10 Free Tips to Grow Your Blog

10 action steps for growing your blog right away

Great folks in the outdoor industry contact me regularly usually to say hello and sometimes to discuss blogging and business strategy. Some of these folks – being the savvy business folks they are – usually like to find some simple things they’re simply overlooking.

Most folks that inquire about information ask for pricing on the Hunting Business Marketing Services. I share the prices for the various services up front and then give a few tips on the subject specifically referred to in the inquiry. Most folks like the free tip and advice and it hopefully helps them with their current strategies.

For folks interesting in something more detailed and specific to their needs, we move onto specific strategies and planning with the paid services offered such as Marketing Consulting, SEO, and Copywriting.

In terms of blogging, I usually share some basic things as advice up front with folks. These can often be the most helpful for those in the beginning stages of blogging.

Since I repeat these tips often I thought it would make sense to share them in a post (head slap moment).

Here are 10 Free Tips to Grow Your Blog…

1| Guest Post

Guest posting is the number one way for bloggers to grow their audience and increase traffic (after writing your own great content of course). Writing guest posts puts you in front of audiences that are already established readers of the blogs. By offering to write guest posts on popular blogs you’re providing the blog editors with quality content and in return you get exposure and increase traffic for your site or blog.

Start seeking out blogs in your niche and outside of your niche and offer to write guest posts. Make sure the people that visit your blog can subscribe to your posts so you capture them as readers.

2| Determine Goals

When starting a blog as a stand-alone entity or when adding a blog to your existing site, it’s important to determine the goals up front. While there is always going to be a point where you have to just let go and go for it, you want to make sure that the focus of the blog aligns with the goals of the business.

For example, are you starting a blog with the goal of gaining attention of major publications for a potential job?

Are you starting a blog as a way to drive traffic and interest for your e-commerce store?

Determine the goals for your blog and create content with that goal as the focus.

3| Read Other Blogs

Reading other blogs is a great way to gain inspiration for your own writing. It’s also important for finding great content to build on and to link to with your own posts. Reading other blogs will allow you to determine the type of content that you enjoy and the content your readers enjoy. Also, read the comments to see how people react to certain kinds of posts. Try to copy successful patterns for your own posts.

4| Comment and Post

When you are reading blog posts and forum posts, be sure to leave your insight by commenting and posting. As a blog owner, you’ll realize that receiving a comment is a great reward. Comments validate the content a writer is writing and lets them know they’re connecting with readers.

Commenting and sharing your thoughts off your site is another way to build your audience through exposure just like guest posting.

5| Write Catchy Headlines

Headlines are the first thing potential readers see regarding the content on your site. Write your headlines after your write your content and make sure you address the interests and desires of the people you’re targeting.

You can come up with ideas for posts (which can be seen as a headline), but be sure to adjust the headline accordingly once you’ve written the post.

A great way to come up with ideas for headlines is The Cosmo Guide to Writing Effective Headlines.

6| Post Regularly

Writing your posts regularly is good for two reasons:

1) Your readers crave consistency just like they crave the news every night.

2) Search engines crave consistency as well. They will crawl your site more and increase your authority the more often you post quality content.

7| Structure Your Blog Posts

Your readers (and search engines) will love your content more if you make your posts easy to read and easy to scan.

Use headings, lists, bolding, and other structure methods when writing your posts so the content is easily digestible for readers and search engines.

8| Link to Other Sites

A way that gains attention from other bloggers in a positive way is to use your site and blog to link to the quality posts of others. Just as receiving comments on a site is rewarding for blog writers, receiving links and mentions on other blogs is validation for their hard work.

Don’t expect it in return, but most times when you link to other blogs you’ll find the other folks visiting your site to check you out and in wonderful cases even sharing your content and linking to you when appropriate.

9| Link to Your Own Content

When writing posts (and I forget this discipline sometimes) remember to link to your own content using relevant anchor text. Search engines use your internal links to determine your important content and your readers follow the links as they look to digest more of your insight.

Ex: Hunting Pictures, Hunting Resources, and Web Conversion Tips

10| Ad Revenue is Tough

When starting blogs folks will often look at ad revenue and affiliate revenue for ways to make money to support their work. This is a tough road to take since it requires a lot of traffic to generate enough revenue to make the effort worthwhile.

Something I often suggest for outdoor bloggers is to focus on writing quality material while making connections in the hunting industry that can lead to writing jobs with major publications.

Show that you’re an expert in your field and others will take notice and seek out your insight. Some will be willing to pay you for content.

With the focus on your content, you can also take advantages of other opportunities for revenue that may come about besides ads and affiliates.

Summary

These 10 tips are the ones I share the most often with folks asking about blogging. They’re very basic, but I think most find them useful nonetheless.

I hope they will help you.

What other tips can you add to the list?

Please share your thoughts in the comments (See Tip #4).

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Image courtesy of Sam Ilić

25 Tips for Web Conversion

Lifetime customers create lifetime profit

Getting Visitors to Click

image credit: audi_insperation

When you start or look to expand your hunting business with a new Website your design and functionality should focus on converting your Web traffic into long-term customers.

Working with a Web programmer and designer can be a great experience. However, when it comes to actually working to develop a Website that is focused on converting sales, simple things tend to get lost in the excitement of getting the site launched. During the process of launching the site we all have the tendency to include too many features while the features that really matter (the converting features) lose priority on the Web page.

Let’s look at a few tips you can use when developing your new business Website…

1| Answer Customer Questions (Before They Ask)

Take a few moments to consider the questions your potential customers have asked you and then answer them in priority order on your site – possibly in a FAQ or even on the Home page.

2| Use Testimonials

Social proof is huge today in a world where customers don’t always trust new businesses. Show that you’re trustworthy by showing testimonials.

3| Get Your Visitors to Call You

If you are good at connecting with customers over a phone call…don’t ignore that fact. Make getting visitors to call you personally over the phone the conversion goal of your site.

4| Show Partnerships

Like Social Proof with Testimonials, your potential customers may perhaps benefit from seeing familiar badges of approval. They like seeing company logos they recognize on your site if those companies are ones you’re associated with.

5| Stir Up Emotion

Emotion is huge for conversion. People make decisions based on feeling good, sad, scared, etc. Look for the emotions your visitors want to feel and make your product and service part of the emotional experience.

If you’re an outfitter you could do something like cutout the face of a happy hunter with a trophy harvested on your property and include the words ‘Insert You Here’ (a cheesy example, but you get the point).

Emotion drives conversion.

6| Remove Options

Don’t give your visitors too many options. Give them conversion options only. If you want your customer to subscribe to your newsletter, give them the option to subscribe, show the benefits and then give them the option to subscribe again. Nothing more.

7| Remove Clutter

Don’t get caught up in the feature game on your Web. Simple Websites that lack clutter often have the most impact.

8| Let Down Your Guard – Show Your Passion

Emotion drives conversion.

Let your customers see your passion in all of the elements of your site. Your passion will drive their passion. Don’t be afraid to let yourself smile in photographs or in your voice when writing content. Visitors connect with passion and trust companies who share their passions in life.

9| Show the Value

Are you offering a truly great price?

Show and tell your customers that you are offering something of value. Give examples and comparison.

10| Create Urgency

Emotion drives conversion.

Use urgency and timely events to trigger conversion. Don’t tread over the line of deceit, but use urgency to show your customers the path of conversion that will better their lives.

For more on this topic, please read How to Use Current Events to Trigger Buying Emotion

11| Visually Impact

What do you see with the following sites?

Yahoo Home Page

Google Home Page

This is an old example, but the point is that Google focused on the simple fact that they want their visitors to search the Web. Yahoo instead tried to be everything for their visitors even when they had the simple search feature like Google.

Yahoo Search

Their goals were different. Google got visitors to search and then engaged them by offering relevant information to click (their revenue is clicks). Yahoo took a different route?

What do you want your visitors to do?

12| Stay Away From Put Offs

One of the things I dislike on sites are put offs or features on sites that turn me off instantly to the site. One example would be music or noise or sounds that begin automatically when I visit a Web page. 99% of the time this happens I leave the site.

For more on this topic, please read Video on Your Website: The Compromise

Does your site have anything that will cause visitors to leave instantly?

