What Your Traffic Sources Are Telling You


Imagine running a retail store and being able to zoom out to understand what drove your customers to come in and shop. Did they see an ad? Notice the storefront while driving by and pull off to visit? In the e-commerce world, we call this website traffic source. Luckily for us, we have that visibility.

The origin of a brand's website traffic isn't just a set of numbers; it can be a roadmap that unveils opportunities for improving your website's performance.

Let's examine the five most common traffic sources and the insights they can provide.

1) Organic Search

When it comes to organic search, high traffic is a sign of strong SEO. The specific keywords bringing users to your site act as signposts pointing toward relevant content, but that doesn't mean they'll stick around.

To optimize, make sure the top landing pages are delivering both what the user is looking for and what you want them to know. For instance, feature products or brand content on blog posts. If the content lends itself to visual storytelling, lean into it and create a memorable experience.

Use a tool like Semrush to do some research on what other keywords might resonate with your target customers. Consider expanding your keyword portfolio with more content for increased visibility via search.

2) Direct Traffic

Consistent direct traffic is a testament to brand recognition and user loyalty, while fluctuations may reflect the impact of offline campaigns or notable brand events.

Whether you're launching an out-of-home campaign or aiming to drive traffic via packaging in retail, consider creating custom URLs to both gauge the efficacy of your efforts but also make the experience more personalized to the customer.

3) Referral Traffic

Referral traffic can be a signal of effective partnerships and collaborations. Analyzing referral domains can help identify external sources that drive significant traffic to your site.

If you notice an unfamiliar domain that is a strong source of referral traffic, this is an opportunity to build a relationship and understand why it's been successful. Beyond that, you can double down on referral traffic but identify like-minded publications and websites that may be interested in featuring your brand.

Another way to do this is through affiliate marketing. If you haven't yet explored the world of affiliates, check out tools like Refersion to get started.

4) Social Media

Social media traffic reflects the outcome of your social media marketing efforts. Engagement metrics, such as likes, shares, and comments, provide insights into the performance of your content. Identify the most effective social media platforms for your brand and concentrate your efforts there. Tailor your content for each platform and strategically leverage paid advertising for targeted reach.

Influencer partnerships can be another great way to build up your social presence while driving traffic to your site from their channels. If you do this, be sure to create a special destination and unique promo code for influencers's followers. Like direct traffic, this can help better understand the performance of these investments.

5) Email Marketing

Email traffic offers a window into the effectiveness of your email program. Monitoring click-through rates and conversion rates can provide valuable insights, but it's important to continually test and optimize your email content, timing, and frequency to enhance results.

Segment your email lists for more targeted campaigns. If you haven't implemented a post-purchase survey, do this to better understand customer segments and send more personalized messaging. At a baseline, make sure all e-commerce transactional emails are set up, look on-brand, and are in line with your overall brand strategy.


This post originally appeared in Edition No. 168 of my newsletter. Subscribe here.

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