Experiments and Results: Targeted vs. Untargeted Traffic
Most webmasters are always looking for new and inventive ways to
drive traffic to their website. There are many proven methods of
getting the traffic to a website, but if that new increase in
traffic does not convert into sales, then is it still worth the
effort that you put into getting that traffic?
I had a discussion recently with a colleague about generating
traffic from outside of our target market. As a result of our
discussion, we decided that we certainly could utilize various
markets to get a huge boost in traffic, but since this traffic
would likely not result in any conversions, that there was really
no point in spending the time and effort on going after that
In a previous "experiment" on one of my websites, I started
using the social networking tactic to generate traffic. I
bookmarked a page of my site and submitted to many of the
standard sites like, www.digg.com, www.reddit.com, www.furl.net,
By doing this, I was able to get a huge increase in traffic to
the site for a couple of days. The problem is, that I did not get
one single conversion from this new traffic. I used a catchy
headline and a good description of the article that I submitted
to the social networking sites, good enough to get people to come
visit the page anyway. But with the lack of getting a single
conversion, it really did not seem worthwhile to me to do again
in the future.
Now I know that some of you might be thinking, "Well, his sales
pitch must be terrible" or that "His website is poorly designed."
If this were the case, I would have no problem admitting to this,
but when I compare the untargeted traffic that I received from
the social book marking sites to the targeted traffic that I see
from organic searches I can see a big difference in conversion
rates. The targeted traffic that comes from organic searches
generally results in a 5-8% conversion rate. The untargeted
traffic resulted in a 0% conversion rate.
How To Talk To Prospects Who Are In Your Target Market
The above results lead me to believe that a much better use of my
time would be to focus more on the targeted market and to stop
wasting time on the untargeted visitors. There are many
techniques that can be used to find prospects in your target
market. Many of these techniques are old news to experienced
Some of these methods include contextual marketing through
programs such as AdWords, posting on relevant forums, improving
your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the organic traffic,
and submitting articles to article repositories. You can also buy
paid advertising in newsletters that cater to the people who are
most likely to buy your products or services. These are just a
handful of the methods that a Webmaster could utilize to get in
touch with his or her target market.
Each of the above listed methods has their pros and cons.
Time commitment and ongoing financial commitments are two of the
cons that are mentioned on a regular basis.
The pros given with all five typically represent tightly targeted
traffic, suitably primed for conversion to paying customers.
The Dick Cheney Analogy
The Dick Cheney analogy has often been used to talk about this
subject. Should you use the Rifle Approach or the Shotgun
The Rifle Approach lets you pinpoint your target and to hit it
with great accuracy and frequency. The Shotgun Approach is
sending a number or projectiles into a flock of birds and hoping
you hit something. Dick Cheney proved that the shotgun sometimes
hits its mark. (tongue-in-cheek people, tongue-in-cheek.)
For example, if you are selling health related products, then a
media buy in WebMD would make good sense. People browsing WebMD
are already interested in health and therefore are more likely to
buy your health related products. People who are browsing on
Myspace are not motivated to think about their own health at the
time they see your ad, so your chances of success with Myspace
ads are greatly diminished.
So, if you are going to expend time and money to attract visitors
to your website, shouldn't you take care to primarily target
people who are most likely to buy what you are selling?
Playing The Odds To Our Favor
Sure, a shotgun approach can sometimes hit its mark; we know
that. But, if your cost for advertising or time expense is
exactly the same, why aim for 1-2% when you know you can hit 5-8%
doing something else?
We still mix-and-match our advertising approach. We aim most of
our projectiles at the 5-8% conversion targets. We still aim a
few projectiles at the 1-2% conversion prospects, because it
allows us to reach people that we may not be able to reach
otherwise. But, any method that we use that consistently turns 0%
is taken off of our plate forever.
Trey Pennewell is a writer, who writes about online marketing.
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Trey also manages article approvals at the free article
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