13| Prices

Show your prices if selling a product or service on your site is what you want to convert. Your customers are wondering. Answer their questions right away.

14| Impactful Items First

Think about what your customers want to know most…answer their questions right away on your site.

15| Appealing Format and Design

Visual appeal is important for any Website.

For text on your site, use formats that allow visitors to scan quickly. Allow their eye to capture the important information only and then they’ll come back to dive more in depth into your arguments.

Also, if your site can effectively capture the feeling and emotion that your product or service creates you will not only convert more customers, you’ll convert more quality customers if you deliver on your promises.

16| Relevant and Impactful Photography

Like appealing format and design, photography drives emotion and conversion. Use photos that appeal to emotions. Don’t overdo photography and always use relevant photos.

Deliver on the promises your Website makes.

17| Strong Headlines

Think critically of the headlines and topics you use for your Website. Think about the headlines on pages that will capture attention.

For more on this topic, please see The Cosmo Headline Technique

18| Relevant, Simple Call-to-Action Verbiage

Do you want your customers to Buy Now? Subscribe?

Use relevant calls to action. It seems simple, but some sites miss this fact. If I want to buy a product, don’t offer me a button that says “Submit”.

Don’t confuse.

19| Expedite Conversion

Limit the barriers to conversion. Use your common sense and don’t trap your visitors, but don’t waste their time with procedures that aren’t absolutely necessary to conversion.

20| Offer Exclusives

Exclusivity is a valuable thing. Offer exclusive offers to your clients. Show visitors that if they become customers they will be part of an exclusive group.

21| Be Truthful

Don’t hide facts from your visitors if they’re important for adding lifetime value to the business-customer relationship. Customers will find out about any skeletons in your closet. Be honest about your business and they’ll be no surprises later on.

22| Be Open

Show your customers that you are open to their input. Allow them to be part of an open organization where they can impact the success of your business by converting to subscribers, customers, or followers.

23| Increase Engagement

How can you strengthen your engagement with your visitors?

Engage your customers by asking for their opinions, help, and input. Offer to help them with their problems before they ask your competitor for a solution. Engage your visitors and look for any way to further the connection.

24| Think Long-Term

Always think long-term with conversion. Don’t be deceitful with copy or photos. Be honest and open with your communication and always deliver on promises. Make sure your Website is truthful and visitors will develop a trust that converts them to long-time customers.

25| Give Praise!

If your visitor converts to a buyer, subscriber, or follower, give them praise and make them feel like they have made the best decision of their life. Show them with strong and truthful emotion that their commitment won’t go unnoticed. Give them something of value if you can. This could be something as simple as giving your new Twitter followers access to a free gift (even a simple gift like a keychain or access to a ‘special’ photo gallery).

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Ways to Increase Traffic

It’s the number one question for Website owners and managers

Long Exposure Traffic

image credit: Nelson D.

Part of the process for Comment and Receive a Copy of Hunting Business Marketing | The Book was to leave your frustration in the comments. The comments you left were great and I think we’re going to get some great blog posts as a result.

First, a big thanks to those who commented:

Ben G of Ben G Outdoors

JoAnna Zurinsky of My Bullet Points

Marc Reindell of Wildlife Callers

Scott Solar of Shotgunner.la

Willie of Outdoor Freaks

Native of Native Hunt (HBM Member)

Terri Lee of Camp Wild Girls

Rudy Hassall of Winded Bowhunter

There were two themes concerning frustrations in the comments:

1| Increase traffic, gain more followers, gain more subscribers, etc

2| Making money with a blog or Website

Let’s address these two frustrations with a two-part series starting with increasing traffic.

Stay tuned for the follow up…

Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website

This is definitely the most asked question of any business owner looking to expand their Web presence. Getting traffic (and quality traffic) to your Website is something that will drive revenue for your business and expand your Web presence, which means connections that can turn into long-term business partnerships.

My view for getting traffic has been that there are generally two ways for most Websites and businesses to acquire visitors:

1| Save time and pay with money

2| Save money and pay with time

The exceptions to these rules are the sites that find a way to really connect and capture the attention of a wide variety of Web users who become passionate about what the site is doing and promote it on their own simply through their passion.

Even those sites take a lot of time (and potentially money) to setup their success…and even then nothing is guaranteed.

It’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. And it’s not a bad thing. There is a lot of opportunities to grow your site’s traffic. Some take lots of effort and time. Some take money. Some take little effort, little time, and no money.

Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to increase visitors (and quality visitors to your site)…

Before you start, check out the previous HBM articles tagged: Traffic

Spending Time

Depending on how much time you have to commit to your Web presence, there are lots of things that you can do today and continue doing for months and years that will grow your following.

Here is a list of a few of the ways:

Write Remarkable Content

It’s something that we all generally get tired of hearing, but sharing remarkable content is really what makes an impact on the Web. People on the Web like things that are interesting and make their lives more interesting or in other words they like things that make their lives more valuable – to them and to others in their lives. There’s a reason why Justin from @ShitMyDadSays (my apologies for the bad language) has over half a million followers on Twitter – his Dad says interesting things. It’s really that simple yet it’s really difficult to be interesting. But if you can be remarkable and interesting you’ll make an impact on the Web. Focus on what is interesting to your target visitors.

Comment on Other Blogs

One of the ways I’ve been able to generate some quality traffic is by commenting on other blogs. This can take some time as you learn what sites share your same target audience. It also takes time to actually read through hundreds of posts while you settle on just a few that will potentially be worth your time. Comment on those posts that have the most potential to return traffic to your site. Add value to the post you comment on – don’t waste their time.

For more see: How to Create Marketing Pull by Commenting on Other Blogs

Participate in Forums

Just like blog posting, participating in forums takes time, but can lead to lots of traffic for your Website. Just as with a blog, you get to leave your URL so those who find your comments in the forum interesting can find their way to your site by clicking on your username and finding your other remarkable content. It takes time, but it’s worth it if you target the correct forums.

For more see: How to Properly Use Forums

Internal Linking

One of the things that takes some time, but really is worth the time investment is internal linking. If you’ve been reading this post you’ve probably noticed that I’ve linked to a few posts as well as other areas on HBM. It’s not only a way to provide value to visitors by expanding on thoughts, but it increases page views and time spent on site per user.

External Linking

If you read the blog posts on HBM you’ll also notice that I link to at least three posts not on HBM. I also occasionally link to sites and posts throughout my own posts. This has been a great way to increase the traffic to my site for two reasons:

1| When you link to other blogs and sites the owner each particular blog and site often gets a notice of your link and they are often curious about who is linking to them. They check out your site and you have a potential reader

2| Most blogs have pingbacks or trackbacks. These blogs allow their readers to view who is linking to their post (it shows how popular their post is) and those readers have the option to click on your link. More traffic.

Link to posts that are relevant off your own site and start making valuable connections.

For more see: Make Every Post a Link Post

Guest Posting

New bloggers need to consider guest posting as a way to drive traffic. Most successful bloggers find their most growth as a result of guest posting. While it seems that you’d be giving away great content to other sites when you guest post, you’re actually borrowing the attention of other bloggers and interjecting your knowledge and interesting character to potential readers of your blog. Provide valuable content to other blogs and look to expand your audience.

For more see: Grow Your Followers like a Country Music Singer

Spending Money

Businesses that have sufficient budgets to gain quality traffic have many options for making an impact on the Web. Most programs on the Web that require payment can still stay within a smaller budget. The impact generally increases exponentially the more you are able to spend and reinvest as you gain sales.

Here are a few of the best ways to utilize your budget:

Ad Words

When it comes to advertising and getting quality return for your dollar, Google is always a good bet. Many businesses, in many areas of industry, have had success driving traffic and sales via Google AdWords. The program is very simple and has the biggest company and smartest individuals working to increase its effectiveness. You can spend as little or as much as you want.

Facebook Advertising

I’ve found success with Facebook Advertising. The technology has gotten more useful over time and I think they’re going in great directions with mining all of their immense user data. I found more success for driving traffic for a membership site similar to Facebook (free membership) than I have for driving sales or anything paid. Perhaps you will find more success.

For more see: How to Use Facebook Advertising (Subscribers Only – Join for $20)

StumbleUpon Advertising

I have never actually used StumbleUpon Advertising, but based on the success I’ve had with natural traffic via StumbleUpon (see below) I’m guessing it’s pretty impactful and beneficial. Check it out and let us know if you have success driving revenue and profit for your business.

