Stop Building Traffic, and Start Converting It. Here’s How

I’ll let you in on a little marketing secret.

In the grand scheme of things, building massive amounts of traffic doesn’t really matter. What matters is converting that traffic.

Everyone talks about building traffic. That’s fine, but it’s not the end of the story. If you don’t convert your traffic, building it is pointless.

Building traffic is like building a shopping mall. You can easily get people to come through the doors, but if you have only a few lackluster stores, none of those people will turn into customers. You have to give them a reason to stay.

I’ve seen tons of sites fail miserably because they didn’t convert their traffic. A site can have the best idea in the world, but if it doesn’t focus on conversion, it’ll flop.

Funnily enough, that’s what happened to me with my first website experience.

The first site I ever built was a job board called Advice Monkey. I spent over $5,000 to create it and hired three lousy marketing firms. In the end, I learned how to market it myself, but the site still failed because it wasn’t set up to take payments.

Had I spent less time marketing and more time optimizing the site for conversions, the site would have done much better. Sure, I probably wouldn’t have made millions, but I would’ve converted more of my traffic and made more than $0.

Take a lesson from me: don’t worry much about getting people through the doors while forgetting to build the stores.

Here’s how to take all that traffic you worked so hard to build and successfully convert it.

Getting the right mindset

I firmly believe that conversion is an attitude, not just an action. It takes focus and dedication. You have to internalize your goals until they’re second nature.

I realize this sounds a little philosophical, but stay with me. You need to see conversion as more than just a bunch of numbers. Why? If you become obsessed with converting, you’ll fail.

Here’s an example. Say you’re hyper-focused on converting. You include a few popups and some social buttons, and before long, your site looks like this:


Okay, it’s probably not that bad. But you get the idea.

It’s easy to go overboard, and I get that. But as Social Triggers’s Derek Halpern points out, going too far can actually become your conversion rate’s worst enemy.

You should definitely focus on conversion, but don’t get a death grip on it. Conversion is a long-term strategy, not a short-term win.

Now that you’ve understood the conversion mindset, let’s take a look at how to convert all your traffic.

Publish the right content

If I had to pick a favorite form of marketing, it’d be content marketing.

Great content is wildly powerful. The converse is true too: horrible content is wildly destructive.

In fact, your blog can (and will) fail if you get the content wrong. If you create too much content, you’ll fail. If you create content that’s not relevant to your readers, you’ll fail.

So it’s imperative you get the content right.

First, you have to decide on the type of content you’ll provide. There are many options to choose from: blog posts, webinars, and podcasts, to name a few.

How do you know which type of content is right for you? You have to know your audience. I know my readers are looking for thorough guides, and that’s one of the many reasons I use blog posts.

On the other hand, there are people like Tim Ferriss who use podcasts as their medium of choice.


Tim knows his audience loves interviews with experts, and that’s what he gives them.

The lesson: Study your audience until you know them as well as you know your friends. Find out what type of content they respond to the most.

You also have to get the length right. I’ve found that longform content works best. You might be surprised to know that 3000+ word blog posts get more traffic than shorter posts.

Make conversion easy (but not annoying)

If you want people to convert, you need to make that process easy. If your readers love your content but can’t find an easy way to sign up for your list or buy your product, you’ll lose out.

There are a few elements you have to get right if you want to boost your conversion rate:

1. Make an irresistible offer

First things first: If your offer itself doesn’t amaze your readers, you’ll get zero conversions.

To create an irresistible offer, you have to know what your readers want. Delve into your psychographics to find out what drives your audience and why they behave the way they do.

SumoMe’s blog post called “The Definitive Guide to Content Upgrades” adds a sweet offer:


Everyone who’s reading this post wants to learn more about content upgrades, so SumoMe offers a free e-book. It’s specific, relevant, and valuable.

On the other hand, if your offer is not specific, relevant, or valuable, your readers will have no reason to take you up on it. Don’t beat around the bush with general offers like a cheat sheet on being a better marketer. Your offer should be targeted specifically to your readers.

When you’re working on creating an irresistible offer, make sure it’s specific, relevant, and valuable. Your offers build the foundation on which you’ll build your conversion.

2. CTAs (calls-to-action)

If your CTAs are boring, your conversion rate will be low.

One of the best ways to write a great CTA is to be specific. “Buy now” could refer to anything, but “download your free e-book” reminds the reader what they’re getting.

Your CTA needs copy that’s exciting. It should feel like you’re inviting the reader on an adventure. It should not feel like you’re selling something.

Optimizely uses a straightforward and effective CTA:


There’s no hard sell here. It’s an invitation to test out the software free. Plus, it’s a breeze to fill out.

