Google Adwords PPC

How To Tell If Your Website Is Ready For Paid Traffic

Paid traffic is just one of those things Internet marketers, and all business owners who have gone online, “graduate” to. Initially, close to 100% of all those who go online look for free traffic methods.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either. In fact, I know plenty of people who use just free traffic, and they make a living off of it. Search engine optimization, social media, forum marketing – there’s a whole lot of different traffic sources out there you can use that come with no price tag attached. Pretty cool, really.

The Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Free Traffic

Like with all free things, there’s a “cost” attached. And usually, that cost can even be monetary. For example, how much will not using paid traffic cost your business in terms of both instant revenue and buying customers in the long run? True, you might be able to sustain yourself with organic traffic right now, but think of the potential leads and prospects you could gain if you were to dive into the realms of paid traffic instantly, straight off the bat.

Right now, you might not be thinking of that cost, but five years down the road, you could be ruing not having gotten into PPC and Facebook ads immediately.

And then, there’s another, more important reason why free traffic isn’t always such a good option: it’s not very dependable. A proper SEO service, for the most part, will get your business where you want to be in the SERPs, but what if Google were to suddenly update their algorithm, and all traces of your website on Google were to be lost?

Just think of the damage it would cause if you hadn’t diversified. You could go from six figures a year to zero overnight. It’s happened before, in 2011 and 2012 when Panda & Penguin hit.

Of course, your business might not suffer much if you’ve diversified enough with different strategies so that there’s a steady flow of visitors from a variety of sources. But still, free traffic is simply not dependable.

Additionally, most of what you’ll get in the way of free traffic is “junk” traffic. They don’t click your ads, subscribe to your mailing lists, request quotes of your services, or buy your products. If you don’t do it right, you might be getting a lot of untargeted traffic that isn’t worth peanuts. All that does is increase your bounce rate, which never helps.

Reasons To Use Paid Traffic

On the other hand, there are a whole host of reasons to go with paid traffic. You get almost everything you don’t get with free traffic.

Paid traffic converts. If you target the right keywords, the right market, the right age group with the right interests, you could be looking at a sky-high conversion rate. Paid traffic is usually very targeted (although it may take quite a bit of trail and error to find the right market for your product), and thus converts much better than any free traffic source.

Paid traffic is interested in what you offer. If you run a blog on your site, then you will definitely benefit from paid traffic. Paid, targeted traffic is usually very interested in what you offer. If you consistently update a company blog with stuff relevant to your niche (and not just content relevant to your company), chances are that your paid traffic will stick and browse around your blog. That enables them to have a better chance to connect with you, which builds trust, and ultimately leads to more sales.

Paid traffic takes any business from a stand-still to a superstar. If you’ve just bought your domain, hired a developer, set up your sales funnel and got everything working and in place, then all you need to do is get people’s eyeballs on your offer, i.e. generate traffic. However, that’s not so easy to do right off the bat with free traffic – there’s quite a bit of growth hacking involved before you are actually able to make a living off free traffic. Using paid traffic sources, you could have hundred pairs of eyeballs visiting your offer within the next few hours.

That said, paid traffic also has a bit of a learning curve. As you’d expect, lots of marketers have also lost their shirts trying their best to figure out PPC and Facebook ads. You have to be careful to ensure that you are setting yourself up for a good ROI with paid traffic.

The Most Popular Paid Traffic Sources<

The most popular paid traffic sources are the ones that are the easiest to find, but not necessarily the easiest to start with. The following three are marketers’ automatic choice when it comes to paid traffic.

Google’s (or any other search engine’s) PPC. Pay-per-click is a simple idea. You pay every time someone clicks on your ads in the search engine results page. For low competition keywords, you’ll pay a few cents per click. Keywords like “car insurance quotes”, on the other hand (or usually anything to do with fitness, finance, and insurance) can cost you close to $50 a click. You might not want to think of PPC right away, but it’s definitely something to start working towards, as it truly can setup your blog for a crazy ROI when done right.

Google Adwords

Facebook ads. Of course you’ve seen these. Who hasn’t? Facebook pulls in billions of dollars annually through the ads that line their sidebar and occasionally appear in the middle of your feed as sponsored posts. One of the pros to using Facebook as a paid traffic source is the targeting you can do with it. Everything down to age, interests, geo location – nearly every aspect you can think of can be targeted. Needless to say, this allows just the right people to view your offer, which leads to a higher conversion rate.

