Traffic vs. Conversion: 80/20, but not like most people think

Over 50 years ago Robert Collier said: The secret to copywriting is “Entering the conversation inside the customer’s head.” If you can crack the code on that, you are well on your way.

Anybody who’s experienced the exhilaration of changing two words in a Google ad and doubling the response knows what I’m talking abut.

GETTING TRAFFIC is “Entering.”

GETTING PEOPLE INTERESTED is about “the conversation.”

GETTING PEOPLE TO BUY is about moving that conversation FORWARD to completion.

I’m always looking for the 20% of any formula that produces 80% of the results. Every shortcut or success principle is always essentially about that.

The 80/20 factor here is:

80% of people focus all their attention on getting traffic.

Only 20% focus on conversion.

Discussions about conversion put the *average* webmaster to sleep. Yawn. I think I’m going to get up and walk around and go have a cigarette.

And since there’s always a traffic guy with a blazing new technique, most peoples’ email boxes are an endless stream of distractions that prevent them from ever actually selling anything and being profitable.

But conversion is the 20% that makes 80% of the difference.

If you double your sales without getting anymore visitors at all, doesn’t that make you a kind of marketing black belt?

What would it be like to make a comfortable living with a website that gets just 100 visitors per day?

The average marketer never has the pleasure of experiencing how far a conversation with one person can be carried, how much capacity a small number of people has, to buy from you. If you are moving that conversation forward, and forward, and forward, you are the maestro.

When you learned to write and test Google ads, you really discovered the DNA of how conversion magic happens anywhere and everywhere along the way.

Simply because you know and understand this, you are head and shoulders above 80% of the people out there. As you begin to apply it, you surpass 85% and then 90%… 95%… 97%…. in time you discover it’s not all that hard to be one of those elite 3% that gets 50% of the traffic and 80% of the sales.

It’s lonely at the top. A good kind of lonely.

Perry Marshall

About the Author

Entrepreneur Magazine says: "Perry Marshall is the #1 author and world's most-quoted consultant on Google Advertising. He has helped over 100,000 advertisers save literally billions of dollars in Adwords stupidity tax."

He is referenced across the Internet and by The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and Forbes Magazine.

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Posted by Perry on March 2nd, 2009. Filed in Marketing Blog. Tagged as . Follow responses thru Comments RSS. Follow responses thru Comments RSS.

Comments on Traffic vs. Conversion: 80/20, but not like most people think »

  • Running the numbers on ‘a comfortable living from 100 visitors a day’ is pretty darn motivating, if you ask me!

  • Good article Perry.

    Especially with Google slapping everything these days, conversions are that much more important…

    Speaking from pain here!


  • A nice experience with the effect of conversation with customers was when during a liquidity-crisis I sent out a salesletter to my 3000+ prospects list and made a bit over $1000 within a few days, which was enough to get me out of the hot water… ( the salesletter was modeled after a well-tested direct-marketing piece which I got from a marketing course which I have purchased a few months earlier… But of course I entered my version of the story, so it became authentical…)

    But conversation is not everything: also the quality of the product or service itself (plus how well it matches customer wishes) has a big influence on sales-conversion, especially if you are selling something which customers can try out before they buy, like software.

    If you know what your customers want, and what they dislike in the current state of your product or service, you can plan the improvements of your products accordingly… which closes the cycle: You need useful conversation with your customers to get to know what they want and what they dislike.

    That said, I have to become much more disciplined about doing some essential stuff such as sending my monthly newsletter montly and not every three or four months, or putting more quality messages into my autoresponder sequence etc etc and prioritize those tasks accordingly compared to doing improvements of the product… Especially in this changing economy, getting this right becomes vital, I guess.

  • Wonderfully, the higher the conversion rate, the more money you make, the more you can invest in traffic. You don’t need a secret ninja traffic trick… you just make good use of the traffic you got so you can go and buy more.

    The craziest thing… even if one doesn’t know how to improve the page, blind split-testing is better than nothing. Not a quick route, but a definite one.

  • John,

    I can only emphasize the thing about blind split-testing.

    For example, on one of my websites I have derived the now popular formula of
    “headline, subheadline, short call to action, video, short call to action”
    through blind splittesting of a lot of different candidates, even before that formula became popular.

    Plus, there is a simple way of taking some blindness away from splittesting which gets results faster: If you have a good swipe file ( which are often included in marketing courses ), you can use those fill-in-the blanks proven direct-marketing headlines as splittesting candidates.

    Those headlines usually outperform the headlines which you come up with yourself. If you are not sure, which way to fill-in-the-blanks, just splittest all candidates which come to mind. This is not rocket science. :-)



    Swipe file:

    They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano but When I Started to Play!

    (classic headline from John Caples)

    My headline (including the quotes):

    “When they Saw the GUI of DemoRecorder, they Laughed at it But When they Saw the Results…”

    (Mentioning both the biggest flaw and the biggest strength of the product in some tongue-in-cheek way…
    This headline is a permutation of the swipe-file example. And it is one of the top-performers in my splittests…)

    Another top-performing headline which is also based on a swipe file example ( but I don’t remember the original swipe-file example ):

    “DemoRecorder is Not for Everybody, But Those Who Master it …”


    This strategy got me some good cost-per-lead…
    Splittesting focus is still on lead-capturing because the number of sales is still too low for getting statistically significant results.

    So I am still working on sales-conversion, which has to become better, although sales figures are already higher than expenses for traffic. But traffic is very limited in my niche, so conversion has to be the number one focus anyways, which is a good learning experience.

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