Traffic is traffic, right?
Technically, yes. However, not all traffic is the same.
If you want to optimize conversions, you need to pay attention to where your site visitors are coming from. Once you know where the traffic came from, you can take steps to boost your conversions.
Understanding & Analyzing Traffic - Why Is It Important?
By analyzing different types of traffic, you can understand:
1. Where your traffic comes from
2. How much of your traffic is your target audience
3. Visitor behavior
4. ROI from digital marketing activities
All these pieces of information help you develop a functional digital marketing campaign that attracts the right kind of traffic. You'll be able to see important trends like where your traffic comes from, who your visitors are, what people do on your website, and how often traffic converts.
In order to understand the results of your analytics, you need to have some background information about where traffic comes from and what it means for your business.
The basic types of traffic are:
Here's a bit more detail about each one of these types of traffic and how they play a part in creating conversions, plus tips on boosting conversions from each traffic source.
What is Organic Traffic?
Organic traffic is a kind of traffic that comes from search engine results pages (SERPs). This means that someone typed a keyword/phrase into a search engine and clicked on one of the results shown.
Ad clicks from results pages are not included, only visits to search result links themselves.
Organic Traffic Sources
Most organic traffic comes from Google. There are other search engines, but it's hardly a competitive market.
As of March 2021, Google had over 92% of the global market share for search engines.
Because of this huge gap between platforms, we're just going to talk about Google search traffic.
Organic Traffic Offers High ROI
There are a few distinct benefits of organic traffic when compared to other sources of traffic.
1. High ROI
Because of how different companies measure ROI from organic search, there's no industry average. It can be helpful to compare organic to paid traffic.
By looking at the traffic from top keywords that companies rank for versus the cost per click (CPC) they would pay for similar traffic numbers, you can see the value of organic traffic pretty plainly.
Organic traffic often requires a one-time upfront cost to develop content on a page, then a small recurring fee if you hire an SEO team to keep your content front and center. With around 28% of people clicking on the first result, 15% on the second, and 11% on the third, it pays to rank well.
If you rank well, you're likely to get consistent traffic every month.
One case study from the Search Engine Journal showed that the website Bankrate would have to pay around $35 million in CPC ads to attract the same amount of traffic their organic results provide.
Although organic traffic isn't always free, it usually costs far less than other traffic sources and provides higher returns for longer than any other type of traffic.
You can start attracting organic traffic no matter how large or small your website or budget is. A new business with a freshly built website can start simple SEO for little to no cost, with room to grow as they do.
You can start SEO at any point. It's never too early or late. There is always something that you can do to work on your rankings and try to pull in more traffic.
3. Many Market Positions
There are endless ways to approach SEO. While it may not be cost-effective to target highly competitive keywords, you can pivot to focus on less competitive keywords that are still directly relevant to your business.
These aren't the only benefits you get from organic traffic, but their primary uses are availed when you compare organic and other traffic.
Boosting Conversions from Organic Traffic
Traffic ≠ Conversions
So, you're getting some organic traffic. How do you turn that into conversions?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Focus on Relevance
Just because you're getting traffic doesn't mean you're getting the right kind of traffic. Look at the keywords you're ranking for using tools like Keyword Explorer.
Are you ranking for keywords that are directly related to your call to action (CTA)?
Relevance is important. You need to provide a CTA that will appeal to the needs of your real audience, as opposed to your target audience. If your real and target audience doesn't line up, your content may not be as relevant to your target market as you think.
2. Boost Traffic to Improve Total Conversions
If you can't get your conversion rate to go up, you could also focus on boosting your traffic itself. By ranking for more keywords and getting into better ranking positions, you may be able to get more overall traffic, leading to a higher number of conversions.
2% of 100 is less than 2% of 100,000. While it's better to increase your conversion rate itself, your other option is to drive as much traffic as possible to your landing pages in order to increase your total conversions.
3. Build a Great Landing Page
Speaking of landing pages, pay attention to them when building a website.
Landing pages are where people enter your website from outside. It could be anything from your home or product pages to a dedicated landing page for a specific keyword.
The best landing pages have a specific USP, speak well to their audience, focus on the CTA, have concise information, and feature design elements that naturally draw visitors to your CTA.
