Last week, I talked about why it’s so hard to get noticed online, covering some steps you can take to more effectively draw attention. Following the steps in that article will definitely help you get started, but there is a lot more to marketing than drawing attention. You need to make people interested in what you have to say and what you have to offer. The best proxy I know for measuring people’s interest online is what we’ll be talking about today: web traffic.
According to the Attention-Interest-Desire-Action model which I discussed in A Crash Course in Board Game Marketing & Promotion, I consider web traffic to be interest. In fact, when somebody visits your website, landing page, or Kickstarter campaign, that means something compelled them enough to click on a link or type in the address. Page views alone indicate interest because your leads – your potential customers – are actually engaging with something you’ve made. Even if your sales pitch falls flat and fails to stoke desire or encourage action, you’ve still got their interest.
Encouraging people to click on your website or Kickstarter campaign takes some effort, and I’ll get to specific recommendations farther down in this article. We have a little housekeeping to do first, though. Before we get started with specific tips on how to generate traffic, there are a few requirements you’ll need to meet.
Before Generating Web Traffic
Figure out your audience.
Absolute perfection in the marketplace is impossible to find. You can only make products and services that are perfect for a particular group of people. Your resources are limited and you need to spend them reaching out to a highly targeted specific group of people who care about what you have to say. Before you push traffic to your website – or for that matter, build it – know who you’re working for.
Create a professional website.
Before you even consider pushing your website online (or for that matter, your Kickstarter campaign or a landing page), it needs to look great. Giving you a crash course in web design / Kickstarter setup is outside of the scope of this article, but I do have some quick tips for you if you’ve never made a website before.
- Go to Bluehost. Purchase web hosting with a .com domain.
- Install WordPress using one of their guides. (I use WordPress for this site – very user-friendly.)
- Use a WordPress theme you like and tweak the configuration until you’re satisfied.
- If all else fails, hire a professional or ask a tech-savvy friend for help.
- For landing pages: I still recommend setting up a full site with the above tips.
- For Kickstarter campaigns: refer to popular Kickstarter campaigns and mimic their layouts.
Come up with a marketing strategy.
Before you make serious effort to generate web traffic, make sure everything else in your marketing strategy is in good shape. I talk about doing that in How to Choose & Use a Board Game Marketing Strategy that Works. Web traffic should not be your end goal – generating it is simply a mean to an end.
Learn how to break through the noise online.
The best website in the world isn’t going to matter if you can’t get anyone to look at it. Review my article How to Rise Above the Noise of the Internet & Get Noticed to learn more about getting established online. These two articles don’t share much overlap in content past this point.
6 Ways to Generate Web Traffic
With all the above prerequisites in mind, this is where we can discuss six recommendations on building traffic for your website or Kickstarter campaign. I’ve used all the methods below myself and have found success with each, so I’m happy to share them 🙂
Reach out to influencers.
This is absolutely the easiest and best way to get web traffic. It’s like drafting off another car to go faster for less effort. It’s not hard to get featured on blogs or podcasts or to get your game reviewed. Identify people who have large or loyal audiences and offer to help them out. Try to help them make content, whether that be through an interview, a review, a live-stream, or even just a well-written press release. This essentially lets you borrow the audiences of people who are already established, bypass the worst parts of the hype machine, and continue on with a permanently larger audience. All forms of influencer outreach can be good for websites, but I’d say reviews are particularly good for Kickstarter campaigns.
Optimize for search engines.
By far, the most reliable and consistent traffic source for this blog is Google. A few months ago, I noticed my work started to pop up in Google. At the time I’m writing this – late February – it accounts for 30-40% of my traffic on any given week, which is a plurality. Whereas influencer outreach is inconsistent but very useful for me, search engine traffic is steady as a rock.
There are a number of things you can do to improve your website’s search engine ranking. These tasks are collectively known as search engine optimization (SEO). SEO can be ridiculously complex and it changes way too often for me to cover in its entirety on the blog. However, I have one really useful tip for you. If you’re using WordPress like I recommended earlier, you can install a plugin such as All in One SEO Pack that will handle the vast majority of your SEO.
From there, you’ll want to make sure you’re using compelling and clickable titles with good descriptions. If you’re doing a simple website, keep your page titles simple. If you’re doing a blog like me, experiment with different title types and see what works. For me, I’ve found the best results by starting posts with “How to” and using the words “board game” somewhere in the title. I also have good luck with titles that start with a number, such as 16 Mistakes I Made on My First Game & How You Can Avoid Them. We can get into a deep discussion of why some titles work and why some don’t, but the best thing you can do is simply experiment, observe, and use the data in front of you to make decisions.
To improve your search engine rank further, it helps to follow both the previous recommendation (influencers) and the following one (social media). Both have great abilities to generate links to your website from other places, which can improve your search engine ranking.
Use social media.
Before I worked up the nerve to contact influencers and before I was ranked in Google, social media was the primary source of my web traffic. Please refer to Setting Up Social Media as a Board Game Dev: A Primer Course for more information.
Long story short, social media is a great way to bring in traffic directly. People can click on links you post – and they will, if your posts are compelling enough. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and similar websites are much faster ways to reach out to people than through search engines or influencers – making them really useful for Kickstarter campaigns.
Social media also helps break the ice between you and influencers. Over time, social media links also start to add up and improve your website’s ranking in Google.
Build a mailing list.
Mailing lists are staples of online marketing – and for good reason! They have a tendency to generate a lot of clicks for a little work. The mailer for this blog takes about 20 minutes per week to write and it brings in around 7-8% of my traffic. Much like search engines, mailing lists are steady as clock. I’ll cover mailing lists in more detail in a later post, but for now, go ahead and set up a free account on MailChimp. It’s really easy to use.
For Kickstarter campaigns especially, mailing lists are tremendously useful. You can create a landing page for people to go to long before you ever launch your Kickstarter campaign. You can collect emails over a period of months and then send a single email to everybody simultaneously.
Talk to people directly.
It seems crude and time-consuming, but it works like a charm and it will build your people skills. Social media provides a great venue to speak to people directly about your website or Kickstarter campaign. To be clear, though, I’m not talking about tweeting or Instagramming to the world at large. I’m talking about replies, comments, and direct messages. Building actual, real, concrete relationships with people goes a long way. When you’re starting with absolutely no traffic, either this or advertising is your best bet.
I touched on this last week in How to Rise Above the Noise of the Internet & Get Noticed, but it bears repeating. Eliminate grunt work by taking out some Facebook ads that link to your website. This works especially well if you pair your advertisements with a mailing list. I’ll conclude with something I suggested last week since it’s still highly relevant here.
One method I’ve found particularly useful is to set up a giveaway contest on Facebook. Give away some game or some gift that will attract people who would like your game. Take out anywhere from twenty to a few hundred dollars to boost the post. I’ve gotten emails for as cheap as $0.50 each, once you consider the price of the giveaway prize plus shipping.
Convincing people to visit your site can seem daunting, but there are a lot of methods you can use. Advertising, direct outreach, and influencer outreach are great ways to start. Mailing lists, social media, search engine optimization, and advertising again can continue to bring you traffic on a regular basis.
As always, experiment with a lot of methods, gather data, and see what works for you. And if you have any questions for me, ask below 🙂