5 Ways to Get More Traffic with Content Marketing

image of busy traffic

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 Third Tribe 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.
~Steve Pavlina

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

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  1. Thanks Sonia.

    I remember Alan Weiss – the author of Million Dollar Consulting – say that 90% of his clients for his 7 figure consulting business came from only 2 sources.

    There are 25 different types of content you can create to promote yourself. Everything from guest posts to podcasts to webinars. You can’t focus on all of them. But thats fine. Even if you focus on just 1 or 2 types of content, you’ll do good as long as the quality is top notch. The trick is to be consistent with the frequency of posting that content.

    My favorite way of attracting traffic with content is:
    1. Guest posting.
    2. Using a blog wide affiliate program, so that my readers can promote a single individual blog post if it is good.
    3. Buying ads on StumbleUpon.com. StumbleUpon is really fantastic to give a second wind to good content. Its not really good to promote salespages and landing pages. But works really well for promoting blog posts.

    • Number 2 really got attention.. I can see the benefits of having a site wide affiliate program, but what do your readers get for promoting?

      • With a normal affiliate program, your readers can only promote the salesletter to their audience once in a while. With a site wide affiliate program, whenever you write an awesome post, your readers can share it. They will still earn the commission when their referrals browse through other pages on your website, and eventually end up buying your products or services. But because they don’t have to hardsell you – and they can promote any single page on your website, they can promote you more frequently.

        Leading to more traffic and sales for you. And higher affiliate commission earnings for them.

        • That’s a really interesting model, actually.

        • Yes Ankesh, that’s a great idea and a super comment! See there’s a reason for reading these comments… Most people only think of an immediate sale (I promote this and I get that immediately). Reality is that it only goes so far. How often is someone going to promote the same sales letter or whatever. On the other hand, if they can get some kind of reward for sharing… it’s a little bit of encouragement. Reminds me of punchtab, a loyalty program to get more engagement from your readers.

        • Very interesting.. I’m gonna look into that.. Thanks for elaborating :)

  2. Great post! Having worked in corporate video, it’s interesting to now hear a lot of people hooking onto video as part of their content strategy, without really thinking about what they want to say. Being dynamic and informative in video is so essential and yes, unless you have an interesting personality, stick to webinars! I know I have ‘a face for radio’ so am looking into webinars in the future and avoiding video!

  3. Sonia, you didn’t mention buying traffic!

    I wish I’d started with advertising. It costs more but would have taken dramatically less time.

    I spent months building a content conveyor belt that no one wanted! I offered a gift for signing up to my list that DECREASED conversion.

    Compare that to what I did over the last month. My keyword research showed me that “stress” is a major issue for my audience. I tested an ad about stress and a/b tested a landing page with that hook.

    The stress ad and the stress landing page both failed. Without buying quick traffic to complete the test it would have taken a long time to realize this was the wrong way.

    I have a hunch that my increased email open rates are due to the audience I “purchased” recently. They seem to be a lot more motivated than the folks who wandered in through my largest source of traffic – a link from a much bigger blog in my niche.

    There are smart ways to buy traffic without losing your shirt. Check out Perry Marshall, who sends leads straight into a content event, like a webinar,

    …or Glen Allsopp, who teaches in his free email blogging course how to buy traffic and send leads into a 27 part autorespnder.

  4. Thanks for the valuable information. I just setup my website and really need this improve on my content traffic.

  5. As strange as it may seem, real friends who follow your blog make a lot of difference. I remember my classmate used to visit my technology blog every day and he used to leave comments, because he actually cared about the stuff he read. :)

    And many beginners will understand why even one comment is important – it is extremely hard to “force” strangers to start conversation on your blog posts.

  6. Great article…

    I’ve found publishing articles in trade journals both online and offline to be a fantastic way to drive very targeted traffic to my website. You are speaking directly in an Authority position to people that you WANT to business with.

    Powerful stuff.

    Thanks,

    Ryan H.

  7. I am a big proponent of guest blogging. Not only does it drive traffic, it’s a great way to build quality inbound links, increase your brand presence and establish your authority as an industry expert.

  8. The most important point is at the very end.. If you content sucks, none of this will work. People should focus on becoming better content producers if they ever want to attract the audience they want.

    Sadly this is where a lot of people get stuck and “fail” (which actually means they quit) – it really does suck to be writing a ton of articles and get absolutely nothing in return. I’ve been there but now I know better.

    If anyone reading this comment is even thinking about quitting, don’t do it. The stuff on copyblogger alone can help you become a better writer. Thanks Sonia for the great piece.

  9. Sonia,
    Who could I ask for a how-to video on, ahem, dyeing my hair pink? ;)
    I’ve always preferred text over video, but maybe it’s time to change things up a bit.
    BTW, love IMFSP!

  10. “None of this works if your content sucks.”
    I have to say, “Amen to that!”, Sonia. No matter what kind of cool ninja SEO strategy and traffic system you use, if your content is a bunch of bull, that traffic won’t convert, and it will be useless.

