Traffic & Conversion: The 2 Sides of Marketing

When I speak to business owners who are trying to increase leads or sales, they usually start by saying something like this:

  • I need to do more advertising to get more sales.

  • Business is slow, I need to get my name out there more.”

  • “I need to get more people to my website to get more leads.”


Have you ever said these things?


The underlying assumption behind statements like these is that there aren’t enough leads or enough sales because not enough people are aware of the business. If the business could get in front of more people, leads and sales would increase as a result.


While this may be true in some instances, it is not always the case. How can that be? To boost business, don’t you need more people to know about you? Not always. Quite often, the issue is that the people who already know about your business are not making the decision to contact you (become a lead) or spend money (become a sale).


The Two Sides

In a very simplified view of marketing, there are two sides: traffic and conversion. Most people have an understanding of traffic; it’s how many people are aware of your business or have done something to interact with your business. For example, traffic includes following you on social media, visiting your website, or even reading your print mailer. It’s the eyeballs metric. Business owners usually believe this is their problem because they think about the law of averages. The more traffic they get, the more likely their sales will increase. While there’s certainly data to prove this, it’s not necessarily the most efficient marketing strategy.


graph showing marketing conversion rate and metrics

The much more neglected side of marketing is conversion. Conversion is what happens when your marketing convinces people who see it to take the next step. Conversion is the marketing that turns traffic into either a lead or a sale. For example, once someone is on your website, something interests them enough to complete your contact form. This metric tells you how well the information you’re putting out there is compelling people toward working with you. More often than not, business owners do not suspect this is the problem.


Neglecting the conversion side of marketing can be very costly. As an example, let’s say you just made a website for a new business. To start getting your name out there, you create some social media ads. You don’t get any leads from the contact form on your website, so you think you just need to get more people to see it. You increase your social media ad budget, but still nothing.


The basic formula for understanding conversion rate is:


Traffic x Conversion Rate = Leads


To increase the number of leads, you could increase the amount of traffic. But here’s the thing - any number, no matter how large, if multiplied by zero is always going to be zero.


100 x 0% = 0 Leads

1,000,000,000 x 0% = 0 leads


Whether you have a hundred visitors or a million visitors, if your conversion rate is 0%, you’re still going to end up with zero leads.

When you jump to the conclusion that you simply need more traffic, you could end up spending your entire advertising budget without realizing any leads or sales.


A practical evaluation of your website, or any other content designed to convert traffic, could help you avoid wasting all that time and money. You would not believe how often just a few simple tweaks make all the difference in increasing the conversion rate. Once you turn that conversion rate into a healthy multiplier, an increased marketing budget will be money well spent.


The Challenge with Conversion

If conversion is the more effective, and often less expensive, marketing solution, why don’t businesses try to troubleshoot that first? In my opinion, it’s because it’s harder to figure out exactly how to go about making the changes. Calculating conversion rate is easy; knowing exactly how to increase it is not.


Increasing traffic is a more straightforward solution. Attend another networking event, increase your Google ads budget, take out another ad in the local newspaper, or increase your social media presence. It’s easier to see the path from cause to effect.


man trying to understand his marketing conversion rate

The first reason it’s hard to try to improve conversion is that the options for what to adjust are almost limitless - the words, colors, pictures, layout, buttons, load time, call-to-action, examples, etc. Any number of changes, or combination of changes, could produce a better conversion rate. Therefore, it’s hard to know exactly what worked in order to repeat it. The path from cause to effect is more complicated.


The second reason why I think it’s less common to start with improving conversion rates is that most business owners think they know exactly what to say about their own business, so they don’t want to make any changes to the content they developed. They know their business better than anyone else, so aren’t they in the best position to know what words are going to convert people? Sometimes, but not always. And in fact, not usually.


What I have seen very often is that business owners’ minds are so deep in their business that they make a lot of assumptions about what people already know about them or what they do. They want to start the conversation at point F when the prospect is way back at point A.


Business owners take their industry knowledge for granted, particularly the knowledge of why their service or product is necessary.

Making these assumptions causes many business owners to omit vital information about their product or service. In turn, visitors are left scratching their heads, or they simply lose interest in this service or product.


Furthermore, most business owners speak primarily about what they or their product can do. Of course, that information is necessary in marketing, but the perspective from which that information is communicated makes a big difference. Your prospect is in search of a solution for a problem. Therefore, your marketing has to be presented in a way that makes the prospect feel like you can solve their problem. The marketing that turns traffic into a conversion is the marketing that tells prospects you can give them what they need. When you can speak about your offer in language that resonates with the customer, lightbulbs go off, and they’ll be more likely to take the next step.


Speaking about your service or product in a way that will resonate and convert your prospects all begins with a deep understanding of who they are. To get started with developing a detailed profile of that target audience, you can download our free Persona Profile worksheet!


Or perhaps you’re just not sure what your marketing needs - more traffic or better conversion. Get in touch to learn about our Analytics Deep Dive consulting!


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