I see it time and time again: The number-one challenge faced by brand-new internet business owners is a lack of traffic. Obviously, if your website isn't getting any traffic, you're not generating any sales. And what's worse is that without traffic, you can't test the key components of your sales process. And if you roll out a large traffic campaign before you've tested your site to make sure it converts maximum visitors into buyers, you risk losing sales and looking unprofessional to potential business partners and affiliates.
So you're caught in a vicious cycle: Before ramping up a big traffic campaign, you need to test your sales process, but without any traffic, testing is difficult--if not impossible!
In this article, I'm going to give you an eight-step action plan that will show you:
- How to get cheap, instant traffic to your website so you can test key components of your sales process--your sales copy, order form, navigation and opt-in offer--before rolling out a large-scale traffic campaign;
- How to ensure that every element of your sales process is optimized to convert maximum traffic into maximum sales;
- The most effective strategies for attracting thousands of highly qualified potential buyers to your site right away; and
- The secret to putting your entire traffic campaign on autopilot.
So even if your site is getting no traffic right now, you can be testing the key elements of your sales process tomorrow--and as soon as two weeks from now, you can be rolling out your traffic campaign in full.
Sound good? Let's get you started off on the right foot!
Step 1: Get the traffic you need to test your website fast! When I talk about testing with new internet business owners, I hear the same two questions all the time:
- How do I test my site?
- What do I test on my site?
As you may already know, there are an infinite number of things you can test on your site to help you increase sales. From layout to copy to design, there are limitless combinations of changes that may improve your visitor-to-sale conversion rate. But what's "enough" when you're just starting out? What elements should you focus on testing before rolling out your traffic campaign?
My advice is to stick to the basics. Focus on testing your:
- Salescopy, especially your headline, benefits, guarantee and call to action
- Order process, which needs to be simple enough for a novice web user to place an order
- Opt-in offer, so you can determine if you're successfully capturing your visitors' contact information
- Site navigation, so you can figure out how many clicks it takes to buy. Ideally it should take less than three.
These are the four critical aspects of your sales process that need to be tested before you start driving traffic. Later on, once you've generated sales and have some steady traffic, you can move on to testing other parts of your site.
Of course, all this talk of testing your new site raises one big question: How can you test without traffic? Because if you're just getting started, chances are good that your website doesn't get much traffic yet.
The solution is simple: Buy traffic through PPC search engines. Pay-per-click search engines are a lot like auctions--they allow you to bid for top-ranking positions under keywords of your choice. For each visitor who searches the keyword(s) you bid on and then clicks through to your site, you pay whatever you bid. Prices typically range from five cents to a few dollars per click-through for popular keywords.
There are a ton of PPC search engines out there, but the two best ones to get started with are:
With PPC search engines, you get cheap, instant, qualified traffic--provided you bid on targeted keywords. Not only that, but bidding on traffic in the PPC search engines can help your site get ranked in the free search engines, too!
Here are a few tips to help you start bidding for traffic without breaking the bank:
In Yahoo Search Marketing, bid to appear in the top three listings whenever possible, since these results are also "pushed" to appear in the search results for MSN, Yahoo, AltaVista, InfoSpace, AlltheWeb and NetZero--reaching 80 percent of all internet users.
Bid on targeted, descriptive keywords. So don't just bid on "sock;" bid on "red wool sock." Not only are targeted keywords and phrases usually cheaper to bid on--they'll also attract more qualified potential buyers. Use a keyword selection tool like Google's AdWords Keyword Tool to research targeted keywords that attract maximum traffic for minimal cost-per-click.
After you've tested and tweaked your site with a limited amount of purchased traffic, it's time to start generating qualified traffic for your site on a larger scale. But how do you go from some traffic to a ton of traffic?
Step 2: Get cheap traffic quickly with PPC advertising. Once you've tested your site with limited PPC traffic, the fastest way to ramp up traffic to your site is to roll out a PPC campaign on a larger scale. Obviously, you should start with Yahoo Search Marketing and Findwhat, as mentioned above. But here are some more PPC engines to consider bidding with as you increase your investment:
This is also a great time to get started with Google AdWords --Google's own PPC contender. With Google AdWords, you get instant traffic with no waiting. Because as soon as you put the money down on your keywords, your ad goes up and starts working for you.
Step 3: Get free traffic from search engines like Google. Now that you've bid on keywords for a strong showing in the PPC search engines, it's time to tackle the organic search engines and directories. Search engines like Google and directories like Yahoo! can still be a great source of free traffic for your website. The trick is getting a competitive ranking for your best keywords.
The first step in getting a top ranking in the search engines is to submit or suggest your site to them. In other words, you have to provide them with details about your site. You want to make sure that the "spiders"--automated programs that crawl the web indexing sites for the search engines--find your site and include it in the search results.
While the spiders do index sites and pages that haven't been submitted, you certainly don't want to leave this to chance. A spider might find your website and index it next week--or it might be two years before that finally happens. So take the time to submit your site to be sure you're included. Once your site's been submitted, expect it to take two to six weeks for your listing to appear.
Every engine has a slightly different process for site submission, and it pays to follow their guidelines. For example, there's a fee to list your site in the directory at Yahoo!, but Google doesn't charge for their submission process. Here's a tip: If you submit your site exactly as they ask, you stand a better chance of getting a good listing on the first page of search results.
To submit or suggest your site to the major engines, follow the simple instructions they provide on these pages:
- For Google, go to www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl
- For Yahoo Directory, go to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/suggest/
- For Yahoo! Search, go to http://submit.search.yahoo.com
- For MSN, go to http://search.msn.com/docs/submit.aspx
- For AOL, submit your site to the Open Directory Project, which uses ODP data. Here's the link: http://dmoz.org/add.html
And don't bother with companies that offer to submit your site to the search engines. Since each search engine uses a different set of criteria to rank your site, free submission services can actually end up doing you more harm than good, since they submit the same information in the same way to all the engines.
Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.