You’ve launched your ecommerce store, you’ve shared it with friends and family, and now… you wait.
But what happens when the traffic doesn’t come? If there’s no traffic, there are no conversions. If there are no conversions, there’s no profit.
Worse, what happens if the traffic comes, but it’s all the wrong people? You know, people who aren’t likely to part with their money for your products because they’re the wrong demographic, the wrong segment.
Fear not! Here’s how to get high quality traffic that’s relevant to your unique store.
First, is all traffic created equal?
No, all traffic is not created equal.
There are a number of different sources you can use to generate more traffic to your store. You can: start a blog, launch a podcast, invest in SEO, explore PPC, become a social media socialite, or any number of other options.
Here’s the thing, though: some of those sources will generate higher quality traffic for your specific business and some of those sources will generate lower quality traffic for your specific business.
For example, let’s say you’re targeting young professionals interested in buying wacky office supplies. LinkedIn might be a better option over, say, Pinterest.
Can you tell which one of these LinkedIn promotions doesn’t seem to belong, contextually speaking?
But then it gets even more complicated.
Let’s say you’re targeting those same young professionals, right? If you post a link to your store on your Facebook page, you might generate some wayward traffic over the next couple of hours. But imagine if you ran a targeted ad campaign specifically to reach young professionals interested in wacky office supplies.
The point isn’t that paid ads (PPC) are the best option, the point is that the paid ads would allow you to target the specific segment that you know will be relevant and valuable to your business.
Paid or not, the secret to traffic acquisition success is doubling down on the most relevant traffic you can find. Of course, “the most relevant traffic you can find” is incredibly subjective and different for everyone, so let’s break it down.
Ok, but is getting relevant traffic really that hard?
Yes, actually, it is.
According to HubSpot, growing traffic to a website is a top priority for most businesses (55%) over the next 12 months. 63% of companies said generating traffic and leads is their company’s top marketing challenge.
Driving traffic to your store is hard enough, let alone the right traffic. Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone on this one.
4 Popular Traffic Sources to Consider
Now, there are thousands of different traffic sources out there, but I’m going to focus on some of the most popular and well-known.
What types of buyers are you likely to attract via each traffic source? How can you target your traffic acquisition efforts more effectively on each channel?
Let’s find out.
According to WordPress, 409 million people view more than 22.3 billion pages each month. WordPress users produce about 76.3 million new posts and 42.7 million new comments each month.
But who’s reading blogs? Well, to be honest, kinda everyone. But check it out:
- According to Pingdom, the average reader of a top blog is about 41-years-old.
- The same study found that the average top blog has 45% female and 55% male readers.
But this is all averages among some of the top blogs. There are plenty of niche blogs that would defy this data, like East Coast Mermaid.
If you want to attract relevant buyers and generate traffic back to your store through blogging, you’ll need to be purposeful about your targeting. Clearly, it’s a wide open sea. So, you need to be purposeful about where you cast your net, right?
Alex Birkett of CXL suggests working backwards, starting with the problems your customers turn to your store and products to solve:
"Content, like product, is about solving your customers' problems. Most people forget this in favor of shareable content or even blindly keyword-focused content. That's why we get trite BS like ‘33 SEO Experts Reveal Their 1 Magical Trick for Success’ (when it's really 33 SEO experts who wanted a backlink to their own site).
Now, the process for solving problems through content while also producing ‘search engine findable’ content isn't easy. It's literally the job description of a good content marketer. But generally it involves some customer journey mapping, persona building, keyword research, and content gap analysis.
That said, your best traffic source is wherever your ideal customers hangout. Often, content marketing is the best engine for this.”
So, it starts with two things:
- Figuring out who your highest quality customers are. For this, look into three factors: purchase frequency, average order value (AOV), and retention. What similarities do those who purchase often, purchase more and stick around have?
- Creating a destination where those types of people would want to hangout. Dig into Google, conduct some qualitative research… what problems do those people have that they turn to your store to solve? What interests them outside of your products? What do they do for fun with friends? What are they passionate about? Craft blog content based on the answers to those questions.
As Alex cautions, blogging and other content marketing initiatives might not be worthwhile for every merchant:
“Certain market segments may read less and some products may be harder to sell via content marketing. Low average revenue per user (ARPU) / lifetime value (LTV) products are generally hard to sell via content marketing because it's a long-term, and somewhat expensive, channel.”
So, if you have low-value customers and you find yourself needing a lot of customers to generate profit, work on your ARPU and LTV problem before investing in blogging.
Note that there’s a possibility that a low ARPU or LTV could be merely a factor of your industry. Don’t sweat it, there are plenty of other traffic sources to choose from.
Once you’ve determined blogging is right for you, Alex has some suggestions:
“I think there are two pieces. First, have a strategic plan. Can you compete in this channel? Do you have any competitive chance at scaling this channel, and if so, what's your edge?
