Online traffic is unpredictable and dynamic. This can be a bit of a pain when you’re trying to run a business on the web. So since online sales are all about driving online traffic, how do you “time travel proof” your sources to send you a steady amount of that traffic in the future?
Marty McFly ran into a similar problem in the Back to the Future trilogy. He went back in time in the first film and accidentally messed up how his parents met (basically erasing his future existence). It’s up to Marty then to bring his folks back together. In the second film, he has to fix his own future and in the third he’s got to go even further back in time to bring back his friend and inventor of the time machine, Doc Brown.
Effectively, to fix it all and “time travel proof” his present, Marty has to travel back in time, forward in time, and way back in time completing a variety of different tasks, hijinks, and crazy stuff to get it all together. In our own experience, we’ve found that securing your future traffic sources is done in much the same way. I’m not saying you have to attend a high school dance singing “Johnny B. Goode” to save the day, but that using a combination of different sources past, present and future will always give you the best results.
So to help you secure a steady traffic flow for your online business, we’ve put together this list of the top three ways to continuously bring visitors to your site in 2015. By no means is this a complete list, but it should give you some new ideas to implement with your own marketing strategies. Remember that you shouldn’t go trying everything all out at one time. Start with the sources that feel easiest to try first, and slowly add others as your budget and time constraints see fit.
Note: Before we get into it, I’ll briefly mention a little about search engine optimization. SEO is the backbone of online site traffic. The majority of people find websites and online content through search engines. SEO is the practice of keeping your site structure and content up-to-date and fit for search engines to find. Stick to the basics and implement as many tweaks as you can. It’s best to have someone specifically working on this for you, but if you don’t have the budget for it then it’s best to dedicate a small portion of your time to it yourself each week.
In the first Back to the Future film, Marty has to get his parents back together. He tries setting them up in various scenarios but nothing quite plays out the way he wants it to. Nearing the end of the film, it all comes down to one night – The Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. He uses a variety of social events to help get key characters literally engaged.
In much the same way, social media will by far be the biggest player in traffic referrals for 2015. Although online communities like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are primarily used by businesses for PR channels, we have also found them to be a source of traffic conversions. The key is to not only be active on these social sites, but to also optimize your promotional posts to inspire people to take an immediate action.
Let’s think back to the movie. Marty effectively sets up a scenario where he’ll pretend to take advantage of his mom so his dad can jump in and save her. The school bully and primary antagonist of the film, Biff, shows up however and messes with Lorraine (Marty’s mom) himself. This gives George (Marty’s dad) the chance to act on his own, effectively winning Lorraine’s heart by his own actions rather than a setup.
Social media allows your audience to become involved with the company. It gives them the freedom to voice their opinions and interact with staff. This will provide something of value to your followers. You’re giving them a reason to click on your links. It isn’t just about putting up discount announcements or social media contests. It’s about taking a little extra time to think of something truly original.
In the second film, future Biff hijacks the time machine and gives his younger self a sports almanac from the future. Using the report, Biff bets big on all the winning teams and becomes the richest man in Hill Valley, effectively changing Marty’s entire present. Marty has to go back in time and stop Biff from giving himself the almanac.
Like the almanac in the film, paid advertising is essentially a free pass. Yet having advertisements on websites has gotten a lot of bad publicity in 2013. People have written about how cluttered and spammy it looks while complaining about their issues with web surfing privacy.
But the numbers just tell a whole different story. According to the website conversion optimization intelligence agency Invesp, online advertising grew by 28% in 2011 and 27% in 2012. It is expected to grow by an additional 17% in 2013 and 11% in 2014. Who knows how much in 2015?
If you do it right, web ads can really boost your traffic in 2015. I’d first go directly to websites that are already getting a large amount of traffic from your target audience. In exchange for a flat, monthly, or sometimes yearly fee, you can have your own little slot on their website. A great alternative to this would be setting up an affiliate program. You pay web masters only if someone actually buys from your site, so there’s no lost income. In those cases, site owners will be more motivated to actively sell and promote your products and services so it’s probably your best bet.
If you have a larger budget though, definitely give Google Adwords a try. They use their company algorithms to strategically place your ad with it would be most likely to convert. You pay per click however, so make sure you set click through amounts that are well within your budget.
Blogging and Online Forums
Sometimes you have to go further back to go forward. In the third and final Back to the Future movie, Marty has to go back to the old west to save his friend Doc Brown. At this point, blogging and online forums are essentially the old west of the marketing world. Anyone can start a blog, and with that online freedom, many niche markets have become battle grounds where whoever has the most quality content wins.
At this point, Google is practically penalizing you for not producing fresh content on a regular basis. Blogging and online forums are the perfect platform to continuously provide new and valuable information to your audiences and search engines. In addition to improving your site rankings, you’ll also build a loyal group of followers that will visit your site much more often.
Blog posts also give you something new and exciting to share on your social media accounts. This makes it easier for your content to be shared and talked about. With social widgets, you can keep track of the popularity of your posts and get new ideas on what to write from that.
Forums on the other hand allow your customers and followers to contribute their own commentary. User-generated content is by far the greatest way to attract new visitors and create buzz surrounding your site. And though you don’t want to be overly promotional in these categories, you can always talk honestly about what it is you do and what it is you have to offer to your audience.