Most of the businesses I’ve spoken with in my almost 10 year history as an online marketing professional think the process for getting new customers goes something like this:
- Get Traffic
- Get Users
- Make Money
But it’s not so simple, is it?
I mean, honestly, when was the last time you personally handed over your money so easily?
According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth report, the average shopper consumes an average of eighteen pieces of information about a company or product before making a purchase decision.
Eighteen - that includes promotional videos, blog posts, testimonials, user reviews, comparison guides, expert opinions, podcasts etc.
Like Mattan Griffel’s excellent Slideshare says, the magic to making money isn’t in acquiring traffic or users, the magic is in what happens in between each step of the customer journey.
Step 0 – Have A Raison d’être
Ok, look. It’s 2014.
As of July of last year, about 18.9% of the web runs on WordPress.
“Building an audience, then figure out what to sell them” is not a strategy. You would think this is obvious, but I see it time and time again, where an entrepreneur starts a blog, and have no idea what they’re going to sell on the back end.
This only leads to aimless content, a half-assed sales funnel, and an overall lack of focus to everything else you put out.
If you want to drive leads for your agency – fine. If you plan to sell affiliate products – fine. If you want to sell software - FINE.
As long as you know what you’re selling, you can get out there and have other people validate whether what you’re offering is something they need or not- without going through the hassle of trying to build a business that is destined to fail.
Quite honestly, it’s this piece, that so many online businesses are missing. They don’t know why they exist, so they create and create in circles and try to get more traffic without any sense of purpose except “building an audience” to “figure out what they’re going to sell.”
There are so many websites out there that actually have a purpose & can solve a real problem, that by not having a reason for existing before you do anything else, is ultimately a waste of your visitors time.
If you’ve got an idea for something to sell, use basic customer development techniques to see if anyone wants it, then find the gaps in their knowledge to prime them to buy it.
Step 1 – Get Traffic (& why you must be worthy of it)
Believe it or not, getting traffic is one of the easier parts IF you possess some level of talent.
I won’t lie to you, if you’re not a skilled writer, you don’t have an interesting voice, or you’re lacking half-way decent video skills, you’ve got a lot more work ahead of you.
I’m not saying this to echo the “create quality content” musings of the over-quoted , ego-fueled gurus…
I’m saying this because if you’re not creating stuff people click, watch & generally want to interact with, the machines that distribute your stuff are all smart enough to know when your work is a piece of shit.
- Youtube publicly said “Time Watched” is heavily considered in how they rank video.
- Google sees “dwell time” – the time it takes to click back to the search engine.
- Facebook uses over 100,000 different factors to rank content in the NewsFeed
- Facebook also uses 200 different “trackers” to know what sites you’re visiting across the web.
Not to mention the social proof signals everyone sees, like tweets, +1’s, likes, and so on.
If any of the platforms on which you distribute your stuff see that people aren’t staying on it for long, you won’t get any level of priority.
The days of “match keywords in the body to the title tag” or “just post on Facebook” are long past dead.
With ALL that said, if you do have something of respectable quality, getting traffic is really about knowing who you’re going to email & how you’re going to approach them.
Gregory Ciotti has a great piece on outreach to get you started.
I also highly recommend reading Startup Moon’s complete guide to content distribution as well as Peep Laja’s guest post on how ConversionXL reached 100,000 visitors/month on OkDork.com.
Step 2 – Get Users
There’s this gap between acquiring traffic & turning them into users that a lot of people (myself included, honestly) seem to pay lip-service to.
See, we focus so much on getting people to sign up to our email list, that we’ve forgotten there’s this entire journey that happens after that will make or break whether or not we get the most customers as possible.
Seriously, what percentage of ebooks have you gotten with this much follow-up afterwards?
“Getting users” isn’t about getting people to hand over their email address, It’s about getting people to interact with your stuff – regularly.
Nir Eyal calls this the “Hook Model”, the process which gets you opening emails, reading content, leaving comments & buying products with minimal prompting.
If you want to “engineer” the journey, ask yourself the following questions:
“Knowing they just signed up for the lead magnet, what gets them to open email #1?”
“Ok, now that they’ve opened email #1, what will get them to click the link?”
“Now that they’ve clicked the link, what’s the next action I want them to take?”
Every interaction that takes place “post opt-in” needs to be measured & iterated upon if you’re really looking to “get users”.
You see a friend share an article from Growthhackers.com on Twitter.
You click the link & register for an account to upvote the article.
Moments later, an email comes in showing you someone left a comment on the article you upvoted.
You reply to the comment & meet someone who really knows their stuff.
At the end of the week, you get a digest of all the popular content on the site.
This type of cycle can be implemented for pretty much any kind of online business & through the use of email marketing, A/B testing & triggered email, can become really hard to resist.
If you’re thinking, “but all I do is publish blog content” you should probably go back to step 0, then work backwards.
Step 3 – Make Money
Like acquiring traffic, making money is actually pretty simple IF you’ve got all of the pieces in Step 2 working properly & you’re paying attention to who your users are.
Really, making money is just a matter of having the right offer at the right price.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” illustrates this concept perfectly when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character asks his friend to sell him a pen. (Warning: Languange Extremely NSFW)
Now obviously this is an oversimplified version of the process, and it removes all context from the sale, but it boils down to the idea of making an offer for something you know that prospect wants, but doesn’t have.
That’s what Step 2 was really all about.
It’s not about getting people to come back and become users just to get them back on your site to browse or comment or listen. It’s about getting them to come back so you can get them talking & interacting so you can figure out what kind(s) of offers to put out there.
Real quick, think of the last purchase you made online.
If its not coming to you right away, it’s because whoever you bought from did this whole process so well, that you taking out your credit card was so invisible, you can’t even remember.
Isn’t that what you want from your customers?