When I engage with new clients they always start the conversation with “I need more website traffic”.
This request occurs typically before they have even seen their website metrics. Sure, traffic is a great place to start for most small business. In my experience most people I’m working with at the start, get less than 200 visitors a month.
What I’d like you to think about today is this: Traffic is meaningless unless it creates customers. So you could hire one of those un-relenting f***ing Google Ads telemarketers or respond to those “get marketing student help for $10/hr” to change your business. Knock yourself out. You’d be better off using five dollar bills as kindling for your fireplace.
Why would you hire someone that knows NOTHING about you or your business to market your company? Have any of these people actually run an online business? Or did they take a 20 hour online course?
What you need is a comprehensive strategy that allows you to micro focus on:
- who your customers are
- how the behave
- how to solve their problems
- the user experience on your website (clear calls to actions, good navigation)
- blogging, blogging, blogging
- email capture and newsletters
- social media
- paid search
- obtaining customer reviews on google and other platforms
In other words, there is no “get rich quick” formula here. The formula is DATA DRIVEN MARKETING. In other words, stop guessing what will work and start implementing more things that are working. This list of stuff above seems overwhelming and expensive to most business owners. You need to change your thinking. The days of setting up a website and leaving it alone for 5 years are over. Successful companies create as many “channels” as possible.
You’ll be surprised to know that running an online business is not about attracting 50 inquiries a month on your website form. This game is about creating 20 inquires on your website, 5 from email, 3 from Facebook, 5 from paid search, 10 from blogging.
I personally have tried pumping money into paid search to boost sales. It simply doesn’t work if you have not dealt with the big picture: understanding your customer and offering them the solutions they are seeking.
What is Data Driven Marketing?
The beautiful thing about marketing today is the small business owners have never had more control. Here’s three things I do so that will shift your focus from “traffic” to delighting new customers.
Know Thy Competition And Steal Ideas From Them
You can compete with almost any sized company if you want. Do you know who my biggest competitor is? http://www.4imprint.ca
This company is publicly traded and operates in three countries. Their paid search budget for one day probably exceeds my marketing budget for the year. They are the biggest company in the world that sells promotional products. Guess what? If I was able to attract %0.001 of their traffic, I could retire in Tahiti tomorrow.
I spend hours looking at their U/X (website design), I sign up for their newsletters, I see what products they feature on the home page. I analyze and update my page meta descriptions based on their meta descriptions for the same products. I use special software to see what keywords they bid on when using paid search.
One thing I have noticed is for custom lapel pins, they do not focus on the same user experience that I do. I feature the things on my site that are different from 4imprint. I focus on promoting the fact we are a family business with nearly 50 years in business. I reduce the clutter and hype on my website so that I look completely different. I do the same thing with my pin and medal competitors. In fact I have a list of them I monitor and track and see how I’m faring against them. I do the same for your business and let you focus on the things you actually want to do.
Once you have searched out your biggest online competitors, you can figure out how to outflank them online. Snooping on the competitions is an ongoing process that I personally do almost every week.
2. Start learning about the stats now. It will make sense in a five years.
Most people start looking for SEO’s to increase traffic. It’s the most marketed and visible service for business owners. The response rate is high to these types of services because most business owners would rather chop off a finger than have to deal with this stuff. That was me once. I was the ostrich.
“Hello Mr. SEO. Here’s $500 a month to help you get more traffic. Chances are I won’t hear from you again for a month, Nor will I understand what you are saying when we talk….but I’m hopeful you’ll create results. Do you take Visa?”.
How are you supposed to hire people if you have NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE DOING? I’ve blindly trusted a number of SEO’s only to discover they are focusing on search terms and metrics that are not right for my business.
Their intention was to prop up my traffic stats showing huge increases so that their monthly retainer keeps rolling. There was little or no focus on how to create sales from my traffic. I have yet to hire someone who has created actual sales. So if you are thinking of hiring someone, let me review their proposal for you and I’ll give it the sniff test.
You don’t have to do a deep dive into this stuff but do get up to speed with a few terms to help you guide your efforts. Get familiar with the following concepts to avoid the same mistakes I made:
- bounce rate
- time on site/page
- click through rate
- entrance and exit pages from your site
- what keywords you want to rank for
- traffic sources such as organic search, referrals from social or people who type in your url directly
Keep in mind that most sites see 80% of their traffic land on the home page. But that leaves 20% of those visitors landing on your product page, about us page or blog post. Once you start grasping the nuts and bolts of what drives traffic and business and SALES, you can hire contractors with confidence. Spend six months and read an article or two every week about online marketing. I highly recommend these places:
- Neil Patel’s Videos
- I took this course on Google Analytics over the period of six months.
- SEO for small business owners on Search Engine Land
3. Focus On Conversions, not traffic.
Inbound marketing at it’s cornerstone dictates that we use data to help us “attract, convert and delight” customers. You can’t delight customers if you set up a new web page and 90% of your visitors are leaving within 10 seconds. That’s a very high “bounce rate”.
I relaunched my website in October 2018. I’d spent 2 years mapping out template ideas, finding a company to build them and most importantly, learning Inbound Marketing. Before launching I did a comprehensive keyword study and then aligned my blog topics with those searches. News Flash: blogging is 80% for google and 20% for people.
Focus on writing keyword focused blog posts that create search traffic. These people are about 200% more likely to buy from you than your Aunt Jean. The point here is that if you attract two people a month to a well written blog post who convert, that’s preferable to having 1000 people who visit the post and leave. Once you know your customers and your competition, you can write better content.
Now on to the kicker. Check out this graph. It shows that I had 14% less traffic this month but look at the numbers! We set a company record for the number of new contacts. We also broke a record for the number of new customers. Back in the “bad old days” of hiring SEO’s, they were getting me 2500-5000 sessions a month and less than five actual customers a YEAR. So this all circles back to it’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quantity.
It took me four challenging overhauls in the past six months of all my landing pages, my blog and my site structure to start converting customers in high numbers.
Six months ago I was getting 10 inquires a month with more traffic.
I hope the take-away from this article is that most business owners want the wrong thing when seeking outside help for their business. If you don’t have a good foundation for growth, you can have 10,000 visitors a month who don’t buy one thing and do permanent damage to your rankings in the process. Why? If google sees a site with a high bounce rate, you won’t get many search engine results.
Once I started focusing on user experience, getting reviews and writing articles that get a lot of traffic and shares, things really shifted.