:: THREE PRIMARY SOURCES OF WEB VISITOR ACQUISITION ::
Where do Internet users come from? The real question is, where don't they?
It is difficult to specify the total number of our future friends and website visitors at any given time, but rest assured that it's just enough to sustain every Web business - mine, yours and that of many others. When it comes to actual first-time exposure, however, there are three primary sources - search engines, social media and internet advertising.
Let's look at the primary visitor/traffic origination sources from which you should plan on acquiring visitors. Yes, you'll be familiar with each and every one - at least I hope you will. To make this article as practical as possible, we've also provided some guidance on messaging strategies (structure and format, primarily) for each potential website traffic source so that you can jump right in and start closing some deals.
STRUCTURED, DISCIPLINED, COMMITTED
If you don't have natural, organic, unpaid traffic from search engines, well, you should. Search engines provide websites with users and lots of them. However, these are users of an infinitely diverse set of needs, wants, experiences, likes, dislikes and demands - a most challenging environment for many websites - especially those with limited budgets for research, content development, media assets, etc.
Search engines provide the world with access to information, but they force Web marketers to be structured and disciplined with the approach to traffic acquisition through content development. With such a formal approach to providing the Web with access to information, the cues for gaining new traffic are present. For example, what types of content (videos, whitepapers, etc.) are your competitors producing and what type of content is appearing in the index at Google or Bing? What is the structure of the page titles or the site architecture? To acquire traffic from search engines, you must not meet but exceed the relevance and appropriateness of those ahead of you. So, create more content, build links, and don't stop.
While search engines are sliding a little in the face of the rising popularity of social networks, search is still the primary driver of traffic. Focus on not just the big engines, but others including those from coupon and bargain search, general portals, document search, image search, local search, shopping search and specialty portals.
STYLE AND TONE
Many years ago the notion of transparency was top of mind with Web marketers. While total and absolute transparency is near impossible, Web marketing on the whole has become, if not transparent, then certainly more open. From Facebook to Twitter and every micro-social network in between (from forums to Q&A sites), social media destinations - whether bookmarking sites, content sharing services or connection services like Facebook - provide every business some opportunity. The strategies of most, thanks in part to the push toward transparency, are wide open - visible to all.
When looking for your own strategy, understand the style and tone of your competitors (and even those outside your industry) before striking out on your own and deciding what works best for an individual case. Keep in mind that the type of network will in great part dictate the tone, so consider modifications to message approach for each, as personal networking is far different than professional networking (you would not likely post the same message on Facebook as you would on LinkedIn).
DEPTH AND ABILITY
There are few more important visitor acquisition strategies than advertising - but probably not why you think. It is because it is expensive when executed improperly. When done efficiently and with an eye steadily on return (however that might be measured), advertising is the force behind the success of many Web awareness campaigns. Not only are they able to generate awareness, but thanks to increasingly sophisticated technologies (from remarketing to incredibly granular targeting control), to do so at fairly reasonable rate as it stands today. Those involved in Internet advertising must have a depth of resources and the technical ability to execute in order for the approach to work.