I can pretty confidently say that no one has a positive reaction when you say the word “traffic.”
It’s probably one of the biggest bragging rights we have an entrepreneurs, the joy of not having to fight the traffic during the “common man’s” daily commute.
Unfortunately, there’s a different kind of traffic we have to deal with as online business owners. It’s the chore of getting traffic (more commonly known as “people”) to come to our website or landing page or e-commerce store.
And just like vehicle traffic, it can be unpredictable, and isn’t always within our control.
And just like vehicle traffic, we never really have website traffic “mastered,” no matter how much of an expert we become in our business.
Sure, the big wig 7-figure marketers will tell you they don’t have a traffic problem. But all that really means is that they have enough money to lose some of it, to experiment, and to roll with the changes.
Yet another thing about vehicle traffic that mirrors website traffic is that we’re hostage to it.
If you want to go anywhere, you’ve got to get out in the traffic. And if you want your business to go anywhere, you’re going to have to get in the traffic too.
You may have the best product or service in the world, but if the people who need and want it don’t know about it and where to get it, you better go get a job because it’s not going to make you any money.
Because it’s the lifeblood of your business, and because it’s anything but easy, we’re going to tackle one aspect of the traffic puzzle today, which is “Will free or paid traffic be easier on your budget?”
And no, that’s not a dumb question. Truth is, free traffic is anything but free.
Let’s do a little comparison of the two types of traffic, and then we’ll talk about why paid traffic may be cheaper than “free” traffic for your business.
What’s “Free” Traffic?
When we think of free traffic today, social media is the first thing that pops to mind.
You’ve probably heard how easy it is to do social media marketing. Just post on social media every day and drive people to your website, or even straight to your checkout page.
I mean, you’re on social media anyway, right?
What could be easier, right?
Well, you likely know better, but we’ll talk more about that in a moment.
There are other “free” traffic methods, all of which people use every day to grow their business. You can start a blog and post regularly on it, or better yet, you can search for guest blogging opportunities that will get you and your website link in front thousands of readers when you write for popular blogs.
You can promote your business through email marketing, which technically isn’t free because you do have to pay monthly autoresponder fees, but that can be as low as $20 a month, which is close enough to free.
Another effective way to get free traffic is to spend a few hours every week commenting on relevant blogs that are already popular.
When you leave helpful and relevant comments, people will begin to see you as an expert, as someone who can help them, and they’ll click on your name in the comments, which will take them to the website link you’ve provided.
You can use the same strategy in forums, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and on social sites like Quora and Reddit by participating regularly and making people seek you out as someone that can help them.
The Problem with Free Traffic
The number one problem with free traffic is that it isn’t free. It takes your time, and there’s no more valuable asset to your business than your time.
And not only does it take your time, it takes a lot of your time.
I doubt I’m telling you anything you don’t already know.
Chances are, you’re doing some social media marketing, and either aren’t getting as much traffic from it as you want and need, or feel like you’re spending your life on social media and not finding the time to enjoy the rewards of entrepreneurship.
Yes, you can post all day long on social media, blogs, and in forums and it won’t cost you a penny.
But who wants to do that? And when will you do the other things you need to do in your business, like actually provide the product or service you offer?
What’s Paid Traffic?
You likely know what paid traffic is, but just to make sure we’re on the same page, paid traffic includes any kind of paid advertising you do.
Most popular right now (because it’s the most effective) are Facebook ads. Before Facebook was a thing, Google Adwords was the holy grail of paid advertising, and it’s still extremely effective.
Just about every social media network now offers paid advertising opportunities, including YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Less popular, but a place with some good hidden opportunities is Bing, which is an alternative search engine to Google.
The Problem with Paid Traffic
The big problem with paid traffic is also that it isn’t free, which can certainly be a deal breaker if you’re a new business owner.
And not only is it not free, it can cost a lot of money. And at first, it almost always does.
Because there’s a learning curve to paid advertising. I don’t know anyone who created their first Facebook Ad, got it approved on their first try, and profited from their first ad campaign.
It takes testing and tweaking of your copy, your image, and your targeting to start getting good, consistent results. And even then, it’s a continuous process coming up with new ads and complying with Facebook’s (or Google, or whoever) ever-changing rules.
The Traffic Sweet Spot
If free traffic and paid traffic both suck, then what’s an entrepreneur with a great product or service to share with the world to do?
Fortunately, there is a traffic sweet spot.
Honestly, you’re going to need free and paid traffic.
You need free traffic not for the traffic, but because it builds your brand, your expertise, and gives you exposure and credibility.
You’re going to want to create content (or have it created for you) because it’s the number one way to get people to know, like, and trust you. And you know by now that we buy from those we know, like, and trust.
But, you’re not going to be able to live on free traffic alone, for the reasons we’ve already discussed. It’s slow, and it’s time-consuming.
So by all means, keep creating some content, but relax and just let it do its job keeping you at the top of people’s mind, showing your expertise, and connecting as a human with others.
As for the actual driving potential buyers to your offer part of things, in the long run, it’s cheaper and more effective to do this with paid advertising.
Unless your business specializes in driving paid traffic, unless you are specifically an ads agency, you have no business doing your own paid advertising.
You have neither the time, nor the money to get it right.
And it’s more likely than not that you’ll quit in frustration, claiming either that Facebook ads don’t work for you, or that they’re too hard.
And to add salt to the wounds, when you decide to quit you’ll be at a point where you’ve lost money rather than made money as you’d planned.
Facebook ads are the best place to start because they’re proven. Done right, they will work for you, no matter who you are.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll save some money by adopting a “DIY” approach. That’d be about as smart as deciding to build your own house to save money on the labor.
To return for a minute to our traffic analogy, doing it yourself would be like choosing a route to drive from Las Vegas to New York that took you through Mexico.
Because you don’t know any better. You don’t know the lay of the land in Facebook ad world. The shortcuts, the tricks to getting fast approvals, the targeting factors that make the difference.
Fortunately for you, we’ve mastered these skills here at Specialpreneurs and would love to help make your Facebook ads experience a positive and profitable one, rather than the frustrating expense most DIYers encounter. You can book a call with us here.