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Should you increase traffic, or conversion rates?

Conversion Rate Optimisation

If your business relies on any sort of online sales or lead generation, then you will have undoubtedly thought about assigning budget to either increasing traffic or conversions. For any given amount of marketing budget, should you spend it on increasing the traffic to your website, or increasing your conversion rate??

Horse and cart

More traffic is not a bad thing. More traffic means greater exposure to your website and in turn your product or service. It can be a key factor in growing your brand and business, and without it, you cannot grow. But which of these two is more important? Does that question even have an easy answer?

Let look at some numbers, and imagine this was the metrics for your website:

Traffic – 5000 visits a month

Conversions – 10 a month

Conversion rate – 0.2%

Obviously, in this oversimplified version of reality, if you could either double your traffic or double your conversion rate, you would reach the same outcome – 20 conversions a month rather than 10. So according to this short number crunching exercise, you should flip a coin – do either, as they both equate to the same thing. Should you engage in this coin flipping exercise?

Not quite.

Grumpy cat conversion rates

An increase in traffic may not lead to more sales. If your website does not give visitors a compelling reason to get in touch, or buy from you, then your efforts to increase traffic will be for naught. Traffic without conversions is meaningless (for most businesses at least). But the astute among you will also notice a slight flaw in the point that increased traffic may not lead to more sales. All traffic is not good traffic – you need the right people to be coming to your website. If your efforts to increase traffic are done in the ‘right’ way, you will be attracting visitors who are looking for business like yours (in other words, your online board games shop hasn’t just been appearing top for Justin Bieber searches at great expense) so the conversion rate may stay the same, and sales will increase. Flipping this argument on its head, you could increase conversion rates but without focussing any efforts on traffic, your visits may drop so much that you actually make less revenue, but at a higher conversion rates. So should we get that coin out again?

No. Here’s one reason why.

Importantly an increase in conversion is symptomatic of visitors having a better experience on your website. It is extremely unlikely (if not impossible) that if you make your website more turgid, complicated and less usable that you will ever see a rise in conversions. Make it more user friendly, with a clearer route to conversion means that not only will you get more conversions, but visitors will have a better experience of your brand and website. In other words:

More traffic – your brand is more visible

More conversions – your website is more usable

The latter is symptomatic of happier customers, better engagement, and more people falling in love with your brand. And who doesn’t want that?

Those lovely people at Unbounce also point out that any investment in improving your conversion rate will be a one off (or at least not monthly) cost. If you can increase the conversion rate of your website by 3%, it will stay higher, and month on month you will increase conversions and in turn revenue.

Forms again!

Improving your forms will not be the only factor that causes shoppers to abandon their carts, or your contact form. You will never have a form conversion rate of 100%. But it is so important to use form analytics to work out what your visitors like and do not like about your forms and change them.

I will say it again – form abandonment is crucial to address. Even if your website is not an e-commerce site, if you address form abandonment, your sales will increase. At the point where a visitor has decided to fill in a form, you have already captured their attention and convinced them to try and get in touch, or buy from you. It is only your form that stands in their way. The intent is there, and that intent is yours to lose.

Let’s think about shopping cart abandonment as a quick example. If you use a form tracking tool like Formisimo, then you might be able to see that in a month, 1000 people filled up there shopping cart with goodies. Of those, only 400 made a purchase from you (these figures are almost in line with this article’s claim that shopping cart abandonment rates are around 60%). If the average value of each of these orders is £30, then you made £12,000 in that month, and well done.

Shopping trolley

What if you could decrease the abandonment rates by 5%? That would mean 450 purchased goods from you, netting your business an extra £1500. What about decreasing abandonments by 10% (netting you an extra £3000), or 20% (giving you £6000 more revenue, in a month).

The fixes to forms are also not expensive to implement, and if done right, any outlay will be repaid in abundance by the increased conversions. One of the best examples of the difference a better form can make it that of Expedia. One small change, $12 million extra revenue. Whilst you may not be able to make an extra $12 million from your website, the Expedia example serves to show that a little effort and time put into making your forms better can pay dividends.

Focussing efforts on increasing conversion rates should be especially important to you if you already have good amounts of traffic coming to your website. Trust us; pay a bit of attention to your forms, and you will absolutely not regret it. You will do the opposite of regret it. Is there a word for that? Unregret it? Disregret it? You’ll love it.