Design matters too. Your CTA needs to be highly visible so people can find it and click it. It’s so simple, right? But many blogs get this wrong.

Brian Dean from Backlinko uses a yellow box for his CTAs:


The yellow box works because your eye is naturally drawn to it. For Brian, that means higher conversion rates.

Find out what your yellow box is. Don’t forget to A/B test to figure out what’s working the best (and what you should ax).

Put in the time and effort to create an eye-catching CTA that engages your readers, and you’ll be rewarded.

3. Popups

Quiz time: How are popups like Justin Beiber?

As Hunter Boyle of Aweber puts it,

You either love ‘em, or hate ‘em, but lately you see ‘em everywhere—because they still pull in big crowds.

You might find popups annoying, but they work wonders. We successfully used popups on Kissmetrics to double our conversion rate.

Popups play a vital role in converting your traffic, but you shouldn’t go overboard. By tastefully using popups, you can skyrocket your conversion rate.

First, you need to decide which type(s) of popups to use. The days of random popups are gone. Instead, opt for triggered popups.

Let’s talk about two of my favorite types of popups:

  1. exit intent overlays
  2. scroll-triggered scrollboxes.

You’re probably familiar with exit intent popups that appear when your mouse moves to close the tab. An exit intent overlay is a full-screen popup that appears when a user gets ready to leave the site.

Smartblogger uses an exit intent overlay with a cunning strategy:


This popup immediately engages the reader. Instead of being presented with just one option, you get two. And one of them has to be applicable to you. At the very least, it raised your eyebrows, right?

And here’s the best part: There are two different lead magnets for the two answers.

You don’t have to copy this popup, but I hope it gets you thinking about using exit intent popups. They perform well, but you have to put the work in.

Next up is scroll-triggered scrollboxes. These are the little boxes that pop up on the lower right-hand side of the screen. Usually, these popups appear after you’ve scrolled down the page.

For example, when you scroll to the bottom of any Crazy Egg post (like this one), you’ll see this:


These are great because they’re not intrusive. They take up a small amount of real estate, and they’re far less annoying than random popups that cover up half the screen.

The most important takeaway here is that popups should not distract from the user experience of your site visitors. Don’t cover up the content or make closing the popup difficult. Respect your readers.


You’re probably drawing in plenty of traffic.

Remember, however: what matters most is what you’re doing with that traffic.

Create an irresistible offer, and make it accessible to your visitors. People are willing to check out your offer, but it has to be worth their time. So, add as much value to your offer as possible.

I won’t lie. Conversion optimization isn’t a walk in the park. But it pays off.

And if you nail conversion, you’ll have a bunch of satisfied customers in no time.

What are your biggest problems with converting traffic?


  1. Hey Neil,

    I really enjoy reading and implementing Conversion Rate Optimisation best practices. You mention some cool points in this article.

    Although my business is primarily a SEO agency I am now building in CRO as part of our strategy for all of our clients.

    I love how CRO, SEO and content marketing are all rolling into one and creating better marketers of us all.

    It makes things more interesting!


  2. Neil! You nailed it . I just wonder about pop up as Google consider as a spam signal . Is that true?

    • It does see this in a different light but that is more down to the size and use.

      • Call to actions and offering bribes both play a huge role.

        Yes, I agree with you that this is a world full of distraction. Everyone is selling. Everyone is competing with everyone else. So it’s really hard to survive with the limited thinking.

        You have to think BIG. Think beyond your limits.

        Find out what the world really wants from your content. Get to know their needs and wants and it becomes easier for you to create irresistible offers that your audience can’t refuse.

        Great insights Neil!

        • Appreciate the comment back Anil. It is easy to chase the vanity traffic metrics but 10 or 100 people buying regularly from you can be enough 😉

  3. Hey Neil
    For our business it is crucial to advertise per SEA, CPM/CPC banner. Can you point to a blog post on here or write one on how to go about that? Meaning what to do, think about, how to get the funnel vision on that? It is that via content that we want to lower paid spendings, yet the blog is just 2 weeks old. Hence we could need advise…

  4. Hi Neil and thank you for another informative article. Question – when you use content upgrades for different specific topics, how do you then get everyone onto the same master email list for newsletter of overall related content?

  5. Exactly!. What matter is what you are doing with your traffic.

    And here is how to easily track those conversions (without coding) —>



  6. Julian Sakanee :

    Hey Neil,

    Great post. I just shared it. 🙂

    I like the 2-step exit intent popup form. That and the content upgrade have been my top 2 for converting my traffic. Mix that with a great offer and badass CTAs, conversion rates are pretty good. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your stuff, Neil.



