The most important aspect of every business is traffic. Without traffic, you can have the best product in the world but you’ll make no money.
As soon as you start looking out for traffic you have a decision to make: free traffic or paid traffic?
In this article, I’ll have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of paid and free traffic sources. However, here it is important to mention that the most important aspect of traffic is quality.
Examples of free traffic sources are for example SEO or social media (see here the 5 best free traffic sources).
The biggest advantage of free traffic is of course that it is free. If you don’t count the number of hours you have to work for it, free traffic can have a very high return on invest (ROI).
Let’s say you pay $50 per year for hosting and you make $500 the first year on that website. That means you have an ROI of 1,000%! That’s amazing compared to the ROI of the stock market which is between 5-7%.
As you are not paying for the traffic it doesn’t matter if you get 100 visitors or 1,000 visitors. There is no ad spend limit that can stop you from getting more traffic.
That looks great, doesn’t it? But of course, free traffic also has its disadvantages.
Takes time to build
The biggest problem with free traffic sources is that it takes a lot of time to build these traffic sources. In SEO it can take 3-6 months before you get your first clicks!
That’s a lot of time compared to paid traffic where you can get the first traffic within minutes.
Even if you focus on other sources like forum commenting. As you need time to start engaging with the forum members you can’t get traffic right away.
Hard to scale / control
As the control of free traffic sources is usually in the hand of other companies (Google, Facebook) it is hard to control and scale the traffic. You can’t raise your traffic by 50% if you want to have more.
In addition, it is hard to forecast the traffic in the future. You can only keep building your ranking/social media page and hope that next month you’ll have more traffic but there is no guarantee.
There are many different paid traffic sources. The biggest paid traffic sources are Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, and Bing Ads.
One of the greatest benefits of paid traffic is that it is really fast. You can submit an ad and get the first traffic within the next minutes.
That makes it easy to test landing pages or sales pages and get a winner really quickly. Also, you can easily see whether a product works for this market or if it doesn’t.
If you have a running PPC campaign you always know how much clicks you’ll get and how much you pay for every click. If you don’t get banned you’ll get this amount of clicks every day as long as you pay for it.
That really makes it easy to control your outcome and your income.
If you have found a profitable PPC campaign you can easily scale that campaign. Let’s say you have a campaign where you invest $100 per month and you get $200 out the next month.
If you would invest $1,000 the next month you would earn $2,000. If you would invest $10,000 you would earn $20,000 etc.
Need the knowledge to be profitable
In order to build a profitable campaign, you need to be very skilled. You need to know exactly for which keywords you want to pay and have a deeper knowledge of your market and your audience.
Especially if you work in markets with a higher competition you really need to know what you are doing to make the right choices.
I’m sure if you start a PPC campaign as a beginner you would lose money at first. However, if you keep improving and growing it will be possible for you to build a successful online marketing campaign.
Can be very complex
Should you pay for every impression or every click? What does remarketing mean? How can I see the conversions?
That are usually the questions from beginners when they come to paid traffic. I think that before you invest any money in traffic you should at first learn more about the traffic sources.
Here I can recommend the books of Perry Marshall. If you want to learn more about Google Ads I can recommend the Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords. If you want to learn more about Facebook Ads I can recommend the Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising.
So how should you start?
It is always a good idea to work on more than one traffic source. If your traffic is only coming from one traffic source you are very dependent and your business could crash very fast.
Also, I would mix up free traffic sources and paid traffic sources. The more traffic you can get the more money you can earn!
So for example, you can start with building SEO traffic and add a Google AdWords campaign at the same moment. That way, you already have the first traffic with AdWords and you can build trust and authority by creating content at the same time.
If you are able to convert your traffic into buyers you can start scaling your PPC campaign if you want to.
As you can see the best way is to combine paid and free traffic sources. However, each of these traffic sources have ad- and disadvantages and you as an online entrepreneur have to decide whether you want to work on this traffic source or not.
Now I want to hear more from you! What do you think about that? Would you add any ad- or disadvantages?