There’s an old saying – when you want more traffic, you go the traffic store. And yes, you pay. Google ads, social media ads, ads, ads, ads. But there’s so much more you can do to drive traffic and get more eyes on your content without spending big bucks.

It’s the number one thing we hear.

“How do I get more people to my website?”

The simple answer, of course, is to advertise. You can run ads on Google, ads on Facebook and Instagram, retargeting ads, and so much more. There are people who have made excellent livings for themselves teaching people how to craft ads to get “sales while you sleep” – and for some people, that kind of advertising can work, at least to some degree (but never to the level that the coaches tell you THEY experienced, right?).

And even with the very best intentions and the very best training, some people advertise and get ZERO results. Well, let me be clear – they might get more followers, more likes, or many clicks, but when it comes to SALES, frequently those numbers are nowhere near what they need to be to justify the cost of the ads. We have one client who went through a Facebook ads training, got personal coaching in setting up ads, testing, tweaking, and publishing, and got zero sales. But she spent more than $2,500 with Facebook ads – and more than that with the training and coaching program – all for zero sales. And that’s an example where she did everything “right.”

We also see countless people / organizations that spend money in advertising and the link the ad goes to is the website home page. Err, no. That doesn’t work. When you drop people into your website home page, there is no clarity about what you want them to do. Maybe they’ll fish around and look at stuff – but, in reality, they won’t. When people click an ad, they’re looking for something specific – the fulfillment of the promise that the ad made that enticed them to click.

The bottom line for an ad strategy is this: if you’re going to spend money on ads, BE SURE you are sending people to a specific, purpose-build landing page, not to your home page or your blog landing page. You need to be able to know how people are coming to you, to track their sources, and, most importantly, to CAUSE people to do the ONE thing that you want them to do.

But ads aren’t the only answer.

Those who talk about the traffic store don’t talk about the stuff sitting on the “free table” at the traffic store. That’s right – there are many things you can do to drive traffic that cost you no money – or very little money –¬† and these things can sometimes perform even better for you than a paid ad strategy ever will.

But I’ve got to be blunt with you here. If you don’t have something that your perfect potential customers will want, there’s not a strategy in the world that will bring the right people to your website and into your sales funnel. That means CONTENT. And the very BEST use of content to drive traffic is to have an attractor (aka lead magnet, free gift) that entices your perfect potential customers to give their email address so they can get it.

Social Media

You can leverage your social media to offer your attractor in two ways: 1) create posts that offer it directly with a lovely graphic and great call to action so people will click and opt-in. This will get you a few leads – but in reality only about 0.58% of people who see your post will actually click and opt-in; that’s just the brutal truth about social media followers. 2) post your blog posts with a link to read the entire post – which takes people back to your blog post on your website. On that blog post, be sure you offer your attractor so people can opt-in right on your website.

Ask a trusted group to like and comment on your social media posts so that they will become elevated within the algorithms and then be shown to more people. Frankly, Facebook and others WANT you to pay for advertising, so they’re unlikely to show your posts to all of your followers unless the post gets likes, comments, and shares on its own. In fact, be sure to like and share your OWN posts – as your personal profile and not as your page. It helps.

If your perfect potential customers are on LinkedIn, you can get great results by purchasing Sales Navigator (seems pricey at $800/year, but can be WELL worth it!) A LinkedIn strategy is NOT an ad strategy – it’s a connection and engagement strategy, and, if that’s where your customers are, your income potential from employing a great LinkedIn strategy can far outweigh the cost of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.

Social media is far from perfect – and it’s changing all the time. Since it’s “rented property” and not something you own, you need to do what you can to maximize it without handing over your bank account.

Speaking Your Message

You’re an expert in your field, right? Are you sharing your message in front of groups? On radio shows? On podcasts? In summits?

Of course there’s the obvious – tap into your local groups, like the Chamber of Commerce, business networking groups, etc. If there’s a big potential in your local area for you to get new clients, consider offering free workshops from time to time, so you can become known locally as an expert. That could lead you to local radio stations for interviews, or to TV interviews on your subject matter. All good, yes?

But there’s so much more. The fact is, there are podcasts, summits, and internet radio interviews going on ALL THE TIME. But how do you find out about them?

Our friend Jackie Lapin runs SpeakerTunity™, a tremendous resource for finding opportunities to speak your message. She and her team produce three different tip sheets each month – each with contact information for people who are seeking speakers, hosting summits, and/or producing radio shows. You can find out more about that here: SpeakerTunity Tip Sheets. There’s a free trial available so you can try each one out and see what will work best for you.

But there’s one key to these speaking opportunities that you MUST NOT IGNORE!

