What are the best marketing channels to drive traffic to your site?
I wanted to know. I had to know.
So, I asked over 30 marketing experts one simple question:
What is the #1 marketing channel sending traffic to your site?
I figured, hell, if I can find what where the experts are getting all their traffic…
I can just skip the time-consuming and soul-sucking channels and get right to what works!
And you can too.
The best part?
You don’t need to be an expert or spend weeks learning a new skill to do it.
To ensure that, I reveal the top three best marketing channels and the best guides on the web to get started using them – at the end of this post.
Now, here are the top digital marketing channels to improve your digital marketing strategy, as recommended by the experts…
Best Marketing Channels to Invest In (As Voted by 30+ Online Marketing Experts)
#1: Google (21 Votes)
#2: Social Media (8 Votes)
#3: Email (6 Votes)
At the end of the guide, after our expert panel, I included a list of the best blog posts around the web to teach you how to leverage these three channels. So keep reading!
30+ Marketing Experts Reveal The Best List of Marketing Channels
Here’s a quick index for you to hop right to the expert you’re looking for (there are some real goodies in their answers, so keep reading!):
Now I'll hand it off to the professionals to give their answers and advice!
1. Sujan Patel, Co-founder of Web Profits
“The number #1 channel to my site is traffic from my email list.
I’ve worked on building my email list by offering free ebooks, content promotion checklists, and prompt on my website to sign up for my newsletter. I have also sent two emails weekly to my email list consistently for the past 3 years.
By actively and consistently building and nurturing my email list I’ve been able to grow it to 50k+ subscribers with a 10%+ click-through rate.“
‘Prioritize your email list. We’ve grown to 50k+ subscribers and you can too.’ @SujanPatelClick to tweet
2. Brian Dean, Founder of Backlinko
“I use my signature skyskraper technique to drive organic traffic from Google.
In fact, using this method I was able to drive over 300,000 search visitors to a single page on my site.”
3. Jaime Masters, Host of Eventual Millionaire Podcast
“Organic SEO is about 70% of my traffic but the other traffic is direct from my email list or podcast.
For example, one post we wrote in March for the keyword “Think and Grow Rich PDF” has gotten about 3,000 visitors in the 3 months it’s been live.”
4. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group
“My #1 channel is organic search. I get more than 50% of my website traffic from organic. The rest are social, direct, email and referrals.
Some marketers spend money on paid promotion of their content or of their landing pages. I chose to spend my money on creating more and better content to help my audience.
I believe that will deliver a better ROI than expensive ads and offers.”
5. Johnathan Dane, Founder & CEO of KlientBoost
“Google has been the number one traffic driver to our site.
We’ve been working on SEO for over six months now, and KlientBoost sees an average of 65k or more unique visits per month!”
6. Jason Quey, Founder of The Storyteller Marketer
“To find your #1 marketing channel, your best bet is NOT to do what everyone else here is doing. You may be in a different niche. You may not have the time, money, skill, or interest to make a channel successful. Instead, read every answer carefully and look for patterns that emerge.
With that in mind, my #1 distribution channel for The Storyteller Marketer is Growth Hackers. I’m fairly active in the community and a lot of what I write fits their site.
For Cofounders With Class, my #1 channel is Reddit. Reddit can be challenging to master because Redditors can hide behind a screen. If you are submitting articles, you need to find the right subreddit, a decent amount of subscribers, and a thick skin.”
7. Brad Smith, Founder of Codeless
Organic search always sends the most traffic to my site. The results aren’t even close.
You could claim that it’s because I suck at generating referral traffic. And you might have a point.
But over time, I find that there’s no better way to scale traffic than search. You put in the same amount of time and effort, however the results compound over time.
It’s a Catch-22, though. Because it takes A LONG time to get up-and-running. Especially if you don’t have an existing brand to leverage.
So I often find that the most trafficked posts are among the oldest (we’re talking years old). You have to start out with little steps, like super duper long-tail phrases. Try to rank for those over a few months. Then slowly but surely work your way up the keyphrase food chain.
It’s not fun. Or sexy. Or fast. But years down the line it can’t be beat.
(As long as you’re willing and able to wait that long, of course.)
8. Andy Crestodina, Founder of Orbit Media Studios
“This answer should be the same for any well-optimized website. The answer is search. No other channel comes close. Here is the breakdown from the channels report. Organic drives 75% of visits…
Here’s the growth in organic over the last few years. You can see it’s a 350% increase in visits over 2.5 years.
If you want results like this, I suggest starting with this technique. It’s the fastest way to increase search traffic.”
9. Sam Hurley, Founder of OPTIM-EYEZ
“These are stats from a client of mine (Digital Current), where I have driven traffic to their site via Twitter and LinkedIn:
This was the direct result of my articles (<<< pertinent topic!) and distribution of those pieces via my social channels.
