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What To Do When You are on a Shoestring Budget? Traffic Acquisition or CRO?

traffic acquisition or cro


For a website, there are two ways to increase sales and leads—either you increase the number of visitors or you increase the number of conversions from existing visitors.

For a perfect marketing world, the following image depicts a clear picture:


However, this perfect marketing world is not realistic for most of the businesses, especially for those having marketing  budget constraints.

According to HubSpot, 28% of marketers say securing enough budget is their top marketing challenge.

Something we see a lot in digital marketing is that the brands that utilize every marketing channel are more successful. They are putting parallel efforts in bothtraffic acquisition and CRO.

Moreover, there are a lot of best practice articles written on this topic, but it is impossible (and not wise) to apply those to all businesses. The ones who try to merely copy and paste those practices often end up stretching themselves too thin—running mediocre campaigns across many channels rather than investing in outstanding execution in a few key areas.

When all we have are limited resources, we sometimes have to decide between CRO and traffic acquisition. For many companies, it is important to optimize the current website to perform betterget more leads from the existing trafficconvert more leads into customersgenerate more revenue.

Others may focus more on traffic acquisition. In any case, what you must not forget is to keep a track on your ROI from your chosen method. As with a limiting budget, you need to be strategic in how and where to invest funds.

Marketers that calculate ROI are 1.6 times more likely to receive higher budgets.

Let’s closely evaluate both and understand what possibly can be the best approach with a low-budget scenario.

Traffic Acquisition

What is it?

Regardless of the industry, traffic acquisition comes in two major forms—Organic and Paid. And both these require certain amount of labor and capital investment.

Talking about organic, some of the common organic tactics are PR, SEO, content creation and promotion, email marketing, and organic social media marketing. Mostly, these organic tactics require larger investment in terms of time, effort, and manpower. And you need to be patient and least impulsive when it comes to experience benefits from your organic efforts. It’s not a one-time job, and it does not flourish overnight. Remember that to win the organic game (particularly SEO), you have to play with Google’s rules.

According to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search. 

On the other hand, paid tacticspay-per-click advertising (Google AdWords and social network ads), content distribution by using an automation tool, remarketing, and retargeting—can show results in a shorter time span. But along with that, these require higher investment in terms of capital.

Impact and Importance of Traffic Acquisition

  1. It’s easy: Doing more of the same is easy, all you have to do is spend money on the existing traffic without making any changes to your website, landing pages, and so on.
  2. It’s predictable: As you already know that the conversion rate of your current traffic, the incremental gains in revenue you’ll get from adding more are easy to predict.
  3. It’s risk-free: Unlike CRO, taking risk in terms of boosting traffic will either take you ahead or leave you at the same place you are, without any negative impact on your traffic. In simple words, it will not be counterproductive.

Downside of Traffic Acquisition

All the elements involved in traffic acquisition ensure a seamless flow of traffic on your website, but lack in ensuring the conversion potential of these visitors. So with these tactics, you can be sure of having a high-traffic website, but not a highly converting one. And if none of the traffic is converting, the investment is more or less insignificant (a waste to be precise) for your business.

Conversion Rate Optimization

In simple terms, conversion rate optimization (CRO) or conversion optimization is the process of finding out why your website visitors are not taking the desired action(s) and fixing those reasons, or issues, to achieve a higher conversion rate.



CRO includes:

  1. A clear proposition
  2. Error-free web copy and content
  3. Website UX
  4. Seamless navigation
  5. Online buyer’s journey
  6. Optimized calls to action at relevant locations
  7. Optimized landing pages with dynamic forms

CRO starts impacting visitor journey, the moment they land on your website, and ensures a seamless experience, removing all the elements that might be stopping them from converting. This essentially means that it includes understanding the visitors, knowing their preferences, and delivering what they are looking for. It includes optimizing your website in such a way that visitors are engaged from the moment they land on your site to the last step that they take to become your customer. To understand more about CRO, take a look at this comprehensive guide that provides details on what is CRO and how you should approach the process of CRO.

