The Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Ten Steps to Tremendous Traffic [Part 5]
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Traffic: the lifeblood of operating a successful website and venture.
Traffic is easy, to be honest.
Sure, the initial trickle of web visitors may be somewhat lackluster but applying proven traffic strategies and creating a routine which promotes your message is all that’s truly needed to build a sizeable website.
There’s no real “secret” or “push-button” solution that loads your site with visitors – it all comes down to getting the right information to the right people.
In this post, I’ll share the ten steps required to not only get a tremendous amount of visitors but do so in a way that visitors actually pay for your information (read: affiliate or in-house products/services).
Sounds good, right? Let’s dig in …
Quick Primer: Quality vs. Bunk Traffic
Not all traffic is equal.
You could land 1,000+ visitors a day that check the site and bounce within seconds or go for the crowd that digs deep into your content, agree with your message, and actually wants to follow your brand.
When you’re going for the big numbers – remember that traffic doesn’t matter unless you’re converting.
Yes, you could do a ton of keyword optimization and land the best spot for your pages but if you don’t have an end goal for your readers (such as going through your affiliate link) than you’re just spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.
So, aim for quality traffic.
Setup parameters and some hurdles which weeds out bunk visitors; work on your traffic strategies that collects actual community members versus the one-time visitor.
Do this through specific, in-depth content, sharing on social networks where your community frequents, and through networking with fellow website owners and marketers within your niche markets.
Step 1: Identify Your Audience
First and foremost, your initial step to gaining a tremendous amount of traffic is to understand your audience.
The insights you should know are:
- The type of content they like to read and share
- Where they hang out on the web
- Who they’re talking to
- Their demographics
- What they’re buying
It’s a lot like market research when you’re opening a physical business – you need to know who your potential customers are because, in the end, you’re selling a product – it just happens to be an affiliate product or service.
The analytical route
Load up your website analytics and examine the most frequented pages on your website. Learn where your traffic is coming from. Find who’s sharing your content and where it’s being linked from.
The “gut” route
Create a “customer avatar” of your ideal website visitor. What do they like? What do they hate? Where are they? What do they need? Base this around what you’ve already noticed by mining your comments, looking at competitor websites, and reading online reviews.
The direct approach
Ask your visitors. Place contact forms, polls, and other forms of feedback to understand what your visitors want; collect that data and rework your strategy to best meet their needs.
Spend a few hours to get a complete understanding of your audience because knowing who the visitors are will help reveal where you’ll share the content, what you need to say to get users active, and the type of content you should be producing to keep them coming back for more.
Step 2: Strategize Your Delivery Method
Do you know how your content will be distributed?
No, not just sharing it on Facebook and Twitter but distributing it so you gain brand recognition no matter where it lands?
The best approach is to test.
Sign up for all the major social media networks, content distribution channels, and communities (especially forums) where you can submit your work. Give them, each, a test run of a week or two and track which delivers the best results. Weed out the networks that fail to deliver and focus your efforts on those that do.
For example, a common distribution strategy could be:
- Publish content to your website
- Update your main social media profiles
- Save your work as a PDF and publish to DocStoc
- Create slides out of the work and submit to Slideshare
- Package the work in a zip file and upload it to torrent trackers
- Shoot and record a video and upload it to YouTube
The point: get your content everywhere. Have a plan from the beginning so you can streamline the process. Give yourself a day between each of the methods so your content grows rather than a short-term blast.
Use login saving tools and cookies to cut down on the submission time or consider using a social media sharing service such as Onlywire. In fact, you could outsource the process of sharing to a virtual employee!
Step 3: Craft the Valuable, Shareable Content
I’ve previously covered the topic of creating powerful content (so start there).
Your content must be valuable but, more importantly, share-worthy.
There are two modes of content creation that really get the traffic numbers climbing:
- Regular, daily updates (the news approach)
- Content-rich, heavy posts (generally once a week)
You’ll see the first approach most often utilized on websites such as Lifehacker (and the various websites under its brand), news websites (obviously), and blogs dedicated to round-ups and lists. These sites constantly push out fresh information which keeps people coming back often; it’s a shotgun approach.
The alternative is to curate your content so only the best gets out to the audience. Doing this approach opens up your time to work on the outside forces for traffic generation such as networking and link building. This approach also keeps each and every piece of content directed toward your end results so you’re never blatantly publishing content for the sake of publication.
Whatever you choose …
It’s important that you throw yourself into the content.
You can’t just cover a topic based on a few, quick Google searches. Your content should be created from your perspective – where you’ve actually participated in the items you’re covering. This allows you to touch on the finer details and give a greater insight about the topic than someone quickly slapping things together; it helps establish your authority and brand.
On a related note …
You should create content that’s easily scanable for your audience and include call-to-actions which gets the readers sharing your work; this is often done through proper structuring and including multiple share buttons throughout the post.
In short: create content you’d want to share and, if you’re speaking to the right people, they’ll share it.
Step 4: Leverage Your Die-Hard Followers
Every website will have a group of die-hard followers; these are generally the initial people to find your website and have stuck around ever since.
These people are your MVP’s.
They love you, they love your work, and they’ll whatever it takes to get other people interested in your content and brand. For this reason, you need to reward these individuals and give them a complete understanding of how much you appreciate them.
Whenever a new post comes together – reach out, contact, and get your die-hard followers to share the content. It’s a given that they’re on board because of all the value you’ve previously delivered so this new content piece will always be up their alley.
- Instant Message
Use whatever methods of communication you desire. Just get it to these people and the rest will fall into place.
Of course, once this initial group shares your work, you must go back and thank them.
