If you a small business looking to generate more traffic to your website, pay attention
Many small businesses are using social media and content marketing to generate traffic and leads for their business. Being a small business helping other small businesses with their online marketing results, we have personal experiences with both. These are two great methods, but one in particular holds a lot more long-term value than the other. Do you know which one it is? (spoiler alert: look at the graph to the right)
Let’s take a minute to discuss both of these methods and then you can make your own decision regarding which is more valuable.
Using Social Media as a Small Business to Generate Traffic
Social media works for some businesses as a solid traffic source, but it really doesn’t work for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Companies like Coca-Cola and Starbucks can generate tons of website traffic through social media because the size of their companies and the products they sell. Most consumers can afford their products and they market on a global scale across all demographics. Not only that, but caffeine is already in high demand amongst most college students and working professionals. That isn’t going to change any time soon.
Most small businesses have very niche products for and very specific demographics that they market to. They also usually target a smaller geographic area, so this sort of “blanket” approach simply doesn’t work. They need to be honed in on their market and shoot sniper rifles, not shotgun blasts regarding marketing messaging. We also know that social media is not the best way for small businesses to build brand affinity, so why won’t it work to build more traffic?
Our Personal Experience with Social Media
Last year we participated in a social media competition with other businesses in our industry to see who could generate the most followers, likes, and retweets. The winner received a cash prize that they could donate to the charity of their choice along with all the great exposure the competition spurred.
We figured it would be a great opportunity for our small business as at the time. We were looking for a way to build up our social media followers so we could get a solid base to market to. After spending nearly a month doing everything we could on a day to day basis to schedule posts, encourage retweets and likes, and completing our normal business activities, we ended up losing the competition. That didn’t hurt as much as the realization that 1) we didn’t get as many followers as we had envisioned and 2) we squandered a considerable amount of valuable time on that could have been used in other aspects of the business, marketing in particular.
We know most social media followers of small businesses are simply not very engaged with a business via social media. If you are selling plumbing services or you’re a lawyer, you’re probably not going to be tweeting Instagram shots of your work or posting witty quips about your clients. Those sorts of things will probably drive people AWAY instead of engage them. If you’re a small business, you should focus more of your day-to-day efforts on content marketing.
Using Content Marketing as a Small Business to Generate Traffic
As you can see in the graph above, in 2012 the number 1 source of small business website traffic was organic search. That means 41% of all website traffic came through the search engines from a relevant query. Wow. That’s pretty impressive. On the flip side, social media only accounted for a measly 1.9% of all website traffic. Queue “wahh-waahhhhh” sound bite.
This goes to show that small businesses should invest their time and money into content marketing as opposed to social media. If we had taken all the time we spend on the social media competition and instead created 5 new blog posts focused on providing valuable insights to our writers, we know that we would have an additional 275+ unique visitors coming to our website every month. How do we know? A new page of content on a small business website receives on average 55 new unique website visitors each month (source).
Think about this in terms of a Pay-Per-Click campaign with Google Adwords. Adding one new piece of content to a small business website each week for one year produces search engine traffic equal to that from a $90,000 paid advertising campaign (source). There aren’t many statistics as persuading as that from a small business social media perspective. Social media doesn’t get followers to your website in most cases, it only creates effort.
Spend Your Efforts One Level Up the Sales Funnel
If you work for a small business and do your own marketing, you’re probably familiar with the sales funnel. The widest part of the funnel is at the top. This where all your traffic starts, usually after conducting a search in Google, Bing, or Yahoo and finding one of your blog posts. Then after they visit the page, read your post and warm up a little, they move to the middle of the funnel, where it’s a little more narrow, meaning less people can fit. Once they read your call-to-action and are ready to convert, they submit a form or call you, and move down the funnel even further until they reach the bottom, purchasing from you and becoming a customer.
Social media helps more with the bottom of the funnel, or your customers. Social media is more of a relationship tool for building rapport, exchanging ideas, promoting people, and fielding support related issues. It’s not a great tool to get people to actually visit your website.
Content marketing and on-page optimization using a free tool like BoostSuite is going to help you focus on the top of the funnel, or getting more qualified traffic to your website. It’s like having your very own internet marketing consultant, telling you exactly what to do to get more traffic. BoostSuite will also help you with the middle of and bottom of the funnel with conversion optimization. After all, you want your website to generate business for you, right? If you only have a fixed amount of time in the day, choose content marketing instead of social media.
As content marketing stalwarts HubSpot said, “Small businesses with blogs get 55% more website traffic, and that number goes up exponentially whether you post once a week, twice a week, and then up to several times a day – wherein you become a thought leader in your field. Our advice? Blog as often as you can while keeping the content valuable for your prospects. (HubSpot ebook).”
We agree completely and hope that if you’re a small business, you spend your time and money where it really helps you grow your business, with content marketing!