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Chloë Thomas shares her wisdom on the best methods to draw in the right consumers to your website.

There is a formula for eCommerce success: traffic x AOV (average order value) x conversion rate = sales.

Traffic is the most powerful of the three items before the equals sign because the traffic influences both the AOV and the conversion rate. That means that just driving a lot of traffic will never be enough. You also need to be driving the RIGHT traffic.

Why the ‘wrong’ traffic isn’t necessarily wrong

I often get asked “My conversion rate is only one per cent what should I change on my site to improve it?” or “My bounce rate is over 50 per cent - what do I need to change on the website?”

Often the answer is to change nothing on the site – but better understand the traffic mix that’s hitting the website, and how it is performing. In each case looking at the performance of traffic sources shows that one is performing particularly badly and that is the issue at hand. The website is fine (enough), the problem is the ‘wrong’ traffic.

Even in this case though, it might not be traffic you want to turn off. If it’s natural search traffic (unpaid for) on big, broad keywords that doesn’t convert, but doesn’t bounce either – then it’s successfully building awareness of your website and brand and products. So you wouldn’t want to turn it off – you just need to do your reporting a bit differently.

Different types of traffic

When analysing your traffic you need to consider which type of traffic it is, which means what sort of marketing activity drove it to your website. There are nine key marketing methods in eCommerce – content, email, social media, brand awareness, offline marketing, search, pay per click (PPC), remarketing, and partnerships. The traffic generated by all these marketing methods can be described using the following selections:

Free or bought

Not every marketing method perfectly fits at one end – for example offline marketing (such as catalogues) usually both builds the brand, and directly drives the conversions.

Not all activity within one of the nine marketing methods behaves the same. Within social media your Pinterest posts may be directly conversion driving, but your Twitter activity talking to experts in your field is more about brand building.

Think about which category each of your marketing activities is, then consider how it should therefore be performing:

  • If it’s brand building activity – you want a low bounce rate, but you shouldn’t be too worried about the conversion rate;
  • If it’s conversion driving – you care about the conversion rate and the AOV; 
  • With bought traffic – you want to have a low bounce rate on (a high bounce rate shows your marketing is badly targeted), and enough engagement (be it page-views or conversions to make it worthwhile); and
  • Free traffic is less important to have the right stats on. But if you’re putting in a lot of work to get it – analyse it like you would bought traffic!

When you start considering your marketing in this way you’ll quickly find some activity you really want to stop, and other marketing activity you want to do more of. And there’s another category – the marketing you should start testing.

Top tip for getting the right traffic

Once you have your existing traffic sources optimised you will be ready to start looking for MORE traffic.

As mentioned above there are nine marketing methods available to you. An eCommerce business can’t afford to rely on one traffic source – you never know when it’s going to dry up or change, or the ROI deteriorate too much for it to be useful. As a minimum you should be using four at any one time, and testing the others. As well as testing the different tactics and tricks within each.

After the recent changes to Google Adwords, ‘simple’ PPC has become a labyrinth of different testing opportunities – which when combined together in the right way will bring you some very cost effective traffic (if you’re not yet testing product listing ads (PLAs) – do it, now!).

Looking at and reviewing the performance of your traffic, and making sure you’re using the right marketing methods, and enough marketing methods really is essential for your success.

Chloë Thomas is author of 'eCommerce MasterPlan 1.8' and her third book, 'eCommerce Marketing', is published in September.

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