The Challenge

One of media company's top priorities is traffic. Page views and click throughs are money in the bank and my challenge was to grow that traffic and ultimately conversion rates by 20% in six months. This meant not just measuring statistics, but translating those numbers into meaningful, actionable information. I was able to exceed the stated goal by 3X, increasing client traffic by 60% in six months. This was a year over year metric comparing the same six months to ensure that the result was not due to seasonality.

Measuring

Using a variety of sources, including Google Analytics, I was able to pull dozens of raw data metrics for the client. Traffic in a media site is dependent on many variables, one of them is the number of advertisements running. Having thousands of ads is great for SEO, it increases your page rank and provides many links into your site from various search engines. However, too many listings will also dilute your conversion rate. The raw data, number of ads, number of clicks and number of conversions are useful for baseline measurements, and for goal setting. From the raw data, I was able to extrapolate valuable performance information.


Customer Acquisition Costs and Retention

Many companies spend money to drive traffic to their site, paid advertising on other media sites (social media), or paid listings on Indeed (for recruitment) are an SEM investment that can help improve traffic over the short-term. This is a key tool while building the longer term SEO, SMO organic traffic strategies.

In my analysis, I noticed that time on site was shorter than it should have been and the sites had a high bounce rate. Through my research, I was able to determine that inventory (free listings) were taking consumers off the site. This meant the client was spending money to bring in consumers only to lose them on a free listing. Inventory has benefits because it creates a better experience for the consumer to see all the listings on one site, however, this strategy must be weighed carefully against the loss of consumers, and eventually advertisers.

Using my research the client was able to identify markets where the free listings were not benefiting the site enough to outweigh the costs of losing consumers and they stopped the free listings that took the consumer off site and sought a new solution that still provided inventory but kept the consumer on the site (a win-win for the client and the consumer).

Conversions

I created an average click-through rate that was then used to measure performance consistently (removing seasonality and volume fluctuations). The analysis showed performance based on the type of listing as well as listing enhancements. This information is key to understanding how to change your traffic. Adding more listings might only incrementally add more page views, and could hurt click through rates on other listings, adversely impacting paid versus free listings. Paid listings need to gain more from the traffic boost than the free listings are costing in lost traffic.

High traffic does not always equal high conversion rates, the traffic must also be high quality or the conversion rate will drop. One of the strategies I used with this client was to improve the quality of the targeting. The development team created highly targeted emails which had average open rates of more than 10% and average conversion rates of 30%. Rather than the spray and pray methodology, we used a highly targeted email blast to increase traffic to the site. The quality of the email and the accuracy or the targeting to the consumer brought them back to the site and they stayed longer.

Distribution via Email, Search Engines and Social Media

The solution to increasing traffic for this client was to: (1) retain the consumers that were visiting the site by changing the source and behavior of backfill listings; (2) increase the volume and accuracy of targeted email campaigns; (3) increase distribution via social media; and (4) use some paid search engines to drive traffic back to the site.

KPIs are critical to monitoring the success and adjusting each method.