Facebook Logo

Solo ads. Solo ads are sponsored e-mail broadcasts sent out from the owners of mailing lists to their lists. Using solo ads saves you from going through the trouble to building and profiting from your own list. They can also be excellent tools to build your own list, by directing solo ad traffic to your squeeze page. The downside to solo ads, however, is that mailing list owners often take advantage of buyers by sending automatic, robot traffic to your links. This increases the number of hits on your link tracker, but the reality is that you’ve got zero traffic (and if any, all of it was not targeted). You have to be especially careful with solo ads and only buy from those who have proven track records.

Are You Ready For Paid Traffic?

So, it all boils down to the question “Is your business ready for paid traffic?” Are you at that point where you can profit from your paid traffic investments, pull off a huge ROI, and make money like nobody’s business?

If you answer positively to the following questions, then that’s probably a sign that you are ready to dive into the realms of paid traffic.

Can you convert your visitors? Doesn’t matter whether those conversions come in the form of new subscribers to your mailing lists, new calls to your insurance company for quotes, clicks on your ads, or even sales of your product. Can your traffic convert? Do you have a system set in place so that you can make your traffic do a certain action that will benefit your business?

If yes, then move on to the next question. If no, then you had better start working on that, ASAP.

Can you recycle the traffic? Here’s a quick secret – you don’t want to pay for visitors who will come once to your site, and never visit again. No, that’s not very profitable to your business. What you want is to be able to get someone onto your site for the first time, then keep coming back again and again and again.

A few quick ideas to recycle traffic is to give them the opportunity to subscribe to a newsletter or mailing list of some kind, follow a social media page, or even regularly (even daily) add new, helpful posts to your blog that will want them to keep coming back for advice in your niche.

Can you profit from your visitors? They can’t just convert – you need to be able to make money from them after they convert. If the conversions you were aiming for were product sales, then get them onto a list where you sell higher and higher ticket products to them, so that you’re still making money off of them multiple times. If the original plan was to get them to subscribe to your mailing list, then you need your autoresponder series to be already in place and ready to go.

In any case, you need to be able to make money off your visitors. That means selling to them. Getting money in your bank account. If you aren’t able to do those two things yet, you shouldn’t even be thinking about paid traffic, ’cause all you will end up doing is lose your shirt (or at least tear it pretty bad).

 Profiting From PPCDo you have a testing/tracking system in place? Eventually, with paid traffic, you want to get yourself to a place where you are spending the least amount possible for the most profit possible. Essentially, what that means is that you should have a huge ROI. On the first day with paid traffic, however, you can hardly expect a 541% ROI. In fact, you’ll probably be lucky to break even.

The only way you’ll be able to progress beyond 110% yields or less is to split-test. That means tracking each and every visitor that enters your blog, seeing what they do and why they don’t convert. Then, change the conditions to make them more conversion-friendly and spend another $5 on clicks. See what happens there, and adjust once more. And again … and again … and again. You get the point – return on investment doesn’t come overnight.

If you have answered with a resounding “yes!” to these questions, hook up a paid traffic source right now, and get into it.

Things To Remember When Using Paid Traffic

Here’s a few quick hints, tips, and tricks to get you started on your way with paid traffic.

Hire a specialist. Yes, this means that your investment will probably be considerably higher, but the fact is that specialists help you to get a bigger ROI overall. And don’t skimp here either – go for the best, just as if you were choosing an SEO service.

Find something that works, and keep doing it. If you were to give me $10, and I was to give you $50 back, wouldn’t you be handing me ten dollar bills all day long? Because if the roles were reversed, I sure would!

Once you find something that works, stay with it, and go big. Yes, we did just talk about the potentially disastrous results that could occur if you don’t diversify, but remember that’s only with free traffic. Paid traffic is considerably more reliable than free traffic. As long as the vendor of that traffic is making a decent profit as well, chances are that it isn’t going anywhere.

