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The foundation of inbound marketing lies in quality content created with your audience in mind. Let’s say your audience likes coffee. You’re a rockstar inbound marketer so you have regular blog posts, how-to-videos and photo galleries about coffee but you want more website traffic.

A good way to generate great content that will increase your website traffic is by determining what your audience is interested in. You can do this 3 ways; through contests, polls, and partnerships.

1) Contests

Contests can help you drive more traffic to your website long after they’re over. It’s no secret giveaways generate the most entries, but there’s a fear of giving away and not getting anything in return. Start by giving away something your audience is interested in. It can be as small as a gift card to a coffee shop. Promote your contest, blog about it, tweet about, get the coffee shop to promote it as well. Everything you normally do. The real trick to the success of a contest is what happens after it is over and you have a list of emails addresses.

Now it’s time to nurture.

The key here is to look at what is already generating some traffic and repurpose it into something new. For example, you have a weekly 'Best Articles About Coffee" blog post that gets decent traffic. Consider offering that as a newsletter to this audience that entered your contest. This opens a new line of communication with your audience and brings them back to your website.

If you don’t receive a lot of entries or you have a lot of people opt out of the newsletter don’t fret. Failed contents can still teach you a lot about your audience and what they’re interested in or not interested in.

2) Polls

Polls are really underrated. They can give you an inside look at what your audience really cares about and help guide the focus of your content. An example would be posting a poll about what is most important when it comes to judging coffee: brand, strength, price, origin. When you tally the results, you can share this with your audience as well as begin to write pieces geared toward what they expressed to be of interest to them.

Consider choosing a polling system that does not require the person to login. The idea here is to learn as much as you can by asking specific, short questions. This is a quick and easy way to gather feedback from your audience and get a better idea of their opinions. The results can also be used to generate content that might be of interest to your audience.

3) Partnerships

There doesn’t have to be a two-hour long meeting every time you want to partner on something with another organization. It can be as simple as agreeing to promote each other’s events on social media or agreeing to add their logo to your newsletter if they agree to add yours.

Think of it like high school. Everyone wanted to be friends with the kids that already had a lot of friends. The more your audience sees and hears about you from other organizations, the more likely they are to go back to your website.

Start small. Take what you have learned from contents and polls and think of groups your audience is likely to be interested in. If your audience is localized, you can open this open to more groups in the area.

Remember, anything as little as agreeing to share each other’s relevant content, writing a shared post, or organizing a joint contest can generate you more web traffic and keep you in people’s minds.

Trifecta

You can use each of these things individually or you can pair them all together to make the best inbound recipe for your audience’s needs.

For example, at The Press-Enterprise, we’re very lucky to have a marketing professional that works on partnerships. One of the local venues we often partner with offered us concert tickets for a contest. The problem: we didn’t know which show would interest our audience the most.

We put a poll on our home page asking what upcoming shows people were most excited to see. Based on 1,076 responses over a week, we learned that 51 percent of our audience is excited to see Willie Nelson. Now we have some data to optimize our partnerships. We can test this data by seeing how well the contest does.

Once the contest is over, we offered our music fans the opportunity to sign up for our entertainment newsletter as they are most likely to be interested in local entertainment. This keeps them coming back to our site and opens the lines of communication through email.

These tools are just the beginning

What you learn about your audience and their behaviors from contests, polls, and partnerships will open the door to even more engagement ideas that are special and unique to them. Learn more about how The Press-Enterprise uses HubSpot.

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Originally published May 9, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017