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Where Should You Spend Your Time: Traffic or Conversion?

Anybody who owns a website or oversees the marketing of a particular brand has, at one time or another, asked themselves an important question: should I focus on increasing web traffic or focus on conversion? More to the point: why can’t I do both?

In a perfect world, you’d be able to drive traffic and conversions at the same time, but the truth is this: these two goals depend on two rather different approaches.

Two Unlikely Examples

You can approach just about any newsstand in American to see what sorts of headlines entice readers to pick up a particular magazine. You might see phrases like “One week to a better you!” or: “Flat abs quick!” Frankly, you won’t see much variety at all, but even so: these magazines keep selling, despite the almost total lack of innovation or unique information.

Now, consider a publication like Reader’s Digest. Instead of relying on flashy, attention-grabbing headlines, magazines like this use expertly written content that tackles important subjects in an in-depth way. They position themselves as an authority on a variety of subjects, and as a result, they lead to audience conversion: that is, the reader subscribes, with the promise of more high-quality content in the future.

What Can You Learn From This?

If you’re looking for an easy answer or a quick fix, you’re not going to find it. Instead, you’ll need to adopt a strategy that combines both of these approaches.

After all, traffic and conversion is not an either-or proposition: in point of fact, they’re two steps in the same process. Attention-grabbing headlines can help increase the traffic on your site, but high-quality content is what’s going to keep them there, and gently nudge them in the direction of the Buy Now, Learn More, or Subscribe buttons.

Unlike print magazines, websites and online publications get the unique opportunity to be a little more flexible in their approach. Since conversion is a process, you can start thinking about your content as a process as well: draw the reader in with “lighter” reading material that might satisfy their curiosity in a cursory way, and then lead them through to your more in-depth content.

It’s not a bait-and-switch: instead, think of it as a guided tour through the variety of content you have to offer. You’ll get the best of both worlds, and leave your readers (and eventual customers) with the impression that you can offer them something worthwhile, whether it’s a quick look at a subject that interests them, or something much more in-depth.

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