Traffic and Clicks Don’t Matter: Why It’s Time To Change How You Measure Marketing Success

Marketing 261 Clicks and Traffic

There’s good news and bad news.

First, the good news: Your startup website is getting traffic, which means your early digital marketing efforts are generating some results. With the content landscape more competitive than ever, reaching an audience is far from simple, yet you’ve managed to do it.

Now, the bad news: The results you’re getting might not be the results you want. Traffic is excellent and necessary and all that, but there’s a difference between good traffic and bad traffic, and quality is impossible to tell when you’re only counting clicks.

Your marketing ROI depends on driving sales and revenues. Too often, business owners focus on the wrong markers of success, believing that clicks and traffic are the best representation of their potential for growth. But if that traffic isn’t filled with high-quality prospects who represent a strong lead opportunity, it won’t bring in the ROI you need to justify your digital strategy.

Let’s look at three specific demands business leaders tend to make of their marketers—and why it’s time to update your views on what makes successful marketing.

We Need More Traffic

Every startup can benefit from more traffic. But it has to be the right kind of traffic. That’s why it’s worth taking a hard look at your conversion funnel (you have one, right?). If you don’t know the numbers behind the funnel—its conversion rates, where people are dropping out of the pipe, and so on—then you can’t effectively make changes to grow your traffic.

At a company I worked for several years ago, we faced a situation where our web traffic numbers were strong, but our conversions to sign up were dismal. In every all-hands meeting, the CTO would tell me we needed more traffic. In reality, the CTO needed to embrace our plan to optimize our landing pages and the sign-up process to get better results.

The lesson: Traffic isn’t always to blame for poor results. Likewise, it often isn’t the solution.

We Need More Leads

Not all leads are created equal. As a business, you’re seeking qualified leads generated by your website and marketing channels. Qualified leads are valuable because they have already been associated with actions, behaviors, or characteristics that make them more likely to convert than a prospect picked at random.

Successful marketing needs to focus more on driving engagement from a targeted, relevant audience. This means you need to have a deep understanding of the audience you are trying to reach. Frequently, companies failing to market to their target audience are also failing, to some degree, to nail down their audience and speak directly to them.

The lesson: Take time to understand your target audience. Even if your overall web traffic dips, your changes will be worth the effort if your conversions and sales rise.

We Need More Customers

Every business wants more customers. But what type of customers do you seek? Is your ideal customer base comprised of a few large, high-volume consumers, or many different low-volume purchasers? Which customers will churn, and which ones are you determined to retain?

What lead source brings in the most sales revenue, and how can changes to your targeting strategy push those numbers higher? Many business leaders don’t have the answers to these questions. As a result, they’ve put an artificial ceiling on their marketing potential.

The lesson: Of course, your brand needs more customers. But to get them, you have to know which ones to prioritize, as well as how you can best retain them.

This is all not to say that clicks count for nothing. But in the larger scheme of your marketing ROI, clicks and traffic only offer a limited view into your digital marketing performance. If you want solid answers on what you’re doing right and where you can improve, you’ve got to move beyond the click and embrace a new method of customer measurement.

Agree? Reach out on Twitter to share your feedback and comments.

By Michelle Urban

Michelle Urban is the founder of Marketing 261, a digital agency for startups. With a hands-on, get-it-done attitude, she and her team focus on executing measurable plans to get real results. For over 15 years, she’s built scalable marketing programs for demand creation, lead generation, customer advocacy, and engagement. She’s also a wanna-be writer and weekend windsurfer who occasionally binge-watches Netflix. Ask her about the time she danced with Oprah and Beyoncé on live television.