If you are in business the thing you are most likely chasing is customers. You want to find them, tell them about your awesome products or services, and you want them to buy from you.
Finding and converting customers is often thought to involve advertising. And while advertising can make the process faster and less time-intensive, if you are a bootstrapping or start-up business, I’m sure that you want to get your hands on any free method of attracting customers available.
Lucky for you that’s what I am sharing with you today. This article is about the top 10 free tools and marketing techniques I’ve used time and again to increase website traffic (and subsequently growing online presence and sales too) for businesses in a wide variety of industries.
Yes, these tools and activities are free but that comes at the expense of your own time, energy, and occasional dabble in the technical side of things. If you can handle that, then putting these things into action with a strategic plan and a couple of hours a week will give your online presence a giant push forward. You will then start seeing some solid results for your business.
At the end of the day, to get more customers to buy, you ultimately need more people finding you and that’s what this article is all about.
Before we start, let’s get into some numbers and goals first
Word is that the average online conversion rate for website visitors converting to customers is around 1-5%, but more commonly 1-2%.
If this is the expected customer conversion rate, how many customers do you need on your site each month to reach your sales goals? 5000? 20000? 100000? What are your current website visitor numbers?
Now that you’ve answered those questions, you have a traffic goal, and the traffic generating actions below can help you bridge the gap from where you are now to where you need to be to achieve your traffic and sales goal.
So here goes. . .
the top 10 free tools and marketing activities I use to attract and drive website traffic:
I’ve used a variety of platforms for both my own and client websites. I have found WordPress to be the most dynamic and user-friendly. It’s a platform you can get started with for free or relatively cheaply if you are tech-savvy to create a site yourself. I have found that building business websites, online stores and blogs using WordPress CMS enables me to easily and cost-efficiently create a beautifully presented website that delivers for both business and consumer and there are a plethora of plug-and-play plugins to use to create and deliver the customer experience I’m after. Not only that, but WordPress is developed in such a way that it creates search-engine friendly sites and media by default, and with a little extra input can make the website very search-engine friendly to the ideal customers. Search friendliness, mobile responsive, and user-friendly website are a very important factor in attracting more traffic to your website.
2. Social Media
Aside from a website as the home-base for my business, as I’m sure you do too, I have a number of social media channels that I use to find, connect and collaborate with customers and associates. Social media also greatly assists in the expansion of online presence, offers platforms to establish brands, demonstrate knowledge, share ideas, promote products and services, have fun, and find customers.
There are a lot of social channels out in the world but spending your time and energy – not money unless you really want to – with the big players will get you the biggest bang the fastest.
So how do I use social media to drive some base level traffic to websites?
To be honest, it does take some time and effort, but once the ball is rolling the results follow suit. It is also very important to have a clear idea of your purpose on each platform and who you are speaking to on each platform to be able to deliver the right content to get the results you are looking for.
The approach I have used time and again to build traffic is to post regularly and strategically on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Instagram is great for sending one piece of content to all three platforms at once if you are looking for time-saving advice. I also auto-post and re-post blog posts to Twitter. I schedule, cross-post, and re-post across the core social media platforms to ensure a constant presence, generate all-important back-links, promote social sharing and engagement, and use call-to-click copy. In among the self-promotion I also schedule and re-share 3-5x more content from other complimentary sources to provide additional value to my followers and build engagement.
I also create and share blog post images to Pinterest to create link-backs and drive traffic from Pinterest back to the primary website. This is a somewhat time-consuming activity however it has always performed very well and delivered great results so well worth it in my opinion.
I also share blog posts to LinkedIn where relevant and to Google+ with keyword rich post descriptions. Both of these actions have also performed really well across a number of industries.
3. Google Analytics
I am a huge advocate for using Google Analytics in any online business as it provides insights into visitor and customer behaviour that can be used to optimise and grow traffic and the business. To attract and drive more traffic to a website I will use Google Analytics to generate new content ideas based on what’s working now, optimise what is not working as well as it should, and learn more about the visitors to determine how I can attract more of them.
4. Search Engine Optimisation
Search traffic is warm traffic, and warm traffic is easier to connect with and convert, so SEO has been a big player in marketing strategies I’ve used (and recommend) to grow businesses online. SEO also has the massive benefit that once implemented it continually works for your business, unlike time and energy spent on social media or paid advertising. At a basic level it works well, and with a little extra investment (time or money to get someone else to do it for you) it can easily be an integral part of your marketing strategy that continues to put your business in front of people who are looking for what you offer without you doing anything. It’s a no-brainer really.
