(A Note from Crazy Egg’s GM, Suneet Bhatt: This is a guest post from our friends at Verblio, a community of content marketing experts for hire, who focus on creating you excellent blog content and then, getting people to read it. One of the biggest challenges we hear from our community is how hard it is to acquire traffic. Which is why we’ve also partnered with Verblio to give all Crazy Egg customers a privileged opportunity through the Crazy Egg app, to experiment with Verblio and find ways to drive more traffic. Enjoy the post and as always, I welcome your feedback. )
In Field of Dreams, building a baseball field in the middle of some corn was all it took to bring a team out of the woodwork—pretty much literally.
Fast forward to the early 2000’s, and the same can be said of most business websites. If you built it and published some content with the right keywords (and some of that black-hat SEO magic), BAM—you had traffic.
Whereas these days, it isn’t anywhere near that easy. The idea that building content alone is enough has trickled a little too far, especially considering the stat that 2,750,000 blog posts are published each day (on just WordPress alone). One might say in some arenas it’s a “foul ball” to expect hoards of traffic to just show up and leave it at that. Digital marketing is one of those ballparks it needs to be ejected from.
As tenured industry expert and Crazy Egg’s GM Suneet Bhatt says, “Building it isn’t good enough anymore. What differentiates you is when you can make people aware, get them to care, and then, get them to share.”
If you build online content, you better have a plan to amplify, promote—fill the grandstands with cheering fans to sustain the dream. You also need a plan to keep them there.
There’s no better time than NOW—as we round the bases into the home stretch of the year—to get started. The sooner you start swinging, the sooner you’ll start connecting.
A League of Your Own
Quiz time: How do you build a good baseball team?
Depending on if you’re the Yankees or the A’s (or how much you liked Brad Pitt in Moneyball), there are two answers:
The same is analogous to web traffic. You can either pay for the visitors to your site through paid advertising (think PPC), or you can create a strategy to create your own content and promote it over the long-term. There are pros and cons to both, which we’ll get to.
But first, let’s look at the bigger picture of why traffic is important to begin with.
Consider Your Website Visitor’s Journey, from Casual Fan to Season-Ticket Holder
The main idea I want to pitch and catch first is that whichever way you build your team, you need traffic to your website. It’s like sunflower seeds or bubble gum in a dugout—you just can’t play the game without them. No traffic, and the ballgame is over. That’s the first half of the equation.
But traffic alone isn’t enough—you also have to consider how you convert that traffic. For instance, consider that the average ecommerce conversion rate in 2018 was 2.86%. While that’s not indicative of every industry (like B2B or local businesses), it’s a good window to view the content conundrum through.
So if we’re generous, 3 out of every 100 visitors to a site bought something given this ecommerce example. At that rate, you need significantly more traffic to meet your revenue goals.
While the average is low, “good” conversion rates can and should be much higher—the top 25% in most industries are above 5%. As a Crazy Egg customer, you know intuitively that this is due to solid CRO testing based on hard data that doesn’t cut corners.
But here’s where the analogy comes back around—simply writing content and putting it out there doesn’t guarantee traffic or even an average conversion rate. You need a way to ensure that you get visitors and optimize buyers (plus, search engines are increasingly favoring content that successfully engages the audience).
That’s why Crazy Egg and Verblio are a double-play here. The Verblio content gets you out there, and Crazy Egg experimentation, optimization, and iteration keep the conversion efforts singing along.
A great way to view this process in action is through Crazy Egg’s tried-and-true Heatmaps:
But let’s break it down even further.
We’ve mentioned there are two ways to get traffic, but it’s worth digging deeper into each and weighing them both equally. Keep in mind that this isn’t an either/or scenario—any traffic can be good traffic. The question is how do you build sustainable traffic that grows your business long-term?
To help you understand the bigger picture, we’re going to weigh the pros and cons of the two methods for getting website traffic, then talk about how you can generate sustainable traffic and ultra-optimize your content.
Method #1: Moneyball
Option number one for traffic is to rely on paid search, or as we’re calling it: “Moneyball.” The idea here is paid search, PPC, Google Ads—whatever method you can think of that relies on paid traffic—which is a viable way to push people toward your website and get more eyes on the content.
Let’s bring up the scorecard:
Pros of Paid Search to Generate Traffic to Content
Pro #1: You Can Buy It
This one’s pretty simple, and goes right to the definition of paid traffic. You give a service (like Google, Bing, or Facebook) your money, and they put your ads in front of a wider audience. If the audience clicks, you pay.
As long as there’s money in your budget for more clicks, the traffic will keep running like a toddler playing t-ball.
Pro #2: Airtight, Clean, and Understandable Reporting
One of the biggest pros in favor of paid traffic is the reporting. Once an ad is live, you’ll be able to see detailed information covering a huge variety of metrics. For instance, Google Ads puts a helpful overview on the main dashboard:
From there, you can drill down into the account and campaign levels for even more information. If you’re a nerd for stats and optimization like we are at Verblio, this is a total grand slam of information.
This simple, step-by-step reporting helps you see just how far your money goes when trying to generate traffic and customers. It’s incredibly easy to see how money turns into traffic, which turns into leads, and then into conversions. The whole funnel has a stat to track and codify, which makes optimization easy to track and correct.
Pro #3: Extreme Customizations in Audience and Targeting
The last pro we’ll consider here is tied to a unique feature of paid advertisements: targeting. If you want to throw a fastball on the outside corner of the plate, all you have to do is tell your ad platform where to aim. It won’t miss.
Cons of Paid Search to Generate Traffic to Content
It’s hard to argue with these pros at first, but there’s two sides to every story (or two teams to every game?). Here’s what the away team has to offer here:
Con #1: Paid Isn’t Sustainable
When the away team takes over a dugout, they only get that space until the game is over. Once the ninth inning is done, they go home.
Paid is sort of like that—it’s rented space on the internet. Another baseball analogy is the sacrifice fly, you have to give to get. When the money stops flowing, the traffic ends immediately.
Plus, there’s a point of diminishing returns for most businesses, meaning you can’t throw increasing amounts of money at your paid traffic and get rewarded with the same proportions ad infinitum. Eventually, your ROI will plateau like a pop-out to end the inning.
Con #2: Consistent Research and Tinkering Is a Must
The downside of targeting paid ads is that it requires an intense, almost overwhelming amount of data crunching to do accurately. There are entire businesses built around this one activity, sort of like the small army that takes care of the grass in a ballpark. It feels like a luxury, but it’s totally necessary if you want a level playing field.
Con #3: Your Results Will Vary
The final con to consider here is that the results of paid ads aren’t always consistent from industry to industry (or even year to year), which is especially risky given the amount of investment some industries require to even stay in the game—even the cost of ads varies wildly between industries:
Your money may help you win the World Series this year, but that traffic can just as easily go to a higher bidder or a better optimized ad.
Method #2: The Natural
It’s the bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Bases loaded.
Who do you want at the plate?
Yourself, of course! Or at least your content (in this analogy), which is where we enter with “The Natural”—the loveable, underdog hero who’s always had what it takes to help his team win. He just needed to do it (with some time and practice, of course).
“The Natural” in our case is better known as your business and your organic search traffic, the flip side of paid traffic. It’s that little spot in your Google Analytics that hopefully looks something like this in proportion to everything else (or will):
How do you get organic traffic, though? When you play back the tape, the game plan ends up with a three-stage approach:
- Writing good content
- Investing in the development of that content
- Amplifying (or promoting) that content
The dream team of Verblio and Crazy Egg allows you to tackle all of this—from content creation to amplification with tactics like “newsjacking” or boosting your views on social. It’s the home team’s turn to bat, and here’s what you can expect.
Pros of Organic Search to Generate Traffic to Content
Pro #1: Content Is a Long-Term Investment
Think of building, promoting, and optimizing your content like buying the entire baseball field instead of paying for a season ticket. As the owner, you have complete control of every aspect of the team, meaning you can build your own winning tradition instead of just renting space.
One study recently shared that it may take more than two years to get your content to rank at the top of Google—and that’s okay!
It may take a little extra time to get there, but the success you see in this scenario is your own. You can put it in your trophy case and take the winnings to the bank.
Pro #2: It Trickles Benefits Into All of Your Marketing
Building content is the baseball farming system brought to life. You can take an idea, develop it through the minor leagues, and then push it into the majors when the time comes. Every stop along that journey brings benefits, and the end result will help you win.
And that journey is iterative—meaning it won’t stop with one win. What starts as a blog post can turn into a podcast, which spins out into a content newsletter round-up, social posts, videos, and more. It’s like a triple-play, but better.
Studies have shown that customers want to consume your content, and they’ll trust you more for the effort you put in. Plus, you’ll likely end up paying less than half for acquisition of a customer through organic content—hard to argue with that.
You can think of this as future-proofing your company. Instead of paying for ad space on the outfield fence, you’re buying the fence itself. With a tactic like that, you’ll be the one making the money, holistically, for seasons to come.
