Traffic & Traction: Online Marketing

Web traffic fuels your business. Without traffic, you have no visitors to convert. With no conversions, your website is a billboard in a crowd of signs.
The importance of traffic is easy to understand, but the process of gaining traffic can be confusing.

Visitor count is one of the most common misunderstandings. If your website is receiving 1,000 visitors a day, you might feel accomplished. You may even be accomplished, but if you are not considering other metrics, you may — in fact — be misguided.

Your traffic must be measured not only in quantity but also in quality. Good traffic is a large stream of customers navigating towards your business. Bad traffic is a bunch of people taking wrongs turns into your website. If you’re just counting visitors, it’s hard to distinguish the good traffic from the bad.

So how do we get high quantities of high-quality traffic? We start where we always start: the people. Who are the people behind the visitor count? Who are the people we want visiting our website?

[WHO] Tiers of Consumers
Our buyers and potential buyers are important visitors, but we shouldn’t limit our scope. We can look beyond current buyers to include an ocean of new buyers. We use a four-tiered approach to organize visitors we would like to attract.

Tier 0 — Current Customers
The buyers currently buying our goods and services. We know these people well and have a clear understanding of their daily lives, pain points and communication styles.

Tier 1 — Soon-To-Be Customers
The consumers that are familiar with our goods and services but have not purchased from us. They are in the market for what we offer. They may currently use a similar product or a competitor’s product. They understand whwe are and what we do.

Tier 2 — Refusing Customers
The consumers that are not interested in our product or service. They know our product or service exists, but they may not know about who we are as a business. They don’t understand how our product or service can solve their problems or alleviate their pains, or if they do understand our offerings, they don’t feel like our offerings are affordable.

Tier 3 — Unexplored Customers
These are the consumers that have no idea our product or service exists. As a business, we have never targeted these consumers and introduced ourselves, and our competitors have never identified them and exposed them to our industry.

We like to prioritize our implementation around what we know best. We generally start with Tier 0 and progress our traffic strategies through all four tiers. Different people can populate each tier, so when it’s time to target a tier, we must build archetypes for each tier to ensure our communication is relevant and effective. We call our archetypes buyer personas.
Tier 0 is the buyer we know best. Our website should have been built for this buyer, so attracting his or her attention should perform well on our site.
We now need to determine to things:

  • Where will we source visits from these buyers?
  • What stage in the buyer’s journey do we want to attract their visit?

If we need to start driving immediate sales, we would want to focus our attention on the decision stage of the buyers journey and drive buyers who are about to decide on a purchase. If we are in a less urgent situation with limited resources, we would want to attract visits early in the purchasing process and start building a relationship with the visitor.

[WHERE] Traffic Channels
Once we know who we want to talk to, the question becomes: where do we start the conversation? There are nine fundamentals channels for driving traffic to your website. Within each of these channels, there are specific paths with nuanced attributes, benefits and limitations. The process of prioritizing these channels is based on the available budget to reach our business goals. We divide the channels into two categories.

Paid Traffic Channels

  • Display
  • Search
  • Social Media
  • Native

Earned Traffic Channels

  • Search
  • Social
  • Referral
  • Email
  • Direct

Paid traffic channels are generally more targeted and therefore better quality traffic. Since paid traffic ties all your visits to an expense, your traffic is restrained to your cash flow. You also carry the risk that the cost of the traffic will exceed the revenue generated per visitor.

Earned traffic channels help expand your reach and reduce your overall acquisition cost. The earned traffic channels are a little more broad and offer less proactive control, so the traffic quality is often lower than paid traffic.
Each traffic channel encompasses a range of specific tactics or paths. As we identify the best channel for our resources, a clear understanding of the buyer guides the selection of specific tactics.

For instance, say our buyer persona is a 42-year-old, stay-at-home mom with two kids in school. She spends most of her internet time on blogs, Pinterest, Facebook and some email. She connect through her mobile phone periodically throughout the day, but she spends most of her time on her laptop. Social media might be the best source of visits for this buyer persona. When we decide we want to use social media to attract her, we would probably narrow down our social media tactics to Facebook and Pinterest. These are the paths she spends the most time in, so the other social media tactics would probably be less efficient.

The highest performing traffic sources are a result of matching the right tactic to the right persona.

Traffic Channel Tactics

Display Advertising
Paid via Retargeting, Programmatic, Direct Buys

  • Text Ads
  • Banner Ads
  • Rich Media
  • Video
  • Mobile

Earned (none)

Search Engines
Paid via AdWords, Pay Per Click

  • Desktop
  • Mobile


  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Integrations (Twitter & Google+)

Social Media
Paid via AdExchanges (Facebook), Direct Buys

  • Facebook Promoted Posts
  • Facebook Sponsored Ads
  • Twitter Promoted Tweets
  • Twitter Sponsored Accounts
  • Twitter Cards
  • Pinterest Promoted Pins
  • Instagram Promoted Posts
  • LinkedIn Display Ads


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • SnapChat
  • Vine
  • Pediscope

Paid (none)


  • Online Public Relations
  • Business Listings
  • Link Building (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Content Marketing

Paid via SPAM


  • Promotional (Personalized & Generic)
  • Transactional

Paid via Direct, Content Distribution Networks

  • Sponsored Posts
  • Affiliate
  • Recommended Reading

Earned (none)

Paid via offline advertising

  • Print
  • Direct mail
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Outdoor


  • Public relations
  • Brand equity

We have a big tool box to work with. There are a variety of channels and tactics we can leverage to attract interest, but each tactic requires careful attention. Unless we have unlimited internal resources and large sums of capital, we can’t strategically drive traffic through each tactic. The challenge is identifying where to apply our resources for the most efficient gains.

To help us prioritize what channel and tactics we need, we need to recognize the strengths of each channel in the context of our goals.

[WHEN] Journey and Objective Matrix
The perfect traffic strategy is a function of our business objectives and the buyer’s position in the purchasing process. We use a Journey and Objective Matrix to illustrate how the buyer’s journey and our needs align. This matrix allows us to select the proper traffic channel combinations to efficiently meet our needs.

[HOW] Building Traffic Supply Chains
Once we understand when and where to drive traffic, we need to start building systems to maximize each channel. These systems should be designed to achieve autonomy, run in parallel and build up complimentary traffic. The goal is to create experiences for our buyers that compliment their natural behaviors on the internet.

If we want to discover our buyers when they are in the early stages of the purchasing process, we want to be sure to grab a visit through search engine results when the buyer does his or her early research. This visit will look like low-quality traffic in our metrics, but if we can retarget this buyer with display ads, and entice them to return for more research on website, we create an opportunity to convert the buyer to a lead. Lead traffic is the highest quality traffic for our website, and this traffic offers the most robust behavior tracking on our website. If we can fully understand the buyers behavior and interests, we can drive visits from the buyer through very personalized emails. These visits nurture the lead through the final decisions of the purchasing processes and ultimately results in sales.

This is just one outline of a possible traffic engine that combines search, display and email channels to grow the bottom line. There are an endless combination of channels to consider, and experimenting and creating through the prism of the buyer persona, we can develop the best traffic engines to grow our bottom line.

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