How do you know which traffic sources are the most profitable for your business? Which ones are worth spending money and time on, and which should be left alone?
In this blog post you will discover an easy-to-understand approach that will help you figure out exactly which traffic sources are worthwhile for your business.
Let me guess: if you’re a solopreneur or have a small marketing team, your days usually start in overwhelm. So much to do, so little time, where do you even begin?
Here are just a few common ways to increase website traffic:
Writing blog posts
This is a strategy that is most commonly used for SEO.
If you have quality content, relevant content that appeals to the right audience, uses the right combination of long tail keywords, this tactic can get you organic traffic.
If your blog posts rank high in search results and your keyword research strategy matches your audience at the right stage, this channel is going to drive the best kind of traffic to your site.
The only downside? It takes a lot of time to rank your site, and you always need to invest time in things like on page SEO, evergreen content and researching Google Search queries, fixing internal links.
Is it worth it? 100%.
Using social media
Social media posts on channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are a great way to drive brand awareness and nurture your audience. However, the traffic that comes back to your site from these posts might not be what’s actually moving the needle.
Social media is great for brand awareness and to some extent audience nurturing, not so much with conversion.
This is such a great way to increase online visibility and score some referral links when you write as a guest on other people’s blogs. If you choose your niche accordingly, this can become a very good strategy to get leads that not only visit your site, but actually convert.
This is not a good to have, this is a must have. So even if at the moment your list isn’t big, look at what you can do to optimize your optin rate to collect more leads. In time, with a good strategy in place, this email marketing is not only going to drive traffic, but it will be a great channel for nurturing and converting leads and returning customers.
According to MailChimp, the average open-rate of all industries is around 21.8%. Generally, 2% to 5% is seen as a good email conversion rate, but again it depends on the industry you are involved in.
Here are more resources on using email marketing for your business.
Many business owners fall victims to the shiny syndrome of running social ads.
Most end up wasting their time and money on something that doesn’t deliver the expected ROI.
Don’t run ads if you have no idea what’s your current conversion rate, if you get a lot of website traffic but very low conversions, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile and delivers a clear user experience.
If you do want to run ads, you’re better off targeting your warm audience (email list, website traffic, past customers) than cold traffic. And btw, retargeting is a great strategy, but only if you have enough traffic. Anything under 1000 visitors per month is going to be expensive.
The average conversion rate (CVR) on Facebook Ads is 9.11% across all industries. average conversion rates on Facebook 2019.
Search ads (Google ads)
This form of paid traffic is a smart tactic IF your website has been optimized for conversion (you can learn more about CRO here).
Three-fourths of people (75%) say paid search advertisements help them find the information they’re searching for on a website or search engine.
This tactic delivers website traffic that is more qualified and targeted than social media paid ads because it meets buyers in the right stages of intent.
These ads are displayed in search engines pages which people use to look for information, products and advice. It makes sense to promote your site for keywords your target audience would use to describe their problem, desired goal or solution.
Many of the brands that rely on search engine optimization (SEO) to grow their visibility and drive traffic rely on referral traffic. Specifically backlinks (there’s an article about this here).
However, referral traffic refers to any traffic generated from clicking on link that comes to your website from another website. Which means you can use this strategy even if organic traffic isn’t a priority at the moment.
This is usually the case with guest posts, advertising on other sites, PR (like being featured in the news, on a podcast etc).
When companies stop focusing on acquiring the wrong traffic they discover it is suddenly easier to get revenue on autopilot.
1. DISCOVER YOUR NUMBERS
If you want to grow your business you need to implement data-driven decisions instead of relying on guesswork. And the best way to do so is to start keeping track of your KPIs. This is the easiest way to see if any given traffic source is worth your time or not so you can focus only on the best performing channels.
What to keep track of:
Optin rate – look at total number of website visitors, unique pageviews across your entire website, and then number of new leads acquired through various lead magnets on your website.
Traffic sources – keep track of your top 3 sources of traffic by looking at visitors they bring, bounce rate, revenue generated and overall conversion rate (optin rate or ecommerce)
Revenue – transactions, refunds, and revenue by product
This is a very simplified overview of the metrics you can keep track of. The more complex, the more time consuming it becomes.
Before you start building your KPIs it is important to understand what you want to keep track of, because you can look at a dozen different numbers. Here are some examples:
If you’re interested in keeping people on your website for longer, look at bounce rate and pages per session (per traffic source).
