HOW TO DECIDE ON PAID OR FREE TRAFFIC

These days I am getting a lot of questions on which type and source of traffic would be the best to use, paid or free traffic? While there are no real easy answers here, my proven traffic strategy has worked well for me over the years.

After deciding to start any online business, getting traffic to your offer is among the many components to prepare for. There are a few options everyone can explore, but first the strategy must be laid out and understood beyond any level of confusion.

Naturally, you will want to start making money through your offers right away. That’s certainly fine and understandable. Doing so would need to leverage on the paid traffic sources.

So let’s have a look at what is actually involved …

You will need to place an ad in any of the social media options or with the search engines. What goes into the ads?

  1. Your offer: This will need to be a very compelling offer to entice the viewers to click on your ad.
  2. A relevant image will go a long way. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Even if the ad space restricts you to use only a thumbnail image, you should do it.
  3. Once clicked, the visitors will be redirected to your offer page. For best results, your offer page should provide the details as promised by your ad.

That’s the general overview of the considerations for creating the ads.

Further considerations…

In the case of social media, you must take into account that it is after all not a professional environment. Hence the term social media. The users are browsing through these sites generally in a not so ‘buying’ type of a mood. Rather they are looking to spend their time on social activities like family, friendships, entertainment, occasions, etc. Hence if your ads appear to stop them from doing those things and start pitching a sale, you are most likely to be ignored. In creating your ads, be very aware who the target customers you will be promoting the ads to.

Your ads must resonate with that target audience and must get them interested enough for them to click on your ad. For example on Valentine’s Day promotion, if a florist promotes a generic ad for a dozen roses at $9.99 would be a very bad and expensive promotion. Rather it would be in their best interest to the florist to create several ads and target various segments of people within the reach of his store or delivery radius. They could target these ads towards millennials, nurses, husbands, wives, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Doing so would make the ads appear more personalized towards those specific audiences.

Your offer page is also called landing page, squeeze page, sales page, etc. with a singular purpose of selling your offer that was on the ad which the visitors had initially clicked on. However, most often I had seen that after clicking on any ad, the visitors are redirected to a product catalog page or even worse the home page of a site. This absolutely destroys the sense of urgency the visitor had when they originally clicked on the ad resulting in extremely poor sales conversions.

How to Decide on Paid or Free Traffic
Send Traffic to Landing Pages

So, your ads must send the visitors to very specific landing pages with the singular intent of selling that which was offered, without any other distractions (including any menu bars or extra navigation options). Any up selling or cross selling is done at the checkout stage with another offer which is in fact an ‘internal ad’.

In the case of working with affiliate offers, the same process is applied with one major exception. With affiliate offers, when any visitor clicks on any ads what usually happens is that they are redirected to the any product or services page which is not yours. In case of any sale that may occur there, you will get a pre-agreed commission, but the buck will stop there.

Best thing for you to do in case of such situations is that you can create a landing page of your own with the aim to capture their names, email addresses and even in certain cases their phone numbers. After they volunteer the information, they can in turn be redirected once again to the actual affiliate offer page. This way, you have at least their email addresses to contact them later on to promote any of your offers directly.

All these email addresses can be collected into an automated list which can send pre-selected emails to promote your offers automatically. This system is called an email auto-responder or an email sales funnel.

You can already understand that the ad is actually the tip of the iceberg while many considerations must be made and back end processes must be implemented to properly ensure conversions.

And now the budget. Placing ads in the social networks without the above considerations properly taken into account can amount to a very large budget with poor results. Even if such considerations have been reasonably met with, it does take an active effort to properly optimize/test your ads for the best results. While optimizing, the budgets do not need to be any large amount. A budget of about $5-$10/day should be good enough for 5-7 days, depending on your level of experience.

Following the optimization process, the budgets should be in line with your revenue expectations. Whatever amount of money is your target profit for any particular offer should dictate your daily budgets. As a rule of thumb for calculating purposes, targeting around 30 hits to your offer page per day should yield the desired level of revenue.

In case your ad spend does not generate sufficient traffic to benefit your sales targets, it’s usually time to relook the ad offer and the landing page copy/content. Only through a rigorous optimization/testing process you can balance your ad budgets. Unfortunately I see that most people do not take the time to optimize their ads and simply keep throwing money at it right from the start. All such cases end up in poor profits or major losses.

