STOP Trying to Send People to Your Site

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Traffic makes online marketing work. Traffic really makes affiliate marketing work.

We all have paid for traffic and most of us have a firm idea of what sorts of traffic and how much of that traffic makes a site or program profitable.

But we’re all wrong.

Well, most of us are wrong. Let’s think about what “traffic” means in the particular context of online marketing. I think we’re missing out on current and future trends if we keep a static definition of traffic without pondering how we arrive at that definition.

When we start to think about what traffic means, some powerful things can start happening in our heads that we can easily translate into bottom line numbers.

Traffic should be easy to describe and picture in our minds. People go to a specific website hoping or interested in finding information or purchasing possibilities concerning a certain product, good, program or service. How can we think any differently than that about traffic?

Easy. It’s an eight lane superhighway with commuters on both sides… it is not a one lane golden brick road leading to the Oz of your website.

There is something to see behind the curtain, so if you’re stuck in the black and white worldview of throwing money at publishers and affiliates in order to receive “traffic” to you site, you’re going to realize that the man behind the curtain is not what he seems.

But no worries. You had the power to leave that worldview all along, Dorthy.

Let’s take traffic into technicolor and think about how to partner with affiliates and publishers in a way that allows traffic to flourish.

The blog A VC sums it up the best with this prophetic oracle…

Here is the future of media:

1 – Microchunk it – Reduce the content to its simplest form. Thanks Umair.
2 – Free it – Put it out there without walls around it or strings on it. Thanks Stewart.
3 – Syndicate it – Let anyone take it and run with it. Thanks Dave.
4 – Monetize it – Put the monetization and tracking systems into the microchunk. Thanks Feedburner.

wldmustard.jpgFor one, you have to give up trying to garden-wall your content. Content is a mustard seed that starts small but quickly matures into a seed bearing bush.

That bush is pretty, but it attracts unwanted guests like ravenous birds and insects who quickly take over your garden and start moving from the mustard bush to other plants that you’d like to protect.

But mustard bushes are hard to get rid of, so you end up spending more time trying to find a way to keep the birds and insects out of the garden than you do on the actual tending and care of the garden itself.

So what do you do?

Allow your content to be completely gleaned by the birds and insects? Put up a protective barrier around the mustard bush in order to keep the birds and insects away? Rip the mustard bush out of your garden and throw it away in order to protect your other flowers?

It’s a tough decision.

But if you have that mustard bush of content already in your garden, you’re hopefully not going to rip it from the ground to keep the predators away. So, wall off or embrace the predators?

Stop walling off.

Let the birds and insects come and pick your content and do with it what they will. Put devices in place so that other parts of your garden may be secure, but allow those with interest in the content you are providing to glean and consume as they like.

Why?

Because you are allowing for the consumption of your content (or product or service) to be determined by the consumer. Instead of trying to force feed interested individuals a certain amount or type of content, you’re allowing the interested individual to make their own decision about the type of content consumption they will make.

As Steve Rubel points out

Marketers must recognize that people increasingly will consume content in small bites, not large. Brands have an opportunity to introduce consumers to this content by creating platforms where people can aggregate the niche content they care about. In addition, they should move now to make sure existing online investments are ready to be chunked down so people can integrate it into other platforms.

It’s called microchunking. You’ll be hearing a good deal of that word in 2007, so get comfortable with it. Not only does this sort of content consumption enabling allow users to make their own decisions about the amount of content they want from you, it enables our illustration of an 8 lane super highway above to be created.

Micro-transactions have been an option since the turn of the century and were made famous in online marketing (and the movie business) by Brian Clark…

Sometimes, you want to charge just a little bit — such a small amount of money that traditional credit card processing services start to eat up the whole thing with fees. Enter micro transactions or micro-payments, an interesting option for people looking to sell digital content goods for between a dime and a few bucks.

Micro-transactions have caught on with many players in the online marketing world and are an acceptable way to offer payment in today’s market. Microchunking is also undergoing a similar path to adoption and will change the way we do business in online and affiliate marketing because getting people to visit a specific site will no longer be necessary.

Instead, smart merchants or producers looking for traffic will begin to recognize that by partnering with smart affiliates and publishers who are using microchunking techniques and allowing the content to be split up and made mashable, they gain much more in long term, quality and sustainable traffic.

It really isn’t that hard to do, and you can always get there by clicking your heels three times and saying “There’s no place like the feed reader… there’s no place like the feed reader… there’s no place like the feed reader…”

Try it. You’ll be surprised.

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