The Basics of Driving Website Traffic

As marketers, when we’re looking to drive website traffic by implementing a content marketing strategy, we often put our creative caps on and dive into the latest and greatest ideas to get clicks.

Social Media Word Cloud
We dream up controversial headlines, employ search engine optimization (SEO) tricks, and create countless top 10 lists. If that’s not enough, we develop newsletters that link back to our content and embark on a social media frenzy.

And while those tactics can help, we can’t forget about web traffic fundamentals either.

Sometimes, that’s pretty easy to do.

So let’s get back to basics. If you’re worried about your content marketing strategy and its ability to drive website traffic, here are some good, old-fashioned tips to fall back on.

Know your audience

Step one to driving traffic is to really know your audience.  In a video series we recorded with Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi, he said that it’s important to know what keeps your customers or audience up at night.

Forrester Research analyst Jennifer Belissent uses the Acumen Fund’s production and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets in Tanzania as an outside-the-box example.

While one of the fund’s goals was to distribute the nets at no cost to at-risk groups, it also sought to promote social entrepreneurship by recruiting women that could sell the nets door-to-door to families that might not need them, but could certainly benefit from them.

One particularly successful saleswoman strayed from the typical health hazard prevention messaging that had been used in the past and opted for one that focused more on beauty, vanity, status and comfort – things that mattered to her audience. It worked and her customers responded.

That example is a little off the wall, but it provides a lesson that can be applied to virtually any marketing initiative – including trying to boost web traffic.

Create GREAT content

Catchy headlines and clever tweets will create some traffic, but if you’re looking for sustained growth then you have to look at your content.

Does it answer your audience’s pain points? If it’s all about you and fails to address their needs, then it’s not good enough – simple as that. In fact, Lee Odden, the CEO of online marketing firm TopRank, says that lack of pain point empathy can single handedly kill a content marketing campaign.

When you truly understand your audience’s needs and can satisfy them with your content, then you’ll be in a position to drive significant traffic. If you need help understanding your buyer personas, marketing guru David Meerman Scott provides a few great examples on his blog to get you started.

Make it easy

Is your website easy to use? Can users quickly navigate the pages to find what they need? If so, they’ll probably come back to your site and use it as a resource in the future.

If your goal is to boost traffic and engagement, repeat visitors are a great thing to measure. Their continued patronage speaks volumes about your company, its website and the value they’re drawing from it.

However, if your site isn’t usable, don’t expect visitors to stay long. That hurts both their engagement with your content and the potential for repeat visits. There are a few common usability mistakes that companies make, including the 10 usability nightmares that Smashing Magazine’s Vitaly Friedman vividly illustrates on his blog.

To make sure your site isn’t on that list, run through UX Booth’s quick usability checklist to make sure your site has seven essential site features.

Some of the things that UX Booth says every site needs:

  • Simple and useful navigation bars
  • Navigation by search
  • A tagline or site description
  • Clear visual page hierarchy

Keep those in mind when you’re evaluating your own site’s usability.

The important takeaway from the points above is that we can always strive to do more in each of those spaces.

As marketers, we can’t be satisfied with status quo. And that doesn’t mean we have to create complex fixes to relatively simple problems. If we focus on fundamentals, we can easily improve the information, website and content that our customers interact with.

From a content marketing perspective, that should be our primary goal. Once we nail those basics, web traffic will come and we can move on to some of the more advanced tactics that bring more eyes to our content.

Corey O'Loughlin
Corey O'Loughlin

Corey was a marketing analyst at OpenView from 2010 until 2011. Currently Corey is the Owner of Prep Obsessed and was previously the Marketing Manager at MarketingProfs.
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