Traffic. Sometimes it’s a bad thing, like when you’re stuck in it while driving to work. Sometimes it’s a good thing, like when you’re running a business. Then you want traffic. Traffic to your restaurant, movie, hotel, airline, or store. And you definitely want traffic to your web site. You want people coming to your online store, your booking system, or the digital place where you promote whatever it is that your business is about. So I’m going to have to defend my assertion that you can have “too much traffic” because it borders on heresy in the world of digital marketing.
But before I do that, a few words about this world of digital marketing. It was on display last week at the ad:tech event in New York, an event that had plenty of traffic of its own. Ad:tech is billed as “the #1 event for interactive marketing” and I don’t doubt the claim. The event outgrew the New York Hilton last year and has moved to the Jacob Javits Convention Center, a bold gamble given the state of the economy back when the decision to move was made, but it seems to have paid off.
At one point the registration line stretched almost the entire width of the Javits then doubled back on itself. And when you got into the exhibit hall the aisles were jammed. (I did a short radio interview from the show floor with Bryan Eisenberg and you can tell from my voice that I’m having to shout to be heard above the noise of the crowd: WebmasterRadio.fm Interviews Stephen Cobb).
That noisy crowd was busy checking out the hundreds of exhibitors selling digital traffic, promoting digital traffic, promising digital traffic. While every ad:tech show seems to have a different mix of products and services on display, they all appear to share this focus on traffic: the people coming to your web site. But as I relaxed on the long–traffic-free–train ride home, something about this started to bother me: What is the point of all this traffic?
The point for most web site owners is conversion. Visitors need to do more than just show up. Your traffic has to do something, buy something, download, hear or view something. Traffic that bounces out without doing anything does nothing for your business. Some traffic merchants seem to be aware of this and they talk about traffic quality. This usually translates as “higher quality traffic has a higher probability of conversion” and typically you pay more for it.
That’s all well and good, but it still misses the point, a point that seemed to be missing from ad:tech. The point that goes like this: Marketing is conversion. Marketing doesn’t end until conversion is completed. So if marketing is all about conversion, what are people doing to make sure conversion takes place? At ad:tech the answer appeared to be: “Not a lot.” And I think this is reflected in the real world.
How often have you Googled a consumer product like “platform bed” or “camouflage pants” and found paid search results that don’t lead to the products you expected? Or search results that offers deals that are not reflected on the site to which the ad takes you? I see this all the time and it reflects a basic marketing disconnect. That disconnect is between the people putting up the ads and the people running the site to which those ads are driving traffic.
Search ads cost money. That disconnect wastes money and squanders traffic. If you are paying for search traffic that you are unlikely to convert because people don’t see what they are looking for when they get to your site, then you are paying for too much search traffic. The same is true of display ads or email campaigns that don’t connect. So, can you have too much traffic? Yes, if you’re paying for that traffic and not doing a good job of converting it.
The solution to this, the way to make money instead of waste it, is to tie the traffic source to the destination. There are several ways to do this, including Monetate. Some approaches can be time-consuming while others, including Monetate, can automate the process. And preferably you will create continuity that goes beyond the landing page, giving your traffic a site experience consistent with how they got to your site. When you do this you get much better conversion rates and can better justify the cost of getting more traffic.