Second, meet your ideal prospects where they already hangout. If you're selling to marketers, that may be communities like Inbound or Growth Hackers. If you're selling to angsty teenagers, I'm not really sure where they hangout online, but do the requisite research before you blast away with boring me-too content hoping for some magical ROI."
Don’t go into blogging blind. Know your ideal audience, have a strategic plan for gaining mindshare with that audience, infiltrate their current hangouts, and eventually create a new hangout destination for them.
CrossFit Journal is a great example of this, actually:
Before we move on, Amanda Gant of Orbit Media has a few comments on basic search engine optimization (SEO). This advice is relevant to blogging and any other on-site content you might produce:
“Sites that win big have pages with information that people are looking for. To get in front of the right audience, make a list of topics and phrases to target.
Ask yourself: If I were looking for this product/service/article, how would I search? What words would I use? What phrases? Getting in the mind of your visitor-to-be is the key to increasing targeted traffic.
Do your keyword research, check your Domain Authority against the competition and make the best optimized page on the internet for that topic. Go big and the reward will be worth it.
When it works, you’ve got a magnet for traffic. Rather than just a spike of traffic from email or social, you’ll get a steady stream of targeted visitors to the page from search engines for months or even years.”
Again, you’re being asked to put yourself in the potential customer’s shoes and focus on long-term, consistent growth (vs. short-term, one-off growth spurts).
One you’ve identified that those high-value customers, really dig into who they are as people. The more you know, the better you can generate quality traffic in the future.
According to Edison Research, 60% of those surveyed were aware of the term “podcasting”, up 5% from 2016 and equaling an estimated 168 million people. 40% of those surveyed had listened to a podcast, up 4% from 2016 and equaling an estimated 112 million people.
24% of those surveyed identify as monthly podcast listeners, up 3% from 2016 and equaling an estimated 67 million people.
56% of podcast listeners were men in this survey.
Here’s where the demographic data gets really interesting. Those aged 35-54 (31%) and 55+ (32%) are the most likely to have listened to a podcast. However, those aged 18-34 (44%) are the most likely to be regular monthly podcast listeners.
That said, monthly listening is growing the fastest year over year among 25-54 year-olds (7%).
Much like blogging, podcasting opens you up to a wide variety of people. So while these averages are interesting to read, you could excel in a specific niche, targeting a specific audience.
“Podcasting is more for brand awareness and loyalty, in marketing speak.
Most people are doing something during a podcast, so it's really the show notes or a blog post related to the podcast that will drive anything marketing related.”
It makes sense, right? Podcasts are enjoyed at the gym, on the bus, during a lunchtime walk, etc. There’s no call to action to click while you’re listening.
Here’s how Noah structures his show notes in iTunes:
Note that link to his blog for the “full show notes”, though. Here’s what that blog post looks like:
It’s a full article on the very topic you just spent 21 minutes listening to Noah (& co.) talk about, featuring, of course, those calls to action that weren’t possible in-podcast.
Noah focuses on encouraging engagement, instead:
“The thing I aim for is taking the podcast content and making things from that to drive activities — social, YouTube, blogs, etc.
What was really surprising was, in one show, I said to email me with feedback near the beginning. It was amazing how many emails I got since you don’t get comments like a blog / Facebook post.”
For example, if you listen to Noah’s podcast, you might be familiar with this:
He regularly asks listeners to share the episode with just one person who likes the topic discussed.
And once the loyalty and brand awareness is built up, you’ll start to capture some of those monthly podcast consumers we looked at. Then you will start to notice traffic flowing in organically from the podcast show notes, for example.
So, if you’re looking for a quick win with traffic, podcasting might not be your best options. It’s definitely more of a long-term game.
3. Social Media
There are dozens of social media platforms you could choose from. We’re talking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, Instagram… the list goes on and on.
So, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on the two whales: Facebook and Twitter. If you want, you can apply the process I’m about to lay out for you to other social media platforms you want to try out.
First up? Facebook. Who’s using it and why does it matter?
As of the second quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2 billion monthly active users. Active users are those which have logged into Facebook during the last 30 days. Reaching 1.33 billion active users on a daily basis, Facebook is easily the most popular social media platform in the world.
According to Statista, 26% of the U.S. Facebook population is men and women in the 25-34 age range. Another 19% fall within the 35-44 age range and another 18% within the 18-24 age range. That said, both the 13-17 (3%) and 65+ (8%) age ranges are represented as well.
80% of Facebook users worldwide accessed the site via mobile devices vs. only 39% who accessed the site via laptop or desktop.
Next up? Twitter.
In 2016, eMarketer estimated that worldwide, user growth of 10.9% that year would bring Twitter’s monthly active population to 286.3 million. For 2017, the estimate jumped to 310.1 million by the end of the year.
