Traffic Generation Then and Now

NPT reader Sean wrote this week to ask me a whole bunch of questions about how I was able to get traffic to my websites to the extent that I was able to ‘crack’ the $100,000 earnings level.

Because I reached that level back in 1999, and my traffic generation strategies have changed considerably over time, I’ve answered the questions to highlight those differences.

Here are both Sean’s questions and my answers…

  1. Can you please tell me, when you first cracked the $100,000 level, exactly how you were driving traffic to your site(s)?

    I broke the 100K mark in 1999, my second year in business. At the time I was working with only one site, Sage-Hearts.com. Traffic to the site came from 2 primary sources – pay per click search engine advertising and natural / organic search – which were about equally split.

    A larger percentage (between 60 and 70%) of my traffic now comes from natural search and other free methods of traffic generation, primarily article marketing.

    These numbers are highly dependent on the month and season, eg. I drive more traffic using PPC in advance of Valentine’s Day and other gift-giving holidays.

  2. Were you doing anything to optimize your traffic source(s) once you found the ones that were working the best for you?

    I used to spend a LOT of time tweaking my pay per click advertising campaigns to maximize conversion rates.

    They’re so fined honed now that I barely even check the long-standing campaigns in the dating niche.

  3. Were you offering just one product at that time, if so, what was the price of that product?

    Much as I do today, my visitors were offered a variety of product and service options relevant to their needs. For example, if a surfer found my site via a pay per click search engine while looking for ‘mail order brides’ and therefore landed on my mail order bride page, he would have seen services relevant to his specific search on that page.

    However, he would also have seen the sidebar navigation that would present him with alternative options, such as International / Ethnic dating services.

    Dating service membership prices varied according to subscription duration – anywhere from $19.95 for a one-month membership to over $200.00 for a year-long membership.

    Most of the services that I promote (then and now) offer recurring commissions.

    The primary difference between then and now is that I concentrate on sending more traffic to pages that promote higher-priced products – some of which pay between $500 – $1000 commissions per sale.

  4. What was your sales process like, once a visitor got to your landing page?

    Then, as now, I posted reviews of various dating services. Summary reviews were included on primary category pages, eg. faith-based dating services. Two links for each service are generally provided on the category page – one that goes directly to the merchant site and the other to a longer review where the visitor can learn more about the specific service.

  5. For those visitors that did not buy initially, did you do any email or autoresponder marketing to them, if so, how many more contacts were needed before a sale was made?

    Absolutely! I’ve been using Aweber’s autoresponder service since my first year of doing business online and visitor followup lies at the very heart of my marketing strategy.

    Although I’ve never tracked exact numbers from the time a visitor arrives on the site to the point of sale through the autoresponder sequence and broadcast messages, conventional marketing wisdom states that it takes 7 contacts to penetrate a consumer’s conciousness with a specific product or brand.

    The Pareto principle or 80/20 rule is also a common rule of thumb, e.g., 80 percent of your sales are generated from 20 percent of your visitors.

    That said, response rate is highly dependent on the product being offered. For example, the response rate to a very generic free offer (on which you are earning commissions for the lead) will be much higher than on a product targeted at a narrow niche, eg. senior singles.

    For that reason, I generally include a mix of both generic and more targeted offers within each message – whether it be the autoresponder series or a broadcast message.

    How many visitors were you getting on a monthly basis?

  6. Although I no longer have traffic statistics for that period, I estimate my numbers (based on commissions earned and conversion rates) at between approximately 12 and 25 thousand visitors per month.

    What were your conversion ratios for that traffic that was visiting your site(s)?

    At that time, my average conversion rate for traffic sent to a merchant’s site was 2.544%.

  7. When making your first $100,000, how much did it cost you, in marketing, to generate that revenue? How much were you spending per month to get your traffic?

    In the early days, it typically cost me $1 to earn 2 bucks.

    My PPC spend is considerably less now and my conversion rates are higher – to the extent that on some product offers I can spend one dollar and make $10 in return. Although those results aren’t typical across the board, I now earn approximately $4.6 for every dollar spent on advertising.

Although I’ve been immensely satisfied with the results of my traffic generation efforts, one area in which I’ve fallen far short is in tracking.

John Reese (Traffic Secrets 2.0) emphasizes the need for all Internet marketers to track where their traffic originates and at what cost. Basically, you can enjoy even better results when you know exactly how many sales, newsletter sign-ups, or other leads your particular marketing campaigns generate. Once tracking is in place, you will know where best to concentrate your efforts and can therefore ‘work smarter, not harder’, make more money… and truly live the affiliate lifestyle. :-)

Comments

  1. nan says

    Thanks for that good info – but, Roslind, I have a question – in #5 about the visitor’s that did not buy initially – you automatically sent them follow-up info – but do you mean, when they sign up for your updates – not just capture their addresses and send something – that would be spam, correct?

    • says

      Hi Nan,

      Actually, we can’t ‘automatically’ send anyone anything. They have to willingly enter their name and email address in the form provided and request that followup information.

      Cheers,
      Ros

  2. says

    Thank you Rosalind! Sean was very inquisitive and I appreciate your being so candid with your readers. What a great effort you’ve made in business and your reply to Sean. If you’re open to it, wonder if you’d answer this. Do you think you timed your site and got in at just the right time? The traffic you’re talking about is like ‘wow’ ! Most impressive!

    • says

      Hi Carolyn,

      I believe I got in at a good time – from the perspective that there weren’t as many competitors.

      However, the site is still doing well in spite of all the competition, and that is very much a result of how my site and PPC campaigns are structured – not timing.

