Which Paid Traffic Method is Right for Your Business?

Paying to advertise your brand is nothing new - but the most effective method depends largely on your goals, your audience, and your budget

Matt Duczeminski
November 13 2018

There are two overarching ways to increase the amount of traffic your website receives.

Organic methods, such as content marketing and search engine optimization can work wonders for companies willing to play the “long game,” or those who don’t need to generate traffic right away.

For companies looking to increase traffic now, however, the paid traffic route is definitely the way to go. As we’ll discuss throughout this article, the main benefit of paid advertising is that it allows your company to generate visibility immediately (as opposed to the organic methods that typically take a while to gain traction).

The trade-off for paid advertising is…you have to pay for it, but this doesn’t mean you’ll need to break the bank – and it doesn’t mean you should just indiscriminately throw money at your ad campaigns. While you’ll invest a decent amount of cash into these paid initiatives, you want to be sure that you’re only investing as much as is necessary to generate the results you’re aiming for.

To that end, it’s essential that you:

  • Know which paid advertising channels will provide the best opportunities for your brand
  • Understand the costs associated with each of these channels, so you know how much you’ll need to spend
  • Approach your paid campaigns strategically in order to keep costs down while maximizing your returns

In this article, we’re going to discuss the three paid ad methods that are generally considered to be the most effective for generating new traffic to your website.

Before we dive in, though, let’s quickly go over the pros and cons of paid advertising in the first place.

The Top 3 Paid Methods for Generating Traffic to Your Site

While you have a number of paid advertising options, the three most effective options by today’s standards include:

  • Google Ads
  • Social media advertising
  • Influencer marketing

Google Ads

Formerly known as Adwords, Google Ads is a pay-per-click advertising service that enables you to gain visibility on the most-used search engine in the world as well as its network of ancillary websites.

Once you’ve set up your Google Ads account, you’ll be able to create ads to be displayed:

  • On Google’s search results pages
  • Before YouTube videos
  • Throughout Google’s Display Network, which includes over 2 million websites and 650,000 apps

    (Source / Ads for Expedia and Kayak show up when searching for “hotels near me.”)

Needless to say, becoming visible on Google can be huge for your business.

A presence on Google Ads can increase brand awareness for a company by as much as 80%. This stems from a 2014 study in which consumers were asked which brand first came to mind after being provided a related keyword phrase. Participants mentioned the brand that appeared as the top paid search result 80% more often than the brand appearing organically below the paid ad.

Consumers using search terms that indicate a high intent to make a purchase account for 65% of the clicks received by paid ads. In other words, 65% of those who click on your paid Google Ads are actively looking to do business with you.

(This is backed up by the fact that those who reach a site via PPC ads are 1.5 times more likely to make a purchase than those who reached the site via organic means.)

The coup de grace, though, is in the return on ad spend generated via Google Ads:

The average ROAS for a Google Ad campaign is 2:1. That said, even if you’re currently operating on a strict budget, investing in advertising on Google is worth every penny.

Don’t just take our word for it. Take a look at this case study of Turkish rental car company Garenta’s experience using Google Ads to generate brand awareness and spur business growth.

At the onset, Garenta’s main goals were to:

  • Increase mobile click-to-call phone calls
  • Increase in-store visits from online searchers
  • Increase online sales and revenue
  • Reduce the company’s cost-per-conversion

The company’s efforts paid off in spades. Once Garenta began using Google Ads, half of its subsequent web traffic came from individuals who engaged with its ads. Additionally, those who engaged with the company’s Google Ads were accounting for 40% of its conversions.

As explained by Seren Guzel, the search engine marketing specialist hired by Garenta to spearhead its Google Ads initiative:

“With the right AdWords strategy and ongoing optimisations, we were able to increase the online revenue by around 30%. Google AdWords emerged as the main traffic and revenue generator for GarentaDay.”

The key part of that statement is “the right (Google Ads) strategy and ongoing optimisations.” Google Ads (or any method of paid ads, for that matter) isn’t a quick fix, nor is it a silver bullet for driving traffic.

In order to succeed with your Google Ads campaigns, you need to be highly strategic in your approach. This means:

  • Targeting keywords that have a high search volume – but low competition – to keep costs down
  • Being laser-focused in your targeting using tactics such as ad scheduling and geotargeting
  • Implementing a negative keyword strategy to avoid presenting your ads to individuals not within your target audience

If you can nail your Google Ad initiatives from the get-go, you should easily be able to recoup your initial ad spend – and begin ramping up your campaigns – in no time.

Social Media Ads

While social media provides several opportunities for companies to engage with their target audience members organically, brands can also pay to generate visibility on these platforms, as well.

Amazingly, over three billion people have at least one social media account registered to their name – with eleven people registering for a new account every second.

More importantly for our purposes, the major social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) are chock-full of individuals looking to engage with their favorite brands (as well as new ones).

According to a study conducted by Adobe, half of social media users from Generation Z – and 42% percent of Millennials – view social media as the most relevant channel for ads. Along with this, 59% of all social media users log onto their platform(s) of choice for consumer-related purposes. Finally, social media ads drive three times as many non-customers to a company’s website than current customers; in other words, your social media ads are three times more likely to reach brand new customers than to simply re-engage current ones.