Only 1 in 5 Twitter users are in the U.S. Brazil is home to the second largest Twitter population in the world, with 27.7 million users, followed closely by Japan (25.9 million) and Mexico (23.5 million).
According to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center, a third (33%) of all teens use Twitter. However, young adults 18-29 are the most likely to use the platform, with 37% using the service.
The study did not show a statistically significant difference in Twitter use based race, locale or socio-economic status.
So, here we are again, talking about traffic sources that allow you to reach billions of people. How can you narrow in on the highest quality traffic for your store?
It starts with the work you did above to find your highest quality customers.
Let’s say you’re running a store like Chubbies. I, of course, have no knowledge of their most valuable demographics, but for the sake of example, let’s pretend it’s 18-24 year-old men.
Both Twitter and Facebook could be a good option since they both have such incredibly wide reach. However, we know that Twitter is more popular among young adults. So, if we don’t want to invest resources in two different platforms, Twitter might make more sense.
Here’s the process now that we’ve selected a platform:
- Research where your highest value demographics are currently hanging out on the platform. What are they discussing? Who are they following?
- Figure out how you can insert yourself into conversations that are already happening. Can you befriend an influencer? Can you hop on a popular hashtag? Swipe a popular meme? Can you walk, talk and act like this demographic does?
- Figure out how you can lead similar conversations in the future. Once you’ve borrowed the credibility of relevant influencers and started to build up your reputation, you can begin putting yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and coming up with conversation kick-offs. Your goal is to become the type of hangout destination for this demographic that you studied in step two.
So, using Chubbies as an example still, you will have a hard time finding a hard sell on their Twitter page.
Instead, you’ll notice them building a community, attracting that high-value demographic with the type of content they’re on Twitter to find. Yet, the content is curated carefully so that it’s on-brand and relevant to what Chubbies sells.
Then again, the content doesn’t always relate back to swim shorts, which is what Chubbies primarily sells. Sometimes it’s just straight up content the targeted audience will enjoy and that’s ok.
Why? Because they’re building a hangout destination, a following who is actively engaged because they want to be, not because they’re waiting around for a flash sale.
We focused on Twitter and Facebook here, but again, you can take this process and apply it to any social media channel you’re interested in trying.
Just be aware that social media done right takes time and effort. It’s community building, not a quick “growth hack”. So don’t worry about being everywhere. Pick one or two platforms that make the most sense for you, that serve as a hangout place for your high-value demographic(s).
While you’re exploring social media, you might consider paid ads as well. Since this allows for advanced targeting, it can be a great option for generating relevant traffic.
According to eMarketer, Facebook dominates this space, with a predicted 67.9% in social network ad revenues in 2016. Twitter was expected to grab 7.9% only globally that same year. Most of Twitter’s ad revenues are mobile: 88.9% this year.
I probably don’t have to tell you that online video is exploding right now.
While there are other options for hosting your videos, YouTube is the most popular, so I will focus on it for the sake of simplicity. It is, after all, the second largest search engine in the world.
Check out the data:
- YouTube has over a billion users (almost one-third of all people on the Internet) and, each day, those users watch a billion hours of video, generating billions of views.
- YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
- More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices.
- The number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube is up 50% year over year.
Everyone from a 3-year-old kid to a 95-year-old grandma can be found watching YouTube videos. Actually, YouTube has dispelled some myths, namely that the average YouTube user is a young, single male.
Here’s the reality:
- From 2015 to 2016, time spent on YouTube almost tripled among adults 55+.
- According to comScore, YouTube reaches 95% of online adults 35+ in a month.
- More than 50% of YouTube’s audience is female.
- YouTube users are more likely to have a college degree vs. the average population.
- YouTube users are more likely to have kids vs. the average population.
So, how do you narrow down that massive audience and get the right eyes on your YouTube channel, and then back to your store?
Here’s Dan’s step-by-step process for getting YouTube to recommend your videos:
- Choose your top five keywords that you’d like to rank for.
- Search the top channels ranking for those five keywords.
- Look at the top videos from the top channels you identify.
- Ask yourself whether you can create video content that’s very similar to those top videos.
Viola! YouTube is now more likely to recommend your video to those who watched the top videos you identified.
What you’re doing is essentially borrowing all of that super, super relevant traffic from the top channels in your space. Pretty cool, right?
It’s not about getting the most amount of visitors to your store as quickly as possible.
Instead, focus on truly understanding your high-value customer segments. Who are they? Where do they go online? What do they talk about there? What do they do in their spare time? The more you know about them, the better you can target them.
Choose the traffic sources that bring you closer to those segments. More importantly, optimize the traffic sources you do experiment with to get the most value out of them.
Traffic acquisition is rarely cheap, whether you’re spending money or time / effort. So why waste your resources on bad traffic? Double down on relevant, high-quality traffic sources.