If anybody doubts the power of Social Media as a lucrative traffic source. Think again!
I’m a people enthusiast – interaction is my love and consequently; Social Media has always been my strength.
If you’re not investing sweat and money into this channel right now … It’s time to start!”
If you’re not investing sweat and money into #SMM, it’s time to start! says @Sam___HurleyClick to tweet
10. Aaron Orendorff, Founder of IconiContent
“Google has been the top traffic source for my blog…
…However, my strategy has NEVER been about getting traffic to my site or building my email list. As a writer, going the guest post route has been huge.
Way more about getting one or two of the RIGHT visitors to follow me over from a big publication and then pay me to write for them.”
It’s more about getting the right traffic than getting a lot of traffic. @IconiContentClick to tweet
11. Nick Loper, Founder of Side Hustle Nation
“The #1 marketing channel for me this year (and pretty much every year) is Google. Organic search makes up over 60% of Side Hustle Nation’s traffic.
I’m not the world’s savviest SEO expert, but it’s something I do pay attention to for new posts. I used to think of blogging more as an online journal, but now definitely see it as each post being able to stand alone as a piece of content worthy of discovery in the search engines.
In a recent podcast interview, Joseph Hogue made the case for why SEO is still low-hanging fruit for most bloggers and walked through his keyword research process for each new post.”
12. James Norquay, Founder of Prosperity Media
“The number one marketing channel for our clients and for our own business is still organic traffic from Google/ Bing.
Followed by other paid channels Google/ Facebook.
A good case study to show this growth can be found here: https://moz.com/blog/increasing-organic-seo-traffic-by-400000-unique-visitors-a-month
You always need a marketing strategy which involves both paid and organic to achieve the best possible results.”
13. Aaron Wall, Founder of SEO Book
“I have not pushed on marketing our site much in the past year or so after shutting down our membership site a bit over a year ago.
Thus, most of our traffic is from organic search & brand recognition, which was powered by all the other forms of marketing we did for over a decade (going to conferences, writing for other sites, creating SEO tools, writing thousands of blog posts, participating in other forums, doing interviews, creating infographics, etc.) prior to winding down our membership site.
And while Google owns something like 70% of the domestic US search market they have a higher market share in many foreign markets where SEO is popular, particularly in emerging markets like India, where mobile drives a lot of web usage.”
Google only owns ~70% of US search traffic, but they even more foreign search traffic.Click to tweet
14. Jignesh Gohel, Founder of OLBUZ
“Generally, we design custom marketing planS for each client, but when it comes to OUR #1 channel, I will give my vote to content marketing for lead generation & service industry websites.
The reason is obvious; after successfully implementing content marketing activities, over 66% of our leads are generated from organic traffic that landed on those content pages.
For eCommerce, the #1 marketing channel is PPC; shopping ads, to be exact. Over 75% of our business in eCommerce websites is generated through shopping ads where we constantly work on feed optimization and creating narrow ad groups with advanced targeting strategies.”
15. Peep Laja, Founder of Conversion XL
“For Conversion XL, our biggest marketing channel is still Google organic – driving about 65% of total traffic.”
16. Violeta Nedkova, Writer and Business Coach
“The #1 channel that drove traffic to my site this year was Google.
It was surprising to me as I don’t really preoccupy myself with SEO, but actually, what does the trick is putting out consistent content. Google picks it up, picks up your keywords, and ranks you higher.
Eventually, people start finding you this way instead of just through social media and other channels. A couple of targeted guest posts and mentions also help.“
17. Venchito Tampon, Founder of SharpRocket
“It’s undoubtedly organic. Since we were able to produce top-notch content in the area of link building and content marketing, we were able to earn links from relevant sites/blogs in the digital marketing space that allows our pages to rank for several targeted search terms.
Here’s a screenshot of what we’ve got from organic (very targeted visitors – those who are looking for link building information, that are potentially converting to leads):
18. Harris Schachter, Founder of OptimizePrime
“The #1 marketing channel for my own site this year has been SEO by far. I find SEO produces the highest quality traffic, and not to mention, it is free.
I’ve always enjoyed the science of SEO and started my career focused on it, and it will always be my favorite child. A few months ago I got lucky with a particular high-traffic query set which the intended post started ranking for, and it exploded site traffic (see graph).”
19. Dave Schneider, CEO of Ninja Outreach
“We hit a little more than half a million total sessions, counting back from the present to June of last year. Most of what contributed to that are pretty fairly distributed across a combination of the marketing channels we use, though.
