How do you choose the best metrics for your marketing campaigns?

To many, especially those in the SEO field, traffic matters most. And in the early days of the internet, when traffic was easy to come by, that may have been true. Conversions were easy and customers were still getting used to the online world.

Today, however, traffic is harder to get, and trust is harder still.

In this article, we’ll explore why traffic trumps trust and which metrics you should be using in your marketing campaigns.

Traffic vs. Trust

Many marketers mistakenly equate traffic with conversions, sales, customers, or other bottom-line business variables. There is, however, a big difference.

While traffic is an important metric, it’s trust that truly matters.

Let’s use the analogy of an auto dealer to illustrate the difference:

Traffic indicates the number of people who wander through the lot.

They may be looking for a specific item, they may be feeling out the store, or they may be curious window shoppers. But unless they actually purchase something, they don’t impact the bottom line. Savvy marketers won’t calculate ROI from traffic, because they know that traffic and ROI aren’t always closely related.

Instead, marketers will want to pay attention to metrics that indicate conversions, customer acquisitions, sales, and so on. In other words, they’ll pay attention to measurements that revolve around trust.

When trust has been earned, then the visitors may become customers.

Auto dealers are good analogies to websites, since it takes a bit of trust-building before visitors convert and become customers. In the same way that an auto shopper must perform research, investigate the product, and learn about the dealer’s offerings, the website visitor must also be won over.

While a flashy ad or headline may draw someone to the site, traffic doesn’t draw a connection to the number of sales or the bottom line.

To effectively calculate ROI, the savvy marketer will devise metrics that focus on trust and the bottom line.

The 3 Best Metrics to Track Trust

1. Social Sharing

The research firm eMarketer noted that CMOs believe social sharing is the biggest benefit to social media marketing…not traffic.

The reason? Trust. Social sharing is the digital form of word-of-mouth. People trust recommendations from their friends, which is why savvy content marketers and social media marketers emphasize “share-ability.”

This type of word-of-mouth boost can help a company build trust virally. And, when you have preemptive trust, website visits are that much more likely to convert.

When it comes to measuring your efforts in content and social, then, you should focus on how much your content is shared, not how clickable it is.

2. Lead Generation

When prospects turn into leads, they’ve entered the next stage in your marketing funnel. As Jay Baer says, “The end goal is action, not eyeballs.”

After consumption and sharing, the goals of all your marketing initiatives are to coax them further towards that final action: the sale, conversion from lead into customer, and so on.

Once a customer becomes a lead, then you can assign a certain amount of success to your initial marketing program. The quality of those leads, of course, will then determine how successful your actual content is.

If it shares well but generates no leads, then you will need to analyze the reasons. It could be that your content is irrelevant to the target audience, you may have created content that doesn’t convey anything about your brand, or a number of other reasons.

Ultimately, however, the better the content, the more trust it will build, and the better the quality of leads it will generate.

 a number of other reasons.

Ultimately, however, the better the content, the more trust it will build, and the better the quality of leads it will generate.

3. Sales

Finally, of course, is the sale.

Content marketing should be a holistic part of your other marketing endeavors, so it should synergistically work with social media and post-sale communications to build and maintain trust among your consumers.

As Forrester Research and others have pointed out, the sale is simply the beginning of the customer relationship. From the point the customer is acquired, the marketing funnel becomes an ongoing marketing cycle.

The initial sale should be another key metric to measure customer trust and the effectiveness of your campaigns, but don’t stop there. Track customer behavior throughout the relationship and subsequent up-sell chains, using the same 3 metrics mentioned here.

Poor post-sale relationships can quickly erode the trust that you’ve worked so hard to build, so keep working to maintain that trust.


Though traffic can be great eye candy, it quickly loses its appeal if conversion rates are low. So instead of focusing on traffic and volume, focus on building trust and measuring that trust with metrics that matter.