This post is the first in a series of posts entitled, "Digital Marketing Strategy For Startups, Small Businesses, and Entrepreneurs".
Traffic. The lifeblood of your digital marketing efforts. Without it - you have nothing.
There are a million ways to generate traffic and every minute someone is coming out with a new, "best" way to do it.
Here's the deal, you only need to focus on two sources of traffic:
- One organic "free" source
- One paid source
Before we get into which sources you should use and why, we need to talk about the #1 rule of traffic.
The #1 Rule Of Traffic
As I said earlier, there are a million ways to generate traffic ... so, there are a lot of shiny objects, a lot of people pushing which traffic generation method is "best".
It can be very tempting to get sucked into whatever they're offering ... and, you know what, usually, what they're offering isn't half bad EXCEPT
- It takes you away from what you need to focus on
- It likely breaks the #1 rule of traffic
So, what is the #1 rule?
You need to be where your customers are.
But, this rule gets broken all the time because someone creates this juicy concept/tool and you grab it because it promises easy traffic.
Next thing you know, you're posting 50 times a day on Pinterest trying to attract 30 year old males. (there are very few 30 year old males on Pinterest ... and yes, that's from a past experience ...)
Or, you launched a Snapchat profile and story aimed at attracting 60 year old women. (there are few 60 year olds on Snapchat)
So, do yourself a favor ... the next time you're getting persuaded to buy some fancy new tool to drive traffic, I urge you not to buy it until you read this full post. At the very least, make sure it will actually reach your audience.
Organic "Free" Traffic
Moving forward, you will have ONE source for organic traffic and ONE source for paid traffic. (More on paid traffic in the next section)
So, what is organic traffic? Organic traffic is the traffic that naturally finds your content and your business.
Some people call organic traffic, "free" traffic, because it doesn't cost money; however, it certainly costs time.
Here are a few organic traffic sources so you understand what I mean:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - blogging
- Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Musical.ly
- Video - YouTube
- Podcasts - iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud
Here's The 411...
If you read the intro, you may recall that I gave "awareness" and "branding" a hard time because it's neither specific nor measurable.
Ok, for the most part, the results from your organic traffic efforts will be hard to quantify accurately.
You can track as much as possible by using site tracking tools like Google Analytics and link tracking tools like bit.ly and Pretty Link, but - at the end of the day, you're at the mercy of the environment you choose to operate in.
My point is, since it's hard to accurately measure your efforts already, organic traffic is the place to grow "awareness" and "branding"!
This is your chance to be your weird, funky self and show people who you and your business are!
* Note: just because organic traffic can be hard to track and you get to be your weird, funky self – it doesn’t mean you should create content willy-nilly. Everything you create still needs to serve a purpose and be as specific and measurable as possible.
The Organic Traffic Strategy
This is important.
Only pick ONE organic traffic source to focus 100% of your efforts.
That's right, if you choose Instagram ... that's ALL you're going to focus on. Yes, I know, it seems "logical" to do Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr too since you can post to all those networks at the same time you post to Instagram ... and by having more content in more places you "should" reach more eyes ... right? WRONG!
Each platform has its own set of "rules" whether by design or via social norms.
By "bulk" posting, you will spread yourself too thin and possibly alienate different platforms ... which, you don't want to do.
Instead, you focus only on ONE source. 100% of your focus is on growing that channel until you have a significant following.
The size of a "significant following" will vary tremendously based on a number of variables like market size. For example, if you're a brick & mortar business and there are 2,000 ideal customers in a 25 mile radius from your store and 1,500 of them follow you on Instagram ... you're doing pretty freakin' good!
You also need to take into account engagement. Who cares if you have 10k followers on Instagram if you only get 100 likes/comments when you post? The "real" size of your following is much closer to 100 than that inflated 10k number.
Once you have a significant following on one source THEN you open the next source and "feed" it with the following you built on your original source.
A good percentage of people will make the jump because most people are on multiple platforms and they can follow you elsewhere with a click or tap.
So, that's how you do it. Focus 100% of your efforts on ONE source. Take courses on how to become "good" at that source. Get yourself some fancy tools if you want. Do whatever it takes to really grow that ONE source. Once the first one is rockin' & rollin', add another source and jump start it by sending your audience over to it.
How Do You Pick Your ONE Source?
How you pick your ONE source is pretty simple...
- It must follow the #1 rule - you need to be where your customers are
- It must be something you like doing
If you like writing and your audience likes reading ... start a blog.
If you like taking photos and sharing inspirational quotes and your audience likes looking at photos and quotes ... start an Instagram profile.
If you like talking and your audience likes to listen ... start a podcast.
My one piece of advice is this, NEVER do something you don't like doing because you won't stick with it.
For example, I've tried a dozen times to focus on growing my Facebook following because I know my audience is there and it's a good place to generate traffic. However, after 3 days I quit because ... you know what ... I'm an introvert and being "social" is something I'm just not comfortable with or naturally good at doing.
