Driving traffic is a significant challenge for most businesses. According to HubSpot, 63 percent of companies say generating traffic is their top marketing challenges.
There are countless ways to drive traffic to your website. You could blog, send out emails, invest in SEO, buy shout outs from influencers, engage in Facebook/LinkedIn groups, buy paid ads, etc.
But you shouldn’t invest in every tactic. Even if you had an unlimited budget, that wouldn’t be prudent. Not all traffic is right for your store.
Instead of casting a wide net, it’s smarter to spend your resources on traffic sources that deliver the right kind of the traffic; the visitors who are most likely to become customers.Some traffic sources are more valuable for your business because those visitors are more likely to buy. Click To Tweet
How do you do that? By working backward from your customer.
Start with your ideal customer
Instead of worrying about the traffic you generate, think about conversions.
According to Smart Insights, most eCommerce stores convert around 3 percent.
But you want to convert as many people as possible. Even if you’re beating your industry average now, you still want more of your traffic to turn into customers by attracting more of the right people.
Your first step is to determine who is most likely to convert by identifying your ideal customer.
What do those people look like? What are their goals? What do they get out of your products? What information or emotion do they need to make their purchase? What would give them the feeling that you perfectly understand their problems, dreams, and preferences?
If you haven’t already, collect all of this information in a buyer persona – a fictional avatar of your ideal customer. Your buyer personas should grow and evolve over time as you learn more about your customers.
Find your customer on the web
Your next step is to find your ideal customer where they spend time on the web. The more niche you go, the better.
If you wanted to organize a book club, would you place an ad at the ice skating rink?
No, of course not. You’d hang your ad in the library, bookstore, or any other place readers congregate. The same logic applies to attracting quality traffic.
For example, let’s say you sell makeup for women in their 20s and 30s – perhaps these are customers who need a professional appearance but still like to show their personality.
That demographic of makeup enthusiasts surely uses Facebook, but that’s too wide of a net. There are also many 20-something women on Facebook who don’t care much about makeup (at least not enough to follow it online).
But a makeup-related Facebook group is far more targeted. You know that everyone in the group cares about makeup and probably buys makeup online. They had to go out of their way to join that group. By engaging with those people, you can drive conversion-ready traffic to your site.
Here’s another example: That demographic of women probably use Instagram but, again, that’s also a wide net. Instead of simply posting with makeup-related hashtags, reach out to Instagram influencers. Find popular makeup influencers, artists, and celebrities to see if they’ll showcase your products.
You’re probably thinking, “If I take that approach, I’ll reach a much smaller group of people!”
Yes, that’s true. But you’ll spend your time and money reaching people who are more likely to buy your products. That’s a much better use of your marketing dollars. You’ll also create more meaningful relationships with your customers because you showed them that you’re invested in their community.
This is why targeted ad campaigns have become so popular. They allow marketers to reach their ideal customers without spending resources on never-customers.
Non-interruptive ads, like Google AdWords, display when users search a particular term. The ads are targeted because they only appear to people deliberately seeking those products.
Interruptive ads, like Facebook ads, display without the user’s request, but they’re shown based on data of the user’s preferences collected by the platform.
When you buy Facebook ads, Facebook determines who will see the ad based on what it knows about each user. If John Doe interacts with a bunch of content about men’s apparel and shoes, he’ll probably see ads for sneakers.
That isn’t to say paid ads are the best way to reach your customers. Your customers may not be reachable through a platform with strong targeting features. The point is that drilling down to your exact customer segment is more valuable than advertising to a broader group because then you know that every marketing dollar is being spent trying to convert someone who might actually buy.
Create an experience for that customer
Next, create the shopping experience your customers expect.
Let’s go back to our demographic of makeup enthusiasts. What kind of shopping experience does that person need? They probably like many photos of your products on women with different skin tones. They may want makeup tutorial videos. Maybe they want to see their favorite celebrities wearing your products.
Go as deep as you can. Do they like many options or simple choices? Do they want cheap or free shipping or will they spend more for fast delivery? Do they like to browse “clearance bin” categories, or do those types of pages devalue your brand in their eyes?
Consult your buyer personas and customer research to determine what kind of experience to create. Look at your analytics and survey your customers to learn what they liked and didn’t like about their experience.
Creating a unique, conversion-focused shopping experience helps to drive sales, but it also attracts better traffic. Your customers will share your content and spread the word that your store gives them what they want out of an eCommerce experience.
Leverage your relationships
As you know, it’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than acquire a new one.
Research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company shows that increasing customer retention by five percent increases profits by 25 percent or more.
Your customer base is one of your most prized possessions. Protect and nurture it at all costs. But most importantly, leverage it as much as possible. It’s your best source of quality traffic.
Use email marketing, retargeting, loyalty programs, and exceptional customer service to drive repeat sales. Continue to engage with your customers long after they purchase. This allows you to transcend from a simple store to a positive fixture in their life.
To squeeze the most out of your customers, it’s helpful to think of their engagement with your store in terms of multiple micro-conversions that lead to a macro-conversion rather than a single one-off sale. You wouldn’t ask a first date to marry you, so don’t ask a first-time customer to pull out his or her wallet.
You might ask customers to subscribe to your email list, add you on Snapchat (or whatever social media platform you know they use), or download your ebook. By creating value through other means, you can build trust and authority over time to make the shopper feel more comfortable.
The bottom line
Generating traffic isn’t about sending as many visitors to your store as possible. In fact, casting a wide net is ineffective and unnecessarily expensive.
Instead, focus on understanding your high-value customers and what they expect from a shopping experience. Then, create that experience for them and choose traffic sources (including your own channels) that attract those segments.