TRAFFIC: Game of Numbers

There are two parts to sales on your website: Conversions and Traffic. When sales aren’t working on your site you can generally look to one of these two spots to see where the fault lies.
 
We talked about Conversions in a previous post – when people are landing on your site but jumping off without buying anything. Assuming of course the right people are landing – and that your work is what they’re looking for – you should be able to capture at least a certain percentage of them based on the law of averages. That’s usually 2-3%. If you’re not, it’s time to ask questions. Check out the post here.
 
If the traffic you are getting isn’t converting (i.e. buying) at around 2-3% it’s worth plugging those holes before working on bring more traffic to your site. How much good would it do to pour more water into a buck that’s full of holes?
 
But what if no one is showing up to the party in the first place? 
 
A new website is like a new brick and mortar store in many ways. One crucial difference though, is that when you open a physical location you have lots of options. You can rent the out of the way quaint space, or the trendy town center spot – and you’ll pay vastly different rents for the privilege. That town center spot comes with built-in foot traffic, and neighboring business with a similar demographic. Your market is delivered to your door. The our of the way, fringes of town space – you have to build it up yourself.
 
ALL new websites are quaint, out of the way locations. There are no roads, no sidewalks, and no one just happening by. You have create your own traffic.
 
This is why so many new websites have such a struggle. (New physical stores too.) You go through all the expense and work of building the site (or the store), hit that “publish” button, and wait for the sales to roll in. Except that’s not how it works.
 
Think about this: There are almost two million more websites this year than the same time last year. TWO MILLION. Thinking about the things you’re personally passionate about, how do you know when a new site launches in that niche? 
 
• Social Media? Email? TV? Print? Word of mouth? Search?
 
• Somewhere, somehow, you heard about that new site.
 
• You were on a list and got an email.
 
• You were in a group and saw a post. 
 
• You saw an ad.
 
• You searched for something and it came up.
 
• You heard about it on television.
 
• A friend knew about it and told you.
 
It’s highly unlikely you accidentally typed the URL into your browser and went straight there magically. if you did, please contact me – I’d like some stock tips.
 
Then next part of that question is, HOW OFTEN might you see or hear about this mythical amazing new website? 
 
You get email all day long. You’re on social media more than you should be. If you’re like most of us, you do a lot of searches. In all of this exposure to the information stream, how often do you catch a reference to something new? And more importantly, how often do you act on it?
 
How often do you go to a new website because you were prompted, found it in search, or heard about in somewhere?
 
If you’re like most of us, it most likely takes a few “touches” before you do visit that new site. You see it mentioned on social, see it again on a group, then here someone mentioned it elsewhere, then you decide to check it out. Several touches to your awareness before you become a first time visitor. Before you become part of that new website’s traffic. 
 
Not all traffic is created equal
 
There are two main types of traffic to your site. Paid Traffic and Organic Traffic.
 
Organic traffic (sometimes called “free traffic” even though its really not) is generated through SEO, social media and word-of-mouth. A site that’s properly optimized for SEO will show up well in SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages), sending eager buyers to you for with the credit cards hanging out. Or so the thinking goes.
 
But optimizing for SEO isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not free, even if you do it yourself – time is money, and it takes a lot of time to go over your entire site, and tweak all your pages and products to make Google smile on you. But it’s a must-do-necessity to catch as much of the <cough, cough> free traffic as you can.
 
Other organic traffic, like the traffic from social media is some of your best traffic because it comes with implied social proof – if my friends like this then it must be good. 
 
Organic traffic is a slow build. You have to spend a lot of time on social media, perfect and constantly tweak your SEO efforts. It’s hard. It works – but it’s hard.
 
Then there’s paid traffic.
 
Have you ever done the “Weekend Warrior” circuit? When you pay for a spot in a well-vetted craft show, you’re paying for traffic. The show promoter does the heavy lifting to get people to show up. They advertise, do social media, perhaps even run television spots. Some vet customers with a cover fee at the door. The better promoted shows cost more – and generally bring out bigger, higher quality crowds. Better targeted, paid traffic. Feet in your door, eyeballs on your work, usually with a well chosen group of like artists exhibiting well-displayed work of similar calibre.
 
Conversely, if you’ve ever done a free show where all you had to do is show up and grab your spot, or pay a nominal fee, how was that? Perhaps you were next to someone selling Tupperware or sock monkeys, or used clothing. The folks milling around might just be out for a stroll, killing time, and not really shopping. They may buy something if the price is right, but price might well be everything. It’s hard to look your best when you’re sandwiched in between kids clothes and pet rocks. 
 
Perhaps you sell wholesale. Customers walk into stores because they have a need to buy something. They’re self-selected and pre-vetted. They choose the store because they think (rightly or wrongly) that store serves their own personal target market. They’re primed to buy. 
 
And there you are.
 
Selling wholesale is the ultimate in paid traffic.
 
Paid traffic is giving up a portion of your profit to get people in the door to look at your goods, in the hopes they will buy. 
 
How does paid traffic work on a website? There are lots of avenues. The ultimate is probably Google AdWords – these are the paid results when you type a search query into Google, the top results that land ABOVE the organic ones with the small “Ad” in a box in the front. The typical Google SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) consists of:
 

• Google shopping results

• 2 to 3 “sponsored” results

• 10 organic results

• 3 to 4 more “sponsored” results

 
Roughly half the page is AdWords – PAID results. To be fair, lots of people won’t click on paid results. But a lot DO – and if AdWords didn’t work it wouldn’t be so powerful. At $1-$2 per click on average it can be pricey for a small solo-preneur to play. Understanding how it works, however, can help inform how your own organic SEO is managed (have a read here to look at SEO for Makers
 
Great, so if AdWords is pricey and complex, what other types of paid traffic are easier for a small maker to use?
 
Facebook ads are a great way to begin. They’re a little scary, and it’s temping to hit that “Boost Post” button, but I suggest you don’t. Facebook has a powerful ad interface system that can be quite intimidating if you just jump in. So don’t. We’re not talking about that today, but if you want to take a peek check out Neil Patel’s post here – Neil also covers Instagram ads.
 
I know. You HATE the thought of paying for ads or sending money on this stuff, don’t you?
 
Think about it this way:
 
When you sell at wholesale, you’re giving up a huge chunk of the selling price because the store is doing that heavy lifting. That’s why they get to profit on your work. They’re creating their own traffic. At wholesale, you have a margin of around 40-45%
 
When you sell at retail, you keep it all. Your margin is closer to 95 or even 100% – maybe even more. But where does the traffic come from? How will people know where to find you? At the higher margins you can AFFORD to go for some paid traffic. (And yes, I know how much it hurts to write those first checks, I really do)
 
I want you to remember two things: You have to get people in your door before you have any hope of getting them to buy. Not all will (that’s the “conversion” rate), but in a game of numbers, some will hit that “Add to Cart” button. 
 
…and you have to have a reasonably tight conversion percentage in place before you spend too much time or money on adding traffic to your bucket.
 
To go back to the “leaky bucket” analogy, how useful is it to continue to poor water into a bucket that’s full of holes? If your site is full of holes that are leaking customers – the “friction” we talked about last week adding all the traffic – water o the bucket – won’t help you, because it will all leak out. Remember only 2-3%, maybe 5% at best of that traffic is going to stick – convert – anyway. Why waste time and money if 99.9% or more is “leaking”?
 
Fix your conversions first. Find your leaks, sniff out your friction. Then consider how best to add traffic. You have to bring people into your showroom before they can buy. 

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