Websites are nothing like the “if you build it, they will come” mentality in Field of Dreams. The ugly truth is it takes a lot of time and hard work to build an audience. It’s highly improbable that a website will garner thousands and thousands of visitors in the first month. At times, it can feel like a never-ending slog, but there is good news. There are some techniques you can adopt and implement to help accelerate the rate at which your audience is built.
If you seem to be caught in an endless loop of posting quality content but the size of your audience has plateaued, make sure you follow these best practices for accelerating the growth of your audience.
Reach Out to Influencers In Your Industry
Influencer marketing runs rampant on YouTube vlogs and individual blogs, and is a powerful selling medium. If you can reach out to an influencer in your industry and get a positive review or plug, you can drastically accelerate the rate at which your audience grows. The key is that it leverages and existing audience, and audience that is strongly connected to an influencer they trust.
Because they have such a strong relationship with their influencer hero, they are generally more inclined to take action than if you had tried to start building a relationship with them from scratch.
But be careful. Honesty and candidness are usually central to influencer platforms, and trying to “buy” a good review could backfire.
Offer Rewards for Retweeting and Socially Sharing Content
Offering freebies and goodies in exchange for actions like retweeting or sharing on Facebook is another way to encourage your audience to build itself. As you are probably already aware, people love getting things for free. If you’ve ever seen a successful survey on a college campus, you’ve likely seen the surveyor enticing students with pizza and coke in exchange for participation.
The same concept can be used to grow your audience.
One thing I saw that I thought was brilliant was a marketing tactic employed by an online storage service. If a user wanted an extra gigabyte of storage space for free, all they had to do was retweet content from the provider’s blog. I’ve also seen VPN providers offer a similar deal for free trial accounts, and offering a few megabytes or gigabytes of data in exchange for sharing content on Twitter or Facebook.
I've used this practice to get nearly 2TB of free storage from Dropbox.
Note that the free offering doesn’t necessarily need to be your cure product or service. It could be something like a lead magnet, ebook, gated content, or anything else you think your audience will value.
You also need to make a point of asking audience members to engage with you on social media. Obviously, you should add social media sharing buttons to your posts, but that’s only half the battle. You also have to respectfully post calls to action to gently urge visitors to share your content.
Like most other marketing endeavors, you need to strike a balance between firmly and unashamedly asking them to share content and not being so overzealous as to be annoying.
Create a Foundation of Evergreen Content
Having a baseline of evergreen content to fall back on is imperative for growing your audience as well. Evergreen content provides your visitors with value over the long term, while ephemeral content does not. The beauty of evergreen content is that it only needs to be fed and watered a little, perhaps updated once a year, and it will keep visitors engaged time and time again. If you lack evergreen content you’ll be chasing your tail, hopelessly trying to keep up with your audience and industry and not making much headway.
Furthermore, you should also develop a content strategy. Take some time to brainstorm topics your audience needs to know about, and determine when and where you’re going to post your content. For instance, you’ll want to know the opportune time of day to post on Facebook, which, interestingly enough, could vary depending on your audience.
Testimonials are a powerful tool for accelerating growth because they help develop trust with a new lead, which helps remove apprehension and encourages action taking – as long as the testimonials are genuine, that is. I have visited some sites before where the website owner had brazenly written textual testimonials on his or her own, and doing make websites look cheap and untrustworthy.
How could you sniff out fake testimonials? Things start to look pretty suspicious when the testimonials use similar sentence structures and a narrow group of repetitive adjectives and superlatives. Plus, I’m always suspicious if I don’t see a picture or video of the individual. Testimonials can convert leads who would have otherwise left your site, but only if the testimonials are real.
Set Monthly Goals That Are Realistically Achievable
I’m sure you’ve seen pie in the sky types of posts that will show you how to “hack” your ways to 50,000 followers or subscribers in 30 days. And while it is true that some websites, blogs, and vlogs do gain a momentous following from the get-go, I want you to know that it rarely happens. The truth is it takes an immense amount of time and effort to grow your blog, and setting your goals too high is a surefire way to be the next blogging burnout.
And remember that in the beginning, things are going to be slow. There’s absolutely no shame in setting a first month goal of only a few hundred. Be aware that once your audience starts growing, the probability of your content being shared increases, as does the number of eyeballs looking at your content.
Naturally, SEO is also a fundamental necessity for growing an audience, and failing to take a comprehensive approach to SEO could be costing you boatloads of traffic. If you want to ensure you have all your bases covered, you can get my free SEO checklist to stay one step ahead of your competitors.