Generating Website Traffic…and Loyalty
By: Andrea Trapani
Without dynamic content, and a strategy to drive attention to it, your website is just a brochure sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere.
I hate to break it to you, but no one cares about your website. It is NOT the center of the universe, despite what you hoped when you built it. That’s not to say it isn’t good, compelling, captivating or exciting. It’s just that people don’t use the Web the way we used to think they did. For example, no one has enough idle time to simply check out your company’s website from time to time. Do you? Do you “surf the Web,” in the way we all thought about it back in the 90s? Do you go from company website to company website, like changing channels on a TV, just to see what’s new and updated?
Most corporate websites are glorified online brochures. They feature critical messages, value propositions and calls to action. And there’s nothing wrong with that…to a point. But without a compelling reason to visit that site, it sits out there in limbo, like a sign reading “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE” outside an electronics boutique in an isolated desert. Sure, it’s there…there’s value…and it sounds great…but who will see it?
So what drives traffic to your site, the one with all the brand messaging, value and calls to action? Dynamic content.
Think of dynamic content as the interesting, fun, compelling, exciting or cool stuff that will command attention, position you as a thought leader or preferred product/service provider, and court the coveted traffic back into your Web environment. It can be a whole host of things, including:
- blog posts
- powerpoint presentations
- white papers and articles
It’s stuff that lives and breathes BEYOND the static content on your site. It gets updated frequently, and it’s out there working for your site, to generate interest, capture attention and drive traffic. It provides value of some sort, in the form of free advice, strategic business analysis, entertainment, financial reward, and so on. It takes a rather self-serving marketing tool (your website) and converts it into a provider of value. People consume it, they crave more of it, and they are likely to click through to see where this content is coming from. (Ideally, the dynamic content generates enough interest in the consumer to elicit a visit to your static content—the website—where they get the pitch and can reach out to you for more.)
But there’s a catch.
I hate to break it to you again, but no one cares about your blog either. Well, that’s not entirely true…they care about it, they just don’t know it’s there. And they aren’t waiting around on your blog or website for you to update it. Don’t believe me? How many subscribers does your company blog or website have? People crave good content; but in this day and age, they don’t need to go looking for it. It is spoon-fed for them, by the ones smart enough and committed enough to get it out in front of the most eyeballs possible.
This is where your social networks come in. They have been aptly described as “outposts” — presence points on the Web that serve as conduits to your dynamic content, which in turn drives traffic back to your home base, or website.
The great thing about outposts is that they allow you to fish where the fish are. So while people aren’t bookmarking your site or blog, hoping against hope that you will soon provide another update, they ARE hanging out on social networks on the Web. This is where they go to find that value I spoke of. They go to social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter…or content communities like YouTube, SlideShare or Flickr…to be entertained, to get news, to get free business advice, to learn, to find solution providers to problems facing their businesses, or simply to make friends. These are the networks that you need to build in order to drive reactions to your dynamic content.
Once you’ve built the appropriate network of friends, clients, referral sources, vendors, business associates, prospective clients, colleagues, etc., you will have a built-in—and opt-in—audience to do any of the following:
- Post a link to your blog entry on Twitter.
- Share a presentation on LinkedIn.
- Post photos on Facebook.
- Solicit comments on a white paper on Scribd.
- Link to a video on any of the above.
This captures eyeballs. It generates interest and clicks. It brings people out of the social environment and into yours.
This is not to say that you should join and build social networks simply as a broadcasting medium for your marketing messages. Quite the contrary. In fact, nothing will turn people off faster than that. But if you truly engage with your networks, with responses and answers and questions and advice and comments and interaction and so on, they will be accepting of an occasional blog post thrown into the mix. In fact, they will be more attentive to it the more they get to know you.
Keep in mind, not all social networks are the same…so you need think twice about which ones you will join and devote time to. This depends a lot on you and your appetite, but also a lot on the demography and psychography of your constituents.
So don’t fret that no one cares about your company website. The good news is that there are ways to get them to care, and they are all well within your reach.