Cons of Organic Search to Generate Traffic to Content
Con #1: You May Not Have the Time or Ability to Write
You’re an expert on your business, but expertise and ideas for your content only gets you to first base—and writing it only takes you to second base. It’s navigating those other bases where things get tricky.
In other words, if you don’t make it all the way home (and start seeing a return on your investment), there’s absolutely no benefit to your team. And since not everyone feels comfortable writing—or has the time for it—it’s easy to miss out on the benefits content has to offer. You just keep pushing it down the list until suddenly you’ve benched content completely. For months on end. Did we mention Q3 is as good a time as any to crank content out?
“Done is better than perfect” is the order of the day with content, but that can be a curveball for some.
Con #2: The Hassles of Outsourcing Feel Prohibitive
How do you get a writer who can write for your business (or clients)? The difference may look like a game of inches, but that’s the difference between a strike and a ball. Craiglist mining (or sites like Fiverr or Upwork) can sometimes leave you feeling like no good fit exists, when in reality you’re not far from where you need to be.
Shameless plug: While it doesn’t matter how you find your outsourcers for content, as there are loads of great ways of getting connected, we at Verblio have done a lot of thinking through and spend all our energy refining and streamlining the content process for our customers. We are biased, of course, but it is our chief objective to build a better content mousetrap and help agencies and businesses alike make good on their content marketing goals through the development of high-quality content, month after month, year after year.
Another consideration here is that content quality is a subjective thing, and you know it best as an expert in your industry. Finding that quality sometimes doesn’t feel like it’s worth the effort, although we can say from experience it always is. And content, like any form of practice, can get better over time.
Con #3: Onboarding Freelancers Is Tricky
The solution that many businesses eventually turn to for content is a generalist freelancer, which can have positive results. It can also have negative ones.
For instance, onboarding a freelancer is almost as lengthy a process as hiring a new employee. The time cost alone can be prohibitive to a busy schedule, meaning it’s an automatic out. And even when they’re onboarded, you have no control over their schedule. They may not even have time for you some months, or ghost you without a trace.
Con #4: Lack of Amplification or Promotion Can Stifle Growth
If your team is about to have a nice, long home stretch, you want to fill the ballpark with fans. That’s just common business sense. So, you promote your team, how great you are, and how much fun the next games will be.
Failing to promote can yield minimal results in both the short- and long-term for your content. It’s sort of like sliding into an out at second base—you only got halfway there.
You can also think of it like you’re benching a promising player that you just spent money to acquire. It’s a total waste!
But the opposite side of this picture (where you promote content strategically) is incredibly promising. Just check this quick visualization of how far your content can go with promotion vs. against it:
When you see just how much more traffic you’ll get with some extra pushing, promoting your content just makes sense.
Con #5: It’s a Long-Term Deal
It took the Chicago Cubs 108 years to end a World Series drought. But in 2016, they were finally able to fly their flag after a dramatic Game 7 win.
That’s not to say it will take that long for your content to work—not by a long shot—but it paints an accurate picture of how long-term content can be.
It’s very rare for content to immediately take off on organic rankings. Most businesses start to see an ROI in the 3-6 month range.
But those benefits are much more worth the effort and indicate longevity.
The Perfect Game
Here’s what we’ve been building up to all along—what is the perfect traffic generator? It’s no surprise we favor organic content, because why rent the park when you can own it?
It may take time, but organic is long-term and a stronger foundation for business. Verblio’s secret is simple:
- 50% time to write
- 50% promotion
And we’re not shy about the results. One of our clients took their blog from zero traffic to more than 15,000 unique visitors per month in just nine months with the help of a Verblio account manager (just one professional service we provide)! You can read all about it here, but we’ll break it down with a highlight reel too:
- Our client ditched the traditional ads.
- He started blogging, but wasn’t consistent.
- He got consistent with Verblio.
- He shared his content on social.
- His traffic jumped to 8,703 users in two months.
- He got even more consistent with Verblio Complete.
- He swept the competition.
Don’t get us wrong—this is the highlight reel. But what it shows is that organic growth is tied to content, promotional efforts, and optimization through every iteration. You have to take those first steps to get there, though, and work your way to every win.
You’re Killin’ Me, Smalls
Sustainable, high-quality traffic takes time to build, promote, and optimize. You aren’t born a star overnight—you have to practice and earn it.
But eventually you’ll go from learning how to put your glove on to hitting a homerun into the crazy old man’s yard. Just be careful getting the ball back.
If you want to start building up your content dream team, try Verblio’s content writing and see how we work with Crazy Egg customers to drive meaningful traffic through content.