Do you want traffic?
If you answered yes, your focus could be wrong, and your site may meet no-traffic doom because of it. There are a new set of rules under which the Internet now operates.
What is the New Traffic Sequence?
Traffic is shamelessly tossed around the internet. The number of views on your social media accounts alone highlights this fact.
In the 2000s there was a saying that traffic is the currency of the Internet. Jump ahead to big data and the polls are in: Traffic is no longer the real asset of the Internet. A trusted audience is.
The Internet has evolved. Marketers now have access to many forms of traffic. It can be bought and sold as a commodity.
Traffic again loses its impact and appeal when you look at your goals against traffic. Any business or brand that goes through the rapid progressions of internet marketing sees this. First they want to build offers. Then they wish to gain interest from their customers. Then they want to build a list as they begin to understand that their income is a direct reflection of their list. Along the way, they hit the dartboard of “I need traffic.”
This dartboard sends us scrambling. You begin considering and implementing various marketing strategies. Brands want content marketing and syndication to gain traffic. Then they realize they can just use ads on Facebook and social media. Many brands get lost in trying broad outreach that doesn’t hit the mark.
Your Audience has an Attention Problem
Is traffic important? Yes. But first understand that your audience, the readers on your website, have a problem. The problem is they can not pay attention. It is not because we all have attention deficit disorder. It is because we have so much to take in.
It takes a lot of time in front of an audience to become a trusted source of information. Think for a moment about the monster influencer accounts you have seen. Jeff Bullas’ Twitter account has over 235k tweets. That is some serious time put in.
What it Takes to Get That Many Tweets Out
I compare @jeffbullas, @mashable, @sejournal against myself, @thewillrobins, using Twitter Counter and a calculator. The results are intriguing for sure.
To catch Jeff Bullas, one would have to…
- post 643 tweets daily for a year
- have 9,791 days straight of 48 tweets daily
- have 6 ½ years of tweeting 100 times daily
Are you starting to get the picture? You have to line up the amount of information you share to gain the most out of your social media accounts. Jeff Bullas has an enormous head start on you. He already has analytical data on his best-performing headlines and subject lines. He now has a complete system for utilizing his assets in the most efficient ways. His social media strategy is kicking your butt.
That also doesn’t mean the path to gain more followers is by obsessively tweeting 100 times a day. The data skewed itself to show the two as relational, and they are not.
The Attention Problem is Still the Main Problem
Ash Read explains it well in a post on audience building. Your audience is experiencing a new dilemma. That dilemma is why you are struggling to build an audience right now. Content fatigue is very real.
Content fatigue happens because of the increased exposure to content. Your message has a harder time standing out because of the volume.
Facebook alone exposes readers to 1,500 pieces of content daily. Content fatigue makes marketing much more difficult. Difficult but, even moreso, rewarding.
While content fatigue makes it more difficult to build an audience, it also means that when marketers are successful, the payoff is huge.
Traffic is a Needed Element to Marketing But it Sucks
Traffic sucks because if you focus on traffic, you become too one-sided. When you focus on traffic alone, you struggle with the volume of traffic. Then you struggle with the consistency of the volume. The bottom line is that focusing on traffic will cause you to lose sight of your real goal. You will forget that ten users that stay engaged with your brand are essential to your growth. Those ten users are better than 1,000 users coming in randomly.
It is the same cross-relations data problem we were speaking about earlier. The number of tweets doesn’t tell the complete story. The same way the number of hits your site has doesn’t mean you are building an audience.
The path to a growing brand is serving the people you have now—not more traffic for traffic’s sake.
Focus on building your audience by answering their questions. This is how you grow a following. Influencers understand this and you need to start doing it.
Why Traffic is a Symptom, Not a Cause
So the real deliberation becomes segmentation of traffic. This new traffic sequence is what drives marketing in 2016. Focused segmentation of targeted traffic is the lifeblood of a thriving business in 2016. At least, one that is worth investing in. Thriving online consists of building a core audience and then growing that audience with the brand. Segmentation comes from understanding your audience. However, you can’t know your audience when you don’t have one.
To build your audience you have to identify their pain points and then convey them in a great message. That message is your brand’s vision and is what builds a thriving online product or company. One of the most important moments to your audience is their first interaction with your site.
Your Audience’s First Interaction with Your Brand
The first interaction with your site is the most critical moment. Users have prior bad experiences that leave them pre-dispositioned to clicking the “back” button. A recent study by the nngroup showed this finding in great detail. They studied the first few seconds of new visitors to a new website. The study showed that users’ hit the back button frequently. This is because they have grown accustomed to poorly designed websites that waste their time. People now understand that a significant amount of the internet is of no use. Their behavior now models it to avoid time traps and bad interactions. They feel it is more efficient use of their time to click back rather than waste time on poorly designed sites.
