Traffic was the hottest topic in marketing for a long time. New topics are now on the surface (funnels and engagement methods, for example). And the cycle will repeat itself soon enough, and new things become the must-use tactics. Let’s hope social media is the next one to get demoted from “essential” to “potentially useful.”
The same happens in most industries. One idea is the hot topic for a while before the next one emerges. For example, ADHD is the psychiatric equivalent of web traffic.
Here’s how it works: People hear about the symptoms of something (e.g., ADHD). They lack expertise to diagnose anyone, but the symptoms seem to match, so they believe they see ADHD. Companies come in selling the medicine and urging everyone to “ask their doctor” about it. And diagnosis rates skyrocket to absurd levels.
The same thing happened with traffic in marketing. Marketing pros described symptoms (e.g., lack of sales) and explained how the cause was lack of traffic. People heard it, recognised the symptoms, and wanted the solution: more traffic.
Selling what the masses are asking for is easier than selling what they really need. And so, countless traffic products popped up. There are good ones, but the majority of trend-topic products are as useful as an umbrella in a hurricane. It might make you expect to stay dry, but when your boots are full of water, you might want to update your expectations.
Just like smart psychiatrists didn’t join the ADHD craze, there are marketing pros who never lost sight of what matters more than traffic.
This is part 1 of the “How to get traffic and high-quality leads efficiently—3 most consistent methods for 99% of companies” series.
Part 2: Coming soon
Part 3: Coming soon
Part 4: Coming soon
What makes traffic a vanity metric?
10 right people can be worth more than 1,000,000 average visitors. So, if you get more traffic, you might get results. But that only happens if there are some of the right people among the visitors.
Sure, often buyers are first visitors—individuals among the traffic. But many companies get a lot of traffic and still struggle to make sales.
Lots of traffic makes you popular—not successful. Click To Tweet
Focusing on traffic is tempting. Getting thousands of visitors is relatively easy. The feeling of accomplishment is behind a few keystrokes and buttons. Especially if sales are low, it can feel encouraging to see at least some results.
But focusing on traffic isn’t a smart business decision.
Traffic doesn’t work as down payment
I don’t work with people who are in business just to make money. And fortunately it’s rare. Almost all of us have business goals beyond profit.
But as long as you don’t run a non-profit, you need profit. (A company can function with investments, but it’s unsustainable.)
Profit is a dirty word for many—something only greedy people think of. Many would rather focus on numbers like traffic that don’t have the same stigma.
But that’s a mistake. Traffic doesn’t keep your business afloat.
Profit says much more about how a business is doing. Lose sight of it, and you might be headed to rocks without even knowing.
I had a client who was a top graduate from a top business school. She told how she started a company, worked 70+ hours per week, and got to 7-figure revenue. Still, she barely earned minimum wage.
She forgot profit and built a successful business by any other standard than profit.
You shouldn’t obsess over profit. But remember that it’s the number that determines if you still have a business tomorrow.
Track the numbers between traffic and profit
Traffic can lead to so varying results that making decisions based on it isn’t smart. One day 10 visitors lead to more sales than 10,000 visitors another day.
Tracking just profit, on the other hand, can make decision-making too slow to be effective.
Let’s say you do an advertising campaign this week. You pay $200, get 500 clicks and 100 opt-ins, and make one sale worth $200. If all you track is profit, you see a flat line.
What if you knew that each 100 opt-ins lead to $2870/year? You could make far better decisions than if you only tracked profit.
The numbers you should track depend mainly on your conversion path (sales funnel).
You need to know the conversion rates of each step of your funnel. If you don’t, you’re relying on luck—not good decisions.
Opt-ins (i.e., people joining your email list) is often one of the key numbers to track. Depending on your conversion path, opt-ins can lead to very predictable profit. And because it’s close to the beginning of the conversion path, it’s especially useful to track. But it’s not an important number for every business. You need to know the numbers that matter for your business.
And based on those numbers, you can be smart about traffic. Focusing your time on the things that work becomes easy.
Do you want a small chance of huge results or a big chance of big results?
SEO might look great. There’s often nearly limitless potential. It shouldn’t take crazy amounts of time. It’s free. And the conversion rates are sometimes good.
But you’re unlikely to get those results.
The endless list of case studies about SEO results makes it look like the odds would be in your favour. But failed SEO experiments don’t go viral. Just like news makes terrorism seem common, viral posts make some tactics seem effective. Both news and viral posts focus on unusual things—not the normal. But when you see another SEO success story every week or month, it makes it look common.
To be fair, there are many situations where SEO can make sense. But it’s not a universally efficient tactic.
Social media (the social part in this context—not advertising on social media sites) has similarly great potential. But the likelihood of great results is minimal. There are situations where using social media is smart. But the “We share stuff to get followers” strategy has a squirrel’s chance on a 16-lane highway to generate meaningful profit.
When you track the right numbers, you can quickly see if something isn’t working (and what is). For example, when the result of social media work is followers, you stop or change approach. Or when an ad campaign doesn’t generate prospect calls, you stop or change it. It doesn’t matter if you got thousands of followers or if the click-through rates were great. If the tactics don’t generate profit, you can see it easily.
Even if your goal is to build the next Apple or Google, you don’t need high risk, high reward tactics. Track the right numbers and take smart action based on them, and you’re far more likely to get to 10-figures.
If you just want to buy the dream house, take 4-week family vacations, and bankroll your choice of expensive hobbies, you certainly don’t need to rely on the off chance of striking gold. We’ll look at the most consistently (and commonly) efficient methods for getting traffic that converts in the latter parts of this series.