Affiliates

There are many sites on the Web that are dedicated to driving traffic and driving sales for businesses that sell things via the Web. If you have something to sell, look into the technology available to develop an affiliate program (Commission Junction is one). It’s a good way to give up a little margin in return for more unit sales.

SEO Provider/Service

Sometimes paying to learn can be most beneficial for your specific business. It takes a certain person who is willing to take both the time and monetary investment to go out and participate in learning atmospheres. There are many SEO providers/services out there who will work for you to not only do your Paid Advertising and Natural Traffic for you, but they’ll teach you techniques that will benefit you in the long-term. Consider these as options if you’re willing to spend both time and money for long-term gain.

Contests

People are always looking for deals. If you have access to prizes, try a few contests as ways to get followers, sales, email addresses, etc.

Simple Changes

Some good news for you – there are things you can do to potentially increase your traffic right now that will potentially impact the number of people visiting your site, increase the time those individuals spend on your site, and increase the number of pages those individuals view per visit.

Here are a few of the simple things you can do now to increase your traffic:

Stumble Upon

One of the things I’ve had success with for one-off traffic is StumbleUpon. The traffic I’ve received from StumbleUpon has generally come fast once a page on the site has been stumbled and that traffic has lasted anywhere from about an hour up to about 24 hours. StumbleUpon and its users are very effective at choosing the best content on the Web per my observation. It’s generally my higher quality content that gets stumbled and also receives the most visits after being stumbled. I have also noticed that photos are something the users of StumbleUpon like to see. Almost all of the posts in the Flickr Creative Commons Series have had success with getting traffic via StumbleUpon.

For more details, please read: A Comprehensive Guide to StumbleUpon

Twitter

I use Twitter as a way to drive contests, traffic to posts, and other things. I also use Twitter to share the content of others. I try to share others’ content more than my own so I’m not spamming too much. Twitter takes some time and effort, but the return I’ve seen in connections alone would be well worth the investment. The monetary return I’ve seen has been an added bonus.

Join Twitter and look to make connections by adding value any way you can.

Improve Your Titles

Titles are important to driving traffic to your blog and site. The Cosmo Headline Strategy is a great way to write remarkable and eye-catching titles for your posts. Usually, someone’s first introduction to your site is a title on a search engine result or a title on someone’s site. Consider the things that will entice people to click while remembering that the title still has to be truthful in what your post will provide.

Write Content that Visitors can Scan

Web users love to scan content. There is so much content on the Web that people need to scan most of it before they decide if they will read your arguments on topics. Use headlines, sections and call-outs to make your content easy for people to scan. If your write strong lists and strong headings you’ll get people to stop and pay attention.

For more see: 42 Marketing Lists from The Future Buzz

Highlight Others

One of the most successful ways I’ve been able to make connections on the Web and thus drive traffic has been highlighting the success of others. When you participate in social media like Twitter or when you’re writing content for a blog post, write about how amazing and remarkable others are. Write about the folks who may be wanting for some attention and who are looking to make connections. Feed their appetites and see your traffic increase as the conversation about you spreads.

For more see: Highlight Others

More Resources on the Web

New Bloggers: Need Traffic?

25 Ways to Build Your Community

Ad Swaps: A Smart and Easy Way to Get Free Traffic

Related posts on Hunting Business Marketing

5 Simple Ways to Increase Traffic on Your Website

How to Drive Visitors Deep Into Your Website

The NFL Guide to Website Traffic

Related posts on the Web

Three simple actions that doubled my website traffic in 30 days

How to Find Readers for Your Blog

How I’d Promote My Blog If I Were Starting Out Again

The Sports Bottom Line Ticker Strategy

ESPN knows how to keep your interest

Multiple Computer Screens

image credit: totalAldo

I’m not sure if ESPN was the originator, but the world’s most popular sports news network knows how to keep their viewers’ attention even when their current segment isn’t that interesting.

The bottom line sports ticker was a great way to keep viewers’ attention with updates even if a particular set of the audience isn’t interested in the main story being addressed by the sportscasters.

The strategy worked well with sports fans as most only want updates on their team. If the main story being headlined had to do with anything other than some viewers’ team, those viewers were likely to look to other sources for updates on how their team was doing. With the sports ticker, those fans could stay tuned to a particular staying waiting for their teams’ update and score to scroll across the bottom. It was a great way for sports stations to keep viewers by providing a value-adding service.

Online Websites are starting to take notice to the bottom line sports ticker of TV stations like ESPN by broadcasting updates and promoting other content with a ticker or some kind of update section while the main content is still being headlined.

Let’s take a look at a few of the sites that are taking advantage of the ticker update and look at a few ways you can take advantage of the ticker strategy for your own blog or Website.

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One Site Using the Ticker

Some Websites understand that keeping the attention of visitors is important to driving revenue. As a result, these sites are using strategies to that add value to what a visitor may value even when the interests vary from person to person.

National Football Post

The National Football Post entered a competitive arena when they started providing expert commentary and news updates for NFL fans on the Web.

The site has had impressive growth since its launch due in large part to their unique expert commentary from various experts and view points in the world of the NFL:

* Player Perspective – Matt Bowen – Former NFL Safety

* Executive Perspective – Michael Lombardi – Player Personnel

* Executive Perspective – Andrew Brandt – Contract Negotiator and Salary Cap Expert

* Agent Perspective – Jack Bechta – NFL Player Agent

About a year after the site launched they did design overall and introduced their version of the update ticker.

National Football Post Ticker

The bottom line ticker of the National Football Post scrolls through the news updates that the site updates regularly with news from around the NFL. The ticker is always at the bottom of every viewer’s screen (unless the viewer closes the large version of the ticker). As I mentioned before, NFP provides expert articles and podcasts for NFL fans and these articles are their main attraction. For an example read:

The High Cost of Concussions

However, certain NFL fans are going to visit the site looking for news related to their team. While the biggest news of the day is usually covered in the headline section of the site and while other important news is highlighted to the right of the page under Hot News & Rumors there are still updates that certain viewers want to see.

This is where the National Football Post implements their bottom screen ticker. Fans can come to the NFP, read their articles while watching the bottom ticker for news updates on their favorite team.

Ways to Take Advantage

Every blog and Website can become a source of news and updates by shaping their own form of the bottom line ticker.

The ticker doesn’t have to be at the bottom of the Web page and it doesn’t have to be as up-to-the-minute as the ESPN ticker. What your site’s version of the ticker has to provide is short snapshots of content that your viewers will find valuable.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use embed the Twitter Widget on your site. If you regularly provide valuable updates via your Twitter feed, you can embed your update widget on your site. This way, while your visitors are reading your headline content, they can see what your last few Twitter updates have been. Perhaps the main article just isn’t of interest to them as they get deeper into the article (it happens and it’s alright), but they see that you’ve highlighted an article from your archives on Twitter and their interest is again piqued. Perhaps they’ll click on the link from the embedded Twitter feed and go to the archive.

There are lots of ways to highlight content on your site while your readers are reading your current content. You could have an area to the side of your blog posts that continually scrolls through your archives, popular posts, most commented posts, etc. You could have a bottom line ticker like the National Football Post has, but yours could scroll through the best comments on your site. This would be a great way to highlight your readers.

The only limit to what you can do is your own imagination.

Summary

The benefit of using something like a bottom line ticker is to provide value to your visitors when they may not be interested in the current content you’re highlighting on your site.

ESPN has used their bottom line ticker to provide updates, including scoring updates, to their viewers so that viewers don’t change the channel when all they want is an update on their favorite team.

The National Football Post has taken this cue from ESPN and implemented their own version of the bottom ticker on their page. The NFP version provides hot news and rumors from around the NFL so that while visitors are reading the in-depth articles written by the expert staff they can still stay updated on what’s happening around the NFL including news about their favorite teams.

You can use the bottom line ticker strategy for your own site. Visitors won’t always be interested in your current highlighted content, but don’t lose their interest completely. Highlight your content in other ways to keep their attention.

Keeping interest will lead to growth with your site while providing value to your visitors.

