How do you get traffic?
It's an impossible question to answer. There are reasons why.
Reason 1: Your situation is not mine.
Reason 2: Technology changes all the time.
Reason 3: If you're on a wave, you ride to the shore faster.
Reason 1: Your situation is not mine
Anyone who tells you that they have a fool proof way to get traffic is just making an ass out of you. Because there are ten million ways to get traffic. And before this line is completed, there will probably be ten million and twenty ways. And no matter what I tell you, it will not apply to you. But let me try anyway.
Let me tell you that the best way to get really qualified traffic is to do presentations. So I'm saying this: Do what a friend of mine does. Get on a plane for 200 days a year and speak at events back to back, and you'll get traffic.
Or do what Marketingprofs and MarketingSherpa did when they started. They cross-promoted their lists. Or do what Red Bull did. They sent out Red Bull cans by the dozen to the coolest groups in the university (everyone wants to do what the cool ones are doing).
You're getting the point, aren't you?
You are looking for some cut and dried way to get traffic. And there isn't a way. Instead there are ten million and forty seven ways (yes, it just got updated) to get traffic.
And you have to choose the top ten ways that would possibly work for you. And out of these top ten, about one or two will drive 80-95% of your traffic. And of course, you'll get lucky and some people will find you or hear of you. There's always that luck element. But there is no way. And the reason why there is no way is because of technology.
Reason 2: Technology always evolves
Jay Abraham was a cutting edge marketer in the year 1995. Then the Internet waltzed through the door. Jay didn't know much about the Internet. Someone else got to wear the crown.
Microsoft dominated the world of computers and they still do. But that edge is being taken away. Not one of us could have foreseen getting customers through Linked In or blogs or Facebook or some other media. And because technology keeps moving on, you have to waltz out of the door and into the street with it.
So if you were able to get people to sign up in droves (we got 1500 people to sign up for our teleconferences back in the year 2004), you probably get 30 people signing up today.
Our list has grown ten fold over the year 2004, but the demands on your customer's attention has grown as well. So let's just take a simple example.
In the year 2009, we had about 1500 people opt in to get free goodies for the Article Writing Course. In the year 2011, it was fewer than 700. Now that doesn't make sense.
Our list has grown. What also doesn't make sense was that with 1500 people on the list, it would take us 4-6 weeks to fill up the course. It now takes us as little as 177 minutes. And sometimes fewer than 60 minutes.
And while strictly speaking this wasn't a change in technology, it could be. In the year 2009 or 2008 or 2006, you would not be able to run video on your website. You would not have podcasts. And you would not have had this or that.
And that would give the customers fewer chances to get to know you
At least 10-15 of a batch of 20 signed up solely because we met them in a live workshop in Washington DC and Vancouver, Canada. That may not have happened if the price of the tickets weren't as cheap as they are now. So changing times and technology plays a huge role in getting customers. And that's not counting being on the wave. So what's the wave?
Reason 3: Riding the Wave
iTunes was new, along came a podcast called Coffee Break Spanish. This was a Scottish guy, Mark Pentleton, teaching Spanish with a Scottish accent. No one had heard of Coffee Break before. But there was a podcast wave. People had new iPods and new iPhones and were travelling (yes, with discounted air fares) and so they wanted to learn Spanish. And where better to look than on iTunes?
Coffee Break Spanish rocketed to 30,000,000 subscribers.
That was a while ago. They may have doubled since then, I don't know. But to say that iTunes was the saviour is to sell Coffee Break Spanish short. They worked their butts off to get people to sign up. They got people to cast votes on various podcast sites. They managed to get PR and get on radio shows (my memory is a bit fuzzy here) and the juggernaut started rolling.
Lynda.com was just a site.
Heck it wasn't a site. Lynda Weinmann published tech how-to books. When they started out, video was impossible. Then the Internet changed. Video changed. And today they have a few million hits every month. All by magic, of course. Not really.
Lynda advertises on Facebook. They go to schools and universities and offer them special prices. They partner with Adobe.com and Adobe promotes a lot of the videos that in turn show how Adobe's products are best used. They get a ton of traffic and they do a ton of things to get that traffic.
