Karla had a nice site getting very little traffic or attention.
She had posted regularly and done a lot of things right.
And then one day, one of the posts she submitted as a guest post landed on a huge site. Her post was so good, within a week she was being shared by hundreds of people on Facebook and Twitter.
How Building A Web Business is a Lot Like Dating
In the biz, we call this “going viral,” and Karla was thrilled.
And for several weeks, her site was flooded with thousands of potential new readers and subscribers.
But Karla’s site just wasn’t ready.
And because Karla’s site wasn’t ready, most of those potential new friends disappeared as quickly as they arrived, very much like a huge wave hitting the beach and retreating within moments – leaving very little in its wake.
A Different Kind of Attraction
Thinking about Karla’s plight reminded me of Jennifer, a woman I’d coached in the mid 90’s on how to put up a website.
Jennifer wanted to sell a program teaching people how to “be ready for the love of their lives.”
I don’t recall all the details of her program, but it involved stuff like candles and fresh sheets — and I blush a little just writing about it.
In her materials she created scenarios like this:
Let’s say you run to the supermarket one morning wearing dirty sweats with greasy, unkempt hair and you unexpectedly run into the man/woman of your dreams in the frozen food section.
In that moment, won’t you wish you had made a bit of an effort to look presentable?
She had a point. It didn’t stop me from wearing sweats to the grocery store, which may explain a lot about my lack of a social life at the time, but I digress.
Her point was obvious: If your goal is meeting your future mate, be ready. Be in the right frame of mind. Make space in your life for that other person.
Turns out Jennifer’s advice is also appropriate when it comes to building an online business.
It seems attracting readers to your site is a lot like dating.
Here’s what you can do to make sure you and your site are ready for your future web suitors.
1. Get Back in the Game
Let’s face it, most people are as wary about giving their contact information to an unfamiliar site as they are about going on a blind date.
Who wouldn’t much rather meet someone new in a safe group setting than on a blind date?
Use social media, blog commenting, guest posting, audio interviews, Facebook, Twitter, and video to ‘be seen’ and to network. When others see people they know talking with you or talking about you, you’ll have a much better chance of encouraging them to come visit your site or blog.
The web is increasingly becoming a “recommendation web,” where the sites and products that thrive online will be those recommended by others.
People like to do what others are doing. It’s human nature.
2. Leave Something to the Imagination
Don’t get in the way of the story another person has told themselves about what they are looking for or who they need you to be. You may be perfectly respectable despite your hobby of hoarding paperclips under your bed – but the truth is that most people have preconceived notions about these kinds of things.
You should still be you. Your site should be really clear about what it is and what problem it solves. But to be attractive to your audience, you need to be sure that you are presenting your solution in a way that they can readily recognize and see as a good fit for them.
There’s just no need to get into your special hobbies on the first date.
3. Be Interesting
People don’t want to give you their contact information – or even stick around – unless they see a site that looks “sticky,” that appears to have lots of deep content. A few stick around and read a few posts, but most take one look, see there’s stuff they want to see in the future that may be helpful, and subscribe, knowing that your emails will “remind them” to return to your site.
- Create easy-to-find and quickly understood visual “blocks” of categories and navigation.
- List your top posts and articles (pillar content) in these categories.
4. Get The Digits
How many websites have you bookmarked intending to go back when you had more time – only to completely forget about them?
What good is a great first impression if there is never a second? At some point you are going to have to ask for a “name and number,” or in this case, an email address.
- Is your subscription box easily found on every page of your site?
- Do you include an option to subscribe at the bottom of each post?
5. Know How to Carry a Conversation
Once you do get a date – when someone visits your site and gives you their contact information, or signs up for your blog updates, be ready to carry the conversation. Online, this means blogging and emailing to the group at large, and then engaging individual commenters on your blog.
If someone arrives at your site and sees lots of activity, they know something good’s going on.
So, how’s your online “dating” life? If you have any tips or strategies for being more attractive online, share them in the comments.
Connie Lee @ The Power To Live says
You’ve hit another home run with this post. A dear friend of mine uses the ‘dating’ analogy too.
My online ‘dating’ life is lighter than I’d like. I’ve got some wonderful suitors, don’t get me wrong. I need them to share the news of the site with their friends. :~)
I’ve run through the rest of your suggestions and I believe my site meets all your other suggestions.
To quote you, ‘When others see people they know talking with you or talking about you, you’ll have a much better chance of encouraging them to come visit your site or blog.’
After all, everyone wants to be with the ‘in’ crowd and sit at the table with the ‘cool kids’, right?
And Connie, judging by your growing legion of Twitter followers, you’re getting that social buzz going nicely. Keep it up!
Dude, you can seriously remember dating? Wasn’t that like three decades ago?
In all seriousness :-), I’m thinking this dating analogy is making me realize the error of my marketing ways: All of my online sales are “one night stands,” they drop in from Google, pay me, and leave, never to return again.
I think I’d like to venture into creating a little of that stability you talk about, by actually developing a relationship with these buyers – but heck, that clearly means “dating” them. Better get my hair cut and polish my shoes…
Ahem — yes, it *has* indeed been awhile, thank you very much – but some things you never forget, like riding a bike. (As long as we’re talking about overused analogies…)
Happy to see the relationship marketing model is sinking in 🙂 You’re actually in an industry that lends itself to this kind of marketing. We look forward to seeing your blog!
Dude, I have to date ’em AND write to ’em!?! You’re killing me here!
I don’t make the rules, Greg, I only write about them . . .
And, I’m guessing you do need to brush up on the rules of dating: writing is very much a part of courtship, I would think.
But, then as you pointed out, it has been awhile. 🙂
Ha! This one really made me smile.
Again you have a way with placing the online business into a different framework.
It really IS about relationship building.
By the way, I enjoyed the Twitter post you linked to in this post – I hadn’t seen that one before, it was very helpful.
Thanks for the smiles, business can’t always be serious…
Thanks for reading, Iala, and for your comments about the Twitter post.
Look for a Facebook post coming soon. . . there’s a lot going on there you should know about.
Mark Christian says
At first, reading over your analogy I was struck that it seems this relationship analogy ends with the subscription. It occurs to me that some people date for years before tying the knot…or taking the next step, whatever that next step is for them.
So, your last step five, “know how to carry the conversation”, it seems to me is the most important part of these five steps, no? I mean, I’ve been on some people’s lists for years and they are still “courting” me, I assume, until I buy something.
Am I off base here?
Thanks for the comment – and you’re right. Carrying on the conversation and deepening the relationship is key. Any hack can collect email addresses– there’s no secret to that. What is becoming increasingly valuable on the new web are relationships.
Thanks for being part of the TN tribe.