If you think about a sales funnel, traffic generation is the first layer or the top layer that ultimately gets us to scalable, predictable revenue growth.
Big picture -- traffic generation needs to happen before we do lead generation, lead generation needs to happen before we generate sales opportunities, and sales opportunity generation needs to happen before we end up with new client acquisition.
Traffic generation is how we take strangers and turn them into website visitors. All of this needs to be grounded in buyer personas -- a semi-fictional representation of one of our ideal clients based on actual research and some select, educated speculation.
When buyer personas are done the right way, it becomes a lot easier to make sure that our traffic generation efforts and all of our campaigns are grounded in things that actually matter to the people we care about most -- our primary buyer persona, our most important economic buyer of our company's products and services.
First up, let's talk about strategic blogging. What is strategic blogging? Lots of people blog, but most people don't have a great strategy to do it. They’re not really doing business blogging. Many times when we look at a blog, they are being used to post news releases. That’s not a blog. That’s a company newsroom.
Sometimes they're being used to put out product announcements. That's really not a blog in this sense either because product announcements would be most relevant to people that are already customers.
Strangers that don't know that your company exists, don't care about your products. They care most about their problems. They care about you answering their questions and providing some solutions and helpful advice around their problems, not your problems. So your blogging strategy needs to take into account who they are, what buyer persona they are, as well as where they are in the buyer’s journey.
If they are complete strangers who have no idea who your company is and no idea about your products and services, we need to meet them exactly where they are. There is some kind of goal that they're trying to solve, there is some kind of problem that they're trying to solve, there is some kind of challenge that they're trying to address, or some kind of question they're trying to answer.
Ten years ago, they might have asked a person. They might have gotten into their car and driven to the library. Yes, people still do that! But we know in a digital-first world, a huge percentage of people are starting out solving these problems on their own by asking a question on a search engine:
- a traditional search engine like Google or Bing
- Siri or Alexa
- Google Assistant
There are all different ways people start their buyer’s journey and get answers. If that particular question is important to our buyer persona or important to our business, we need to make sure we are there to add value. We need to make sure we are seen as a trusted advisor, subject matter expert, and as an educator.
This way, we get invited to have that seat at the table as a trusted advisor and can help shape their worldview. We want to make the best first impression once they've landed on our site searching for a solution to a problem. We want them to be like, “Wow, this blog post is really good stuff. This is really helpful. I can't believe I finally found an answer to this question -- I've been looking for a long time. This is awesome.”
The goal of your blog post is supposed to make that great first impression to turn a stranger into a visitor. Blogs can also be used later on as we look to accelerate leads into sales opportunities with lead nurturing. But our primary purpose here for traffic generation is to use strategic blogging as a way to attract the right strangers, in the right place, at the right time, and most of all, the right context, so you’re seen as an expert.
Off-Page Search Optimization
Search is another really important area for traffic generation. A lot of people simplify this as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but we like to think of search as really having two primary pillars.
Search can be the words and the content that are on your page -- and that should be driven by who they are (buyer persona) and where they are on their buyer's journey.
And then there's off-page search optimization. That is basically campaigning for your content among other stakeholders, other websites, other media properties, and saying “Our stuff is really good. I want to make sure that you're aware of it. If there's some way that you could link to us in a way that adds value for your readers, we think that our resource would be just as helpful as some of the other things you’ve linked to in the past.” This is literally like a campaigning process, acquiring votes.
If you roll back the clock ten or twenty years ago, there were all kinds of artificial schemes to try to game the system. Google’s search algorithm and web spam team are ridiculously brilliant. They can sleuth those slimy attempts to try to manipulate their results, like black hat SEO and gray hat SEO, a mile away. Don’t bother investing in it, because you’re going to get caught, outed, and penalized before you even know what hit you.
Rather, focus on adding value to your buyer personas, answering their questions, but make sure you use the right words. Don’t use the words that you think they say, use the words that they actually use. The way we find out what their actual words are is by doing buyer personas and interviewing them, either face-to-face, by phone, on a video conference, or by doing surveys. We need their exact words.
Social publishing is another big area for traffic generation as well. We need to make sure that we hone in on the social media properties were they already hangout. If Facebook is super important to them, and LinkedIn is not so much, we should make sure that we do a good job of building up our social reach and do a lot of social publishing on Facebook.
Regardless of whether Facebook is a big deal for them, Instagram, or LinkedIn (or Pinterest, YouTube, or SlideShare), we need to be where they are. How do we know where they are? This is buyer persona 101. It’s making sure that we understand their watering holes and where they hang out online.
CMS (Content Management System)
Next, we need to make sure your website can support content publishing at scale. A CMS or Content Management System is absolutely critical. If you have a hand-coded website that requires that you go to your webmaster or your IT team and have to beg and grovel to get changes made to your website to be changed, it could take days, weeks, or months to get seemingly minor and mundane details on your website changed. It could take a ridiculous amount of effort to get a new page up or change the content on a page.
This will slow you down in ways that can really harm your effort to influence bottom of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and top of the funnel sales.
You can not do content marketing without a content management system. It’s all about attracting the right strangers in the right places at the right time and in the right context.
When you’re just starting out and you don’t have a lot of assets in terms of inbound link authority, a good, solid email database that’s segmented properly, and you don’t have good social reach, many times it’s critical to invest in paid accelerants -- paid search (Google AdWords). So in addition to waiting for your website to build up authority over time and earn organic traffic, you can buy traffic and get paid clicks to your website in a matter of minutes or hours.
It’s supercritical before you do paid search or Google AdWords, that these things are done correctly. If you’re paying $5 or $10 per click or more, you don’t want to drive traffic to your home page or a page that’s inappropriate for the audience. The best way to do paid search is to make sure you have a good converting landing page that's highly relevant to the buyer persona. It’s even better if there's a well built out lead nurturing sequence behind it, so you get a second, third, and fourth chance to continue to educate and build trust with that person over time.
Paid social, ten years ago if you knew what you were doing with Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin, there was a lot of great organic reach. As most of these companies are profit-driven and publicly traded companies, they feel a lot of financial pressure. One of the ways they deal with that financial pressure is they’ve taken away a lot of the free lunch. The gravy train has ended, and in most cases, a lot of this is now pay-to-play. That's the downside.
The good part is the targeting is ridiculously relevant. If you understand your buyer personas -- who they are and what they care most about -- you can reach incredibly targeted audiences with your content with both paid search and paid social.
PR (public relations) has evolved over time. Instead of chasing gatekeepers, PR is any public outreach campaign to try to influence public perception of how the world sees your company. Online news releases are still relevant. Blogger outreach and podcaster outreach can still be very relevant.
But you must tie it in with your buyer personas and with where they are in the buyer’s journey and what your goals are.
The world has become very visually oriented. I don't want to say that people don't read things anymore. But if you look at the amount of content that’s uploaded to YouTube every day, it’s just scratching the itch of people watching tons and tons of content in ways that they never did as recently as five or ten years ago. Think about Smart TVs, think about streaming, Chromecast, Rock You, Apple TV, watching videos on your smartphone, watching videos on your tablet, 4G, 5G, the bandwidth has become much better. The devices are much better. People are watching crazy amounts of streaming video. Entire industries like Netflix and Hulu have been born.
At the end of the day, you can build trust and educate so much faster. Whether it’s for traffic generation, lead generation, opportunity generation, or building a deeper relationship with customers, it is so much better when they can see you and hear you, and when they can experience you rather than just reading. To build your traffic generation strategy with where we are in a digital-first world, video should be in the mix as well.
What types of traffic generation is your company doing? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.
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