Content marketing is part of a broader digital marketing strategy which means it should be helping your site gain targeted traffic and conversions. Sadly, lots of businesses out there either neglect content strategy completely (and simply don’t create content) or, which is arguably worse, create content just for the sake of creating content: There’s no well-planned traffic or conversion generation plan behind publishing new content. This article will help you fix both: Here’s an overview of ways to use content to drive traffic and sales:
Traffic Driving Channels
When it comes to content, there are three main traffic-generating channels:
- Organic search
- Social media
- Referral (other sites linking to you)
Let’s take a look at each of these channels in a bit more detail:
Driving traffic from organic search
Organic search remains the “best” source of traffic for several important reasons:
- It can be a fairly steady source of traffic (build once, see it coming for several months without additional effort)
- It is highly targeted: People were actually searching for the information you are covering
Google remains the primary traffic driver in the world: Source: sparktoro.com
No other traffic source is so effective. And no other traffic source is so challenging. Building traffic from Google basically comes down to two main tactics:
- Increasing your positions for your relevant search queries
- Ensuring your search listing gets clicked
To quickly cover each one: Increasing your positions for your relevant search queries This is the major goal of search engine optimization: Identifying relevant keywords (which also serve as content ideas) and coming up with ways to get your content ranked for those search queries. Two tools I am mostly using to research keywords and create high-ranking content are:
- Ahrefs: I love their Keyword Explorer feature that offers lots of filters allowing you to find relevant questions and related queries that are in high demand, yet have a doable organic competition.
- Text Optimizer: Once I know my target keyword, I run this tool to find more concepts and questions to cover in my content. This semantic-analysis-based tool allows you to create more in depth content including a wider range of related topics:
Ensuring your search listing gets clicked Organic search results have become so diverse and visual that it is not easy to get clicks, unless you rank #1 (which, as you can imagine, is quite a crowded position). Thankfully, we do have some impact on organic listings and what they look like:
- Obviously, focus on your content headline: It should stand out, possibly include numbers and/or a CTA
- Consider using FAQ Schema to get Google to show a rich snippet including questions – answers. In some cases, you will be able to use other types of schema like Recipes and Event Schema
- Pay attention to your branding: Google shows your domain (brand name) and your logo (favicon) in mobile search results making your brand identity part of your CTR strategy.
Namify is a nice tool to help you with that if you’re struggling. It will find you a great clickable brand name and create your visual identity. It is a cool tool if you are starting a site or looking to better define your brand identity:
Driving traffic from social media
Generating social media traffic is somewhat easier than building traffic from Google but chances are those clicks won’t be so effective in terms of on-page engagement and conversions. Social media marketing is often interruptive. People seldom use social media to click links. They are there to chat with friends, see one another’s updates and catch up with family members. Yes, they may find your links interesting and click them but they will still be in a hurry to return to their feeds. Yet, social media traffic remains a valid additional traffic driver. To give you a quick overview of platforms and tactics, here’s a quick chart:
|Platform||How to build traffic||What to expect|
|Post linked updates from time to time inviting friends to read and spread the word. It is usually a friendly environment for sharing your work.||Sharing a link on a personal page is usually pretty effective but cannot be overdone. If you use a business page, your only bet is to pay for views or clicks.|
|Tweeting links may be effective if you have engaged following. In some niches there are active Twitter chats where you can share a link if it adds value to a discussion.||Tweets are short-lives, so schedule several to go live in the future at different times. There are also a few ways to recycle tweets for more exposure.|
|You cannot post links in updates but if your profile has enough followers (at least 10,000), you can post links in stories which is quite effective for traffic.||Instagram is not the best traffic generation channel but it is great for finding partners. Spend your time there to find people who you can build mutually beneficial relationships|
|Integrate your CTA (e.g. “Click the image to read more”, “Click to download”, etc.) to drive people to your site||Pinterest has a very specific image format that works. Tools like Venngage will help!|
|Post links in your updates and tag mentioned people and companies. Linkedin won’t send a ton of traffic but those few clicks you’ll get are likely to engage better than those from Facebook. The Linkedin crowd is there for business, so they are likely to take interest in what it is you are doing.||This platform will mostly only work in a B2B niche but if you are looking for leads, it can work very well!|
The nice thing about this type of traffic is that you get to achieve other (possibly more important goals) when building it. You get to know your audience better, find partners and influencers, meet your potential content promoters, discover cool opportunities (like new groups and contests), find great content ideas, etc. Besides, by being on social media and meeting other bloggers, I increase my odds that my content will generate some natural backlinks which are key to increasing my organic rankings and consequently traffic.
Driving referral traffic
Finally, getting traffic from links on other sites is often part of a link building strategy. In fact, if you need a definition of a valuable backlink: It is the one that gets traffic. Traffic driving links are hard to come by but a few ways that may work include:
- Regularly contributing to other (preferably popular) blogs
- Reaching out to other bloggers inviting them to fix outdated or broken links with your resource.
Both of these methods include a powerful relationship building component, so it is a good idea to look out for bloggers to reach out to (or contribute for) when being on social media building your following and interacting with peers. There are, of course, other ways content can drive clicks but they are not relevant in the small business context. For example, creating viral content can send thousands of clicks but it is too time consuming (and often useless) for a small business to try.
How to Make Content Part of Your Sales Funnel
Getting traffic is only half of the battle. For your content to drive sales, you need to adjust your content strategy to your product and sales funnel:
- Match content topics to your value proposition. When doing your keyword research and topic brainstorming, keep your product in mind. Which problems is your product solving? Focus on creating content that addresses those products and possibly offers your product as a solution.
- Integrate your CTAs into content. These can be anything from a soft call-to-action inviting readers to check out your product (as an answer to a described question) to a two-step opt in that offers them to download a full report or a more detailed instruction.
To give you a good idea of both in action, here’s an article over at Hubspot integrating all kinds of contextual CTAs in a most fitting way:
Keep an eye on your content-driven conversion funnels
Finally, monitoring your conversions is key to creating a more effective content-driven sales funnel. Setting up Google Analytics goals is a must. Another idea is to use more conversion-oriented platforms like Finteza which allows to slice and dice your analytics data to get specific insights into which content-driven page does a better way driving sales from a particular traffic source:
Creating an effective traffic- and sales-driving content strategy takes time and effort but it is a very rewarding undertaking that will establish your brand as a knowledge hub, build brand loyalty and trust and help your business understand your niche and target audience. Good luck!