Here’s a thought…
Imagine you build a 5–star hotel in the middle of a beautiful forest complete with spa, gym and Michelin star restaurant. Now imagine not building a road to it, or any signs or doing any advertising whatsoever. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise when, on the opening day, no one turns up.
Of course, nobody in their right mind would ever do this (except, perhaps, one or two of The Apprentice candidates) and yet it regularly happens on the Internet.
Without visitors your website could end up being the internet’s best kept secret. Visitors are the life-blood of any website; the more visitors, the more sales and enquiries. However, over the years I have come into contact with businesses which build a website and then, rather strangely, do nothing to promote it. Maybe this is because some people view a website as a form of marketing in its own right. However, websites are unusual in that they need the support of other marketing methods to generate and sustain traffic to them.
In order to explain this I need the help of some ancient Greeks:
A marketing expert called Jay Abrahams suggested that successful businesses are structured like the Parthenon in Greece with the roofline being the business and numerous marketing methods being the pillars supporting it. He suggested that any business which relies entirely on one marketing tactic (or pillar) would be ‘at significant risk’ if that marketing approach were ever to dry up or become unprofitable.
So, the most effective way to support any business is to have several pillars of marketing supporting it. Conventional marketing pillars could be; direct mail, leaflets, advertising, word–of–mouth, etc.. Having several marketing pillars means you are testing multiple approaches which will inevitably lead to more customers than if you were solely reliant on one.
The same logic applies to your website. In order for it to be successful it to must have multiple pillars (or traffic generating methods) supporting it. For example, search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising, joint ventures, affiliation with other organisations, blogging, engaging in forums, optimising your off–line marketing, using social marketing and so forth.
The trick is to make sure that you are testing at least five or six different pillars at the same time. Some of them will fail, some will be just ‘okay’ (providing you with bread–and–butter traffic) but some will create exceptional results. Unfortunately, there is no way to know which pillar will work best in your organisation – you can only find this out through experimentation. (Have a look at my previous blog post on testing if you’d like to know more.)
Put simply, the more pillars of marketing you have supporting your website then the more traffic (and most importantly, customers) you will gain.