You don’t want more traffic.
You might think you do, but you don’t.
SEO firms will promise it to you. Marketing agencies will show you gorgeous looking case studies: “We increased traffic by 1,115%!”
You will read blog post after blog post after blog post promising that if you just do X, Y and Z from their top 10 list, your traffic will explode like a majestic firework made out of money – all your business problems will be solved. And after all that brainwashing, it might even say so in your own messy handwriting, printed in your book of marketing goals for 2014 – “Improve website traffic”.
Scratch it out.
You don’t want more traffic. In fact, sometimes you might want less.
Imagine you run a daycare.
Your daycare isn’t making the kind of revenues you want, so you decide to invest in a bubbly new strategy: Free beer.
You paint a sign for the front lawn, install a few kegs and start pouring. Next thing you know, you’re swimming in foot traffic. There are people everywhere, tripping over the toys, sleeping in the cribs, scaring all the children. They’ve made a complete mess of your bathroom, too.
Now you’re spending a lot of time trying to hustle the boozers out the door, keep pouring from the tap and stop Johnny from cutting Sandra’s hair during craft (beer) hour. It’s expensive to keep buying beer, washing floors and explaining to existing parents why their kids come home smelling like happy hour.
But hey, one or two lush parents signed up their kids for your daycare. Minor victory; major cost.
This is what happens when you put the focus on traffic for traffic’s sake.
You can wind up with a lot of nice looking numbers and spend countless hours of admin time trying to vet leads. Traffic on its own is worthless. It’s the things traffic is supposed to do for you that make it valuable: Leads, sales, brand advocates. These are what you actually want more of. The fallacy here is that more traffic will definitely lead to more of those things.
You get more of those things when you increase your targeted traffic.
How does this tie in to content?
When you’re evaluating the success of the content you’re creating, one of the first metrics you might look to is “traffic”. You might get obsessed with it to the point of thinking that the pieces that got the most traffic were your best pieces. Sometimes they are!
But if you have two pieces, one that got 5,000 views and produced no leads, and one that got 5 views and converted every visitor – which one was more valuable to your business?
Be honest: Have you been putting attention in the right place? Or are you letting yourself be “wowed” by the vanity metric of total traffic going “up and to the right”?
Create Content for the Right Market, Not the Entire Market
There’s a few ways this plays into your marketing.
First: Your marketing message. This is going to bake itself into everything you do, from web copy to newsletters to mail outs. Nervous businesses will try to paint with an extremely broad brush, so worried about trying to capture every possible customer they wind up targeting nobody in particular.
Benefits are non-specific. Language isn’t pointed. Leads can’t self-identify within seconds of reading. Nobody knows if what you do is for them – because you’ve tried to make it for all of them. Great copy is a product of defining your market – which means being exclusive. You want to speak loud and clear to the people with money to spend instead of trying to be everyone’s buddy.
Second: Your content marketing efforts. There’s a huge attraction for businesses towards the idea of a “viral” piece of content; something with mass appeal. For some situations, that’s the right approach.
But for businesses looking for the best return on their marketing budget, dropping dough into a major content undertaking aimed at a non-specific market is like throwing up the “Free beer” hail mary. It would be better to create content that will go bonkers bananas within your smaller target market (the guys with money to spend and a problem to solve); something 100% applicable to their need and stage in the buying cycle.
Last Call – This One’s on the House.
All this talk about beer has made this Canadian very thirsty. Let’s sum this up – and hey, maybe we can clink glasses sometime?
- You want better targeted traffic, not more traffic.
- Sometimes, earning better quality traffic (and more money) means reducing the amount of incoming traffic by being exclusive to your market.
- To capture that targeted traffic, you need to know who that market is. That means building personas – and then building a brand around them.
- There are other, better success metrics to focus on: Leads, sales, cost per lead, return purchases, sentiment analysis and so on. Don’t get distracted by traffic’s big shiny disco ball.