Web site traffic + sales don't magically happen. We think of it like a tree. Read more for tips and tools to boost your traffic.
How do I get more Sales or Clients from my web site?
That's the question I hear all the time. For 15 years we have designed and built web sites with the MODX Content Management System or WordPress so that companies can control their content. We always have done social media training and offered email newsletter marketing with our builds as part of the price. Some companies took us up on the training, some did not.
Very, very few have actually implemented what they were taught. The ones that did saw traffic boosts. The ones that did not, basically had an online brochure to send people to when they contacted them.
For us, that's frustrating. Especially when charlatans come calling, selling horrible systems that "guarantee traffic."
The truth is, getting traffic and sales online is like dieting. We can show you how to do it, but you have to put in the work to make it happen. The internet is not a Field of Dreams. If you build it, they won't come. If you're not going to do the work, then you need to pay someone to make it happen. Ok? Ok.
Your web site is part of an ecosystem. It needs to be tended, like a garden. We will think of it as a tree.
Thinking of your traffic, sales and leads as a tree will help you to understand a few things. First, your web site is never done. It's a living entity that needs nurture and care to grow your business. Next, you need to make sure all its parts are healthy in order to grow your traffic, leads, and sales. If you don't have any traffic then one of the parts isn't being nurtured.
The roots of good traffic
Technical SEO is the root of good traffic. If it isn't correct, you're going to end up paying more for your search engine marketing (pay-per-click). Google has a number called a Quality Score it uses when you run AdWords. Bing has a similar metric as do all search engines. The way your web site is built affects your Quality Score. If you have a web site that for instance, is not mobile-friendly, loads slowly, or has a lot of errors, it will affect how much you pay for clicks and it will affect your organic rank in search.
Sometimes, if you have a CMS, you can have great SEO built-in, but through sheer lack of understanding, you can do things to hurt your web site. Leaving off alt tags, not filling in the description field, or applying the wrong headings to page content can all make your site lower quality. Linking without titles, incorrect no-follows, or lack of an xml site map can hurt you. If your site was built even a few years ago, things might have changed enough that you need a tune-up. You need to have your site checked periodically in order to make sure it is healthy.
The internet changes. SEO is not something you do one time.
If you want to be found for certain key words or key phrases then you need to have one page per phrase. That page needs to have that phrase in the title, description, anchor text (the name of the page in the menu), the first 100 words of the page content. And yes, you need structured data, which is new(ish). It's been around for a while but we are seeing it pushed harder now as content channels and search engines make changes.
Can you get traffic without these things? Yes. Will it be harder? Yes. Basically without decent technical SEO you're looking at running a marathon with a 50 pound weight tied around your neck. Just don't do it. And people who say they are optimizing your site but don't change the code are lying to you. That's impossible.
Your web site content will make or break your results.
How is your content structured? Is it easy to navigate? Do you have a clear landing page for each one of your marketing campaigns? Are you running marketing campaigns? Do you have Hooks, Reassurances and Calls to Action on your pages? Has your content been updated this year? Are you blogging? Are you creating white papers, pdfs, videos, games, apps and other tools that your potential buyers can give you an email address in exchange for? Are you using email newsletter marketing? Are you building your list?
Feel overwhelmed yet?
The good news is, if you're a small business, you don't have to do it ALL and do it all at once. Take baby steps. Do what you know to do next. If you're a business with no blog, it's time to use one. If your site hasn't been updated since 2013, it's time to open it up and make some changes. If you aren't using email marketing, yes, you should. If you have email marketing but are not using it, it's time to dust it off. Do something. It's better than nothing.
A simple marketing funnel will consist of a resource that you share out to social media, linking back to a landing page on your site where people can get the resource for free after they give you their email address. Then you need to make sure that you have a welcome campaign set up to welcome new subscribers. This is a bare bones funnel and there is much more to be said, but I find that many people don't even understand this basic structure. Yes you want people to buy, donate, subscribe, etcetera but the most fundamental need is to get that email address. People just finding you for the first time are cold traffic, they don't know you well. If someone gives you their email address they are saying they want to know you better. You then have the opportunity to build a relationship. Are you taking it?
Depending on your business, you might need to tailor your approach but just about every business needs to have at least one of these structures in place. Every page needs a call to action on it. Look at your web site. Make a list of what changes need to be made and start somewhere. We made a Trello for you to get started on that list.
Social Media is Mandatory.
