I’ve been in the Internet marketing business for over a decade and I can tell you the rules of the game have changed. Years ago, the key to Internet marketing success was getting a huge stream of new visitors every day. That’s no longer true. If you want to increase your website’s traffic and you’re your income from that website you need to get your visitors to come back.
Now sites that can develop a devoted (or at least interested) following are blowing their competition away. Just look at the popularity of daily deal sites like Woot or TeeFury.
How Important is Return Traffic?
I interviewed Ryan Allis, CEO of the email list management service iContact.com, a while back for my Coffee Talk series and he quoted a shocking statistic. 70% of your website’s visitors will never come back unless you get them on your list. That means you’re spending a lot of time, effort, and money trying to get people to your site who just leave.
Still think that’s okay? Consider the old advertising adage that the more expensive or complex a product or service is the more times a person has to be exposed to it before they’ll buy. Those one-hit-wonders aren’t going to result in a whole lot of conversions for you.
And don’t forget about search engines. Search engines like Google closely monitor who comes to your site, how they got there, and how long they stay. If you want to rank higher in search engines (including Google) for any topic from kitchen bar stools, to car insurance quotes, to lift chairs, inflatable boats, wood routers, doll houses, even a P90X workout you have to keep your visitors on your site and you have to keep them coming back.
Below I’ve laid out 5 strategies I use with all of my websites to make my one-hit-wonders return visitors.
1) Use RSS to Email
This email automation software allows you to keep your list members apprised of any new content you add to your site without you ever having to lift a finger.
We all have good intentions of creating weekly newsletters, sending out email autoresponders, and really getting involved with our list members but I know just how hard it is to find time to do all that.
Thankfully, there’s RSS to Email. You can use their automated service to send notifications to your list every time you publish new content on your website. That gets visitors to come back in order to check out what’s new, which may, incidentally, lead them deeper into the site.
One of the coolest features however, is the scheduling tool. I like to send out a regular newsletter and RSS to Email makes that easy. I set it to run when I want and it crawls my sites, picks up the new content, and compiles it into a newsletter without me having to do a thing. You can set the software to send a (I.e. weekly) newsletter automatically but I have mine set to send me a “proof” so I can make sure everything is just the way I want before I hit the send button.
While a lot of people are podcasting, most are not. Podcasts are one of the most powerful (and most commonly overlooked) tools you can use to get your visitors engaged with your website.
I’ve been host of the longest running podcast about affiliate marketing (The Affiliate Buzz) and have my own series (Coffee Talk with James Martell) which I use to get visitors interested and turn them into followers.
A 30-minute podcast can be put together in less than an hour and new technology lets you create professional-grade audio with ease. Podcast publishing can be automated as well so you’re list members will stay up to date while you can relax and enjoy your free time.
3) Blog Commenting (On Your Own Website)
Part of getting your visitors to come back to your website is getting them involved. I do that by staying engaged with them and the website. One of the easiest ways to do that is reply to comments.
Think about it: thousands of visitors may view a single post without ever taking the time to comment. If one person does invest enough in your website to do so, you should take the time to reply.
There’s a wonderful little free WordPress plug-in that I use called “Subscribe To Comments” to send an email notification to commenters when me or anybody else has responded to their comment. It’s free, easy to configure, and essential if you want to build a sense of community or investment in your website’s visitors.
4) Use Chat Forums
Formerly called Bulletin Boards, chat forums ruled the web in the 1990s. However, many Internet marketers have forgotten just what a powerful tool they can be. Chat forums get your website’s visitors invested in your website, help facilitate communication between you (the webmaster) and them, and even allow your visitors to interact with each other.
My wife Arlene and I have used chat forums very successfully on a number of websites. In fact, her website, EpilepsyMoms.com, has thousands of members sharing their own stories about raising children with epilepsy. These are vibrant, involved, and responsive folks who come back to the site every day. That’s traffic you just can’t buy.
5) Be Helpful
It’s tempting to let automation take over. You might even find yourself “churning” out content just to get something on your website regularly. Avoid that impulse at all costs!
I always remain available, interested, and try to be as helpful to my website’s visitors as I can. I try to provide helpful and informative content (whether it is written articles, video, or audio), point them to solutions for their problems, and give advice that’s specific to them.
Make the Most of Your Investment
Keeping the visitors you have has never been more important. If you want to increase your website’s traffic and search engine rankings for any topic from car insurance quotes, to Bowflex dumbbells, inflatable boats, wood router tables, doll houses, MIG welders, even Hillsdale stools don’t focus so much on new traffic. Devote at least some time to keeping that which you’ve already earned.
James Martell is a successful author, podcaster, and speaker. He’s a leading expert in affiliate marketing and outsourcing as well as a specialist in SEO. James is host of the Affiliate Buzz podcast on WebmasterRadio.FM (the first ever and longest running podcast in affiliate marketing), and creator of the Affiliate Marketers SUPER BootCamp. He lives in White Rock BC, a seaside suburb of Vancouver on west coast of Canada with his wife, Arlene.