Driving Traffic Won’t Help Your Business Grow—Unless You Do This First

Recently, I asked hundreds of people in our audience at Leadpages one question:

When it comes to growing your business online, what is your biggest challenge right now?

Now, when I set out to run this survey, I thought I’d see some interesting answers that I had probably never thought about before.

I wasn’t prepared for what we got back. In fact, I was shocked. And I felt a little stupid: how could I have been missing this in the content I’d created for the past couple years?

On the surface, the top survey answer was pretty unsurprising. “Driving traffic to my website” was by far the most common business challenge respondents said they needed help with.

But when I started looking at the in-depth responses, written in entrepreneurs’ own words, I saw something different. They wrote about challenges like:

  • Finding new people to connect with
  • Figuring out where potential clients are
  • Reaching out to the right people
  • Getting qualified traffic
  • Discovering the right niche

Over and over again, I saw the same thing in different words. There was a more fundamental problem they had to solve before driving traffic would do anything to help them …

Finding the right audience to target.

You could send 1 million people to a landing page you’ve created, but if they don’t care about what’s on the page, it doesn’t matter. They won’t give a hoot about your landing page.

So how do you find the right audience to target? That’s what I’ll be digging into in this post.

When I ask someone who hasn’t really gone in-depth on targeting who their target audience is, the answers tend to be on a certain level. Bloggers. Small businesses. Parents. Women.

Answers like those aren’t a bad place to start. But they’re still far too general to do you much good when it’s time to turn on traffic.

Without getting more targeted, driving traffic at this point is putting the cart before the horse.

In the spirit of getting specific, let’s consider an example.

Let’s say I’m trying to sell a business-to-business app designed to help agencies make contact with potential clients in their local area. I could start with a headline like:

That looks fine at first glance. It accurately describes what my product can achieve. And what business doesn’t want more clients today?

Well, almost every business does. And that’s the problem. No one who reads this headline will feel that you’re speaking directly to them. In fact, they’ve probably seen the same headline so many times that their eyes are glazing over.

That means I have some targeting work to do. I can start by thinking about who my existing customers are (if I have any, to begin with), and who’s in the audience that, according to my research, is most likely to buy and use my app. Then I can think about what that tells me about the problems I can solve for that audience.

Let’s say that, based on what I’ve observed in my business so far, my app is actually best for:

  • Agencies with under 5 employees (so they don’t have a lot of manpower to devote to generating leads)
  • Agencies with 20–50 clients and a local focus (so they could use the volume of new leads my app promises)
  • Agencies that make around $300,000 a year (so they need any new solution to be low-priced)

Now I’m going to do something that may feel a little weird at first …

I’m going to exclude a bunch of people from my audience.

Almost all of them, in fact. Everyone who doesn’t fit that profile.

That doesn’t mean I’ll refuse to sell to them if they come my way. But I’m not going to waste time writing landing page copy for everyone who might be able to make my product work for their business needs.

Taking the factors above into account, I’ll write a new headline. Here’s how it looks:

An agency in my target audience focused on selling services to local businesses would immediately identify with the problem and solution contained in this headline. Because they see their own lives in the headline, they’ll be more engaged with what my landing page has to say. They’ll want to find out how they can get more clients without cold calling, and they’ll keep scrolling down the page.

Now, let’s work through the process of defining who your target audience is. For example, we’ll use the same business I invented above.

I’m going to start with a series of 7 questions to pin down my target audience. After that, I’ll want to ask at least as many questions to refine my messaging for that target audience.

What you’ll want to do with these questions is elaborate on each one until you can’t really think of anything else to write about. Skip the one-word answers. If you’re unsure about certain things, use highly educated guesses based on the clients you already have, acquaintances in your target group, and external research you’ve done in the process of starting your business.

1. Are you solving a problem?

Sample answer: Yes. The problem is that it’s incredibly hard to get business owners on the phone because they’re always swamped with managing their business.

2. Who are you targeting?

Sample answer: Service-based marketing agencies selling local SEO services to local businesses.

3. Can you narrow your focus further?

Sample answer: My ideal client has under 5 employees, 20–50 clients, and revenues of $300,000 a year. They work in busy urban areas where lots of businesses are trying to get people in the door. They depend on Google reviews and search results for much of their web traffic.

4. Why are these people a good fit?

Sample answer: In order to get the clients they need, these agencies really need sales staff to spend most of their day combing through phone books and online business listings to find businesses to cold call. This isn’t optimal: given their small staff and tight margins, it’s too time-consuming. They need a way to automate some of their initial lead-gen tasks so when they get on the phone they can know they’re going to talk to the decision-maker.

My app automates the exact process they’re looking to automate. It directly makes their lives easier and better by allowing them to talk to more business owners in a shorter amount of time.

5. Is there a better audience?

Sample answer: If my initial campaign misses its mark, or my business gains more capacity in the future, I could focus in on other markets that are cold-calling heavy. For right now, I think this is the best fit.

6. What problems do they face?

Sample answer: Spending too much time prospecting with no guarantee it will turn into revenue. Not being able to connect with business owners. Juggling prospecting with following up.

7. What motivates them?

Sample answer: Closing sales. Making their process easier and more efficient. Getting new clients.

After going through these questions and really mapping out who my target audience, I can focus on creating content—from headlines to blog posts to in-depth info resources—that will speak to these people.

And when traffic does arrive, it’ll stick around and truly benefit my business.

Comment-Section Challenge: Choose one of the 7 questions above and say how you’d answer it for your business in the comments below!