If you have a website, you have to understand online traffic.
Entrepreneurs who know how to drive traffic to their sites (and convert it), are the ones who are making 5, 6, and 7 figure incomes.
As for those who haven’t quite figured out the traffic formula…they are more in the 2, 3, and 4 figure range.
As you can see, traffic is a crucial piece to the online business puzzle.
So, we created this guide to teach new digital marketers owners how to use it effectively.
We’ll start by introducing you to online traffic and all the basics.
Then, you’ll learn tried-and-tested traffic strategies that work, so you can hit the ground running!
Since there’s a lot to cover, we’re breaking the training down into 2 parts:
- Part 1 (that you’re reading now) will teach you the methods of driving free traffic
- Part 2 will dive into paid methods of driving traffic
Let’s get started!
Online traffic basics
What is online traffic?
Online traffic or web traffic is technically the data that moves between online visitors and the websites they visit.
But, from a marketing standpoint, traffic really refers to the flow of visitors to a location online – whether that is a website, a landing page, a social media profile or anything of the sort.
Why is online traffic important?
For one, online traffic equals people visiting your website.
In the digital world, this is the equivalent of people coming into a physical store.
The more people who visit, the more opportunities you have to close sales.
More sales mean more revenue and who doesn’t love that?
Plus, traffic can provide great data and insights into a website’s performance.
For example, you can see where traffic is coming from, allowing you to invest more into the channels with the highest ROI.
Or, alternatively, you could see that a sign-up page isn’t as effective as it needs to be, and enable you to make edits to your copy – improving conversions accordingly!
How is online traffic measured?
Online traffic can be measured very simply.
All web servers generate a log file where traffic statistics are kept.
This data can be easily viewed and managed for free through Google Analytics or various other heat map/analytics tools.
When looking at online traffic statistics, the key metrics which you can learn from include:
- The number of visitors pages receive
- Average page views generated by each unique visitor. Higher page views indicate a visitor showing an interest in a site and looking at the various pages it offers.
- The duration that each visitors stays at a particular website. Again, the longer they stay on a website the more interested they are.
- The duration they spend on each particular page.
- Times when most traffic is generated.
- The most popular pages.
- The pages first viewed. This helps to show which pages are attracting people to your website.
- Exit pages. Those that cause visitors to leave a website.
- Paths. How visitors navigate through your site.
How do websites gain traffic?
Earning traffic can be done in numerous ways, some of which are free and others which are paid.
In this first part of the series, we will take a closer look at the following free methods you can (and should be) utilizing:
- Email marketing
- Social media
Free Traffic Methods
The first free traffic method we’re going to cover in Part 1 is email marketing.
Email marketing becomes a traffic source when you drive traffic from your emails.
By adding links and enticing copy to your messages, you can direct subscribers to visit your website, an affiliate offer or another place of interest online.
Email marketing traffic should always be driven by personalized emails that are relevant to where the recipient is in the buying cycle (i.e. new visitor looking for information, has shown interest in specific products or services, has made a purchase, long time loyal customer).
This way, the messages help to engage readers and nurture them further through the buying cycle.
How effective is email marketing?
It has shown to offer the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic!
Email Marketing Best Practices
Emails are a great opportunity to entice your audience with promotions.
A key to successful conversions is segmenting your audience properly.
You want to send the right message at the right time.
For example, a 10% off coupon would be a good idea when someone has left their shopping cart before checkout.
Besides promotions, you can stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind by sending regular monthly newsletters which share what’s new, links to blogs (more on those next), recent projects, or industry related news.
This helps to build the relationship and keep your audience engaged.
By choosing your links wisely, you can drive customers back to your website on a regular basis.
You can use Sendlane to engage your audience and send out timely, personalized emails right now!
Next up is blogging.
You probably read a few blogs regularly but may not know they are a key tactic for increasing traffic to a website.
Research shows blogging can increase traffic by 55%.
Blogs provide an opportunity to inform potential customers about your company while sharing information that is useful and interesting to them.
Blogs work to drive traffic through SEO tactics and links.
In the example below you’ll notice this blog article has internal links to a variety of helpful resources available elsewhere on the site.
The author is sharing valuable content that not only teaches the reader about the subject, but also more about what the company can offer:
Blogging Best Practices
When writing blogs you want to think along the same lines as you use on social media which means quality, engaging content.
People want to be informed, entertained, or inspired… not blatantly sold to.
So write about topics related to your industry that customer want to know about and that they will find interesting.
You want to show users how your products or services can be used in daily life, and guide them through FAQs about them.
Once they are interested in the actual messaging in your blog posts, they may find subtly included links to your products and services helpful.
As far as optimizing blogs, keywords will come into play and long tail keywords are helpful.
You will want to optimize all posts with keywords, tags URLs, and Meta descriptions which work like the directions for search engines to find them.
Also, Google looks for active sites that are providing consistent content so you will want to plan a blog schedule with regular posts and stick to it!
Practically everyone is on social media nowadays, which means these platforms are senda great source for traffic.
