Beginner’s Guide to Buying Traffic

By Dan Willstrand Mar 05, 2019

Reading 4 min

Everyone knows that organic website traffic today is more rare than organic alternatives in a Russian liquor store. No matter how creative and interesting you are, corporate content will typically be exposed to less than 2 percent of your followers in social media. Partly because the social platforms have tweaked their algorithms and revenue models, but also because there are too many super-interesting alternatives out there, competing for your audience’s attention.


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Hence, paid traffic is the way forward, but you should think carefully about how to maximize the value of those distribution investments. There are obvious pitfalls that you can avoid, which is why we have created this checklist for you. Here’s how to do it:


Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Is your primary goal conversion? Is it to increase brand awareness? Or to inspire potential customers to read more about your products? The answer will affect the coming steps. So please make sure you start with the end in mind, and then add numbers so you can evaluate your efforts. Example: I want to increase the number of readers (defined as having spent min 30 sec) of my blog posts from X to Y. Create a spreadsheet where you list all your Key Performance Indicators.

If you are not sure what would be a reasonable goal to set, talk to a sales representative at the traffic channels you are considering. They should be able to help you out.


So you have decided what you want to achieve. Now, have this i mind as you look through the distribution channels below.

  • Paid Search — like Google Ads or Bing Ads. This is a really good option when your audience know what they are looking for, i.e. they have come pretty far in their buying process. But since demand for “close to bying” visitors is high, so is the price. Example: If you are a travel agency it makes sense to buy ads for phrases such as News York weekend, because chances are high the visitors you acquired will buy the trip from you. Even if each visitor costs $8 it can make sense if your defined goal is direct conversion to sales. But paying $8 to drive users to a content marketing post about New York is clearly too much.

  • Social Media — few channels offer such a unique combination of massive reach and narrow targeting, as the social networks. Facebook and Instagram offer quite attractive opportunities for brands to distribute sponsored content, but there are a couple of challenges: a) people prefer to interact with people, not brands, in social media. b) younger audiences are leaving Facebook, which is considered to be “their parents platform”. c) high demand leads to higher price tags.
  • Paid Discovery — such as Strossle. Our content recommendations can be found on thousands of premium media sites across Europe. By promoting quality content from advertisers, paid discovery can deliver users that stay longer and engage more with your content, because the are in “content consumption mode”, as opposed to being in “social interaction mode” for instance. Hence, Paid Discovery is of on the best channels for driving visitors to content marketing. 
  • Native Advertising — this means ads designed as content, harmonizing with the media in which it is published. It’s good for distribution of content marketing, and the most used form is articles in digital media or print, but it can also be videos. Native ads are particularly interesting if you want to piggy-back on the credibility of the publisher where it is displayed. The downside is you’re “building on rented land”. As opposed to driving traffic to your own site—where you can measure and optimize your campaigns as you like—Native advertising and it’s readers stay on the publishers’ websites, out of your control.
  • Display Ads — or banners as they are more often called, was the first ad format to arrive on the internet. And it hasn’t developed very much, beyond becoming more intrusive and retargeted (you know when you are suddenly flooded with ads for hotels in Paris despite you already reserved your rooms there 2 days ago). Banners are frequently presented as a viable option for branding and reminding (but that is a questioned statement, read more in the article Banners can’t build brands). One things is sure though: display ads are not a good traffic source—the few visitors you will get are probably “fat finger errors”.
  • Influencer Marketing — is when influential people, with many followers in social media, promote your product. It’s one of the most cherished advertising forms among marketing hipsters, and certainly one of the fastest growing. It does represent a viable opportunity to reach young audiences, who are not consuming established media anymore. But again, you have a wide array of challenges: a) difficult to find relevant influencers in many areas (fashion is easy but how about cars?). b) balance between control and authenticity (you want to control your messages but it must sound like the influencer’s own words). c) Reliability: young influencers can quickly change their mind about your company or your products and turn against you. The rules of the game are easier with established media, where editorial and commercial co-exist but with different legal responsibilities. 


Once you start receiving your acquired visitors it’s up to you to take care of them and lead them towards the goals you set in the beginning. Here are the most important dos and dont’s at this stage:

  • DO remember that the content you offer must match the promises made in your ad. If the visitor feels you were clickbaiting they will bounce before you can say but, but but…
  • DO publish content that has an outside-in perspective. Write about what your audience wants to know, not what you want to tell them.
  • DO make your content easy to digest from a design perspective. Here’s a useful post on that topic: 7 Content Styling Tips That Will Make People Read Your Post, Not Only Click On It
  • DO try to insert a relevant call-to-action: a link to another article, a form to sign up for a newsletter, or another smart way of collecting visitors email adresses (for your marketing automation).
  • DON’T make your site too heavy. Slow loading times is has a direct effect on how fast people will leave your site.
  • DON’T use auto playing videos or commercials. Just don’t. 


Tracking is key to a) checking that your traffic suppliers’ own numbers are correct, and b) understanding if your efforts are worthwhile. The most widespread tool to track users is Google Analytics. If you haven’t used it before, here’s A Crash Course in Google Analytics for Anyone Who’s Sick of Feeling Like an Idiot. It’s written for bloggers but should do it for most marketers as well.


Once you have your data (from Google Analytics) and from other systems measuring Key Performance Indicators, it’s time for analysis. To what extent did you reach your goals? If there are discrepancies, what are the likely causes? If you did your homework at stage one and listed your goals and KPIs in a spreadsheet, the evaluation should be easy peasy.


Online publishing is dynamic, which means you can update your content anytime you want. If your ads are not performing well, try changing the headline, the pictures or other parts of the content. Use A/B testing to see what works best, and change quickly. That's exactly what successful online news publishers do.

Strossle has helped thousands of advertiser buy quality traffic to quality content. Read our cases to see what we can do for both B2B and B2C.

 Want to learn more about Strossle? Get a Demo of our Product Book Demo!