How Bad Traffic Messes with Your Conversion Rate and How to Fix It
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How Bad Traffic Messes with Your Conversion Rate and How to Fix It

Last updated on October 31, 2016 by Ted Vrountas in Conversion Rate Optimization
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It’s been a week since you deployed that landing page to promote your webinar, but you have yet to see a single conversion.

You don’t understand.

The page looks great, follows all the rules of landing page optimization, and it’s getting a steady flow of traffic.

So why isn’t your webinar guest list filled up?

The answer might not be hiding on your landing page, but somewhere deep in your analytics dashboard.

You could be a victim of bad traffic.

Why a great landing page isn’t enough

Creating a great landing page is absolutely vital to gaining conversions, but it will never guarantee them.

That’s because your landing page is only 1/3 of the conversion equation.

To get results you need to use a three-step approach that involves:

  • Driving traffic to that page using PPC, social media, and email
  • Creating and publishing an optimized landing page
  • Nurturing your leads with a great “thank you” page and email follow-up

Today we’re going to talk about what happens when one step doesn’t work out the way you planned, and how generating the wrong traffic is killing your conversion rate.

Bad traffic: A case study

When Michael Keating of Octatools experimented with a PPC service called “7Search” to drive more clicks to his website, after nine days he was happy to see some quality results:

This picture shows how 7Search's bad traffic hurt their landing page conversion rates.

But when Michael dug deep into Google Analytics to learn more about his visitors, he found a few disturbing things:

1. 7Search claimed to have referred 150 more visitors than he saw in his analytics. While you can’t expect Google to be 100% right all the time, this is a significant margin of error. 35.4% to be exact. So who’s right? 7Search, or Google?

2. The average visitor bounce rate was 95.44%. That means the majority of people who found Michael’s landing page through 7Search’s network weren’t staying long at all. Compared to other PPC campaigns he had created, this was 25-35% higher.

3. The quality of the sites in 7Search’s network was quite poor. Many of the biggest referrers of Michael’s traffic were from pages that were nearly identical and had nothing to do with the keywords he was bidding on. They drove visits to his landing page using sneaky pop-up ads that tricked people into clicking through.

Here’s what they looked like:

This picture shows how duplicate referral pages resulted in bad traffic and lower conversion rates for 7Search.

After 9 days, $25, and 114,000+ impressions, Michael had tallied a grand total of 0 conversions. A big, fat goose egg.

He was a victim of bad traffic — and it was killing his conversion rate. Here are some ways to tell if you are, too.

How to tell if you’re getting the wrong traffic

You’re getting a lot of visits, but no conversions

If you’ve followed the rules of landing page optimization, and you’re receiving a steady flow of traffic, IMPACT claims you should expect to convert visitors to around 2.35%.

If you’re not hitting that benchmark, take a closer look at all your page elements:

If the answer to all these questions is “yes,” take a look at your site’s analytics and see if…

Your bounce rate is high

According to Google Analytics, bounce rate is defined as "the percentage of single page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page)."

Kissmetrics adds to this stating that, “bounce rate is a measure of visit quality and a high bounce rate indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors."

Google uses it to determine whether a page is worth visiting. A high bounce rate will place your page lower on search engine results pages, which means less traffic, and fewer opportunities for conversions.

For landing pages, the average bounce rate is about 70-90%; so if you see a number higher than that in your analytics, it could mean you’re not reaching the right people.

This picture shows how bad traffic leads to high landing page bounce rates and lower conversion rates.

Questions to ask yourself when trying to improve traffic quality:

Is my tag management strategy effective?

You’re making a big mistake if you’re not leveraging the power of marketing tags to find out more about your landing page visitors. These little pieces of code, when entered into the back end of your website, will help third-party software do things like:

  • Instruct web browsers to collect data
  • Read and drop cookies
  • Extend audiences between multiple websites
  • Integrate third-party content into a website, such as social media widgets and video players
  • Deliver advertising

With them, you’ll be able to boost user experience to increase the odds that your visitors convert; and as a Pro or Premium Instapage user, it’s really easy to add them to your landing page.

Am I targeting the right people?

The key to any good advertisement is to know your audience.

Specially designed tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights help you learn more about the people engaging with your brand and visiting your landing pages.

If you’re not taking advantage of them, you could be wasting time trying to reach an audience that’s not interested in your product or service.

Use a combination of analytics tools, and data you have about existing customers to find out the type of people who are most likely to claim your offer.

Am I using the right channels to promote my page?

If men are your primary target, and you’re trying to get them to your landing page using Pinterest, you’re doing it wrong. Only a small percentage of them use that social network.

Make sure you do some massive research on the channels you want to use before wasting a big chunk of your marketing budget to drive the wrong kind of traffic.

Have I organized my marketing funnel effectively?

Your marketing funnel is a theoretical representation of the process by which prospects become customers. Here’s what it looks like, courtesy of HubSpot:

This picture shows the marketing funnel and why it's important to have high quality traffic to increase landing page conversions.

Those at the top of your funnel are interested in your product or service, but not yet committed to purchasing it. They might’ve visited your website, subscribed to your email newsletter, or exchanged their personal information for an ebook you created.

At the bottom of your funnel are the people who have become customers after vetting your business over time — a process known as lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing involves delivering valuable, targeted content to your prospect via email marketing, blog posts, and other communications at critical stages to gradually move them closer to becoming a customer.

During that process, what you offer and when you offer it are crucial to boosting your conversion rates and your customer base. A relevant offer at the right time can push your prospect further down your marketing funnel while a pushy offer at the wrong time can generate the wrong kind of traffic.

For example, let’s say someone visits your website for the first time to download an ebook. Immediately after, you send them a “thank you for downloading” email, which includes a sales pitch for a premium subscription to your service, and a link to buy.

Now, they might click the link, and even poke around a bit, but chances are they’re not ready to purchase. By forcing an offer like that, you’re generating the wrong kind of traffic.

Instead of continuously trying to sell, focus more on providing free, valuable content to your prospects. If you do that, the selling will take care of itself.

Am I bidding on the right keywords?

If you’re using Google AdWords’ keyword-bidding system to generate traffic for your landing page, you’re in good company. Of the businesses who spend money on PPC, 82% use Google’s system.

But are you using it correctly?

After 2,000 AdWords audits, Disruptive Advertising found that clients routinely drain their budgets by bidding on keywords that don’t convert. As high as 61% of keywords their clients were spending money on didn’t lead to conversions. And in most AdWords campaigns, only 12% of keywords produce 100% of the conversions.

Monitor your campaign analytics closely and track your visitors to make sure the keywords you’re spending on are returning a good ROI.

Are the services I’m using trustworthy?

As Michael Keating found out after doing a little behind-the-scenes sleuthing, not all promotional services have your best interest at heart. Some are satisfied with driving clicks regardless of their quality and hope you don’t take the time to do your homework.

If you see a high number of impressions and clicks but no conversions, first make sure your landing page is optimized. If it is, take the time to look into where exactly those impressions are coming from. It’s possible they’re a result of sneaky, deceptive tactics that could lose you money and damage your brand.

When it comes to bad traffic, knowledge is power

Research shows that 97% of online marketing fails without good analytics.

Use them to gain insights into who is visiting your landing page and what they’re doing when they get there. Then, optimize accordingly.

To begin sending high-quality traffic to a great landing page in minutes, start here with Instapage today.

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