Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Online marketing: should you focus on traffic or conversions?

Should you focus on your website’s sales performance or on driving traffic?
If you are entering the online world for the first time as a business it doesn’t matter whether you are a startup or an established bricks-and-mortar company, you need to choose what to spend your resources on.

So far so obvious; that’s all part of your marketing strategy. But when you’re thinking about that strategy there’s one big, tough question that will almost inevitably come up:
“Should we spend more of our resources trying increase brand awareness or increasing conversion rates?”
The answer to that question is much less obvious than the question itself.


The reason it’s less obvious is that as soon as you ask yourself that question a chain of logic starts in your head which runs something like this:
  1. The purpose of our website is to get more customers, so we should focus on getting the best possible conversion rates.
  2. But no one’s going to come to the site if we don’t get some brand awareness, so we should focus on exposure.
  3. But if we don’t make any sales we’ll go out of business, so we should focus on conversion rates.
  4. Maybe we should balance our resources between improving the website and increasing traffic.
  5. But if we don’t get enough people coming to the website we will never experience word of mouth growth and start scaling, so we should focus on exposure.
  6. But if we don’t focus on improving our website then people won’t want to talk about it so we’ll never get word of mouth growth, so we should focus on conversion rates.
And so on until you need a gin and tonic and a lie down.

So what’s the true answer?

Now, this is the kind of question that can cause a fair amount of debate, as indeed it did in the office when we raised it.
It’s also a question that depends a lot on context, industry, and your team. So rather than just putting my opinion down I thought I would open up the debate to Twitter and find out what fellow marketers from around the world think. 
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