4. Optimize for Buyer Intent
Keywords can have different levels of buyer intent, meaning people performing searches for those keywords are more or less likely to spend the money wherever they land.
Research from 2018 showed that 53% of customers always do online research before they make a purchase.
High buyer intent keywords are those that are searched closer to the instance of purchase. This is compared to informational queries.
Optimize your content and CTA to match where your audience is in their customer journey. It's good to have a mix of content from the top to the bottom of the funnel, building links between content to lead people in a natural progression.
Make sure your content is speaking to the intention of your audience.
What is Direct Traffic?
Direct traffic is any traffic that has no discernible point of origin. This means direct traffic does not all come from the same source but instead lumps together all traffic without a clearly defined gateway.
Analytics platforms have specific criteria for defining traffic. Whenever traffic comes to your site that falls outside of these criteria, it's labeled direct traffic.
- Visitors who type in the URL manually
- Browser bookmark clicks
- Referrals from HTTPS to HTTP websites
- Tracking code failures
- Inappropriate page redirections
- Non-internet link sources (PDFs, offline documents, messaging apps, etc.)
Minimizing Direct Traffic
It's easy to disregard direct traffic because it's harder to track. There are things you can do to separate out direct traffic from some sources.
A good example is a traffic that comes from a PDF lead magnet. If you don't put properly tagged links into your downloadable content, all traffic that comes from the links in your PDF will show up as direct traffic. If you tag the links, you can track the source of that specific traffic.
Boosting Conversions from Direct Traffic
Even though you can't tell exactly where your direct traffic comes from, you can still take steps to boost conversions from this traffic type.
1. Segment Direct Traffic by Measurable Data
While you can't always identify the source of the traffic, you can look at other data associated with the site visitors themselves. Segment based on visitor activity, device type, pages visited, location, or the number of sessions.
All these data points can give you actionable insights about your direct traffic that helps you build a better conversion strategy.
2. Offer an Inceptive for Traffic Sourcing Information
The easiest way to know the answer to a question is to ask it.
Opt-ins are a tough sell, but you can offer a free lead magnet in exchange for information about how a visitor discovered your page. You may not capture info about every direct traffic visitor, but you can get some insights into a portion of that audience and extrapolate for a decent picture of where your visitors came from.
3. Analyze Direct Traffic Landing Page Data
One of the most essential things you can do if you want to boost conversions is to understand what's attracting people to your website in the first place. The landing page where direct traffic visitors end up can point to where they came from or what their intention is.
What is Referral Traffic?
Referral traffic comes to your site from another website, excluding search engines. This can be from follow or no-follow links on other websites.
Where Referral Traffic Comes from
There are a number of legitimate sources for referral traffic, including:
- Blog posts or articles linking to your website
- Guest posts
- Bios and info snippets
- Ranking and review sites
- Infographics and images
When traffic is pointed to your site from other sources, it's often considered direct traffic instead of referral traffic. More on that above, in case you haven't read it already!
Boosting Conversions on Referral Traffic
Here are some tips for increasing conversions from referral traffic on your site:
1. Build Custom Landing Pages
If you have any control over your referral traffic, you should direct visitors to specific landing pages that are relevant to the referral source.
How can you create one page that addresses everyone directly?
You can't. At least, not effectively.
Instead, you need separate landing pages dedicated to addressing the needs of people from different sources. Create and A/B test a few landing pages to optimize engagement, whether that's direct conversions or going on to other pages and converting at a later time.
2. Manage Incoming Links
One of the easiest ways to boost your conversions from referral traffic is to ensure that traffic is coming from relevant sources. Analyze your inbound links to see where traffic is coming from.
If it's coming from something unrelated to your business, people may click away quickly and spoil your bounce rate. It's better to remove links that are creating irrelevant traffic.
When you find sites that are linking to you with relevant content, reach out and try to build a relationship. It could lead to more links in the future and the growth of relevant traffic.
3. Prioritize Opt-ins and Remarketing
What you don't want is for referral traffic to land on your page and leave again without having engaged with you in some way. If they aren't converting on the first visit, the ideal second goal is to capture user data through specific opt-ins. Examples include signing up to an email list, following your social media accounts, or giving some information in exchange for a lead magnet.
