Traffic vs Conversions: A Balancing Act That Pays Off
One of the easiest marketing traps to fall into is an obsession over traffic numbers, Facebook likes, followers, or other numeric measurements of popularity. We’ve all probably been subjected to it whether it was from our boss, teammate or even ourselves.
We understand there’s an undeniable thrill that comes from seeing viewership numbers shoot up, especially when it seems to be one of the payoffs resulting from six months of work setting up a serious SEO-focused online presence. Plus, a nice side-benefit is it virtually always makes for an impressive-looking chart.
Of course, as marketers, we know that traffic alone doesn’t create ROI. In fact, there are plenty of scenarios where a company may have too much traffic, particularly if the conversion rate is too low. Like all marketing expenditures, Search Engine Optimization should be examined for the sales that it helps generate. Without accountability, it can become a money pit that even Tom Hanks can’t fix.
Three Questions to Help Balance Quantity with Quality
Is it really paying off?
This is the first question to ask, and should be asked as frequently as possible. Any organization running digital campaigns needs to take the time to step back and ask “Is this really working financially?” The only numbers that matter when answering are the pure dollars and cents: How much are we paying per-visitor, and are enough of them converting to justify the expenditure?
It’s nice to accumulate loads of online digital content; it makes it easier to repurpose materials to increase your presence and expand your reach. But there’s very little direct monetary value in a big library of blogs and videos. In most cases, the purpose of creating more website content is to generate more traffic, but if your conversions aren’t high enough to at least break even on what it cost to produce, it’s probably time to rethink things.
It’s all too easy to let PPC campaigns slip down the slippery slope of buying popularity. There’s almost no limit to the number of hits that can be bought, if you have the budget. But aside from the Instagrams of the world, that almost never works out, for obvious reasons. But we’re smarter than that, right?
Should we cast a smaller net or a bigger one?
If your conversions aren’t ensuring you at least break even, a great remedy is to find ways to focus your marketing efforts better. Anyone can take a dragnet approach to SEO and online marketing, acting like a product appeals to anyone and everyone in the world.
However, regardless of your product or service, it’s probably not the right solution for everyone. It should only take a moment to realize certain people are more likely to be your customers. Like a fly-fisherman that selects just the right fly to hook a prize trout, look for opportunities to refine your efforts to focus on getting your message and materials to those most-likely to convert.
Why waste money selling to people with X or Y-shaped slots if your product is a Z-shaped widget? If your efforts are providing a positive return, examine the details and sources of that traffic to determine where you should be “casting” more often.
Are our pages converting as well as they could?
So you’ve looked at your sources and the basic ROI on generating that traffic. But have your examined whether the sites and pages where that traffic is directed are designed to actually convert? Do you have the website analytics tools you need in place to answer these questions?
How would your ROI be affected if you moved the conversion needle just one percent? 5 percent? 20%? Could a portion of the resources that you might have allocated to generating traffic be better spent optimizing your site to convert better?
What are the last three things you’ve improved on your website to increase conversions? Were those changes based on data? Were they part of an experiment first? If you’d rather not share the answers to those questions, it’s time to consider a few of the following suggestions:
Get important content and CTA’s above the fold.
If your content is too long and you’ve forced CTA’s to the bottom of the page, you’re sacrificing most of your conversion opportunity.
Start testing and running experiments.
Your team debated for a week to determine the perfect shade of periwinkle for your buttons, but are your 100% certain it’s the color that converts best? Set up an A/B test and find out!
Is your content scannable?
Selecting the right typography for headlines helps people scan pages for the information they’re most interested in. If your blocks of text are too hard to digest in small snippets, your bounce rate is probably higher than it should be.
Are you using behavior based elements?
There are myriad tools out there that can be plugged into almost any website that prompt visitors in a diverse number of ways (pop-overs when scrolling, fly-outs when exiting the frame at the top, etc.) that encourage visitors to take action.
Always Keep The Bottom Line In Mind
Aside from the occasional “pure” awareness or branding campaign, conversions should always be the goal, not pure traffic. In many cases, an investment in improving conversion rates yields a better return than increasing traffic. The returns continue to pay off too, since any traffic generated after those improvements are made is more likely to generate revenue!