Yes, even if you are B2B. Yes even if you think it isn't. Yes even if what you do is sell parts for space ships. There is some place online that your potential customers are spending time and getting information. You need to find that place and publish there. It might be a place like Quora, Reddit or Scribd. It isn't always Facebook or Twitter. You need a presence and you need to put the links to your landing pages and your resources on it.
But you can't just broadcast and post. You need to also read, listen, connect and network. Social media is important for customer service. You need to monitor what people are saying about you. You need to have links back to your content.
You can do anything for 15 minutes. In 15 minutes a day, you can get started.
We advocate teaching our clients to use social media rather than hiring others to do it for them, because we believe authenticity matters. No one else has your knowledge or expertise. No one cares about your company like you do. However we also know that it isn't always feasible to do your own social. If it isn't feasible you need to hire someone to do it for you or automate it.
Public Relations for huge impact
Any traffic building campaign will be complemented by great public relations. Most people immediately think "Press release" when they hear public relations, but that isn't the only method of PR you should implement. Philanthropy, guest blogging, speaking engagements, interviews and other venues are amazing fuel for your web site traffic and ultimately your sales. We recommend a blend of PR with Social Media. It will give you something to tweet about!
Digital Marketing for traffic
Pay-per-click is a spigot anyone can turn on, but if you are doing the above you will pay much much less. Whether you're doing Facebook advertising, Google AdWords, LinkedIn advertising or any sponsored form of advertising, your reach will be multiplied with the above implemented correctly. Landing pages! You have landing pages, right? In this day and age PPC has gotten complex with remarketing and retargeting available, tag management and other tools are at your disposal. If you're going to outsource anything, we highly recommend outsourcing this piece. Doing PPC badly can take a long time to recover from.
Email Marketing for sales
Email marketing is the heart and soul of your sales funnel. It is the single most important selling tool that you have. If you are not using it correctly then you're leaving money on the table. This is where you connect, make offers, get to know people and generally talk to your customer base. All leads need to go to your email marketing software, then you need to segment your audiences. Look where your audiences clicked on something in your emails. They are interested in that, whatever it is. Segment them into interest groups and send them more information about that. Is your email marketing template designed to easily show you interests that correlate to your products or services? Do you need help with that?
Web design is not just pleasing graphics on your web site pages.
Effective web design starts with the objectives and personas of your target prospects and leads them through a sales funnel with thoughtful information architecture, good on-page technical SEO, and solid content marketing strategies. The reality is that you continue building your web site long after your web design company stops working. Your web site is extended by all of the channels where you publish and you need to think of those channels as part of your web site. A Facebook page is no substitute for a web site because you cannot accurately measure all that you need to or develop full marketing funnels with it. The bottom line is, if you want the fruit of leads and sales you need to tend your Traffic Tree.
How much does it cost for someone else to do all of this for you?
According to the cool people at the Content Factory,
Launching a new Twitter account, complete with setup and outsourcing content creation/consumer interaction (all 140 characters at a time), costs an average of $2,000-$4,000 per month – and that's just for Twitter. With that said, the total price range was $1,000-$7,500 per month.
What if you already have an existing Twitter account, but need some help to take it to the next level? Restructuring an existing Twitter account with "limited coaching" to achieve client goals is still going to cost you between $1,000-$2,500 per month, with some charging as much as $4,000 per month…just for Twitter! That's right, if you want Facebook, you're paying extra.
How Much Does Marketing With Facebook Cost?
If you thought the costs of marketing with Twitter were high, you might want to grab your fainting chair — Facebook marketing rates will give you a case of the vapors. To set up a new Facebook account and provide limited ongoing training to business partners, online PR agencies charge an average of $2,500-$5,000 per month, with some going as high as $9,000. Of course, this also includes status updates and interacting with customers. You know what it doesn't include, though? Strategy.
If you're shelling out a minimum of $4,500 per month for Facebook and Twitter management, you're not getting any strategy behind the efforts.
The full article is worth a read, but basically it can cost up to $10K a month for these services. When compared to the cost of hiring employees, it might be worth it to you. If you're a smaller company or a start up you might want to do as much as you can on your own. You can do a lot yourself. And if not, then you need to plan, budget and know exactly what you need.
About the Author
Anne Miles is the owner and Toad-in-Chief at Red Toad Media. A trained graphic designer, Anne has been a speaker at WordCamp and the IRCE Digital Design Conference. She has been interviewed by Inc Magazine and the Wall Street Journal and published a contribution for Smashing Magazine, one of the top web design blogs in the world. You can follow her on Twitter at @redtoadmedia