Obviously, the way to make money is to make sales. And in order to make sales, you need traffic (i.e. visitors to your store). There are 3 primary sources of traffic:
- Paid Traffic
- Organic Traffic
- Direct Traffic
Let's take a few minutes to talk about each of these 3 traffic sources separately.
Paid traffic is exactly what it sounds like: traffic that you pay for. But obviously, the name of the game is generating more profit from your paid advertising efforts than you're spending for the ads. It's all about trading $5 bills for $10 bills (or $20 bills). As long as your ads have a positive ROI, they'll be a boon to your store's profitability. In fact, there are a lot of highly profitable stores that rely exclusively (or almost exclusively) on paid traffic.
I already introduced you to the world of paid advertising back in Chapter 6 when we discussed Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs). That is just one of several different types of paid advertising you can do. Coming up in Chapter 8, we'll discuss all the different paid advertising options (most of which use the Pay-Per-Click, or PPC, model) and go over my "Big 4" rules for profitable paid advertising.
The biggest downside of paid advertising is the fact that it cuts into your profits, no matter how good you are at it. Free traffic is always going to net you more profit than paid traffic. The biggest upside of paid advertising is that you can use it to start generating traffic and sales DAY 1 after launching your store! The other traffic sources we'll cover in the sections below take longer to "take hold" and result in meaningful traffic. They're more of a long-term play. But with paid advertising, you could easily create a few paid advertising campaigns and start generating traffic and sales today!
Organic traffic is free, natural traffic to your store from search engines (primarily Google). It comes as a result of pages on your site ranking high in the Search Engine Results Pages (or SERPs) for keyword phrases related to the products you sell.
Quick example... Suppose your store sells camo rings. Over time, you'll hopefully build up good rankings in Google (and the other search engines) for all kinds of different keyword phrases related to camo rings, such as 'camo ring', 'camo rings', 'mens camo rings', 'womens camo rings', 'camo wedding bands' and so on. When people go to Google.com and do a search for one of these phrases (or dozens of similar search phrases like these), your store might come up on Page 1 of the SERPs. When people click your store's listing on the search result page, it will bring them to your store. Those are organic visitors, since they arrived naturally (organic = natural).
It goes without saying that organic traffic rocks! Free traffic... it doesn't get better than this. The "catch," of course, is that you have to earn the good rankings in Google and the other search engines. It takes both time and effort to achieve Page 1 rankings and get meaningful traffic. Numerous web studies have shown that over 60% of organic traffic runs through the top 5 results on SERPs and over 90% through the first page (i.e. top 10 results). So the bottom line is that the only way to get a significant amount of organic traffic is to achieve Page 1 rankings.
Back in Chapter 1, you selected the niche you did because one or more keyword phrases representing that niche had a high Can I Rank? score (among other reasons). This is important because keyword phrases with a high Can I Rank? score will be much easier to get ranked for. As you'll hopefully recall, Niche Finder Pro generates the Can I Rank? scores by analyzing how "strong" the top 10 ranking pages are by analyzing their key SEO factors. A high Can I Rank? score indicates that the top 10 ranking pages (or at least a few of them) are relatively weak, meaning that it won't take as much effort (or time) for you to outrank them and take their place on Page 1 of Google. But it will of course still take a decent amount of time and effort. You're not going to achieve Page 1 rankings overnight, even for keyword phrases with a Can I Rank? score in the 90s.
Our sole focus in Chapter 9 will be on how to get ranked in Google and the other search engines, which will result in an ongoing, steady stream of free, organic traffic to your store. When your store gets to this point, you're golden!
The 3rd and final source of traffic to your store is direct traffic through links to your site from other websites out on the web. What links? Well, you probably don't have any incoming links yet, but you will.
Initially, you'll need to create (i.e. post) these links yourself, since you're pretty much the only person who knows your store exists at this point. But over time, as your store gains a little name recognition within your niche and as you create some social connections, other site owners will start linking to your store completely on their own (particularly if your content rocks).
The benefits of incoming links to your store are two-fold. First, they'll result in direct traffic to your site (which is what we're discussing here in this section). But there's a huge side benefit as well: the links will boost your organic rankings in the SERPs, resulting in more organic traffic. This "side benefit" is so important that some store owners focus entirely on the long-term organic benefits of incoming links and completely forget about the direct benefit: direct traffic through the link. Both are important.
We'll get into all this more in Chapter 10, but there are a lot of different types of sites you can get links and direct traffic from. They include the following: social networking sites (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.), Q&A sites (Yahoo, Quora, etc.), topically relevant forums, blogs and other "hang-outs", just to name a few.
Let's talk about what your marketing strategy should be over the next few months and how your focus on the 3 different sources of traffic will shift over time.
In month 1 after launching a brand new store, you likely won't make any sales from organic traffic, simply because you don't have any rankings yet and therefore won't be getting any organic visitors. That's why I strongly recommended getting a few paid advertising campaigns started immediately (which I'll show you how to do in Chapter 8). These paid-traffic driven sales will help you turn a decent profit right out of the gate!
While it's important to get started on improving your rankings as soon as possible, you'll have your hands full in this first month with getting your paid advertising campaigns set up and optimized. So unless you're able to devote a lot of time to your store each week, I probably wouldn't worry about getting started with your SEO efforts or driving direct traffic through links during the first month.
In months 2 and 3, you'll still be almost completely dependent on paid advertising for traffic and sales. (Remember, you probably focused almost entirely on paid advertising in the first month, so it's not realistic to expect organic or direct traffic yet.)
Moving into month 2, your paid advertising campaigns should be fairly set and shouldn't require a whole lot of time (although you'll definitely want to continue monitoring and improving them over time, as we'll discuss in Chapter 8). This will free up your time to devote most of your time to improving your rankings and driving direct traffic through links. That should be your focus in months 2 and 3. Those efforts realistically won't result in many sales yet (it takes time for Google and the other search engines to take notice of your SEO and marketing efforts and to reward you for them), but it's important to get those efforts underway. And the direct traffic you get from the links you're starting to build will hopefully result in a handful of sales in months 2-3.
Depending on how competitive of keyword phrases you're targeting and how much time and effort you've put in, you should start to see your SEO and marketing efforts start to take hold in months 4-6 and start bringing in free, organic traffic (as well as direct traffic). Over time, more and more orders will come from organic and direct traffic, and the extra sales you're still making through your paid advertising campaigns will just be "gravy." And the best part is that the orders you get from organic traffic yield a higher profit per order since you don't have to pay for the traffic.
Your focus in months 4-6 should be much the same as it was in months 2-3. Each week, you'll want to spend an hour or so analyzing and improving your paid advertising campaigns, but you'll want to devote the majority of your time and attention to continuing to get more links and improve your organic rankings.
Beyond Month 6
As time marches on, you'll see your organic rankings continue to rise, resulting in a larger and larger percentage of traffic and sales coming from organic traffic. Will you stop doing paid advertising? No way, not if it's profitable! Sure, the sales you make from organic traffic and direct traffic will be more profitable than the paid advertising driven sales (since you don't pay anything for organic/direct traffic), but you might as well keep your paid advertising campaigns going if you're making more than you're spending.
But do you see the long-term vision? Even though it takes time and effort (and then patience as you wait for those efforts to come to fruition), getting your site ranked well in Google is key to your long-term success and profitability. We’ll be covering all 3 sources of traffic over the next 3 chapters (i.e. one chapter for each traffic source), but ultimately, the Store Coach model rests primarily on organic traffic because it has the most profit potential (both in terms of volume of traffic and profit per order). Plus, organic traffic becomes passive and continues to grow over time. You just have to put in the up-front work.