You don’t have any traffic. Your budget for marketing your website is less than zero. But you have this idea that if you just keep going then the traffic will come. In the meantime, you’re not generating any leads, you’re not making any sales and you have no idea whether your sales funnel even works.
One of the biggest drawbacks of not having any substantial, qualified traffic is that you can’t test anything.
Qualified traffic is the stream of website visitors that are looking for the product or service that you provide. You want this. This type of traffic is full of people that are already looking for whatever you offer.
Think of going to an electronics store. When you walk in, you already know that you’re looking for a new tablet. None of the store’s employees need to convince you about that. You’re qualified traffic.
These qualified visitors are your market. They’re already shopping (or at least browsing) for what you offer. Without them coming to your website, you don’t really know how well you’re presenting yourself online.
The worst outcome for the electronics store is when you show up looking for that tablet and then walk out without buying it because the store was a mess or the floor salesperson couldn’t answer any of your questions.
Don’t let that happen to you. These are some of the questions you should ask yourself about your website:
Does your sales copy do its job? Is your call to action optimized? How could you improve your email newsletter opt-in?
Short of following best practices, you have absolutely no idea how to answer these questions. You can’t run a split test if you don’t have high quality traffic from visitors looking for what you have.
The good news is that you might be able to turn this all around, but you have some work to do.
I’m going to show you some ways to optimize your website, improve your sales copy, and then drive in all that traffic.
Make Your Site Faster And Make Your Copy Sizzle.
1. Optimize Your Website.
40% of visitors leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Slow loading websites are one of the main reasons why visitors bail on a site before they even see it. How do you expect to get a sale if almost half of your visitors don’t even see what you have?
Double check and then triple check your website. How fast does it load? You can use tools like GTmetrix to check your website’s loading time. GTmetrix will show you Google’s PageSpeed and Yahoo’s YSlow results along with actionable recommendations for improving your website’s performance.
If you’re using WordPress for your website, GTmetrix will also recommend specific plugins to help speed up your site.
2. Optimize Your Sales Copy.
Writing sales copy that converts is a specialization for many copywriters. That doesn’t mean that you need to be stuck with bad copy just because you can’t afford to hire a professional.
Follow these guidelines to make your copywriting the best it can be.
Set a goal for your copy.
- Start with the end result that you want and work your way backward. Your copy has a job so make it work.
- The goal is to sell more, get more leads, or something else related to your business.
- The goal is not to write like Vonnegut or Faulkner. Keep your copy simple and focused on the goal. But don’t be afraid to put in your own personality if it’s appropriate.
Remember that you’re asking for your visitor for something.
The ultimate message of your sales copy is you asking your visitors to give something of theirs to get something of yours. This is true for sales, email opt-ins, all of it. These are all trades.
Make the terms of the trade as clear as possible.
You know the value of their money or email address. Let them know the value of what you offer.
You do this by following one of the oldest principles of any decent writing:
Your copy should describe how your visitor will benefit from buying your product or working with you. Two of the best ways to go about showing what you customer will get are:
- Talking about the benefits of your product or service, not the features.
- Using testimonials from your past customers or clients.
- Be specific. Add detail to your claim. If a new customer can expect a 200% increase in some metric – like profit, sales, traffic, etc. – then say that!
Start with your headlines.
Why start with the headlines? Your headlines have the largest font size and take up the most space on your page. This is where the eyes of every visitor go first. Make them count by focusing on the single most important benefit of what you’re offering.
Using focused headlines that are wrapped in <h1> or <h2> tags also lets the search engines know what you’re writing about. This means your site will show up in relevant search results.
Look at how the headlines capture your attention. They tell a compelling story.
Use shorter sentences and paragraphs.
Make your copy easier to read by using short paragraphs and sentences. Shorter sentences and paragraphs are easier to read and easier to scan.
You can probably imagine your high school English teacher shaking his head about this. But that was way back then and you weren’t learning about writing sales copy. Writing copy for the web is its own beast. We don’t read the web in the way we read a novel or even the way we read a magazine.
- This isn’t an excuse to be thoughtless about your writing or adopt an anything goes attitude.
