There are just two ways to make money from an online business: you can convince people to pay for your products or services, or you get money from marketers who are willing to pay you to host their advertisements. The ultimate feat is to find ways to do both at the same time. This is tricky for two reasons. One, you don’t want to turn off your visitors with ads for things they have no interest in. And two, before companies will pay, you need a sizable audience coming to your site.
Here are five great tips to lure that audience in and get them to convert.
Target local, target specific. Everyone wants to use SEO, and for good reason. Getting onto the first page of a Google search will bring more people to your site, which means you can charge more for advertisements.
But since we’re double-dipping, you want people who will be interested in your products and services and those of the various companies marketing on your site. SEO can help with very specific search terms. You want them to be localized (instead of “Michigan bike repair,” try “Ann Arbor bike repair”) and specific to the business (“10-speed bike repair” is better than “bike repair,” which is better than “bikes”).
Make a connection with valuable content. Another way to get people to your site and keep them coming back is to become an expert by providing high-quality ongoing content. That means writing blogs, white papers, eBooks, e-newsletters, and email campaigns that make people come back for more and spend time actually reading the content. Advertisers like nothing better than a captive audience, so if you can prove that lots of people come to your site and stick around, they’re going to be far more willing to pony up money.
Utilize affiliate marketing. Some people hear “affiliate marketing” and cringe, imagining ads that frustrate their customers and have nothing to do with the type of site they’re running. But what they might not realize is that services like Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network are kinds of affiliate marketing. The beauty of this kind of marketing is that you can ensure that the ads on your site are restricted to the kind of content that you want. It can take a while to make a decent amount of income from this kind of marketing, but there are those out there who know all about it and have been extremely successful with affiliate marketing.
Employ calls to action. Research has shown that businesses using calls to action (CTAs) are far more effective at making conversions than those that don’t. What’s a call to action? Any kind of specific direction that encourages you to do something that deepens your relationship with the business.
For example, a first level CTA might be a link that says “read more” at the end of an article blurb. The goal is to keep you on the site. A second level CTA hits you when you’re considering buying something but not quite sold. For example, some sites implore you to “join our email list.” Get people to agree and you’ll have more chances to sell them on your products or services. And finally, things like “buy now” or “apply now” get you to figuratively (and sometimes literally) pull out your wallet.
Keep it simple. The most important aspect of your business site is that it’s easy to understand and easy to use. You don’t want anyone who lands on your homepage to wonder what it’s all about or what they’re supposed to do. Try it yourself to make sure the purpose of the site is spelled out and the navigation is intuitive.
Obviously, these aren’t the only ways to increase your profits but it really does come back to those two original points I mentioned: getting more people to buy your products and services or making more money from advertisements. Both of those goals involve bringing more people to your site and catching their interest once they arrive.
Bio: Josh Weiss-Roessler is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He is also a contributor to ZacJohnson.com, where you can learn more about affiliate marketing.