However, I enjoy writing and blogging. As such, I have a blog and attract visitors through Google and other search engines.
It's been said, "You don't have a business until you can convert paid traffic."
Here's the deal - you don't control organic traffic.
Let me say it again - YOU DON'T CONTROL ORGANIC TRAFFIC!
Platforms change. Algorithms change. Markets change.
With organic traffic, you're at the mercy of the platform you've chosen to pursue.
For example, 90% of our business on Crazy Eye Marketing comes from Google and YouTube.
If Google decides to drop Crazy Eye Marketing in the search results ... our business could vanish ... except, we know how to send paid traffic 😉
Once you're able to take $1, put it into an advertising campaign and get that $1 and more back ... you're unstoppable.
Paid traffic also makes it very easy to define specific goals and measure the results.
So, why do I keep it at 90% organic and 10% paid? Because it's working and organic traffic is "free" ... my customer acquisition costs are essentially zero beyond the time I spend developing content, which is, at this point, a sunk cost.
But, if Google decides to drop the hammer, we'll flip on our paid campaigns and keep trucking right along!
My point is, you need to know how to pay for traffic.
Before You Start Spending Money!
If you've ever "tried" paid advertising before and been astonished by how much it can cost to get someone to click your ad and wondered how it could possibly be viable ... it's because you didn't have a Micro Sales Funnel in place.
Before you spend a dime on paid advertising, you need to have a Micro Sales Funnel setup and ready to go.
While I'm going to cover Micro Sales Funnels in detail in part 6 of this blog series, the simple definition of a Micro Sales Funnel is a system specifically designed to acquire leads and rapidly convert them into customers.
For example, Nathan is surfing Facebook when he sees an ad for the Top 10 Facebook Ads of 2016. Nathan clicks the ad and lands on a page that requests his name and email (a squeeze page) in exchange for the top 10 ads. Immediately after entering his contact info, he's greeted with an offer to get the top 15 WORST Facebook Ads of 2016 for only $7. Nathan thinks, "Shoot, I don't want to make the same mistakes as them, let me grab that!" and he spends $7. Immediately after purchasing the 15 worst ads, he's made an offer to join a course on Facebook Ad Optimization so he can create great ads for only $97. Nathan grabs it. Immediately afterwards, he's presented yet another offer for a training course on creating high converting sales pages for $297. He turns it down because he's a marketing genius and doesn't need help building landing pages.
All told, Nathan spends $104. Some people spend $0. And others spend $401.
All of a sudden, the average order size per click is $3. So, if the business can spend less than $3 per click, they're essentially printing money!
That's how paid advertising works.
You absolutely, positively, need a way to make your money back ASAP!
Of course there's the whole long game where your customers' lifetime value should increase over time ... but, the goal is an immediate return on your investment.
If you can lock that down, you'll be unstoppable!
Paid Traffic Fundamentals
As with organic traffic, you're only going to focus on ONE source of paid traffic.
For the sake of moving forward and making progress, there are only two paid traffic sources you should consider:
- Facebook Ads Manager
- Google Adwords
That's it. At least a fraction of your customers are on Facebook and/or using Google.
If your audience is not on either of those platforms ... they're not online and you shouldn't be focusing on digital marketing.
So, pick one or the other and let's move on!
After making your decision, you need to immerse yourself in the platform. Take courses, listen to podcasts, read blog posts and articles ... become a beast on that particular platform.
What You Need To Pay Attention To
While you're immersing yourself in the ad platform of your choosing, there are a few key elements you really need to pay attention to.
These elements are often overlooked by small business owners and entrepreneurs when they launch paid advertising campaigns.
I really want to emphasize their importance here because they're the difference between success and failure.
Also note, the two aforementioned advertising platforms want you to be successful. Because, if you're successful, you'll keep spending money ... so, they give you a lot of tools to help you out.
The key elements you need to know about and implement are:
- Micro Sales Funnels - Already mentioned a bunch of times, so DO IT or you're going to fail or, at the very least, have meager results. [see part 6]
- Conversion Tracking - There are pieces of code called "pixels" that you will need to place on your website that communicate with the advertising platform and can signal when conversions (ie. leads and sales) take place. You need this so you know what is/isn't working and it helps the advertising platform auto-optimize your campaigns for better results.
- Audiences - Both platforms allow you to create audiences in a variety of ways. Everything from being able to upload customer email addresses, your email lists' email addresses, website visitors, lookalike audiences, custom audiences, smart audiences, and beyond. You need to understand the various audience types and how you can take advantage of them because they can make or break your campaigns.
That's traffic generation in a nutshell.
The key things to remember are ...
- Focus on ONE source of organic traffic and
- ONE source of paid traffic
Once you nail the one source of each down, you can branch out by using the audience and systems you've built with your first sources.