  7. Good writeup! I throughly enjoyed the post.

    As explained, my CTA click through rate is good. But the final conversion is not the best as expected where i do offer free registrations. Trying to find an alternative to overcome this but not yet.

    • Really get to know the state of awareness for your audience. There will be an element of earning the conversion before just asking for it as well 🙂

  8. Hey Neil, nice tips mate!

    I’ve been testing CTAs on all my opt-in forms and email newsletters. I’ve removed all those boring ‘subscribe now’ or ‘sign up’ text with something catchy and casual like “Gimme free access” and “Yes, I want the free spreadsheet”. And so far the results have been very impressive.

    CTA on opt-in forms that received low traffic and that showed roughly 10% – 20% click through rate on average, increased dramatically to 42% click through rate with a similar traffic.

    Moreover, I redesigned my homepage last month and turned it upside down style. My bounce rate dropped from 67% to 54.1%. In fact, more visitors are actually reading the entire front page story. (I’ve SumoMe content analytics installed).

    Here’s the homepage re-design. Hope you like it 🙂

    I’m constantly measuring and keeping track of my progress. And coming back to your post, conversion is more important than traffic. Indeed.

    Great post once again!

  9. Thanks Neil, but contrary to what your article says, your page is immediately covered up by a “welcome mat” modal, and it’s also completely covered by exit intent. Is a total cover mat something you recommend? Obviously you are doing it so it can’t be too bad!

    • oh i see you recommend it in the example above but you also say “Don’t cover up the content”

      • It will need to be adapted for the new Google rules on pop-ups. But the idea is if you haven’t earnt the trust of the readers it would not be recommended to cover up the content.

    • Yes, there are some positives from these tactics but it is about how much you earn the trust of your readers first.

      I feel with everything there is room for improvement and I do feel I have some here on this section of the ux.

  10. We are always utilizing the latest technology for our clients and getting more traffic to convert, but it always amazing me how often we find the common sense factor completely miss the mark on some, so called “fully optimized” website where every page of copy is geared towards the company and nothing about, “Here’s what we can do for you.” We find great technology like ( with Copy that is written around buyers pain points will get you the numbers you are looking for.

  11. Prem Nath Vishwakarma :

    Superb content ever upon Conversion. What a post! What a logic! What a tone!

  12. Curtis Blackmore :

    Great piece of content, Neil!

    I often fall into the “building traffic” trap. Lately, I’ve been taking a more scientific approach to marketing and conversions overall, and I’m starting to get the process down. It blows my mind to see the difference that “measuring” and “managing” has on overall impact versus just playing the guessing game.

    Conversion is one of my big focuses right now and this piece helps. Thank you!

  13. Awesome advice. I want to focus my efforts in 2017 on Conversion. As a web firm owner, and primarily a salesman (not a coder or designer so much), sales is the key to success in ANY business.

    Besides this article and your blog :), what are some of the best blogs, ebooks, webinars, courses, you recommend for really diving in deep with Conversion Optimization?


  14. Timothy B. Miller :

    That was great article and well written. Some golden words in there and solid advice to live by. I was just telling a sub of mine the other day about this same topic, you can have all the traffic in the world but if you can’t convert those visitors then all your time and money is wasted.

    That’s true about longer blog posts/articles rank better then short ones. I like the lower popup idea nice scroll-triggered scrollboxes. I need to put that on my own blog.

    Love your stuff Neil!

    -Timothy B. Miller

  15. HI Neil-
    Totally agree with you! The gold bar of any site is the actual conversion, be it lead or purchase with e-commerce.

    I have worked with other SEO’s (dirty word) that still use yesteryears metrics; traffic, keyword ranking, and how many links they can get. I have found that many have not moved beyond this.

    They seem to lack the knowledge ( or are refusing to learn) to create a conversion driven campaign.

    With regards to intrusive interstitials, I think when Google transitions into seperate indexes, those mobile sites with these will find less than desirable results in SERP. I would hide those elements from mobile for sure.

    Great article Neil-
    Tracy Woods

  16. I am working with SEO about 3 years. Nowadays NEIl’s strategy makes me more expert and smart.

    Nice writing.
    Hope, you’ll write more effective tips and strategy in future.

    Thank You,

  17. Charlotte Barnes :

    Hi Neil,
    Here I am Charlotte Barnes, thank you for one more helpful article…
    Conversion is my big focuses now a days and this is helps me to convert traffic into customers. Thank you once again!

  18. I have a ton of email sign ups everyday (well it’s a ton for me). but no sales! They opt in for the 20% discount code and then don’t use it. I need to write better emails perhaps…

  19. Teddy Tech - SEO & Web designing in Kerala India :

    Thanks Niel. You are correct many SEO s are focusing mainly on traffic. It is equal important traffic and conversion.