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Related posts on Hunting Business Marketing

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Successful Email Campaigns

A remarkable, consistent email campaign can prove valuable for your customers and increase your site’s traffic and visitor involvement

Mailboxes

image credit OWENthatsmyname

A regular email campaign is one of the best ways to connect with your customers while also driving traffic to your site as well as driving sales of your products and services.

I’ve been paying attention to a few email campaigns in the hunting industry over the past few months and a few have stuck out as being very impactful with their design, content, and innovation.

I thought it would be beneficial to look at four of these successful campaigns and look at reasons why these particular email campaigns are successful…

My Outdoor TV

MOTV Full Email

My Outdoor TV Email

MOTV Snapshot Email

My Outdoor TV Email Snapshot

Website: MyOutdoorTV.com

Email Campaign: MOTV Minute

Example Email: Scent Free, From Head to Toe

I get at least one email from My Outdoor TV every week. They also have their daily updates that include only one link to an area on their site like Analyze the Hunt.

I enjoy receiving these emails because the content is always compelling to me as a hunter. In this example, Scent Free, From Head to Toe, there is a full article on the importance of scent control when hunting whitetail deer. The article specifically discusses rubber boots from La Crosse.

The email does a great job of showing users that if they click on certain areas of the email they will not only be taken to a page with the article content, but to a page that contains a video relating to headline topic. It’s very important to show the viewers of your email campaigns exactly what they can expect when they click on certain buttons, links, and other areas of your email. My Outdoor TV does a great job of showing a small video player preview in each of their emails.

The layout and design of the MOTV Minute emails are pleasing to the eye. There is lots of great white space. That makes it easy to read the text of the main article. The ads that are included at the right side of the image are not intrusive and they flow well with the overall design of the email. The header is easily recognizable as it has the My Outdoor TV logo with a similar background to the actual site. There are great buttons for viewers to click if they choose: “Email to a Friend”, “Web Version”, “Watch Now”, and buttons to My Outdoor TV’s other social media campaigns on Facebook My Outdoor TV and Twitter My Outdoor TV.

My Outdoor TV might try to include the tabs at the top of their Website so viewers of the emails aren’t limited to simply clicking on the buttons included in the email image. Even if the emails are full of great content, not all viewers will be interested in all of the specific stories. Including the normal tabs from the Website would give these readers more options for clicking through to the site – options they are comfortable with already.

My Outdoor TV could also include a More Videos on Whitetails section at the bottom of the email image.

My Outdoor TV does a great job with their email campaigns. It’s one I look forward to each week because of its great design and wonderful content. My Outdoor TV is a great example that you can use as inspiration for base your next email campaign.

Deer & Deer Hunting

Deer & Deer Hunting Email

Website: DeerAndDeerHunting.com

Email Campaign: Deer & Deer Hunting Newsletter

Example Email: Explore New Hunting Lands

Deer & Deer Hunting sends out their email newsletter at least once a week and sometimes multiple times each week. I like their email as well because they include so many options to click on including options from various areas on their Website.

Sections of their email include:

– New Discussions in the Forum

– New Videos

– Outfitter Highlights

– Contests

– Expert Articles (Snapshots only)

– New Photos

– Equipment Highlights

– Polls

D&DH also highlights some of the books from their immense library. It’s a great way to highlight some of your products in a way that makes sense and is relevant to your email viewers.

The D&DH emails are clean and simple in design. The design definitely focuses on the content, but the design is far from boring. The email images are clean and with all the white space, it’s clear where to click if you want to head to the site and view content.

You can definitely tell that D&DH are seasoned pros in the magazine businesses because they always have eye-catching headlines that grab attention and make you want to click through to read the full articles on the site. This is important for email campaigns because you’re ultimately trying to increase traffic on your site as well as drive customers to specific sections on your site so you can sell your relevant products and services.

D&DH does include tabs at the top of their email header, but they could even include the tabs from their site as I mentioned before with My Outdoor TV. Viewers of the email may not find what they’re looking for in the email (although there is so much great stuff in the D&DH email) and they may just want to click through to Deer & Deer Hunting Features section right away.

Deer & Deer Hunting has been one of the best hunting magazines for a long time and their success with magazines has spilled over into their email marketing efforts. They use their quality content and connect with their audience in ways that are engaging and encourage action through their email images.

Use Deer & Deer Hunting as a guide for your own email marketing efforts.

Field & Stream

Field and Stream Email

Website: FieldandStream.com

Email Campaign: Field & Stream Newsletter

Example Email: 34 Gear-Winning Reader Tips PLUS Amazing Carp Shooting Action Photos

Field & Stream truly has an email campaign that I love receiving each week. F&S send out content-filled emails that capture attention and get viewers to click through to the Website.

What I find myself clicking on most each week when the email arrives is the great photos. F&S put together great photo galleries and they don’t a great job each week of promoting them in their emails. The subject line usually has something related to the featured photo gallery – Exclusive Photos of New World Record Brown Trout. It’s very appealing to open an email with this subject line (when the email sender is recognizable like F&S).

F&S, like Deer & Deer Hunting, definitely use the skills from their magazine marketing with their emails. They have great headlines to capture attention and entice opens and clicks. They also have remarkable content in their articles and descriptions, which are where all email campaigns should start.

I also love F&S highlights their readers. They have sections on their site and in their email like Winning Reader Tips and Featured Read Trail Cam Photos as well as other featured reader photographs. Highlighted the greatest of readers or clients is a great way to get them vested in the success of your business and any campaign you try like an email campaign. If your subscribers see an email with their photo they’re going to be thrilled and likely share it with anybody they can.

F&S also finds unique ways to put in advertisements in their emails that aren’t obtrusive and flow well with the rest of the clean layout. The ads fit well, but they are noticeable so any interested reader can easily click through the ad to see if they want to become a buyer of the advertiser.

Overall, Field & Stream is a great example of a successful email campaign. They give their readers something to look forward to each week as they always have great content (especially the photos). The headlines are always intriguing and I usually click through to read the full articles after checking out the latest photos in the gallery.

I would say that once on the site the photo gallery isn’t the best. It’s hard to use and you can only comment on the entire gallery instead of individual photos. It’s still a great service provided by F&S and I’m glad they allow their readers to show their interesting outdoor photos.

I’m also glad that Field & Stream highlights their readers. It’s great for their readers and it makes for great content.

Look at Field and Stream when creating or improving your own email campaign. They lead by example in the outdoor industry.

Update: I received this email from Field & Stream today. This email (view the email online – Fall Essentials from Field and Stream Clothing) is not for their magazine site, but for their apparel store. I like how they included the header in the email image. Check out the story behind this brand reinvention. It’s very interesting:

Field & Stream Brand Launches Clothing Line that brings Everyday Casual and Weekend Play Together

Field & Stream Brand

Bowhunting.com

Bowhunting.com Email

Website: Bowhunting.com

Email Campaign: Bowhunting.com Email

Example Email: Early Season Scent Control from Bowhunting.com

I don’t receive too many emails from the great folks at Bowhunting.com, but I’ve been impressed with their email images that I have received.

Todd Graf and his staff of expert hunters, writers, photographers, and videographers have been in the online hunting business a long time. I was excited when they started Bowhunting.com because I’m a huge bow hunter myself and I knew these guys would put out the best site on the subject.

Bowhunting.com uses a basic approach with their email campaigns, but their content and products are top notch so their emails still resonate with viewers.

Right away in Early Season Scent Control they’re giving a solid discount ($5 off $50 order), which is a great incentive for viewers of the site to sign up for the email list. If there are email exclusive offers there is a great chance of getting people to sign up as a subscriber.

Bowhunting.com’s emails have segments for useful products, how-to videos and links to lots of the latest blogs that have been written by their expert staff. There are lots for subscribers to click on as they go from their inbox to the site. They also have great photography for their product images, headers, and in their blog posts. People love visuals and Bowhunitng.com does a great job of using visuals in their marketing efforts including email.

I also forgot to mention earlier that the subject line Early Season Scent Control is a wonderful example of how a company can use timely events to be more relevant to their clients and subscribers. Bowhunting.com knows their readers are in the early stage of the hunting season so their providing content and products for their readers that fit the time of the bow hunting season. It’s simple and it makes sense.

I am looking forward to lots of great things from Bowhunting.com. They have a great staff of marketers and writers. I look forward to their next email.

