I see it time and time again: The #1 challenge faced by brand-new Internet business owners is a lack of traffic.
Obviously, if your web site isn't getting any traffic, you're not generating any sales. But worse -- without traffic, you can't test the
key components of your sales process...
And if you roll out a large traffic campaign BEFORE you've tested your web site to make sure it converts maximum visitors into buyers, you risk losing sales and looking unprofessional to potential business partners and affiliates.
So you're caught in a vicious cycle -- before ramping up a big traffic campaign, you need to test your sales process, but without any traffic, testing is difficult, if not impossible!
In the following article, I'm going to give you an eight-step action plan that will show you...
1. How to get CHEAP,
instant free web site content traffic to your web site -- so you can test key components
of your sales process (sales copy, order form, navigation, and
opt-in offer) BEFORE rolling out a large-scale traffic campaign.
2. How to ensure that every element of your sales process is optimized
to convert maximum traffic into maximum sales.
3. The most effective strategies for attracting 1,000s of highly qualified potential buyers to your web site right away (cheap and FREE!).
4. The secret to putting
your entire traffic campaign on autopilot.
So even if your web site is getting ZERO traffic right now, you can be testing the key elements of your sales process tomorrow -- and as soon as two weeks from now, you can be rolling out your traffic campaign in full.
Sound good? Let's get you started off on the right foot!
Step One: Get the traffic you need to test your web site -- fast!
When I talk about testing with new Internet business owners, I hear the same two questions all the time:
- How do I test my site?
- What do I test on my site?
As you may already know,
there are an infinite number of things you can test on your web site to increase sales. From layout to copy to design, there are limitless combinations of changes that may improve your visitor-to-sale
But what's "enough" when you're just starting out?
What elements should you focus on testing before rolling out your traffic campaign?
My advice is to stick to the basics. Focus on testing your...
- Salescopy (Especially your headline, benefits, guarantee, and call to action.)
- Order process (Is it simple enough for a novice web user to place an order?)
- Opt-in offer (Are you successfully capturing visitors' contact information?)
- Site navigation (How many clicks does it take to buy? Ideally it should take less than three.)
These are the four critical aspects of your sales process that need to be tested before you start driving traffic. Later on, once you've generated sales and have some steady traffic, you can move on to testing other parts of your web site.
Of course, all this talk of testing your new web site raises one BIG question: How can you test without traffic? If you're just getting started, chances are good that your web site doesn't get much traffic yet.
The solution is simple: Buy traffic through PPC search engines.
Pay-per-click search engines are a lot like auctions -- they allow you to bid for top-ranking positions under keywords of your choice. For each visitor who searches the keyword(s) you bid on and then clicks through to your web site, you pay whatever you bid. Prices typically range from five cents to a few dollars per click-through for popular keywords.
There are a ton of PPC search engines out there, but the two best ones to get started with are...
- Findwhat (www.findwhat.com)
With PPC search engines, you get cheap, instant, qualified traffic --provided you bid on targeted keywords. Not only that, but bidding on traffic in the PPC search engines can help your site get ranked in the free search engines, too!
Here are a couple of tips to help you start bidding for traffic without breaking the bank:
In Yahoo Search Marketing, bid to appear in the top three listings
whenever possible, since these results are also "pushed"
to appear in the search results for MSN, Yahoo, AltaVista, InfoSpace,
AlltheWeb and NetZero -- reaching 80% of Internet users!
- Bid on targeted, descriptive keywords -- don't just bid on "sock", bid on "red wool sock". Not only are targeted keywords and phrases usually cheaper to bid on -- they'll also attract more qualified potential buyers.
Use a keyword selection tool like Wordtracker (www.WordTracker.com)
to research targeted keywords that attract maximum traffic for minimal cost-per-click!
After you've tested and tweaked your web site with a limited amount of purchased traffic, it's time to start generating qualified traffic for your site on a bigger scale.
But how do you go from some traffic to a ton of traffic?
