3543630679_ca9fd86951_mThe whole point of marketing is to make sure what you’re putting out into the world ultimately comes back to you in sales. That can’t happen unless marketing efforts drive traffic back to your brand’s website.

You never want to be posting content for content’s sake – so how do you make sure your content is doing everything it can to send potential customers your way? Here are some pointers:

1) Brand your images. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter make it easy for you to direct followers back “home,” but that’s not the case with all networks. Take Instagram, for example. Though Instagram offers the highest engagement of the top social networks, according to Sprout Social, it doesn’t provide a direct path back to your website. And who ever clicks the “link in bio?” Your web address should be clearly visible in every image you share, so when your followers think, “I really want that gorgeous dress!” they know exactly where to get it.

2) Include a call to action (CTA). They say if you want something, you should ask for it – and that holds true on the Internet as well. Don’t cross your fingers and hope your followers check out your website – ask them to! Or instruct them to sign up for your newsletter, or to follow your blog – whatever it is, be specific and invite them to participate. You can include CTAs in images as well as in text posts.

If you can’t afford the market research or software to know exactly how best to appeal to your particular audience, social posts offer a great opportunity for inexpensive trial and error. Track what works best for your brand and offer more of the same until the trend changes.

3) Optimize your content. This is always a good strategy, but is especially important when your content is placed outside your own blog and social feeds. Content recommendation is a great strategy for pointing consumers interested in your industry back to your website, but only if that content is super on target. “Everything from the images you use to the length of your headlines can influence the amount of traffic to your site,” says Katherine McDermott at Revcontent. Be sure your posts are well written – not thrown together and posted for the sake of gaining clicks.

4) Look at best practices and then personalize. Every platform has its own quirks, and it helps to be familiar with them, and to know where your audience fits along the curve. Experiment to see which days, and what times of day, bring the best results.

For example, Adweek reports B2C brands tend to see 17 percent more Twitter engagement on the weekends, while B2B brands receive better engagement during the work week. Across the board, afternoons tend to be a good time to engage your audience – but you may find your audience is the exception, not the rule. Use guidelines as starting points, then hone based on your individual analytics.

5) Make your site mobile-friendly. If content is meant to drive traffic back to your website (and it is), you have to be sure your site functions properly when interested parties arrive there. Things like navigation, size of buttons, and checkout can be deal-breakers if they don’t take the mobile experience into consideration. Likewise, don’t assume ALL users will be surfing/shopping via mobile devices. Your desktop experience is still important.

You may not be able to control everything (or anything) that happens in the social realm, but you can control your brand’s website. Yes, you want to be chatting up your audience on social, and you want to show off your wares via eye-catching Instagram photos and YouTube videos, but ultimately the consumer needs to visit your website – either to shop online, or find a brick-and-mortar location. Don’t lose sight of that as you promote yourself across other channels. That boomerang should always be pointed back home.