Where there’s traffic, there’s hope.
Every visit is a chance for something good to happen, which is why traffic is the first goal of digital marketing. It’s also the website translation of traditional marketing’s “brand awareness” goal.
Generating traffic is a big part of the job, so let’s unpack it and take a look at where the visitors are coming from.
Traffic flows into websites from many sources: websites and apps, search engines and social networks, links and buttons, ad campaigns and word of mouth. We typically categorize these visitors into six big groups:
- Search: visitors who discovered us through a search engine
- Social: visitors who clicked on a link in social media
- Paid: visitors to come from online ads
- Email: visitors who clicked on a link in a newsletter
- Referral: visitors who came from other websites
- Direct: visitors who typed our web address directly into the browser
While some of these might be more important to you than others, it’s important to have diversity in your traffic sources, just like diversity in a financial portfolio. There are hidden risks in your marketing if a huge percentage of traffic comes from one source, or if you have no traffic at all coming from email marketing.
Note: Email is a key traffic source because it’s a direct connection with your audience. There isn’t a company, such as Google or Facebook, in between you and your potential visitors. You don’t own your social followers or search rankings, but you do own your email list.
Here’s how the traffic sources break down in Google Analytics. Assuming that marketing campaigns, such as advertising and email newsletters, are tracked separately, this is what the Acquisitions > All Traffic > Channels report should look like. To see the percentage view click on the pie chart.
If you switch to the data view, this report shows you the behaviour metrics (pages per visit, average length of a visit) and the conversion metrics (the percentage of visitors who took action) for each source of traffic, providing powerful clues about each type of visitor.