It’s something that everyone in marketing can sympathise with: you put a lot of time and effort into your website, make sure it’s responsive and good on mobile, make sure it fits the latest trends, create an app, promote it everywhere you can think of – and yet you have next to no traffic. What’s going wrong? What can you do to attract and retain the customers you’re looking for?
A competitive market
Today’s web is not what it once was. It’s no longer enough just to create a great-looking site – there are dozens of similar businesses, if not thousands, trying to compete with you, and lots of them also have great sites. If you’re going to compete, you need to put something out there that’s more valuable than what your competitors have.
When you’re first building up your brand, it’s hard to compete with names that have been around for longer. Their familiarity will make customers trust them more and see them as the natural choice. How can you send out the message that yours is a trustworthy business with a better product? How can you help customers understand that you’ve got what they want?
Understand your customers
You can’t give customers what they want unless you know what they want, so every marketing process has to start with research. Fortunately, there’s lots of free information online to help you with this, and more is available from market research companies if you can pay for it. Determine who your target customers are – how old they are, what their income bracket is, etc. – and use that information, together with research into those demographics, to shape what you put on your site. Comments on your posts (which should be moderated in advance) can provide useful feedback, and as your site develops, you can use reader polls and surveys to find out more. Bear in mind that to be successful, research has to be an ongoing process.
Give them something useful
Try to put yourself in the customer’s position. Why would they visit your site? Perhaps you have good-quality products, but they won’t usually be able to tell that at first glance. Perhaps you have great prices, but if the price is all they’re interested in, they’ll be shopping around and probably won’t stay long. You need to offer them something that has instantly recognisable value, so stop thinking about your products and services and start thinking about content. A how-to guide or an article that provides practical advice about a problem they’ve been struggling with can be instantly appealing. If they find it useful and see other interesting-looking content linked alongside it, there’s a good chance that they’ll stay or make a return visit. The more time they spend on your site, the more likely they are to buy from you.
Give them something entertaining
Content designed to entertain is often thought of as something for business to customer companies only, but in fact it can be very useful for business to business companies, because everybody loves the opportunity to enjoy something fun during a long day at work. This kind of content gives you the chance to make an emotional connection with readers and get them to warm to you. The more they enjoy being on your site, the more likely they are to return, and entertaining material is great for sharing.
Give them something shareable
Why do people share some things and not others? Sometimes, it’s just because they think it’s amazing and think everyone should see it, but more often, psychologists say, it’s about social capital. This means that people like to share things that make them seem informed, witty, virtuous or clever. Content with these qualities travels a lot further. Topical content is more likely to be shared in the short term, so it can be a good idea to post news articles related to your industry as well as longer pieces that have more long-term value. When visitors to your site start sharing your content, they’re doing your promotion for free.
Write great headlines
The trick to hooking people with strong online content is to create or commission material that will hook them straight away, as most people will only read for a few seconds before deciding whether or not to bother with the rest. The first thing they’ll read, of course, is the headline, so strong headlines are a major part of what it takes to be successful. Use active language, make sure the topic is clear, and don’t be shy about dropping in terms you know will have particular appeal – everything from celebrity names to chocolate. As long as it’s relevant, you can use it. Just keep it snappy.
Promote your content
When you have something that’s immediately valuable, people want to hear about it, so stop worrying about promoting your products or services and start promoting your content. You can do this through your regular social media channels, and if you have a lot of good content to promote, you’ll find it also increases your following there, giving you greater reach when you have a direct promotional announcement to make. This approach will increase the flow of traffic to your website, giving you the opportunity to increase your conversions.
Once you get to grips with these techniques, you’ll find that your traffic grows exponentially, with each new visitor increasing the chance of content being shared and reaching more people. Content marketing does require some initial investment, but when it gets going, it really pays off.