Why More Traffic Is The Lazy Marketer’s Answer

I’m thankful every day that I’m a marketer. This industry is exhilarating. We have incredible tools and technology to use. We have new platforms, social networks, targeting options, and the data we have access to is beyond comprehension. It’s like being the proverbial kid in the candy store.

Yet, we don’t always take advantage of all the tools, data, and knowledge before us. Marketers (agencies and client-side) tend to take the hammer’s point of view where everything looks like a nail. And the nail is traffic.

Whatever the challenge before us, we create strategies and implement tactics to chase the traffic dragon.

This isn’t new. Back in the day, when the buyer journey was a little simpler, traffic was still our main focus. It’s always been about getting more people, more eyeballs, and more views.

We’re obsessed with getting more traffic, and there is always more traffic to get.

It makes sense, right? Our clients want to see the fruits of our efforts, so we expend tons of energy driving traffic to wherever they want (in today’s world, it’s typically to their website). Invest some time, throw in some money, and boom – job done.

Or is it?

For example, let’s assume we get about 5 million unique visitors per month. We have just been given a goal to double sales. Now we need 10 million uniques, right?

We’re so obsessed with traffic that we act like the only problem we’re trying to solve is attention. Get users’ attention, and everything will be fine.

Even if we know traffic is not the end all be all, we often think we’ll worry about the other stuff once we get the traffic. But will we?

The problem isn’t the eyeballs…it’s the interaction. It’s the experience.

If we only focus on traffic, then we’re not focusing on user experience. Maybe the user experience is good. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it could be better. The flaw with a traffic-first mentality is it only solves for one problem. As marketers we need to be disciplined and make sure we solve for the right problem at the right time.

The traffic-first approach is the lazy marketer’s answer.

Will this approach increase conversions? Probably. But at what cost? Let’s look at the math:

Like we assumed above, we currently drive 5 million unique visitors per month. We have a one percent conversion rate, which means we’re driving 50,000 conversions.

If our goal is to double sales, then the math is easy. We simply need 10 million uniques and we’ll be on our way to hitting that goal. Let’s double our $10 million dollar media budget to $20 million.

The media budget is approved. Life is good. We’ll simply increase our budgets for paid media, email marketing, display advertising, content marketing, and social media in proper proportion. Time to celebrate, right?

Not so fast. Even if the media budget got approved, was that the right approach? Was attention the right problem to solve? Were there other areas to explore?

Focus on the Right Problem

Increasing traffic isn’t ineffective. In an ideal world, we all want to increase traffic and increase the conversion rate to achieve maximum results. But increasing traffic shouldn’t be our main focus.

Instead, we should focus on giving our customers the user experience they deserve. We should focus on the man or woman behind the traffic number. We should understand that they are a person first, and that as a person, they have wants, needs, fears, and dreams.

We should welcome them into our digital home and care about their experience.

As marketers, we know we can sell almost anything once. But that’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here to build lasting relationships.

What would it cost to improve the user experience of the site? What would it cost to take a scientific approach to finding and diagnosing problems across the digital footprint of our organization? What would it cost to analyze our conversion funnel and make iterative improvements?

In the scenario we described, we’re getting a one percent conversion rate. That means that 99 out of every 100 people who interact with our brand say no. They simply walk away. Imagine if 99 percent of customers who walked into a store left without ever buying anything. The store owner wouldn’t just want more traffic.

In our example, we’re paying $9.9 million each month for customers who don’t do business with us. That’s insanity. Any rational person would ask to redirect some of the additional $10 million we received to increase sales into initiatives to improve the digital experience. Instead of accepting the current math, wouldn’t we rather 5 million visitors have the best experience possible?

Moreover, for most brands, engaging in a site redesign, user testing, CRO, and/or a user experience project will cost far less than $10 million. However, the more traffic and revenue generated, the more emphasis that will be needed on the digital customer experience.

If we focus on making our customers’ lives easier, better, and more delightful, the conversions will come. The math will get better. The cost per conversion will decrease. And more importantly, we’ll have happier customers.

Almost half (47 percent) of websites have a conversion rate between one percent and 4.9 percent. Eighteen percent of websites enjoy a conversion rate of five percent or more – good for them! But 35 percent of websites don’t appear to even try, with conversion rates under one percent (Adobe Digital Marketing Optimization Survey, 2013).

In other words, more than 99 percent of their visitors abandon the site. Ninety-nine percent don’t enjoy their interaction there. Ninety-nine percent are let down by brands every time they come to their site looking for something they want or need.

There’s so much room for improvement. There’s so much room to surprise and delight our customers. We can do better. Our customers deserve better.

So let’s start being a little bit smarter. Let’s stop driving traffic off a cliff, and start understanding that behind each click, each conversion, is a human. Let’s earn their business by giving them a user experience they deserve.

Written by Stacy Sutton on March 21, 2016


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Stacy Sutton