As far as your choice of platform goes, you have a number of options. Additionally, each of these platforms provides a variety of ways for you to create content specifically to be used for advertising purposes.

Let’s take a look at each in a bit more detail.


This is the big one.

With over 2.2 billion monthly active users, it’s almost guaranteed that individuals within your target audience are scrolling through their Facebook feed at pretty much any given time.

There are a number of ways to advertise on Facebook, including:

  • Canvas ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Video ads

You can set these ads to appear in a variety of places, such as directly within a target’s newsfeed:

Within the user’s sidebar:

And even within their Messenger inbox:

Compared to Instagram (which we’ll get to in a moment), Facebook’s cost-per-click is relatively cheap, hovering around $0.97 worldwide. Companies operating on a budget may want to consider Facebook as a frontrunner for their social media advertising initiatives – especially when you consider the sheer size of the audience they’re bound to reach through said campaigns.


As we just said, Instagram isn’t exactly the cheapest option for advertising on social media, as shown in the chart below:


That doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid advertising on the platform altogether. Considering that over 200 million users use the platform specifically to engage with brands on a daily basis (with two-thirds of these individuals engaging with companies that are new to them), Instagram provides major opportunities for your brand to gain visibility and generate new leads.

As with Facebook, there are a few different ways you can advertise on Instagram:

  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Story ads
  • Canvas story ads

(Source / An example of a Story ad from Artifact Uprising)

While photo ads are typically the cheapest option, in terms of “bang for your buck,” carousel and canvas story ads reign supreme.

Case in point:

  • Founder of fitness company Bikini Body Guide, Kayla Itsines, saw a 21-point lift in brand awareness after creating a series of video carousel ads – equating to her brand being exposed to over 6.4 million new audience members.
  • Subscription box service Birchbox used canvas story ads to target consumers in France, leading to a CTR that was four times higher than the company’s average – at 50% of the CPC of its other Instagram ad campaigns.

Again, while advertising on Instagram may cost you a bit more upfront, the returns you’ll see from a well put-together campaign will easily make it all worth it.


Though Twitter isn’t nearly as popular nowadays as Facebook, Instagram, and a number of other social media platforms, it still provides some valuable opportunities to companies in terms of advertising potential.

According to data collected by CNN, while US Twitter usage continues to decline, the platform still boasts a worldwide audience of 328 million – most of whom are likely to make purchases from brands after following them.

For smaller companies looking to advertise on the cheap, Twitter is an absolute goldmine. Perhaps due to the fact that most companies perceive the platform’s popularity to be waning, the cost of advertising on Twitter is incredibly low:


Add to this the fact that those who use Twitter are typically active and avid users of the platform – meaning they’re highly engaged and primed to take action – and you have a clear case as to why you should definitely consider advertising on the platform in the near future.

No matter which social media platform you choose to advertise on, there are three overarching rules you need to follow:

  • Know which platforms your target audience is most likely to use – and focus on optimizing your presence there.
  • At the same time, make sure your brand “fits in” on a platform before diving in.
  • When promoting actual content with your ads, go with that which has generated the most organic engagement among the audience you’re currently targeting.

Influencer Marketing

What may have at one point seemed like a soon-to-be-fading trend is now the most effective way for companies to spread brand awareness and grow their customer base.

Not only is influencer marketing the most effective way to acquire new customers – it’s also the most cost-effective, as well:



If that’s not enough to convince you that you should hop on the influencer marketing bandwagon (if you haven’t already), it’s also worth knowing that more than half the brands that use influencer marketing say the tactic brings in more valuable customers than their other marketing initiatives.

Take the story of online mattress retailer Leesa’s experience with influencer marketing, for example. Faced with the inherent obstacle of not being able to allow potential customers to “try before they buy,” Leesa decided to get in touch with a number of influential content creators within the sleep-related industry and send them a free mattress in exchange for a blog post centered around reviewing the product in question. The positive social proof generated from the overwhelmingly positive reviews written by these influential individuals led over 100,000 people to click over to Leesa’s website – eventually leading to over 400 sales being directly attributed to the influencers’ recommendations.

We’ve talked about the best practices for – and the pitfalls of – influencer marketing in the past, so we won’t go too in-depth, here. The one overarching piece of advice we’ll leave you with, though, is this:

Authenticity is key.

When partnering with influencers, you need to be 100% certain that the partnership doesn’t appear phony or out-of-place in the slightest. The fact is, a mere 3% of consumers trust endorsements from celebrities simply because they’re well-known individuals.

Look to partner with individuals who would actually want to engage with your brand, all business aside. Not only will this allow you to work together to generate authentic content, but it will also allow you to tap into a new audience that will actually be interested in what you have to offer. Remember: the goal isn’t just to widen your reach; it’s to widen your reach to consumers who will become paying customers in the near future.

Matt Duczeminski

Matt is a professional writer specializing in helping entrepreneurs improve relationships with their customers. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sarah, and he'd probably get a lot more work done if his cat would stop bothering him.

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