I was talking to Phil Hollows last week, discussing the growth and strategy behind my new niche affiliate site, and his term for it was: Aggressive Organic Marketing.
I like that term.
It's nothing new mind you, just the same organic online marketing strategies I've been using for years. Strategies that work.
But I think it's well worth discussing in detail, considering how difficult a time many people have with the task of getting quality traffic to their niche sites. And getting those numbers to convert into engagement and conversions...
"Marketing helps you shape your message to your audience, ensure it has the impact you desire, and drive the type of response you want. It also allows you to increase the penetration of your message, growing your audience every step of the way." -source: The Blogger's Guide to Online Marketing
Key Elements of an Organic Marketing Strategy
What Phil called "aggressive organic marketing" is what I would simply call a smart content marketing strategy combined with a strong social media strategy - done consistently, and with purpose. It boils down to these key elements:
- Keyword Targeting
- Content Optimization
- Creating "Link Bait" & "Share Bait"
- Natural Link Building
- Increasing Your Reach
- Leveraging Competition
- Meeting Your Market Where They Are
- Being Proactive with Merchants & Brands
These are all terms and concepts you're probably familiar with already. I'm not going to make "a tutorial" out of each individual element, but simply give you some ideas and actionable tips on each point to consider.
These elements are what make up the marketing strategy for my own niche affiliate site, which is (at the time of this writing) just under 90 days old. In other words, brand spanking new - but in profit, and growing at a very fast pace.
Keyword Targeting & Content Optimization
Not targeting specific keyword phrases that your market is using, and optimizing your content properly so that they can find it, is doing a disservice to your market.
Read: Keyword Strategy
Don't make SEO overly difficult. All you have to do is research the keyword phrases your market is using to determine what they are really looking for. Look less at the numbers, and more at the intent of the search and the overall group of related phrases. Create content that responds to those queries. Period.
To optimize your content, there are 7 places you want to use the keyword phrase on each individual page or post. See Web Page Optimization for an easy checklist.
Link Bait, and now: Share Bait
Link Bait is content that is so great, other people link to it naturally. It might be funny, negative, controversial, thought provoking or otherwise highly interesting. Consider the things you've linked to yourself. "Share Bait" is a new term for content people link to (or share) on their favorite social media channels.
Key: Don't just write great content and hope people will share it or link to it on their own. Make sure you have social media & sharing icons on each post or page of your site. Encourage them to share or link to your content.
It's also important to put your content out across the social media channels yourself so that it can be shared, liked, +1'd, retweeted, etc.
Make sure it's there, so it's there to share.
Meet Your Market Where They Are
Forget what Expert A or Expert B told you was the best way to market your blog or website. A marketing method or a specific medium should not define your business. Your goal is to find out where your target market IS, and join them there.
For example, Michelle MacPhearson turned me on to Tumblr.com. I'd heard of it before, but had never considered using it until she mentioned it on the IMTW Podcast. I tested it with my niche blog, and discovered my keywords were heavily used there as Tags. My market is active there!
Tumblr is now consistently one of my top 10 referrers for traffic.
Different markets will hang out in different places online. Find them, and join them there. That's the first step to ultimately getting them to join you at your site.
Key: Go where your market is most active, and engage with them *there*.
Don't try to force them away from that site. Interact with them where they are.
Increase Your Reach and Leverage Your Competition
You can't just write great optimized content, and hang out in a few places online, and expect your website to take off on all it's own. That rarely happens.
Constantly look for ways to increase your reach. Find new places to interact with your target market, new angles (keywords) to reach them in search results, study what they share most and create that same type of content, etc.
You should also seek out the Market Leaders in your niche and consider ways you can leverage their success. Join their forums, comment on their blogs, interact with them on social media channels, share their content, become their affiliate, review their products, etc.
Guest Blogging is one of the easiest ways to get in front of their audience. See: Increase Blog Traffic for my experience with that. Not only will you get in front of an established readership, and get an inbound link from an established blog, but you'll also likely get in front of their email readers & social media followers.
Natural Link Building
There are many things you can do to get your link(s) out there on the web: social media updates, set up niche forum profiles, guest blogging, submit to niche directories, etc.
But you also need variety to your inbound links. If you have top ranking pages on specific topics, people will link to them naturally. If you interact professionally with your market via social channels, answering questions and offering suggestions, people will naturally mention and recommend you (your site).
You can encourage this a bit by offering to be interviewed, engaging others in a Cross Blog Conversation, hosting contests, etc. And by simply including your contact information on your About page with an open invitation to get in touch with you for opportunities.
Proactive Communication with Merchants & Brands
Step One is to make a list of all the merchants, products and brands you would like to work with in your niche. Be proactive about reaching out to them. If you get denied for their affiliate program, respond and request reconsideration.
Review products you like whether you're an affiliate or not. They will ultimately notice the traffic source (you) and/or your rankings for their brand or product.
Like their Facebook pages, follow them on Twitter, and be sure to "@" them in your updates regarding their products. These are all great ways to get in front of them, and put yourself in a position to potentially work with them in some way.
If they see you have an engaged readership or following, they may be open to sponsoring contests or even sponsoring your blog.
Note: I used to *only* mention merchants or brands I was already an affiliate for. The web is changing, and so are the opportunities. Make that list, and start creating content as if you DO have relationships. You may be surprised at the relationships that form because of your unsolicited mentions/content.
Above All, Be Consistent
The two most important aspects of your marketing strategy are not how much time you spend, and how much money you spend. It's simply variety, and being consistent. Variety is particularly important in regards to SEO - and also in terms of true testing to see where you get the most response from your market.
Being consistent, and consistently present, will go a long way toward building a loyal following and readership. And in building trust and the level of engagement.
And it's that following - your loyal readers - that will link to you naturally, recommend your site to their friends, share your content across social media... and ultimately do much of your marketing for you.
(So if you hate link building, start "community building" *wink*)
By the way, I only spend about an hour a day on my new niche affiliate site - plus the occasional Saturday morning.
I'm not working on it "full time", but I am working on it consistently.
And yes, with that little time (and only around 10 bucks) invested, the site is making money - in less than 90 days. The first two full months it saw almost 2,500 unique visitors/month and ~43,000 pageviews/month. Not bad for a brand new site with zero paid advertising and so little invested...
If you're interested in following the detailed Case Study on this site, "from start to profit", you'll find it all in my Private Brainstorming Group in the Live Case Studies section. From ideas to specific actions taken - and why - as well as screen shots of merchant communication & commissions, and much more. *Nothing* is left out.
p.s. I am releasing a detailed download of the Case Study and my Organic Marketing Strategy soon, which will be free for Elite Members.
You can join my Private Brainstorming Group to follow along live and get the Case Study download for free. Or make sure you are subscribed by email (below) to get notification when the Case Study is available: