Referring away web traffic: One way to attract buyers

We’re constantly addressing clients’ fear that inbound website traffic should be “held captive”, which means all their marketing efforts revolve around keeping visitors on-site at all costs.

But why would they risk driving web traffic away from their site after it arrives? Especially when it requires so much effort to capture it in the first place?

The problem is that this approach is not an empowered one but rather one rooted in fear.  Most companies absolutely cannot consider any notion aside from treating the “inbound lead” (which it may or may not be – I’ll get to that) in the same way a used car salesman does …

Flatter them, cajole them, hound them — but never let ‘em leave the lot without buying!

But what they’re really doing is assuming a false equivalence, the implication being that all customers are at the same stage in the marketing funnel – i.e., ready to buy – when they arrive at your website.

News flash:  They’re not.  Any review of a retail site’s web sessions will support this fact.

Some visitors are merely in the awareness or consideration phases and will require more information – and most important, convincing evidence – before they’ll pull the trigger and make the purchase.

This is where an alliance with third-party influencers, and a philosophy of educating the customer throughout their purchasing journey, turns the tables by placing the emphasis on service before sales.

Let’s take a closer look.

Web traffic in a B2C context is hard to distinguish between potential buyers and unlikely ones – although this can be done to greater accuracy if the referring site is known (among other things).

In a B2B context, it so happens that any given visitor to your site probably isn’t quite ready to purchase at the moment of their arrival.  High-dollar business products generally require far greater research and validation before a customer will pull the trigger and purchase.

But in either case — and this is absolutely critical — buyers need external reinforcement that their purchase will be a wise one, and this usually exists in the form of a third-party endorsement, often in the form of a product review but not limited to that.

Ultimately the crux of the matter regarding web traffic is this:  If a visitor to your site isn’t quite ready to purchase, but perhaps could be persuaded to do so, doesn’t it only make sense to direct them to an ally — a third party — who can give them exactly that?

If you’ve got the courage to refer them away – doing so in a way that serves both them and yourself – you’re better positioned to earn their trust.  And they are more likely to reward you with their decision to purchase at the end of it all.

Think about it.  What observations or experiences can you cite?  Am I leaving anything out?

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