These kinds of opt-ins allow you to remarket to people who are already familiar with you. They've visited your page and may be willing to hear what else you have to say, putting you in a great position to turn them into conversions down the road.
What is Social Traffic?
Social traffic comes to your site from specific types of apps or websites, namely social networks.
Where Does Social Traffic Come from?
There are two kinds of social traffic usually discussed: public social and dark social.
Public social traffic comes mainly from open social media platforms, including:
Dark social is harder to track because it comes from sources that are less open, including:
- Email (more on email specifically later on)
- Messaging platforms (Whatsapp, Snapchat, Telegram, Skype, Facebook Messenger, etc.)
- Text messages (SMS)
If you asked on Twitter for recipes to make lasagna and people posted links in your comments, any visitors from those links are public social traffic. If you texted your friend on Whatsapp and asked for her favorite lasagna recipe and she replied with a link, your visit to that link is dark social traffic.
Knowing the distinction is important because it can help you get a better understanding of how to deal with that traffic and increase conversions.
Note: a lot of dark social traffic may show up as direct traffic if you fail to tag your links appropriately.
Boosting Conversions from Social Traffic
How can you turn social traffic into conversions? Here are a few tips:
1. Optimize Landing Pages for Mobile Users
Did you know that most time spent on social media platforms comes from mobile users? As of 2016, the number was 80% of time spent. And, let's face it, the numbers will definitely have changed since then, with all projections putting it higher now than it was then.
The interesting thing to note is that while a majority of social media visitors are using mobile devices, most users don't prefer to make purchases or visit websites on mobile devices. People often still do their research and final purchases on a desktop. That includes people of all ages, too, although younger people are more willing than older folks.
This is why mobile optimization is so crucial.
Your landing pages and entire website should provide a great experience to users on any device.
2. Use Social Proof
Social proof is when other people talk about you in a positive light, confirming the things you say about yourself. It's a great way to build trust in your brand by showing your followers that you're not just making stuff up.
It's also great for conversions.
A 2017 report showed that 93% of people are influenced by online reviews when making a purchase.
Use all the proof available to you to show how effective your products really are. Highlight customer reviews, ask previous customers for testimonials, write up case studies, and link to other posts, articles, blogs, etc., that are talking about you.
All the satisfied customers will always voice their opinions of your business to others and have an easier time making purchases from you in the future. When you have a social media customer service offering, it will be easier to serve your customers and engage with them in their preferred communication channel.
By showing people the social proof first, you can drive more people to come to your website with a favorable opinion of you and a stronger buying intention. The result is a higher conversion rate.
What is Paid Traffic?
Simply put, paid traffic is any traffic to your website from paid promotions or advertising.
Sources of Paid Traffic
Anywhere that provides opportunities for paid advertisements or promotional content can provide paid traffic to your website.
Broadly speaking, paid traffic comes from these sources:
- Display ads (Google Adsense, Apple Advertising, media, Facebook Network Audience Ads, etc.)
- Social media ads (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
- Search engine ads (Google Adwords, Microsoft Advertising, etc.)
- Native ads (promoted or sponsored content)
These are the broad categories of paid traffic, but not all specific sources or companies are listed here. They are way too numerous to list out completely!
Tip: For Youtube ads, you have 5 seconds before the audience hits the skip button. Use an intro maker to capture your audience's attention.
The Problem with Paid Traffic
If you have a lot of paid traffic with a low conversion rate, it's a catastrophic combination. Each visitor from a paid source costs you something.
With paid traffic, you've paid upfront to boost or promote content, or you're paying per click (PPC) for every visitor to your site.
No matter how you're paying, you want to reduce the cost per conversion. For every increase in your conversion rate (assuming all costs stay the same), you're making your ads more effective and lowering the cost of acquiring a customer.
All-in-all paid traffic is one of the areas you really don't want low conversion rates.
How to Optimize Conversions from Paid Traffic
Here are some few ways to increase your paid traffic conversions:
1. A/B Test Your Landing Pages
We touched on this before under "referral traffic," but it's worth mentioning again in the context of ads and paid traffic.
