I want to talk about Traffic, which is the fourth of four steps we have been talking about when it comes to generating business growth. Those steps are being strategy, then foundations, then content and now traffic.
So what do I mean by traffic?
Well, back in the day traffic used to be traffic in cars, people driving around on the roads. That was traffic, right? And specifically, when you were talking about business and in the context of business growth was people driving in their cars to your store, so you wanted your store to be on a main street, for example, where people would driving down that street because they had to go through that street to get anywhere. So if you had your Shop on the main street then people who drove past saw through the glass in your window and decided to stop to buy a pair of shoes, grab a cup of coffee or use a hair dresser or accountant or whatever. And then it became foot traffic, and the advent of the mall began, where people went to simply walk around the shops. It’s still alive and kicking in North America, where I live today. And larger and larger malls happen, where people walk past more and more shops, and there used to be these enormous chain stores, the big box stores like J. C. Penney which were at the corners of the mall so you had to walk past all the other shops in between, generating foot traffic for those other shops. And then again, new business and people buying things and interacting with their businesses and so on.
What does traffic look like now?
But these days that’s all changed and since the mid-90s, when the internet began, we are now 20 years later and it’s virtual traffic, or website traffic, that has become even more important. It seems the younger the generations — right now it’s the millennials — the more often they reach for their phone or tablet or computer before they even consider any kind of purchase or interaction with a business. So I am now just as likely to be accessed by a virtual shop front as a physical shop front even if I happen to have a physical shop front, which in this case I don’t. So people immediately begin to Google my name, look me up on social media, find me on YouTube. All of these things are designed to make an assessment of whether I am legitimate and worth interacting with and becoming part of that person’s life, ideally over and over again.
So virtual traffic has become of critical importance, and yet most businesses don’t even think of it. They think if they simply put a website online then their problems will all be solved. However, a website itself doesn’t drive traffic. A website is the recipient of traffic. In other words, it’s entirely passive; it’s kind of like planting a tree in the middle of the desert and hoping for it to make an oasis. It’s only when people are routed past your tree through what becomes your oasis that it actually begins to thrive. So how do you route people past the virtual tree in the desert? If your website is a tree and the desert is the internet, how do you route people past your website again and again and again?
How do I route traffic to my business?
Well, the key here is to look for where your clients already are — where are they already hanging out? Are they, for example using Google as a search engine, or Yahoo or Bing, or they already on major YouTube channels, for example? Are they already clumping in social media of various forms like Facebook or LinkedIn or twitter or Pinterest or Instagram? And if they are, how can you drive them from those spaces to your website and then into your business? That is the nature of the generation of traffic. Of course, it’s a slightly longer conversation than a single blog post, but I will just say this is of critical importance to every business, and to the growth of every business. You not only need to do your strategy, set up your foundations and create content, but you need to use that content to drive traffic. You need to use your YouTube videos, your blog posts, your social media posts. You need to use all of those things to drive traffic back to your website and gather people in a tribe who can start to generate a relationship with your business and ultimately become customers instead of potential customers. That is how you grow a business in the digital day and age.
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