When it comes to the online world, traffic is everything. Just like a real world corner shop can’t survive without frequent visitors, so does a website need traffic to turn a profit (or at least have some exposure).
The most popular source of traffic is organic search – that is, traffic from search engines that is generated when people search for something they want and your website is among the first results. Next up is traffic from other websites and social networks, which can vary in quality and is much less targeted than organic search.
While natural traffic is great, there are a few drawbacks to it – it’s hard to get initially, it’s hard to keep a steady flow of it, it’s not really as targeted as most webmasters would want and of course, it’s unpredictable – one minute it’s there, the next Google changes their algorithm or your Facebook post drowns in the influx of new stuff, and then your traffic is just gone.
Paid traffic is a great alternative to the natural approach
There is however, another way to get traffic online – paying for it. Pretty much all of the above-mentioned sources have an option of paying for visitors – Google has AdWords, Facebook has Facebook Ads, and you can buy banners, links and even paid posts on most websites out there. Paid traffic is just as good and even better than organic, and it’s pretty much a time/money tradeoff – you pay for traffic instead of spending time and effort on building an organic flow.
Paid traffic is a great choice even if you already have a steady stream of organic traffic – more never hurts in this case and it lets you establish expertise, build up a following or build an email list much faster. The only drawback is that you have to spend money, but you can offset that by planning a good affiliate marketing campaign that will make the return on investment right away.
You can choose the quality of the traffic you pay for
The quality of the traffic you pay for varies a lot, but since you’re a buyer, you can choose what you get. The highest quality traffic is from paid search ads on Google and Bing/Yahoo (the latter is more desirable since it’s cheaper and has higher conversion rates), followed by highly targeted ads on Facebook, PlentyOfFish and other sites with an advanced advertising platform, and rounded up by paid tweets, Facebook posts and banners/links on other websites – the latter are mostly untargeted, so you can’t know how much of it will convert.
If you’re just starting out with paid traffic, let me walk you through some tips and tricks to help you make the most of it.
Prepare your website and sales funnels before purchasing traffic
It goes without saying, but you really don’t want to start buying traffic only to find out that your email forms don’t work or that your website doesn’t display right on mobile devices. That’s why you need to make sure everything works correctly and you need to set up your sales funnels first. Have everything in place, then you can start working on getting paid traffic.
If you already have a stream of natural traffic, you can use it to test the conversion rates and find the best landing page and sales copies, as well as the best way to get email sign ups – which will translate into even better results with paid traffic.
Targeting is essential – make sure it’s laser focused
Targeting is always important, and it’s pretty much vital when it comes to paid traffic. Not only do you pay money for it, but you get a lot of opportunity to choose the best traffic you can get, so it would be a real shame not to take advantage of it. Always try to get the most convertible traffic possible – don’t go for high volume general keywords, but do your research and make a large list of long tail keywords that match your niche/website/offers exactly – that will give you the highest conversion rates.
For example, if you’re offering a free Photoshop eBook with tutorials on photo retouching, you’ll want to target keywords like “Photoshop retouching tutorial” and “Photoshop photo retouching how to” instead of the more general “Photoshop”, “Photoshop retouching” and “Photoshop tutorials”, since the latter will bring a lot of unnecessary traffic, like visitors who are only interested in doing digital art and not editing existing photos.
On Facebook, in this case, you can target people who like Photoshop and who are photographers, and exclude those who like/do digital art or only like Photoshop.
Set aside a budget for trial and error
No matter how effective you are and how well you prepare, you’ll probably still lose some money before you get the hang of it, which is why you should set aside a budget for trial and error, and make it recurring if you intend to experiment with new campaigns all the time. It doesn’t have to be big, but you have to be prepared to lose them – otherwise you’ll be disappointed with the results. That’s the nature of paid traffic.
You can make it easier by getting coupons and credit, but these are pretty rare nowadays and are only for new accounts – still, with a VPN and a few $5 codes, you can potentially save hundreds.
Make the most out of every visitor and every click
Since you’re paying for traffic, it’s wise to make the most out of every single click and every single visitor. Create the best sales funnels possible and keep your visitors on the site for as long as possible. Sign them up for your email list, offer upsells and one time offers, show nice Lightbox popups with special offers for those who close the browser window (so they might reconsider), and generally do everything you can to get the most out of your spending. This can mean the difference between losing money and making a profit, so take your time and implement everything correctly from the start.
Paid traffic is a really good alternative to organic search and other sources if you can afford it and you want to get things off the ground quickly. It allows you to test ideas fast, and you can always use it in conjunction with any other traffic sources. If you have some extra funds, be sure to give it a go – if you do it carefully, you’ll get great results right away.