  11. Hi Sonia,

    The Pavlina quote is dead on. If you struggle making money bump up your game.

    Rich people build networks. Networks of people whom they assist, and in turn, this network expands your presence as they promote you to their networks. Call it tapping into One-ness, or just plain common sense. You can’t do it alone.

    The network also provides you with powerful business ideas, stuff you hadn’t thought of. Reach out, give freely, and prosper. Building the network is about promoting others, helping others, adding value to posts with helpful, insightful comments, all that stuff. Keep giving. Detach from outcomes, as much as humanly possible, at least ;) This is a toughie because we tend to think: me, me, me, I need to drive traffic to my blog. But a cool thing happens when you help others drive traffic to their blog; you gain more traffic.

    What you want, give it away. Improve your social skills be being affable, approachable, helpful, friendly. Simply being nice has opened more doors for me than I could ever dream of, especially when I had no clue in hell what I was doing online. Nice people get people to help them, because we reach out to those we care about. The simplest of simple rules, yet so many ignore it in their massive rush to quick failure.

    Think outward. Help people. Be a friend. Improve your social skills. #4 will happen so easily, and yes, even if your content is lame, you can generate some traffic. Of course, once your content gets good, really good, you start seeing some serious traffic. Make #4 a key point of your campaign and awesome things happen for you.

    Thanks for sharing Sonia!

    Ryan

    • And I think Pavlina is a good example of someone who didn’t really have stellar social skills to start with. They can be worked on, like any other skill set.

  12. Thanks for the Great Article! I have an online community magazine here in Tallahassee. We are actually the place for local experts to publish their articles to actually reach local readers since we have already established a large audience.

    The reason people like it is because it is local, written by people they might run into at the grocery store. People they can literally call on the phone and have them come out and fix their roof.

    But to take a line from William Goldman, “Nobody Knows Anything.” I am constantly surprised on which topics fail and which end up being “hits” – granted we make sure the topics are relevant and the writing is organized, concise and well-done. But it seems all of our “guest bloggers” have that one stand-out article that people keep finding.

    For example, Allure Laser Treatment had me do some research to see what people were asking in Search Engines about Laser Hair Removal. I gave her a list from “Does it cause Cancer” to “Can Men have Laser Hair Removal” – she has written article on these topics plus some FAQs her clients ask. One of these articles, “Is It Safe to get Laser Hair Removal while Pregnant or Breastfeeding” became a smash hit. Not only did it get a lot of initial readers – it gets hundreds of hits from Google every week. It is a question a lot of people want answered. (Unfortunately for Allure, the answer is to be better safe than sorry) but this shows that you never know which headline is going to take off.

    I am constantly surprised. Sometimes I think one will be a hit and it flops, while another takes off.

  13. #4 is great. I have new hope for smoothing out my rough edges. ;-).
    “None of this works if your content is phony,” is another axiom that I’d guess would be true. People eventually, always spot phonies.

  14. Some of the traffic for my blog comes from Facebook .I spend time building relationships on FB especially in specialized groups. Make lots of comments and likes. I like to interact with people.

    I also work on my headlines and try to pick a combination of words to interest the audience. I try to live up to the promise of the headline. Still have a lot to learn.

    I also use Twitter and Google+ where quality counts a lot. Have a lot of room for improvement, but am trying.

  15. Guest posting is the greatest of all, i think. But I find it hard to do it as I am a new comer.
    Any ideas for newbie on guest posting? Anyway, will try out your recommended course.
    Thanks

  16. I’d say webinars are my favorite strategy for generating traffic. They’re easy to set up, and if you pick the right topic, they’re well attended. Maybe it’s the presenter in me that prefers webinars…

    When I’ve sold web design or even now, IDX, I hosted “WordPress 101″ webinars as a way to get people interested in learning about WordPress on a mailing list. On the webinar registration form I’d ask things like:

    – Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter to learn about upcoming similar webinars?
    – Are you interested in learning more about a custom site design?
    – Are you a current IDX client of ours? If not, would you like to learn more about what we have to offer?

    Most people subscribed to the newsletter, and about half wanted to learn more about working with a designer and/or purchasing an IDX feed. Not a bad way to generate a good list of interested prospects if you ask me :-)

  17. THX again Sonia. Appreciated the conversation too.

  18. We’re trying really hard at Yolk Recruitment to build some good content and market it out there. Thanks for the tips. A quick question do think we should have comments enabled on our new blog we’re currently building – do find them worthwhile or just spammy?

  19. Thanks for the valuable information. I just setup my website and really need this improve on my content traffic.

  20. “None of these works if your content sucks” – It made me smile but its the real fact. Content coupled with those ideas will bring traffic. Network with people that matters in your niche is the best. Do not write 2000 guest posts for all niche but write 200 guest posts for the blogs that matters in your niche and you are done!

    Sheyi

  21. Cool, It makes sense.

    Attracting the attention of the prospect seems to be where offline business professionals, whom are now starting “Business Blogs” seem to have most confusion.

