Which Type Of Website Visitors Are Best: Social, Search, Or Referral?
In the world of online marketing, most marketers prioritize traffic volume as a goal. However, not all types of traffic yield the same value. Some visitors are inherently more valuable than others, because they’re more interested in buying from your brand, or because they spend more time on your site, or for some other factor.
Accordingly, you might categorize traffic based on people who are strongly interested in your brand, weakly interested in your brand, or not interested in your brand.
You can also categorize traffic based on where that traffic came from. In Google Analytics, you can filter your traffic based on its original source, and for inbound marketers, three of the biggest categories for that are:
· Social traffic. Social traffic refers to any visitors you received from social media (such as people clicking links on your profiles or individual posts).
· Organic traffic. Organic traffic or search traffic refers to any visitors you’ve gotten from organic search results (i.e., people clicking on your link when it appears in SERPs).
· Referral traffic. Referral traffic refers to visitors who clicked a link pointing to your site from another site.
Speaking generally, does one of these categories yield traffic that’s inherently more “valuable” than the others? It’s important to note because your investment in each area should hypothetically be rebalanced so you emphasize your most profitable strategies and de-emphasize your least profitable ones.
For example, if your referral traffic is, on average, more valuable than your social traffic, you should probably spend more time building links than you spend on your social media campaigns.
There are several different considerations you should bear in mind when calculating the “value” of each traffic segment. These are just a few of them:
· Conversion rate. Assuming you’ve applied conversion optimization strategies throughout your site evenly, you can gauge the subjective value of each segment of traffic by seeing how many people convert from that segment (on average). For example, you can filter your traffic down in each category (social, organic, and referral), and examine the conversion rate as a percentage. If there’s a large discrepancy, you may favor one strategy over another; for example, if your organic traffic converts 4 percent of the time, but your social traffic converts 2 percent of the time, you might consider investing more heavily in SEO — even if you see nearly double the social traffic.
· Time spent on page. You should also consider how long someone spends on your site (and per page). Just because they didn’t convert doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in your brand; spending a long time on a page means they’re interested in reading your content, and are valuable as a potentially long-term fan of your organization.
· Persistence and repeat visitors. For each traffic segment, you should also gauge your unique vs. repeat visitors. If you notice one segment has a higher number of repeat visitors, it means you’ve captured their interest enough for them to keep coming back for more. For most brands, this is a good thing; repeat visitors are evidence of customer loyalty and retention; however, some brands might actually favor new visitors, in an effort to maximize exposure. Consider your goals carefully when examining this dimension of your traffic segments.
· Ebb and flow. Your traffic will likely ebb and flow in each segment, despite your best efforts to make it consistent, so pay attention to how these numbers fluctuate, and make sure to check each dimension on multiple occasions throughout a series of months. You may find that traffic spikes and valleys, or inconsistent conversion rates make one segment of traffic less appealing than you otherwise thought.
· Amount of effort required. On top of objective “value” metrics for each segment of your strategy, you should also consider the amount of effort required to achieve each one. For example, if it takes you an hour to build a link that returns a significant share of high-value traffic your way, but three hours to manage a social media campaign that returns a similar share of low-value traffic, link building should take priority when balancing your budget and effort expenditures.
· Other perks of each strategy. If you notice that one segment of your traffic has higher valued traffic than another, don’t discount the other strategies yet; there are many benefits to each inbound marketing strategy that go beyond metrics like visitors and conversions. You’ll also need to consider the exposure and reputation benefits you see in each strategy, as well as how each strategy might scale over time; the value of visitors in one area might be low now, but have higher growth potential than the other areas. Unfortunately, there’s no objective metric in Google Analytics to tell you this.
Why It’s Different for Everybody
Unfortunately, each business is going to find a different balance of traffic value across these three main areas. What works for a brand new B2C company may not work for a historically prestigious, reputable B2B company. You’ll have to dig in to your own metrics to find the answers on which traffic segment is most valuable, then spend time adjusting your efforts to reflect those findings.
Chances are, one segment of traffic is going to stand out to you, and provided it remains the dominant value, it should continue getting the lion’s share of your budget and attention moving forward.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!