If your B2B website is your main communication channel, one of your goals has to be to increase traffic to both your free and premium content. And to do this, you need to look at the sources of traffic to your website. What channels does your traffic come from?
These channels might include things like SEO, SEA, blog posts, and social media. One channel that can have a major impact on both your brand authority and organic search results is referral traffic. But what exactly is referral traffic and why is it so important to your customer acquisition strategy?
What is referral traffic?
Referral traffic is visitors who come to your website after clicking on a link on another site (called a referrer or the referring website). This traffic is very important for B2C businesses, where it often comes from price comparison websites or the social media profile of an influencer. But what about for B2B?
Well, according to Useful Social Media, 91% of B2B buyers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by word of mouth recommendations.
Marketers have realized that a lot of B2B buyers don’t take a lot of notice of traditional advertising. That’s not too surprising when you think that B2B buyers are also people that make purchases as B2C customers. It’s no wonder then that they value and trust recommendations from industry peers more than traditional ads.
B2B referral traffic can deliver you potential customers from other websites with a similar target audience and whose recommendations people already trust. For example, when Codeur.com, a leading website for digital professionals, ranked Plezi 3rd in a list of the 11 best marketing automation tools, we received referral traffic as a result.
But referral traffic can also come from social media. For example, when your company is mentioned in a post by active users on LinkedIn.
How to track referral traffic
Using Google Analytics
Google’s free web analytics tool, Google Analytics, doesn’t really need an introduction.
Referral traffic involves one website referring traffic to another. Using Google Analytics, you can see what websites this traffic has come from. You can then analyse it to get a better idea of how visitors find your website and what they do once they get there.
When a visitor clicks on a link to go to another website, Google Analytics records this as a referral to the second website. The original website is called a “referrer” because it sends traffic from one place to another. Google Analytics records this data and presents it in the form of a referring website domain (e.g., LinkedIn.com or Twitter.com).
To view referral traffic sources:
- Sign into your Google Analytics account
- In the left-hand menu, click on “Acquisition”, then “All Traffic”, and then on “Referrals”. This will display a graph showing referral traffic over a period of one month. The table below this lists the names of the websites that sent traffic to your website. It also includes statistics on how visitors behave once they have come to your website.
Using Plezi One
Google Analytics will provide you with an overall analysis of your referral traffic. But you can also use Plezi One. This tool also lets you see the referrer for each individual visitor, giving you more information about their referral paths.
You can track referral traffic for free using Plezi One in just two easy steps:
- Log in to your Plezi One account or create one for free here.
- In the Dashboard, click on the “Website performance by digital channel” report. This will show you all sources of traffic to your website, including referral traffic.
Plezi One has been specifically designed for B2B businesses. Because of this, it also displays the number of visits and leads generated from direct traffic (i.e., visitors who have typed the URL of your website directly into their browser). This will save you valuable time when analysing website traffic.
The Plezi One report will provide you with the following stats:
- number of sessions or visits
- conversion rate
- number of online forms submitted
- number of new leads generated
Why you should track referral traffic
1. It’s good for SEO (from backlinks)
Referral traffic will improve your organic search results as visitors interact with trusted websites that use backlinks to link to your website.
This will then indicate to search engines that your content can be trusted. Hence the importance of having strong relationships with websites that your target audience trusts.
2. It improves online visibility of content
Potentially qualified visitors are referred to your website from links on other websites popular with your target audience.
This presents your content to new visitors. That gives you a chance to convert these visitors into leads on your website. And this in turn gives your sales team the chance to convert these leads into customers.
3. It enhances brand authority and improves brand awareness
We’re more than a little proud when other websites rate Plezi as one of the best marketing automation tools available. Because when your business is mentioned in a positive light, this enhances the image other people have of it.
Being recognized as an industry expert by other experts is like the Holy Grail of referral marketing. And it will almost certainly increase the number of visitors to your website.
4. It helps optimize your marketing strategy
Referral traffic can indicate those channels which will best help your business to achieve its goals. These goals might include increasing the number of website visitors, number of leads generated, or any other type of action.
It will also help prove to your executive team how important inbound marketing is and make you the talk of the company coffee machine!
5. It identifies websites that have mentioned your business and lets you share these
While you might do your best to keep up to date with your favourite industry websites, it’s hard to keep an eye on everything. It’s also quite possible that you won’t be notified if a referring website mentions you in a blog post or other content.