You only get milliseconds now to influence your website visitors. You need to appeal enough to impact them emotionally and cause a scan. Not saying you are an influencer of theirs yet. Not saying they signed up for your newsletter today. Just a scan of that one page.
Your website type will also cause the time to differ. The reviews of an online e-commerce store cause the audience to trust it more before entering. This causes many highly reviewed e-commerce stores to have higher first-time viewers.
Smart marketers have identified that and started targeting reviews for products on their site. These reviews showcase trust before entering.
There are also various problems with the measurement of skewed on-page timers.
Another deviation is the artificial intelligence of RankBrain and how it translates bounce rate.
The New Traffic Sequence: The Lifeblood of Digital Marketing in 2016
Segmentation is the lifeblood of digital marketing in 2016. To gain proper segmentation, you must first know your audience well.
Proper segmentation takes a lot of time. Time becomes a factor because of the forward thinking needed. Segmentation does not have to be complex. It comes together in the way that Sherlock Holmes solves a case on television.
Sherlock has a vast knowledge of previous criminal actions. That is what makes him so fun to watch, as well as what makes him so great at his job. That is the same manner in which segmentation happens. You understand more from your previous experience. Your market understands you more from their previous experience with you. It builds to the point that you are an influencer.
When you first begin in segmentation, you have no scope of who you are targeting. To begin in segmentation, you have to look at your audience. Having your buyers profile or buyer persona is a great starting point. Your goal is to build out your perfect target market. There is a large amount of width that you can use to find that.
Are You Approaching Digital Marketing Backwards?
We begin our quest online thinking that traffic will gain subscribers. You are looking at the cause and effect all wrong.
The reality is that traffic (an ambiguous term) does lead to engagement and subscribers. Traffic is too general of a term for the new Internet.
The new term of segmentation and digital marketing falls on capturing targeted traffic—traffic from those to whom your website evokes an emotional response. This understanding of your audience and interests they’re passionate about is what invokes engagement.
Craft content around answering one question. Make sure the question fits your buyer persona and ensure that you answer the question thoroughly. This process will push you to make better content. Content that is complimentary to your users. Long-term traffic increases from your promotions will begin.
This is where split-testing will start to show you the deeper levels of your audience. Your conversational tone in messages will begin to show and get better. The right marketing pieces will become apparent. You are finally optimizing.
Traffic is a symptom and not the cause. Your target being exact is the cause. Target the right group of people with the right message and you will hit your goals.
We can use #recipe to best show this illustration:
Offer: Savory Food Specials for Dinner – 10 Recipes That Your Family Will Love and Take Less than $24 and 24 Minutes to Prepare.
- Anyone who likes the #recipe
- word savory
- dinner under 30 dollars
- purchased from other sites (mom blogs, etc.)
This example helps you see the difference in traffic vs. targeted traffic. Let’s look at the next offer.
Offer: Sweet Treats for Teens after School – Healthy Alternatives to Famous Sweet Treats That Teens Will Love
The offer here is an entirely different market. It would still fall under the broader term of recipes, though. Do not go broad as you will find traffic that is not even close to being your audience.
The examples above are why traffic is no longer as important as the segmentation given to it.
The Data is Screaming at You!
This data is the new lifeblood of a business wanting to dig into digital marketing. Who are you targeting with your offers? This has to be the first question you define.
Multiple offers become the new need for digital marketing.
Circle Research used segmentation to identify their current users. Once that was performed properly they began to see what their customers truly wanted. They began to understand what services their customers wanted across all channels. This clarity helped push their company towards its future offers.
Start crafting your offers towards your customers. You have to gain an understanding of your current customer and what they want. What they want from your products and what they want in life. This information is more valuable than more traffic.
There is nothing worse than building a list of people who aren’t in your brand’s targeted demographic.
Segmentation and Data Are No Longer Just Geeky Words
The insights gained from your current followers can help lead to your audience segmentation. This segmentation becomes your normal way of life. Especially if you want to win customers online rapidly. Digital marketing becomes less about the traffic and more about connecting with your users.
One of my personal favorite case studies involving audience segmentation results is Johnny Cupcakes:
Clothes Brand Sees 141% Increase in Revenue per Campaign
Johnny Cupcakes had an email list they used to market their clothing. The problem was their data wasn’t focused and organized.
They found a way to make use of their email campaigns to drive better results. They purchased vendor software to find customers on social media. Then they used that software to analyze their customers interests. They focused on likes, dislikes, and pain points.
The software was able to identify some key demographics about their customers. They were able to find data such as gender and media habits. And they discovered what their audiences preferences were via hashtag usage and shared posts.
This data meant that Johnny Cupcakes could send emails that targeted a specific audience. With new customer data, they were able to match offers to the interest of their audience. So they used that first launch to market to females who had shown interest in baseball.
It was a homerun!