Investing In Paid TrafficKeep in mind that ROI is everything. Don’t jump for joy because you were able to get 1,000 visitors to your blog in one day. Jump for joy because you were able to make $500 off those 1,000 visitors by spending only $100 to get them to your blog. There’s a significant difference between the two.

Go high ticket. It’s not impossible to get rich selling $0.10 paper clips, but it’s a lot harder than selling $2,997 coaching programs. High ticket offers may not convert as well as low ticket, but in the long run, you’ll see that lower conversion rates are well worth it in the profit you generate. Of course, that also depends on how good/bad your product is (or how good/bad the affiliate product you promote is).

Summing Up

Paid traffic is definitely something that you will want to consider for your online business as it expands. But keep in mind that ROI is everything. If you’re getting hoards of people to visit your blog, but you’re making nil off of them, something’s wrong (aside from the fact that you are probably losing your shirt).

But master PPC, and you could be looking at a comfortable, automated business that generates decent profit for you for a long time.

Images courtesy SXC.HU.

Forum Marketing Guide

Forum Marketing – A Comprehensive Guide To Generating Traffic From Forums

Forum marketing is one of the most underrated traffic generation methods. It’s free, it delivers targeted traffic, it brings conversions, and has a whole host of benefits that accompany it.

Some marketers, however, are a bit wary of forum marketing. Unfortunately, the term “forum marketing” and “spam” have become somewhat correlated, especially since spamming forums is relatively easy to do. The truth is, when forum marketing is done ethically, it benefits three people: you, forum readers, and forum owners. Win-win-win.

If you don’t know how to market yourself effectively on the forums without spamming, you’re at just the right blog post.

Forum Marketing Benefits

It’s a good idea to know why you’re doing something before you invest a lot of time into it, so here’s a quick look at the benefits you get from forum marketing.

Targeted traffic – this is probably the first benefit that came to your mind – traffic. Leveraging the traffic of a very popular existing forum turns about to be rather simple. Additionally, you’re not getting just any traffic. You’re getting targeted traffic – the type of traffic that brings conversions, sales, and revenue.

Branding – one of the best free branding techniques is to build a name for yourself and your band is to get on the forums and regularly contribute. By using your logo as your profile image, you are increasing your brand visibility and leaving a lasting impression on viewers’ minds. The next time they see your logo, they’ll know it.

Lead Generation

Authority – this one is probably my favorite benefit. Authority. As you regularly contribute helpful, meaningful posts and threads that not only teach readers but also engage users and create more talk on the forum, you’re building a name for yourself as an authority in your respective niche. However, you must be careful with this, as what you say and do on forums can go both ways.

How To Find Forums In Your Niche

If you don’t already know a few of the popular forums in your niche, then you don’t know your niche very well.

Luckily, forums are rather easy to take over in the SERPs, so if your primary keywords consistently get forums topping the search results, chances are that the keyword will be rather easy to dominate.

To find a list of popular forums in your niche, search Google for “your niche keywords” + forum. Include the quotes around “your niche keywords”, but replace them with your actual niche keywords, of course.

Filling Out Your Profile

If you’re looking more to build your brand rather than to build your name, then you should use your company’s logo as your profile image. Never leave the profile picture empty – pictures help to build connections with other forum members and they also set your posts apart from the rest of the members’ who don’t have images.

Fill out your bio – it should be a short, elevator-style pitch with a link to your main website, blog, and/or social media profiles.

Use either your real name, your company’s name, or the nickname you’re using for all your branding. It’s important to be consistent, so make sure that what you use on the forums is same as or similar to what you use with the rest of your branding and traffic generation methods. In any case, your username should be easy to remember and brandable.

Adding Your Signature

Some forums don’t allow links in their signature. If this is the case, you do not want to waste your time on them. Even though you might get the branding and authority benefits, you won’t get any of the targeted traffic or conversions you would from a forum that does allow sig links.

VERY IMPORTANT: You should not, for any reason, use your keywords as anchor text for your signature link. Instead, include your keywords before or after the link, but the actual anchor text should be one of the generic phrases, such as “click here”, or “learn more” or something of that sort.

Use formatting (bolded and centered) to make your signature stand out from the rest. If allowed, include your logo once more or an image somehow related to the services or goods you provide.