Summary

These four companies all have remarkable email campaigns that use great content with great email image design to capture the attention of hunters through the email channel.

Some of the recurring themes that stand out in these campaigns include:

– Photos

– Great headlines and subject lines

– Sections with highlights and features

– Highlighting subscribers

– Simple yet effective design

– Similar look to the site

– Timely content topics

All of these campaigns are unique yet they all provide remarkable content and value for subscribers.

There is a lot of potential for you and your company to take advantage of email. When it comes to marketing the power to sell products comes through gaining trust of your list of customers. By setting up your email campaign and learning how to build your list with email subscribers, you’ll be on your way to creating a great audience that you can work to create trust with so they will become long-term customers.

Best of luck with your email campaigns and feel free to share any experiences you have had with email marketing.

Related posts on Hunting Business Marketing

How Long Copy Email Can Help Your Hunting Business

7 Email Marketing Observations

How to Use Current Events and Email to Trigger Your Customer’s Buying Emotion

How to Get Subscribers for Your Email List

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How Crappy Landing Pages Kill Email Campaigns

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Social Media Marketing Basics: Facebook & Blog Promotion

5 Simple Ways to Increase Traffic on Your Hunting Website

Relevant traffic and connections are what determine your success on the Web

Traffic on Your Website

image credit: doug88888

Usually the first question a new Website owner has for others is “How do I get more traffic and visitors on my Website?

As the Web has developed Website owners and managers always seem to focus on traffic (and various conversions of course) as a way to compare yourself to other sites.

So every Website owner has the thought of traffic and how to get more of it in their minds at all times.

I thought it would be valuable to jot down a few ideas of how you might be able to get more traffic for your hunting Website.

Let’s take a look…

1. Aggregate Your Content

Aggregating content is the idea of collecting content from either off your site or on your site and putting it into a single post or section on your site. One of the things people value is the aggregation of content and resources to make their lives easier.

I remember want to research the hunting industry before starting a business. I had to scramble all over the Web trying to find stats, resources and Information.

I thought about that while thinking about what to write one day. Here is the post that formed as a result:

Essential Hunting Industry Stats, Resources, and Information

Aggregating content from your own site into new posts is a great way to increase the page views per visitor.

Add value to your reader’s experience by including links within your copy as well as providing things like relevant posts or examples. (I’m doing this right now for this post).

This technique is more for driving unique visitors deeper into your site than it is for gaining new customers from off your site, but it can drive both loyal and new readers deep into your content, which is likely to build a deep and long-term connection.

Here are examples of how I have aggregating some of my content:

Dayne’s Top 15 Favorite Posts

List of Lists

For more on this topic, check out Adam Singer’s post on The Future Buzz:

Content Aggregation For Links, Traffic And Buzz

2. Write Awesome Titles and Headings

Just like magazines, TV shows, billboards, and any other form of promotional material, your blog titles and Web page headings are the first thing your potential readers and customers see. Your titles and headings represent your first chance to convince people to move forward in their buying process. Whether they’re going to buy into your blog and subscribe with email or RSS or if they are going to buy your product or service, it all starts with the title or heading.

So the secret to writing good titles and headings is to effectively present the topic you’re going to cover in your post or on the page of your Website. Along with effectively presenting your topic you’re also going to have to catch the attention of your potential readers and you’re going to have to do this with only a few words.

It’s not easy to write blog titles, but there are a few things I do that seem to make it a little easier.

First, I think about what you are thinking about, questioning, or possibly struggling with as it relates to your hunting business. Then I think about how I can provide the answer (or promise the answer) with the blog title. It’s important, of course, for me to actually deliver on this promise within the post, but the way I try to grab your attention is by promising to add value to your life and your hunting business.

It works the same for the headings and titles of the pages on your Website. They are the first things your visitors see before committing to dive further into your site. Your headings and titles have to be convincing and promise to solve the needs of your customer.

Second, I look at publications, headlines, billboards, and other promotions

I’ve always thought that I can’t be an expert on everything so I’ve never had a problem with admiring the genius and expertise of others and using their techniques to my own advantage. One area where this applies is title and headline writing.

So I like to use the titles and headings of things around me for inspiration.

One example is the post:

Write Better Blog Headlines: Tonight at 6

You can really use anything as inspiration for your headings and titles. Just make sure you promise your customer something valuable and then deliver on that promise.

Here are a few more posts on titles and headings:

Hunting Blog Post Title Ideas Part 1

Hunting Blog Post Title Ideas Part 2

Effectively Using Keywords in Your Blog Titles

Titles and headings are often the first things your potential visitors see before the either visit your site for the first time, decide to visit your site on any given day, or if they decide to commit to visiting other pages within your site.

If you can write awesome headings and titles that promise to add value to the lives of your visitors (and you of course deliver on your promises) you’ll find yourself getting more traffic on your site.

3. Write Valuable Blog Comments on Blogs (And Change Your Comment URL)

Some of the comments left on this blog are simply amazing and full of valuable content.

A few people who come to mind off the top of my head are T. Michael of Native Hunt, Cory Glauner of Outdoors International and Tom Sorenson of Base Camp Legends.

They continuously leave content-rich and useful comments that add to the conversations on this blog.

To get traffic to your blog you can leave valuable comments like the comments often left on this blog. The readers of the blogs you comment on will see that you have something of value to add to the conversation and they will be convinced to click through your signature or name to your site.

This brings us to the second part of this point – what URL are you leaving in the signature of the posts you comment on?

When you leave comments on blogs you often have the option of leaving your URL or Website link for your signature or username. Do you normally just link to the home page of your Website or blog? This is common for most people. One thing I’ve tried to do recently is to think about the site and post I’m commenting on. I think about the topic and look back at my own archives and then leave a link to a related post if I have one. This way if readers of the post I’m commenting on like what I have to say in my post they can click through and instantlybe at a relevant post I’ve written rather than just my blog home page.

Leaving value-adding comments is a great way to get traffic to your site from other blogs in and out of your niche. You can also gain the trust of readers, which can lead to long-term traffic if you use relevant URLs in your signatures.

Update: It seems that on some sites you can’t post a comment with any URL other than a basic home page. I’ll have to dig into this a bit more, but just wanted to update.

4. Highlight Other Bloggers in Your Posts

One of the most successful methods I’ve used to make connections with this blog is to highlight the greatness of other bloggers.

I highlight other bloggers because I want to make connections on the Web and a side effect of this mentality has been an increase in traffic.

Because I’ve highlighted the remarkable things others do on the Web, the people included in the posts not only feel connected in some way this blog, but they have a sense of pride in the post that features their name and highlight. This feeling of connection is an incentive for the bloggers to share the post that’s on my blog across their networks.

As others share the post that features them, this blog spreads after that to new people I would have never met otherwise.

The idea of highlighting others in your posts is a classic win-win. The person you’re highlighting gets exposure to a new audience plus positive content written about them. You make a new connection and possibly gain traffic.

Here are a few examples of how I’ve highlighted other bloggers:

8 Little Details That Make Big Differences on Hunting Websites

The Top Hunting Blogs: Part 1

Reviews of Remarkable Hunting Blog Posts

5. Figure out Stumble Upon

I’m still figuring out Stumble Upon at the moment (as I am always trying to figure out everything on the Web). All I know is that Stumble Upon sends (relatively) massive amounts of traffic to this blog on occasion. So I figured it might be worth checking out.

Since I’m still trying to find out more about Stumble Upon I’ll just leave you with this post:

A Comprehensive Guide to StumbleUpon: How to Build Massive Traffic to Your Website

Try experimenting with sites like Stumble Upon and you may stumble (sorry) on something that will generate lasting traffic for your website.

Bonus 6. Write Post Series

One of the most successful things I’ve done on this site has been to write post series.

I tend to write long posts and sometimes I’ll catch myself drifting into two or three different topics within a post and I’ll decide to split it into a post series.

Other times I’ll just find myself running out of ideas one night and I’ll put up a Part 1 and then work on Part 2 the following day when my thoughts are fresh.

Usually what happens is readers will become interested in Part 1 and they’ll have the curiosity or need to come back to find out if there will be more valuable information in Part 2. This is just another way to generate some long term interest in what you’re doing with your blog or site.

Post series also make for great flagship content that you can highlight on your site.

