WTF is with the Website Traffic Obsession?
Every week we get calls from companies looking for more website traffic – business is bad, revenues are down, competition is fierce, etc. The point is that they need help, and they’re willing to shell out big bucks to get it.
So what’s the issue, you ask? Well, the help they’re looking usually isn’t the help they need.
What they always want, without fail, is traffic. What they always need, without fail, is traffic AND a lot of help getting that traffic to convert.
Traffic is important, obviously, but all the traffic on the planet isn’t going to help you if your site looks like shit, if visitors can’t tell what you do, if you don’t have clear call-to-actions and your last blog post was in 2012.
I know we’ve just met, but I can tell that your goal isn’t to drive more traffic to your website. Your goal, if I may be so bold, is to generate more leads and revenue. For some reason very educated people seem to lose their marketing knowledge when they start talking about digital marketing.
Web analytics and general knowledge of digital marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) have come a long way since the days when people were measuring “hits” on a site, but people’s knowledge hasn’t always kept up.
HOWEVER, since we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the actual importance of traffic –
Website Traffic – or Google calls “Acquisition”
Analysts will look at the acquisition traffic daily for trends and insight. They’ll break down the data by channel (organic, paid and referral) and correlate this data with other metrics. It’s a KPI we all want to see increase, but its value is directly correlated to other KPI’s.
If you’re using a digital marketing agency then your account manager should be looking at traffic stats constantly, and they should be able to articulate both the obstacles and the opportunities that the numbers uncover.
Marketing Automation Systems are a great way to measure and report on traffic, but whatever way you’re getting data it’s a good idea to employ the same source or solution religiously. Different solutions will report different results, and inconsistency in numbers will help you lose credibility on the more important metrics.
What you need to understand every month from your traffic data:
- Unique visits to your website. Google can report the numbers of website visits and the number of visitors, and you should report on the number of visitors.
- You obviously would like to see this number increase every month, but an increase shouldn’t correlate to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. This would indicate that the increase in traffic isn’t targeted or qualified traffic.
- Source of traffic. Great, so traffic is up, but did you pay for that new traffic? It’s important from an opportunity perspective that you understand where the traffic came from. If you can link it to an email campaign and/or another trigger event, then you may want to discuss replicating the event.
- The source of traffic is compelling. Did you pay for that additional traffic? Was it a result of our Digital Marketing Company? A trade show event? A newsletter?
- Knowing where your traffic comes from can help you make better business decisions. A decrease in organic traffic, for example, could mean a variety of things – a shorter month, loss in rankings, analytics tracking being offline for a few hours, etc.
- Referral traffic. If your analytics tracking software is properly configured, referral traffic should be from 3rd party websites referring traffic to yours from links. If your analytics software is not properly configured, then you could be referring traffic to yourself, and that’s not good. Understand who’s referring traffic to you and why is going to present marketing opportunities.
- We love referral traffic as much as organic traffic, especially when it converts to leads. This traffic could’ve originated from link building, PR, great content on your website, etc…
- Look for marketing opportunities with your referrals. Is there an opportunity for a guest blog? A joint-marketing campaign? A success story?
Every metric needs a best friend, and you need to correlate metrics with others. You need to understand how website traffic help you achieve your ultimate goals of lead generation and revenue.
Action Items –
Most of the new accounts we start working with don’t have clean traffic. If you want clean traffic, here are some good ways to start:
- Filter IP Addresses: Make sure your internal IP addresses are filtered out of your analytics software. You’re not a visitor so don’t track yourself. You don’t need to filter every remote employees IP address unless you only have 3. Ask your IT person for your internal IP address. For your remote employees, have them go to www.whatismyipaddress.com.
- Analytics Tracking Code: Take a look at your referral traffic. Are you seeing traffic from your own website and/or sub-domain? If yes, then there’s a problem. Either you need to tweak the analytics code you’re using and/or your analytics tracking code is not on every website.
- Get help: You’ve heard of garbage in, garbage out. If you’re serious about inbound marketing and lead generation and your analytics tracking is inconsistent, stop reading and hire someone to help you.
– Website Traffic is one indicator, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Your goal, just like in real-life, is not to have a million friends; the goal is to attract quality friends. And let’s face it, friends that pay the bills are the best kind of friends.
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