Building traffic the right (aka hard) way

Building an online business begins with traffic. Without traffic, you don’t have any purpose. So, how can you do this? It will have quite a long time, plenty of hard work, and probably a little bit of luck. However, you can do it.

My site currently receives nearly 50 percent of its traffic via direct traffic. This is the holy grail of an internet existence. Having an intermediary (like Google) between you and your customers is a recipe for failure. Just ask any SEO “specialist”. They have innumerable”war” stories of how they got slammed by some upgrade or another. Their encounters simply underscore that they are on the wrong path because their initial thinking about the best way best to acquire traffic started with the wrong premise.

Traffic isn’t free. As soon as you think this truism, you will be more comfortable. The false allure of SEO is that you could somehow funnel”free” traffic from Google to your site. I have gone into detail previously as to why this thinking is flawed. I won’t repeat myself. Rather, I will recount a bit of how my firm has built its own traffic sources.

See our products:

In the first days of our site, I paid for visitors. We’d bidding like crazy on PPC. We just wanted to get our name out there. We knew that getting organic links would have quite a very long time and we did not want to wait that long. Additionally, I strongly believe in the ability of word-of-mouth. Well, unless you’ve got some clients, you’re never going to get that ball rolling.

For at least a year, 50 percent or more of our visitors came from PPC sources. I would say that the next 30-40% came from other types of advertising. We conducted display ads. It was NEVER rewarding from an immediate response standpoint. We also ran television spots. They were also ineffective from a pure ROI perspective. However, we felt we needed to get our name out there and expose our site to customers. The remainder of our traffic came from other paid resources that required a bit more work to secure. We would contact individual sites and sites and ask them to review the products we were selling.

Finally, we earned some clients and we started to earn a little bit of a following. Finally, the”direct” traffic supply became a blip on our analytics applications. Eventually, we could start to wean ourselves from the heavy advertising. We began to cut back on the PPC so that it became profitable. We finally got rid of all the display advertising. That’s since been replaced with retargeting. The TV ads are long gone. But, we still solicit testimonials from 3rd party sources.

Side note: Affiliate marketing hasn’t been a big source of traffic for us. Frankly, it is really no good for a little website looking to increase traffic. Essentially, affiliates are seeking to make big money on the traffic they have worked so hard to get and who can blame them? . They don’t need to send their visitors to an unknown / unproven entity. That having been said, you will have zero problem getting hundreds (if not thousands) of affiliates. However, only a few will send you converting traffic (if at all). At last count, I think we’d 1,300 affiliates. There is probably only a dozen or so that send us sales on a constant basis. Unless you are with a enormous affiliate network, you won’t become big time traffic from affiliates. And you won’t have the ability to sign with a large affiliate network unless you’ve got a good deal of traffic. In my view, therefore, don’t lose any sleep over affiliates as you build your traffic.

I realize that not everybody can manage to do it how we did it. I had an existing company (on a steep decrease ) I had been able to use to finance this new endeavor. Not everyone is so blessed and you will have to determine what works for you. It will probably require more hustling. Even if you’ve got the funds, it won’t be simple to stay the program. Spending $40 to get a sale which costs you $20 is difficult to swallow. Butif you think that you are doing something different and something better than your opponents, it is well worth it to make the customer.

So, how can you make sure these (very expensive) early traffic will spread the word about your website? Easy. Give them something to discuss!

What is the major differentiator between your site and your competitors? If you can not answer that question succinctly and clearly, stop everything and figure it out. Then you must determine how to convey this difference to your clients simply and effectively. Think beyond free shipping, free returns, and reduced prices. These are already”taken” by Amazon, Zappos, and WalMart.

Sources:

best-sales-practices-for-ecommerce-store

capture-and-void-payment-in-bigcommerce

a-quick-guide-to-partial-shipment

what-is-a-drip-campaign

best-backorder-practices-for-online-businesses

dropshipping-meaning-and-best-practices

On my site, I’d like to believe that we do a great deal of things really well (from client support to fulfillment to stock management), but what do clients recognize? They recall that we make funny videos for nearly every item we sell. That’s how we are different and that is how we keep clients coming back and talking about us.

Bottom line: Determine your differentiator, promote it till you are blue in the face, and hope that success will follow. Thrust all your energy into what’s ideal for the customer. Forget about the search engine optimization dance — there is no future there. The only future is in building your brand.