Digital Marketing

How to Decipher Clicks from Conversions

For some of us more seasoned expert marketers, clicks and conversions might seem like Digital Marketing 101. But with the ever-changing and sometimes overwhelming state of our world, the basics can easily be lost, confused, or accidentally ignored. In the case of clicks and conversions, the difference between them is HUGE, and that difference is hugely important. Traditionally, marketers were very focused on clicks – how many people are we getting to Point A, Point B, or Point C, and then tossing those people over to sales in hopes they can eventually strong arm a conversion. Ah, but the times, they are achangin’. As we wrote about in our Marketer’s Guide to Winning at Sales, the two teams need to work together to find high-quality, easily convertible leads, collaborate to produce effective collateral, and above all, ABC – Always Be Communicating. And oh, yeah, AdStage even built a whole product, called Join, that helps close the loop between marketing and sales.

So while clicks have gone a bit to the wayside, conversions have become even more important. Read on to learn about (or remind yourself) of the difference between clicks and conversions, how each is measured, and what to measure depending on your KPIs.

What's a click, and what's a conversion?


We’ll start with clicks since a click is required to get to a conversion. There’s no hidden definition here. A click is just that – someone sees something they want to go deeper on and clicks a link, button, image, etc. To be super clear on the definition, a tap on a mobile screen is also a click.


As defined in our post Tracking Conversions With Google Analytics:

So as a marketer, you are successful in your job when a click begets a conversion.

Here’s a bonus, though we won’t be going into depth on it in this post – Impressions. An impression is when someone “views” your ad. In other words, it’s undeniably served up on someone’s screen, but they may or may not take action on it. Depending on the platform and medium—text, image, video—impressions are measured differently, so if this number is a big piece of your KPIs, do your research and make sure you have your reports set to capture what you want.

2 different measurements

What’s the most obvious indication that clicks and conversions are two very different things? They’re measured in two distinct ways: click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rate.

Click-through rate is the measurement, shown as a percentage, that indicates how many people clicked your ad, link, image, etc, to visit a website or landing page. A conversion rate is the total number of visitors to a specified place divided by the number of completed goals–buying something, filling out a form, etc.

No matter what reporting tools you use, there will be one field for clicks and one for conversions. Never will these numbers be combined or considered interchangeable.

But what should you measure?

It depends on your goals! While clicks are considered vanity metrics and conversions the holy grail metric that will give you all the data you want, there are some instances when keeping a close eye on your clicks is important, and then other times when you’re laser-focused on ROI, and therefore obsessed with conversions.


Clicks are a valuable metric when your goal is to throw the max amount of traffic somewhere, like a brand awareness campaign, for example.

Another super important thing to keep in mind with clicks is that for PPC ads on Facebook and Google, the click-through rate directly influences an ad’s Quality Score or Relevance Score. If no one is clicking on your ads, your score is going to tank since the platform’s algorithms will take that as a sign that your ad stinks.



In this day and age, we know that marketers are more and more responsible for down-funnel actions. So if your KPIs are tied to moving the ROI needle, conversions are where it’s at. The first step is to make sure you’re even tracking conversions correctly. We’ve written about that for:

Optimizing for the right metrics

When it comes to optimizing for clicks, it’s not about supercharging traffic to a page, but rather getting the cost down for high-quality clicks. We covered this recently in 17 Links to Help Lower Your Google CPC, and even though the post mentions Google, there’s a lot of advice that can apply to just about any platform. For example:

  • Test multiple landing pages and double check you're providing people with a great experience from ad click to conversion

  • Match your ad’s copy with customer intentions. People click on ads and buy because the ads reflect the goals people want to accomplish.

  • Consider the possibilities of remarketing. This strategy will increase your Quality Score since you're showing your ad to the most relevant audience.

When it comes to optimizing conversions, you have to put a little more work in. We’ve covered some strategies in this post, Conversion Rate Optimization: How to Turn Luck into a Repeatable Process. There, we highlight ideas like helpful tools that practically do the A/B testing for you, such as:

Landing Page Optimization

A/B Ad Copy Testing

Heatmaps and Visitor Recording

Check out the post for more tips, but keep in mind that if you test too many variables or don't document the conversion rate optimization process it will be very hard to pinpoint what did or didn't work.

If you’re a marketing pro who’s been in the business since the very beginning, it might be hard to say goodbye to clicks. But, know that by focusing on conversions, you can have a greater impact on ROI, which is something the whole company will thank you for.

AdStage Team