Step Two: Get cheap traffic quickly with PPC advertising!
Once you've tested your site with limited PPC traffic, the fastest way to ramp up traffic to your web site is to roll out a PPC campaign on a bigger scale.
Obviously, you should start with Yahoo Search Marketing and Findwhat, as mentioned above.
But here are some more PPC engines to consider bidding with as you
increase your investment:
This is also a great time to get started with Google AdWords -- Google's own PPC contender.
You get instant traffic -- with no waiting! As soon as you put the money down on your keywords, your ad goes up and starts working for you!
Step Three: Get FREE traffic from search engines like Google!
Now that you've bid on keywords for a strong showing in the PPC search engines, it's time to tackle the organic search engines and directories!
Search engines (like Google) and directories (like Yahoo) can still be a great source of free traffic for your web site. The trick is getting a competitive ranking for your best keywords.
The first step in getting a top ranking in the search engines is submitting or suggesting your site to them. In other words, you have to provide them with details about your site!
You want to make sure that the "spiders" -- automated programs that crawl the Web indexing sites for the search engines -- find your site and include it in the search results.
While the spiders DO index sites and pages that have not been submitted, you certainly don't want to leave this to chance. A spider might find your web site and index it next week... or it might be two years before it finally happens. Take the time to submit your site, and you can be sure that you’re included! Once your site has been submitted, expect it to take two to six weeks for your listing to appear.
Every engine has a slightly different process for site submission, and it pays to follow their guidelines. For example, there is a fee to list your site in the directory at Yahoo, but Google does not charge for their submission process. If you submit your site exactly as they ask, you stand a better chance of getting a good listing on the first page of search results.
To submit or suggest your site to the major engines, follow the simple instructions they provide:
And don't bother with companies that offer to submit your web site to the search engines. Since each search engine uses a different set of criteria to rank your site, free submission services can actually end up
doing more harm than good, since they submit the same information to all the engines.
Step Four: Give away irresistible free web site content for priceless publicity!
Believe it or not, a really easy, frequently undervalued strategy for getting traffic is giving away free content to other web sites. Even just two or three well-written articles can generate truckloads of traffic,
as long as they don't contain a sales pitch.
You want to include rare, hard-to-get information that will lend your articles automatic value: the kind of information that establishes you as an expert in your field!
Once you've finished, write a short bio paragraph about you and your business and place it at the end of your article along with (and this is the most important part!) a link to your site.
E-mail other web site owners in your industry -- be sure to choose sites that receive attention and visits from your target market -- and invite them to use your article on their web site or in their newsletter at
absolutely no cost.
Many site owners need free web site content, so they'll be more than happy to post your articles -- and it won't be long before those articles start driving traffic back to your web site.
Another option is to give away your articles through free content web sites like:
Your articles will be made automatically available to thousands of web site owners seeking free, quality content -- and all you have to do is submit your articles once!
This was the key strategy that Maria Gracia put to work with her home organization web site
She exchanged great free articles for links on high-traffic sites and got tons of free exposure and traffic. Now she gets over 1 million visitors per year and earns a 60% profit margin!
Don't underestimate the power of giving away free content. And as your articles gain more exposure, don't be surprised if you're contacted by high-profile magazine and portal free web site content sites related to your industry looking for free articles to include on their sites, too!
Step Five: Get FREE "word-of-mouth" publicity using viral marketing
Imagine a marketing strategy so simple that you could put it to work immediately -- without spending a dime -- walk away from it, and trust that it would keep working without any extra effort from you.
That's what viral marketing is all about. Simply defined, viral marketing enables you to spread your marketing message like a virus. You encourage people to pass on information about your web site to one another and use that word-of-mouth publicity to advertise your business!
Once you start the "virus," it spreads without you lifting a finger!
Hotmail.com, the free web-based e-mail service provider, is a classic example of viral marketing. At the bottom of every single Hotmail e-mail sent by Hotmail members, there is a simple one-line message:
Get your free,
private e-mail from MSN at http://www.hotmail.com
How much time do you think it took Hotmail to include that signature line as part of their e-mail service? Not much at all -- but look at the impact that this simple strategy had on the growth of their business.