5. Online Business Directories
Not particularly a fancy part of the free marketing strategy but the back-links are great for domain reputation, they are especially good for local or industry specific searches, and they can help businesses capitalise space in search results. Often free listings for businesses already exist in many of the bigger online business directories so I find it really helpful to your business and potential customers if you claim your business listings and update the information with relevant content and keywords to help more people find your business.
6. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool – also known as Google Webmaster Tools – that can give great insights into what search terms your website is ranking for, ranking position of your site, volume of traffic the website is exposed to and the keywords and pages attracting the most attention. I use this information to craft a content strategy to take advantage of the keywords and pages that the business website is gaining exposure for, and I adjust the on-site search engine optimisation to either capitalise on the terms the site is ranking for or to ensure the site is ranking for other more important terms that aren’t doing as well as they should.
I also use Google Search Console to find any broken links on websites. Broken links are unfavourable for website search rankings as well as your potential customers so it’s a good idea to check-in and fix any broken links.
7. Email Marketing
This may be an obvious one, but email marketing has proven time and again that no matter the industry, email marketing works for customer nurture, sales and driving traffic. To get started I’ve commonly used a free Mailchimp account because it is easy to setup and integrate with websites, social media accounts and Google Analytics. You can even create landing pages for lists using the sign-up forms and use the welcome email as a basic list induction if you want to make the most of the free account options.
For driving traffic it is important to include (appropriately placed) links back to your site in the images, copy and footer of every email – including the confirmation/welcome emails. In your email campaign if you have a blog image, a spiel about the blog post and then a link to the blog post make sure you include the link to the post on the image as well as in the copy. It has been my experience over the past 10 years to see results of the majority of readers click the image for a link rather than the link in the copy. Same goes for the header image, link it to your website or product/offer that you are discussing in the email. In the footer, I like to include links out to a couple of primary services or sections of the business’ website. This footer link placement has continued to surprise me over the years as to how many people actually scroll to the bottom of the email and click those links… It’s a quick and easy thing to implement and it improves your customer experience as it makes it easy for the subscriber to learn more about you, work with you and engage with your business.
8. Email Signature
Everyone has one. It doesn’t have to be overly spectacular, nor should it be full of images (because they get blocked by a lot of email programs), but just adding a one-liner to your signature that links out to your website attracts more people to click through. Things that work well are your latest freebie, upcoming event or new offer. Pick one, and change it every month or so. I’ve also seen great results for adding a few quick links to core services. Don’t forget to include links out to your primary social media accounts to encourage further connection.
Word of caution – It may be tempting to use bitly or similar link shorteners for tracking engagement but I have experienced a number of times the use of these URLs resulting in spam filters blocking emails which is not ideal for any business.
9. Blog Posts / Information Articles
A content marketing strategy helps to deliver relevant information to potential customers, answer their common questions and demonstrate knowledge. It also provides fodder for sharing on social media and creates great performing content that allow potential customers to find your business in search engines.
For product-based businesses that do not have a blog or knowledge-based resources, I focus on the FAQ section, About page and especially the product descriptions and share-ability of the product photos. Service-based businesses can attract and drive a lot of traffic by answering common questions on their website, sharing ideas and demonstrating knowledge in blog posts, as well as explaining their service in greater detail.
10. Social Proof
Asking customers to review your product/service either directly to you or (even better) directly to a social network such as Facebook Reviews gives your business credibility, social proof and inspires others to “have what she’s having” mentality. Include requests for feedback/reviews in your follow-up emails, in your newsletter, directly on social media, a week following receipt of product purchase… Then you can create simple graphics or screenshots of the feedback and share it on your website, social media or newsletter. This often creates great engagement! There are many many options to integrate this into your marketing strategy but an easy way to expand reach and encourage more clicks through to your website.
So there you go, 10 free things I use to generate more website traffic, that you can use too. I know I’ve seen great results with these free techniques but I’d love to hear about your successes using these tips. Leave a comment or email me direct to let me know what is and is not working for you, I’d love to hear from you.
If you need help or additional guidance, strategy or assistance with implementing any of the above techniques, book in for a free chat with me here.