The “Deadly Quartet” For Rapid Audience Growth And More Traffic
There is a cold hard truth that isn’t going to be very pleasant to a lot of bloggers. And that is…
It is a very, VERY steep uphill battle to grow your blog’s traffic these days by blogging alone.
Of course, I’m guessing a large number of you have seen this in your own traffic stats so you know it is true. If you start a blog and put out your best stuff, it doesn’t mean jack crap when it comes to getting any traffic.
The primary traffic growth strategy used by most bloggers is social media sharing. But, once again, you’re in for a major uphill fight going that route. We are increasingly in a “pay to play” environment these days when it comes to social media, and most bloggers are trying to do it all for free.
It can be pretty disheartening.
- There are literally millions of new blogs created every year.
- The quality of content is improving across the board as content marketing becomes more important to major brands.
- Social media sites need to earn money, so they’re decreasing organic reach and increasingly making it more necessary to pay to get your message out.
- Google is constantly clamping down on any attempts to twist the system in your favor when it comes to SEO.
- Even paid ad platforms are clamping down on sending paid traffic to squeeze pages and offers. Word is that even Facebook is starting to clamp down on this.
It can be pretty rough out there for bloggers who think small. You’ve got to think – and play – big if you want to make a larger footprint these days.
Blogging and sharing alone isn’t going to do it anymore.
What does it mean to play big now? What does it take to actually grow an audience?
I personally think there are 4 main prongs to growing your traffic effectively. And I say “traffic” not just in the sense of anybody who will fog up a mirror. I’m talking about the right kind of traffic.
Those 4 prongs are:
- Native advertising.
Now, let me briefly explain…
#1 – Blogging
For many of us, it doesn’t take much convincing to realize that blogging is important. However, there are still many who disagree. There are a lot of businesses out there whose owners still view blogging as a waste of time.
But, consider this…
The effectiveness of traditional advertising is in the toilet. Even banner ads don’t work very well anymore as most people just visually tune them out. So, from an online perspective, the kind of advertising a lot of people are heading into is on social media and search.
Well, in case you haven’t heard, Google has long since clamped down on pointing your Adwords ads to squeeze pages. The very lifeblood of your business is leads, and you’re not allowed to use Adwords to point to a page which asks for the lead. What they want you to point to is a content page.
I’ve heard Facebook is making the same change. They don’t want you directly pointing to squeeze pages, or video sales letters. Basically, they are trying to preserve the user experience which means that the ideal place to point your ads to is… content.
Now, this is going to dovetail very tightly into my 4th point (see below), but the point is…
These companies want content, so give them content. Not to mention it is content that people share on social media. It is content which ranks in the search engines. So, if you’re not creating highly useful and engaging content – by way of your blog – you’re just dropping the ball.
#2 – Video
Any complete content marketing strategy has to include video. I could parrot out a bunch of stats at you at how popular online video is, but I think you already know that.
If the channel is that big, you want to be on it. Plus, video allows you to build a relationship with your prospects (or readers) that you’ll never be able to produce with the written word alone.
I should also mention that, under this heading, I include all forms of video. That includes traditional video as well as live video (i.e. Hangouts or webinars). This kind of content has high engagement and, from a sales perspective, performs.
#3 – Podcasting
Podcasting is huge right now. The stats are quite impressive. Plus, in my own niche, we’ve got Pat Flynn who openly says that his podcast is his #1 traffic generator. And John Lee Dumas, from EOFire, is now bringing in six figures monthly by coming out the gate in podcasting with a strong USP and then coupling it with a paid program.
But, aside from all that, podcasting has this unique advantage over both blog posts and videos…
It is mostly distraction free.
Think about it… what other major form of media is typically consumed while the person isn’t otherwise distracted? With blog posts, most people scan the things because they’re too lazy to read it. With video, their attention spans are so short than you have to keep the thing mostly under 3 minutes (unless you’re seriously entertaining).
With podcasting, people usually listen when they are AWAY from their desk. That means less distraction. You’re literally burrowed into their ear canals for the length of your show. How awesome is that?
#4 – Native Advertising
Now, I’m guessing that, to many of my readers, this one is new. First, let’s define it…
Native advertising is paid advertising which fits the environment in which it is found. That’s it.
So, for Facebook, you have sponsored posts in the news feed. People pay to place those things there, and when you click on it, you are typically taken to some kind of content. End-to-end, this is “native” in that it follows suit to what Facebook is used for. Facebook is used to keep up with friends as well as discover new content. So, you write native-worthy content, you place it on Facebook using boosted posts or sponsored stories.. and you get some traction.
Same with other platforms. Twitter has sponsored tweets, LinkedIn has sponsored updates, Youtube has video ads, etc.
So, the big question is… why should we, as content creators, be worrying about paid advertising?
Because this is simply how the game works now. These social media sites are essentially “pay to play” now. It is much, MUCH harder than it used to be to get your message seen on these networks unless you pony up. Not only that, because (currently) a lot of people are still trying to do it the free way, that means you have less competition for eyeballs once you go paid. (Hint: That’s gonna change, too.)
Bringing It All Together
Essentially, if you bring these 4 prongs together, you’ve got yourself a deadly quartet. The result is traffic and leads. But…
You’ve got to do it smartly.
Obviously, if you just start throwing money at native ads without any kind of monetization strategy on the backend, you’re just burning money. You don’t pay to send people to your typical blog post with no call to action.
If you look up, this site is called Blog Marketing Academy. That’s because I firmly believe that blogging (and, under that umbrella, I include all forms of content creation) is a POWERFUL form of marketing. You are helping people with your content, then guiding them into their next step using a call to action.
That call to action should, in some way, lead to a revenue opportunity. And that’s how you justify the ad spend on native ads.
Getting With The Program
I am as guilty as anybody of being slow to change my ways. I freely admit that I am only just now taking the importance of paid advertising seriously. And, if you’re connected to me socially, you’ll see that I’m going to be ramping up my native ad strategy very shortly and learning the ropes.
But, I’m also in a position where I have a lot of others reading my advice. And, I’m tellin’ ya… it is time to play a more serious game if you want to really grow your online business these days.
Trying to do it all for free these days is quite difficult. Not saying it can’t be done, but we’re talking a long term strategy.
The way I see it, our content is more of a long-term marketing play now. In order to have short-term control, we need to use paid advertising.
I call them internally “marketing levers”. It is hard to have real control over your business destiny if you’re not in full control over the incoming traffic. For most of us, we put out content, spread them on our social channels and maybe our list, and then we sit back and wait for the reaction.
Traffic doesn’t have to be reactive. It can be proactive. You can control it just like a lever on a machine. But, the way to do it is via paid advertising. That’s a lever. You throw it full forward, you bring in people on cue. At other times, you pull it back and let your content go on its own inertia.
So, native ads is like the growth magnifier. It will bring in “new blood”, then if you’re doing a good job, they’ll stick around. Soon enough, you’ll have a pretty thriving community which has its own inertia.
To learn more about what it will take in the current landscape to really stand out, grab your free copy of my free report: The State of Blogging in 2014. In this report, I back up and look at the big picture of what’s happening currently, and how we must adapt to stay relevant.
And if you want to get my help implementing the “deadly quartet” in your business, and follow along with me as I ramp up my native ad strategy (and how you how to do it as I go), then join the VIP program where you will get the inside updates in our private community group and bi-weekly calls.