I’m about to contradict myself.
And I’m willing to admit it. I’m OK with that.
Because it feels important to bring up this little elephant in the living room.
In the past, I took umbrage with the popular notion on a lot of the marketing blogs I was seeing that traffic trumps everything. At the time, it seemed like every other article I saw was a hack or a tactic or a secret technique to get more traffic. But the problem I saw was that it seemed like no one was telling you what to do with that traffic once you got it!
I wrote about the importance of having second click content — the kind of content that gets people to stick around on your website or sign up for your email list. And I railed against these gurus and guides that seemed to hold traffic above everything else. Because a click is not a conversion. A click is not a sale.
I wrote, “for most of my readers, writing to the prospective client or customer is much more important than writing to the masses. It’s more important to write and promote content that converts, not just content that is popular.”
In other words, writing clickbait articles just to drive traffic isn’t actually going to make you more sales if you don’t then convert them to leads / subscribers / sales.
But I never said that traffic isn’t important at all.
Traffic is eyeballs, is warm bodies, is potential customers, is leads, is sales. Without some kind of traffic, content marketing is useless.
Lemme say that again: WITHOUT TRAFFIC, YOUR BLOG POSTS AREN’T DOING JACK SQUAT.
I’ve seen some businesses lately that are so focused on content marketing strategy and creation that they’ve completely neglected promotion. Oh, they post their blog posts, and then they share it to their social media channels of a few hundred folks, and then they email it to their email list of less than a hundred people, and then they sit back and think their job is done.
But they can’t understand why they’re not getting more opt-ins, generating more leads, closing more sales.
It’s business math
I was working on a strategy with a client last week, and her big goal is to have 334 paying members in her membership site in a year. If we assume she can convert them at an average of 1% (she may do better than that! but without data, we go with the average of 1–3%) that means she needs 33,000 people to see her offer over the next year.
And you know what we call those 33,000 people?
Now, we came up with some ways for her to generate targeted traffic that don’t involve paying a lot of money to Facebook or selling her soul with clickbait headlines, but the bottom line of her strategy is that for at least the next six months, her number one priority is to work to generate that traffic.
Because without it, she sells nothing (or, at least, very little!).
We have another client who has a very high end, niched service. They only need to generate about 4 leads a month to feel like they’re making good progress. But so far… digital crickets.
The client wanted to know if we should change what we blog about, test different opt-in boxes, create a new lead magnet, try video… But as I was looking at their analytics numbers I said, nope.
What we need to do is focus on driving more traffic to the existing content.
Because we can write literally the best blog post in the entire world — but if no one reads it, it won’t do any good.
Only after we’ve gotten the traffic numbers up do I recommend messing around with changing the actual content, ie: the blog topics, opt-in language, or lead magnets. Because we simply don’t have enough data to know what’s working and what’s not yet.
Not enough traffic.
Traffic is not a panacea; but it’s an important part of the equation
My beef with the gurus that push traffic at all costs was not that traffic is bad, but that it’s not the be-all and end-all of content marketing.
Traffic is good! But then you have to be able to do something with it.
For example, a woman who took one of my courses wrote a blog post a couple of years ago that went legitimately viral. She got something like 35,000 views of her post in a week. And, as we might predict, a small percentage of them signed up for her list. But she struggled with her next launch because they weren’t necessarily the right people for what she wanted to sell.
There’s a delicate dance smart content marketers must do between creating content that speaks to their ideal customer with the right message, and then promoting it at the right time and in the right places to reach those ideal people.
When you’re not seeing the conversions you want, ask yourself:
- Am I generating enough traffic to the “ask” (the opt-in, the sales page, etc.) to support my goals?
- Is the traffic I’m generating made up of mostly my ideal customers?
- Is the “ask” clear and made several times?
- Is the “ask” aligned with what my ideal customer wants when they find my content? (ie: does my lead magnet solve a problem they have right now?)
And then, maybe most importantly: What promotional activities can I do to generate more targeted traffic to my content?
If you’re having trouble answering any of those questions, we can help! We include an analytics snapshot with every Strategy Session. Click here for more information and to apply.