    I talked to a few people whom just want to advertise their business and don’t really get the whole, “Engage audience”. But as I go the advertise route with PPC I find out even more that you still need to attract the attention of the audience even with the click or even on the landing page. This is one cookie you just avoid eating.

    Solid info which I’m making arrangements to apply right now.

  22. I’m curious if there’s a study done on what words create the biggest emotional and intellectual impact among readers online. Does it have to do with how you write your headline? The font size? The color? When attention span these days is just a few seconds, just how can you write your content in such a way that it feels like a valuable read to your audience.. so they’d stay longer, scroll down and read the rest of your post? Love your tips here, by the way!

  23. These 5 strategies are very important for any aspiring marketer. Content creation is one of the most powerful ways of drawing people into your online world. The Steve Palina quote really sums up the entire article IMO. You have to remember that it is REAL people that you are trying to market to. The most important thing I have ever learned in Internet Marketing would be to not chase money but let the money chase me.

    This entails going out and doing research into what exactly my target market really wants. I will browse multiple forums and write down the most questions I see. I will post some to get my reputation out and then I can ask some of the forum members what they are burning to know. I own a blog so I can also directly ask my readers what is really giving them a hard time in their life.

    Then once you have all of this information you are in an amazing position of leverage to cater a product that is directly targeted to your audience and readership. I prefer to release my products for free in exchange for an email address to build my list but also to be more trustworthy in the eyes of my potential prospects. They then see me as a giver and then later on when I do release another product for sale they are much more likely to purchase from me because they know that I am a giver. They want to give me their money for my continuing help!

  24. Sonia,

    One great way to use content to drive traffic is to couple it with a marketing automation strategy. You take your content and include links to it in an automated lead nurturing email campaign. The best part of this is that it makes sure you get the most mileage out of your content.- even months after you’ve created it. We’ve got this quick guide to lead nurturing – maybe some readers will find it useful:

    http://spark.marketo.com/marketing-automation/toolkits/lead-nurturing

    Thanks again for the article!

    Seth Resler
    Content Manager
    Marketo

  25. In order to drive traffic I think these five strategies are quite effective and helpful. For me the most important point you shared is #5 Professional Networking as it is so convincing to a huge number of people for being nice, relevant and interesting. Although there are some other effective points required to be mentioned for driving traffic on continuous basis. Overall I really liked your post. Thanks Sonia.

  26. With my blog called “The Twilight Bark” (Based of Walt Disney’s 101 Dalmatians) I have tried writing about my pet sitting experiences, pet facts, pet funnies & pet issues. I LOVE to write! I try to find topics that pet owners would be interested in & that will help further educate the pet owners & lovers out there. I’ve tried several different formats for my blog to entice people. I had it attached to my website http://www.shannonspetsitting.net/ when I first launched it abut 4 years ago & was hosting through Lycos/Tripod. NADDA! Didn’t get anything. So I switched it over my website over to blogger. it got a better result & got more followers. So I was happier. But then I was informed it wasn’t really doing my website any good if it wasn’t attached to it. So when I redid my website in wordpress the blog was automatically attached to it which was nice. http://www.shannonspetsitting.net/the-twilight-bark/ Now “The Twilight Bark Blog” is helping me educate the pet public and helping increase my web presence as well! But I’m still having a issue with getting subscribers I think? If they are subscribing to me I don’t know how to see the # of subscribers I have. I was getting a lot of spam comments at first. But I put up a spam blocker & that’s helps quite a bit. I don’t know if there is really a magical equation or formula for getting followers?? I’ve just about tried everything I can think of & that has been suggested to me.

  27. Great list! I love how you reiterate that content is still king. It doesn’t matter how many backlinks you get or how many followers you have if your content is lacking. I think a good mix of timeless, useful and current content is key to establishing a web presence.

  28. Currently I am experimenting with guest posting with one of my blogs. I am running it entirely on the basis of guest posts submitted by others.
    What I found out is – contents are of great quality, contributors for their own benefit promote the articles on social platforms they are connected with and its win-win for both the parties. I get the traffic with out much effort, they get their link benefit as well.
    The hardest part for me was to get the site established with initial quality posts and bring a sizable traffic so that people notice it and want to contribute.

  29. The video concept is golden, especially not giving away the farm on YouTube. I’ve made that mistake and it doesn’t result in much traffic. The video must leave viewers hanging (yet still provide solid info) so they’re enticed to visit your site.

  30. Love the information. I try to implement video within my content as much as possible, it really helps out bounce rate and time on site. Guest blogging is what I am looking to get into next so I appreciate the information on the subject. For those of you who are not implementing video within your posts, DO IT! It has left me with a seriously low bounce rate and about a 38% subscriber rate…

  31. Another fantastic post. I get so much cool info from copyblogger…

    Certainly it’s the early stages of becoming established that is most difficult. With every increasing platforms to get content to it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.

    Syndication is very important for gaining reputation, especially when you are in a super competitive market such as the make money online niche.

    Great and thanks