Your website can be awesome – engaging and starting conversations, with plenty of opportunities for visitors to get to know you and learn how you can help them. Your email marketing can also be awesome, with nurturing sequences deepening the conversation and guiding people down the path to becoming your customer. But… for many organizations, there’s a missing piece. If you don’t drive traffic to your awesomeness, you won’t build your list. Sure, you’ll be marketing to the people you already have, but how do you get new leads?
What do you mean, “drive traffic”?
Your website may not come up at the top of search results for your audience to easily find. So it’s lost in the crowd of websites that offer similar services. Even with the best keywords carefully crafted for every page, you’re competing with everyone else with the same or similar keywords. Take this post – which is optimized for the keyword “drive traffic.” If someone types into a search engine “drive traffic to my website,” how many search results do you think there will be? That’s right – a ton. In this particular case, over 1.3 million results for that search term. No matter what business you’re in, the best keywords are also being used by others who are competing for the same customers you want.
So… to get found, to have the opportunity to engage new leads, we need a way to drive traffic – to attract your perfect potential customers to your website, to your offers, and to you. With an ever-crowded market as well as ever-changing algorithms (Facebook and Google, I’m talking about you here), we can’t depend on search or even social media posts to actually attract your perfect potential customers and get them to opt-in to your list.
Is advertising the answer?
Advertising could be the answer, yes. As a wise marketer once said, “When you need traffic, you go to the traffic store – and buy it.” Advertising is how you buy traffic. It’s simple. But that same marketer also produces success stories about how people invested $100,000 or more into Facebook advertising and turned it into 4 bajillion dollars in sales. Every time I see one of those stories, I cringe. How many small and mid-sized businesses have $100,000 to invest in advertising on social media without an iron-clad guarantee that you’ll actually get at least $100,000 in new sales in return? Right? Great example, but how does it work when the investment is $100? That’s a bit more realistic as a starting point for a small or mid-sized business, don’t you think?
Another answer would be to seriously – and I mean SERIOUSLY – work the social networks.
And first you must ask yourself this all-important question: WHERE are my perfect potential customers active? What social networks are they on?
If they’re on Twitter, that means engaging with people, not just using a post tool to drop content and links. And you’ll need to be on Twitter a LOT to really get anything out of it. There are people who have gotten clients from Twitter, yes. But they’re on it, working it, responding to people, liking tweets, and generally spending a lot of time on Twitter. If your people are there, and you can find them, follow them, and get them to follow you back, it’s worth doing. Otherwise, Twitter is the easiest social network to scrap.
On Facebook, that might mean hosting and running a group that is based on whatever you do better than anyone else in the world. The trouble with Facebook groups, though, is that too many people start a group, invite people to join it, then do auto-posts and not much else. If you’re going to create a group, you’ll also need to encourage conversation, participate, and make it truly valuable for those in the group to participate. A Facebook business page can be important, but again, auto-posting without interacting is not going to help much. Facebook posts don’t necessarily reach the people who follow your page, so you’ll want to encourage conversation and engagement with your posts – which is what it takes to increase their reach for free.
On LinkedIn, the best way to get engagement is to follow people, send connection requests, and send a few messages to get to know them. That’s a time investment, versus a money investment. I’ve seen a lot of organizations hire an entry-level person, or get an intern, to manage social media. While sometimes that pays off, in many cases you’re throwing the least-knowledgeable person into the fray and expecting that person to have engaging conversations that attract new leads. It just doesn’t work – and could do more harm than good. You could also hire a professional LinkedIn “connection” firm to handle your LinkedIn interactions for you. This is a far better bet than hiring an intern.
If you have the time to invest and a knowledgeable person who can have credible online conversations, working the social networks could be a great answer. If you don’t have both of those, advertising – going to the traffic store – will be your best bet. But… only if it’s affordable, trackable, and gets you the RIGHT leads.
Social media advertising – more than boosted posts
Crafting ads for social media takes a combination of art and science – seriously. Your ad needs an image – that’s the art part. The science part is identifying the audience to which you will target your ads. That’s right – I said “target your ads.” If you just do an ad and release it to the wilds of Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, your costs will be high and your ROI will be lousy. To get the best bang for the buck, you’ll drive traffic with highly targeted ads that speak directly to your perfect potential customer.
Of course, that goes straight back to how well you have identified your perfect potential customer – and we’ve posted on that topic before, here: Attract Leads Who are Perfect For You.
Where do your perfect potential customers hang out? Are they most likely to go to the Google for answers? Are they on social networks? Which social networks? Are they reading reviews or consulting online directories? Where are they online?
Now that you have that answer, how can you attract them? How can you “stop the scroll” and get them to linger for a moment on your ad? What can you do to get them to take action on your ad? Art and science intersect here – grab their eye (the art) and offer them something that they want (the science).
Boosted posts – where you pay money to get an existing post in front of more people – don’t create new leads as much as we would like. Sure, you can create a targeted audience for your boosted post, just like you do with an ad. But most social media posts are pretty general – links to the latest blog posts, an upcoming event, as examples – and don’t have the specificity you can get to when you’re crafting an ad with a set agenda and goal. The way to attract and capture new leads through advertising is to thoughtfully construct an ad – or several – that will cause action.
No matter where they are, they’re probably on Facebook
Recommendation #1 – don’t start advertising on every platform all at once. You’re going to need to test, refine, and test again to see what works best for you, and that’s most easily done on one network at a time. While what works on one social network likely won’t have the same results on another social network, you’ll get the process down and start seeing results when you focus on one at a time.
Recommendation #2 – if you’re starting with one social network, start with Facebook. Whether you’re trying to attract entrepreneurs or moms with kids under 2, there’s a good chance that your perfect potential customers are on Facebook. Thanks to the capability Facebook provides for targeting your ads (down to the gnat’s eyelash, it seems), you can really fine-tune your audience and tweak your ads – or run several and compare results – until you’re getting the results you want for a price you’re willing to pay.
Doing great advertising helps you fine-tune your content and your offers. If no one is clicking on your ads, there’s a problem with the ad. If people click but don’t opt-in, that points to a different problem – and a new opportunity to tweak and refine (on your landing page). Advertising does have a cost associated with it, but it also can pay off in ways you maybe didn’t expect.
Building your list by “going to the traffic store” can work – but you’ve got to approach the process logically and with a mindset of test-test-test until you find what works for you AND the audience you want to attract.
In the meantime, keep writing your blog posts, creating new lead magnets, and regularly emailing the people who are already in your list with relevant and valuable information. Don’t get so involved in attracting NEW leads that you forget to engage them once they’ve joined your list. That begins an endless cycle of bringing in the new only to have them fade away – and you don’t want that.
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