  20. Hey there,
    Exit pop ups do not work on mobiles. How can we use them on mobile? Please advice. Thanks.

  21. Thanks Nail, it’s really interesting. You becoming famous even here in Italy 🙂



  22. Sudipta Sarkar :

    Nice Site lists. Good Collection Cheers!!

  23. Careful with the javascript pop-ups … Google may start dinging you soon for them!

  24. Business Index :

    Excellent article, a lot of great ideas to work!
    Thank you Neil

  25. DevanshaDitya :

    Wow! Great Post Neil, Appreciated 🙂

  26. ChristmasWishesMessages :

    Good One Neil 🙂

  27. Love this “Great content is wildly powerful. The converse is true too: horrible content is wildly destructive.”

  28. Excellent post. You’ve certainly been “listening” as your blog name reflects the one most pressing thought on every blogger’s mind! We should all be paying attention to that!

  29. Hey Neil, it’s a great post and informative too. content really plays an important role in fetching good traffic, It should fresh and imformative

  30. Phil Vallender :


    Great article.

    I find that a lot of the best performing marketing advice is very meta at the moment.

    You reference a blog about content upgrades to demonstrate the power of an optimised content upgrade/offer. Many of the best performing posts about influencer marketing use posts about infleneucer marketing as their examples. Maximising conversions using pop-ups, for a CRO/marketing blog or tool feels, inception-like.

    Where do we go to see how these things perform in the wild? For business in non-marketing markets like risk, fintech, project management, cloud infrastructure, etc, etc?

    Would you agree that the best advice has gone meta?

    Cheers, Phil

  31. Hi Nail,

    What an amazing blog. Every time i get new tips from your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  32. uthman Saheed :

    I have read a lot of articles about conversion on this blog and have been very helpful. This is another epic one with more value.

    Now I have a niche blog with a very small amount of traffic with an incredible conversion rate than any other blog I’ve ever created within a short period.


  33. connect firms :

    Love this great content is wildly powerful.

  34. The great Neil Patel published another great content. Many many thanks brother to share this for me.

  35. Thank you for sharing your great experiences with us. The article is really informative and helpful. It’s definitely going to help many of the readers. Keep sharing such posts.

  36. Wo Neil… This is very amazing article.

  37. Tas Branded Batam :

    neil correct a quality blog must have a lot of content. But no matter how much content we write almost guaranteed to fail if the content is not relevant and are made with a random origin. Do the people want to read, we ourselves might be as the blog owner will read neil.

  38. An instructive post. People to really know who they want to reach and why or else, they’ll have no way to know what they’re trying to achieve. People need to hear this and have it drilled in their brains..
    Thanks for sharing this great article.

  39. Thanks for the post Neil! Your content is really useful and informative, yet i wants to add one more thing into it. 90% of your conversion is depend on your Headline. Thus it plays major role in conversion.

  40. Thanks Nail, i will implement these conversion best practices on my site.

  41. You know i was always skeptic about popups.But the 2 popups you have explained here seem to be the perfect solution. I guess its time for me to put together an irresistible offer! Thanks for the useful tips.

  42. seo techniques :

    Hi there Neil,

    That’s what I call quick sprout as the most helpful blog for digital nomads. In such a short article (not what we’ve been used to see here), you covered the most of the topic in details. Sometimes I think that short articles are better, because they leave us to imagine the long part.


    Clay Smith.

  43. Obat Kencing Nanah Untuk Wanita Paling Ampuh :

    often we find factors common sense completely misses some, called “fully optimized” website where every page copy directed at corporations and nothing about

  44. Thanks Neil for sharing these ideas.I am gonna implement CTA on my site.

  45. Awesome article!!!

    I was wrong in many ways before reading your advice.

  46. Hi Neil,

    Thank you for this post, its very useful and very new to me.


  47. I love how CRO, SEO and content marketing are all rolling into one and creating better marketers of us all.

  48. Well… nothing to say. YOU ARE A RALLY GOOD PERSON

  49. Dear Neil,

    Great post. One thing I always envy about your site and its work, which is great image. Your images are great quality plus have deep meaning. It is harder to find image like this for commercial use and harder to afford of Graphic designer. I love to know if you have some free or cheap alternative for people like us..

    Thanks & Regard,

  50. Hi Neil,

    Very nice Post but i have facing a little bit problem my site is 1 month is old but my keyword stuck in under 20 page of google. how can increase my keyword ranking

  51. Hey Neil,
    i am reading many of your posts and in this post i found the best method of coverting traffics by using Popups and Form

    Thank You Neil. Keep Writing.

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