Total unique visitors: Who cares?

Been having some interesting discussions with web managers for b2b companies.  All of them start talking about their web traffic and SEO results.  I always step into the discussion with a series of questions that ends up stumping all of them.


"So.  Who are all of those people visiting your site?"


They stare at me blankly for a few seconds and then respond, "Why they're our customers, of course."


"Like who?"


"Well, we don't know who they are specifically..."


"Then how do you know they are your customers?  Maybe they're your competitors."


"They might be..."


Then the stumper:  "So if you really don't know who it is visiting your site, why does it matter how many there are?"


It is possible to determine if the right people are visiting your site, but the problem is that most marketing managers never ask that question and so most web site managers never take the time to dig deeper into the numbers.  They just say how many unique visitors and how many referrals the site got and everyone is happey... except when they look at the sales numbers.


This is not to say that unique visitors and referrals aren't important numbers... if you are an online media company.  After all, a media company is in the business of getting as many eyeballs as possible on the site to make sure they can justify their advertising rates.  But if you are a b2b company the volume on those numbers is meaningless unless you are driving current and potential customers to engage with you.  That's why it is more important to know that the one customer you really want visits your site than the hundreds of thousands of people that found your site through a search.