What Type of Traffic Converts to Sales The Best?

Published by
Kenny Novak
on February 17, 2015
Written by ContentPowered.com
Posted in Lead Generation

Traffic has been studied in detailed by a number of big companies. The idea is to find which avenues of traffic have the best conversion rates. The results, however, are going to vary according to a number of factors.

For example, traffic coming in from one email is probably going to convert better for digital products or ad-based conversions than it is for a service industry. Meanwhile, traffic coming from targeted ads will probably convert better for other industries.

For example, check out this study from SeeWhy, performed four years ago. It found that over half of all traffic to their shopping carts came from email traffic, with successive lower percentages from direct traffic, then search traffic, then search engine marketing, then links, then social media, then finally display advertising. When you normalize the data based on percentage of actual conversions, it skews even further in favor of email and direct traffic, which combine to make up 90% of their conversions.

This is, of course, years ago. A bit more modern of a study, though on a smaller scale, was performed by Fizzle.co. In this experiment, he set up 12 different sources of traffic and measured their conversions. The study has some flaws – a small sample size and a non-monetary conversion type – but the data is interesting.

What he discovered was that a simple Twitter autofollow bot with simple rules brought in 2x as many visitors as any other method outside of AdWords, and brought in 2x as many conversions as any other method period. AdWords brought in the most traffic, but didn’t convert. Second to Twitter was social media, followed by targeted forums posting, followed by guest blogging.

This study was still performed two years ago, but already it indicates a huge shift towards social media. What happened to email marketing? Well, here’s one flaw with the experiment her performed. His conversion was an opt-in to a mailing list. People already on his mailing list aren’t exactly going to opt-in again, are they?

A Broader Study

Let’s take a look at a third study, this time focusing entirely on social media. This one is also significantly more scientific, because it was performed by Shopify, which has access to quite a bit of data due to being a centralized platform for commerce across a wide number of brands. In fact, the data came from 37,000,000 social media visits and 529,000 total orders.

The social networks tracked here included Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Hacker News and Polyvore. If you don’t know why those last two are on the list, maybe you should investigate them for your site.

Some key points:

  • Facebook was by far the dominant social network, with Pinterest coming up second and Twitter pulling third. YouTube was fourth and Reddit was fifth.
  • Reddit’s conversions increased by over 150% in 2013 and is continuing to grow. It has the highest growth percentage. Second place was Facebook, Third was LinkedIn and fourth was Pinterest.
  • The average value of a single order was highest, surprisingly, through Polyvore. Next up was Instagram, followed by Pinterest, then Facebook, then Reddit. Last and least was YouTube.
  • Facebook had the highest pure conversion rate, with Vimeo coming in second, possibly due to an overall lower number of visitors. YouTube was third, with Instagram in fourth place.

So what can we learn about traffic from all of this?

Traffic and Engagement

There’s one important factor with traffic that converts; those people need to care about your brand or your product. No one is going to convert on a site they don’t recognize or trust. No one is going to convert on a product they don’t like. Therefore, to boost your conversion rates, you need to get traffic from people who care.

How can you do this? Just look at the types of traffic that convert best; email and social media. Email is obvious; no one will sign up for your email list if they don’t have an interest in your brand. If anyone is the recipient of your emails without signing up, you’re a spammer and you should feel bad about yourself.

Social media, meanwhile, is potent because it allows you to engage with your customers, listen to what they want, interact with them and generally forge relationships. When people can engage with your brand and see that you’re more than just a machine that accepts money and spits out products, they’ll put a lot more trust in you.

At the same time, social media can fill multiple roles. You can get people to convert directly through social media. You can get people to become loyal readers – and thus direct traffic – through social media. You can get them to opt in to your mailing list through social media. The reverse isn’t always as easy or as true. You never get someone who stars out as direct traffic, and it’s harder to get people to follow your social media accounts based on email subscriptions than the reverse.

Self-Studies and Homework

How can you figure out your own best sources of traffic? Google Analytics, of course. You can check out this list for a number of custom reports in Google Analytics. These are trivial to install and will show you a bunch of information, like which traffic sources have the best conversion rates, which keywords work best, which content is working best, which landing pages work best and so forth. You can also search up more custom reports, or create your own, if these leave you unsatisfied.

How can you take that information and boost your conversion rates? Identify weak areas and work to improve them. Identify the best sources and figure out why they work the best. Above all, interact with people. Guest blogging, forum posting, commenting for value, participating on social media, sending out newsletters; these are all ways you communicate and interact with your followers. They’re also all ways you build trust in your image, which helps entice people to convert.

Written by Kenny Novak

Kenny Novak

Kenny is an SEM and SEO professional. He uses blogging and content marketing as a launchpad for small businesses looking to grow their online presence.

Join the Discussion

No comments yet. You could be the first!

Leave a Reply

Share
Tweet
Pin