David Wilson headshotIt’s one of the most memorable lines in movie history; “If you build it, they will come.”

That scene from “Field of Dreams” is a perfect analogy for business today. But what does that line have to do with a traffic generation strategy?

Unlike in the movies, if you build a great product and don’t tell anyone about it, visitors will not stampede to your website to buy it.

So how do you drive the right traffic to your website in 2017?  How do you find the pockets of users online who will love your product or service?

These are the traffic channels that I have in my playbook that I see working best today.

Organic Channels

An organic channel is defined as one where you do not pay for each visitor to your website.

Some of the organic channels in a traffic generation playbook are:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Content Marketing
  • App Store Optimization
  • Amazon store Optimization
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Strategic Partnerships

In the summer of 2017, there are three that are the most effective organic channels.

Search Engine Optimization

Organic Search Traffic should be the cornerstone for any traffic generation campaign regardless of the stage of your company’s development.

From start-ups to Fortune 50 brands, organic search delivers more traffic, more engagement, and more conversions than any other traffic source.

Organic search traffic is also the lowest cost per conversion of any channel in 2017.

Two areas of organic search that are really important at the moment are local search and mobile.

  1. If you are a local business, then I believe that Moz Local is the best way to get your site listed correctly, consistently, and visibly across the web
  2. Local search is a critical component of mobile search. For the first time in March, the number of mobile-only adult internet users in the U.S. exceeded the number of desktop-only internet users.

Google now has a mobile-only index in which how fast your website loads is a major component of the algorithm. You can check how mobile friendly your website is here and how fast your website loads here.

Social Media

We live in a social-centric world and if you are not visible on social media you are invisible to a large portion of your target audience.

While Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are great platforms for reaching the masses, depending on your audience, you should also be visible on social networks like Twitter (sports and news), Instagram (restaurants, bars, fitness, etc), Snapchat (13-18 year old market), and Musical.ly (brands, music fans).

What I am seeing working well today is when you take an existing piece of content and repurpose or reuse it across the internet.

For example, you shoot a two-minute video and instead of publishing it just on YouTube, you also publish on Facebook. You can then use an inexpensive transcription service like Speechpad to get the video transcribed and turn it into a 350-400 word blog post.

You can take any images that you added to the video and/or blog and upload them to Instagram.

So now you took a two minute video and used it to create content on three social networks and a blog post. And as a bonus, all that content provided you with at least four different Tweets!

Email Marketing

I am a big fan of email marketing. It is a great way to stay in touch with your prospects and users, and continue to build a relationship with them.

I am not a fan of buying email lists. With The CAN-SPAM Act, if you cannot vouch for the quality of the list, the last thing you want is to be accused of spam and to get your email blacklisted.

If email works well for your business, then consider advertising in a newsletter in your market, rather than buying a list.
What’s working well for companies is focusing on customized email tailored to different audience segments.

For example, if you had an email list of NFL fans, you would want to customize the headline and content to the team that each fan likes. Emails to Patriot fans for example would be different than those going to Steelers fans.

You will be amazed at the increase in engagement levels in your emails if you use segments.

I recently saw an email campaign to an email list that was five years old get an open rate of over 60%. That is because the majority of the emails over the years were relevant to the people on the list.

Paid Channels

A paid channel is defined as one where you pay for each visitor to your website.

Some of the paid channels in a traffic generation playbook are:

  • Offline Ads (TV, print)
  • Online Ads (PPC)
  • Social Media Ads (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn)
  • Influencer Campaigns
  • Radio
  • Retargeting
  • Ad Networks
  • Sponsorships
  • Native Content Ads

In the summer of 2017, the most effective paid channels in my playbook are PPC, Paid social and retargeting.

Pay per Click (PPC)

PPC is the most common platform that businesses use today when they are advertising online. It is one of the reasons why Google is one of the most profitable companies in the world today.

I frequently refer to PPC as “rent a visitor” as you are paying for each visitor that comes to your website, and that rental expense continues to rise. According to this report, the average cost-per-click (CPC) on Google has increased from $0.92 in 2013 to $2.14 in 2016.

To find out how to make your existing PPC campaign more profitable, Wordstream offers a really good free audit here.

Paid Social Media

Not too long ago, you could publish an article on Facebook and most everyone who was a fan of your page could potentially see it.

But then the social networks, led by Facebook, realized that they were missing out on ad revenue. They tweaked their algorithm and now you have to pay to get your message in front of your fans.

This is a decision that is expected to deliver $37B this year to the social networks in the form of advertising dollars.

The most common social media advertising tactic is content amplification, where a publisher pays to get a blog post, picture or video that they have published in front of a significantly wider audience.

According to Clutch, 86% of marketers now combine paid and organic tactics as part of their social media strategies. It’s rare for social media marketers not to use organic and paid social media together.

A content amplification tactic that work well is only amplify your very best content. A Buzzsumo study showed that 50% of content on social media networks gets 8 shares or less. Putting dollars behind your best content increases the likelihood that your content will be liked and shared.

Retargeting

A fast growing part of the social networks ad revenue is retargeting. When someone comes to your website, usually only 3-5% of users are ready to sign-up or buy at that moment in time. The rest leave your website and may continue their search elsewhere.

Retargeting via a social network like Facebook allows you to target ads at those users who did not convert on your website, when they are on Facebook.

This is not a tactic used just by B2C marketers. I continue to see results where targeting a business user on Facebook can generate a qualified lead for 60% less than what a similar lead from LinkedIn would cost.

Remember you are marketing to an individual. If your message is compelling they will want to learn more regardless of the platform they are on.

Summary

There is no magic bullet in this list. There is not one tactic that will give you hockey stick growth in traffic.

The companies that are successful in consistently growing their traffic base are those that learn from what works and what doesn’t work and use their learnings to get increasingly better results.

The best traffic generation playbooks combine several of these organic and paid tactics together in order to get their message in front of as big and relevant an audience as possible.

What’s in your playbook?