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Everybody talks about “cold traffic” and “warm traffic”, but what do they even MEAN? What's the difference? Where do these people come from? What about ads and social media? And what do we do with this information? In today's episode, I'll explain it all.

Transcript & Shownotes

Naomi Explains... Cold vs. Warm Traffic

Welcome back to Naomi Explains Marketing, the show where I help experts, coaches, authors, consultants, healers and other geeky, helpful types sell the contents of their brains for cash money. I am your host, Naomi, and today we’re talking about cold versus warm traffic. What do cold or warm even mean? Where do these people come from? What about ads and social media? And what do we do with this information?

Cold versus warm traffic – let’s do this.

The discussion of temperature in realms that have nothing to do with temperature is as common as it is weird. Cold case files. Cold calls. Hot prospects. Warm leads. Warm list. There’s a lot of talk in the world of how hot or cold things (that are not actually things) are.

As it applies to traffic, here’s what we’re usually talking about. As a rule, when we say “cold traffic”, we’re referring to traffic that has not interacted with a brand before. Maybe you clicked on an ad. You arrive at a landing page completely cold. You don’t know where you are. You don’t know what this is. Something in the ad looked intriguing – it captured your attention and your interest – and you clicked. That’s all you know. You’re ice cold.

Now, through your incredible powers of deductive reasoning, you can probably infer that warm traffic is traffic that has interacted with a brand before. See? You’re getting this! If you're on my mailing list – which you can be by going to – at some point I’m going to send you an email. In that email there is a link, and you click that link, and you end up on a landing page. You are now warm traffic. This is because you know who I am and have at least a passing knowledge of what in the hell you’re doing here right now.

Now, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way real quick.

Although there are a lot of associated… associations, not all cold traffic comes from ads. If you’re on social, it’s common that the platform’s algorithm pushes a post into your feed from a creator that you’re not familiar with. Betsy has a post, it gets popular with your kind of people, and Big Social decides you might be interested in it. You are interested in it, and you click on Betsy’s link. You are now on Betsy’s sales page. But since you have not interacted with Betsy’s brand before, you are cold traffic, even though you came from social media.

The flip side of this is that not all traffic that comes from ads is cold. Coincidence and the law of averages dictates that your best friend in the world, who has been interacting with you since you guys were braiding each other’s hair in summer camp, may well see your ad and may well click on it. She’s warm, even though she came from an ad. But these days, the most likely reason you’ll see an ad warm is that you’re being “retargeted”.

You were on a website and that website had tracking cookies and the cookies know you were looking at the yearlong mastermind program. Now ads for that yearlong mastermind program are going to follow you around the internet for days or weeks, whispering, “Hey, remember me? Remember how you were thinking of buying me? Come back. I’m awesome. I love you.”

If you click on one of those adds, you are warm traffic, because you’ve interacted with the brand before.

Thus! Warm or cold traffic has nothing to do with place of origin, and is only based on whether or not the individual has interacted with your brand before.

The main exception to this rule is referral. I just bought a course from someone I’ve never interacted with in my life because a client raved about them to such a degree that I had to check them out. Technically, I am cold traffic, because this brand and I have no history of interaction. But! Someone I admire and trust is singing the brand’s praises from every available rooftop and that has… wait for it… warmed me up. So referrals are kind of a grey area. You have to treat them like they’re cold, but they’re going to act like they’re warm. They’re cold, but they’re prequalified.

Now, what’s the next logical question?

The next logical question is, “Wait, Naomi! You just said, ‘treat them like they’re cold’. What does that mean?”

We tend to treat warm and cold traffic somewhat differently, because often what one group wants or needs, the other group ignores or dislikes, and vice versa. This is because God is mean and hates copywriters.

Now, how do we treat them differently? We market with different assumptions.

So let’s say you’ve been listening to Naomi Explains Marketing for a while now. You’re on my mailing list. Maybe you’ve bought something from the Karma Store. I have a workshop coming up, and I would like you to consider registering for it.

When you get to my sales page, you don’t really want to see a large, comprehensive “who am I and why should you listen to me” section. If you like me, you’ll scroll past it and ignore it. If you’re ambivalent towards me, it might irritate you a bit. You know who I am, and you know I have the best podcast in the world, and you know when I founded IttyBiz, and blah blah blah, you don’t care, shut up and get on with it, woman.

My carefully and lovingly crafted bio? Ignored at best, mildly irritating at worst. Since you’re warm traffic, I was kinda supposed to assume you already knew most of that, and keep the life story brief. I don’t have to say nothing at all, but I’m supposed to assume you’re basically familiar with, well, me.

Now let’s say you wade through my long and winding bio, you see my workshop and you’re thinking, “Yeah, that’s cool. I’m into that.” You get to the guarantee section, and I make a fuss. A big fuss. A huge fuss. Don’t worry. You have nothing to worry about. There’s no risk. If you don’t like it, it’s guaranteed. Like, there’s no risk. At all.

You weren’t really thinking there was a risk. We’re buddies, or at least passing acquaintances. This level of safety building is off tone. You weren’t actually thinking my workshop was going to be a piece of garbage, and it’s all of $50. This level of objection reversal is overkill for warm traffic. I’m supposed to assume you have a reasonable level of trust and as such, keep my objection reversal to a commensurate level.


The same thing is true in reverse. If I say, “My colleague, Fufi, is running a promotion on her annual program, One Year With Fufi” and you click because you’re bored and have nothing better to do, for Fufi, you are cold traffic. She may want to assume you have no idea who in the hell she is, and she may want to assume you’re going to want some basic orientation of what goes on Chez Fufi. You’re going to need a decent bio at minimum, and probably some doubt reversal. You don’t know Fufi from Fuji at this point, and if she acts like you do, that’s going to affect your conversion potential. She’s also going to want to keep her inside jokes to a minimum, and explain things that might be clear to her crew, but not to newbies such as yourself.

Now, that brings us to the other logical question, and that is this: ”Since it’s effectively impossible to know for sure if your traffic is going to be warm or cold, how in the hell do you write your copy?”

Another great question from you. You are on fire today.

OK, so here’s what we do in our line of work:

If you are actively going out of your way to woo cold traffic – cold ads, usually, or a heavy focus on SEO (which includes Pinterest) – then you assume your traffic is cold. Treat them as if they just walked in off the street and don’t know you from Fufi. Introduce yourself as if they’re cold, explain key terms as if they’re cold, and assume they don’t know you at all. Yes, that will be a little weird for your warm traffic, but either accept that they’ll get over it, or make two copies of the same page, one for randos and one for your people. (If you don’t know which of those options to pick, pick acceptance. It’s faster.)

In all other circumstances, assume your traffic is pretty warm but not a raving fan. Write as if your reader has bought two products from you in the past. They know you. They like you. They’re not about to babysit your grandkids over spring break, but they know and like you well enough. An inside joke or reference here and there is fine. A short bio is fine. A low-key sales approach is fine.

Write as if they’re mostly warm and you’ll hit the sweet spot – ultra warm people don’t mind it, mostly warm people are handled perfectly, and cold people can pick up what they need from context. Plus, for most of us, this is the easiest group of people to write copy for, which is also a win. You’re welcome.

On our next episode of Naomi Explains Marketing, we’re talking about launch content. In the meantime, go! Market something! And have a cookie.

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