Traffic isn’t always like this – when it’s coming to your website, it’s the first step to online sales

What’s the best way to make money online?  10 years ago you just needed a web address where you could publish the contents of your product brochure.  But anyone can get a website now in just a few minutes and there are thousands of new sites set up every day – you need to do more than just ‘get online’.

Keep reading for tips on getting results from your online activity.

So once you’ve bought your domain name, got someone to design you a website and upload your content, you wait for the sales and the traffic to come.  Your products are brilliant, your website looks amazing, and yet you’ve only sold two items in six months and your traffic is consistently disappointing.

What’s wrong with people?  Why aren’t they coming?

Web marketing isn’t a dark art – it’s not magic and you can’t trick the search engines into sending thousands of visitors to your site.  All you need to do is invest a bit of time and you’ll see the results in just a few weeks.

Here are some simple things you can do today to start driving traffic and customers to your website.

1.  Get social

The growth of social media has opened up a world of possible customers – but Tweeting about last night’s Eastenders or the weather isn’t going to get you sales – you need to get your strategy right.

Do you want to build your reputation, deliver real time customer service, connect with journalists, get to know your customers or generate sales opportunities?

Your approach to social media needs to be targeted and thought out, complimenting your other online promotional activities.  Keep your social media profile up-to-date, include a link to your website, be clear what your site is about, and be consistent in the topics you talk about – you don’t want to surprise people by suddenly going into the details of your favourite chocolate cake recipe when normally you pedal your services as a photographer.

Be clear what you’re trying to achieve, otherwise your Tweet and Facebook status updates simply become a very time consuming hobby.

2.  Go beyond the facts

However logical your marketing messages, they won’t sell your product on their own.  We don’t buy with that part of our brain – we buy with the emotional part, and then justify our decisions with the rational part.

Seth Godin recently posted on the Limits of Evidence-based Marketing, making the point that the best way to demonstrate effectiveness is to share testimonials from people who have changed their mind.

“I was always suspicious of marketing tactics but working with Lucy has changed my mind – it’s not about pulling the wool over people’s eyes, it’s about meeting a need and making their lives easier.” Sharon, a small business owner

This is probably a little more useful to a potential customers than me listing all the services I offer and telling people they need me to help them grow their business.

You can market your business without using the hard sell – understand your customers’ problems, write about them so you demonstrate how much you understand – then offer a solution (your product or service) and use descriptive writing to illustrate the results of using it.

3.  KISS (or Keep It Simple Stupid)

My marketing lecturer at College introduced me to this sweet acronym more than 10 years ago, and it’s as relevant now as it was then.

Apply it to your website and guide your customers which path to take through your site.

Yes, it’s tempting to put all your best content on your website’s homepage:

  • your product ranges
  • details of special offers
  • client testimonials
  • company contact details
  • history of the business and how you set it up.

But by cramming your homepage with all this information, your bewildered visitor isn’t going to know where to look and what to do.

Use white space to give your readers’ eyes a break – keep copy to a minimum (so they don’t need to scroll down on the homepage), use images to break up text, have clear headings, and keep your branding clear and simple.

4.  Test what works

Do your customers prefer to see your cleaning products in action or the end results of what they achieve?

Do they respond to headlines containing research results or client testimonials?

Try setting up two web pages, each with a different message, or image, or headline or call to action.  Then direct some traffic to one page, and some to the other, and test the results to see what works best.  You may not know your customers as well as you think you do.

5.  Respond

Once you’ve done all of this, and you have an attractive, easy to use website, a good number of quality followers on Facebook and Twitter, and your readers believe you are the right solution to their problem, you need to act.

Don’t waste all that hard work – keep them warm and move them towards a sale by responding to their comments, thanking them for their retweets, and answering their questions.  Continue to demonstrate that you are the right fit for their problem, and that you know your stuff.

Setting up the website and social media accounts is just the first step – the real benefits come from engaging with users on these platforms so go engage!

About the author: Lucy Thornton is an online marketer – in addition to writing content for websites, blogs, sales letters and brochures, she also offers social media coaching and training that brings results .