Acquiring traffic is a magic mystery on the web. People swear there’s a trick to it and that they know all the secrets. These same people then package up a course to deliver these secrets with the promise that you too will find success. These shortcut wins are a time-sink and form of procrastination. Sure there are little golden nuggets of information, but the real secret to traffic is playing the long-term game. Now with that being said, here’s a look into the real secret to acquiring traffic that no one wants to hear.
Marketing isn’t a one-stop shop
You can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Marketing needs to be a flexible long-term effort that happens across multiple channels. Your channels can be anything from social media, conferences, bill boards, radio, YouTube, etc. It takes effort, but it pays off (and earns you brownie points with your audience). If you’re looking for shortcuts, growth hacks, or the right channel, you’re playing the game wrong.
The year of 2017 was fueled by Facebook Ads; everyone is/was doing it. Sure there’s okay return, but cutting off all other channels and putting all your faith, money, and effort into one platform isn’t a long-term solution. The truth is you need to build rapport with your audiences through the channels they participate in. By doing so, you’ll earn that special spot in their minds when they see an image, hear a song, or are with friends. I believe a big crime marketers are doing today is blending brand awareness with sales offers. It gives the job title “marketer” a bad reputation and often writes-off the credibility or authenticity of professionals. More on that another time.
Analytics isn’t always the answer
In data analytics we use a term called “Attribution”. It basically means “what marketing channels can we give credit to for acquiring traffic?”. It’s an incredibly hard thing to track and here’s why:
- It’s almost always digital – we can track clicks, we can’t track word-of-mouth.
- It ignores human interaction – despite any advances in technology, humans will be humans.
- It’s not 100% accurate – more on this below.
Consider the upcoming Christmas holiday. I pack my bags and head home to Cape Breton to spend time with my family and friends. While at the bar, I run into my friend Andrew who I haven’t talked to in a year. He asks what I’m up to and I tell him about my website. The night comes to an end. The next day, Andrew’s mom sees that I posted a photo on Facebook. She asks Andrew what I’m up to nowadays and Andrew mentions my website. His mother navigates to my profile page and clicks my website link. Poof traffic.
On my end, Google Analytics is telling me I had a visit from Facebook. This sparks a misled idea that I should be focusing more time on acquiring traffic from Facebook. See how this isn’t totally true? The real driver of the visit was the information Andrew told his mother. Perhaps a better strategy would be to attend more social events and post photos on Facebook (in combination).
So as much as I love analytics and data, I know the information I collect won’t always be accurate. Sometimes you gotta run the display ads, buy the ad-placements in those magazines no one reads, and overall trust your gut!
Finding the marketing channel that works for your business won’t be the end of your marketing journey. There will always be times you need to consider the broader effort of what you’re trying to accomplish. Some channels may feel like a total waste of time and money, but they may be leading to interactions you’re not aware are happening.
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