Benefits of CRO

The role of conversion rate optimization is to ensure that your digital presence, not just on your website, but across the entirety of the web is as effective as it can be.

For example, let’s say you get 100 visitors to your product page and only 5% (5) purchase the product at $10 and your cost of product is $5.

Gross sales: $50
Cost: $25
Profit: $25

Let’s say you increase that conversion rate from 5% to 10%. What happens to your profits now?
Gross Sales: $100
Cost: $50
Profit: $50

While CRO helps you get the maximum out of what you already have, it also:

  1. Helps you understand your customer better: You need to know who they are and what they are looking for, to serve them with the best.
  2. Helps you generate more leads: There’s a high possibility for you to generate more and high-quality leads with CRO, as compared to traffic acquisition. The better experience you provide to your visitors, the more customers you acquire from the same amount of traffic you already have—meaning you save money.
  3. Leverage your current website traffic: While there is the initial monetary and time investment in getting a page optimized; after it starts working, you start making the most of the traffic your website already receives through SEO and other marketing efforts such as social or email.
  4. Lowers your customer acquisition costs: Your customer acquisition costs will be lower as well, as you’re more focused on improving conversions and converting existing visitors to customers.
  5. Improves your SEO: If your website is optimized and visitors are getting what they want, Google will love sending more traffic to your website.
  6. Improves your visitors’ on-site experience: With an optimized website, it becomes easier to facilitate a better on-site experience for your visitors and handhold them down to the conversion funnel.
  7. Improves brand perception: Your website will look as legitimate as your business, which helps build trust and encourage those who visit your store to go ahead and make a purchase.

Some of the major advantages of conversion optimization include combating the stunted attention span of today’s consumers by allowing them to find exactly what they are looking for, much more quickly than on web pages that are not optimized for conversion rate.

CRO includes understanding the visitors, knowing their preferences, and delivering what they are looking for. You need to optimize your website in such a way that it keeps visitors engaged from the moment they land on your site to the last step that they take to become your customer.”


Improperly implemented CRO can cause short-term damage to your conversion rates and revenue.

What Should You Focus On?

If you are searching  for a quick solution, acquiring more traffic for your website comes in handy and it has one sure result: more visitors. But with this, there’s no guarantee if there will be other benefits for the site—if those new visitors will buy; if they will engage with the brand and become fans, loyal customers, or at least one-time customers; and so on.

While traffic is important, but it’s the conversion that improves the effectiveness of your website. Particularly in the case of a limiting budget, many are seen to be prioritizing CRO over traffic.


CRO improves your site, which leaves a lasting impact.

If you want long-term flexibility and healthier business metrics like lower costs and higher revenues, you must have a look at CRO.

Increasing your CRO spend, or investing in CRO if you haven’t before, can help you to see improvements across all of these areas, by increasing the conversion rate of traffic directed to your site. This means that you can make your existing marketing spend more effective without increasing the amount you invest in each area.

Unlike some other efforts to improve your webpage, the tenants of CRO are not going to changeover the coming years. Consumers will still want to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly. This part is evergreen. Traffic is a vanity metric, conversion rates get you results.


As stated above, improperly implementing CRO can cause some damage, thus it is highly recommended to work with a complete conversion rate optimization platform is usually the best way to get this process done correctly and in the shortest amount of time—so you can start improving your website profits. Some are manual solutions that can require quite a bit of time and effort, others are fully automated. The latter is one way to lower your CRO risk, as they eliminate human error from the equation and the hypothesis are more data driven there.

The bottom line is, when you have reached a state where you have ample amount of traffic coming to your website, you need to start focusing on converting that traffic. But before making any change, make sure you A/B test your CTAs, your UX, your landing pages, your web copy and all other elements. In any case, the first step to start with will be conducting a complete conversion rate audit for your site to understand what needs to be fixed.

Ensure your CRO goals are aligning with your overall marketing and business goal. Make data driven decision. Track results and refer to historic data. Keep Analyzing and improving.

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