Road to Success
Step 3: Drive Some Traffic
Trains? Planes? Automobiles? No, not vehicles. We’re talking about people here. So, exactly how do we go about getting some traffic to our offers? Traffic comes in two basic flavors: free and paid. Let’s talk about some of the details of each type.
You’ll note that I’ve put the term “free” in quotes here because it is a bit of a misnomer. The free methods are typically purchased with time rather than with currency. SEO, social media, video marketing, viral marketing and the like still represent investments in time to stage your offer so that it can be seen from generally accessible locations such as search engine results, safe lists and traffic exchanges (which actually straddle the fence between free and paid). Let’s have a closer look.
SEO is an abbreviation of Search Engine Optimization. This is the practice of tweaking your site or particular items of content in a variety of ways such as the use of keywords, meta tags and other techniques to try to accomplish a preferable position in an organic web search. If you have selected a highly specific search term or phrase such as “What Rob Knowlan had for Christmas Dinner on Saturday, December 25th 2010”, it is likely you will jump right to the top of the search results. As our example demonstrates, however, something this specific is quite unlikely to be searched for explicitly by the general populace and even if they did, who really cares? Typically, you will be targeting keywords that will have to do with the product or service you have on offer. It can take some time for a site to rank strictly on SEO activities and may never do so if the keyword you’ve selected is broad enough to have a lot of competition from established retailers. There are a great many products and vendors that will help you out with this, but I submit to you that if you start paying to fine tune your SEO it has now become a type of paid traffic.
Something that is all the craze just now is video marketing. Using the aforementioned keyword tweaks and techniques on a video you’ve submitted to YouTube, Vimeo or other video repository is another clever way to pop to the top. However, since it is the latest craze and there a great many products and services being sold right now it is only a matter of time before keyword positioning in multimedia venues becomes as difficult to rank for as general website keyword optimization is already. It’s a clever strategy, but the clock is ticking and it’s almost guaranteed that when the clock strikes the appointed hour, Google shall loose one of it’s vicious, slapping beasts and YouTube channels shall fall. Videos are great and entertaining, but they take some time to do a worthwhile presentation. There are tools and vendors who can streamline the process for a fee, but then it’s no longer free.
The “Bum Marketing” method popularized by Travis Sago consists of a strategy of submitting articles to a variety of content directories in order to generate interest and eventually to drive the potential customers to your offer. The downside is that this is particularly time intensive due to the effort involved in writing the articles, getting them submitted to various article directories and accepted by the editors of those sites. Additionally, many of these directories prohibit the use of marketing links in the articles. The fallback position is to include a link to your main site and to hope that whatever you’ve documented in your article will inspire readers not only to go to your site but also to opt in to your autoresponder list. This is still a valid technique, but it is very characteristic of the tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.
Why not take it to the people? If you have a service or product to offer that fulfills the needs of a hungry audience it’s only fair to share it with them. However, you can’t (or rather, shouldn’t) go in guns a’blazin and start with the hard sell straight out of the gate. You won’t sell a thing and you’ll likely get banned. You’ll have to strike up a relationship with others on the forum and establish yourself as a trustworthy expert on the matter at hand before revealing that you have products or services to share. It’s a necessary step but a time consuming one. Again, you’re purchasing this type of traffic with your time.
You’ve got friends. You’ve got relatives. You’ve got people who remember you from high school or college. You’ve got people who arbitrarily friend you because you posted something awesome on your wall or tweeted something that went semi-viral. Maybe they care about your products and services and maybe they don’t. There are strategies for using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, etc. The advantage is that you’ve already got a list of sorts. The drawback is that your friends and relatives may not be so keen on being sold to so you need to keep expanding your list to locate potential buyers.
Safelists & Traffic Exchanges
These are sites comprised of targeted traffic (other IMers) who have signed on and agreed to have a look at each others offers. Guaranteed, interested traffic all in one place? Winner! The conversion rate doesn’t seem to be that high because it’s basically a lot of people trying to score enough ad views to send one of their own out. The shortcut for this is to buy solo ads and other offers from these sites, but then if you’ve paid then the traffic is really paid traffic.
Want to skip to the head of the line? Go ahead and pay for your traffic. Converting the free methods to paid by paying someone to do it for you is still somewhat subject to the vagaries of each, but will theoretically be streamlined by having a pro do it for you. To take a major shortcut to traffic is to just out and out buy it. There are a variety of methods such as buying ad space on popular sites frequented by your target audience, joining giveaway programs or purchasing solo ads.
A solo ad is the bulk purchase of a number of guaranteed clicks. These can be purchased in bulk or to as few as 20 depending on how small a segment the list owner is willing to provide. These solo ads will vary in price according to the list owner’s estimation of the quality of their subscribers. General traffic can come cheaply, but you will get a hodge-podge of freebie seekers and possible buyers. Some solo ad providers will specifically sell traffic from their buyers list. This doesn’t guarantee these people will buy your product or service but they will have at least distinguished themselves as people who have bought something from the solo ad vendor. Depending on how the seller has their list broken out, they can even guarantee traffic by geographic areas. If you are selling a product that is only available in a particular country or a service that is unique to a specific region, a solo ad vendor may be able to sell you clicks from those areas to help increase the likelihood of conversion.
Where The Rubber Meets The Road
Conversion? What’s that? That’s a topic for another day, friends.