If you’re interested in conversion optimization, look at bounce rate and conversion rates by traffic channel as well as Multi-Channel Funnels Overview to see how long it takes for a visitor to become a client.
If you’re running ads, then you might want to keep track of ROI for those specific campaigns, traffic channels, as well as bounce rates.
2. FIND WHAT DRIVES TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE
Most people are using Google Analytics to keep track of their KPIs. It is one of the most comprehensive and simple analytics tools for online businesses, and it is free. I’ve been using it for as long as I can remember, ever since I started my first online business, more than a decade ago.
I will exemplify in here what are some of the traffic reports you can generate using Google Analytics.
If you don’t have an account, you can create a free one at analytics.google.com. There’s both a desktop and an app version. Because your account is new, Google Analytics won’t be able to record data before its tracking code has been added to your website. Here’s how to get started with Google Analytics. To see your traffic sources, go into the Acquisition report, and select Overview.
You will see something like this (laptop picture below).
It will give you the following metrics by traffic source: Users, New Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages per sessions, Average Session Duration. The next three will be custom to how your account has been set up. If you’re an ecommerce business, then you will see Ecommerce Conversion Rate, Transactions, Revenue by traffic source.
See? Easy, peasy.
If you click each traffic source, you will get even more information.
Below is an example of what the Organic Search Channel looks like. You will see the keywords that your website visitors have searched to reach your website, amount of users by keyword, acquisition (users, sessions), behavior (bounce rate, pages/session), conversions (ecommerce, other goals).
On the other hand, your Social Acquisition report (below) shows you which social channels are sending you traffic, what is those users’ behavior (bounce rate) and how they convert.
Your Referral Acquisition report (below) shows you which websites are sending you traffic, what is those users’ behavior (bounce rate) and how they convert. Sometimes, social channels will b marked as referral. This report is useful if you want to see how your PR, influencer and backlink efforts are panning out.
3. CHECK PERFORMANCE METRICS ON YOUR WEBSITE TRAFFIC
To make sure Google Analytics delivers useful information, you need to setup goals. These can be destination, duration, event, pages/screens per session. Plus you can also use Smart Goals, Templates, Custom Goals.
Here are some examples of what you can track with Goals:
Using destination goal you can keep track of what happens on a specific page URL, such as contact page, appointment page, event page, thank you page etc
The duration goal is useful if you have as an objective to increase the time visitors are spending on your website.
Event goals are used when you want to keep track of interactions on your websites. This can bee watching a video or downloading a freebie (learn more about Events in Google Analytics here).
I will not go in much detail in here because if you are new to Google Analytics this might be a bit overwhelming, and while GA goals are good to have, you can figure out your performance metrics in an excel or simply by looking at your traffic sources and conversion rates (you get this feature when you set up ECommerce tracking).
Plus, if you’re using Shopify, their marketing dashboard is going to give you an example of the goals setting (they show you where you’re losing conversions in every step of the purchasing funnel add to cart, abandoned checkout, converted).
4. Compare those metrics with industry benchmarks
The latest survey and studies in 2020 show that the average conversion rate of e-commerce websites is 2.86%.
The average eCommerce website conversion rate in the US stands at 2.63% as compared to the global website conversion rate of 4.31%.
Once you know whether you are meeting the average for your industry, you can work to improve conversion rates.
5. CONSIDER HOW MUCH TIME AND MONEY YOU SPEND ON DRIVING TRAFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE
Here’s this research from Episerver retail clients Q1 2020. This shows that conversion rates are significantly higher where consumers have higher intent, i.e. they are searching for products (organic, paid search, referral) vs social media where conversion rates are significantly lower.
Some of the ways to drive traffic to your site can be time consuming (like writing blog posts), others can be expensive (working with influencers, paying for guest posts, investing in paid ads).
Others are amazing for long term goals (organic traffic through search engine optimization – aka SEO) but they are not moving the needle right now.
Your data will show you what drives traffic to your site that brings in quality leads and conversions.
The benchmarks will show you what it should be.
And your resources will help you figure out what you can do right now to grow your business, increase website traffic and conversions without feeling overwhelmed.6. Decide which are worth your time
6. DECIDE WHICH ARE WORTH YOUR TIME
If your traffic channels are underperforming, you should look at cutting them off and focusing more on other channels that give better results. But how do you know which ones to cut? And what if there was an easier way?
