Making your product/ service or platform discoverable and increasing its visibility across the web is one of the most difficult yet the most important task for an entrepreneur or a blog owner. The best way is always to try out all the channels available to you and then gauge the conversions from each of those channels so that you can invest more time and money on the ones that’s giving you the best results. The strategy that’s best for you would also depend on your product and the niche you are operating in. You could split the strategies you could adopt into push and pull or paid and non-paid strategies.
I’m going to leave out the AirBnB or the Mint.com example which is quoted very often as examples of growth hacking. Sure, they were incredibly successful with their ideas and execution and I am sure you have already come across them as well. There would always be certain incredibly brilliant idea that would apply to your product or niche. Let’s leave those out for now and in this post explore the generic pull techniques one could employ. Of course these strategies would require plenty of your time and effort. Nothing comes for free! J
Blogging is one of the most proven and effective strategies for gaining visibility and establishing yourself as a thought leader. If used in the right way and provided the quality of the content is awesome, it could easily be the best channel to drive traffic. You would want to have blog posts that are read and shared. So ensure that you create quality content, try and analyse what sells or are the most popular blog topics in your niche. Take note of the ones that’s trending and write your own version for best results.
One can adopt various Blogging strategies including what the content and theme of the Blog should be. It’s more important to understand your target audience before you decide on the contents of your Blog to drive maximum traffic. You could either create your own Blog Page or else you could get to post a few as a Guest blogger on Blogs having your target audience. I would suggest you to definitely have your own blog but also try and get yourself a space or two on a few of the more popular blogs in your niche. The advantage of guest blogging is that you open up your thoughts, ideas & your product to a large audience in one go. All along try and build your own blog site as well, because there is nothing like having a large following on your blog as you have complete control over your blog. You don’t necessarily have that control over someone else’s blog and can’t aggressively push your product or services for an eternity. You can always try and exchange blog posts as well with bloggers in your niche. This Is a good strategy to employ to grow your audience faster.
The advantages of Guest Blogging are:
- Builds natural links
- Increases your online authority
- Builds Relationship
- Opens up your product/ service to a large audience quickly
I’m a big fan of Kissmetrics, Buffer & Moz and each of them have taken the blogging strategy to an all new level to drive traffic on to their service/ product.
Kissmetrics, is an analytics platform. It has its own blog and the contents on the blog are super awesome and cover a wide variety of posts related to SEO/ Analytics/ Digital Marketing etc. They have steadily built up an extremely impressive reader base and invariably converts a lot of them as well. They also encourage guest bloggers on their blog page.
Buffer on the other hand grew phenomenally in its early days using the Guest blogging strategy. Leo Wildrich, co-founder of Buffer admits that using the guest blogging strategy alone, they were able to acquire 100,000 users in the first nine months. That’s like quite incredible. Two sites that you should definitely consider for getting guest blog opportunities are MyBlogGuest and Bloggerlinkup.
Moz similarly used blogging as a tool to build an ever growing subscriber base and with it a healthy base for it’s products.
Infographics is a great way to engage your audience and create something that is extremely viral in nature. Creating one is not that expensive either. You can do it yourself or hire someone on fiverr who could create an awesome Infographic for as much as $5. They are visual, useful, entertaining and sharable. This awesome infographic lays out the creative process pictorially of making an Infographic.
And this is a great Infographic created on infographics by Zabisco.
Check out these great free tools for creating awesome Infographics : http://www.infographicsarchive.com/create-infographics-and-data-visualization/
3) Social Media:
Social Media is one of the best channels for getting visibility for your product/ service. It’s also very often the most cost effective and viral of channels. Infographics are content and Social media provides the best possible channel to make your content viral and with it bring a truck load of traffic.
- Understand that your activity on Social Media is for the long run.
- Build great engagement and brand awareness and slowly you will start seeing results.
- Content is King – Create great sharable content that would in turn enable you to reach more people.
- Always be responsive to questions or comments from your followers. Build a healthy community.
- Depending on your content decide on which of Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Instagram, Google+, Reddit, Youtube, Linkedin or any other platform would work for you. Try and stay active on the ones that give you better engagement and reach based on your content and niche.
