This is a guest post by Cassie Hicks of Women’s Way To Wealth (http://womenswaytowealth.com)
Welcome to 2012! Perhaps you’ve decided this is the year to start blogging, or launch that new online business?
What will you do first? If you’re like most people you’ll venture online to see what your options are and see how it all works. Kerpow! The information tidal wave hits you like a tsunami and your inbox starts to groan under the weight of all the free e-books, can’t miss internet marketing wisdom, and articles, blogs and reports. That’s before you have any idea of your strategy, plan and maybe even who your market is.
Amongst this barrage of information will be some absolute golden nuggets of advice (hopefully this post fits in that category!), some useful background reading (that you may never get round to reading), and a raft of badly re-spun textbook internet marketing content.
It’s not (just) traffic you need
One oft-quoted piece of advice is that generating traffic is the key to internet marketing. “Get as many visitors to your site as possible and you’ll be a millionaire by Christmas”. In one sense this is true. Internet marketing is a numbers game and when you only expect 2% of visitors to buy anything, you will need volume to make money.
However, this is rather outdated wisdom in today’s social media world. And this is increasingly reflected in the search engines’ ever updating algorithms which put increasing emphasis on value, relevancy and interaction. What does this actually mean though for us, the online business owner?
It means that, if you’re planning a new blog or online business, you need to do more than just focus on generating traffic. Spending time and money on advertising is a complete waste of time if you don’t have the other pieces of the puzzle in place.
What is there other than traffic?
If you want a sustainable business, that provides passive income for years to come, you’ll need a plan in place for your business. Traffic may be one component of your plan, but you should also consider three other major factors:
What’s the use of having loads of visitors to your site if they arrive and bounce straight off again like fleas on a dog’s back? What we all strive for is visitors who “stick”. That is, they enjoy our content, spend lots of time on the site and take the required action.
So, make conversion a key part of your marketing plan. Here’s how:
First, be clear on who you want to attract to your site. Who is your ideal target customer? What problem or need are you solving for them?
Next, be clear on the purpose of your blog or online business. Is it to sell products and services, be an authority site, provide a forum for readers to engage with and interact with each other, a paid membership site, or some other purpose?
Lastly, to convert visitors to customers, work out what you want visitors to do when they visit your site. Do you want them to buy something, share your content, interact, tweet your posts, review your products, comment, or something else?
The Gold Standard Goal of Marketing
The gold standard goal of marketing any business is to build a loyal client list that engages and interacts with you, who buys products and services from you, and who shares your information with their contacts. It’s no different online. In fact, it’s probably more true online.
If you’re clear on what you want visitors to do when they visit your site, and you make it easy for them to do so, you’ll build a loyal list of followers who will buy the products and services you promote. Then, like the big boys, you can offer a relevant product to your list and rack up gazillions of dollars of sales while you sleep. But no loyal list of customers = no sales.
Having an active list of potential customers means you have a list of people who eagerly await your next blog post, will comment on new posts, and will take your content viral by sharing it with their contacts. This is quality, rather than quantity, marketing and it works.
Having set up a process to convert your visitors to customers the next step is to automate it. It used to be easy to send paid traffic to a sales page and make quick money online but nowadays there’s too much competition.
So, take the pressure off yourself and instead of trying to sell to cold leads, make building your email list the focus of your site. Send all your traffic to your opt-in page and let your automated follow-up system make the sales for you.
There are a number of autoresponder services available that do a fantastic job (personally I recommend Aweber, but Mail Chimp is good, and free). The number one rule to remember is to start building your list from day one. And put all your effort into building your list. The sales will follow once you have a loyal list of followers.
If you’re driving traffic to your site, converting visitors to subscribers and customers, and then automating the process you are doing well. The final piece of the puzzle now is to connect with people to build your audience. Remember, we’re talking about a long-term sustainable business here.
Networking is all about forging relationships and building community. Get your subscribers to join your Facebook group, membership site or forum, and talk to each other. That’s providing real value. Start discussions, encourage people to share and help each other.
The hub of the group will always centre around your site or business and you’ll be seen as a connector, an expert, a “go to” person. That will boost your credibility, trust, likeability and make you the person that others want to learn from, share with , and, ultimately, buy from.
And remember, when you no longer need to work 9-5, and you’re sitting on the beach sipping cocktails as the sun goes down, it’s all thanks to good old fashioned (internet) marketing.
Guest Post by Cassie Hicks, Women’s Way To Wealth
Cassie maintains a blog – http://www.womenswaytowealth.com where she discusses different strategies and tips for creating successful Home Based Internet Businesses. She enjoys writing for savvy entrepreneurs who want to create their own incomes from home.
At http://womenswaytowealth.com/success-kit, you can sign up for a free “Home Business Success Kit”, a valuable, interactive guide to help you develop and build home based internet businesses that will make you money for years to come.