Three Types of Traffic for Internet Marketing

You can invest a lot of time and money building something, but if no one ever sees it then what’s the point?

Think about your website. Your social media channels. Your latest offer.

Without traffic, it just sits there doing nothing. It’s not like in the movies (and you’re not Kevin Costner).

Once you’ve built it, you have to bring people to it. On the internet, we refer to the people as “traffic.”

There are three types of traffic for internet marketing. There’s traffic you buy, traffic you control and traffic you own.

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. As a Marketing Director, you have to start with knowing where to find your ideal customers.

Ask yourself, where on the internet do they hang? Are they on Facebook or Twitter? Pinterest or LinkedIn? What types of searches are they doing? What websites do they frequent?

Once you know where to find your potential customers, then you will know where to go to advertise and create content.

1. Traffic You Buy

In the agency world, we use the term “media buying” when we talk about buying ads. Media buying is the process of purchasing ads from a media company such as a television station, newspaper, magazine, blog or website.

The goal is to get eyeballs on your offer, so that you can drive demand and generate sales. If you have a good offer and you know where your profitability starts, then you can spend money to earn money.

If your offer is not converting and you have a good baseline of qualified traffic coming through, then the problem may not be traffic. It’s most likely the offer itself.

As a digital marketing agency, we often get asked where are the best places to buy traffic. The answer is it depends on your customers. If your customers are on Facebook, then Facebook is the best place. If they’re not on Facebook, then it’s not the best place (even if it’s the best for every other business).

When you have an offer that works and you know where to find your ideal customers, then buying traffic is a great tactic. With a positive ROI, there’s no reason to ever stop buying it.

The disadvantage is that you will always have to buy it. When you have a new offer, you will have to start the process all over again.

Ideally, you should look for other ways to generate traffic.

2. Traffic You Control

Traffic you control is simply traffic that you have access to that you don’t own, but that you can communicate with at no monetary cost to you.

In recent years, this has been accomplished through social media. Every time there’s a new hot network, you establish a presence, build a following and then connect with it “organically” without doling out a lot of cash.

But this approach is a thing of the past with established networks. As more and more brands discover a platform, the users’ feeds get more crowded then your business gets crowded out. Of course you already know this from your experience with Facebook.

On Facebook, you used to be able to post and your fans would see it. Not anymore. Now, you have to pay to play.

This is the risk you expose yourself to when you rely strictly on social media to drive demand for your products. Eventually, this traffic becomes traffic you buy.

Your brand can be shut down or shut out at any point on a website that you do not own.

3. Traffic You Own

The third type of traffic is traffic you own. We believe this is the best kind of traffic (and the internet gurus agree).

You’ve probably heard that you have to build a list. It’s probably something you’ve put off or paid little attention to (we’ve all been there). The fact remains, list building is timeless internet wisdom.

The process hasn’t changed much since the mid-90s. You capture emails. Segment them. Nurture them. Test offers. Segment again. Rinse. Repeat.

The major advantage to owning your own list is that a good list will produce revenue for you for essentially no cost.

Beware… when people hear that list building is the way to go, some think they can shortcut the “building” part by buying emails.

If your intention is to spam the emails you buy, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Buying emails is okay. Spamming is not.

We say, “Don’t buy a list. Build the list.”

Email marketing is the most effective form of internet marketing when you email people that want to hear from you.

If you can provide value every time you reach out, then you will build a strong relationship with your list. Think about this the next time you’re getting ready to hit “Send.”

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