But if I were to nitpick, I’d say our top four drivers would be our recent blog acquisitions, push notifications, referral traffic from Moz.com, and our Facebook ads.“
20. Hans Van Gent, Founder of Inbound Rocket
“My biggest traffic driver is a dedicated Flipboard magazine that I’ve been running for the last couple of years around the subject. I just started to bring value for people around marketing, growth, conversion and all the subjects I write about.
That magazine slowly grew with a steady base of followers, and every time I publish something, I add it to that magazine it brings a big bunch of traffic.”
21. Jordan Kasteler, Speaker and Marketing Consultant
“Aside from Google organic, Facebook has been a top traffic driver channel in the past few years.
Prior to Facebook though, in 2010-2014 StumbleUpon beat out both Facebook and Google combined.
However, that’s trickled off as the company seems to have internal issues.
A lot of effort has been put into Facebook though. When you look at the amount of effort that’s been put into Reddit, which is practically none, there’s the biggest return on time investment there.
YouTube video views are solid but referral traffic is low. There is also a good amount of time put into Twitter, but the traffic return there is also low compared to the time investment.”
22. Sol Orwell, Co-Founder of Examine.com
“Organic SEO. Still the most reliable and cheapest and not too hard to get going!”
Organic SEO is still the most reliable, cheap, and easy to get going traffic channel. @Sol_OrwellClick to tweet
23. William Harris, Ecommerce Growth Consultant at Elumynt
“Organic is still my favorite channel. I go back and forth between organic and paid advertising because both are so effective – but if you put in the time and energy, and invest in organic, it can outperform paid channels almost every time.
The screenshot below isn’t from my own site, it’s from my client’s site – I like bragging about them instead. They wish to remain anonymous, but you can clearly see that the organic channel is the main source of traffic as well as revenue.
It’s not easy, and most people aren’t willing to invest that much money and time in their SEO strategy, but the ones that do will almost always profit from it.”
24. Jason Falls, Speaker, Author, and Digital Strategist
“The top channel that has always driven traffic to my site (and most of my client’s sites) is organic search. This is why search engine optimization is still such a prevalent marketing focus for companies today.
It is also why blogging is always a solid strategy to drive website traffic. Without loads of content for your site to attract searchers, it’s harder for you to get as much traffic.
So blog. Optimize for key search terms your prospective customers are looking for.
And don’t stop. Consistency counts for something, both with search engines and with people reading. That is the fundamental foundation of building website traffic today.”
25. Chirag Kulkarni, Co-Founder of Medly and Taco Agency
“The best channel that has driven traffic to my site has been guest blogging and personal branding opportunities.
I’ve been guest blogging fairly consistently for the past 2 years and the link juice along with the knowledge I’ve been able to deliver has helped drive the most qualified traffic to my blog.”
26. Brian Fanzo, Change Evangelist and Founder iSocialFanz
“Live Video to Twitter has been the best for me as people are looking for real and raw content which drives them to live streaming apps like Facebook Live and Periscope but giving a call to action or dropping a link in live video feels forced.
I like to engage on live video and make sure people are commenting and sharing my videos to Twitter and then following up with a ‘thank you” and letting them know they can find additional value on my website.
This is much more personalized and yes takes a little bit of time but these community members have already taken the time to watch and share my video, therefore, the little bit of effort to message them pays off with a very high click through rate.
Live video is powerful but you must connect live video with the social networks where the community is engaging when you aren’t on live video.”
27. Brittany Berger, Content Writer for Mention
For Mention, the #1 source of traffic this year has been organic search. SEO was a big focus for us in 2016, primarily dealing with that we had a ton of great content but had just never put enough effort into optimizing it (our case study’s here: https://mention.com/blog/seo-tips/).
We saw great results right away, but as we continue to implement our new process and go back and update and optimize old content created before this strategy, the gains keep coming. Right now SEO is bringing in about 47% of our traffic.
SEO isn’t all about new content. Optimize your old posts for quicker results. @ThatBBergClick to tweet
28. Aaron Agius, Founder of Louder Online
Definitely referral traffic from all of the guest posting and contributions I’ve been doing.
I’ve been writing regularly for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Hubspot, Content Marketing Institute and other publications, as well as appearing as a guest on podcasts like the Eventual Millionaire and Mixergy.
Both of those have been driving a lot of awareness and referral traffic back to the Louder.Online website – and the nice thing is that it’s typically been high-quality, relevant visitors. I’ll be continuing to focus on these strategies for the rest of 2017, for sure.
29. Nadya Khoja, Head of Marketing at Venngage
We noticed that it was not only the channel sending the most traffic, but we were getting a lot of conversions at a higher LTV. Mainly because the users coming in through organic search are high purchase intent users. So we decided to double down on our efforts to build quality backlinks to high converting landing pages.