Some good social networks that works best for paid ads are Facebook and Reddit. Learning how best to exploit these two social networks involves a bit of learning curve as well. Patience will prove to be a virtue but certainly worth the effort if you wish to see profits sooner than later.

Let’s Talk About Free Traffic

Now let’s discuss what if you have no budgets at the beginning to run paid ads. What are the choices available to you?

The best thing about the online business scene is that you can get started to market any of your offers even without spending any money on ads by tapping into the free traffic options. But yes, it will take more of an effort to do so.

For free traffic, consider the search engines as your best friends.

How to Decide on Paid or Free Traffic
Use Search Engines to Tap Into Free Traffic

Let’s understand first how they work and can help you. The thing to keep in mind that all search engines are looking to connect all people searching for anything specific to the available range of solutions/content on whatever that they might be searching for at that time. Best of all, this service is absolutely free of cost to you.

The trick for you to master is for the search engines to recommend you as a search solution within the first ten options displayed. This is termed as search ranking. The higher your search ranking is for any specific keyword or search terms, the most likely your pages will show up within the first ten search results. Understanding this fact is the key to tapping into tremendous amounts of free traffic.

The option is also there for you to place ads (SEM, PPC, CPA, etc.) in the search results pages for such specific keywords. The same or similar effort is also required here to optimize those ads, as explained already.

Personally I use Google Adwords for all such paid ad campaigns. Mastering how to use Adwords properly can be a powerful and profitable skill to have.

For your pages to show up naturally in any search is also known as organic results. The more optimized (SEO friendly) your website or landing pages are, the more likely for you to rank higher in the organic search results. As mentioned earlier, the ideal target you would want to achieve is to rank within the first ten organic search results as you would get a ton of free traffic.

You can research Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to orient yourself with the finer points on how to best utilize these. SEO is a key factor in your page ranking status which greatly affect how much free traffic you could potentially tap into.

Worth mentioning here is that do not forget about the sites which have their internal search engines you could tap into for a good deal of free traffic. These internal search engines want the same thing as any other search engines which is content. The best example of this is YouTube.com

Besides search engines, you could possibly get a lot of free traffic from sites such as reddit.comstumbleupon.com & pinterest.com, if you take the time to understand how these sites work. Keep in mind that such sites, as same with the search engines, would not be able to function without content created by others.

In comparison, your paid ads in any social media network will compete to grab the viewers’ attention who most likely are not looking to buy anything at that specific moment while ranking higher in the organic search results will directly expose you to any active buyers who are specifically looking for your products or services at that specific time.

Also to understand here is that paid traffic yields more immediate results opposed to free organic traffic because it will take time to improve your site and organic search rankings.

Hence, your mindset and strategy to either must be polar opposites. I see too many people just learning the mechanics of how to place an ad rather than considering the dynamics of whether their strategy is appropriate for that specific medium or not. This strategy affects all basic facts such as the ad copy, images, landing pages, etc.

So Here Is My Recommended Strategy

It’s a rather simple strategy. Start any sales campaign with paid traffic and work towards reducing that budget over time to match with the free traffic from the search engines you are sure to get if you carefully prepare your site and landing pages accordingly.

One thing worth mentioning here is that all sites and the landing pages thereof should be optimized for all browser types and the loading time should be at a minimum. Fast loading speed should always be a priority concern. Always be sure to source a good and reputable hosting company who is accustomed to your type of online business to understand your needs.

Does all of this sound like a lot of work? Well it is at the beginning and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But the silver lining here is that if you implement all this properly, there will be virtually very little work down the road.

As I constantly remind everyone that any online business should actually be always treated as a real business which is set up to make real profits.

Click here for my recommended book on free traffic available at Amazon.com.

Click here for the most cost effective yet powerful way to advertise your promotions and offers on Facebook.


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One Reply to “HOW TO DECIDE ON PAID OR FREE TRAFFIC”

  1. “For example, if you promote any product at Amazon for a 4% commission, it will take you the same amount of effort to promote any other offer for a 15% or higher commission.”

    I like this

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