Sure, if you aren’t willing to invest money (or if you think that drumming up prospects and leads should be free… how cute!), you can still succeed in driving traffic to your website, but it’ll be slow. Really slow. All you have to do is create the best website for your topic, with lots of content, lots of value, and lots of people linking to it. And that should absolutely be your overall goal. But that’s going to take time, and in today’s cutthroat market, who can wait?
If your website needs traffic right now, the best thing you can do is make sure you’re spending your ad budget wisely. Don’t run an ad and send people to some crappy home page. Be smart about it.
One of the fastest ways to attract new qualified prospects is by using ‘pay-per-click’ (PPC) advertising. Pay-per-click means exactly what it sounds like. The advertiser pays only when someone clicks on their ad. It is probably the best way to get immediate traffic, and it can be done with an advertising budget of $50-100.
Here are six questions you should consider when using pay-per-click ads to improve your traffic:
1. What are you going to promote?
The obvious answer is “my business.” (Duh!) The problem is, there are millions of businesses out there, and quite a few of them might be in your niche. So dig a little bit deeper and ask yourself, What can I promote to make people want to click on my ad in particular? The answer can be found in an enduring part of human nature: Everybody loves free stuff.
You should always offer potential clients something tangible to draw them in: a lead magnet. A great way to do that is by giving them information they want in the form of a free report. Your free report is the first step in the client attraction process. It serves two purposes. First, it helps you build credibility and trust with prospective clients. Second, it allows you to provide prospective clients with enough information that they believe you know what you’re doing but not so much that they can do whatever they need without hiring you.
2. What landing page will people see when they click on the ad?
The design of this page spells the difference between getting a lot of traffic and wasting a lot of money. If your landing page is boring, uninformative, or looks like something a third grader could have created, it doesn’t matter how powerful your lead magnet is — potential clients will quickly move on. Satterfield recommends that you include a few key elements on your website:
- A catchy headline
- Bullet points to capture the reader’s curiosity and convey benefits
- An opt-in box for receiving the lead magnet and gathering email addresses
- A thank-you page
I recommend heavily promoting your free offer on your website’s main landing page. That’s what I do on gentlerainmarketing.com. Traditionally, landing pages focus primarily on communicating what the company does. But if we do not get our visitors to opt in when they come to the site, we lose control of our ability to follow up with them. It’s hard to send ongoing messages to people if they don’t tell us who they are.
3. What’s the profile of your ideal prospect?
The good news is that pay-per-click allows you to micro-target who you put your advertisements in front of. The bad news is that if you don’t know exactly who that is (or if you’ve done a half-baked job of defining him or her), then you’re blindly throwing darts into the Internet.
To figure out who your ideal prospect is, start with clients you already have and ask yourself questions about them. For example, do you have a pattern of success with a particular group of clients? Is one group of clients spending more money with you than others? Is one group easier to sell to? Is there a group that you have a natural affinity with? etc.
4. Where do you want to run it?
You can advertise on search engines like Google and Bing or social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn — so you have some choices to make. One big advantage of advertising on search engines is immediacy. When someone searches for something using the keywords you’ve selected, your ad immediately appears. Facebook is a good place to advertise to consumers and women, and LinkedIn is strong when your target market is professionals or other companies.
Do some research and start small. As you become more successful and learn the PPC ropes, you can begin to experiment and advertise in more venues. To start, I recommend testing your ad on Facebook, because most niche markets are represented there, and Facebook allows you to micro-target the groups you want at a very low price per click.
5. What will the ad say?
Of course, your success will depend on how compelling your ad is. When you write the copy, there are three things you should keep in mind. First, include one of your keywords in the title. People will feel more comfortable clicking when your headline has the word they were searching for.
Second, focus on benefits and forget about features. You have a very limited number of characters to convince people to click, so focus on how your free offer will give them something that’s important to them. And third, use title case; in other words, capitalize the first letter in each word. It makes your whole ad look like a headline and grabs the viewer’s eye.
6. What’s the end game?
So, you create a catchy ad, design an attractive landing page, and attract the attention of the prospects you want. That’s great! But don’t start celebrating yet. If you haven’t put some thought into the system you’ll use to get money from your traffic, you still have some work to do.
Most people think they’ll figure that out after they get prospects—but that kind of thinking can lead to a lot of missed opportunities. The time to figure out your money-making strategy is before you advertise. When I first started my business, I would follow up personally with everyone who requested the free report. Over time, as my list of prospects grew, I increasingly relied on my drip-marketing email system to motivate prospects to initiate contact with me.
If you’re thinking, Crap, there’s a lot more to this than I thought, you’re not alone. The good news is, because there is a lot more to successfully driving traffic than meets the eye, a lot of business owners aren’t doing it well. If you put in the work on the front end, you, not your competition, will get the lion’s share of prospects.
Mark Satterfield is the founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing, Inc. He specializes in working with consultants, advisers, and small businesses on how to get consistent streams of new business. Since 1992, he has helped clients in financial services, insurance, health care, consulting, real estate, advertising, training, recruiting, and more than 75 niche industries grow their businesses without cold calling or hard selling. He is the author of “The One Week Marketing Plan“.