While it's no secret that referral traffic tends to convert better than direct, search and social, many marketers still pour thousands of dollars into interruption-based advertising and yesterday's SEO tactics, hoping to generate a return. Earned media represents an effective alternative, not only because it focuses on driving referral traffic, but does so in a way that delivers problem-solving content and builds real relationships.
The Power of Referral
Looking at the past quarter of our own traffic, you can see that even though referral traffic represents a relatively smaller percentage of overall traffic, it generates the highest amount of conversions:
A further breakdown shows that referral traffic converts at almost 4x the rate of organic search:
Invest In Earned Media
An effective earned media strategy can drive referral traffic from trusted sources, like online media outlets and industry blogs. By placing your content on highly-reputable sites, you gain more than just a back-link. Your content will be infused with the brand equity of the platform it appears on, gaining you instant credibility.
Earned Media Comes In Many Forms
An earned media placement doesn't just have to be a link in a blog post. You should also work to gain the attention of social media influencers:
Even an offline mention, such as Rand Fishkin referencing your CTR study in a live presentation, can drive downloads:
While these examples don't represent "referral traffic" in the traditional sense, they are a form of earned media.
Everything starts with creating quality content on your own channels. By publishing expert content on your own blog, you can gain the attention of influencers, build your credibility and generate community.
Next, identify potential sources of referral traffic. Are there popular blogs in your industry that feature content from and about organizations like yours? Once you've identified those outlets, begin building relationships with editors and other gatekeepers.
Finally, tailor new, problem-solving content for those outlets. Remember: the content itself shouldn't be designed to promote your products and services. That's why our content centerpiece campaigns are so effective - the content is so helpful to readers that once they discover it, they don't know how they ever lived without it.
Building relationships and creating helpful content is the key to generating earned media placements that drive highly-converting referral traffic. Not only is it more cost effective, it's just more fun to generate!
If earned media is a new concept to you, or if you're interested in more information about the earned media process and how your business can yield measurable results, download our Inbound Marketer's Guide to Earned Media.