Got low site traffic? If you're an inbound marketer, you know that investing in expensive tools and technology won't solve that problem for you -- you need to consistently create content to do that. But if you're just creating content and lack the right tools and technology to back up your efforts, you'll soon find you've hit a traffic wall.
We've talked a lot about how to increase site traffic on this blog, but we haven't given a lot of real estate to the subject of using the right tools to support your efforts. To remedy that, we've not only written an entire whitepaper about using technology to support your marketing efforts, but this blog post will highlight an important section from that whitepaper that teaches us exactly how it can help you grow site traffic, too!
Setting the Stage: Identifying Your Traffic Problem
Let's say you already have a robust analytics package in place. You take a look at your funnel, and your problem becomes abundantly clear: you don't get much traffic to the top of your funnel. Just take a look at your numbers!
So a decent chunk of the people who visit your site convert to leads -- even better, 75% of people who become leads on your site end up converting to customers! Your problem isn’t converting visitors to leads, and it’s not converting to leads to customers. Your problem, as you can see in the table above, is simply getting people to your website.
So what do you need to do to attract visitors to your website? In the traditional playbook, the answer was simple: buy traffic. Today, the smartest marketers are focusing on search engine optimization, blogging, and social media. In fact, HubSpot's 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report showed that SEO, blogging, and social media were most frequently cited by marketers as channels with a below average cost-per-lead, and channels that were growing in importance. So it makes sense that marketers might want to invest in some technology to make their efforts with these channels even more effective. Hey, if your CPL is below average you have some change leftover! So how do you ensure that change isn't wasted? Here's what to look for when you start shopping.
What to Look for in SEO Technology
Search engine optimization is no longer the sexiest new online marketing technique (social media stole that honor some time ago), but it's still critical to generating site traffic.
There are two basic pieces of search engine optimization -- on page, and off page. On-page tactics focus on the code you can actually change on a page. The good news is that on-page SEO is easy to control; the bad news is that it's not critically important. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, revolves around the links that go into your site. Ready for some more good news/bad news? The good news is that off-page SEO is super important. The bad news is that it's harder to control. But a marketer looking to generate more site traffic needs to be concerned with both, and understand these three main factors when evaluating technology that will help them pursue better on- and off-page SEO.
1) Keyword Analysis - Keyword analysis should be the first step in any SEO process. It helps you understand which keywords you're ranking for now, and which keywords you should try to improve your rank for. To get this kind of insight, you need to be able to generate a report of all your keywords, and compare them by traffic, difficulty, and current rank. Those factors should dictate what keywords you need to focus on.
You don't want to waste your time trying to rank for keywords for which you're not currently ranking, that are highly contested, and that generate relatively low traffic levels. Instead, you want to focus on keywords that you're already ranking for but could have a higher rank, that generate large volumes of traffic, and that aren't very competitive. A good keyword tool will help you find these keywords.
2) Website Tools Designed for SEO - Keyword analysis tools help you develop metrics and plans for SEO; the right website tools will help you actually implement your SEO plan. When picking website tools, make sure that it's easy to change page attributes like the title, the meta description, and the keywords, and that new pages are created with default optimization like keywords in the URL address, and automatic sitemap generation. These are all on-page SEO elements that you can fully control and optimize.
3) Page-level SEO Analysis - The final key piece of SEO technology is page-level analytics. You need to be able to assess the SEO quality (and inbound links) of each of the pages on your website. Ideally, you'll be able to get a report on each of your pages, listing inbound links, their authority, as well as keywords the pages rank for, and any SEO errors on the page.
What to Look for in Blogging Software
SEO is a critical part of building traffic to your website, but it shouldn't be your only strategy. SEO tactics need to be coupled with content -- ideally, blog content! Think of it this way ... blogging is kind of like playing the lottery; would you rather have a fixed level of opportunities to rank well for a given term, or hundreds of thousands? Every time you write a new blog post, you're giving yourself another opportunity to win the SEO lotto. So if you're blogging to improve your SEO, and by extension your site traffic, here's what you should look for in a piece of technology to help supercharge your efforts.
1) Ease of Use - You need to be comfortable using your blogging software multiple times a week. Writing is hard enough, so you don't need to make matters worse with difficult software. Make sure it's easy to create, edit, schedule, and publish a post. Managing comments should also be simple.
2) Built-in SEO Tools - Business blogs should be designed with SEO in mind. The post URLs should have good SEO structure and page-level SEO features. You should have an easy way to add or change keywords for specific posts. Ideally, you'll also be able to get SEO feedback like keyword suggestions as you write.
3) Social Sharing and Email Subscription - Social sharing capability is a critical -- and fairly standard -- component of any blogging platform. Most blogging platforms make it easy to share your posts through social media. In addition to social media following, make sure your readers can subscribe to your blog by email, too.
What to Look for in Social Media Tools
Blogging and SEO are absolutely critical to driving traffic to your website, but they often struggle without a third element: social media. For consistent traffic growth, businesses need to continue building a community of fans and followers on social networks with whom they can share their optimized content and attract new site visitors. So it only makes sense that if you're investing in SEO and blogging software to improve your site traffic, you'll want some social media software to help you out, too. Here's what any social media software should have to help solve your traffic problem.
1) Social Media Monitoring - The first rule of social media software is don't talk about social media software. Just kidding, the first rule is actually, "listening." Many marketers do this for Facebook; then they hop over to LinkedIn; then they move over to Twitter; and before long they have 5 tabs open in their browser and spend the whole day hitting refresh. In other words, platform-hopping is complicated and time consuming. Ideally, your social media software allows you to monitor most social media discussions within one single application.
2) Integrated, Multi-channel Publishing - Chances are your customers and prospects are clustered across different social media sites. So if you want to reach all your customers and prospects, you need to publish to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other sites where your audience hangs out. It's a lot of work to publish a single piece of content on multiple sites, so you should make sure your social media publishing tools allow you to publish to all of them at once.
3) Easy Social Media Following - Building a following is a critical part of social media. The bigger and more engaged your network, the greater your ability to use social media to generate traffic for your site. You should have an easy way to encourage your community to follow you on your website, on your blog, in your emails, and in other places that you generate lots of new traffic.
4) Reach Tracking - Reach is a key metric for marketing teams. It's an indication of your ability to generate attention and traffic. A great piece of content will have a much bigger impact if it's driven by great reach. Your social media tools should make it easy to track the aggregate reach of your social media channels.
A Note on the Importance of Integration
All of these components are critical to a great piece of SEO, blogging, or social media software; but integration with one another -- and your other marketing technology, as well -- saves marketers time, money, and a whole lotta grief.
Let's take your SEO tools, for example. Wouldn't it be nice if your page-level SEO tools were integrated with your website management software? It would be a whole lot easier to fix errors that the report turns up if that were the case. Similarly, if your SEO tools are integrated with your marketing analytics tools, you can see the leads and customers generated from the keywords you're targeting. Same for your blogging tool -- if it's integrated with your marketing analytics tool, you can track the blog posts that drove the most leads and customers. And your social media publishing tools should be operating right alongside your website, blog, and landing page tools! Just think how much easier your life would be if you could track the social media activity of contacts in your marketing database, and track the leads and customer generated by social media.
The point is, you can do all of these things separately, but time is rarely an excess resource within a marketing department. If all of your tools and technologies are integrated with one another, you spend less time compiling data and reports, and more time analyzing and improving upon your marketing activities.
Want to learn what other marketing problems the right technology can help you solve? Download our free whitepaper How to Avoid Marketing Technology Paralysis.
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