We also created a lot of original research type content which helped us get a lot of great editorial mentions back to our site. This not only helped with our initial rankings but also boosted our domain authority from DA41 when we start focusing on SEO and content marketing, to DA73!
Meaning, our content naturally ranks higher on its own accord.”
Venngage is a tool that helps people make their own infographics.
“SEO sends us the most traffic. Around 33% of our web visits come from people searching for “competitive analytics tools,” “social media listening,” or “influencer marketing strategy,” which aren’t always the first use cases people would associate with our tool. That’s because our marketing is very content-focused.
We work hard to create lots of content around business challenges that our target audience faces, and we’re happy that we rank well for these keywords. And through content and SEO we attract a new audience looking for solutions and help, which most of the time we can provide them with.”
31. Zack McCullock, Co-founder and Chief Blogger at Free Up
“My personal finance blog is only three months old but my analytics tell the story effectively about what’s working right now.
My three biggest traffic drivers have been social, my email list (direct), and guest posting on other niche expert websites to drive referrals.
The big spikes below indicate our features in Forbes or U.S. World News and the traffic we gained from that.”
32. Heath & Alyssa Padgett, Founders of The RV Entrepreneur Podcast
“Our number one traffic driver has easily been our email list. We’ve built a relationship with these people, and many of them have joined our Facebook group and become part of a community!”
34. Derric Haynie, Founder of Vulpine Interactive
“Organic search is by far my best channel. (Note: I switched sites in May, hence the traffic drop off.)”
35. Bill Widmer, Content Marketing & SEO Expert
“Aside from Google, I’ve found the best marketing channels to be Facebook and Pinterest.
In fact, I used these two channels – along with cold email outreach – to drive nearly 15,000 visitors in one month to a brand new site with less than 100 followers and no email list.
The traffic spike from Pinterest came without me even pinning anything – it was all automated with BoardBooster.
If that sounds good to you, I highly recommend you check out Side Hustle Nation’s guide to Pinterest traffic.”
Guides For the Top 3 Best Marketing Channels
Either way, I know what you want: results. You want traffic to your website. You want to stop spinning your wheels with marketing campaigns that don’t work.
Well, you’ve already seen that these types of marketing channels can drive hundreds of thousands of visitors to your site. And if you read the responses, you know they can do it even if you have a brand new site with zero traffic and no followers.
All you need to do is learn how to make these distribution channels work for you. That’s what these guides are for.
1. How to Get Organic Traffic From Google
As you’ve seen, search engine optimization is responsible for driving several hundred thousand visitors every month to our experts’ sites. And as you’ll learn, even a non-SEO-expert can drive a few thousand visitors fairly quickly.
If you’re ready to reap the rewards of SEO, get started with these amazing guides:
- The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing
- Why SEO is Still Low-Hanging Fruit for Most Bloggers
- The Backlinko SEO Blog by Brian Dean (Read it all if you can!)
- SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide
Want help with content marketing and SEO? Get in touch with me!
2. Social Media Marketing That Works
Social media marketing has been a staple marketing strategy in every online business since Facebook first launched.
The problem is, most people are doing it all wrong. They spend so much time posting things but only get a few likes… probably from mom and her girlfriends.
If that’s you, take some time to dive into these detailed guides:
- Promote your content in 4 easy steps with a social media scheduler
- Facebook Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
- Guide to Pinterest Traffic Growth by Side Hustle Nation
- 12 Formulas: How to Use Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
- How To Use Linkedin To Get More Traffic To Your Blog
Paid social ads can also drive massive traffic – especially to your blog, since content is easier to promote than products.
- The Complete, Always-Updated Guide to Facebook Advertising
- The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Ads for Startups and Small Businesses
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Pinterest Marketing
- A Beginner’s Guide To LinkedIn Advertising
3. How to Make Money on Autopilot With Email Marketing
Don’t let the low vote count fool you. Many of the people who voted for SEO only did so because they were forced to choose the one channel that drove the most traffic to their site.
(Although, as you’ll see, some still couldn’t stick to that rule. )
A lot of the people I spoke with told me that while it didn’t drive the most traffic, their email list drove the highest converting traffic.
Email should be a top priority from the get-go, hands down. Here are a few guides worth checking out to help you get started today:
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Promoting Your Content Upgrade
- 17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies (That Work Fast)
- A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing
- 8 Things You Can Send to Your List
That’s a wrap!
A big thanks to everyone who shared their most powerful types of marketing channels. Please share if you found it useful!
And, just to recap, here are the results one more time…
Best Marketing Channels to Invest In (As Voted by 30+ Online Marketing Experts)
#1: Google (21 Votes)
#2: Social Media (8 Votes)
#3: Email (6 Votes)
If you could only use one marketing channel, which one would you choose?
Let me know in the comments below...