I run an online software company, and I’m wondering if I should focus first on getting more traffic to my website or optimizing my website for conversion. What’s your take on this?

Jason Swett, Founder and CEO, Snip Salon Software,



Traffic vs. conversion is a continuing debate for online marketers. It is a “chicken-or-the-egg” question dependent on several variables: the website and product, the current level of traffic and its conversion rate, and the type of conversion desired (membership, purchase, downloads, etc.).

This is also a question many marketers answer incorrectly.

Some believe without traffic there is no conversion rate, but you are in the business of selling products. The Pareto Principle in business (also know as the “80/20 rule”) holds that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. I believe that rule applies here.

Begin by investing in converting the traffic you have vs. investing in driving more business to your site. Investing in increasing the conversion rate should continue to provide additional profit month after month over investing in increasing traffic alone.

Once visitors find your site, make it easy and safe for them to discover, research and compare items, and purchase. If you make it easy for customers, they will come back and they will also recommend your site. That organic word-of-mouth is the best free advertising.

Track your consumers’ behavior (clicks, page views, reviews, purchases) so you know where to make improvements. Get to know your consumers and build a relationship with them via customer profiles, observations, and conversations. Work on discovering and then meeting their preferences and needs. Relationship marketing is critical for the success of any business today and even more so for an online business.


About the author: Kim Ragan Sovell, adjunct instructor of marketing, Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas.