It’s a new year! Which means many of us are evaluating the effectiveness of our past year’s effort and looking to improve in the next. One area we probably all need to focus on year after year–refining and iterating our strategies along the way–is increasing site traffic.
Because this is such a well-trodden topic on blogs that cover blogging, WordPress, and social media we’ve probably all run into the same advice over and over again.
- Build an email list
- Build up your “social outposts”
- Promote all of your content to social networks
- Write epic content
- Write short content
- Create media rich content
- Publish often
- Feature influencers in your posts (and then tell them about it)
- Give away freebies
- Run contests
- And so on
Don’t get me wrong. These are great tips. If you’re not doing those things, make them your top priority. But if you’ve been doing everything you’re “supposed” to be doing and you’d still like to increase your site traffic, then perhaps it’s time to get a bit more creative? That’s what we’re going to be talking about in today’s post.
Creative Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
It’s highly unlikely that anything on the list below is completely new to everyone who has actively been promoting their website for any decent length of time. But in composing this post my goal was to focus on tips that are not typically thought of as “go-to” solutions that nearly everyone does, but that are nevertheless extremely effective. Let’s get into it!
When promoting a website we’re working in a digital universe promoting a digital space. It’s sometimes helpful to remember though, that we’re physical beings who thrive on tangibility. The physical presence of people and things. Which is why taking the time to promote your website in a physical space or on real-world objects can be highly effective.
There are a number of ways to do this:
- Put your site url on business cards
- Create branded t-shirts
- Create branded posters
- Create branded posters
- Take your blog posts, re-format them into a zine, and drop a pile off at your local coffee shop
- Have mugs made
In general, find ways to create physical experiences for people you’d like to see end up on your website. And, of course, make sure to point the way for them.
Attend Events (And Participate!)
Attending events is a great way to build relationships with others who care about the same niche or industry that you do. Again, we’re wired for personal, physical communication and when we have shared experiences in the real world those hold a lot of weight. But, of course, you have to participate and mingle at the events you attend. No standing on the sidelines!
Book a Speaking Gig (And Record It!)
If you have a story, knowledge base, or experience that can help others, find a way to format that into a short but powerful presentation. You can then pitch that presentation to event organizers and instead of merely showing up at industry events, you’ll be featured at them!
This goes a long way towards establishing your authority and building an interested following. And as a bonus, if you record it via video or audio you’ll be creating extremely valuable and shareable content at the same time.
Utilize the Ol’ Family & Friends Boost
This is a tip that works for a lot of things. You’d be surprised at how effective a simple ask from your closest social circle can be. When I was younger I used this method to raise over $3,000 in one day for a charity I wanted to support.
Instead of giving the maximum amount of money I could afford to give at the time–which wasn’t much. I organized a sponsored bike ride and asked my closest friends and family to participate. All they had to do was sign up three of their friends as sponsors at a minimum of $10 each.
Some people did the minimum, but others loved the idea and decided to promote the heck out of it. At the end of the day, I personally raised a few hundred dollars. But the total, with the help of my friends and family (and their friends and family) was in the thousands.
The same can be true for your website.
You might already be driving as much traffic to your site as you can, but that could be magnified many times over if you widen the pool of people promoting your site/content.
Here’s how you do it:
Simply ask your close friends and family to send your blog link (or a specific post/product link) to at least three people they think will find it valuable. This should definitely be done sparingly, otherwise it may become annoying or simply ineffective.
When executed right it can really provide a big injection of new interest in your site. Just be sure to have your site looking and functioning great before you ask for this favor!
Run an Unconventional Social Campaign
With over a billion people using social media world-wide, there’s a massive audience to be tapped into if you can only delight, surprise, and captivate enough of them that they send your content viral. One way to do this is by taking notice of the existing functions and norms of a platform and using them in an unconventional way to draw attention to what you’re doing.
Here are three examples:
1. The Ikea Facebook Tagging Campaign: All the way back in 2009, Ikea ran this clever Facebook campaign. The idea was simple. To promote the opening of a new store, they created a Facebook page for that store and uploaded pictures of their showrooms to the account.
Then, they told people that all they had to do to win an item, was tag that item as themselves. Not only did the first person to tag an item get to keep it, but because of the way the tag function works (or at least worked at the time) those photos and that page were instantly in the feeds of thousands upon thousands of Facebook users.
2. Civil Rights Captcha: In 2013, Civil Rights Defenders used one of the most ubiquitous tools on the web–the Captcha–to draw attention to their civil rights work.
By making captchas about human empathy instead of random number or letter scrambles, they were able to remind over 700 million people that basic empathy towards others is what truly makes us human.
3. The General Electric Tumblr: Know for being a somewhat stuffy brand, GE surprised (and continues to surprise) the tumblr demographic with its spot on content that stays brand appropriate while also being funny, creative, irreverent, and just plain cool.
There are no hard and fast rules to this. Except perhaps one: it must be legitimately creative. This is not a typical best practice that anyone can do. You will actually have to think outside the box, be playful, be inventive, and do something that no one else has thought of or, if they have, wouldn’t expect it from you.
Another place you can find method at work is Buzzfeed’s quizzes that became so popular in 2014. I wrote a bit about why those are effective in an earlier post here on the elegant theme’s blog. (It’s all the way down in the “Analyze, Iterate, & Repeat” section.)
Use Snail Mail to Send “Awesomeness Packages”
This one can get expensive, but that’s sort of the point. It’s not something you do for all of your followers/readers/customers/etc. all the time. It’s something you do once in a while to show someone how special they are to you and your brand. So why not go big?
Pick a person, ask for their address, and blow them away with a free box of awesomeness. It could be full of your products or it could be filled with anything you know they will enjoy. The stranger and cooler the better.
Just be sure to ask them to share what they got with the community!
Utilize Social Currency–Literally
There are a lot of plugins that allow for you to “charge” your site visitors for content with a simple like, tweet, follow or share from the social network of your choosing. If you actually create some content of value and get the ball rolling by promoting it to the right people, this method can really boost both your site traffic and social presence.
Offer Generous Affiliate Commissions
No one wants to slave away one a great digital product only to give it away for free. However, you may be able to gain a lot more traffic (and purchases) by creating an affiliate program with a generous commission. Somewhere in the ball park of 70-80%.
Not only is this likely to increase your over-all sales (not to mention your number of affiliates), but because they have to point their followers to you to get the product you stand to gain a lot of new traffic and followers for future products down the line.
Start a Group Project
It’s a pretty common tip for boosting site traffic to suggest that you create and/or manage a Google+ Community, a Sub-Reddit, or the like. However, there is another similar activity that can work well too. Starting and managing an ongoing group project.
This might be a bit of open source software, it could be a post series that your whole community is welcome to contribute to, or it could be something else entirely. The point is that when you build a team and document the process of doing something together, you’re telling a powerful story that others want to share and possibly participate in themselves.
Which brings me to my last tip.
Tell Great Stories
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you’ve probably noticed that a theme I continually refer back to in my posts it the power of storytelling. I laid out a rather extensive case for why I believe storytelling is the future of blogging (and content marketing in general) in a piece I wrote here last March.
Everything in that post is just as valid today as it was on the day I wrote it. I think that will remain true for some time to come. Here’s why: we (humans) are wired for stories. They are the most natural way we know of contextualizing the world around us and communicating our thoughts, emotions, and values to others.
We tell stories constantly. At the water cooler, dinner table, over the phone, via text, and in just about any other situation where human communication is taking place. But the power of a good story knows no bounds.
Some powerful stories you can tell this year:
- The success stories of your customers
- Your journey of discovery; the path that lead you to where you are today.
- Your quest to change the status quo; to set something right or defend a worthy cause.
- How you unraveled a mystery (in which you share the powerful answer to others who are still ignorant of your discovery)
- How you started out humbly but grew you blog/business/whatever to great heights
- How you overcame a brutal obstacle
All of these ideas draw on basic plots or themes that have been proven to resonate with humans all over the planet. That emotional resonance can drive a lot of traffic in many different ways.
You can tell these stories via blog posts, status updates, YouTube vlog entries, income reports, or with any other tool/platform at your disposal.
There are seemingly endless ways to (potentially) drive traffic to your website. In this post my goal was to focus on slightly more unconventional and creative methods of accomplishing this, as opposed to what I have come to see as the standard or normal methods proposed by so many.
The important thing though, whether you end up using these specific methods or others, is that you take some time to evaluate your current strategies for inbound traffic and try to improve on them in the coming year. After all, 2015 is waiting to be lived, experienced, conquered, and “mythologized” in the stories we’ll know it by thereafter.
So why not make it a great one?
My hope is that these tips will help you do just that. If you have anything to add to my list, or simply want to share a thought with the whole community, please take a few seconds to drop us a line in the comments below.
Article Thumbnail via MPFphotography // shutterstock.com