I’m going to be open from the off and admit this isn’t going to be the shortest answer, so get yourself a brew and settle down for a bit of a read …
Before I begin answering the title question, there are a few things worth covering first for those of you reading this who don’t delve into the digital marketing world too often, but do understand that with the right website architecture and business proposition, more quality traffic means more £££’s.
What are traffic sources?
If we’re to select the right traffic sources, it’s important to understand what I mean by this.
Traffic sources are shown in your Google Analytics (GA) interface, although yours will typically vary from the next business, as different activities are employed to drive traffic to the site. However, a very common listing of channels in GA is pictured below.
While traffic is handily segmented into source based “Channels” for us by tools like GA (and provides lashings of other great data, as well as traffic figures), it doesn’t tell us how these channels can be influenced.
For example, how traffic in highly converting channels be increased.
Working through the channels listed on the graphic above, here’s what they are and how you can go about increasing traffic to your website.
If you’re doing things right, this should be your largest traffic source and account for 40%+ of your overall traffic. Organic is derived from the main search results delivered by search engines such as Google and Bing, as well as from the Map Pack listings for local search queries.
If you’re looking to grow your organic traffic (and who isn’t?) then you need to set in place a solid search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy and then deliver on it.
Generally a large contributor to your site’s overall traffic, direct is where (unsurprisingly) a user goes straight to your website. This could be done via a bookmark in their browser or by entering your web address into the address bar of their browser.
In terms of new users, people will most likely be driven to your website by offline activity where your web address is displayed or mentioned, such on TV, billboards, bus/taxi ads, radio, print and more.
With people who have previously visited your site, they’ll only return if they had an enjoyable experience the first time. If they do come back, direct will be their main route, along with organic search in the way of brand queries (potentially paid search, too, should there be someone bidding on your brand terms forcing you to do the same).
Referral traffic is traffic that accesses your site by clicking a link on another website. For example, this could be a link in someone else’s blog post or, on a local level, it could be a click from a citation listing (think yell.com).
The key point to understand with the referral channel is that it doesn’t feed itself – you need to give people a reason to link or cite you, otherwise why should anyone link to your site?
Quite possibly the traffic channel with the most noise around it, not a day goes by without a story referencing social media in some way. Despite the hype, though, traffic through the social channel to your site will typically not be more than 5% of your overall traffic.
Although generally a low deliverer of traffic, you can supplement it via paid social campaigns on most major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Another channel that’s quite easily explained … I’m sure no one reading this has any questions as to how traffic gets filtered into here.
With that said, email is an underrated and oft under trafficked channel as many businesses fail to see the necessity of quality, ongoing email marketing campaigns.
Although not essential, paid search is a common traffic source for most websites, as it’s the only way of directly paying your way onto a search engine results page (SERP) for specific keyword search queries.
Paid search is often seen as a short-term solution while your SEO campaign gains some traction, but it’s also a fantastic way to test out new keywords that you may be considering adding to your SEO efforts.
The biggest provider of such traffic being Google due to its superior share of the search market via its AdWords platform.
Just like the above, display isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’re looking to increase brand awareness or merely maintain it, it’s a channel well worth considering.
With clicks often around a third (or less) of the cost you’d pay from a search source, display advertising can also be extremely cost effective if you get your targeting, messaging and design right.
A mixture of quality search and display traffic of any kind is essential, as one drives users with a current, direct intent to the site, whilst the other alerts someone with a direct interest to your proposition wherever they may be hanging out online.
What is the right traffic?
The “right traffic” is traffic that, once delivered to your site, actually has a chance of converting into a lead/customer once there. This means they MUST have some form of direct intent to do business with you or have a direct interest in your products or services.
Given there are seven-plus potential channels through which users can get/be driven through to a site, it stands to reason that not all users via all channels may be entirely suitable.
Why does this matter?
It matters because, without delivery of quality traffic, no website stands a chance of delivering on your business goals (obviously, website architecture plays a huge part along with your proposition, but those are for covering in separate posts).
Whichever way you slice it, traffic costs money – so given that whatever traffic delivery strategy you opt for, there will be payment involved, which means you need to do whatever you can to protect that investment. In traffic terms, that’s done by ensuring you spend only in the right areas to realise a positive return.
If you’ve recently invested in new website, you’ll no doubt be eagerly waiting for it to return considerably more than you paid for it … but if you fail to deliver the right traffic to it, you’ll be waiting a long time.
