There are plenty of ways out there a prospective customer may stumble onto your website.
There are search engines, ads, media marketing and many, many more. With such a vast area to cover, there must be a more robust way of figuring out just where to allocate your resources in order to drive traffic to your website!
So, I’ve done this research for you. I’ve taken a look at some of the most common methods and compared them to help you find the best way to drive traffic to your website. Don’t forget: relevant traffic equals SALES.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Effectiveness: 5/5 (niche websites)
Long story short: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was born after more and more competitors decided to publish their own business’ website at the same time. With search engines providing multiple pages of results, all of a sudden it became crucial for success to be listed at the top of those listings!
SEO can be a pretty costly service, depending on a lot of factors. However, if you only sell LOCALLY (e.g. London UK), it’s so much easier – as you will be dealing with one location, one language, one audience.
Excluding the location factor, it all depends on your business niche. If you have only 1 worldwide competitor or, on the other hand, if you sell very common products or services, the amount of work needed to “rank” your website could dramatically change.
Depending on the extent of your website, price and delivery time can vary. SEO optimization for a website can be priced anywhere from $500/€400 to $5,000/€6000 per month (and that’s why more and more SEO companies now offer a “No win, No Fee” guarantee).
Ranking your website could take a couple weeks to a couple months, but the main problem is to KEEP such ranking overtime. That’s why SEO should always be on a monthly basis.
The good news is that if your site ranks well, you will get a LOT of relevant traffic (which will bring a lot of $$$$$$) and, at the same time, you will send way less traffic to your competitors’ websites.
TIP: If your niche is small enough, SEO is your number one way to make money and generate leads.
2. Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertisement
Pay Per Click means that you pay every time someone on the internet clicks on your Ad (and only when they click). Compared to SEO, PPC is an online marketing tool that allows you to drive traffic to your website instantly. And only the traffic you want, i.e. only potential customers.
The average cost per click for a Pay Per Click campaign was $0.92 in 2013 (according to Google), a major decrease compared to the $1.24 it was in 2010, and significantly less if you’re looking at SEO as an option. Yes, on average, you can BUY potential customers for $0.92 each (and not a reader, a browser, a comparer or time waster). If you sell products or services with a Net Profit higher than $0.92 and your business can handle UNLIMITED sales, you should be using PPC as I write.
However, PPC isn’t as effective in becoming visible as some of the other options listed – unless it’s professionally managed. In my experience, only a professional PPC expert can actually avoid you waste money, and can target your Ads ONLY to your ideal customer.
TIP: Use PPC when your business is scalable and you can sell volumes, or when your products/services are premium. With a few hundreds invested, you can get a 5 figures return.
3. Social Media
Social media has a way of making things go viral and getting them noticed (thinking of Angry Birds, Farmville, and plenty of other Facebook-related “things”).
Social media has this effect due to people being “connected” with one another. If the average Facebook user shares a link, it’ll reach their 300+ friends. And because it’s their friends, they probably have similar taste and views, which will lead your link to get reposted/shared by different people.
If this happened just 3 times, you would have over 1,000 people who saw your link. Getting website traffic via social media is EXTREMELY quick – as long as all your social media posts and images contain a call to action towards your website.
Since major social media accounts are all free, the only cost required is your time. But sometimes, spending a lot of time on social media may not give you the return you expect: social media “people” are mostly non-buyers, and all the traffic you drive to the website may not have the sales conversion you desire.
TIP: If you have a great business, social media looks to me like a NECESSARY tool you can use to drive traffic to your website, and also to enhance loyalty and trust. If you don’t, don’t waste your time.
4. In-Person Networking
In-person networking is a powerful opportunity to share your website with other people. Depending on the setting and the audience type, it may be a success or a TOTAL flop.
It’s absolutely vital to select the right networking event, target the right audience and discussing why they should check out your website: having someone to connect to and discuss the website with will create a lasting impression which proves effective.
However, limiting to a live audience will not create as much visibility as the web does.
TIP: Instead of giving away your business cards to 100 people at every networking event, choose only 2 people. Those 2 could mean the difference between no hits to your website and a potential customer or referrer for your business.
Blogging is a rather cheap activity to start, since it only takes a few minutes of your time (or others time).
However, unless you’re blogging on an already well-established website, it can be VERY difficult to get your blog out there for others to view. This challenge decreases effectiveness and speed.
Since there are literally millions of blogs out there, it could take years to establish a solid audience. On the other hand, once people decide to follow your blog, that’d mean they’re interested and will check out every update you post.
TIP: Check out this article I wrote on why a blog will make you money
Cost: 0/5 (!!!)
Yes, I decided to put a cost equal to zero. Asking for a referral, and getting a referral is ABSOLUTELY free. I can’t stand business people who never ASK for it. Referrals are the best source of income for small businesses and online based enterprises!
By the way, for referrals to be effective, you first need to have some existing customers/clients (one is enough).
Sometimes, referrals can be “pushed” with an affiliate scheme, as long as the affiliate knows the rules and don’t refer your business to time wasters. Offering a 10% commission to existing customers/clients in order to get you additional business is something you should be looking at.
Anyway, why referrals? Well, as a consumer, anyone will be more likely to check out a website if they are personally told about it, rather than just seeing an ad somewhere.
TIP: When you first meet a new client or customer, mention the fact that at some stage of the process you’ll be “asking” for a referral, as that’s how you grow your small business. Here’s a great book I recommend: “Million Dollar Referrals: The Secrets to Building a Perpetual Client List to Generate a Seven-Figure Income” by Alan Weiss
Cost: 1 = cheap – 5 = expensive
Effectiveness: 1 = not effective – 5 = very effective
Speed: 1 = slow – 5 = quick
All in, choosing between search engine optimization, pay per click ads, social media, in-person networking, blogging and referrals to drive traffic to your website has to be a truly custom fit.
SEO offers great results and conversion rates, but the cost and time are an issue since there need to be modifications to your website and content. A cheaper, yet very effective approach is using social media. Social media make content spread like wildfire across different friend circles.
Finally, and most importantly, thinking about your target audience and where they’re likely to go will help you choose between these diverse methods!
Best of luck!