- Be more thoughtful and consider the reader, the medium, and the message.
- Read what you write and then take an axe to it. Read it once, twice, three times. Then start cutting. Strip out everything that doesn’t lead to your goal.
- Remove figures of speech. Take out colloquialisms or regional expressions. Nothing is sacred. If it doesn’t help your copy along to its goal, then remove it. Be merciless.
Here’s a secret: If copywriting isn’t your forte then writing your own might be only a temporary solution. Copywriting is a specialized skill. Like most specialized skills, the pros will always do it better.
Once you have some revenue, you can hire a professional copywriter that focuses on sales copy. You’ll be glad that you invested that money on yourself and on your company.
3. Optimize Your Calls To Action For Conversion
Your call to action (CTA) can make or break your conversion process. You spent hours working over and refining your sales copy only to have your effort trashed by a poorly converting CTA. Don’t let this be you.
Here a few CTA dos and don’ts:
- Do use a CTA that stands out.
Your CTA should work well with your web design but still stand out. Make sure that every visitor knows without a doubt that it’s a CTA. Bitly has a well designed website and their ebook CTA is a great example of how to grab attention and tell your visitors what you want them to do.
- Don’t make your call to action enormous. Keep it a reasonable size for your site’s design. It should stand out on but not dominate a page.
- Do keep your CTA copy brief and actionable.
Your CTA text should be something like “Read Now”, “Get The Ebook”, “I Want To Learn”, and so on. Notice the verbs? Use them in your CTAs. You want your visitors to take action.
- Don’t ever use words like “Submit”, “Download”, or “Apply”. Submit is the absolute worst. What visitor wants to “submit” to a website?
Turn Your Website Into A Traffic Powerhouse
1. Content Marketing: Create A Blog On Your Site Or Dust Off That One You Abandoned.
If you’ve been in a dark hole for the last 15 years, you may not realize that blogging has changed a lot. Lament it or don’t, but recognize the shift. In a landscape dominated by content marketing, many of the most successful blogs are purpose driven, income generating machines now.
Those 300 word posts filled with your thoughts about a news story you heard or how you feel about a movie are gone. Well, they’re not entirely gone – they just don’t matter for your purposes.
Your blog needs to contain informative, well considered, and valuable material for your customers. Here is the chance to present yourself to people that don’t know anything about you, how you work, and what you know.
Research current trends for the topic you choose and refine it using Google Trends to see your topic’s popularity. Get more specific and focus on niches by paying attention to regions, and related search queries. Here, I searched for trends related to “beer making”. This is a pet project of mine.
I can see from the results that the topic trend is on a gradual decline but that there’s still a lot of life yet in it.
Looking at the regions, I can find out where in the world the topic is most popular.
Related queries can be a great start for identifying less competitive, long tail keywords for your articles. I can tailor my copy to include topics related to beer making like “beer kit”, “beer making kit”, and “beer making supplies”.
This doesn’t qualify as a “hack”. Always remember that you’re writing content to engage your customers, not just attract them. Know what your customers are searching for allows you to write about what your customers care about.
Think about their problems and solve them. Solutions are valuable and your customers will appreciate them. If you provide valuable solutions, then you’ll be valuable to your audience.
You’ll want to write longer articles than you might think. The data shows that in depth, long form articles perform much better in terms of social sharing, page views, and lead generation.
Just like your sales copy headlines, your article titles carry a big responsibility. Spend time coming up with a few options for each article’s title and then select the best. The Upworthy headline challenge is a great exercise for headlines and article titles.
2. Guest Blogging: Write Articles And Give Them Away
Yes. For free. Write more articles about topics that matter to your customers and then give them away to other, more active websites.
Your articles should contain valuable information. Write a brief bio about yourself with your website address and add it to the end of each article. Seek out websites in your target industry that have active blogs and offer to give them the article for free. Just make sure you can get that author credit. Remember, the point is to get your name and your writing in front of new readers.
A tactic from Neil Patel is to pick your subject and then attach “write for us” when you search for it. If I use this tactic and look for opportunities to write articles about “beer making”, I’m served a huge selection of results from which to choose.