In fact, you’d be missing a huge opportunity if you didn’t make efforts on the different platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.).
To use social media channels effectively you will want to post content that your followers see as relevant.
This should also include links to your website, so customers can easily make the jump, like this example from the Sendlane Facebook page:
Most importantly, social media shouldn’t be used just to promote your website but should have content that will interest your followers.
For example, share relevant blogs, free eBooks, videos, online courses or webinars that will draw followers to your website – like the “Free Training” shown in the example above!
Post on a consistent basis about stories, thoughts, photos, and videos that relate to your business but are not just about your business.
Remember: People don’t go on social media to be sold, they want to be entertained, engaged, and are looking to interact socially, so humanize your brand and post content that people will find helpful.
Social Media Best Practices
As we said, social media is a place to engage with people and it offers a broader reach than most any other marketing medium. (1/5th of the world’s population is now on Facebook!)
One of the best ways to reach an audience of people who will likely be interested in your business is to look to influencers in your industry.
Who is making big waves and generating a lot of attention?
You want to target their audience and build relationships with them.
To do this, you can begin engaging with the influencer’s page with likes, comments, and shares.
You can also create infographics, tutorials, or whitepapers that offer value to others in your industry (not just your customers), add your name and link to them, and send them to influencers.
This can be a great way to get more exposure and build your network as others share your work.
After some rapport has been established, you can ask if you would be able to guest post on their page, channel, site, or blog, or if they would like to work out another type of collaboration.
Furthermore, you want to become known in your industry yourself and can do so by joining groups and participating actively.
Remember you don’t want to go in with a mindset of sales, but of positioning yourself as a thought leader in your niche with helpful and relevant information.
Comment on issues, reply to any messages, and participate in conversations.
This will build trust and credibility.
Once your audience starts to flock, be prepared with a call to action button on your page for those who are interested.
Also, continue to nurture your relationships with consistent valuable content.
A good practice is to provide 80% engaging content and 20% promotional on social media.
Next up is SEO, which Google in particular has made very important for businesses.
Just “Google it” is such a common phrase because search engines have made information so easy to find!
All you have to do it a quick search and a world of information is at your fingertips.
From answers to the most random questions to the “best of” specific products and services.
Because of that, having your website featured on the first page of search engine results is paramount!
It takes time but the first 3 search results account for about 65% of clicks!
The top results are often viewed as the most credible or highest quality, which is great for anyone who does the work to make it there.
Plus, when you get there organically, you have the added benefit of retaining your position longer than paid results.
Even if you stop SEO efforts, it takes about 3-6 months to drop off.
To improve search engine rankings for a website, you need to make sure your website includes a number of SEO techniques.
Of course, you need to start with quality content, but others include the use of keyword targeting as well as inbound link building amongst others.
In the screenshots below, you can see the landing page for Macy’s women’s dresses.
This page ranked #1 for women’s dresses so let’s take a look at what they are doing.
They display all of their dresses for sale first and then accompany the page with a keyword-packed piece of content at the bottom of the page.
These keywords shows search engine crawlers what the page is about and help it come up for a variety of searches.
This page would trigger results for cocktail dresses, little black dress, bridesmaid dresses, and more.
If you are unsure of how SEO works, take a look at our SEO 101 article to learn more.
From there, you’ll develop an understanding of how to be sure your website hits all the marks.
SEO Best Practices
While SEO is a very detailed topic that experts take years to understand and perfect, there are a few best practices that can help.
First, keywords are the bridge between seekers and results.
You need to perform an in-depth analysis of what words your audience uses when looking for your products or service.
Over time, you can track, test and optimize your keywords.
Also, functionality is very important as web consumers these days will leave after mere seconds of waiting for your web page to load.
This means anything that causes slow loading (rotating banners, clunky media, etc.) needs to be trimmed.
On the same note, mobile friendliness is a major ranking factor now so you need to be sure your website is responsive and designed with mobile customers in mind.
Build your site for speed, this not only means fast loading but easy navigation, content written for easy scanning, and have the most pertinent information prioritized.
Lastly, your website is on the world wide web, right?
The key word there is web – meaning the more connected it is, the better.
Links are the way you make connections.
Integrating them should be done to direct visitors deeper into your own website, as well as making connections from other sites to yours.
The more high authority sites that link to your site, the more valuable you will look to search engines.
Drive Traffic to Drive Sales
Traffic is what will make or break an online business.
But it doesn’t magically appear once you create a website.
Your website is just one piece of a larger puzzle which only attracts traffic when it’s all put together.
So is driving traffic to your website easy?
I wouldn’t say so.
However, it is very possible when you know what to do and have the dedication to follow through!
Plus you have these 4 methods to get started with right away!
Ready to learn how to drive even more traffic to your website?
Check out the 2nd and final section of our traffic academy on paid traffic options.
Click through to read Traffic Academy: Part 2 here!
To unwind after hours of writing code or perfecting a design, Natalie likes to go out swing dancing or stay home alone and solve jigsaw puzzles.
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