In my personal experience, more than 35% of e-mail users have Hotmail accounts!
You can easily duplicate this strategy by doing something as simple as including a "pass it on link" at the end of a free newsletter.
Something as simple as...
"If you've enjoyed this article, please be sure to forward it to a friend!"
By simply asking readers to take action and forward your newsletter, you'll prompt free "word of mouth" exposure for your business -- without any extra cost or hassle!
And there's no limit to how far your message can travel!
So how do you put viral marketing to work for you? Here are a few simple ideas:
Give away free web site content articles (like the ones in Step Four!) with a "pass it on" link.
Give away free demos of your product.
Offer a free trial of your service with a "share this great resource" button on the page.
Hold a contest on your web site and give participants an extra entry for every friend they refer.
Start an affiliate program (see Step Seven!).
As you can see, you don't need to be the next Hotmail to get started with viral marketing -- by simply encouraging people to "share this resource with friends," you can attract some great "word-of-mouth" traffic.
Step Six: Get FREE links on other high-traffic web sites!
Link requests require minimal effort from you, but they can absolutely explode your traffic numbers overnight. How? If your site is a featured link on a major site in your industry -- one that receives a ton of attention -- your site immediately benefits from all the exposure their site receives!
Getting started with this strategy is simple, but you should follow a standard process every time you request a link. Let's break it down into a few easy steps:
Do a Google search for your standard keywords -- the ones that people generally use to find your site.
Make detailed notes about the sites that appear regularly in the top ten listings for your major keywords.
Use the Alexa Toolbar (www.alexa.com),
or Technorati (www.technorati.com)
to find out who these sites are linking to, who is linking to
them, and how much traffic they are receiving, then look up
their contact information.
Make sure you know the correct URL for the site, the URL of the sub-page on which you want your link to appear, the name of the site owner or webmaster, the date you last visited their site, and a brief description of the contents of the site.
When you're ready to contact these web site owners and request a link, write a personal e-mail -- don't use form letters. Be sure to include some positive comments about their site, information about you and your site (along with your URL), an explanation of why a link to you would benefit them, and instructions for contacting you to get started!
You want your request to be thorough and professional. If you can present a persuasive argument for why the link request benefits both of you, you stand a better chance of forging a connection.
If you are really eager to get your link on their site, be prepared to up the ante by offering them a commission or a link on your site in return. The investment could be well worth the extra exposure your marketing message receives.
But be stingy when other businesses request links on your site -- just as links on others' sites serve as a personal recommendation of your site, links on your site are recommendations for their businesses. Only recommend the best!
Okay, now let's talk about the ultimate linking strategy...
Step Seven: Get 1,000s of web sites to promote your business -- FREE!
Imagine hundreds, even thousands, of web sites promoting your product or service... and all this great exposure doesn't cost you a DIME unless someone refers a paying customer. You can do this with what's called an affiliate program.
Affiliate programs (also referred to as "reseller" or "associate" programs) are a great way to get other people called "affiliates" to promote your product or service for you.
For every paying customer your affiliates refer to your web site, you pay them a commission. And since you only pay when you make money -- it's extremely low risk!
Your affiliates send visitors to your web site using banner ads, text links, letters of referral, and so on, while you track these referrals using special software. It's an extremely powerful way to grow your business
because it automates your traffic generation.
To get started with your own affiliate program, you need to...
Set your commissions. (To keep your affiliates motivated, you should pay them 40% to 50% of your profits per sale.)
Get software to track the traffic and sales of your affiliates so you know what to pay them.
Provide your affiliates with tools they can use to promote your products (like e-mails, banners, etc.).
Recruit your affiliates! (Look for sites that target your market, and invite them to become affiliates.)
Affiliate programs are an ideal way to automate your traffic generation because other people market your web site for you -- and you don't lift a finger.
