Not all web traffic is equal and understanding the value of direct traffic can help online retailers hone their marketing.
“Direct traffic” is web traffic you get from people who already know about your website or store. They either click a bookmark to come to your site or type your site’s URL directly into their browser’s address bar. By comparison, “search engine traffic” comes from people that probably don’t know about your site. They were looking for a keyword or phrase and your site just showed up in the results on Google, Yahoo!, or MSN’s Live Search.
Finally, “referrer traffic” describes web visitors that follow a web link or online ad to your website. This type of traffic and it’s value is greatly over-hyped. Generally, SEO traffic accounts for under a quarter of your visitors. Yet there’s an entire SEO industry setup to promote the value of search engine marketing, almost the the exclusion of all else.
Value Direct Traffic More Highly than Search Engine Traffic
Smart retailers would take pains to track just how much direct traffic they get and measure direct traffic conversions against search engine traffic and referrer traffic conversions. It is also helpful to follow up with customers that do know your URL. Try to learn how they heard about your site, so that you can replicate that sort of marketing and create more direct traffic visitors.
Summing Up With Five Direct Traffic Tips
Too often retailers overlook brand and direct traffic when they plan their marketing campaigns, instead focusing on search engine traffic. But, you should do more to build direct traffic, and here are five things you can do.
1. Follow up after a sale. Great follow up and exceptional customer service can convert a one-time customer, who may have surfed to your site from a search engine, into a “direct traffic,” “brand aware” customer that will go to your site first next time.
2. Establish a newsletter. Develop a content rich newsletter that doesn’t just promote your products but also includes interesting content. It’s often the stories and human touches of your newsletter that people will remember. As an example, if you sell hiking equipment try including short stories about hiking, say a first person article about a recent trip.
3. Develop a product update RSS feed. Allow site visitors to subscribe to a product update RSS feed that provide them with price and availability information when a product they’re interested in is updated.
4. Offer services or downloads. Keep customers coming back by offering them something other than a sales transaction. For example, an online store featuring school and art supplies might offer free downloadable coloring pages that are branded with the stores logo. Parents and teachers can download the coloring pages for their students or children. And don’t ask for their name and email first. Do this after they download – You’ll get 10-20x the numbers signing up.
5. Consider traditional media channels . Nothing says brand like print advertising that shows something about your company’s values and products. Use PR to get articles written about you in reputable magazines and newspapers. It holds much more credibility than something you write on the net. Oh, how did Google get their name out there in the early days? They started with print advertising.