Traffic is still a valuable marketing metric. Here’s why.

Mar 19, 2024

Introduction

If you ask any CEO if they’d prefer 3 million web visits or 1 million web visits, you’ll always hear 3 million. 

And yet, B2B marketers are increasingly reluctant to measure website traffic. They know their executive leaders care about revenue and pipeline, and traffic seems irrelevant to those goals. A Content Marketing Institute article even described traffic as a vanity metric with “hollow digits that contribute little substance to proving your marketing is making money.”

We can’t endorse this view. Disregarding traffic because you think it doesn’t increase sales is like a retail shop owner saying they only want store visitors who are ready to make a purchase that day. Any merchant would say that’s crazy because you’re missing out on potential customers—shoppers who aren’t ready to buy today but will be in a few more store visits. 

Likewise, B2B brands need qualified traffic to maximize their sales. The key word here is qualified—we’re not talking about site visitors who stay on for three seconds and bounce. Beyond signaling revenue, traffic is also worth measuring to gauge market share. 

Qualified traffic reflects the impact of marketing

It’s true that site visits don’t correlate one-to-one with revenue. Nevertheless, traffic is a key part of winning sales in the long term since your audience needs to go from problem-aware to solution-aware, and finally product-aware. 

The 95-5 principle states roughly 95 percent of customers in any given sector aren’t currently ready to make a purchase. In other words, the vast majority of people who are likely to become buyers aren’t ready to convert. 

Brands must consistently engage this base of shoppers to win long-term sales from them, which is why qualified site traffic is so important. Companies need leads to visit their website so they can teach them about their product, answer their questions, and build their trust in the brand. 

Traffic is especially important for B2B companies with long sales cycles—such as expensive enterprise software brands—and B2C businesses with high-consideration products, like cars and jewelry. Their marketers rely on leading indicators of conversions because sales take time, and qualified traffic is generally a reliable sign of future purchases. 

What makes traffic qualified?  

The answer depends on the steps your customers typically take before converting. For some businesses, visits to the demo page might be a sign that a visit is qualified, while other companies value traffic to the solution page. 

If you’re not sure what constitutes qualified site traffic for your brand, track what your customers do on your site prior to making a purchase. 

  • What pages do they visit? 

  • How long do they stay on these pages?

  • What information do they submit from your site, if any? 


Ask your marketing analytics team to help you find the true indicators in your website traffic that correlate with downstream revenue metrics.

To get a sense of how qualified traffic criteria vary, imagine a car company. Its marketing team determines from historical data that most shoppers who visited a product page for 30 seconds or more shared their zip code to see available car models in their area. Based on this information, the brand considers site visitors who stay on a product page for more than 30 seconds qualified. 

Or, think about a SaaS company that sources most of its leads from LinkedIn. Its marketing team counts qualified traffic as visitors who click on high-value CTAs, such as “Book a demo” or “Explore pricing.”

We recommend supplementing your customer journey analysis with another data point: the percentage of traffic that converts. In other words, measure how many qualified site visitors actually do what you want them to do (rather than assuming the traffic is valuable based on historical data). 

Take the former car company example. The brand’s marketing team wouldn’t just measure how many qualified leads their campaign generates—they would also track the percentage of these visitors who submitted their zip codes. 

What if revenue doesn’t increase with traffic?

That’s a problem. An increase in traffic doesn’t guarantee a set increase in revenue, but ideally the two have a positive correlation. 

However, your marketing team shouldn’t stop measuring traffic if revenue isn’t growing alongside it. That mismatch is a sign of a larger customer journey issue that goes beyond top-of-funnel marketing. A few potential issues are: 

  • An unclear value proposition

  • Vague website copy

  • Pricing that’s too high

  • Poor product-market fit

  • Slow response times from sales reps


Connect with other departments to map out site visitors’ actions and identify what’s blocking sales. 

Share of traffic is a strong proxy for market share

Historically, marketers use customer surveys to measure market share. However, this method is unreliable since consumers often share inaccurate responses. A user might say they use a software monthly when in reality they sign in to the platform quarterly. 

Instead, we recommend gauging market share by measuring your company’s share of traffic. This metric is generally a leading indicator of market share since share of traffic reflects how popular your site is relative to competitors. 

(Your website’s traffic/Sum of all competitors’ traffic) x 100 = Share of traffic

We can see the positive correlation between these two metrics in the beverage tumbler industry. Yeti dominated this sector for years until Stanley began overtaking its share of traffic during the 2022 holiday season. 

[Source]


Stanley increased their share of traffic from roughly 5% to 25% throughout 2022, while Yeti’s decreased from approximately 20% to 10%. In the same year, Stanley’s market share on Amazon jumped from roughly 2% to 16%, while Yeti’s slightly decreased from 18% to 16%.

[Source]


These changes in market share and share of traffic aren’t directly proportional to each other, but the two metrics are correlated. Stanley’s leap in share of traffic coincided with its market share jumping to match Yeti’s. Meanwhile, both metrics decreased for Yeti. 

This data insight is incredibly useful for brands. If a marketing team sees their brand’s share of traffic declining, they can alert other departments and brainstorm ways to protect the business’ market share. 

To measure share of traffic for your brand and competitors, we recommend using an SEO tool like Ahrefs. These platforms can’t isolate qualified traffic, but they do provide total traffic reporting for all websites. 

What about share of search? 

Like share of traffic, share of search is a leading indicator of market share. 

(Your website’s branded searches/Sum of all competitors’ branded searches) x 100 = Share of search

The business leader Les Binet’s research famously shows this data relationship. He tracked these metrics across several industries and found that share of search trends consistently predicted long-term shifts in market share. 

However, share of search isn’t always a reliable indicator of market share since it doesn’t account for negative interest. Binet notes, for example, that Volkswagen’s share of search increased during their emissions scandal because car owners wanted to know if their vehicle model was impacted. But because of the bad press, the car company’s market share also decreased. 

Share of search also doesn’t accurately capture interest in brands with generic names. Someone searching the term “purple” could be looking up the mattress brand, but they might also want content about the color. 

On the flip side, share of traffic reflects interest in a business beyond branded searches. For example, the metric would capture both site visitors who searched the brand name “Gong” and those who searched “revenue intelligence software,” not just the former term.

Traffic is a top-of-funnel metric—and that’s okay!

When traffic is viewed in a vacuum, it seems like the metric has nothing to do with the success of a business. However, the metric’s impact on revenue is clear when it’s viewed in a broader context. In relation to competitors and conversions, traffic is a powerful measure of marketing’s long-term impact. 

Traffic is just one factor we consider here at Paramark when evaluating marketing performance. Read on to learn how we advise businesses to measure the impact of their marketing.

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