I guess it’s my roots in affiliate marketing that cause me to disdain the word “traffic” so much. Often, affiliate managers smear Facebook with statements like “Who has good email traffic for cosmetics??!?!??! I haz offers!”, and I get turned off.
Why? Because in the end, I think we all want prospects, right? Not traffic. In fact, even offline, have you ever heard the word traffic used in a completely positive context? “We got there early… the traffic wasn’t too bad.” But it was still there, mostly in the way of what you were actually trying to achieve: arrive at your destination.
In certain marketing channels, it appears as though we’ve adopted and then proliferated the belief that more eyeballs is always good. Quite frankly, that simply isn’t true. Random, somewhat interested web traffic distracts web analysts. We wonder why our conversion rates went down 10% when we had been clipping along quite nicely.
We wonder why bounce rates (not that I spend a lot of time worrying about them) have tripled in three days.
Likely, it’s because the marketing department went out in search of traffic, instead of trying to cultivate prospects. On the Revenue Tree, traffic is a much lower hanging fruit than prospects. Dangling just barely off the ground, we can see traffic on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and blogs. All of it sitting there, hands on wallets, waiting to write a Purchase Order or consume our White Papers.
Except that they aren’t. What traffic IS is an injection of disinterested or vaguely interested businesses or consumers (Farmville traffic, anyone?) that are very unlikely to become customers, brand advocates, or even potential referrers.
Personally, I prefer to stick to prospects. I’m careful around the office to only use the word traffic in the context of discussing the past (“our Google traffic was down last month”) as opposed to a means of aligning our goals (“We need more social media traffic.”) I wrote on a similar topic in the Nostradamus Effect yesterday.
What we DO need, and what every business needs, is more prospects. More genuinely interested web visitors. Those are the ones that become loyal advocates and customers. The ones that actually DO break out their credit cards and buy.
You know, the ones that end up in our CRM’s. We like those people. At least initially.