If you truly created something of value, owners and editors would love for you to guest post on their sites. Your traffic will get a bump from the other site’s readers. Boom!
3. Interview Experts
Experts in any field bring name recognition and that brings credibility to you and your website. Interviews give you something to talk about on social media and there’s a betting chance that the expert will be online talking about it too.
All of that activity will drive traffic back to your site.
4. Be Active On Social Networks
They’re called “networks” so network.
It should be carved in stone that you must be genuine on social networks. Speak to your audience rather than trying to sell to them. The idea is to spread your message far and wide but softly.
As a guideline, give away valuable material online 9 times for every 1 time you deliver a sales message. Test your ratio and see what works best for your audience.
Recognize the format for each network and interact with it accordingly.
- Facebook – You don’t necessarily need to have a Facebook page. But if you do then be active on it. When you start bringing in revenue from your efforts, you can run targeted, inexpensive ads that drive traffic to your website.
- Twitter – Make sure that your website is included in your profile. Tweet short and pithy remarks that include Twitter handles and hashtags. If someone created something you like, find them on Twitter and tweet about it. Quote them in your tweet and add that person’s handle to your tweet so he or she knows.
- Pinterest – The number three social network behind Facebook and Twitter. If you have luscious images associated with your service or product and you’re handy with a camera then Pinterest can be a huge win.
Attach images to your blog articles and upload them to Pinterest to drive traffic back to your site.
- LinkedIn – Great for B2B interactions. Find and follow leaders in a number of industries. Often you can see which LinkedIn groups they belong to. Join and participate in the same groups. Done tactfully, this could be a route to conducting an interview!
- Quora – Don’t try to sell anything here. Ever. Use Quora to build a reputation for yourself. Answer questions thoroughly and your responses will get voted up. This exposure is golden for your image online. Make sure to include your website in your profile so readers can find you online.
5. Issue Press Releases
Do you have a new product or service? Are you starting to serve a new market? Is your new book coming out soon? Issue a press release.
Help A Reporter Out is a service to connect you or your company to journalists in need of sources. How great would it be to get interviewed as an expert in your field?
PRLOG is a free press release service that will syndicate your release on the PRLOG site and submit it to the major search engines.
6. Repurpose those fantastic blog articles you’ll be writing
The two most straightforward ways to repurpose your blog articles is to:
- Convert them into videos
You can create videos on a shoestring budget. A great example of this is Moz’s Whiteboard Friday. Moz is pretty much nailing this approach so you won’t want to copy it. Instead, be inspired by it! Here’s a very successful company that went totally DIY for this video series. So polish up your onscreen appearance and think about what kind of how-to videos you can make. Once you have some finished articles you can convert them into scripts for your videos and upload them to your YouTube channel.
- Then convert those videos into SlideShare decks
You have the video already, now use still frames from it to build a Slideshare deck using PowerPoint (Mac and Windows), Google Presentation, or an online service like Prezi.SlideShare decks can spread your message even further. Buffer was able to generate over 40,000 views for 10 minutes of work! Your blog article is now on three types of media!
Bonus: Turn your long form article into a pdf ebook.
Take your best performing article (based on traffic), format it in Google Documents, save it as a pdf, and use it as an incentive for your email opt-in. Remember, a visitor’s email address is valuable. So trade something to get it.
I won’t fool you. It takes time to build up traffic without paying for it through ads through programs like Google Adsense or Facebook Ads. Unless you hit all these steps pretty hard, you may not see results for months and months. But you will see results. It takes time but it works.
Find your greatest leverage points. Try all of the steps and evaluate your results with each. See which are delivering the most return and focus your efforts on those.
If you’re getting great traction on Twitter, see if you can find out why. Take note of as many details as you can think of. What time are you tweeting? What kind of tweets get the most interaction? Who is interacting with you? You might not know what is making it work so keep track of everything.
Revisit the tactics that weren’t working as well for you and reevaluate your approach. See what variables you can alter. Again, keep track of everything. Failed efforts can tell you a lot over time.
Somebody once said that “an expert is just someone who has already figured out all the ways to fail.”