Cracking visibility and engagement on each of these channels is an art in itself. I will cover in detail the things one should avoid and the things one should follow to build a community on any of these platforms. ( Check my earlier post on Stumble Upon. Will be covering each of Pinterest, facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
4) Influencer Marketing:
Influencers are gold! Most of us are quite aware of what Influencer marketing is. Let me explain if you aren’t aware. Influencer marketing is marketing to influencers in your niche be it bloggers, journalists, consultants or Industry analysts. And If you spend time and effort there is nothing better to build credibility and visibility.
The first step is to identify influencers in your niche. There are a number of ways by which you could create a list of Influencers.
- Relevant keyword search on Twitter or Linkedin would give you a great list to start with.
- PR Tools like Vocus and Cision are also great for finding list of Influencers.
- Google Blog Search and Technorati can be great tools for finding bloggers in your niche.
- Set Google Alerts on keywords that you want to track. It will enable you to keep track of all new posts related to those keywords and with it identify the person posting the same.
- Try and scan Forums/ Communities in your niche to find influencers and be active on those forums so that people start noticing you.
- I for once find Mom Bloggers almost always a great way to influence women and it’s almost unavoidable in niches like Fashion, Interiors, Gardening, Cooking etc. Try Blogher.
Remember that influencers are almost always busy people and it’s difficult to get their attention. You would have to spend time and effort in building relationship with them.
- Follow them on twitter and connect with them on Linkedin if possible. Share their content and try and start a relevant conversation on any of their posts. This would slowly make them take a note of you which you could leverage when needed.
- Or else try and email them either asking a question or appreciating them for their latest content/ post and start a conversation. It might be difficult to get email IDs of influencers as very often they tend to not put it out in public. Use a tool like Rapportive to try a few combinations until you get the right one connected to any of their Social Profiles or read this article to find the best way to find someone’s email ID.
- Sending gifts to influencers is another great way to build relationship with them. Brands in fashion, food categories more often than not send their products to Influencers who tries them and almost always writes about their experience. It’s a great way to improve credibility and reach a large user base.
- Creating a list of top influencers in your niche by actually ranking them and sharing it with the masses is a slightly expensive and time consuming exercise but is a great way yet again to reach out to the Influencers. If possible generate a widget as well so that the bloggers could use it in their blogs and very often they would do that as well giving you credible back-links.
5) E-Books & White papers:
Like I mentioned before a lot of the inexpensive strategy would involve your time and effort. Content is the King in all sense. You can decide if Blogging or E-Books and White papers are a better option for you. The latter would involve significant amount of time and effort in producing something of greater value while the former would involve producing a number of shorter posts to keep improving your visibility and reputation.
E-books and White papers are pretty comprehensive in their content and if it’s a niche you are interested in then it’s almost always catches your eye and makes you go through it. Check this awesome collection of blogs on the Kissmetric platform : http://blog.kissmetrics.com/marketing-guides/
6) Powerpoint Presentations:
Are you using Slideshare? If you are not, then you are missing out on one of the best lead generation channels especially for businesses. Slideshare is the world’s largest content sharing community for professionals.
“With 60 million monthly visitors and 130 million pageviews, Slideshare is amongst the most visited 200 websites in the world.”
This is not the only reason for you to be on Slideshare. Slideshare presentations tend to rank really well in Google for certain keywords. Look at the Google search results for startup metrics:
It would do you all so well if you could create your own decks on slideshare. It is inherently viral in nature. Things to Remember while creating content on Slideshare:
- Create a compelling presentation: keep in mind the quality of the content and attractiveness of your graphics.
- Understand that your animations won’t be re-produced on Slideshare and that you are not going to present the deck. So your content should speak for itself.
- Use nicely designed templates for creating the deck. You may use services like SlideRocket or PhotoSnack slide creation.
- Ensure that the privacy setting is set to [Public] Everyone.
- You can include Youtube videos in your presentations or “slidecast”, meaning you can sync an MP3 soundtrack.
- Just like other Social Media channels, you can follow people, like their presentations, download and interact with them. Do that and slowly build a following.
- Ensure that you keep your links in the presentation. It’s helpful not only in terms of driving traffic to your site but also gives you good SEO benefits.
