Wildcard Friday – The Quality of Traffic

By Nik

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So here’s the revenue formula for websites. It looks simple. I think it becomes easy to assume that all the pieces of the revenue puzzle work in a vacuum, though. I can understand that it makes budgeting easier – “to hit my goal of $2 million this year, I need 50% more traffic, we’ll throw up some promotions to increase my conversion rate, and finally I’m going to raise the average margin by 20%. It’s simple math!” That sounds great, but I do have a problem with that statement.

It’s not the holistic approach I have an issue with – not even close. I absolutely believe in a holistic approach to growth: it is by far the only way to proactively grow your store. You need to maximize your exposure on the PPC and SEO side to get more traffic, work to improve conversion rates and then bring back past customers to buy even more from your store. If we didn’t believe in that model, then they wouldn’t be our 4 core services at Exclusive Concepts. They’re right on the screen: SEO, PPC, E-Mail Marketing and Multivariate Testing.

But the first part: a statement of increasing traffic by 50%; that statement has some holes in it. The thing that bothers is that not everybody appreciates how much of an impact the quality of traffic can have on all these levers. So that’s what I’m going to be speaking about today and I’ll be challenging you as business owners to consider your strengths and weaknesses therein.

What’s the difference?

When a client says “I want to increase traffic by 100%”, I want to respond “great, we’ll start targeting the word iPod with Pay-Per-Click. We’ll get there in no time”. Or, I guess we’d target the word “iPad” now. Regardless, it’s the sentiment that bothers me. Why not, “I want to identify ways to improve the quality of my traffic by 100%”?

It’s possible, and it’s calculable. If no change is made to your site in terms of conversion optimization and all you do is change the keywords with which you drive traffic to your site, you could double your revenue – that’s improving your quality of traffic by 100%: bringing in traffic that converts at a higher rate and spends more on your site.

Clearly, this distinction of high quality versus low quality has much more of an impact to your bottom line than just focusing on traffic as a volume metric – it is by far a more important KPI. So let’s look at the most controllable parts of your traffic generation approach that can help you double your quality of traffic in 2010.

SEO and PPC are major channels of traffic for e-commerce stores. You have the opportunity to target any keyword that is relevant to your inventory. When choosing keywords, you want to consider whether or not the term you are going after is too big to fit your experience. Often it is. If so, there’s typically a qualifier you can add. For example, in the poker world, the term poker appears to be such an goldmine of search volume that every online poker site out there want to rank #1 for the term. A closer look would show you that the term “online poker” is a much more qualified term to convert a visitor into an online poker player. You probably have similar ambitions for your website, but consider the ambiguity of a search before committing your resources. The best keywords to drive conversion-friendly traffic are the ones that represent a refined intent to make a purchase – terms that fall within the comparison, review and buying modes of a shopping experience. They include long tail keywords, but they don’t need to go quite that far to be effective.

You have the opportunity to refine your keyword choices after your best guesses have been tested. For Pay-Per-Click, drilling down to the keyword level in adwords to identify those terms with the highest ROAS, or return-on-ad-spend, will highlight the most lucrative keywords that are driving the highest quality of traffic. You can do something similar for organic keywords, though you typically need to define costs on your own as they are harder to track with analytics programs.

E-mail marketing also has the opportunity to bring in more qualified traffic. Consider the antithesis of “list purchasing”. List purchasing is typically akin to getting tons of SEO traffic for a keyword that has nothing to do with your site. They are unqualified recipients of your e-mail list. If you’ve been watching any of Jin’s videos for E-Mail Thursday, you know that the quality of your list has multiple implications when it comes to costs, deliverability and yes, revenue impact as well. Keep your e-mail database clean and track the effectiveness of your campaigns in terms of engaging your most qualified e-mail recipients.

So if you’re looking to improve your quality of traffic in 2010, shoot for the stars. We work with our clients on an on-going basis to do exactly that. Our services of Advanced SEO, Profitable PPC and Precision E-Mail Marketing all focus on the tenants of increasing qualified traffic and can help you achieve your goals this year. We have audits for all 3 services to show you the potential your store has.

Give us a call at 800-504-4324 to learn more. That’s been your Wildcard Friday folks – hope you have a wonderful weekend and come back next week for a fresh installment of SEO Monday.

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