Here is one example of a post series I’ve done:

How to Use the Web to Grow a Successful Hunting Business – A Tutorial

Summary

Getting traffic on your site is probably the biggest frustrations for all Website owners or managers.

There are lots of ways you can experiment with getting traffic and I suggest you don’t shy away from trying all of the new things you can (stay on the good side of your morals) to try and increase the impact of your content to as many people as possible.

Here I’ve only listed 6 simple things you can try and possibly stick with to help get a little bit of traffic.

I hope these work for you.

I also hope you can find better ways to generate traffic to your site.

If you have any super ideas or suggestions, please share them in the comments below.

Related posts on Hunting Business Marketing

Paid vs. Natural Traffic: It’s like Baiting vs. Funnel Hunting for Deer – Part 1

Hunting Outfitters and Guides: Get Valuable Traffic to Your Website

How to Know Where and How to Advertise Your Hunting Business on the Web

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A Comprehensive Guide to StumbleUpon: How to Build Massive Traffic to Your Website

How to Become a Top StumbleUpon User (or Why You Really Shouldn’t Bother)

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How to Drive Visitors Deep Into Your Website

Easy come, easy go

Drive Visitors Deep Into Your Website Content

image credit: Cellular Immunity

The Web, right now, is the ultimate competitive environment for attention. Everybody on the Web has limited time (even if they spend 24 hours each day surfing Websites).

It simply isn’t possible to view all of the quality content on the Web.

So the battle is on for you to put out content and market that content so your Website can gain the attention of the limited resource you’re after – the attention of hunters.

How you structure your Website or blog (or combination of both) is just as important as the quality of the content itself. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t have a great product or service or content without equally great marketing and you can’t have the best marketing without a quality product to market.

I think it’s important to focus on how you present your products, services, and content on your Website just as much as you focus on creating your product, services, and content.

If you own a Website and you see the stats of your visitors or if you pay attention to your own Web browsing habits, you’ll probably understand that most of the time you bounce off Websites that don’t have structure and interest and stay on Websites that do (this is of course assuming the sites have content that interests you).

So while you’ll need to create remarkable content, it’s also important to focus on the structure of your Website if you want to be the source of satisfaction for your readers’ attention.

Website Structure

The structure of your Website is important, especially during the planning stages of the development of your Website, because you have to think about how you can make it easiest for your customer to go through the buying process efficiently and effectively.

You want the visitors to your Website to be able to navigate your site no matter what stage of the buying process they are in.

One important thing to remember is that you are not your customer. You already know more about your business and your products than anyone else. Your customer may just be looking to discover an answer to a problem they have while stumbling upon your site. They may be looking for as much information about your product before they actually make the decision to purchase or they may be ready to purchase this very minute.

Let’s take a look at those three types of business offerings (product, service, and blog content) and discuss a few ways you might be able to drive your customers deep into the content on your site.

Product (or Service) Company

If your hunting business specializes in making remarkable products that significantly help hunters in their pursuit of trophy game then there are two different types of Website you can have 1) Informational (no selling on your site) 2) Informational and E-Commerce (you sell your product on your site).

The important thing to remember is that your customers are going to find your Website during different stages of the buying process. Not all of your customers are going to discover your Website and product for the first time and not all of your customers are going to have done their research on your company and product and are simply looking for a place to make their purchase.

Let’s look at a few quick tips for each of product sites. (They really aren’t that different.)

Information Site

For an information site your main focus is going to be on putting out enough content to convince your customer to purchase your product. Your target visitors are going to be in the discovery and research stage.

Your customers in the discovery stage will likely find your Website via a search query then enter into one of the search engines, like Google. They’ll be searching for slightly more specific terms than you may first suspect like “top bows for 2009” or “best tree stand for bluff country”.

You’ll want to focus your content on terms like these.

This is where a blog becomes important.

Search engines love blogs because blogs are generally a source of constant information. Search engines like your site if you are continually putting up valuable and unique content.

Search engines will also love you because they’ll be showing their customers (people who search) relevant and up-to-date content.

With a strictly informational site you’ll also want to make sure to include more detailed information about your product.

When your customer is in the Discovery Stage they don’t want a bunch of detail – they want to be intrigued by the benefit your product might provide them.

However, when your customer reaches the Research Stage, they are interested in learning as much as they can about your product. This is where you can provide more detailed information in an easy to follow and functional way.

Information and E-Commerce Site

With an information site plus an e-commerce site you’re going to want to have all of the aspects of the information site plus you’ll want to focus on the Ready to Buy Stage of your customers purchasing decision.

With an e-commerce site, you have the ability to suggest complementary products during the stage when your customers are already in the buying mood. You’ll want to focus on providing them options that add even more value.

Some Ideas

A few ways to drive visitors deeper into a product Website include:

Text linking

Related products

Complementary products

“You may also like…”

Suggested products

Our Top Ten Products

Our Top Searched Terms

Related information

Product reviews

Testimonials

Etc.

The thing to remember if you’re a product company is that it’s easier to provide your current customers with something more than they’re already buying from you. Look for products to complement the products they are already purchasing and allow them to discover these products as they’re going through the purchasing stages of the products they’re already committed to buying.

Blog

If you’ve seen a few posts on this site you’ve probably recognized that I’m a big fan of blogs.

Take a look at a few of my previous posts and pages:

20 Steps to Starting Your Hunting Business Blog/Website

10 Ways to Create Stunning Hunting Blog Posts

Reviews of Remarkable Hunting Blog Posts

Effectively Using Keywords in Your Blog Titles

Write Better Blog Headlines: Tonight at 6

How to Start a Blog that will Grow Your Outfitting Business

The First 4 Days of Your New Hunting Blog

How to Use the Web to Grow a Successful Hunting Business – A Tutorial

The reason I’m an advocate of blogging for your hunting business Website is because a blog will provide search engines (and your customers) with tons of up-to-date and useful content, unique insight, and answers to problems.

A blog also provides you many ways to drive your customers deep into product/service relevant related information.

You can use text links, lists, categories, archives, and highlighted posts to drive your current and new customers deep into your posts.

Here are a few more ways you can drive visitors deep into your blog content:

Related post links

Related offsite post links

Suggested reading links

Post series (Part 1 through 6 for example)

Lists of Lists

Favorites

Favorite Lists

There are so many ways to direct point your readers.

I’m sure you can come up with more suggestions.

If you have any please feel free to share in the comments.

Summary

You have to remember that Web users will do what they want, but there are a few things you can do to try and capture their attention while they’re on your site.

The goal of any Website owner is to provide valuable content, products and services for their target customers in a way that is easy to digest and follow.

Figure out ways to drive your visitors deeper into your site by providing them more value than the content they first discover on your site.

Even if your loyal visitors come to read your new content, things like text links and suggested reading are important.

I visit many blogs nearly every day that provide text links that still drive me to content I haven’t discovered on the site yet.

Do you have any more ideas for driving deeper engagement on your site?

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Keep Your Hunting Website Relevant During the Summer Stagnation

Where did everybody go?

Sweet Summer by the Lake

image credit: Per Ola Wiberg

The summer months are coming around the US and in most hunting regions this means more time spent outdoors – it definitely means more golfing, boating, grilling, and general outdoor fun for me and my fellow Wisconsinites.

As is expected, as your Website viewers rush to spend their precious time outside, your Website or blog traffic may decrease.

The proof is in this chart from Google Insights:

Google Insights Hunting Cyclical Season

click for sharper image

Your customers are on the way down into the stagnant times of the year-long hunting season. For them, the hunting season (on the Web) won’t peak until late fall.

I’ve written before that The Hunting Off Season is the Best Time to Improve Your Hunting Business, but maintaining a connection with your readers online is important as well.

You should encourage them to get outside and enjoy the summer months, but even though they aren’t spending as much time online it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain steady traffic and interest.

Here are a few ideas to keep your Website relevant during the summer stagnation:

Mirror their schedule

You probably recognize the time of day your blog or Website gets the most traffic. This may or may not change when the summer months hit.

Think about your typical visitor for a second: hunter, nine to five worker, access to a computer at work (or only at home after work or in the morning prior), kids, no kids, married, not married, retired, etc.

