It’s time to re-frame the concept of driving traffic to your Web site. What is traffic, anyway, other than a bunch of anonymous vehicles, people or things moving from one place to another? Or – in the case of the Web – clicking from one place to another. And that’s the problem: if you focus on driving traffic, you end up with anonymous clicks.

Think Customers, Not Clicks
Rather than thinking about driving traffic, focus on getting motivated prospects and valuable customers to visit your Web site, and converting them into qualified leads. By re-framing your objective, you may end up reallocating some of your online marketing investments.

Take keyword ads on general search engines: Google, Yahoo!, MSN and such. While these may be an important part of your online marketing strategy, you still never know who might click on your ads. You can end up paying for a lot of unqualified traffic to your Web site — even if you have the right keywords.

There are several ways to avoid unqualified traffic from search engines. One way is to be more focused with your keywords. Instead of using “pumps,” which is a broad term, consider using “centrifugal pumps,” a keyword geared toward a specific audience. Targeted keywords will only attract people with those same specific and targeted interests – your audience.

Another strategy that delivers motivated prospects and not just clicks is to display your ads only to your target audience. You may not be able to do this on general search engines, but you can on GlobalSpec, where an audience of engineering, technical and industrial professionals is already aggregated for you.

Online Directories, e-Newsletters, Banner Ads
Other online strategies that can help you drive qualified prospects and not just traffic to your Web site include having a presence in relevant online directories, advertising in appropriate e-newsletters and showcasing your capabilities with banner ads on targeted Web sites.

A robust and visible presence — not just a link to your Web site — in relevant online directories will give you the branding and messaging capabilities to motivate qualified prospects to visit your Web site. Look for directories such as GlobalSpec that are geared exclusively toward an engineering, technical and industrial audience, and that offer multiple options for showcasing your company, products and expertise. 

Purchasing ads in e-newsletters read by your target audience is another effective way to change the focus from traffic to qualified leads. When determining an e-newsletter advertising strategy, consider both the size of the audience, and the mix of readers. Ask the publisher for both the number of subscribers and a subscriber profile, preferably by industry and job function. A quick glance at the subscriber profile and you’ll know if you’re targeting the right audience.

Finally, don’t forget online banner ads that appear on targeted industrial Web sites. Seek out a partner that offers a banner ad network that allows you to reach your target audience across multiple sites with a single buy, helping to save media research, program management and tracking time.

A vertical ad network, such as GlobalSpec’s Industrial Ad Network, caters to a specific target audience or market segment, in this case the engineering, technical and industrial communities. The audience that visits Web sites where ads appear is clearly defined and specific, increasing the likelihood of gaining customers, not just clicks.

Converting from Visitors to Leads
The strategies discussed here are all designed to drive prospects to your Web site, usually to a specific landing page deep within your site containing relevant content. Now the other half of the equation comes into play: You need to convert these visitors into qualified leads.

This can be done by offering valuable content that a qualified prospect will register for; in other words, exchange something of value (their contact information) for something of value (a white paper, Webinar offer, application ideas). Your landing page should include a simple form, plus an e-mail address and phone number for lead capture. You can learn more about converting Web site visitors to leads by reading “Landing Page or Landing Path: Improving Post-Click Marketing.”

Follow the advice in this article, and you’ll never again talk about driving traffic to your Web site. You’ll be focused where you need to be: on customers, not clicks.

One comment

  1. Marketing Maven, as usual you did a great job explaining best practices for your readers.

    I would also suggest adding a lead capture widget to every page of a website. One popular example is an e-newsletter registration box.

    I emphasize with my clients that a lead capture device should have a distinct value proposition for visitors and show how you’re different in the marketplace. One strong subhead can do this, similar to your recommendation for e-newsletter subject lines.

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