In today’s world, most businesses live or die by their website. Gone are the days where companies can neglect their web presence and still drive leads and sales. Technology, especially the mobile variety, is becoming more integrated into our society and that translates into how users interact with brands and, ultimately, how they purchase.
But don’t worry, there are some very basic ways to set yourself up for digital success. Here are the essentials for driving users to your site and converting them once they’re there.
Driving Visitors to Your Website
So you have a website. Great! Now what do you do?
A website is like a tree falling in the woods, if no one is around, it doesn’t make a sound! In order to convert visitors into leads and customers, you have to first get them to your site.
One of the best ways to do that is by creating and executing an effective content marketing strategy. Content is easily the best way to drive users to your website and keep them coming back.
There are a few simple strategies to understanding content marketing for your website.
One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make is they assume content marketing is a magic bullet. Effective content marketing takes time, but if you’re patient enough you will see a positive return on your investment.
I like to think of content marketing like a long con. Stay with me here. A long con is like every one of those Ocean’s movies. It requires planning, preparation, engagement, and execution, and after time, the target is hooked and they don’t even realize it.
After all, Danny Ocean wouldn’t have gotten the money and the girl if he didn’t execute the heist to perfection. When you invest in content marketing, give your strategy time before assessing its success/failure.
Document Your Content Marketing Strategy
It’s incredible that only about 25 percent of companies document their content marketing strategy. You can increase the likelihood that your content marketing will be successful by simply documenting it. This will increase your effectiveness and ability to successfully track ROI.
In fact, 43 percent of marketers who have a documented strategy say they are successful at measuring the success of their strategy. Take the time to put your content marketing plan on paper and make sure to use that as a measuring tool as you start to execute your program.
Create Content That Matters
Creating useful and relevant content is another crucial step to an effective content marketing strategy. A website is great, but if it’s dormant, it’s about as ineffective as not having a site at all. Creating ongoing content is vital and this content has to provide value to users if you want them to engage with your brand and returning to your site.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to create content that matters:
Keep content user-centric: There is a difference between sales and content marketing. While they are related, content marketing is more focused on engaging targeted users and retaining customers. Thus, when you are creating content, you should consider topics they would find interesting and valuable. If you don’t know what these topics are, do market research or simply ask your customers what their interests are as it relates to your industry. You’ll find topic trends, and those are what you should focus on.
Differentiate your content: This can mean two things. First, create different content formats. Everyone responds differently. Some people might be more engaged with long-form articles or eBooks, while others might like infographics or videos. An effective content marketing strategy will incorporate different forms of content. Second, you will have target customers coming to your brand at different stages of the sales cycle, so you need to create content that speaks to individuals at various stages of your sales funnel.
Produce frequent content: Creating a content schedule and cycle will go a long way in setting your brand up to succeed with content. Generally speaking, the more frequent you post content, the better. The more content you publish, the more indexed pages you will have, and the more likely you are to generate traffic and recurring visitors.
Convert Visitors into Leads and Clients
While content marketing is effective at driving traffic to your website, you need to also have an effective conversion strategy in place to capitalize on your targeted traffic. Below are a number of tips for converting traffic.
Understand What Conversion Means to You
Before you can even think about converting the visitor, you need to first understand what it is that you want them to do. This is going to be different depending on your objective, industry, and the stage of the client, but it does not hurt to have multiple conversion goals. By understanding what you want the user to do on each piece of content, you’ll be able to better assess and measure your effectiveness of that action. Some general conversion actions are:
- Buy a good/service
- Engage socially through sharing or following
- Comment or participate in conversation
- Provide an email address or other relevant information
- Visit other areas of the site
Gate Your Valuable Content
If one of your conversions is to collect information/email addresses (it should be!) then you should consider gating a valuable piece of content. Rich media content like eBooks/white papers are often packed with extremely useful information that targeted customers will want to get their hands on.
Because they put a lot of value in this type of content, users are more than willing to give you something in exchange. Gated content is best used to convert users further down the lead funnel. At the top of the funnel, ungated content will generate interest and brand recognition, but as the user becomes more invested in your offering and value proposition, a gated piece of content might make more sense.
Once you have users’ contact information and you know their interest level on your gated topic, you can retarget them with an appropriate email marketing campaign and continue to nurture those leads.
Optimize Your Pages for Conversion
Another simple, but overlooked step to web traffic and conversions is simply making sure you have multiple, easy-to-understand conversion points on your pages. Too many times I land on a website and have no idea what it is they want me to do. If you are investing in creating content and are driving a good amount of traffic, but not seeing results, you are likely not effectively using your website’s real estate.
Generally speaking, here are some tips for optimizing your site for conversions.
Make the conversion relevant to the page’s content: This might sound obvious, but if you are a clothing store and have published an article about men’s fashion for the fall, don’t have women’s winter fashion ads running in the sidebar. Optimize each category or better, page, so your conversion points are relevant to the traffic most likely to land on that page.
Don’t be afraid to annoy: This is a double-edged sword, but one that is vital to effective optimization. You should not be afraid to advertise on your site. This can mean adding a pop-up, creating a banner ad for your blog, running a message bar on pages, or any other form of advertising.
Your site is your real estate and you should take advantage of that space as best as possible. Keep in mind, the more ads you have, the less enjoyable coming to your site might be for users. But, don’t let that keep you from testing the waters with different types of promotion. Pop-ups are one of these potentially annoying ad types and aren’t always viewed favorably by users, but they work and are reported to increase sales by up to 162 percent.
Leverage happy clients: This can be done a number of different ways, but the best way to leverage happy clients on your pages is through testimonials and logos. If you work with brands (especially popular ones), try to sprinkle their logos on conversion pages of your site. If potential customers see that you work with a reputable brand in or outside of their industry, they may be more apt to trust you. This same thing applies to testimonials. People are inherently more comfortable buying from a company after they have read or heard a positive review. It minimizes the buyer remorse and makes the lead more comfortable moving forward with you.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Another tool for perpetuating action is to create a sense of urgency. The urgency principle is actually a psychological term that causes people to act quickly with limited deliberation. This is especially useful in converting web traffic because it’s a simple tool that generates action with marginal investment. You can create a sense of urgency by:
Limiting availability: Supply and demand is an inverse relationship, so the less supply of something and the scarcer it is, the more quickly people will want to attain that good or service. You’ll often see this done at the point of purchase because this action is very much linked to the bottom of the sales funnel.
Countdown: Maybe we’ve seen too many suspense movies or basketball buzzer beaters, but timers and ticking clocks seem to perpetuate action.
Use time relevant words: A simple trick is to use urgent words in your copy. Someone is more likely to act if they see words like “fast,” “now,” and “never” because they relate to time and evoke urgency.
Modern businesses need a website. Even more so, they need a website that is living and breathing. The nature of customers in 2015 is that they want to be engaged and feel connected to a brand. This is done through effective content marketing and strategic conversions.
Every business and industry is different, but if you can focus on creating quality content that engages your target audience and then optimize your pages to convert those visitors, you’ll be able to build a sustainable company that can thrive digitally.