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An Open Letter to Bloggers Struggling to Get More Traffic

It hurts me to write this.

For years, I’ve been “the traffic guy.” Not only because I’m good at getting it, but because it’s the question on the top of every blogger’s mind:

“How do I get more traffic to my blog?”

To some degree, this entire site is an answer to that question. You’ll learn more about getting blog traffic here than maybe anywhere else on the web.

But there’s one giant problem…

It’s the wrong question.

And I’ve known it for years.

And I’ve said nothing.

Not because I’m an asshole (well, maybe). No, the real reason is I felt like we were serving the needs of the market. People wanted to know how to get more traffic, so we created courses teaching them how.

But Then I Noticed Something Horrifying…

A large percentage of our students couldn’t significantly increase their traffic, no matter how hard they tried.

And the worst part:

It wasn’t their fault.

They were doing all the homework. They were applying our techniques.

Except none of it was working. Not for the vast majority of them, anyway.

Why?

At first, I thought it was because we sucked. Maybe our techniques didn’t work, maybe the homework was too difficult, maybe we were just lousy teachers.

But then I noticed something…

A small percentage of students who initially struggled would all of a sudden take off like a rocket. For six months, they worked their butts off and got nowhere, and then BOOM, they would get so much traffic they could quit their jobs and become full-time bloggers.

So, I started investigating. What were these students doing differently than all the others?

Did they work harder? Were they better writers? Were they just smarter? Did they have powerful connections?

Turns out, the answer was none of the above.

The only commonality between all of our success stories is they changed the question they were asking. Instead of asking how to get more traffic, they asked a different, much less obvious question.

And it changed everything.

The Single Most Important Question for Beginning Bloggers

Ready to hear the question?

Here it is:

“Is my blog capable of getting traffic?”

I know, it probably doesn’t make any sense.

Is it capable? Of course it’s capable! Every blog is capable of getting more traffic.

Right?

Actually…it turns out the answer is no. People think you can build a popular blog about anything, but you can’t.

Of course, that statement isn’t surprising in and of itself. It’s logical that some really bizarre topics like square tomatoes or diamond drill bits could never support a popular blog.

But the reality is worse. Far worse.

The Brutal Truth about Building a Popular Blog

After working with thousands of students, I can confidently say there are only a few hundred topics where blogging really works.

For instance, ever noticed how many parenting blogs there are?

Or marketing blogs?

Or social media blogs?

There’s a reason why. Blogging works really well for those types of topics.

But there aren’t any popular blogs about retirement, weddings, or becoming a better real estate agent.

And here’s the real shocker…

There never will be.

Yes, there are millions of people interested in those topics. Yes, it seems like you should be able to build a blog around them.

But you can’t.

Doesn’t matter how hard you work. Doesn’t matter how smart you are. Doesn’t matter how many connections you have.

It’s impossible.

In fact, it’s impossible to build a popular blog around 99% of our passions.

Let me explain why…

The Seven Tests Every Blog Must Pass

For months, I researched what blogs succeed and fail, and I found seven criteria or “tests” every blog passes before it becomes popular.

And here’s the thing:

To have a viable blog, you need to pass all seven tests. If you can’t, your blog will never succeed, no matter how hard you try.

On a more positive note, passing all seven of these tests practically guarantees you can build a popular blog. All that’s left is doing the work to make it happen.

Ready to find out what the tests are?

Here you go:

  1. Size. The vast majority of popular blogs have a total market size of at least 5 million people. And that’s a minimum. Most top 100 blogs have a total market size of 200 million or more. To be clear, that’s not how many readers they have. That’s how many readers they could have if everyone with an interest in the topic read their blog.
  2. Age. The vast majority of blog readers are between the ages of 30 and 55. If you’re targeting an audience younger or older than that window, such as teenagers or baby boomers, it’s almost impossible to build a popular blog, simply because these people don’t like reading blogs. Not yet, anyway.
  3. Longevity. Because blogs publish content on an ongoing basis, you need an audience that has an ongoing interest. Ideally, it’s a topic like personal finance or social media that changes all the time, and so people want to read about it forever. What you don’t want is a topic like wedding planning or pregnancy, because people are only interested in those subjects for a few months.
  4. Language. In general, blogging as we know it is confined to the English language. Yes, it’s totally possible to build a popular blog in Japanese or Spanish, but the traffic techniques are totally different, and it’s much, much more difficult. In my opinion, it’s far more efficient to use other more traditional methods to build the audience, such as advertising.
  5. Network. For a blog to really take off, you need an audience who is networked with each other through social media. Moms talk with each other on Facebook, foodies hang out on Pinterest, bloggers and journalists are big on Twitter. As a result, they are easy to reach. If your audience isn’t hanging out on a particular social media platform, on the other hand, it’s almost impossible to get any traffic.
  6. Influencer. If a blog topic is viable, you pretty much always find influencers who have already built up their own audiences in the space. Sometimes they are bloggers, sometimes they are podcasters, sometimes they are best-selling authors. The key point: with a little research, you can easily find 5-10 influencers or “thought leaders” already dominating the space. If you can’t find any, there’s always a reason why, and it’s never good.
  7. Desirability. Last but certainly not least, you need to like the audience. Surprisingly, this is the number one reason a blog stalls out following a period of rapid growth. After attracting a small audience, the blogger discovers they can’t stand them, and they stop writing because it’s not fun anymore. The moral of the story: make sure you like the people you are trying to attract because you’ll be hanging out with them for years.

Are You Depressed Yet?

Chances are, your blog fails at least one of these tests.

And you know what that means, right?

It’s curtains. Goodbye, dear one, we’ll remember you fondly forever.

At least as far as getting a bunch of free traffic is concerned.

You can absolutely continue writing, but it’s never going to attract a lot of readers without spending a fortune on advertising, and I’m guessing that’s not your cup of tea.

The Good News…

You can always launch a new blog. If you choose a viable topic, you might even be a little stunned by how quickly it grows.

Because you see, it’s easy to grow a blog that passes the above tests.

This blog got 4,379 visitors on the very first day I opened it. Granted, some of that was due to the promotion strategy I used, but a big part of it was I chose the right topic.

In fact, all of the blogs I’ve started over the last five years have taken off like a rocket. Not because I know some special traffic secret, but because I chose topics capable of supporting a popular blog.

The question is…how?

How do I consistently choose the right topics for blogs when everyone else is mystified?

The answer is…

…you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. :-)

Just make sure you’re on our email list because I’m not announcing this to the public just yet. I want our loyal readers to get it first.

About the Author: Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Boost Blog Traffic, Inc. Poor man. :-)

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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