Your signature must draw viewers in and induce clicks. The higher the clickthrough (clicks per post), the more attractive your signature is. Give a small hint at what you do, and lead them in to click on your signature and learn more. The following is an example:

We build your authority, increasing your search engine rankings, and improve your traffic & visibility all at the same time. See how we can help you.

Your signature is the most important aspect of forum marketing, so you want to make sure that you get it right. Split test, see which versions receive more clicks, and keep testing.

Creating An Introduction Post

Quite a few forums will have an introduction thread, where all those who are new to the forum drop by and introduce themselves with a line or two. If there is no such thread, create one introduce yourself in the off topic forum. You can say something along the lines of:

Hi there! My name is JR John and I’ve just joined this forum! I look forward to contributing my knowledge in <forum niche> and learning from fellow members and getting to know all of you.

If any people respond to your thread, say hello and thank them for the response. When you do that, you begin to build connections with members right away.

Posting In The Right Boards

Forums are split up into different boards, or subforums. For example, in the average Internet marketing forum, you’ll find individual boards discussing SEO, advertising, conversion rate optimization, copywriting, etc. and a main forum for all things Internet marketing that don’t fit anywhere else.

If you’re a copywriting firm, then you should be mainly posting in the copywriting board. This does two things – it builds your brand better than if you posted in any other forum, and the resulting traffic is a good deal more targeted.

However, if you are look to market your actual service and not just generate traffic, then you’ll have to expand your posts to other boards as well. The reason for this is because mostly copywriters will be posting in the copywriting forum. They aren’t prospective leads – they’re competition. On the other hand, if you were to post in the advertising forum, you might get a few more conversions as a result, since the people posting there are unlikely to be skilled at the service you’re offering.

Make sense?

Thread Replies

Replying On ForumsThe majority of your posts on a forum will be replies, obviously. Whenever you reply to a forum, you should make sure that you’re not restating something that has already been said or saying something irrelevant. Make sure you read the original post a couple times through.

Spend a little bit of time on each post to ensure that it truly is helpful.

 

Creating New Threads

Creating a new thread gives your signature link far more visibility than if you were to merely post the 51st reply to a topic. The reason for this, as you would expect, is that everyone who views the thread has to view your post, and therefore, your signature link.

If your post was the 51st reply though, chances are that very few of those who viewed the thread viewed your signature link.

Create threads in moderation – posting five one-liner new threads a day is likely to get you banned before you can say “SEO Service Group”. Whenever you post a new thread, you should be either offering advice (builds your authority and generates traffic), asking questions (don’t do this often, as it makes it look as if you don’t know the niche), or sharing an interesting article/video you might have on the web somewhere (as long as it’s not from your blog).

Forum Marketing Tips & Tricks

Helping On ForumsAlways be helpful – if you don’t have anything to say … don’t post on forums. Don’t try to increase your post count with weak posts, outdated info, and one-liners. If you’re going to contribute to the forum, contribute something useful.

Be the first to reply – either that, or get there as soon as possible. The fewer posts it has, the more visibility your post gets.

Be controversial – don’t just say what everyone else is saying. Make a name for yourself by standing out of the crowd, and testing something thoroughly before buying into it.

Be nice – this goes without saying. Be polite and professional.

Pick your forums carefully – only post on the best. You might think that you’d get extra exposure on forums that have lesser members, but the truth is that you get much more exposure when you go for the forums that have been around for a long time, and regularly figure in the SERPs.

Concentrate on a couple – it’s very unwise to try to post on any and every forum you come across. Rather, spend your time building a reputation and increasing your post count in a few forums. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Outsource – for the most part, forum marketing is both easy and menial. If you do take the outsourcing route, you’ll find yourself with a lot more time to complex on the more complicated ways to market yourself. However, be very careful when you choose the person to run your forum profile. If your employee builds a bad reputation for you on the forums, it’ll be very hard to clear your name and regain the credibility you might have once had.

Summing Up

Forum marketing is definitely one of the easiest traffic generation methods out there. Plus, it’s free, so you can’t argue that you’re not getting bang for your buck.

To recap – find and target high-traffic forums, complete your profile with a high CTR tried-and-tested signature + link, be helpful, be ethical, DON’T spam and make money!

All images courtesy SXC.HU.