When we announced our goal of striving to reach 100,000 unique monthly blog visitors last spring, we received some negative feedback from a couple of our readers.
“Your goal to 100,000 viewers seems a little 'out there.' Like you just want to be big and have a number attached to you. What’s wrong with having a small tribe? That's not a bad thing!”
And in all honesty, I used to have that same outlook on blogging and business when I first started Elle & Company. I shared the opinion that a small tribe of loyal readers was better than a large group of casual readers.
But I quickly realized that in order to create a successful, profitable business, I had to focus on bringing a larger number of people into my site and build trust with them to increase their loyalty.
I learned that it isn’t an either/or when it comes to the loyalty and size of your audience; it’s a both/and.
Why do we have to sacrifice one or the other?
I’ve written posts on reader loyalty and engagement in the past, but I want to take a deeper look into the impact your site traffic can have on your income.
Because the goal isn’t to be “big” for the sake of being big; it’s to be smart and strategic in order to see a return from the time and energy both you and I are pouring into our businesses.
Why the emphasis on site traffic?
There are several models out there for profiting from your business but the most common, successful approach focuses on increasing the size of your audience. And for online businesses, that means increasing the amount of traffic coming into your site.
It only makes sense that the more traffic you receive, the bigger your audience, the more sales you drive, and the more money you make.
Striving to grow your business to make money isn’t greedy; it’s fundamental. While you may have started your business to pursue a creative outlet that you love, you won’t get very far if you don’t put an emphasis on generating a profit. While it sounds great to pursue your passion and not worry about money, it’s unrealistic.
So don’t feel guilty about focusing on bringing in more money through your business (and don’t call others greedy for making it a priority in theirs).
In order to make money and sustain your online business, you have to generate traffic.
Take a look at the Alexa rankings of these highly successful online business experts:
It’s safe to say that based on the information above, the size of your audience plays an important role in the success of your business.
However, site traffic in and of itself isn’t the goal.
It isn’t enough to simply generate traffic; you have to focus on driving the right kind of traffic to your site in order to turn a viewer into a customer and create a sale. The goal is to draw in the people who would be interested in buying from you.
So where do you find the right audience?
In order to drive the right kind of traffic to your site, you have to identify which people would be most interested in your products or services. What gender are they? What’s their income level? What’s their occupation? Which activities are they interested in? Where do they hang out and spend their time?
Once you come up with your “avatar” or user profile, target the places where your potential customers spend their time.
- Visit sites in your niche with a similar audience and leave comments and feedback
- Post in forums like Quora that directly relate to your business
- Network and partner with others in your industry to reach their audiences
- Create blog posts that are relevant and beneficial to your ideal audience and share them on social media networks where they hang out
- Guest post on successful blogs that share your ideal audience
You can’t simply create your products, write blog posts, and expect people to find you; you have to be strategic and go after your target audience. Put yourself out there.
"Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants." Jonathan Perelman
But the work doesn’t end there
Getting the right kind of traffic to your site is only half the work; now you have to convince visitors to buy from you.
That’s where a sales funnel comes in.
Sales funnels increase the likelihood that those who land on your site will buy from you by guiding visitors through a logical series of steps from the first moment they land on your site. All of these steps lead toward an end goal and “funnel” visitors toward making a purchase.
Broadly speaking, a sales funnel usually looks something like this:
Awareness - Prospects land on your site for the first time and become familiar with your brand. They’re still exploring this point, but the goal is to catch their attention and provide them with value so they’ll be interested in coming back.
Engagement - Prospects continue to visit your and familiarize themselves with your business. This is the trust-building phase; your audience is getting to know you better.
Consideration - Now that visitors have a great understanding of what you offer, they begin to engage with your business and consider your products, and evaluate how they might meet your needs. Marketing plays a large part in this phase.
Conversion - You’ve convinced them; your prospects have decided to do business with you. But there’s still one more step in this funnel…
Retention - Studies show that it requires less time and resources to gain a repeat customer than it does to make a sale with a new prospect. So keep up the relationship! Provide value, fantastic customer service, and strong offerings to encourage previous buyers to buy from you again.
It’s almost like dating. You go on the first date (awareness) and test the waters. If a good impression was made, you continue to go on dates (engagement) to get to know each other better. After a while, you might begin to see yourself with that person long-term (consideration) and eventually decide to spend your life with them (conversion). In order to keep things exciting and fresh, you continue dating your significant other (retention) and keep the relationship going.
While it may take time, creating a sales funnel and logically thinking through the steps a visitor should take from start to finish can have a large impact on converting a casual visitor into a loyal customer.
So how can you quickly and simply create a sales funnel?
First, provide value. Visitors won’t be interested in returning and starting a relationship with your business if there isn’t something in it for them. This is why we always stress the importance of high quality blog content; it gives visitors a reason to return.
Get rid of dead-ends on your site. Get strategic with the layout and flow of your website. Dead-ends are pages and posts on your site that don’t have a call to action at the bottom; they leave the decision up to the viewers of where they should go next. Instead, make the decision easy on them and guide visitors around by creating calls-to-action on every page. Set up the calls-to-action so that they’re moving in a logical order toward your sales page.
Pay attention to your navigation. Because we read from left to right, our eyes automatically move from left to right on a webpage and our mind finds order there. So it only makes sense that the natural progression of your website’s navigation from left to right should funnel visitors to making a sale. You can read more about this in our recent post on user experience design.
It all comes down to exercising more intention with the content and layout of your website. There should be a thoughtful reason behind every decision you make if you want to generate an income and maintain a successful business.
In a nutshell
- In order to make money from your business, it’s important to focus on both the loyalty and the size of your audience.
- To increase the size of your audience as an online business, you have to generate substantial traffic.
- But not just any traffic; you have to find the right traffic by identifying your audience and putting yourself out there in the places where they spend their time.
- Once you’ve drawn potential customers into your site, increase the likelihood of making a sale by creating a sales funnel.
By focusing more time on generating traffic to your site, your bank account will be positively impacted. It isn’t out of greed or to have a “big name;” it’s out of a desire to turn all the hard work and long hours into a profitable, sustainable business.
Have you considered how site traffic can benefit your business? Do you implement a sales funnel?