The bigger your business gets, the more important it is to understand the multiple different types of website traffic. General types of site traffic include Direct Traffic, which means that a visitor comes to your website by typing in your URL in the browser; Social Traffic, which comes from social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.; Search Traffic, which comes from search engines such as Google and Bing; and Referral Traffic, which is when web visitors come to your website from other websites that don’t fall under the categories I’ve already mentioned.
Today I want to highlight referral traffic because it’s often misunderstood, and can be a good source of high-converting leads, if done right. The problem is that referral traffic coming from shady websites or websites that aren’t related to your industry or target market will give you nothing and just cause headaches for your marketing analytics team. At the same time, if you can get solid referral traffic from relevant, high-quality sites, then you can take a few simple steps to make sure this traffic converts. Focusing on conversions from referral traffic can take a small business to the next level.
Recently, Neil Patel in one of his articles linked to one of my blog posts. I was honored, of course, but more importantly, as a result of Patel’s link I immediately got 100+ new visitors, one of whom converted and was a high-quality lead.
So, we can easily conclude that if we open doors for the right kind of referral traffic, we can increase our chances of getting leads that will actually convert, regardless of whether we offer a service or product-based business.
How to bring referral traffic that converts
There are multiple methods to open doors for referral traffic that will actually convert into solid business leads. I will focus on tactics that are not really common, but are highly effective, since most businesses either ignore them or at least do not do them as well as they could do.
Not so long ago, businesses were seriously investing in guest posting to get quality links back to their own website or blogs. But after Matt Cutt’s blog post about how Guest Posting can hurt your website, it’s as if everyone has suddenly stopped doing it. In fact, some readers are taking this so far that I even received an enquiry a couple of months ago from someone asking me to remove links in their guest post.
If you ask me, guest posting before and after the Cutt’s post has been the same: it’s useful if you get referral traffic, but if you’re just trying to get links then it is sort of a pointless exercise, but it can be immensely effective way to get referral traffic. Guest posting is an easy, straightforward wat to get the attention of new audiences, share your knowledge, promote your business organically, and bring readers to your own blog or website. If you are successful you will not only see an increase in search rankings (ie. based on a larger, high-quality link profile) but conversions as well.
Take this analytics snapshot for a popular Business Plans website. Their writers have published guest posts on websites aimed at business owners, and as you can see in the data, those sites are two of their biggest sources of referral traffic. The idea is to think about what sites your target customers read when they are looking for ways to improve their businesses – those are the sites you should target for guest blogging.
When referral traffic comes from relevant and authoritative sources, it not only brings traffic but the chances of converting that traffic into paying customers are much higher than from paid banner ads or other “outbound” marketing tactics.
I know what comes next to your mind when you read the “Blog Comments” header. Look, you’re not wrong, links from blog comments can hurt your rankings and you should avoid getting links from blog comment sections. But hear me out. When I say blog comments what I really mean is building communication, not links.
Commenting on blog posts is a great way to share your opinion (negative or positive) about the subject the author is discussing. This is much more engaging than just writing on your Twitter profile that you’re a “thought leader”…For example, if you have an in-depth knowledge about the subject and your comment is worth considering, you will see people start “liking” your comment, sharing their own opinions, and searching you out to find out about your social media presence, business, etc.
With comments like “Great Post!” you might not attract any traffic but with meaningful comments you surely can drive referral traffic to your website and later turn them into leads and customers. Readers who feel like they’re in a conversation with you are more likely to seek out your business, trust your brand, and convert.
Read this post by Neil Patel and I am dead sure that you will include Blog Commenting as part of your daily routine on the path to referral traffic that actually converts.
Word of Mouth
Speaking from the conversions point of view, word-of-mouth marketing is by far the most profitable channel in the online/offline world. When people who have used your product or service recommend you to others in their circles, those new leads tend to trust you more easily and are far more likely to convert into leads and paying customers.
How is word-of-mouth marketing really a source of referral traffic in the technical sense of the term? As you know, nothing good comes easy. The path to word-of-mouth referrals is different for every business, but what they share is the importance of a good customer care team. Just make sure your customer support team is active on as many channels as possible, because referrals can come from anywhere and people are most likely to share links and help spread the word if it’s easy for them to do (ie. if all they have to do is retweet some content). Be active on social media websites like Twitter, respond in real time to customer queries on your website via live chat and help customers solve their problems on the spot.
Always remember, customers may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel. If you manage to make them feel good, then they will definitely speak about you to others which will bring in more referral traffic online as well as offline.
I know it’s difficult to get the exact percentage of people who come via word of mouth but your branding and online positive vibe will give you a clue of where it’s important to invest in this department.
Content Submission Sites
This is by far the easiest way to create the most targeted traffic to your website that might also convert into leads. It’s also a method that SMBs tend to ignore. The idea is to find content submission websites like Inbound.org or the Growth Hacker community, plus similar sites relevant to your business niche, and submit your original content, such as blog posts, on those websites.
I am sure most of you have tried this and failed. I’ll let you in on a little secret.
Whenever you join any such community, the most important thing isn’t to just submit content but to become an active part of the community. Reply to comments, posts your own comments and responses, upvote awesome content, submit other great content within your industry (content from writers and thinkers you admire), and do anything else you can think of to participate. After all, if it’s not a community you want to participate in, then why would anyone want to read your own content? Once you get a decent amount of visibility within the community, it’s the time to add your own content and at the same time continue building your visibility within the community.
With higher visibility, more people will read, like and share your content. You might even start to hit the front page (where the real traffic is). Once you reach better placement on these sites, you will receive a great amount of traffic. In my experience working with a variety of online businesses, this type of referral traffic is full of high-converting leads.
For example, here’s an analytics snapshot from my site, SEtalks.com. Check out the amount of conversions Inbound.org is offering me. And guess what, a lot of these conversions turn into paying customers.
If you’re looking for more referral traffic and better referral traffic, why not start working on each of these four ideas today? Everyone has their preferred methods, but I tried to emphasize ideas that are most likely to have a good level of success. If you implement these ideas, you should start to see referral traffic within the next month. And the sky’s the limit.
What other methods are you using to get referral traffic that actually converts? I’d love to know. Leave a comment here or reach me on Twitter. Happy growth hacking!