After 9/11, Brian Edmondson was laid off from his Wall Street job. Instead of looking for a new job, though, Brian decided to become an entrepreneur online. He proved to himself that he could start a website from nothing, drive traffic to it, and make a profit.
Since then, he’s done it over and over, for himself and for clients. Brian recently shared his strategies with Wealthy Web Writer — you can view the entire webinar HERE.
The Truth About Online Marketing
Unlike the popular misconception, online marketing is not the promised land, and virtual streets aren’t paved with gold. There is plenty of opportunity, though, for those with the knowledge to take advantage of it.
As web writers, we can put our knowledge to work, for ourselves and for our clients. Making sure clients know the realities of online marketing, and managing their expectations, is critical for success.
Brian was blunt. “In a bricks-and-mortar business, you can open your doors and get some walk-in business, just because it’s there,” he explained.
Online, though, “you’re competing in a global marketplace against hundreds of millions of sites. People just aren’t going to come, we have to actively promote. Most people will never find the site, and if they do, they’re likely to leave within seconds.”
Additionally, if the site doesn’t load within two seconds, 85% of visitors will leave, and a 1-2% conversion rate is good.
It’s important that your clients have realistic expectations. In a “should I laugh or should I cry” experience, Brian once had a client who complained that he “only” had a 75% open rate on an email he sent out!
Sustainable vs. Transactional Traffic
One type of traffic is like having a job, and the other is like having a business. When you combine traffic and conversion to earn an income, you have a job, Brian told us. You’re basically trading hours for dollars, and when you stop, so does your income.
But when you focus on lead generation, you get traffic plus list building plus conversion, and that equates to a business.
“Traffic is not the problem,” he announced. “List building is.”
First, you drive traffic, which is your sources of leads.
Second, add those leads to a list. (To learn all about list building, Brian has created an AWAI program. It’s called How to Build Email Lists.)
Third, convert those leads to sales, and follow up to make more sales.
Email marketing still offers the best ROI (Return on Investment) of any online marketing activity. So the copy on your landing pages and squeeze pages must be great, and so must your emails.
Top Ways to Drive Traffic
Before you start driving traffic, develop a list-building mindset. Look for ways to attract more traffic and build your list at the same time. If someone visits your site and leaves, he’s not likely to come back without a reminder. That’s why you must capture his contact information.
Whatever you’re doing out in the world, think about ways to use it to drive traffic to your website, the hub of your business activity. For example, if you’re an author doing a radio or TV appearance, offer a premium on your website and direct the audience to it.
There are three types of traffic:
Free Traffic has a big advantage in that you don’t spend money for it. The downside is, it’s a slow way to develop a steady stream of traffic to your site.
Paid Traffic is more immediate than free traffic, but you spend money to get it. You might even lose money at first, with traffic costing more than the benefit you get from it, while you test different ads.
Leveraged Traffic combines the advantages of both free and paid.
Brian combines seven different methods to drive traffic to his sites.
This is Brian’s first choice for developing free traffic. It’s a strategy that allows you to integrate your message with the reach of a person or company that already has a big online audience.
- List 25 experts in your market, people who attract your target audience. Then search Google to find those that rank well in search.
- List 25 competitors and do the same
- List 25 books and 25 magazines and do the same
Take a look at the experts’ sites, and think about ways you can get your message out to their audience.
- If there’s a blog, leave thoughtful, helpful comments
- Look into guest posting
- Does the expert have a Facebook or Google+ page, or a big following on Twitter? Follow her on social media, and interact with the expert and her followers.
- Take advantage of that person’s list — advertise on her e-letter.
- Are there banner ads on the site? Find out what it would cost you to advertise there.
If you’re paying for advertising, promote your free offer, and make sure you include a visual representation of it. Create an attractive cover if you’re giving away an e-book or special report.
Search Engine Traffic
“Create good quality, original content on a consistent basis,” Brian advised. “Everything else is noise.”
There are two types of content that show up on search — evergreen and trending. An evergreen topic is one that will still be there in five years. It brings traffic to your site over time.
A trending topic is one that’s popular in the short-term. It may bring a traffic spike, but it won’t generate sustained traffic the way evergreen content will. The trending topic is the low-hanging fruit, bringing a surge of immediate traffic, but you need evergreen content to sustain you over the long haul.
Not many people do video marketing, and even fewer do it well. If video is a good fit for your niche, use the videos to drive traffic to your site. Add links to the description, and include a call-to-action in the video. Add watermarks that include a URL.
Press Releases and Web Releases
Both are good ways to drive traffic. A press release is about the company, while a web release includes news. Use a service like PRWeb.com, and join at a level that lets you include live links.
Social Media Marketing
Use social media to build relationships and add personality to your marketing. When a leader on that platform reposts or retweets something of yours, you get the full benefit of his leverage with his followers.
Use Facebook to “get social” with customers, and LinkedIn for developing professional relationships with colleagues and customers.
We’re all familiar with free ways to use social media, but don’t neglect advertising opportunities on social.
Let your customers, readers, and followers do some of the work for you. Look for opportunities to ask for their help — “Like” a page (Facebook), retweet (Twitter), pin (Pinterest), or forward to a friend (e-letter).
“Go back to the Top 100 method,” Brian suggested, “most of the big brands, experts, authors, and gurus have a Twitter and Facebook presence.” If you’ve already integrated on their blog, do the same on their social platforms.
Yes, you read that right. Offline marketing can enhance your online marketing, but only when you have a powerful free offer. Use:
- Direct mail
- Print advertising
- The back of your own business card
Think about ways you can encourage people to get your free offer in exchange for adding their names to your list.
Brian wrapped up with six action steps to drive more traffic to your site:
- Identify the top websites in your market.
- Determine if and how you can integrate with them.
- Decide what types of content to create — plan to add at least one new piece of content each week.
- Create a content schedule.
- Master one traffic method and learn to scale it, then move on to the next. Wash, rinse, repeat.
- Set aside time each week for traffic research.
When you drive more traffic to your site, you enlarge your mailing list and increase your customer base, sales, and Return on Investment.