If your typical visitor is me, I’m a hunter who spends time browsing the Web while at work (7am to 4pm Central Time – don’t forget time zones). I do visit a few sites to research and get ideas.

I also spend the mornings and evenings online. But once the summer hits I spend more time outside (on the lake, on the course, or in a backyard grilling and downing a few tasty Bud Lights). So my afternoon and evening Web browsing drops off significantly in the summer.

So the best time to catch me with blog updates, emails, RSS updates, and updated Websites is in the morning. I’m just getting up and during the week I still go through my daily routing of checking email and relevant sites before work.

Now, I’m guessing the same pattern is true for most of your site’s visitors. Afternoons and evenings are busy in the summer. Whether it’s taking kids to tee ball or taking in a volleyball game with friends, your visitors are going to be busy after twelve o’clock.

So the best time to update your blog or send out an email might be in the morning when they’re getting up. (If you send an e-newsletter out in the morning you might be seen at the top right away). If you’re conversing in forums or commenting on blogs, your posts will be seen first if you time them to be in the morning.

Lunch is also a popular time as people who work at desks and computers have some free time to browse their favorite sites. Sure, some of your visitors might take a lunch outside due to the nice weather, but some will take the time to pay bills, check sports standings, and check their favorite hunting sites.

Think about when your visitors are going to be spending time online and when they’ll be outside. Use their outside time to work on your site/blog and use their online time to participate and connect with them.

Staying relevant

If your blog is about discussing hunting strategy, during the summer you could discuss summertime strategies for scouting and brainstorming tactics for the upcoming season.

What are ways your readers can use their time this summer (outside in the woods) scouting and upping their chances of taking a trophy animal in the fall?

In the summer it’s difficult to think that hunting is relevant so as a writer or site editor you can provide a resource for information.

It might be summer, but your readers still crave information that adds value and benefit to their lives as hunters. Other hunting blogs may be taking a break or covering irrelevant material and just accepting the downturn in traffic, but make your blog relevant and you’ll see your hunters make time to read your blog or visit your site despite their time crunch.

If you’re a product manufacturer, create relevant emails and Website images for the summer months.

Highlight how your products are relevant now. Why do your customers need to get your products now? Or why will your customers have added value by visiting your site or buying your product/service now versus the fall hunting season?

There are many examples for individual businesses, but the important thing to remember is to stay relevant to your reader’s or customer’s mindset for the summer months.

Add value (become necessary)

Adding value to your customers hunting life is important all year round, but when their attention is elsewhere it’s even more important because you have more competition for their attention.

You have to make yourself necessary to their hunting lives. I check LewRockwell.com and Michael Shedlock’s site everyday whether it’s snowing or 80 degrees and sunny outside. The sites are necessary to me personally. I need them as part of my personal development.

How do you make your site necessary?

Well, it takes quality content and a unique voice. You have to provide insight that relates to your reader’s worldview and adds value to their daily lives. What information and insight can you provide that is necessary to your reader’s daily lives and their busier lives during the summer months?

It’s not easy to provide valuable information, but if you can continuously provide valuable content you will be able to maintain your readers and traffic during the summer months.

Stay Clever

Another thing you can do during the summer doldrums is to build up your creativity and your ability to be clever. People love clever content.

Think for a second, about a piece of content that you found clever.

Perhaps it was a song?

For me an example is He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones. This is one of my favorite songs in part because it’s clever. The ending is clever, but not outrageous.

If you can create clever content you’ll create curiosity that will give your readers a reason to visit your site or blog when they’re busier. Cleverness makes people think long after they leave your site. This is a powerful characteristic of Websites and blogs.

If you can create clever content you will have a powerful pull for readers.

Summary

The summer months are coming. This is a downtime for the entire Web, but especially for hunters. Your readers likely spend a lot of time outside and away from their computers during this time of year. And this is a good thing. You have readers and visitors who love the outdoors and that’s what hunting and your blog is all about.

But even because traffic will go down overall this summer it doesn’t mean your site or bog has to become irrelevant.

Focus on updating when your visitors are going online and catch them when they’re online.

Stay relevant – make your content unique to what is going on now and how it can help your readers.

Continually add value (as you do all year) to your readers and customers. It’s even more important now as you fight for their precious attention.

And stay clever. Create a unique need for your blog.

Don’t be afraid of the summer months – embrace it as a challenge.

I know you’ll do great!

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A Story of Focus: My Rubik’s Cube Weekend

5 Things You May Not Know About Hunting Websites

Take Your Parents’ Advice and Share

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The NFL Guide to Website Traffic

It always seems to be about traffic on the Web

Football Laying in a Field

image credit: Jayel Aheram

I’ve written about traffic before here on Hunting Business Marketing. These posts always seem to garner interest. I write the posts to help you, a hunting business professional, have success on the Web. Here are my previous posts on traffic:

It might be the fact that football season and whitetail deer hunting season occur during the fall that I always associate the two.

For me, the only time I come out of the woods during opening weekend of rifle season is to watch the Packer game except for this past season since they were on Monday night. And of course the ’05 season when they were just terrible (4-12 ugh), but it worked out because I harvested a nice 11 point at 1:30pm.

Anyway, that’s why I’m writing about the NFL on a hunting business blog.

The reason I’m writing about the NFL is because it’s a busy period in the NFL. Free agency is only a few days old, but there has already been plenty of excitement.

The Green Bay Packers (my favorite team) and management are sticking to what has been their approach since ’05, which has been to sit back in the initial weeks of free agency and focus instead on value free agents and the draft in April.

The Packers approach is one way of building championship teams and the other is of course the Washington Redskin approach, which is to pay big bucks for splashy free agents (Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall, and Derrick Dockery in ’09 alone).

There are a mix of teams who follow the Draft and Value Free Agency Approach (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and New England) and those who follow the Splashy Free Agency Approach (Washington, Minnesota, and Dallas).

Side note: By ‘Value Free Agency’ I mean teams that sign resign their own players to extensions before their contracts are up and teams that sign unrestricted free agents for a more realistic dollar value; usually after the first week or two of free agency. By ‘Splashy Free Agency’ I mean big name players that make a huge splash with astronomical amounts of money attached to their new contract.

We’ll know what approach wins come February ’10.

The off season team-building period of the NFL reminds me of how Websites work to build their presence.

Building organic or natural traffic is similar to how teams use the draft and value free agency to build a team from within and paid traffic is similar to how teams sign big name free agents.

Natural Traffic and Draft & Value Free Agency

Pros

In the NFL, teams that focus on bringing in strong talent through the draft and value (underappreciated talent) players are able to create a solid foundation for their franchise. From the beginning (the draft) players are able to learn a system and grow with the team. Rookies (beyond the first 15-20 picks) are real (relative) bargains for NFL teams. If a player is a success early on after they’re drafted, the team can offer a contract before the player is due to make it to unrestricted free agency. This is a way for the team to save future money by giving the player guaranteed money before that player has to risk injury by waiting for their contract to expire (Aaron Rodgers in ’08).

If the team knows how to build organically through the draft they can have sustained success (New England and Pittsburgh).

The same approach can work for your hunting Website. If you spend your time creating excellent content and making strong connections via mediums like Twitter, blogging organizations, forums, etc., you can build a strong foundation of steady and quality traffic for your site.

This approach takes time, but you’re building a solid base of loyal readers who understand your content and are willing to spread your business service/product through word-of-mouth.

Cons

The natural approach takes some risk out of the equation as far as current dollars are concerned. NFL teams that don’t spend big money on splashy players avoid the common letdowns i.e. Joe Johnson, Jerry Porter, and Javon Walker. However, by not signing big players in free agency, teams are missing out on the occasional Reggie White. (Thank goodness the Packers made that move in ’93).

If you’re avoiding paying for traffic you’re not strapping yourself for cash. However, you’re also taking a chance of not gaining some potentially huge traffic numbers to your site. You might be missing out on a lucrative traffic opportunity.

Organic traffic building is also a slow process. Building a solid foundation of natural traffic (making connections with potential readers by reaching out as well as through keyword planning and search) takes time and can wear a person out.

Paid Traffic and Splashy Free Agency

Pros

Sometimes a player is a splashy free agent for a reason. In the NFL, some players take the chance to reach free agency while risking injury because they know if they have a good ‘contract year’ there is a good chance teams will get into a bidding war. Each year NFL teams have needs for certain positions (usually QB, the lines, receiver, and cornerback). These teams get desperate for proven talent and are willing to pay premiums for the available players.