How do you source the right traffic for your website?
As with any successful venture, proper planning and research are key to getting your traffic delivery right.
This process is how I’d advise anyone new to online trading to go about creating their digital marketing strategy – but even if you’re a business that has been at this for years, you can still reset your approach by working through this now.
Here are the steps in order …
Step one: define business/website goals
At the highest level, this is a choice of, or combination of, the following:
- Drive eCommerce sales
- Generate leads (email, contact form and phone)
- Drive footfall
Then it comes down to numbers:
- How many new people do you want walking through your door and how often?
- How many sales/how much revenue do you need to drive per month/year?
- How many leads does your sales team need a month to keep them busy?
It’s worth noting that with both of the above sections you may well split the targets down by service or product category, as well having an overall goal.
Answer these questions and you know what’s expected of your website and digital marketing efforts. This is what is what they’re to be measured against (ideally in 12 months after delivering a solid campaign).
Step two: profile target customers
Now you know what and how much you need to sell to achieve your goals, you can give thought to who the lucky people are that will help you on your journey: your new customers.
The best place to start is by looking at your existing customers as they will share many traits, needs and wants with those who could become your customers. Like in the above section, they can (and should) be separated based on product or service – the more precise the customer profile, the more accurate the traffic sourcing will be.
This is best done in a collaborative session. I’d advise getting a room of both high level and front line staff together to work through these profiles.
Here are a few key things to include in your target customer profiles that will help you decide which traffic channels to target and refine your targeting for display, email and social campaigns:
- Job Title – potential targeting option on social and display keyword
- Age and gender – potential social, display and email targeting options
- Social networks – make sure your efforts are focused on the networks your potential customers use most
- Websites they visit – display ads can be surfaced on these leading to your site or a highly-targeted landing page
- When do they commute and how? – If they’re on public transport, send an email between 5.30pm and 6.30pm
- Which of your products/services do you want to sell them? – optimise your key product/service pages and create on and off-site content that would support a potential customer’s journey
By knowing which products or services you’re looking to tempt your target customers with, you can then give thought to what that person may enter into a search engine in order to find said product or service.
Do this for everything you wish to promote/drive traffic to and you’ll have keyword list that covers all bases … and is ready for the next step.
The next step is to find out how often people search these keywords/phrases and, importantly, where YOU currently rank for those phrases on the major search engines. Personally, I’d recommend only doing this exercise for Google, as that’s where the bulk of traffic is in search terms.
Make sure you cover all types of queries (both broad and long) covering services, products and questions/problems.
Picking the right keywords to focus on at this point avoids irrelevant terms being targeted as part of any search marketing (SEO and paid search) campaigns and, in terms of getting the questions and problems together, this can help you identify new content areas that can be addressed to improve organic rankings.
Step three: creating a strategy
Now it’s time to pull everything together, analyse the data and use it all to decide how best to direct your marketing efforts and investment.
In knowing who you want to sell to and what you want to sell to them, you can decide where best to spend your marketing budget. No marketing campaign can be a success without a digital element – although digital isn’t the only way to drive traffic.
My Top Tips
Search: target a range of relevant broad and longtail keywords that clearly relate to your services.
SEO is essential for everyone, so create great content to rank for your desired terms, conduct well planned outreach campaigns to improve your off-site profile and hit those citations if local is your game.
Paid search: this depends on whether you can handle your existing traffic levels until your SEO kicks in. If you want traffic now, then it’s for you – just be sure to pick keywords that suggest the correct intent.
Social: use this as a channel to distribute the awesome content you create for SEO and to communicate with existing and potential new customers. Paid social campaigns could be created based on your laser-focused customer profiles.
Email: as with social, email is a great channel to re-use your on-site content and keep (mainly) existing customers engaged. Consider testing send times around when your customers are/aren’t at their desk or may be on the commute.
Display: if you’ve worked out which websites your potential targets may frequent, be it for work or personal reasons, you can create eye catching visuals that link through to your site.
Offline: if you know your target customers regularly commute via public transport, adverts inside or outside carriages as well as stations are an option. If they’re in a car, there’s always radio. There are also elements of demographic targeting in TV ads these days, so you may be able to apply learnings from your customer profiles here.
Following the above and planning carefully will ensure you spend your time and money focusing on the right traffic driving strategies both online and offline.