Content

5 paid traffic sources every online marketer should be testing

Posted by: Will Fleiss, Outbrain

Wow, there’s a lot of ways to spend money online to help grow your business. Deciding which paid traffic sources to focus on can be pretty overwhelming. Focus is essential when optimizing your marketing mix, so we’ve identified 5 paid traffic source that you should master or at least test, before looking elsewhere.

1. Google Adwords

This one’s a no-brainer. AdWords offers one of the most versatile paid traffic solutions around, both for search and display advertising. Targeting someone by what they search online is an excellent way of understanding a visitors intent to buy your product. Often referred to as reaching someone at the “bottom of the funnel”, Adwords can be extremely effective at targeting people who are ready to buy.  Unfortunately that portion of the funnel can be pretty small, so how you attract visitors at the top of the funnel and coax them down the funnel with great content and best practice inbound marketing tactics is the hard (or harder) part of marketing online. In the early days of the internet this might have been possible with the Google Display Network (GDN), but now due to banner blindness, for the most part we don’t really see these ads; and ya gotta see ‘em to click ‘em (you can quote me on that). Here’s a heat-map study from the Nielson Norman Group showing just how much people ignore display advertising.

That being said, a hugely effective tactic that the GDN can be used to execute, is retargeting. Coupled with some of the below paid traffic sources, retargeting is a great way of advertising only to people who have already shown interest in your company by visiting your website. And not your entire website, but a particular page on your website, like…I don’t know… your pricing or checkout page! (yeah, pretty good indicator of someone who’s thinking about pulling out their wallet)

In short

-If you know what keywords your customers are punching into Google, Adwords is a no-brainer.

-The GDN has massive reach, but think about retargeting before you drop a bunch of dough on people accidently clicking on your banner.

2. Facebook Ads

Over the last couple of years, the Facebook ad platform has evolved a great deal. In it’s early days I was definitely a naysayer, but now it’s hard to find an online marketer worth their salt that doesn’t think Facebook offers extremely effective ways of driving targeted paid traffic. Not only can you choose the type of people you want to reach (gender, age, occupation, to name a few), but you can also target audiences that are similar to your existing customer base. That’s right, Facebook will actually find people similar to the ones who have already purchased your product. You can do all the demographic, geographic, contextual, or behavioral targeting you want, but I’d take the behavior of actually paying for your own product, over any of that, when it comes to finding your next customer.

In case you don’t believe me or think this sounds too complicated, here’s a super simple demo from that Jon Loomer on how to do it.

The downside of a constantly evolving platform is that you’ll need to keep up with the changes regularly via blogs and updates on their platform. I’ll actually go as far as to say that the key to success on Facebook is to stay connected to their updates. So seriously, stay up-to-date on their updates.

In short

-Get your Lookalike Audience on!

-And follow people like Jon Loomer like a hawk.

3. Outbrain Amplify

OK, obviously I’m extremely biased here, but you can’t dispute the facts. When a company outranks Google and Facebook for unique visitors on a comScore top 30 list, and you’re looking for paid traffic sources, I’m pretty sure you need to check it out.

via comScore Media Matrix study

Now, we definitely won’t take your ads like Facebook and Google, but there’s no question you’ll want to use us to drive traffic to those awesome blog posts, articles, videos, and third-party reviews… This is where you start the relationship with your potential customer, bringing them down the funnel by providing nothing but valuable, useful, funny, and endearing content.  Similar to Facebook and AdWords, Amplify offers a cost-per-click bidding system, the ability to test multiple headlines directed to the same content, device targeting, and geographic targeting. Our premium network of publishers ensure that your always getting traffic from high quality sources. More importantly though, the algorithms behind our content discovery platform are constantly working to find the most engaged audience for your content. The people who click our content recommendations are far more engaged than people who come from search or social, and we can prove! Here’s are a couple of the results you’ll find in our Discovery vs Search vs Social Audience Engagement Study

While Outbrain may be best for building that relationship with great content, many of our customers have seen great success using us to drive traffic to a recent press article or blog post, and then retargeting that person in Google’s Display Network or through Facebook’s Custom Audience retargeting. So in reality, social, search, and discovery actually work together quite nicely.

In short

-Outbrain outranks Google & Facebook for monthly unique visitors, so when looking for paid traffic sources, we are a must!

-Use Outbrain Amplify to drive highly engaged traffic to your great content, then retarget those visitors on the GDN and Facebook.

-Bonus post about Outbrain’s impact on SEO: How to Distribute Your Content at Scale and Get Google Juice Now

4. LinkedIn Ads

For those of you in the B2B market, LinkedIn Ads could be a great paid traffic source. Their 3 main advertising options are sponsored updates, display and text ads, and InMail.  It’s hard for the B2B marketer not to be intrigued by a platform that allows you to target by job title and job functions. Other targeting options are location, age, gender, skills, company by name, industry, company size, school, and group. LinkedIn’s network is priced on a cost-per-click and it’s pretty expensive. You won’t find any targeting for less than $2 per click, and a lot of the targeting will start at $4.50.  For example this one: 

With their sponsored updates offering, you can not currently target people on only mobile or only desktop, and according their SVP of Product & User Experience, Deep Nishar, this year over 50% of their global audience will be mobile. So make sure your mobile experience is great if you’re doing any sponsored posts. LinkedIn just announce the opening of their API to ad partners, so definitely keep a close eye on what types of features their partners will be announcing.

In short

-It’s an expensive place to start with paid traffic.

-For the B2B marketer the targeting is almost impossible to ignore, but if your doing sponsored updates, make sure you have a great mobile experience for your visitors.

5. Twitter Ads

Twitter has some pretty sweet targeting options. Probably one of the coolest ones is that you can target people who are tweeting about a particular television program. That’s probably not great for driving traffic though. You can also target by keyword, interests and followers, and even tailored audiences, similar to what Facebook is doing with their Custom Audience targeting. Their “Tailored Audiences” support page is definitely worth a read.  One of my favorite features of Twitter Ads is their lead card feature that allows you to collect someone’s email address without leaving twitter.

All that said, twitter’s CPC is typically pretty expensive, and before you drop a ton of cash here, make sure your prospective customer spends time here. What does the organic traffic that comes from Twitter to your website currently do? If you’re already getting conversions, then definitely go for a test!

In short

-Great targeting options.

-But make sure this is where your audience hangs out.

Conclusion

The customer journey is extremely varied, so remember that in reality a mix of all of these channels is probably the best way to bring potential customers down the funnel. As long as you understand the importance of building trust and providing value first without asking for anything in return, you will achieve results from these paid traffic sources. And don’t get too caught up in expecting people to go down the funnel the way you want them to. The funnel doesn’t actually look anything like a funnel. It looks more like this:

via the Forrester blog 

What are your top 5 paid traffic sources that every online marketer should be testing?

Posted by: Will Fleiss, Online Customer Acquisitions Manager, Outbrain

Posted in CMA blog
3rdJun 2014


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