Your sales increase on a daily basis -- but they do all the selling for you, and it doesn't cost you a dime until they send you paying customers.
Now, for the final step, let's talk about what you need to do to keep your traffic coming back to your site again and again.
Step Eight: Use e-mail marketing to attract repeat visitors
Getting lots of traffic to your site is great, but if you aren't collecting the contact information (i.e. names and e-mail addresses) of visitors, you're
wasting every single click!
If visitors leave your site without buying your product, there's a good chance they won't ever be back -- and you'll have absolutely no way of following up with them!
Remember: It can take up to seven points of contact to make a single sale, so you'll want to begin collecting visitors' contact information from day one using an opt-in form on your home page!
Here are some ideas for e-mails you could send in case you need an excuse to follow up with your opt-in subscribers:
Monthly or bi-weekly newsletters with tons of tips and info of free web site content
Free reports on a variety of topics that your market would appreciate
Answers to common questions people ask about your product
Offers for products similar or complementary to ones you may have already offered them
Free product trials that give potential customers a taste of what you have to offer
- A "downgrade" offer for a product that is less expensive or robust than your featured offer
Following up with the addresses you gather is quick, easy, and simple with e-mail management and automation software. You can create e-mails called "autoresponders" that potential customers receive automatically, as soon as they opt- in on your site -- within seconds -- no matter what time of day it is, or whether you're even at your desk!
That's right -- as soon as your visitors opt in, they start hearing from you on a regular basis without the stress of writing a ton of e-mails to individual addresses. This is a process you can put on autopilot from the very beginning!
For a solid e-mail management solution with everything you need to get your e-mail marketing campaign started.
In this article, I've shown you how to get past the biggest hurdle faced by new free web site content owners -- finding traffic to test your sales process and maximize your visitor-to-sale conversion rate before launching your web site.
I've also provided you with a 10,000-foot overview of the steps involved in rolling out a traffic campaign that will quickly ramp up visitors to your new or growing web site.
First, I recommended that you start with a PPC campaign, because it generates instant traffic and sales for your web site at a low cost, provided you follow the bidding tips I shared here.
Next, I recommended that you move on to submitting your web site to the "organic" search engines and directories like Google and Yahoo, which can be a great source of unlimited FREE traffic, provided your listing appears on the first page of search results for your top keywords.
From there, the three traffic strategies you'll probably want to tackle are...
- Giving away free content to get free links (and traffic) from other web sites that target your market
- Using "recommend this to a friend" links in your newsletters and on your web site to get free "word-of-mouth" publicity (viral marketing)
- Requesting links from high-traffic web sites, so you can piggyback their top search engine rankings!
Finally, we briefly discussed how you can start an affiliate program to exponentially grow your business by recruiting an army of affiliates who will promote your business on every corner of the Web, with absolutely no risk to you -- because you don't pay them a DIME unless they send you a paying customer!
Obviously, we've covered a LOT of ground in this article... So I think it's only fair I point out that, before you dive into ANY of these strategies, you'll need to do a bit more reading and research on each of these topics.
For example, there's NO WAY I could cover everything you need to know about PPC campaigns and search engine submission in this short article.
And a number of pages is devoted entirely to "How to Start Your Own Affiliate Program"...
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to give you the 10,000-foot view, so you have a clear roadmap of exactly what you need to do with free web site content first, second, and third to test your web site to maximize conversion rates and then rollout an effective traffic campaign that attracts swarms of potential buyers -- automatically -- for years to come.
If you want to know more about any of the topics covered here in this article, I highly recommend it.
And before I wrap up this article, I'd like to make one last point...
Over the years, I've noticed a common thread that links all of our most successful clients who have Internet businesses that make $250,000... $500,000... or over $1,000,000 per year:
They have all focused on doing one or two marketing strategies really well.
So don't feel like you need to become an expert in ALL of the strategies we've covered here. Focus on becoming really proficient at one or two -- because this may be all you need to dramatically increase your traffic... and sales