When my start-up’s website launched, one of the first things I did was create a Google AdWords account to start driving interested customers to our account. Though a number of optimizations helped increase our CTR and drop our CPC, we finally decided to pause it until we had a more mature conversion funnel. Google is great for sending traffic, but if you don’t have your checkout flow nailed down, it can be a pretty costly click for a person to not convert.

This realization led me to look at other, less costly sources of CPC traffic. The two sites I’ve experimented with are StumbleUpon and Reddit. StumbleUpon does not show an ad but shows a page from your website. Reddit gives you a text ad plus a small picture – similar to a Facebook ad. Here’s my experience:

Low cost traffic: On both sites you’re paying $0.30 or less per click. Much more affordable than the $2+ that we had been paying on Google. Overall I was extremely happy with the number of unique visitors. If you just need traffic, perhaps for an A/B test, these are sites are great values.

Horrible engagement: In almost all cases visitors stayed for only a few seconds before moving on. This is somewhat to be expected. People go to Reddit and StumbleUpon looking to browse and be entertained, not to buy things.

Learning: Use judiciously with really engaging content. As much as I love cheap traffic, going forward I would only use these channels to direct people towards engaging marketing content. The content has to match the audience. Visitors from these sites probably won’t take value-added actions on your site, but they can still be valuable for helping something go viral or for re-marketing. If you have a video, funny picture, cool app etc. that you are trying to go viral, then these visitors are your target audience. You can also attempt to capture emails on site or use re-marketing cookies to talk to the same visitors when they are more in the mood to purchase.

This guest post was written by Kate Endress, who is a private equity investor turned entrepreneur and e-commerce pioneer. After graduating from Stanford Business School in 2011, Kate co-founded DITTO.com, an ecommerce site selling designer sunglasses and eyewear which features cutting edge new “try-on” technology.

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