Think about the websites you visit on a daily basis. Most likely, a large percentage of them are sites that revolve around useful and/or entertaining content: YouTube, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Yahoo News, TechCrunch, TMZ, Huffington Post, etc. Even sites such as Facebook and Twitter fall into this category. Although these sites are the ones that you check every day and represent the majority of your time spent online, these types of sites make up a small percentage of the Internet overall. Most sites are sales oriented, either serving as an online presence for a physical business or trying to sell items directly online. If you're in marketing, you most likely manage one of these types of websites. As such, your primary goal is to get more people to your site and to get them to spend more time there. The statements above should provide an obvious path to help you achieve this goal: add more content to your website!
Whether that content comes in the form of blog posts, news articles, whitepapers, podcasts or videos, the important thing is that you're providing interesting, timely and relevant information. You want your website to become an online destination, especially for those in your target market.
Make your content good enough that it's worth sharing. Look at your website and ask yourself: "If I stumbled across this site on my own, would it be worth sending the link to a friend?" If not, reconsider your strategy. What can you post that would elicit that reaction? What type of content would add more value? The better your content, the more significant the impact will be to your site's traffic. To leverage the unparalleled networking capabilities of social media and online word-of-mouth, make sure to include "Like", "Tweet", "+1" and other "share" buttons on your site. To further encourage this sharing behavior, offer site visitors an additional incentive to tell their friends about your content. You can do this by providing an exclusive offer, discount or free download when a visitor "Tweets" or "Likes" your site, or you can even make a charitable donation for everyone that shares your content - Be creative!
Not only will better content result in more word-of-mouth traffic, but you'll begin ranking higher in search engines as well. The goal of a search engine is to deliver valuable results to their users, and they have developed various ways to tell which sites offer the most value. Good, frequently updated content is a sure-fire way to achieve this. Further, you will earn in-bound links from other related sites, garnering additional traffic from the linking websites. Since search engines heavily weight the importance of in-bound links when evaluating a website's value, you will simultaneously be improving your search engine rankings just for having these links. You can increase the effect of these factors exponentially by proactively reaching out to blogs and other influential online resources that may have an interest in your content. You are able to use your proprietary content as "link bait" in order to increase your traffic and search engine ranking, resulting in a win-win for your business.
Of course, once you have a visitor on your website, it is critical to convert them into a customer. To accomplish this, make sure to include a call to action in your content (when appropriate), or at least make it simple and easy for the visitor to navigate to your website's point of purchase. An added bonus of including useful content on your site is that it presents you as an expert in your field. This creates a level of trust between you and the potential customers visiting your site, making them feel more comfortable buying from you. Content can help with every step of the sales process, from drawing customers to your site to getting them to make a purchase.