Often, you can simply mention them in your work (especially if you can give them a link), include them in projects, or just drop a friendly thank you and chit-chat. Be good to these people; they’re the ones that will truly get you found online.
Step 5: Tap Your Network
Outside of that die-hard group is your professional network.
Each piece of content and message you want to share may be hit or miss depending on what’s hot and trending so you can’t always expect your network to share your work but generally speaking – it’s a value trade.
You scratch their back, they scratch yours.
You don’t want to share everything they have if it doesn’t fit your community (and they’ll follow suit) but you should definitely help spread their message just as much they help with yours.
Get in touch with them, as you did through the methods with the die-hards, and just mention that you have something fresh to share. Ask them and you’ll get a response.
Generally, if the piece is good, these networked individuals may end up linking to your work in their future projects so it’s win/win just by taking a few moments to get in touch.
They’re not your competitors if you don’t make them out to be; work with them, they’ll work with you.
Step 6: Distribute through Social Channels
Noted (on some levels) – you need to get your content on the social networks and channels.
Not just with a simple update post, not automated, but curated and crafted so it adds variety to the share outside of the normal “rounds” that generally happen after an initial publication.
I consider the two following tool to be the most effective:
Triberr creates a mastermind-like group (a “tribe”) which allows people to approve and automatically share content to their followers; it cuts out hassle of bouncing between various blogs, copy & pasting links into the social media sites. Triberr is free to join and you can begin creating your own tribes using your die-hard followers; you’ll see the traffic jump, tremendously, when you use this service.
The second would be BufferApp which allows you to schedule your Twitter feed. It’s great for having old posts get back into action and create small campaigns of mass promotion on specific days. It’s entirely automated, free (but limited), and has a ton of options to play with to get your message found.
Most of the social stuff comes automatic but it’s also important that you pay attention to what people are saying so spend the first few hours thanking people for sharing your work, responding to comments, and even hunting down sites linking over to your stuff (SocialMention.com is a good way of doing this).
Step 7: Collect Feedback and Refine Your Work
After it’s all said and done, your stuff is floating around the web, it’s time to do the next leg of work which is collecting feedback and refining your work.
Like a product launch or an advertising campaign, you should understand the response to your message after it’s been published. Collect your analytics, read comments, and pay attention to what the social web is saying about your work. Use that as a basis for improving your next round of content and campaigns.
- Maybe next time you’ll use different copywriting?
- Next time you may want to reduce the amount of images?
- Maybe you published the work at the wrong time?
Many questions can be answered after you’ve done the work. If you fail to listen to your community than you’ll continue to publish content that no one really wants. Using their feedback will allow you to morph and realign your content strategy in real-time so you’re not months down the line, failing to meet your traffic goals.
Refine your work and do better next time. With enough data, you can make very logical decisions about what to produce, where to share it, and how to make the sale without much resistance.
Step 8: Compound Community Interest
Content is forever.
You may remove a piece from your website but there’s no point since it’s most likely been archived on the numerous websites out there let alone that it may have already been shared by web users.
The point I’m trying to make is that you never know when an older piece becomes something valuable again; you’ll be surprised how some posts, years old, suddenly take off again.
It’s these moments when you should capitalize on the community interest.
When you suddenly see people returning to an old piece of content or campaign – immediately rekindle interest by running the content through the previous steps. Update the piece to acknowledge this new, sudden interest and point people to related content they would enjoy.
This event doesn’t happen all too often but, if you created evergreen content from the get-go, you’re more likely to have your old work spring up as time passes. It’s your job to compound that interest once it reignites so keep an eye and ear out for those new shares (better yet, monitor your brand using the numerous tools).
Step 9: Extend the Content Reach
Treat your work as if it were a premium product.
If you went with the secondary route of publishing just once (or twice) a week than that means you have plenty of time to build links and interest toward your message.
During downtime, spend an hour to write a guest post for a relevant blog. Keep the topic very related to what you have published that very same week and use your author link to point to your post.
You’ll build links, kick up additional interest in the work, and get that valuable feedback from the community at large (not just your internal, die-hard fans).
To one-up: craft landing pages specific to the visiting audience from the guest post website. People landing will see congruency in the work and feel at home; they’ll be more likely to dig into the rest of your work which, in turn, increases the chance of content being shared and return visitors.
Step 10: Repurpose, Republish, Reinvigorate
Finally, repurpose your content into new formats and mediums much like the distribution model.
Republish the work on multiple networks to extend your reach.
Reinvigorate older pieces with modern references and updates.
Here are a few ways to get the most out of older stuff:
- Collect all the work into a digital download (like an ebook)
- Create a horizontal venture (like a website based on a series)
- Update older campaigns with new affiliate promotions
- Reach people that had previously shared the work and add them to your list
- Test out new campaigns for people discovering older content
All your content is going to be there so don’t let it rot. Test out campaigns that you may not necessarily try with new pieces; rotate affiliate promotions, new information, and strategies to get the content found – you know its good stuff so why not make the most out of it over and over again?
A Final Word on Traffic
There’s a lot of information on traffic and, quite frankly, it can get overwhelming.
My biggest suggestion is to do just a handful of strategies for traffic generation rather than testing out new methods each passing day.
Let other people do the “beta testing” when it comes to new social networks so you don’t wind up spending hundreds of hours learning a platform that dies off. Don’t go for the quick wins – go with the traffic sources that have been proven to be effective.
Also, don’t worry about the numbers. You’ll drive yourself crazy.
Go after the conversions. Obsess about making a sale rather than gaining a thousand visitors.
Work on making money with your work rather than getting starry eyed with huge share numbers.
Create great stuff, network with great people, and you’ll get great results. Plain and simple.