There is. A smart marketer would analyze their top 10 traffic sources and see which one gives the best ROI in terms of cost per lead or sales conversion rate etc., then focus all their resources on it until they get diminishing returns (or reach saturation point). This will help them make sure they’re getting the most out of every dollar spent. It also helps ensure that they don’t waste time or money with underperforming traffic sources.
It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of spending money on generating traffic to your website that doesn’t convert.
Do you really need to publish social media posts on 5 different channels every single day… when only one social channel is actually delivering results?
Do you need to start a podcast to increase website traffic and visibility just so you can have another source of traffic when you don’t have the time, need to spend money on gear, and have at least one other channel that is currently performing?
Do you need to create more general content about anything when your data shows you that there are specific keywords that bring customers that convert?
The truth is, there are a lot of terrible ways to spend money to increase website traffic for your business. If you’re not careful, you’ll be throwing away cash on activities that won’t generate any conversions or won’t increase traffic.
Identifying what works makes marketing your business clearer. It takes away the pressure of being everything for every person, jumping on the newest channels just because some guru recommended it, or doing social media marketing that you JUST hate.
Marketing becomes a struggle when you try to make everything work at the same time. Let’s get one thing clear: you don’t need 15 different channels. Most of the people reading this post will likely be small business owners, who either do their own marketing (including creating content, writing blog posts, social media marketing, ads, building landing pages etc) or have a small marketing team of juniors and are desperate to increase revenue so they can keep paying their employees.
I’ve spent years testing different types of traffic and optimizing marketing campaigns for myself and my clients so I know what to look at to find out what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to strategies to increase traffic to your website, the kind that generates quality leads and boosts revenue.
I’ve been teaching this approach to all my clients and it helps them save time and avoid wasting their hard earned money on traffic sources that are not ideal for them momentarily.
It’s very important to know what drives site traffic, how it converts, what are the pages on your website that have the best performance, how the content on your website appeals to your audience.
This analysis can help you answer questions such as:
What are some of the reasons you are seeing thousands of visitors every single day on your website, but a conversion rate of 0.something percent?
How your PR or influencer initiatives are driving traffic and what kind of traffic?
What are the channels that are already delivering results vs the channels that waste you time and money without delivering any ROI?
What social networks are most profitable to you?
What users do on your website, what kind of content they consume, where they drop off?
What is the profile of the people who visited your site, performed a conversion vs the people who left without seeing more than one page, subscribed to your email list or purchased?
Which content is actually delivering leads and conversions?
How you can evergreen content that outperforms?
Which referral channels or partnerships to work with going forward and which you should drop?
Obviously, there’s more to talk about what to do to generate traffic that converts into hot leads and raving customers. However, before you even consider more advanced strategies, start by knowing which traffic sources are actually profitable.
Find out what works now for your business so you can scale easier and faster, instead of trying to make 15 different marketing channels work at the same time, on a one-person show, with no budget for outsourcing some of those marketing tasks.
And remember: what worked for someone else, might not work for you.
Each business is unique.
One business might afford the time to focus their efforts on organic traffic and search traffic. While this sounds easy, this strategy involves keyword research, SEO, knowing how to target long tail keywords and short keywords that the right audience is looking for.
Another business might afford to use Facebook ads to drive traffic, but it’s not the hassle free project many think it is. Targeting the right audience is a massive part of making Facebook ads work. But so is having the right funnel in place, and a website conversion rate that helps you make back the money you spend on ads.
Some businesses can leverage referral traffic by either having a strong personal brand that appears on podcasts and YouTube shows, or simply chooses to spend a lot of time answering questions in online communities and forums such as Facebook groups, reddit, Quora etc.
There are businesses who thrive on specific social networks but hear only crickets on other channels. It’s important to understand and research where your audience likes to spend their time, where they go for information, education and entertainment.
Need expert help to figure out which traffic source is actually worth your time?
Digital marketing is a fascinating topic for marketers. We thrive on things like A/B testing different traffic sources, researching industry benchmark data, reading extensive conversion rate optimization reports and spending hours in Google Analytics.
But for a business owner, running their digital marketing alone takes a lot of time and effort, and if you don’t want to invest neither, a growth strategist might be of help.
What’s that you ask? It’s the fancy equivalent of a growth hacker. Book a discovery call here and let’s find out what you can do to find the best performing marketing channels to match your audience, resources and revenue goals.