Sunday, November 9, 2008

Doing without Adwords: Traffic up 10% but calls down

Apologies. I've been overseas for a month but while I was away I set up another test: I scaled down our Adwords advertising to see what, if any, impact it had on visitors and also people calling the practice.

Bottom line was: a) a noticeable difference in people calling and b) about a 10% increase in traffic. What? Yep, I spent less money and received more traffic. How? Well obviously the site is picking up and doesn't necessarily need help from advertising.

That hypothesis doesn't fit however with the reduction inbound calls. Inbound calls/bookings is the only real measure of the effectiveness of our advertising (remember we don't sell anything online or get people to register - our call to action is to ring a phone number). Although I don't have empirical data to back up how much less phone calls were made it does demonstrate that all web traffic is not equal. If the aim of marketing is to generate as many high quality leads as possible (rather than just raising awareness) then it is not enough to just bring anyone to the website.

Using Webmaster tools to dig deeper into how traffic has increased 10% showed that:
  • organic search +70%
  • pay per click (Google) -45%
  • direct -5% (this was probably me not visiting the site as much)
So yes, there really was a big reduction in pay per click visitors but this was more than offset by an increase in organic search. Now I really need to understand why organic searches have improved so dramatically. Perhaps it was all the additional content we added in late September meaning the site appears more often when people search. Unfortunately it also shows that these visitors don't necessarily translate to callers - at least not immediately.

The bottom line is I've reinstated the advertising but it is good to know we are generating more traffic organically without it.

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