There are a few different sources of traffic to watch out for when buying a new business on Flippa. Over the last 5 years I’ve experimented with dozens of different traffic methods on multiple different businesses in my own portfolio. In my experience, there have been a few traffic sources that were dramatically more effective than others.

For eCommerce entrepreneurs, I’m sure you’ve seen the “gurus” talk about Facebook ads or drop-shipping Shopify stores on social media. If you haven’t heard of drop-shipping before, its the process where products are purchased by customers on a website and then ordered by the store operator from a Chinese manufacturer on Alibaba and sent directly to the customer. The margin between what the customer pays and what the operator pays to the manufacturer is where the profit comes from.

Many entrepreneurs start a Shopify store from scratch after buying a course or purchasing an active site on Flippa and are quickly upset when nothing happens automatically.

The lesson here is that no matter how beautiful you make your eCommerce store, if you do not have traffic to that store, you won’t make any sales. It’s almost like having the best architect and interior designer in the world remodel your real world store, but placing it in the middle of the desert, where nobody will have a chance to see it.

This is why paid traffic makes sense for a business that is just starting out.

The vast majority of the time, I don’t recommend paying for traffic with Facebook ads until you understand your numbers and have been operating for long enough to have product market fit. However, given the current landscape and the current cost of ads, many would refer to this time as a “land grab.” Understanding the cost of customer acquisition is vital to scaling your business but sometimes can be implemented too soon.

Paid ads on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have a compounding effect to them. When you begin to accumulate data from customers and engagement on the ads themselves, you can target better and convert more.

The catch is that to get to this point of fine-tuned social media ads, you will need to learn how to run them yourself or pay someone thousands to do it for you. Many entrepreneurs who I’ve met have a risk tolerance of about $100,000 to get to a stage where ads are targeted enough to convert customers better, and others will want to invest elsewhere. 

Types of Paid Ads

An important difference that many don’t talk about with paid advertising is the different types of ads. Traditionally most people think about display ads on social media or display ads on their favorite websites. 

There are many different ways to pay for traffic including: 

  1. Paid Social Media display ads
  2. Paid Influencer posts on social media 
  3. Paid blog articles and product reviews
  4. Paid interview articles
  5. Paid podcast segments
  6. Niche blogger display ads

Influencer Ads

The best kept secret in the paid ads industry is influencer posts for your brand. It is by far the most effective with speed, cost, and results. The issue many run into is figuring out where to start with engaging an influencer to post about their product. Personally I’ve spent over $3,000,000 on influencer promotions over the last 4 years and can say direct messages are the best way. Depending on the niche you are in, I always recommend these tips:

  • Make a video pitching your product
  • Ask what their rate would be in a direct message
  • Keep a spreadsheet with the contact and the rate of all the influencers
  • Book at least 10 influencers at a time

It’s also important to know the influencer themselves often won’t represent the exact persona of your customer. Often followers of larger influencers will be very different than the creator doing the post themselves. For example, a model on Instagram with 1M+ followers may have men as the majority of their followers and your makeup brand would reach less than 10% of who you want to be targeting.

If you are brand new to influencer marketing with physical products, you’re in luck because this will be a topic covered here on the Flippa blog many times in the coming months. Having spent 7 figures on micro influencers, I can tell you they are the gold mine every new business needs to be hunting for right now. 

Not only are influencers great for creating an immediate testimonial for your newly acquired business, but they are something younger generations value greatly. Studies have been done about the power of a referral compared to a traditional advertisement. These are a few facts from Social Media Today’s research:

  • 78% of B2B marketers say that referral programs generate good or excellent leads.
  • 60% of marketers say that referral programs generate a high volume of leads.
  • 54% say that referral programs have a lower cost-per-lead than other channels.
  • Marketers rate referrals as the 2nd-highest source of quality leads.

Organic Traffic

Now that we’ve highlighted paid ads on social media platforms and influencer posts in particular as a means for quality leads, it’s important to invest in organic traffic.

There are a lot of well-known tactics available online by amazing agencies, but in my experience, YouTube videos and blogs provide the most valuable long-term organic traffic. For example, if your hired influencer creates a YouTube video about your product or service today with the link in the video description, customers will still be viewing and clicking through that link 5 years from now. Given YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, owned by the first largest, you can skip the line quickly with video content. A trick I’ve learned over the years has been creating YouTube videos with influencers and embedding them on your company’s blog as both Google and YouTube love that integration.

Overall, when you think about buying a business on Flippa, be sure to look for the amount being spent on paid ads and how that compares with the organic traffic that a website is bringing in. Ask the seller about SEO that has been performed as well as if there is any original content you can leverage for ads in the future.

Using influencer content to promote with paid ads on Facebook and YouTube is also one of the next frontiers in high converting paid traffic. Now, with the SEMrush and Flippa partnership you have all the tools needed to deep dive into the traffic sources and make sure the business you are buying is well diversified. Keep in mind that referrals are more powerful than paid ads and the more data you can collect from customers the better your targeting will be!

Good luck!

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry is an entrepreneur, content creator, and investor based in sunny Tampa, Florida. In 2015, while living in San Francisco, Steve sold his first fintech startup LendLayer to Max Levchin’s (founder of PayPal) consumer finance company Affirm. In the last 5 years, Steve has both built an online community that reaches 1.4 million people every month on social media and a portfolio of over a dozen web properties. Currently, he’s the co-founder of a next-generation fintech startup called GrowYourBase while managing his portfolio of online businesses.

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