A/B test your landing page one piece at a time, with a focus on the CTA, the headers, the structure of the content, and the overall messaging of the page.
Split testing is another option. It's distinct from A/B testing because you're going to test an entirely different page rather than just changing one thing on two versions of the same page.
Whichever method you choose, make sure you do it often enough to keep up with evolving user preferences.
2. Attract the Right Traffic
If your ads aren't targeted correctly, no amount of landing page testing will help.
Define your target audience before you set up any ad campaigns.
You have to know WHO you want to advertise to before you try to advertise to them. It helps if you already have a target audience profile for your business. If you don't already, take the opportunity to make one.
Ask questions like:
- Who are my existing customers?
- Who do my competitors target?
- Who can get the most benefit from my products/services?
Write down everything about your target audience. Their age range, gender, location, income level, and anything else that's relevant. If it helps, you can create customer profiles with names, their main pain points, and a backstory to make your target audience feel more real.
3. Create Cohesive Ad Copy
Ads should lead naturally into landing pages. If your ad makes people think about something completely different than the landing page provides, it's not going to work well for conversions.
A/B testing landing pages only do so much if the ad copy itself is the problem. Make sure your ads are well written to tell people the benefit they'll get from clicking.
This probably means writing a few different ad copies, and that's okay. You should expect to write different ads for most keywords you're targeting.
What is Email Traffic?
Email traffic is any traffic that comes to your website from email marketing campaigns. These must be tagged links, or they will likely just show up as unmarked direct traffic.
Because the email traffic is one of the most valuable kinds of traffic, you really need to mark it so you can track what's happening in this traffic space.
Tagging Email Traffic
To do anything useful with email traffic, you have to be able to record it first accurately. The simplest way to do this is with an Urchin Traffic Monitor (UTM) code.
UTM codes allow you to see that a certain portion of traffic came from one specific marketing activity. You have to generate a new code for every campaign unless you want to accidentally lump all your email traffic together into just one metric.
In its basic form, a UTM code is a bunch of specific text at the end of a normal link. This text will tell your analytics programs where people came from so they can record it appropriately.
To use a UTM code, you can either generate one manually through your analytics tools or use codes generated by an email marketing platform.
Boosting Conversions from Email Traffic
Considering the importance of email traffic, try these tips for boosting conversions:
1. Follow a Logical Path
Don't send emails out randomly. Create an email marketing plan with a logical progression from start to finish. When your emails are tied to each other or have a cohesive theme, people are more likely to read them consistently.
2. Think Personal, Not Corporate
Outside of work, people like to use email as a more personal form of communication. It's not meant to be stiff and professional unless it's an official email of some sort.
If you're reading this, I'm assuming you're more interested in marketing to people rather than simply informing them their prescription is due to be refilled or their exams are coming up.
To be personal in an email, write more casually. Write in a way you're talking to a friend instead of a stranger. If you're a decent writer (or if you have decent writers working for you), start your emails with a story.
Storytelling works really well in email marketing. It's an uphill battle to inspire people to read through emails, so having a strong opener like a personal story gets your readers locked in early.
Remember: the purpose of everything you write is to get people to read the next thing you're writing. Your subject line should get people to open and read your introduction. That intro should get people to read the body of the email… You get the point. When you throw CTAs in the mix, it's a good way to increase your conversions.
3. Check a Heat Map
Want to know the easiest way to improve your conversions? Pay attention to what people are doing once they reach your site.
A heat map helps you evaluate where people go, how long they stay in a certain area, and where they get stuck. By analyzing a heat map, you can get ideas about how to rearrange your content to minimize bouncing and make it simple for people to convert.
Just because your emails should be personal doesn't mean you need to type all of them right as they're going out. Prepare your emails ahead of time and set them up to send out at specified times.
The other thing you need to automate is response emails. Automated responses can be following up with leads, reminding people to continue a process they didn't finish, or telling people about other things they may also like based on previous engagement.
All website traffic is useful, but not all traffic is the same. To make the most of your traffic, you need to know where it's coming from. Once you understand the source of the traffic, you can work on optimizing conversions based on how people are coming to your website.