Traffic, especially through links, isn’t easy to come by. It takes time, it takes work, it requires connections. And it also takes money. If you are lacking in any of these areas, you may want to rely purely on organic search to drive traffic to your site. But unless you have something truly unique, odds are that it isn’t going to happen.
I recently had a client that added a new product to his online store. He sent out an email blast to his newsletter subscribers, and in less than 12 hours, he had dozens of sales. Initially, he was quite happy with the results. But after a week, sales began to taper off. He knew that this result wasn’t due to the lack of customer need or the quality of the product. It was the fact that few people beyond those on his email subscriber list knew the product existed.
He contacted me a few days ago, asking what he could do to generate traffic for his new project. I’ve been working with him on various projects for the last year, so I understood him to mean that he wanted to know how to do it at the lowest possible cost. He’s the sort that doesn’t want to risk his money unless he’s virtually guaranteed results. And in today’s economy, I can’t say I blame him.
After a little thought, I laid out some options. And I figured it couldn’t hurt to share them.
Click Through Landing Pages
Getting ranked in organic search results is the best way to maximize your online presence. Just listing a new product on your site’s store isn’t going to do much to move you up in the rankings, even if you do include a 300-word description and a video on the item’s store page. The page is likely buried deep in your site’s hierarchy, so there is no guarantee that Google’s spiders will ever crawl that deep. A good fix for this is a click through landing page.
A Click Through Landing Page is designed with one goal in mind: persuade a visitor to “click through” to another page. In this case, it would be the product or service you are selling. The intent is not to close a sale, but to create enough interest or excitement that by the time the visitor clicks through to the offer, they’ve made their mind up about purchasing. Studies have shown that click through landing pages are much more effective in closing sales than links that take potential customers directly to shopping carts or registration pages. You can learn more about how an effective landing page can boost revenue and increase conversion rates from Unbounce, an industry leader in creating effective landing pages.
There are three more crucial reasons you should consider a Click Through Landing Page:
- Higher on page hierarchy: Your landing page will usually be more accessible to web crawlers than a product page deep within your site. This means that all those relevant keywords and phrases in your content about the product or service are more likely to get you ranked higher on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
- Effective marketing strategy: Ads that link to an effective landing page are more likely to generate sales and increase your conversion rates than if the ad links to a store page or shopping cart.
- Greater linking potential: Getting links to a landing page is much easier than a shop page. Bloggers and review sites are more likely to put a link to your landing page than they are a product page.
Experiment with Paid Advertising
This one is pretty simple. The further you are down in the SERPs, the less likely your result will ever be seen, let alone clicked. So logic says that if you pay to be placed higher up in the rankings, the more you will be seen, and therefore; the odds your result will be clicked will increase. This is mostly true.
People tend to ignore paid results when searching for information. When looking to buy something, people usually click on the result that looks best to them, regardless if it is paid or organic. Some people don’t realize that they are clicking on a paid ad, while others don’t care. Google makes billions every quarter on paid ads, because they work. (If they didn’t, then advertisers would have junked this model long ago.)
So go ahead, experiment with Google AdWords. You can place pay-per-click ads for as little as $5 a day. Set a budget that will get you through two weeks, so you can gauge its effectiveness. Use the Keyword Planner to help you find the best keywords and phrases that will help to drive traffic to your… landing page. Yes, that’s right. Your landing page. Directing traffic to a shopping cart isn’t the best use of your advertising dollar.
If all goes well, you may consider trying Bing Ads. Bing Ads will reach less people overall, but ads on Bing are around 38% cheaper and there is less competition across the board. There is a belief that going with Bing is just throwing away money, and if you are targeting mobile users, this is most like true. But consider the fact that a large section of the population still shops online from a desktop. And out of that portion, millions still use either Internet Explorer or Edge with default browser settings, one of which is Bing search.
Letting Others Do the Work for You: Affiliate Marketing
Perhaps one of the most beneficial and cost-effective ways to boost traffic, and ultimately conversions, is through an affiliate marketing program. In a nutshell, you pay marketers a small commission for traffic they send which results in conversions. Amazon’s affiliate program is perhaps the most famous, and most successful example of this style of marketing, but you can set up a similar program to direct traffic to your products or services through any one of the many affiliate marketing networks operating today.
With affiliate marketing, you provide links, banner ads, coupon codes, and the like, and a member of your program can use these tools in various ways to drive traffic. They can write blog posts about your products, highlight sales and special deals in email campaigns, place your banner ad in a sidebar, or any other creative measures they wish to take to generate interest and get potential customers to click. And the best part is, you don’t pay for any of this, unless someone makes a purchase or signs up for a service. You can even set commission as a percentage or a flat rate.
The only real drawback to using an affiliate network is that you have to put some money up front. This money is to fund the campaign and pay any fees the affiliate network may have. Each network is different, and provide services that go well beyond the scope of this article. That said, here are some affiliate marketing networks that we recommend:
Serving over 4,000 merchant programs, ShareASale has been helping merchants gain traffic for over 15 years. They offer over 30 ways for you to commission an affiliate and 15 tools to help you make the most of your campaign. ShareASale charges a one-time $550 network access fee and requires a minimum deposit of $100 to fund the actual campaign. That $100 is only spent when successful referrals are made.
Rakuten Marketing, formally known as LinkShare, is one of the world’s largest and most respected affiliate marketing network. They handle clients as big as Macy’s, Microsoft, and Walmart, to much smaller operations such as Pittman & Davis, who sell tree-ripened fruit and gift baskets. Rakuten has plenty of tools to help merchants and their affiliates stay competitive and drive maximum traffic. The caveat with Rakuten is that it costs nearly $4,000 to get started. So, unless you are ready to jump headlong into a marketing campaign, this may not be the right channel for you.
CJ Affiliate, formerly Commission Junction, handles over 3,000 merchants and has a vast pool of affiliate marketers (referred to as publishers) to draw from. CJ Affiliate has a number of tools to help you get out hundreds of links and ads, as well as real-time tools for gauging and increasing performance. They even have unique and trackable toll-free numbers for your affiliate marketers so you can set up a pay-per-call campaign. As with Rakuten Marketing, the main drawback is the price. It will cost you well over $3,500 to get started, which doesn’t include a yearly $500 renewal fee.
Driving traffic to your site doesn’t always require bucketsful of sweat and a pile of cash. Small measures, such as a click-through landing page, or a brief AdWords campaign can help you get the ball rolling. Affiliate marketers will get your message out for you because they want to get paid just as much as you want conversions. And with this sort of effort, it shouldn’t be long before you start rising in the SERPs. Contact us at extrinsic eye productions, and we can help you get started.