The power of branding
I talked about defensible traffic in my previous post, but ultimately all your traffic sources can disappear, leaving you only with the visitors that remember your site, the ones that do not need to follow a link or click on a Google Ad. For me, those visitors are an excellent measure of the true success of my sites. Those visitors represent the strength of my brand.
There are two clear signals that tell me how strong a brand is: direct traffic and brand searches. Direct traffic visitors are visitors that simply type the URL or domain name in their browser. These visitors know the site. Brand search visitors are usually visitors that are not Web-savvy and go everywhere by searching. At least they remember the name of the site, but they don't remember the domain extension.
Both are indications that the site name is on the mind of the visitor. They are keepers: if every other traffic method disappeared, you will still get those visitors.
The social media juggernaut
After experimenting with social media for a while, I’ve found a fundamental difference in the type and quality of traffic you get compared to traffic from highly-targeted search engine marketing campaigns. Visitors coming from search engines are in a completely different mindset. Depending on the type of search (navigational, informational or transactional), they are more likely to take action than users coming from a social media site.
Simply put, search engine traffic is more likely to improve your bottom line in the short and medium term. But is social media traffic useless then?
Quite the contrary. Social media traffic is excellent for branding. Even if users don't do anything on your site, most of them will probably remember it. The more they see the harder it is to forget. Social media is also an excellent carrier for viral marketing campaigns. These sites are frequently visited by sneezers—the ones who spread the ideaviruses.
I have to admit that many times, I just go directly to my search referral or referring sites statistics and I forget to pay close attention to these two groups, the keepers and the sneezers. I hope that this post reminds me to check those traffic sources everyday.
How do you measure your branding efforts?