Online marketing can be a confusing place. Competitors come and go, strategies wax and wane in popularity, and new technologies and platforms seem to appear out of thin air. Keeping up with all the changes and turns is a full-time job in itself, and trying to map out a strategy that’s sustainable in the long-term is virtually impossible; instead, you must jump from island to island as new trends emerge and develop.
Even so, there are certain fundamentals that have always—and probably will always remain in online marketing. They exist in the form of user actions, which remain consistent across multiple platforms and in multiple strategies. Whatever tactics you use today or in the future, be sure to prioritize these seven user actions:
Clicks are one of the earliest actions you need to concern yourself with. SEO can help you rank for certain search queries, but that doesn’t guarantee that the search traffic will want to click through to your site. Similarly, you might have a great piece of highly detailed, well-written content on your site, but if you syndicate it with a limp headline, nobody will want to click through and read it. Acquiring clicks is a matter of capturing someone’s interest fast, using concise, powerful, and urgent language. The shorter and more accurately you can convey a message, and the more value and immediacy you ascribe to that message, the more clicks you’ll get.
Shares are a user action that lead to greater click potential, but they also add more respect and recognition for your brand. Getting users to share your content isn’t simple or predictable, but it’s necessary if you want to build an online empire. First, make sure it’s easy for users to share your material by including share buttons for all major social media platforms, and actively syndicate your posts on as many platforms as possible. Then, you’ll need to ensure your content is shareable by making it more valuable, unique, surprising, funny, and informative. It takes a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort.
Links are like shares, in that they require users to find your content engaging enough to post elsewhere, but physical links serve a different purpose. First, links generate more referral traffic (similar to shares) by inviting clicks. Second, links pass authority to your site, which manifests in the form of higher search rankings. To get cited as a link, you have to offer valuable information that nobody else has. You can accomplish this by publishing original research, making a strong and original claim, or offering something of value that other people will want.
If your audience only clicks and shares your content, you haven’t exactly won the content game. You could just have a group of follower zombies who like to click, skim, and share for their own purposes. If you want to earn a reputation among your followers and truly connect with them, you need to produce content that drives engagements. How you define engagements is subjective—some people look to things like comments and response posts. The key is to elicit a reaction from people, preferably in the form of something beyond simple shares and links. Likes and favorites are good, but actual comments are a better sign of personal investment.
After clicking, people can leave. Even if they buy something from you, they might leave and never come back. In order to maximize your chances of getting a conversion (which I’ll cover in a moment), and maximize the revenue potential of each individual user, you need to increase your revisits. That means you’ll need to incentivize people to come back to your site after an initial engagement. You can do this by establishing a strong, consistent, and memorable brand presence, and offering some kind of value that changes over time—like regularly posted blogs or rotating promotions. Be sure to highlight your brand’s unique traits and value.
Users clicking into a blog or individual page can easily be done after skimming a bit of information. If you want to be successful, you need those users to explore, venturing to the other corners of your site to find more information and become better acquainted with your brand. To drive this, be sure to interlink your pages heavily, and offer a clean, inviting navigation at the top of your pages.
Conversions are the real money makers of the group, but to get to a conversion, you often have to go through attracting clicks, shares, links, engagements, revisits, and explorations. But eventually your users will get to a critical moment; they’ll have the option to submit their information, buy your product, or take some other action that leads to meaningful revenue or revenue potential. To commit that final stage of conversion, you need to demonstrate a clear value, and make the conversion opportunity visible, concise, easy, and aesthetically appealing. It will probably take several AB tests for you to figure out what works for your users and what doesn’t—it’s a delicate science.
If you put the acquisition of these seven actions at the core of your online marketing strategy, you should have no problem retaining a positive ROI. The only hard part is getting your users to take action from the default of doing nothing. Still, with enough practice and enough tweaking, you should be able to find a system that delivers these user behaviors reliably.