Traffic or Conversion Objective for Top of Funnel Ads

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Top of the Funnel Ads: Focusing on Traffic Vs. Conversions

The top of the funnel (or ToFu) is the starting point of your strategy; it’s where you pour in your new leads who will drip through a seamless journey with your brand and eventually become loyal customers. In theory, anyway.

The traditional marketing funnel definition is a little loose. As consumer behaviour has changed, so has the buyer’s journey. The modern funnel is a little less linear, and comes with a few more loops and twists, but the general phases remain the same:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration (alongside research and discovery)
  • Purchase
  • Post-purchase experience
  • Advocacy

What many of our clients ask is: should they be focusing their upper funnel budget on generating traffic or going straight for those conversions? Our (annoyingly vague) initial answer is this: it depends. But to help guide your strategy, here’s what you need to know about ToFu marketing, with a dive into the pros and cons of conversions vs. traffic.

The importance of ToFu

Tofu is important for more than just a meat-free diet. While it may be tempting to focus your social advertising on bottom-of-the-funnel ads to generate last-interaction conversions from more qualified users, the importance of the top of your funnel shouldn’t be overlooked.

Starting off right is how you build awareness of your brand, and how you launch a sustainable, high-value strategy. This is the messaging you put out there – perhaps before users even know who you are or what you do. If it’s not done properly, they’ll never enter your funnel in the first place.

“Starting your funnel strategy off right is how you build awareness of your brand, and how you launch a sustainable, high-value strategy.”

Aiming for conversions vs. traffic

So, should you choose a traffic or conversion-based strategy for your upper funnel ads? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each approach to help you determine the best course of action for your business.


Focusing on conversions

If taking a conversion-focused approach to your ToFu ads, your measurement will be based on return on ad spend (ROAS) – how much you’re getting back for the money you put in.



  • You’ll see a definitive ROAS. ie. you’ll make money from your campaign and likely quickly. Though you will be covering your costs you won’t be walking away with large profits.
  • Results will be immediate, which is handy if you’re launching a new product and need to generate income or awareness fast.
  • Testing and measurements are less uncertain.
  • It’s a “safe” approach (you’ll keep your boss or business partner happy when you present the results).




  • It can “choke” your marketing funnel. That means that by focusing on conversions, you’re pouring less traffic into the top of your funnel so fewer users flow through the rest of the funnel. This can cause activity and results to taper off towards the bottom.
  • It creates a finite loop. Ideally, the customer journey should be an infinite loop – ToFu attracts customers, and the rest of the journey guides them through the decision, purchase and retention/renewal phases. A focus on conversions often means the customer journey ends there.
  • This could limit your brand reach. The modern customer becomes loyal through brand affinity and ToFu is a key stage when it comes to brand awareness. More than 70% of brand managers say building an audience is more important than direct sales.
  • Expect a high CPLV (cost per landing page view).


Focusing on traffic

Measuring a traffic-driven strategy gets a little more complex. You’ll be looking at the CPLV at the top of the funnel, and then analysing ROAS when you get to the bottom.




  • Expect a very cheap CPLV.
  • You’ll achieve increased brand reach – with benefits that are often long-lasting and sustainable.
  • This fuels your funnel; more traffic equals more prospects to nurture through valuable inbound marketing, so you can build trust and turn more people into loyal customers.
  • You get long-term, robust results. Driving lots of traffic to your website and then optimising the online experience should result in some of this traffic turning into customers. When conversions come later on, many of these customers have already become familiar with your brand – they could develop into returning customers or tell their friends about you. You will typically see a much, much larger ROAS.




  • Your ROAS won’t be so great around the top of the funnel.
  • You have to rely on the rest of the funnel to make up your returns. Be aware that you probably won’t make much immediate profit here; the idea is to develop a streamlined customer journey so the middle and bottom of the funnel are where the juicy conversions take place.

Figure out what you want to achieve

Now that we’ve covered the upsides and downsides of both goals, our initial vague answer probably makes more sense. Figure out what you want to achieve from your marketing funnel, and base your marketing strategy around that goal.

In short, choosing to shoot for more conversions will generate immediate sales and a healthy return on your ad spend – but you might struggle with long-term scaling and customer loyalty. Aiming to drive traffic instead will give you more site visits (prospects) that you can leverage with remarketing and valuable content.

Establish a strong funnel strategy with Wynne Digital

At Wynne Digital, we build tailored digital strategies aligned with the demands of modern customers. We take a “one-size-fits-one” approach, and would love to hear about your current business challenges and goals, to develop the most effective funnel for you. 

Contact caleb@wynnedigital.com for a complimentary strategy session.

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