Paid vs. Natural Traffic: It’s like Baiting vs. Funnel Hunting for Deer – Part 1

9 December 2008 3,875 views 13 Comments

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series. Next I’ll cover how to determine the best course for your business.

To pay or not to pay…

Pondering Traffic on a Website

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image credit: striatic

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…for Web traffic?

This is a difficult question for any hunting business owner. Paid traffic can yield fast results. It involves relatively little work. Although in order to really benefit from paid traffic one does have to do a little strenuous labor.

The greatest benefit of natural traffic, of course, is the fact that it’s free…in the monetary sense (cents – for the witty person).

Both methods are worthy of looking into. But you only have so much time and effort to give. Determining which one to spend more of your time on is important.

And since your business is unique, your business has unique traffic needs.

So, how do you determine which route is best for you?

Both paid traffic and natural traffic have a place for hunting business owners.

Think of Paid vs. Natural Traffic like you would Baiting vs. Funnel deer hunting

Paid – Baiting

There are many forms of paid search on the Web. Yahoo

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, Google
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, MSN
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, Facebook
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, and others have some of the best and most targeted forms of paid advertising (one way to pay for traffic).

You could also advertise on sites and Web pages

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you pick yourself.  This will cost you a few bucks.

In addition, there are agencies

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that put together entire online advertising campaigns. They’ll put your ads on various targeted Websites, video sharing sites, photo sharing sites, etc.

Hunting with bait, is similar.

You put your bait (advertisement) out in the woods (Web) in particular spots that target deer, such as trail crossing (hunting forums with heavy traffic) to try and get yourself (your business) in front of the deer at the correct time to make a harvest (sale).

The good

Baiting/Paid-Traffic is a tactic that, when used correctly, can yield excellent results. Get yourself on some prime property and you’re bound to have a few successful harvests. And results can be almost instant.

All it costs is the price of the bait (ad).

The not-so-good

While there are positives to baiting/paying-for-traffic, there are a few cons; such as cost. Worthwhile ads are expensive. And paying someone else to do research on your industry is not cheap. The cost of using someone else’s efficient ad service is high; as it should be.

Natural – Funnel Hunting

Natural traffic is a never ending struggle. It’s hard work to consistently add valuable content to your site.

You have to give customers a reason to visit your site. You have to work to make sure they know about your site. This comes from various forms of offline and online word-of-mouth. It comes through your customers’ search results on Google.

Successful natural traffic is a continuous work in progress.

You’ll work to target specific keywords and put those keywords on your site.

You’ll likely see very little traffic initially despite your hard work.

Funnel hunting for deer is similar.

You study the terrain (the Web). You seek and observe common travel patterns (forums and blogs). Eventually you’ll take to the stand and put in your woods-time (commenting and posting on blogs and forums). After some time, you’ll begin to see your hard work pay off. You’ll see more mature bucks (quality customers). And you’ll eventually begin to harvest bucks of increasing quality (big business deals).

The good

When natural funnel hunting, you force yourself to learn the intricacies of patterns and movement of the game (potential customers) in their natural habitat (the Web). You learn how they move (the Websites they frequent). You learn their favorite foods (search terms – keywords).

All it takes is extreme commitment and time.

The not-so-good

Your time is your most valuable resource. Successfully getting natural traffic to your site takes a lot of time.

You’ll often work for long periods with no results. When results do come, they’ll be slow and steady.

Conclusion

I’m not partial toward paying for traffic or working to gain natural traffic. Both have a place. I’ve used both. I’ve had success with both.

Traffic, like a trophy buck, is rewarding when you make a successful harvest. It’s a great feeling to get a ton of traffic to your site.

Baiting can yield quick and sometimes amazing results. You might plop down some bait and get a huge buck to come in right away.

Funnel hunting yields few results early on, but as you gain a keen knowledge, you steadily see an increase in the quality of your results. You learn how your industry works and begin to understand how to capitalize on natural patterns.

So you have two choices: bait and hope or funnel hunt and fail continuously until you learn the natural patterns.

You’ll have to determine how you want to get traffic to your site.

In the next post, I’ll cover how you can determine if Paid or Natural is best for you.

So what are your thoughts on paid vs. natural traffic?

Have you had success with certain forms of paid traffic?

Have you had success with natural traffic? If so, how did you gain this traffic?

Update: Part 2 is now available…”Paid vs. Natural Traffic – Baiting vs. Funnel Hunting for Deer – Part 2

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13 Comments »
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  • chrisbrogan
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    said:

    Very very helpful. Thanks for writing it up, and it was timely to something I woke up thinking about, so I was doubly-receptive.

  • Wendy Boyce
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    said:

    Great write-up. Often times working with small business they feel the ONLY way to gain site traffic is to pay for it. I agreed that paid traffic has it’s place, but the reward for the natural traffic after working a site and letting the right amount of time pass is far greater.

  • Tom Church
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    said:

    I’m learning about online marketing from scratch and I’m actually quite scared about paying for traffic. At the moment I’m focusing on gaining free traffic by delivering high value content…but as you said, there’s a limit to how much content one can write.

    Nice read.

  • dayneshuda
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    (author)
    said:

    @chrisbrogan – Thanks for the comment and tweet, Chris! I’m so glad you found this worthwhile. I read your blog each morning; tons of great stuff. I encourage my friends to visit your site, if they don’t already.

    @Wendy Boyce – You’re right on about natural traffic. It’s definitely worth the effort. It just takes patience and passion, just as you write about on your blog. Thanks for visiting.

    @Tom Church – It all comes down to the content. Your site looks great by the way. I just added it to my feed. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Cory Glauner
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    said:

    Really good stuff that came at a good time for me. I have been thinking about the “paid traffic” route for a while now and wondering how best to go about it.

  • Adam Singer
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    said:

    Great analogy. I think incorporating both is a good strategy, especially when you’re just starting out.

  • Kelly Lieberman
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    said:

    I have found that buying keyword rich domains that are targeted toward my market is an excellent way to drive traffic to my sites.

  • Dayne Shuda
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    (author)
    said:

    @Cory Glaunder – it seems to be a topic Website editors deal with daily. I know I do.

    @Adam Singer – Thanks for the comment. Your posts have been of great value to me for this blog, including this post. Your Joffrey’s Coffee case study is an inspiration for small businesses.

    @Kelly Lieberman – That sounds like a great idea! Something I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for the comment.

  • Patrick Pete
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    said:

    Excellent article, I was debating this very thing and your article helped me considerably with determining what direction I want to go in. Thanks again.

  • Lucius Prime
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    said:

    Hi I enjoyed reading your Post

  • Dayne Shuda
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    (author)
    said:

    @Patrick – Thanks Patrick. I’m glad the article helped you out.

    @Lucius – Thanks!

  • Jay
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    said:

    Great article! Especially the analogy of bait vs. funnel hunting is very helpful and easy to understand.

  • Free Traffic vs. Paid Traffic
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    said:

    [...] Paid vs. Natural Traffic [...]