Tracking the sources of your referral traffic will alert you that other companies or websites have mentioned you and linked to your website.
6. It’s a good way to identify spam
Spam traffic occurs when bots or other undesirable websites send traffic to your website. Other than being a nuisance, this traffic normally doesn’t harm your website. But it can falsify your website data by producing occasional spikes in the number of website visitors.
By using a web analytics tool that indicates each source of traffic, you’ll be able to identify these fake visits and remove them from your data.
How to increase referral traffic
Here is a list of the main sources of referral traffic and how you can increase this on each channel.
1. Social referrals, for a large amount of referral traffic
Social media marketing drives more web traffic than any other digital marketing action. Every time you tweet, share, like, or post on social media as part of your inbound marketing strategy, you increase the reach of your content.
Referrals from social media profiles and associated websites can therefore account for a significant proportion of your referral traffic. To find out more, we’ve written a post all about social media traffic.
2. Guest-blogging, to partner with experts
There are now a large number of websites that have spent many years establishing a reputation in their respective niche areas. And there might be one run by recognized industry experts or well-known bloggers in your sector. Guest-blogging is one of the best ways to build brand authority.
If these websites receive a large amount of traffic, producing a guest blog post there can drive high-quality referral traffic to your own website. This usually involves writing a blog post for the website in question, including a short introduction to your business and links to your website. Just take care not to overdo these.
3. Influencer relationships, to reach a new audience
It’s a good idea to build relationships with people in your sector that have a lot of followers on a B2B social network like LinkedIn.
Start sharing their content and commenting on it. If you regularly interact with their content and bring it to the attention of your social media audience, you’ll be sure to grab their attention. And you might find they reciprocate by interacting with your posts. This gives them a chance to find out more about your products or services and to share them with their large following on this social network.
4. Industry press, to build brand authority
Ever dreamed of being mentioned in a magazine like Forbes or The Economist? For readers of these business magazines, this is a sign that your company is a recognized authority.
There are a range of different public relations tactics you can use to improve your relationship with the press. These can include sending out press releases, organizing press conferences, or organizing more ambitious events with your target audience.
5. Affiliate marketing, to better reach your target audience
Affiliate marketing is a great way to start your referral marketing strategy and a good way to increase traffic to your website. It involves paying affiliate websites for the traffic they send you. They do this by promoting your product, service, or company on their website or in their newsletter using a tracked link.
An affiliate has every reason to send visitors to your website because the amount they earn is normally directly related to the number of visitors they send. This lets you, the advertiser, benefit from another website’s reputation and audience.
6. Partnerships and co-branding, for traffic that costs you less
Co-branding involves collaborating with one or more companies to create a marketing campaign that helps all parties achieve their business goals. This can include sending referral traffic, offering discounts on behalf of a partner, or creating joint promotions.
For example, you might organize a webinar in partnership with Google. Having a speaker from each company will let both benefit as a result. Add a landing page with links to the respective companies’ websites and you’ve got a winning co-branding strategy. Co-branding can also be a good way to increase traffic to your website for relatively little cost.
7. Listing in trade directories or specialist websites, for improved online presence
Online business directories are like the B2B Yellow Pages of the 21st century. This channel is often overlooked, but having your website listed in an online directory is one of the easiest ways to get referral traffic. Focus on the ones that are most appropriate to your sector and/or which generate the most traffic.
But how do you know which directories to choose? Just perform a search for a term that describes the product or service you offer. For example, if you search for “freelance web copywriter”, you’ll come across freelancer.com and a lot of similar platforms. After all, if someone is looking for a web copywriter and finds them using this platform, they are as valuable to the freelancer as someone who came directly to their website.
8. Sponsored posts or articles, for greater control of your online presence
Sponsored blog posts or articles look just like regular website content. The difference is that they involve paying another website or a journalist to promote your company’s product or service. For example, a price comparison website might accept payment to present your business’s product or service as the best on the market. They might do this by writing a post with a title like “Google vs. Bing, what search engine is the best?”. The sole aim of this post is to compare the advertiser favourably against their biggest competitor or competitors. Obviously, this post also includes a link to the company’s website.
Increasing referral traffic to your website won’t happen overnight. But if you follow the tips above and are consistent in your efforts, you’re bound to get there. The key is to stick with it. Don’t give up just because you don’t see immediate results. And you can use a tool like Plezi One to track, analyse, and evaluate the success of your referral marketing campaigns on either a monthly or quarterly basis.