That small segmentation of data turned into a 141% revenue increase per campaign. It also added to more than a 100% increase in conversions and over a 40% increase in CTR.
That is all from a single campaign with the better data.
They coupled visual stimulation with audience interest. This duo made this offer stand out and produce great results.
Exchange of Engagement: The New Traffic Sequence
When you begin to grow an audience you face a decision. Either you hide everything and make your audience sign up to get your content, or you give them everything. When you provide all your content and ask for just a newsletter-style sign up, you have to trust that they will sign up. Trusting them means you feel confident that they value the content.
Most marketers face a problem when it comes to data. They trust the scientific, quantitative data and do not consider emotional, qualitative data. This leads to poor performance. Recent studies prove that emotional data trumps scientific numbers.
The human brain processes emotion at one-fifth the time it takes to process rational thought. The way to use this to your advantage is to show familiar information along with new information. The familiar content that your users love seeing helps them gain trust in the content. The new information causes an emotional reaction. You have created the perfect storm in marketing.
That perfect crossroads is great news for content creators. The familiarity doesn’t breed contentment. This shows why you need to produce fresh new content. Google themselves have looked at this trend and argued a case for marketing towards it.
The book Emotionomics by Dan Hill and Abigail Posner, Head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning Team, argues that information online causes the synapses to fire away pure joy. This joy is because the brain connects the pleasure of being online and the familiarity of it with the joys of finding new things.
Think about it. Your audience reads your content and gains pure joy from it? That is powerful.
Familiar Paths to Find New Content—Gated Content
Gated content and accessible content both have valid arguments. They are situational. Once you have established trust with an audience, you can gain their email. That is why trust is the new currency on the internet.
You target a market and answer their questions. You gain access to that market via advertising. Once they hit your site, they have to feel as a kindred spirit would with the content.
When you understand an audience well enough to answer their questions, you can begin to market to them. This is when they start entering your sales funnel. This is what makes the gated content become a reasonable expectation. You should expect some people that want to become part of your tribe to subscribe. Marketing is not promotion any longer. Marketing is answering your audience’s questions.
The Dark Side of Data Mining Projects
Strictly scientific, almost robotic views of information can shape data. If you take the emotions out of the equation, then you are losing some of your data. Your perception can sculpt the information and how you form your conclusions.
Recent studies conclude that emotion trumps #bigdata for business decision-makers.
We Feel is a great place to see the mood swings of the internet. This neat little tool can help you understand what mood Twitter is in.
Do you want a surge in your audience engagement? There are two ways: Become controversial or become a “personality”. This is the biggest impact you can have on your marketing. For all intents and purposes, become an entertainer. Your audience connects with entertainment. It matches their emotional state. When your entertainment value is high and you target your audience well, your engagement will thrive!
Jonah Berger, Professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, studied nearly 7,000 articles in The New York Times to determine what was unique about those on the most-emailed list. He found that an item was more likely to become viral the more positive it was.
The future of UX research is focusing on the skin (electrical impulses) of users to see what connects to a user the most. As strange as it sounds, the research is amazing. Understanding what makes your users have an emotional connection with your content is marketing.
The future of research shows users’ skin pulsing while being shown various stimuli. The electric pulses raced more when the entertaining content was presented to them. Understanding the decision-making habits of users is helpful, and looking at the research and understanding it is where the next level of marketing lies. You start to understand what emotions lead to buying decisions. You also see how perception is all that matters to most.
Do you measure your brand and its data against the polarity of the emotions that you are trying to evoke? Do you measure the tone in which the post is written and the tone that the advertisement is invoking?
We tend to turn data into shrewd, non-emotional information. That perspective skews so much of the data that could be helpful in so many business decisions. Learn to be playful and see the reaction within your market and its data. Emotions are what your visitors are feeding off. The emotions are what they are reacting to.
The Key Takeaways From This Article
- Start looking at becoming a personality or entertainer when you are writing—especially on your landing pages. Look at items like the Five Top Personality Aspects from 16 Personalities Theory
- Take your data through a scrub! Understand the complete picture. Which emotions are present for each segment you are focusing on marketing to.
- Find your voice online. Make it more about your personality and the qualitative data you take in rather than bland data.
- Measure everything you are writing or sharing online. Start making funny comments and mentioning others in them. Engagement on networks such as LinkedIn will jump out at you. You will notice an increase in requests and shares.
- Find data to support your points. When you are offering case study-type information, make more recalls to data from third-party trusted sources.
- Follow Search Engine Journal and me on Twitter so we can catch @mashable and @jeffbullas
Featured Image: PathDoc /Shutterstock.com
In-post Photos #1, #3 – #5: Images by Will Robins
In-post Photo #2: Peshkova/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo #6: Image by We Feel. Used with permission.
In-post Photo #7: Image by Buffer. Used with permission.