Political campaign managers will tell you that one endorsement from a member of the school board, the Kiwanis, or the Rotary is worth dozens of endorsements from a less-active citizen. That’s because active community members hold enormous influence over hundreds of other voters.
A web site works the same way. To build traffic, focus on the most critical customers.
Stroke the Frequent Forum Posters
You’ve probably noticed the same people are popping up over and over in your forums. Make nice with these guys. Every once in a while, jot them a note to let them know you’re glad they find the site useful. If they’re happy, they’ll spread the smiles. If they’re not, they’ll spread that, too.
Round Up the Surfers
It’s a good idea to find the people who surf a lot. Go into some of the more specialized search engines, such as Liszt, Dogpile or Deja News. If they’re poking around in there, they probably know their way around the Net and will be more likely than other users to talk about your site. Target your ads to some of these sites, or send emails (not Spam) to some visitors to these sites if you have answers to their posts.
Serve Feedback on A Platter
Two types of folks will email you with a question. The first kinds are hard-core site users. The second kind could become so.
Take time to research their questions, and you’ll create a user who knows where to get help. Since that user wasn’t shy about asking you for help, they probably won’t be shy about telling others where the info came from. Also, ask them for input on the site — it’s a free focus group.
Ask Your Advertisers
Next time you’re chatting with one of your sponsors, ask if they’ve gotten any good leads from users who clicked through your site. Then, call that lead, asking how their experience was. A user thinking of making a purchase is a user who will make another purchase. You want these folks coming back.