The same applies to any wave.
If you got onto the blog wave in 2005, you could have tens of thousands of visitors. If you got onto the Facebook wave, possibly the same would apply.
In the year 2002, you could be reasonably average and get a few thousand subscribers.
I know this because our stuff was average back then. I'd just switched from a career in cartooning to marketing. I didn't know much, didn't write quite as well and finding our subscribe button on the page was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But a few thousand subscribers signed up. But that's the wave. If you're there when it breaks, you ride it and you're first to the shore. If you're still wondering what to do and which way to get traffic, you've missed the wave and will keep missing them forever.
So is there one way to get traffic?
No there isn't.
There never has been.
There are ten million ways. And next week there will most certainly be a lot more. You just have to start somewhere. So where do you start?
Make a list of seven methods you'd feel comfortable doing.
Make a further list of about three methods that would put you outside your comfort zone. Then work those methods. The methods that put you outside your comfort zone will take more effort, but it will give you an advantage. Everyone else will be trying to do what's easy and safe. And you'll be doing something different.
Just like we get on a plane from New Zealand and fly half way across the world to do a two-day workshop. It's a lot outside our comfort zone. It's a lot to cross time zones, work out a presentation, answer twenty thousand questions in a week or two. It takes a month of preparation and a month of recovery. But it's what we do. And it's one of the sources of traffic.
Not your source of traffic.
Go ahead. Find your own.
How did you generate traffic to your website recently? Share your traffic generation idea here.
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Diana Schneidman says
Sean, thank you so much for this post.
It’s something that I have suspected for awhile but I don’t see the numbers to verify. Mainly that what worked years ago no longer is as effective today.
Take ezines. Some of the best known names in marketing boast about how fast their lists grew back in the day. (Of course, if you have one name on your list and get another, you’ve doubled your list in no time at all.)
However, today people are more concerned with cutting back on the emails they receive and focusing more effectively on their own work than on finding more info to collect.
Diana Schneidman, Author of Start Freelancing And Consulting: How to take control of your life and make great money quickly as a solopro
Sean D'Souza says
And anyway a lot of their stuff is all hot air 🙂 People tend to puff up themselves just to look better. We all do.
Genevieve Atkinson says
Interesting post has definitely sparked some thoughts.
I like the fact that there isn’t one way for everyone but about finding your way and working your butt off towards it.
I also like the idea of not doing something that’s easy, that everyone will do. Since that’s what I’m trying to do, build an independent accommodation review site, whilst everyone else just tacks reviews onto their offering.
Thanks again for sharing, nice to such a successful fellow Kiwi.
Sean D'Souza says
Yes, because everyone talks as if there’s just THE way. Where as there is your way and my way, but not really THE way.
Dave Ricquish says
We added a simple list of every radio station in Australia to our website just before Christmas… we’re now getting 500% more visitors from Australia compared with a year ago.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a simple list – it has thousands of separate data entries to be manually maintained – but we wanted something that instantly generated more Australian traffic because Australians donate more to us than anyone else in the world.
The existing list owner was closing it down so we simply offered to keep it live and updated = instant content.
It’s a free service, requires an email address opt-in and fits with our mission to connect radio, popular culture, history and heritage.
Sean D'Souza says
That’s a pretty interesting strategy. 🙂 Hmmm. Goodonya for giving it a try.
Thnx for sharing the info of reading the traffics mind!
Sean D'Souza says
You’re welcome 🙂
linda wilson says
I’ve just given the ‘crafty’ approach to getting traffic a shot. It was my niece’s birthday so I posted a piece in which she featured, got her friend’s to put it on Facebook and then pass the link to their parents. I don’t think it will be an enduring strategy, but it boosted the numbers for the day and there seems to have been ‘interest’ today to!
Sean D'Souza says
Heh, heh. You lose all the shots you don’t take, so it’s worth a try.
Donna Bruschi says
I asked everyone on my email list for help building my business. I made a list of about 30 ways they could help me. Apparently, they LOVE me because the outpouring has been tremendous.
Sean D'Souza says
That’s an excellent strategy: Volunteerism.
Very good indeed!