What You Miss When You Obsess About Conversions


“How much traffic do we attract? At what rate do they convert?”

“What’s the ROI?”

“What do I get if I square off my marketing budget?”

“Does this help to get more leads?”

There isn’t a single meeting focusing on marketing that doesn’t dwell on those questions. There isn’t a business that wasn’t caught napping while dreaming about more exposure, better branding, conversions, leads, and sales.

It’s not surprising.

We are in business. It’s obvious that business is all about bringing your idea to life, putting your resources to good use, and profiting from it. “Conversions” are one of the top priorities for business.

But conversions aren’t everything. Obsessing about conversions can, in fact, prove to work against your ultimate goal.

It’s a little like obsessing over money only to find out that you just don’t have enough of it.

Or it’s like that old saying that the harder you try to grasp some sand in your fist, it’ll find ways to slip out.

Here’s what you are missing when you obsess about conversions:

You are self-obsessed

Are you the oblivious, tone-deaf marketer? Chances are good that you are.

What do you do when you focus on your work intensely? You master the art of ignoring sounds, people, and whatever else distracts you.

When you focus on conversions—and given that you only have that window of opportunity open for a few seconds—you waste no time.

You push. You hustle. You sell. You make tall claims.

Now, this also seeps into your content strategy. Your blog posts are “all about you.” You don’t write about anything else except your product or service: that latest patch you released… that seminar your CEO spoke at.

When was the last time you were comfortable with a self-centered, egotistical, “I am at the center of the universe, earthly peasants!” kind of a person?


Wondering how many popular brands and products are out there that actually make this mistake?

Obsessing over conversions, sales, and your business gets you nothing. Sooner or later, the results will show. You need to compensate by building your brand with selfless, useful and interesting content. Very much easier said than done, but look around and you’ll see that every brand that matters is doing it. When you focus on conversions alone, you go tone deaf as the guys at Magic Dust put it. What’s more, it’s no secret that great content drives your customer closer to conversion.

It’s not about links

It’s not about the links; it’s about the content. It’s about how valuable your content is. It’s about the points you make, the impact you create, and the difference you make for others.

It’s about teaching, educating, and inspiring. When you get that right, you are bound to get some inbound links automatically.

Of course, you can’t sit and wait for those links to come by so you’ll want to do outreach. You’ll want to do blogging and social media. You’d create infographics, slide decks, and all sorts of other content to scale up link building.

But all you focus on is building links. You think this system works—

Link Building Approach

It doesn’t always work.

You’re leaving “people” and “data” out of the equation.

I am all for link building (as long as you do it right), so don’t get me wrong as I crawl my way into this single point I am trying to make: Conversions mean nothing unless your customers experience some love, respect, admiration, appreciation and loyalty thrown in.

Put “people” into the equation by giving enough importance to relationships:

  • The relationship with the blogger, online publication, or the staff of writers at a major journal or website.
  • The relationship you are going to build with your readers.
  • The value you create for both your readers and the host blog or publisher.

Put “data” into the equation by using readymade tools. You’ll find two or three are enough. My favorites:

Buzzstream: Saves you tons of time and makes it easy to bookmark, manage, and store information about every relevant blogger and online publication you can develop content assets for. This is your personal “relationship” manager.

Rankwatch: Optimizing for search is obviously high on your agenda and you’d want to see how you perform. How do your chosen keywords work? What keywords are users typing in to find you? How do you competitors perform? RankWatch shows you everything you need to know. A complete “SEO and link building” tool if ever there was one.

And for conversions, there’s CrazyEgg. ’Nuff said.

Your customers should feel good.

Now, does your link building strategy include that?

Numbers don’t mean anything

Anyone in business loves to talk about how “numbers are everything.” But numbers are numbers.

What do they mean to you if you have no repeat sales and customers rallying against you on social media?

What do you do with numbers when you are the first brand to show up on a random “Don’t do business with these guys” list?

Conversions, as such, are all about numbers. X amount of money spent on a campaign got Y people to sign up, and finally Z people purchased.

Conversion Meme

That percentage of conversion doesn’t mean those customers come back again. Or they could go and bomb your social accounts with complaints (amplified on social media).

Now, let’s turn the boat towards positivity.

You have respectable conversions, but aren’t a few unsolicited testimonials better than any random set of numbers? What about all those conversations on social media about how awesome your product is? What if you find that there’s an entire set of customers-turned-evangelists fighting with an equally obsessed group of fans of your competing brand?

Businesses should leave a trail of “Wow, those guys are good!” rather than you leaving the office building with conversion numbers dwelling in sad, lifeless Excel sheets.

Customer delight

When you get busy, you’d have no time for anything else. Customer service is just another function like shipping and logistics. You have no time left to leave thank you notes, call up your best customers just to say hello, leave gifts for them, and do anything else that’ll make them think about you.

Without the “element of delight,” you become another business they buy stuff from. You are a name without character or any life. You are too busy to pay attention, because you are so focused on conversions that you can’t do anything else but “sell” after the customer is in.

The greatest of the companies, however, don’t worry about conversions. They worry about delighting customers.

Here’s a neat reality: delighted customers come back to buy more. That costs less than getting new customers in.

What are you focusing on really? Are you guilty of focusing so much on conversions, sales, and numbers that you turn your products into SKUs and customers into Customer Identification numbers?

The lesson for CROs

As you can see, it’s dangerous to focus on conversions alone. But ultimately, you need conversions. Which is why conversion rate optimization is so important.

You can (and should) implement a culture of testing in which every message and campaign must be proven before it’s fully accepted. This keeps your marketing on track, improving over time, without taking time and energy away from your customer focus.

What’s more, you can use CRO to improve your customer experience. Did they stay on your new socially optimized landing page, or did they click off in a second? Perhaps your headline doesn’t connect with the Tweet that sent them here. Or perhaps the offer doesn’t fit their needs.

Because you’re watching your customer experience, you notice that the numbers are off. And because you’re a CRO, you test another approach to see if you can keep people on your page longer.

You see, a numbers-only focus can be dangerous. But those numbers, used right—as any CRO would use the numbers—can be your life’s blood.

Don’t obsess over conversions. But do optimize your conversion rates. That’s where you’ll find the profits you’ve been looking for.

Read other Crazy Egg posts by Pratik Dholakiya.

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