How would you feel if the online business that you’d worked so hard to build suddenly disappeared overnight?
Have you ever even considered that this might happen?
And what you’d do if it did?
It’s a scary thought, but unfortunately it could be closer than you think.
Those sales that you achieve, they result from the traffic you’re driving to your site. You focus on driving traffic, a percentage of it converts to sales, your customer purchases and leaves your site. You continue to drive more traffic. Sound familiar?
Reminds me of a hamster in a wheel. If you want the wheel to turn, the hamster has to keep running. If you want the sales to come in, you have to keep driving the traffic.
Now, if you’re only using one method to drive traffic, you’re at the risk of having no customers if that source dries up. But even if you’re driving traffic from several sources, you could still be putting your business at risk.
Think I’m being over dramatic? Let’s take a look at some of the more popular traffic sources.
I’ll begin with the Google search engine. It seems a good one to start with given the emphasis many people place on it. And why not? It seems to have sound logic behind it. It’s the largest search engine out there and it delivers free traffic. Who wouldn’t want that?
No-one really. But the question isn’t who wouldn’t want it, but would you want your business to be dependent on it?
Changes in the Google algorithm occur all the time. I recently read an article claiming a change is made every 75 minutes. Now, a minor tweak here and there may not be noticeable. But we can’t control what Google do, and occasionally those tweaks aren’t tweaks. They’re bloody great overhauls, and the impact on your business can be devastating.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the loss of traffic suffered by wpmu.
And worse still, not only are Google introducing more of them, but they’re repeating them.
Now I know Google will argue that if you’re producing quality content then you’ve nothing to worry about, but the WPMU case seems to refute this. Either way, I’d rather not have to worry about what Google are doing, but instead be safe in the knowledge that my site doesn’t rely on them.
But of course Google’s not the only site being targeted as a source of traffic. In the web 2.0 world, social media is becoming increasingly important, and with now more than a billion active members, Facebook is seen as a ripe source for traffic.
But before you go relying on it for your traffic, you might want to bear in mind what’s been going on there.
With the introduction of the timeline, Facebook also introduced more stringent terms and conditions relating to how you can use your fan page. No longer can you lead someone directly to a squeeze page, instead they must first land on your home tab. And while that page has a sizeable header which can attract the visitors attention, it can’t be used for promotional purposes. So if you want to use Facebook for sales or traffic, you’re going to have to start getting creative.
I’m not saying it can’t be done, just that once again it might be a case of here today, gone tomorrow.
You could look to paid advertising to drive your traffic. But of course the minute you stop paying, your traffic dries up. And unless you’ve got serious clout, you’ll have little influence over the rates you’ll be charged. So you may be able to drive traffic, but at an increasing cost to your business.
It’s scary isn’t it? All these external factors that you have absolutely no control over, are a potential threat to the very existence of your business.
So how can you protect yourself from this?
….build a list!
If you capture the contact details of your customers and visitors, you’ll be able to communicate with them via email. You can keep them up to date with changes in the industry, pass on some helpful tips, and of course, let them know about your latest offers.
No need for Google. No need for Facebook. And at minimal cost. Of course you can still use other traffic sources, you just won’t be dependent on them.
So how do you build this list? Well there are several ways, and they really deserve a post of their own, so I’ll just give you a few ideas of how you can capture your existing traffic.
First things first, you need to sign up for an email marketing service. If there’s one area I wouldn’t skimp on, it’s this. Although free services are available, I believe that signing up to a premium service is an investment well made. They provide many tools and functionality to help you manage your business that free services just can’t compete with. And they increase the chance of your emails being delivered. Not to be sniffed at, that! I use Aweber and if you’re interested you can sign up for a trial account for just $1!
Once you have an account you can create an opt-in form which you then publish on your website. Obviously if you want something from your visitors (their email address), it’s only right that you should offer them something in return. So make sure your lead magnet (free offer) is of good quality and relevant to your site. If your subscribers are impressed with it, chances are they’ll want more from you. If not, you won’t see them again.
Not only the presence, but the positioning and frequency of the opt-in form can have a dramatic effect on how many people subscribe. To encourage more subcribers, here’s a few tips.
- Use a popover form. When someone visits your site, your optin form pops over the landing page, giving the viewer the opportunity to subscribe. It’s important that you don’t use these forms aggressively, as you’ll simply antagonise the user. But used correctly, you could see an impressive increase in the number of subscribers. For practical advice on popover forms, click here.
- Display the opt-in form on the top right hand side of your page. It’s where the eyes tend to go and therefore is more likely to be seen.
- Include an opt-in form at the bottom of each blog post. If they’ve read to the end of your post, they’ve engaged with you and are interested in what you have to say. What better time to offer them more?
- Don’t forget your About Us page. If someone’s interested in your site, chances are they’ll be interested in the person behind it. Make sure your About Us page is interesting and of course, includes an opt-in form. Neil Patel of Quicksprout.com offers a great example of this.
- Finally, still not signed up? Give them a chance with an exit popup form.
In addition to the above, you can encourage people to subscribe to your list even if they don’t visit your site. I’ll be talking about this in a future post. So look out for it!
Over To You: If you’re building a list, perhaps you could leave a comment and let us know what works best for you? Or if you think they’re a waste of time, perhaps you could let us know why?
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