What if website visits had a direct cost

Google quietly made an announcement earlier in the year that could potentially have significant consequences for the future of how businesses market themselves via the web.

Earlier in the year they changed their policies around Google maps. Rather than offering unrestricted access to the service, you are now required to include an API key, the creation of which requires a Google cloud account with a valid credit card attached. Whilst they currently do not charge for the type of static location maps that most people use on their sites to show their office location, they are now in a position to change this at the “flick of a switch”.

this brings up an interesting question

“What if every time someone viewed your website,you were charged a fee?”

For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus of “free” traffic that currently comes from the likes of email, search traffic, social media etc.

In these areas, it is easy to have the “more visits the merrier” mentality. This is fine, when the visits are not costing anything, but not so sustainable if they are.

The Answer is Targeting

The answer to this issue is targeting. In my opinion all good marketing should be targeted to focus on the people most likely to be interested in your offering, so this move by Google simply re-enforces the need for good marketing practices


This issue should actually have minimal impact on the way companies approach email, as these should already be highly targeted. In the age of GDPR and e-privacy legislation, the days of find a massive list, send it to everyone and hope some of it sticks are long gone.

The idea that every click might cost you simply re-enforces the need for a highly targeted approach.

social Media and Search Traffic

I have lumped these together as both are about creating content that, once found, will encourage people to visit your website. At its worst, “click bait” focuses on drawing people and maximising the chance that they will click through to your website, without much thought about how likely they are to buy. The thinking being that “most won’t but some will”. Again, in our opinion, this is already bad practice. Content on search engines and social media, should be focused on attracting the right people, and encouraging only those who are likely to buy to click through to your site.

Content Marketing should be a seamless, open process where at every step people find what they are expecting, maximising the chance that they will make the enquiry or purchase at the end of it.

Again, the fact that this traffic may have a cost should simply re-enforce this thinking.

Conversion Tacking Is key

Ultimately, the objective of your marketing efforts is to build your brand, generate leads, and ultimately new sales. So tracking where these leads come from and which sources generate the best leads is key. Thankfully, through the use of event tracking in Google analytics this is fairly straight forward process.

But that is another Post entirely

As content providers like Google look to monetise their investments, the age of free web services may be coming to end, but from a marketing perspective all this should be doing is forcing you to be more efficient. If the content adds value, then paying for it should not be an issue. You just have to think more closely about how you target your marketing.

Filed under: Marketing Best Practice, Marketing Strategy

About Duncan Wright

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Over the past 25 years, working in both the corporate world, and the field of SME marketing consultancy, Duncan Wright has developed extensive knowledge & experience that really adds value to BSA Marketing's clients.

As a member of the CIM, and as a Chartered Marketer, Duncan has the marketing knowledge to come up with relevant and innovative marketing strategies for clients, whilst at the same time possessing the technical knowledge to turn these strategies into relevant and sustainable marketing campaigns in the real world.

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