- Always have a call to action on the last slide and provide contact info. If people have made the effort to browse through all of your slides, then they definitely are prospects. Try and convert them.
In the earlier methods we have tried various content creation and distribution strategies and all of those add to your SEO efforts. Let’s break up the SEO strategy in to on-page and off-page SEO. Remember Content is the King, always be creating content that’s valuable.
Refer this representation of the various factors influencing your SEO strategy:
Highlighting the various steps one could take to improve the on-page SEO:
- Valuable content and be hyper-relevant to a specific topic
- Include subject in title tag
- Include subject in URL
- Include subject in image alt text
- Specify subject several times throughout text content
- Provide Meta description and meta keywords.
- Crawler/ Bot accessible
- Make sure there is no duplicate content.
- Don’t block bots.
- URLs should follow best practices around length, being static vs dynamic, and being included in any appropriate RSS feeds or XML Sitemap files.
- Phenomenal UX
- Make it easy for your users to share the content. Shares on Social media sites act as strong signals for search engines.
- Multi-devices ready.
And for your off-page SEO:
- Share your content with your friends circle on all major Social networks.
- Keep Blogging and if possible do guest blog on major blogs in your niche.
- Engage on forums in your niche. Ensure that you add value to the forum and just not another spam backlink generator. Contrbuting to discussions in the group will establish you as an authority in your niche.
- Submit your websites to the topmost quality directories like DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, ZoomInfo, One Mission, Pegasus, etc.
- Social Bookmarking is yet another technique. Search engines love these sites and often track them. Ensure that you submit your contents to sites like Digg, Stumble Upon, Delicious etc. Also ensure to tag the contents properly.
- You can try exchanging links with similar blogs.
- Video promotions. Submit your videos on all major video upload websites like Youtube, Dailymotion etc. They are quality sources of traffic and helps you with your off-page SEO.
- Contact Review sites to review your product or offerings.
- Use Press Release service providers like PRMac or PRWeb to issue press releases. Gives you backlinks and in cases where the press release excites people, you might get a lot of additional coverage as well.
- Get active on sites like Yahoo Answers, Cha-Cha, Answer bag etc.
These are in brief the few on-page and off-page SEO techniques you could employ in making your website more search engine friendly and with it gain significant amounts of traffic. Remember, always be creating content that’s valuable and extremely viral in nature.
8) Go Mobile:
Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say that you should go mobile just for the sake of getting more traffic to your website. With the smart phone explosion it’s suicidal if one is not on mobile. It’s so very important in terms of not losing your existing users, making their experience better, improving user retention, in being connected with the users 24*7 and all of this adds to your growth. It’s a call you need to make if you need to be on mobile as a native app or as a mobile web app based on the product/ service you provide. There is some amount of resource you would need to spend on building a native app and you would need to understand the returns it would give you to take a call on. At Zoomdeck, this was a call we took and we did not even think twice. For a social network like us being on the app marketplace was a no-brainer both in terms of increasing our user base and also in terms of increasing the engagement our users would have with our app. The ability that an app provides to be in constant touch with your users is phenomenal. One wouldn’t want to spam the users, but an efficient use of the push notifications will go a long way in improving user retention.
A market place like the app store, google play or the amazon store opens up an entirely new channel for users to discover your product or service and engage. People spend crazy amounts of time on their phones and any product wouldn’t want to miss out on this. I have covered in detail the tips and tricks you need to employ to gain maximum from your appstore debut.
Few other articles on app store strategies:
9) Contests and Give Aways:
If executed properly Contests and Give Aways are a great way to engage your audience and build base. It’s very important to understand the exact reason you are running a contest. If you aren’t sure on that you would probably drift from the core thing you want to achieve and more often than not it would not give you a good ROI. You could run a contest:
- To increase your social authority : Get Facebook likes or twitter/ pinterest followers and so on.
- To drive more sales and with it revenue.
- To build awareness and buzz around your product.
- To collect email info and other customer information.
- To generate new leads.
- To engage you existing audience base.
Before you start a contest clearly define your end result and measure. Now based on the end result you want to achieve, create a very creative contest plan. Few examples of cleverly crafted contests are:
(i) Vera Bradley is fantastic at visual social media marketing and they created this awesome contest on Instagram. The contest asked people to post as many Instagram photos as they liked showing them wearing or carrying a favorite Vera Bradley bag. Submitting was as easy as including the #VBStyleShare hashtag when posting images to Instagram.
