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Measuring Conversions


Conversion metrics are among the most important indicators to measure and monitor. Conversion rates are easy to measure and can be improved by fine-tuning your website; thus every online business should watch these numbers and have Plan B ready in case key conversion rates suddenly plunge.

When you measure conversions you are also looking at abandonment – the visitors who got away. Maybe they intended to complete an action but were frustrated during the process and bailed out. Industry average conversion rates hover around 3 percent. This means only 3 out of 100 visitors complete an intended action.

What conversion rates should you measure? There are three basic processes that can be measured for conversion versus abandonment:

  • Activities that lead to an acquisition.
  • Activities that lead to gathering important data.
  • Activities that direct visitor to information that reduces your operational costs (e.g., fewer calls to your tech support group).

Each activity should subtly be directing the visitor toward conversion. Before any further analysis can be done, it is important you can identify (1) which processes on your website are candidates for measurement, and (2) how your web analytics solution will achieve these analyses. Ask yourself the following questions when deciding which processes to measure. Yes answers indicate that the process is a good one to measure.

  • Can visitors contact you if they have difficulty with the process?
  • Will you be able to collect the appropriate data when visitors complete the process so that you can retain them in the future?
  • If visitors have difficulty on your site, can they complete a similar process on a competitor site?

Before going into the details of conversion metrics, it is important to note that you are dealing with two types of conversions, your website conversions and your marketing campaign conversions.

Website Conversions

Once you have decided which site-wide processes to measure and how to measure them, the following metrics can help you understand visitor success or failure:

  • Home to purchase – abandonment rate for visitors going through sales path.
  • Search to purchase – abandonment rate for visitors coming from site search.
  • Special offer to purchase – effect of various merchandising and pricing options.
  • Lead generation –abandonment rate when personal data is requested.

Marketing Campaign Conversions

It is important to measure the effect of marketing campaigns on your website traffic. The following metrics are specific to marketing campaigns aimed at driving traffic to your site.

  • Campaign conversion rate – effect of traffic from specific campaigns.
  • Cost-per-conversion – cost effectiveness for specific campaigns.
  • Campaign ROI -- cost effectiveness for specific campaigns.
  • Segment conversion rates – track conversion progress over time.
  • Percent of orders from new and repeat customers – determines effectiveness of marketing or customer retention programs.
  • New and repeat customer conversion rates – helps understand barriers to online purchases.
  • Sales per visitor – measures marketing efficiency.

Below are the key indicators you should track regardless of business model:

  • Conversion rates for any process that makes or saves money, or is critical to the customer experience.
  • Campaign conversion rate for current campaigns, or the most expensive campaigns if too numerous.
  • Cost-per-conversion for the campaigns you selected to monitor.
  • Segment conversion rates for key or critical group conversions.

Below are the key indicators e-commerce sites should track:

  • Site-wide conversion rate (all purchases to all visits or visitors)
  • New and repeat site-wide customer conversion rates
  • Percent of orders from new and returning customers
  • Average order value, site-wide and for new and returning customers
  • Sales per visitor (compare to site-wide conversion rate)