Sometimes, as in the Reggie White case, the team’s choice to pay top dollar pays dividend (’96 Super Bowl Champions!).

Splashy free agents can have instant impacts as their proven talent transfers to the team paying them the big money.

Sometimes on the Web there are sources of paid traffic that pay off for Website owners despite the large costs. You might be able to find a pricey, but highly trafficked site where you can stick a banner ad and get tons of traffic. It might cost a ton of money for a monthly or yearly contract, but the traffic could turn out to be high quality and convertible (profitable).

Also, paid traffic can have instant payoff. If there is a need for instant traffic, the paying approach is generally the best way to get spikes in traffic.

Cons

There is a huge risk in NFL free agency to get into bidding wars over players that aren’t really worth the huge amounts of money teams pay. Too often these players don’t live up to expectations.

The same is true for paid traffic. Often, new Web users and new site owners look for the quickest way to get traffic to their Website. This approach often leads to letdown and a loss of value.

More often than not, NFL teams get burned on big names and more often than not, Website owners get burned on paid traffic sources.

What is the best approach for you and your hunting business?

I favor the Natural Traffic and Draft & Value Free Agency Approach for my Websites (and for the Packers).

While this approach runs the risk of losing out on some major traffic from paid sources, I think it also forces my creativity to flow in figuring out ways to gain natural and organic traffic.

Just as Ted Thompson (the Packers current GM ’05 to ’09…) gets flack every off season for not signing big, splashy names, I also have to sit back and watch as others are able to get traffic through paid sources.

As with everything on the Web, the important thing to remember is value.

Always look for value when spending money and spending time. Understand the risks involved and determine when it’s acceptable to take on risk and when it’s best to avoid temptation.

I feel that paid traffic has a significant place if it’s truly valuable for you and your business. Look at the quality of traffic the source you’re paying has been able to provide their existing clients.

Look for paid sources that work to truly empower their clients.

A paid traffic source that glows about their clients’ success is much better than a paid source who brags about their own (false?) achievements.

Focus your energy on creating great content (your draft) and adding value by spending time building connections on the Web. Also look to pay for some traffic if the situation is truly valuable (your value free agents).

Related posts on the Web

Case Study of TheFutureBuzz.com: Analytics, Trends And Insights

Organic Traffic Building: The Only Way to Grow A Sustainable Web Brand

The Day 250,000 People Showed Up At My Blog: Case Study

Related posts on Hunting Business Marketing

Increasing Your Web Presence – The First 3 Months

10 Things Every Hunting Website Needs (Plus a Few Extra Ideas)

10 People All Hunters Should Follow on Twitter

How to Write Valuable Content for Your Target Audience

“Why should I visit your site?”

Wood Crafting

image credit: Shkumbin

Your audience is going to ask this question whether they realize it or not.

In a split second they’ll be able to tell if your content is worth their time.

Whether you have a product or service, blog or Website, you’re going to need to provide valuable content for your target audience.

Valuable content is what keeps your customers coming back.

People continue to buy the Stormy Kromer hat after nearly 100 years because the hat is valuable content.

To have a strong Web presence you’ll need to build on your valuable product/service by giving your audience valuable Web content.

HuntingNet.com is the most popular hunting destination for hunters on the Web because they provide the most valuable Web content for hunters.

The site has hunting news, articles, videos, pictures, tips, tutorials, field journals, forums, blogs, games, product reviews and more. It’s truly a great resource for hunters.

All of the content is focused on what hunters find valuable.

So for your Website and blog (here are some tips for starting a blog if you are thinking about creating one – I suggest it), you’ll need to figure out what your customers value and what will keep them coming back to your site as well as what will keep them buy your product/service.

Then you’ll have to figure out the best way to provide the valuable content.

Here are a few tips on…

How to Write Valuable Content for Your Target Audience

What Does Your Customer Value?

As most business owners know, the best way to determine what your target customer is to get really specific. Imagine an actual person when you’re determining who you target customer is.

Think about what this person values.

What content would they consider worthy of their time?

Do they seek tutorials? How to videos? Product reviews? Expert insight into recent industry trends? Interviews with industry leaders providing deep insight?

Two ways to gain an understanding of what your customers value are:

1) Ask them what they value

It seems obvious, but sometimes we forget to simply ask.

Sometimes people aren’t sure what they want because they aren’t aware of other options to their current situation.

This situation is common and you’ll have to use the second approach.

2) Try anything and everything

Often, businesses stumble on benefits they can provide customers by trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Try various features for your Website like video, pictures, How-to articles, etc. See what your customers respond to the most and focus on your strengths.

If nothing is working, keep trying. You only need to find strike it rich once to create a large audience.

Ways to Craft Valuable Content

Website Content

Your Website is your selling platform for Web users. Creating compelling content is how you’re going to convince your audience to buy your product/service.

A few ideas for creating content include:

1) Focus on the benefits for your customers

Examples might be “Don’t scare deer when you draw back your bow on the Super Silent Arrow Rest from Super Silent Inc.”

2) Promote the success of your customers , not your own success

You could write something like “Frank harvested this huge non-typical Wisconsin whitetail last season. His lifelong study of travel funnels allowed him to setup on the right trail. He was able to get within 15 yards of the dandy buck and draw and fire without the trophy ever knowing he was there. Thanks Frank for choosing the Super Silent Arrow Rest for your record hunt!”

It seems simple, but most companies don’t focus on those two important factors when it comes to creating content for the Web.

Blog Content

Blogging is one of the ways you can really craft some useful content for your audience.

I’ve written before on the benefits of creating a blog for your hunting business.

Lists are some of the most valuable posts for most audiences. Lists make it easy for readers to digest a lot of information in a concise format. I’ve written quite a few list posts.

You could do a series of How-to posts related to your product/service.

Here, why don’t I direct you to Adam Singer’s great list of ‘Blog Post Ideas that Always Generate Buzz‘.

Using your unique point of view to convey your insight and opinion on common worldviews is how you’ll carve a successful niche for your hunting business blog.

Video Content

I’ve written previously ‘3 Viral Video Ideas for Hunting Business‘. This has a few ideas on how to craft video content that will be valuable to your potential audience (hunters).

Best Medium of Communication

It’s important to understand how your target audience communicates.

Do they subscribe to blogs? Do they subscribe to magazines? Do they watch Web video? Are they visually impacted (photos & video)?

A Web savvy audience might be better suited for reading blogs.

Most content is enhanced with the use of video and photos (content in and of themselves) so don’t be afraid to use a fair amount of each on your Website and blog.

If you have the resources, use various mediums of communication.

Try podcasting, videocasting, blogging, forum posting, etc.

See what works best to generate interest in your content.

Marketing Your Content

I think Seth Godin has a great point when he writes, “If someone comes to you with a ‘great’ product that just needs some marketing, the game is probably already over.

It hits on the old cliche, “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s around to hear it crash, does it really make a noise?”

Well, if you create great content and there’s nobody to value it, do you really have great content?

So it’s important to understand how to effectively market your Web content.

Instead of rehashing old ideas, here are a few ways to market your content:

1) Marketing Your Hunting Business on the Web

And a few things you can do right now:

2) 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Hunting Website

And a few businesses that ‘get it’ when it comes to marketing great content:

3) 5 Examples of Hunting Businesses that Get It

Summary

Providing valuable content is the most important thing for businesses on the Web.

Figure out what your audience values, how to craft the best content, the best medium of communication, and how to market your content (this is important enough to figure out first).

On the Web, content will always be king.

The trick is figuring out the content your audience values most (they may not even know yet) and then providing it to them in a unique way that nobody else can.

What are ways you’ve successfully provided content for your audience on the Web?

Related posts on the Web

The Marvin Gaye Guide to Unique and Exceptional Content

Push Marketing V.S. Pull Marketing: Use Both Strategies to Promote Your Site

The Importance of Nurturing

Related posts on Hunting Business Marketing

12 Tips to Keep Your Visitors Coming Back to Your Hunting Website

40 Quick Tips and Ideas for Growing Your Hunting Business

5 Creative Ways for Hunting Businesses to Use Twitter