Does having massive amounts of traffic make a business successful? No. Not if that traffic doesn't convert. This is especially true if you are paying for that traffic. (Don't forget that investing time is also "paying". Social media is NOT free.)
Spending time or money on untargeted traffic is a major fail. The only traffic most businesses should want is from visitors who are interested in buying who stay on your site and look around.
This is the reason that so many are obsessed with organic Google traffic. Because people search when they are ready to buy, search traffic converts at a far higher percentage than traffic from other sources.
That said, search traffic is not the only source of purchased targeted traffic.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Engines
Many of the ad buys mentioned below charge by the click. Others may charge by the impression. Regardless of how they charge, if you don't have the ad budget you won't get results. Besides AdWords, there are many other PPC engines:
- Google AdWords
- Bing Ads
There are many other PPC engines which traditionally have very low traffic if they keep the quality up. While they aren't suitable for major brands, they could be just what your small business needs because the cost is low. Is PPC right for your business?
NEW: Google Buy Button
In the same way Amazon provides a one-button checkout process and eBay already has your account linked to PayPal, Google is looking to make it easier to purchase using mobile devices. Find out more in Google Buy Button: Retailer's Boon or Devil's Bargain?
If you want your buyers - and especially those using mobile devices - to be able to click the Google Buy Button, you have to be using AdWords. They will not appear in organic results.
Millions of domains online are "parked". Each of those domains that are not currently being used to host content may be driving traffic to other sites. Domain owners can earn money and businesses can buy traffic using sites like redirect that offer both domestic and international traffic.
Remarketing / Retargeting
If you have ever noticed ads following you from site to site, you've seen remarketing in action. Everything you need to know about remarketing is in Forbes' contributor Jayson DeMers The Beginner's Guide To Remarketing: All The Basics And A Few Secret Tricks.
Facebook is the best known of all the social media advertising buys. The traffic volume from this source is huge; however, it doesn't convert equally for all businesses. For example, B2B converts far better from LinkedIn groups rather than Facebook ads.
Much has been written about advertising on Facebook. Here are some strategies for getting the most out of advertising on Facebook:
- Google Adwords vs Facebook Ads: Choosing the Right Marketing Platform
- 5 Incredibly Effective Facebook Ad Targeting Tips
- Comprehensive tips from 8 strategists
- Facebook's New Ads Relevance Score Will Determine Your Ad Cost & Placement
- Scaling Facebook oCPM Campaigns Further With Budget Optimization
- Get the Edge in EdgeRank: 5 Facebook Marketing Tips
Facebook is popular because ads can be highly targeted; the better you can target your potential buyers, the higher your ROI will be.
LinkedIn offers ads in a similar manner to Facebook. They, too, can be highly targeted. Like Facebook, though, they may or may not offer the ability to target the way you most wish you could.
- 5 Easy Steps for Creating an Effective LinkedIn Campaign
- 8 Things I Hate About LinkedIn Ads
- What We Learned After Spending $50,000 on LinkedIn Ads
- ReMarketing and LinkedIn Ads (2012, but interesting perspective)
LinkedIn ads can be more expensive than Facebook, but for B2B they can convert so much better the ROI will be higher.
TIP: Test your ad creatives on Facebook where cost is lower, choose the top performers, optimize them on Facebook, and then test those on LinkedIn.
Many people don't seem to even be aware you can buy ads on Twitter. Twitter advertising is indeed available. Here are a couple insights into whether they're worth using or not:
- Why We Are Loving Twitter Ads Right Now
- Are Twitter Ads Worth It?
- What We Learned After Using Twitter for B2B Lead Generation
Both LinkedIn and Twitter have been called to task for trying to apply old-school targeting that does not work well with how people are using social media. For more about that, read Solving Twitter and LinkedIn's Ad Problem: It's Time to Ditch the Checkboxes.
Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat and Google Plus Ads
Did you even know about these three? Pinterest offers promoted pins. Facebook started offering ads on Instagram the same time they offered ads on Facebook, but because of how Instagram ads are integrated, most users aren't aware they're there.
Least visible of all are Google Plus Ads. If it weren't for Madhurima Gupta mentioning them in her post, The Changing Landscape of Paid Social Media Ads, even I would not know they existed. SnapChat just announced ads at what is being called "bold" pricing - translation: expensive!
Shopping Comparison Engines
If you sell products, you can buy traffic from shopping comparison sites. There are far more shopping engines than most people realize. Check out the 20 Best Shopping Engines for Retailers infographic:
Native Advertising Platforms
There are many native advertising platforms, but it is important to know which are affordable for small business versus which have large minimum buys.
- Chitika ($1 minimum)
- TrenDemon (provided free to publishers; inexpensive ad buys)
- Imonomy image ads (high volume sites only; most likely high $ ad buys)
- Outbrain (minimum $10 per day per campaign)
- Taboola (high volume sites only; most likely high $ ad buys)
There is a native ad buy for businesses of every size. Look for case studies such as What Do You Get For $4,500 of Native Advertising? to see what worked best for others.
Which Traffic Should You Buy?
Without testing, there is no easy way to know which traffic buys will pay off. We can assume that LinkedIn groups will convert best for B2B. There are other assumptions that can be made, but in the end if you don't test you will not generate the best ROI.
Look for case studies like this one as a shortcut to where to start: Online Advertising Case Study: Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords vs. LinkedIn.
Be aware that some warn that Social ads will not convert as well as search ads.
And do take the advice in Social Advertising: Don't Set it and Forget it. Advertising does not manage itself. It is your money - or your client's - and you can't afford to let your ad spend get out of control.
Still not sure what to do? Read Show Me the ROI: The Balancing Act of Organic and Paid Social.