To effectively utilize speaking opportunities for lead generation – for traffic, you MUST have something that your audience will want AND you must tell them how to get it. Yes, we’re back to that attractor / free gift we talked about before. Perhaps you’ve worked hard and have several from which you could choose the perfect one for each speaking opportunity. Great! Or perhaps you’re just starting out and only have one that you’ll offer everywhere for now. Either way, you MUST offer something enticing to the audience so they’ll come to your website and opt-in to receive your gift.

And here’s a PRO TIP: make your URL for this offer something SIMPLE and easy to remember. Have you ever heard someone give out a URL and it’s www.website.com forward slash something dash something dash something dash something? Who is going to remember that? No one – not even if you have it up on the screen for them. Make it simple, like website.com forward slash something – ONE WORD that will allow THEM to remember (and make it easy to type into their browser) and allow YOU to track the source of new leads that come in from that speaking engagement.

Participating in Giveaways

For coaches, experts, authors, and solopreneurs, participating in giveaways can be a great way to grow your list. Each month, there are dozens of giveaways, each with a particular theme, or geared toward a particular audience. Some giveaways have contributor fees (usually $150 or less) while others do not.

Don’t participate in every giveaway under the sun! You want to carefully select the giveaways in which you’ll participate to ensure that the giveaway’s intended audience is aligned with YOUR perfect potential customer profile. And – this is very important – you want to keep in mind the requirements that go along with every giveaway. For typical giveaways, you’ll be required to email your list three times during the giveaway period AND to post to your social media channels. For that reason alone, you’ll want to stagger your giveaway participation so you are not emailing your list for a different giveaway every day. That’s not a value-adding strategy for your leads.

And of course, you’ll need that attractor / free gift as your offer for the giveaway.

PRO TIP: One thing we see people do ALL THE TIME is provide their generic URL to every giveaway. Guess what that means if you do that? It means you will NEVER be able to track which leads came from which giveaway (or summit, or radio show, or podcast). Imagine it’s a year down the road, and you’re asked to participate in the same giveaway again. How will you know how that giveaway performed for you? That’s right – you need to be able to track the source of the leads that come in through each source. That means a specific landing page and/or a specific opt-in form for every giveaway. So a year down the road, when you get an email from Betsy asking if you want to be in her giveaway again, you can answer based on the data from the prior year. (This just happened with one of our clients, and she saw she only got 5 new leads from last year’s giveaway, so she opted not to participate this year. Gotta love data, amiright?) PLUS – if there was a contributor fee for the giveaway, you can figure out your cost per lead so easily when you track the source.

BTW, the SpeakerTunity resources we mentioned above also list upcoming giveaways.

Let’s not forget SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a long-running game. You won’t get instant results from an SEO strategy; your results will grow over time. And, like I love to say, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the 2nd best time is today. So start now with SEO. Put keywords on your posts, make sure your post snippet is correct, and do what you can to make your posts attractive to the search engine bots. Use Yoast SEO if you’re on WordPress (free version is fine for most people) for the simplest way to start.

You can start this on your own Research SEO, learn all you can about it, and just get started. You don’t want to sit down in six months and wish you had started six months ago. Just start. You won’t be perfect, I guarantee it, but you’ll have SOMETHING going – which is way better than having NOTHING going.

Finally, look at partnering

Are there people in your universe who serve the same audience you serve but don’t provide the same services that you provide? Forming strategic partnerships with selected like-minded people can help you both. You could simply share referrals, or you could come up with a revenue-sharing arrangements for those who are referred by your partner and purchase services or programs. While there’s a cost associated with revenue sharing, it’s a cost that is paid for by the incoming revenue – unlike ad spend, which costs you no matter how many sales you make (or don’t make).

While there are many paid programs that teach you about the world of joint venture partnerships, you can certainly network with others on your own, on LinkedIn, in Facebook groups, etc., to find people with whom you’d want to partner.

The bottom line

The traffic store DOES have a free table. You don’t have to have a paid ad strategy to get new eyes on your content and people to your website. Simply create the content that your ideal audience – your perfect potential customers – will want, then start sharing, speaking, networking, and/or partnering to serve your audience without spending big bucks.

Plan for the long game – this isn’t a one-and-done strategy. It’s not an “instant income” strategy. It’s not a “sales while you sleep” strategy. Frankly, those strategies don’t work for most people (but they sure do increase the income of the folks you can pay to teach them to you!). Commit to a long-term, traffic-generating, lead-generating strategy. You’ll be WAYYY better off in the long term.

Get one piece of enticing, downloadable content working for you. Next week, or next month, create another one and get that out there too. Build traffic. Get leads. And… go.