The Vera Bradley Instagram contest was short – just about 4-5 days. At the end, 10 winners received a free wristlet.
(ii) Contiki Vacation’s “Get on the Bus” Promotion : Contiki, a travel firm that caters to the 18-35 year-old demo, dropped a promotion in mid-February that let winter-weary web surfers imagine their perfect vacation. The winner got one of eight vacations worth around $25,000.
The “Get on the Bus” promo challenged fans to get a crew with four friends together, choose a trip and then try to get as many votes as possible in order to win. the effort, which ran from February 23 through March 31, garnered 8,000 Likes for Contiki and generated more than 10 million ad impressions through Facebook shares, Likes, tweets and blog coverage. One reason for the success was a feature that let users and their friends create a bus, which incorporated music, movies, Likes and interests that users had in common via their Facebook profiles.
Summing up a few pointers to remember while running a contest:
- Plan your contest based on the end-result you want to achieve.
- Give meaningful prizes to your audience.
- Always include more than one prize if possible. You could have one major prize and a few consolation prizes.
- Always use multiple channels to promote your competitions so that more people see it and participate in it.
- Try and keep the entry simple so that you get maximum participation. Have different levels in the competition that would increase the chances of people winning the competition.
- Decide on the duration of your contest: I would say for a simple straight forward contest – 3 weeks would be ideal as it’s not too long or too short for you get good engagement. It would also depend on the type of contest you are running.
- Do blog, tweet, make a facebook post, share across different platforms on announcing the winner. Experiences are the best form of give aways and always capture the winners moment. Creates an instant connect.
Check a few of the incredibly successful & awesomely creative campaigns but of course they all had a bit of budget as well. Never know, they might encourage you to try something really creative and innovative but not expensive though
(i) Heineken’s departure roulette was brilliant. It was expensive but made an instant connect with the audience. They set up a board at JFK’s Terminal 8 and dared travellers to play “Departure Roulette”—changing their destination to a more exotic location with the press of a button. They had to agree to drop their existing travel plans—without knowing the new destination first—and immediately board a flight to the new place.
(ii) Or this brilliant campaign from TNT, this was incredibly viral :
(iii) “The Old Spice Guy” campaign was just phenomenal; its viral success is something that hasn’t been matched In the short history of Internet. Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice Guy, was able to pump out hundreds of hilarious videos at alarming pace in response to Old Spice Video commentators. They even had a Reddit thread to respond to others.
This one has more than 46 million views. Incredible.
(iv) Hugh Macleod is a professional cartoonist and his idea of releasing a succession of Daily Biz Cards was just brilliant.b
In his campaign he creates cartoon in which he targets a particular individual, a random person, a celebrity but always someone. His market is pretty huge and he would of course need a lot of visibility to build his business. He relied on the ego and the influence of several large names on the internet who would circulate or share the cartoon with their tribe giving him greater visibility. Brilliant stuff.
(v) Red Bull’s Stratos Space Jump vowed the world and is one of the most brilliant campaigns executed ever. Dubbed “the mission to the edge of space,” it featured Felix Baumgartner making a freefall jump from 24 miles above the earth last October. The jump broke five records, according to officials at Guinness World Records, and Mr. Baumgartner became the first human to break the sound barrier without engine power. Mr. Baumgartner’s feat captured consumers’ attention the world over. TV stations, news reports and journalists all referred to the event as “Red Bull Stratos” rather than shortening it to simply “Stratos,” as is so often done with branded events.
The event was carried on nearly 80 TV stations in 50 countries. The live webcast was distributed through 280 digital partners and racked up 52 million views, making it the most-watched live stream in history.
There are plenty more of such brilliant and creative campaigns that’s been incredibly successful and pulled in a lot of visibility and conversions for the brands. The essence of the success of anything you do to leverage “Pull ” is to create quality content and to tap in to all channels to reach the audience who would get excited by it. Be smart, be creative and put in a bit of hard-work! Focus not just on getting traffic, but also focus on retaining your existing users and delighting them always! J