts, videos, giveaways, etc. This post that you’re reading right now is an example of content marketing! Like SEO, content marketing can take considerable time to pay off for your business. Don’t rely upon it as an immediate source of new traffic.
Social media marketing consists of finding ways to reach out to and engage with the audiences that you build on various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Social media can help to make you the local, friendly authority in your business. Just be aware that social, means social. In other words, you need to take the time and make the effort to be human. That means actually engaging with people!
Outreach marketing consists of you approaching potential clients, via various methodologies. That could be via email, personal messages on social media, commenting on forums, etc. This is a very direct form of marketing and you’ll often see fast results from doing this.
This post isn’t designed to be a “how to”. It’s more of a “what to”. Building a website and hoping that people might drop by simply isn’t enough. You need to make people aware of the existence of your website and let them know where to go. Some or all of the tactics suggested in this post might work for you and your business in building visitation to your website and converting visitors into paying customers. Try them out. Let me know in the comments how it goes.