It’s the question I get more often than any other when I’m talking with business owners about content marketing strategy.
It’s the question we see most often from new members in our Authority Q&A sessions.
It’s the hook most online marketing teachers use to attract your attention and get you to buy their products and services.
How do I get more traffic?
There’s more — a lot more — to online marketing than traffic.
But if you can’t attract a critical “minimum viable audience” of traffic, you’re dead before you get started.
Here’s how to use content to get the attention of those all-important prospects — the men and women who are in the market to buy what you have to sell.
The content conveyor belt
Before we start talking about traffic, we need to talk about your overall content marketing strategy.
Smart marketing is “salesmanship in print” (or, these days, pixels), to use the classic copywriting definition.
And as any good salesperson will tell you, a sale progresses through predictable, natural stages.
First, you have to attract the attention of that prospect. That’s the piece we’re going to talk about today. No matter how brilliant your sales sequence, if no one knows you exist, you’re going to fail.
Then you have to engage that person’s interest. This is a particularly risky moment in today’s web environment, with millions of distractions competing for our attention.
As you keep delivering strategic content over time, engagement starts to turn into desire for what you have to sell. Whether it’s a product, a service, a charitable cause, a political candidate, or even the “sale” of an idea … we all have to spark this desire in our customers.
When it’s time to make a sale, you put on your copywriter’s hat and you provide the opportunity for your prospect to take action, turning a fan into a customer.
Finally, smart marketers won’t stop there — they’ll create ongoing customer-focused content so that one-time buyers can be turned into raving fans, who make repeat purchases and who refer you to their friends.
All of these will be covered in future strategy posts, so be sure you’re signed up to get future blog posts so you don’t miss them.
OK, let’s talk traffic
All of that sounds very inviting, but if you’re still struggling to build an audience for your blog, website, or email newsletter, it’s all still in the realm of theory.
So let’s get you some readers.
Strategy 1: Guest posting
Right now, this is probably the quickest way for most up-and-coming content marketers to find a larger audience — while building authority with potential customers and gaining SEO juice at the same time.
Smart guest posting means you create the best content you know how to create … but instead of the dozens of readers you have now, you find thousands (or even hundreds of thousands). Intelligently send those new readers back to your site, where you’ll have additional terrific content to share with them.
If you’re serious about using guest posting to get more traffic and grow your audience, my favorite resource right now is Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course. He’s sent us lots of great guest writers, and his students know their stuff.
Strategy 2: The how-to video
What kinds of things do your customers want to know how to do?
Dye their hair pink? Take better portrait photos? Make dinner their kids will eat?
Successful businesses are based around solving customer problems. Figure out some problems that lend themselves to a how-to video. Launch a series on YouTube on how to solve a problem that interests your customers, and make sure it’s extremely easy for those viewers (and potential customers) to find your site.
The more competitive your topic, the better your videos have to be. In crowded topics, differentiate yourself with an interesting personality, a more effective technique, better production values, or all three.
Use YouTube videos for entry-level tips and strategies. For the more advanced advice, send them to your site … and possibly on to your products and services.
Strategy 3: The Q&A series
Lewis talked yesterday about using webinars to conduct Q&A sessions that build engagement with your audience.
Q&A sessions — using webinars, teleseminars, or whatever tool is most comfortable for you — don’t just encourage engagement, they’re also a strong traffic builder. They’re easy for your fans and your network to promote, they’re inherently interesting, and they’re a great vehicle to show off what you know. They’re also an excellent way to collect topics for future content.
When you write about the questions your audience has, you’ll be writing the kind of content that gets shared — the kind of content that attracts traffic.
Strategy 4: Professional networking
Once you’ve put together a decent foundation of interesting material on your own domain, you’re ready to start a little professional networking.
You can earn the trust of other bloggers in your niche the same way you earn the trust of readers — be nice, be relevant, be interesting.
Don’t just approach the owners of sites with huge audiences. Get to know the people who are creating interesting content at all levels — small sites, medium, and large.
Don’t bother trying to set up or join artificial schemes to promote posts. Instead, share the stuff you truly think is cool, and explain why. Be friendly and pay attention. It’s called social media for a reason.
If you struggle financially, upgrade your social skills. Money flows through people.
Strategy 5: Get real
A lot of online marketers ignore the possibilities of finding traffic in the offline world. (You know, the part of your life that isn’t Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. I realize this is a weird idea.)
If you’re selling business-to-business, look for trade journals and business newspapers you can place articles in. Depending on your business, direct mail can be a surprisingly good way to find new leads.
However you find them, entice those offline readers to your website with a great piece of content like a white paper, a how-to video, or a killer email autoresponder sequence.
None of this works if your content sucks
Remember, content marketing only works if you can create content that’s both entertaining and useful to your readers.
Make it user-friendly. Make it clear. Write about the problems your potential customers care about.
If you’re not 100% sure how to do all that, sign up for our free Internet Marketing for Smart People course. It will give you all the basics on how to create an effective content marketing strategy for any business or organization.
How about you?
There are dozens of ways to attract traffic with content. What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media.
Post image by SmokingPermitted