Blogs are ubiquitous today. Back in 2008 when ShoutMeLoud was registered, the blogging peak had not hit India - yet. However one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the timeless lure of quality. What was working back then, still works today. Of course, the form and the specifics have changed and adapted with the rise of mobile browsing and other major digital trends. But at the heart of the issue, an ethical approach, a genuine desire to help people and valuable content still rule the roost.
Any tips to drive traffic, thus should be based on these considerations. And keeping this in mind, here are three great ways to grab more eyeballs and attract virtual footfall.
1. Affiliate Marketing
If you think affiliate marketing is a way to rake in sales, just flip that thinking on its head. Affiliates can get a deluge of qualified traffic to your blog. The concept of affiliate marketing remains unchanged. You still promote your products through affiliate partners, but now the main goal is to get people interacting with your content.
Create A Product
If you have a blog, you have an area of expertise. Utilize that to create a digital download product that is useful to your perfect persona. Then put it up on ClickBank or JVZoo and wait for the affiliates to start enrolling for your brand. Any other avenue that you explore will require you to spend money. Affiliate marketing is the only option that gets you traffic as well as cash. It is amazingly effective. Of course there are a few caveats. You must have strict standards for your affiliates. Ensure that their website or blog caters to the segments you are interested in. And do have a branding bible that will provide message and tone guidelines. You don't want your affiliates to misrepresent your cause or your personality.
Use Those Email Addresses
As interested individuals buy your product or your tool, you collect an amazingly rich database of subscribers. Yes, as the image suggests...up to 9,500 new entrants every month is very much possible.
Get them to engage with your content. Send them your newsletter. Bribe them ethically with more free resources. Just don't let the trail go cold. They raised their hands and said yes to your work. And they are likely to be very interested in what you have to say.
Ensure That You Choose Affiliates Who Know How To Sell
After you have the initial momentum going, vet your affiliates. Make sure that you associate yourself with people who can sell you and your brand better than you can sell yourself. They don't have your expertise and you shouldn't need to have world class marketing skills. You can rely on your affiliates for that power.
The Affiliates WordPress plugin is a nifty way to set up the backend for your affiliate management program without fuss.
Personally, I use the AffiliateWP plugin as it offers tons of add-ons to make your affiliate program conversion oriented. It's not free but after using for a year, I could say it's worth every penny.
Don't Ever Go For The Cost Per Impression Affiliate Model Or Solicit Subscribes
Many newbie bloggers ask me about the effectiveness of simply pushing affiliates to promote their blog or drive 'subscribes'. They basically want to opt out of creating a product. It sounds tempting but you might be thoroughly hoodwinked by your partners. They can drive unqualified leads to your blog or create fake IDs to subscribe. You will happily pay them for their contribution, all the while registering page views that are pretty much worthless and collecting email addresses that don't work.
Create Bigger Products Over Time
Bigger, more comprehensive products equal pricier tags and thus a larger cut for your affiliate partners. This will motivate them to focus more on your brand. And drive more people to your blog. In fact, you will have an easier time attracting competent affiliates if you can promise them more cash. Start small; build a buyer's base that you can use for testimonials and credibility and then move on to bigger and better ways to assist your readers.
The way I see it the marriage of affiliate marketing with blogging satisfies the reader's need to seek help from trustworthy sources. It is about using your knowledge (and leveraging your possible influencer status) to reach out to more people - people who may not have heard of you but who respect your affiliate partners and are likely to be willing members of your circle of influence.
2. Blog Forums
Blogging forums are a natural extension of the quality centric blogging approach. Forums are built on human interactions. And they are wonderful repositories of actual questions and pressing queries your audience members have. There is only so much 'stepping into the shoes' of the reader that you can manage. The best thing is to let the readers speak up and carry the conversation forward themselves. With Hummingbird subtly altering the way SERPs are presented, forum interactions will continue to find place in the top results.
Moderate The Conversations
This is a great way of ensuring solid responses. Interact with people who have interesting takes on your area of expertise. Share their responses and you will encourage more people to ditch the 'social lingo' and contribute meaningful well written responses. Google will love you for this gold.
Integrate Social Sharing Of Forum Threads
The only thing that will get your blog more traffic than a forum is a forum with social integration. Make your readers your referrers. Allow them to log in with their social IDs and like, share or +1 their responses. Even if they do so to boost their own image as influencers in their circle of friends and acquaintances, it will ultimately benefit your blog and brand with Google taking notice of all the positive publicity.
Forums are so versatile. As you create better products with steeper prices, the buyers your affiliates send your way may want to look you up online. And when they do, your forum will only cement their desire to invest in a platform that not only offers content and advice but also a community.
ShoutMeLoud's forum not only impacts my blog traffic, it also helps me pick contributing authors and get inspiration for content that my followers want to learn about. It is an unbeatable combination.
3. Exclusive & Juicy Content
I have spoken at length about exclusive content. Here I am going to present an example from my blog that registers as juicy and exclusive. ShoutMeLoud's Income Reports raised a few eyebrows when I first started pumping them out. I was called an exhibitionist by my detractors.
But I firmly believed that people needed to know that the affiliate lifestyle could click big time and so I persisted. Today I can proudly say that these pieces are eagerly waited for by thousands of national and international readers. And they are avidly shared. Exclusive content builds your brand, which in turn helps your affiliates do a better job of pitching your products! The end result is traffic - both organic and affiliate.
More traffic on its own is not of much consequence. Why settle for attention when you can get focused attention with high likelihood of engagement. Try these strategies out but first understand what you need to adjust to cater to your segments. That is what will set you apart from those who just mimic without deliberation.