      I just wouldn’t want anyone to believe that they’ve missed the boat, when in actual fact, if they have a unique twist on a subject or superior marketing tactics – any time is the ‘right’ time.

      Cheers,
      Ros

  3. says

    Hey Ros… as with all your articles, I seem to learn something new with every one.

    The history lesson was interesting… and as usually that tracking “thing” just slaps me in the face. This has got to be the hardest part of internet marketing. Something that seems so meaningless and yet, once you are in the game, so necessary.

    I guess I better get some traffic statistics together… I really should know where my advertising dollars are best spent.

    Thanks for the history lesson. :)

  4. Viviane Furnivall says

    Thanks to Rosalind for such a detailed response, and thank you Sean for asking the question in the first place.

    You have clarified a few tweaks I need to make and also confirmed that I was generally on the right path and need to show a little more patience for momentum to develop.

    Great post!

  5. says

    This is great stuff. PPC can definitely drive a ton of traffic if done correctly. So HOW exactly did he contact you? I’ve been looking for an e-mail address, but can’t find one.

    • says

      Hi Monty,

      Anyone may submit a question through our Support Desk (see the Contact link above). While we no longer answer questions individually, I do my best to answer questions either through the blog or the forum.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers,
      Ros

  6. says

    Wow… 12 to 25 thousand visitors per month… It looks like I need to spend a lot more time on my traffic generation.

    Thanks Ros, this post was very insightful and has given me ideas and a target to aim for.

  7. Billy Deakin says

    Wow – $100K in your second year is impressive. Was that entirely from promoting affiliate products/services or were you also selling your own products?

  8. May Mickelow says

    Ditto to all of the above. This is the way to build trust and a solid foundation that just goes on and on. This is a leader that we all can look to for honest business information that we can emulate for success.

  9. says

    Wow, Rosalind, this is quite impressive.
    I like this post, you know the kind of article that you feel like it talking directly to you and trying to help you solve your problems.

    Actually reading through your post, I feel challenged to once more, take time and have a deeper look at PPC. I have been concentrating more of my time with getting search engine organic traffic and I have had some success with it, but reading thorough your post I can see there is need to have some form of balance.

  10. NewMom0208 says

    Rosalind, you say : …”I used to spend a LOT of time tweaking my pay per click advertising campaigns to maximize conversion rates.”…

    What are the types of tweaking that can be made to ppc ads?
    Can you ellaborate?

    Also, how do you ensure or at least promote the visits from potential buyers and not only people looking for [free] info?

  11. Frank Carlson says

    Dear Roz:

    I am a subscriber to NPT and enjoy your candid remarks regarding the many aspects of online marketing you are expert doing. However, there is a small bug on your rose you should be aware of.

    I installed Bell Security System which checks all sites as I connect to them; the system gave an alarming warning that NPT is a fraudulent site and not to connect to it. This is a false warning and I copied the warning for you to see!

    “Quote”
    Sympatico™ Security Manager Warning –
    Fraudulent Web Site Detected
    You are attempting to connect to a
    known fraudulent web site.
    URL: clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4ya3R&m=3nNy2EEflf8m&b=F…

    Do not submit personal information to this web site. We recommend that you delete any emails associated with this URL.

    Report a false positive
    To view this web page, click Continue to fraudulent web site. NOTE: Some sites use malicious code to install malware on your computer and can steal personal information such as bank account numbers and passwords. For this reason we strongly recommend that you not display the fraudulent site.
    “Unquote”

    I hope this information alerts you to this false statement by Ma Bell.

    Best regards,
    Frank Carlson

    • says

      Hi Frank,

      Big bummer, but Thanks for the heads up. I will have to test to see whether that is a problem with using the Aweber link cloaker or with NPT itself. UGH!!!!

      Ros

  12. NewMom0208 says

    [If this is a duplicate, please disregard, I sent this before but I don’t see my entry]
    Rosalind,

    What are tweaks that can be applied to PPC ads? How do you fine tune. I hear a lot about trying different things to choose what works best, but what is that can be changed? Wording? Positioning? Colors?

    Also, how to you target ‘buying’ triffic Vs. ‘Browsing only’ traffic?
    Thanks!

    • says

      Hi NewMom0208,

      Boy, that’s enough questions for me to write a new article about PPC ad tweaking. Thanks for the idea and stay tuned for the answers! :-)

      Ros

      P.S. ‘Wording’ is the short answer.

  13. says

    Rosalind,

    Thanks for this information. Time has definitely changed. I just bought the SAH ebook about a week ago. I’ve have PPC advertising in place and I wrote a few articles but I didn’t really focus on marketing them. I also tweeked my keywords per Wordtracker. I’ll keep you posted on the results. Thanks again!!!

    Carlton aka Mello Melanin

  14. says

    Thanks for the great article! I have a marketing product review site that I’ve done very little work on at this point but you’ve given me some great ideas on getting something moving there.

    Angela

  15. says

    Dear Frank Carlson,

    I would de install Bell Security System if I were you. Use Bit Defender or Avast.

    If Ros is right and it is the cloaking software your going to get a lot of false
    positives, if the other sites know what they are doing.

    Cloaking and Tracking are an absolute necessity now days. Stay tuned for which ones you should be using. Most of the big shot Gurus will lie to you about which ones to use or not even mention what they REALLY are doing

    Stay with Ros, I’ve been on the net since it was arpa.net and she is so honest and hard working I’ve decided emulate her. Not copy her, emulate her. She admits her mistakes to, I don’t see that anywhere.

    Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
    Frank Funston Eckdall
    Unix Administrator
    Esquire

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