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How to Buy Traffic

First part of 3-part series. How to buy traffic with a newsletter purchase.

Executive summary and article navigation

Pt 1: lead generation and how to buy traffic. 3 pt article.

We discuss 3 ways of driving traffic directly to your site, and present our findings.
Part one talks about paid inclusion in newsletters, and ads / banners on tech & marketing sites.

The 3 articles are:

  1. Buying targeted leads & Paid Inclusion - placement in newsletters & blasts
  2. PPC ad campaigns - adwords / google; proven source of targeted traffic
  3. Bulk traffic clicks - buying 50,000 visitors

The secret is that there is no easy way to buy traffic. There are a lot of sites and products claiming to bring you traffic, but in reality, it is difficult to arrange for people come to your website, click around, and buy something. We tried 3 techniques and share our findings with you here.
We are of the opinion that 1) PPC campaigns are a definite must 2) paid inclusion in newsletters, ads and banners, can be successful if well-placed and well-designed, & that 3) bulk targeted traffic is a scam.

Note: industry information on lead generation is somewhat guarded. Lead generation and the purchase of traffic is a complicated business, with networks and affiliate groups. There is not much info on this subject to be easily found on the internet. We present this account with a pinch of salt. We would be very interested to read about your experiences.

Part 1: Buying paid newsletter inclusion

Research markets - buy advertisement

We purchased advertisement inclusion in two well-known opt-in / subscription newsletters. Both inserts were in the price range of $750 - $1000.

For both campaigns we provided a banner ad with text for inclusion in a newsletter published on the internet and sent out to various email lists, made up of 25,000 to 500,000 opt-in subscribers.

We were told to expect anywhere from 300 to 3000 click-throughs. From that number, 10% of the visitors might take out a free Opentracker trial, and of those trials in turn, a percentage of people would purchase website statistics subscriptions.

We created separate landing pages for each mailing, so that we can very clearly see, by url, how many people landed on each page.

Results - collect data

In both cases the numbers were lower than expected.

For the first mailing, we received 10% of the visitors we had been told to expect, but the visitors showed a high level of interest, based on pageviews.

For the second mailing we received the amount traffic we had been told to expect but less than 10% of the visitors created trial accounts. The average number of clicks was much lower, indicating that this group was clearly less interested than the first mailing group.

Analysis - study what is happening

Here are three sample variables we use to measure success in this situation:

  1. Acquisition cost-per-visitor or cost-per-lead
  2. Is traffic well-targeted? Average number of pageviews each visitor generated
  3. Conversion: percentage of visitors who follow call of action and "do what we want them to do"

Evaluating variables:

  1. The acquisition cost-per-visitor / lead was substantially higher than we had expected, i.e. whereas we pay $0.50 or $1.00 per lead on Google or Bing, we were paying up to $4.00 per lead in this lead generation campaign. A lead is a lead, however, and if they are well-targeted, they are worth the investment. Which brings us to
  2. The number of pages the visitors view. This is important. There was a large difference in the quality of the traffic. For the first mailing, the average visitor viewed 7.5 pages, and hence was likely to create a trial account. The group that received the second mailing averaged 2.5 pageviews each. The lesson is to stress the importance of well-targeted traffic. The question remains; why would one group of visitors look at more pages than another?
  3. The percentage of visitors who follow the primary call to action and "do what we want them to do" was larger for the first group than for the second. This can easily be explained by looking at the average number of pages viewed per person. The finding is that the lower the average number of pages viewed, the less likelihood of conversion.

Best landing page practices

If your campaign spans several days, experiment by changing the landing page, and comparing results. On the right, please see the places that people clicked, in order of popularity.
At one point we noticed that the average pageviews were very low, meaning that nobody was reaching our target page (the sign-up page). We changed the landing page and directed the visitors directly to the 'create a free trial' page. This led to an even further drop in the average number of pages viewed.
People did not respond well to being landed directly on a sign-up page.
There is a lot of literature on this subject. The challenge is to offer a well-built page which is to the point, invites exploration, and leads visitors to complete a desired action. In this case a text-link produced the best results (see diagram).

Text links were most effective at driving traffic

See the diagram above (click to enlarge). The diagram tells you what percentage of visitors clicked on each image or link on the page. The text links towards the bottom of the pages attracted the most visitors.

Conclusion: paid inclusion

You do not know what the quality of the traffic that you will receive is going to be. There is no way to guarantee that your visitors will take any action, which tells you that you need to both a) have well-targeted traffic, and b) make your site a great place to visit.

Nobody can "force" people to come to your website, look around, and make purchases. Of course, some people are paid to surf to your site, a sneaky tactic which is covered later in part 3.

What to bring - budgeting

In our experience, you need a budget of several thousand dollars to test the waters; a regular budget of somewhere between $500 and $1500 per month, or every other month. You should budget a larger percentage to continue purchasing sources of traffic that work for your site. Also budget a small percentage of your marketing wallet for experiments, to find new sources, and tap into new marketing channels.

next: Part 2 - PPC pay-per-click campaigns

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