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Conversion Rate: The Most Powerful Metric of All

Every website is created with a purpose, and for most, there is more than one. Whether your site goals are to sell products, generate leads, or provide services, it is crucial that you measure and prioritize the most important conversion points. Although this number seems rudimentary or simplistic at first, a deeper analysis will reveal that conversion rate could be the most powerful metric of all.

Fine-tuning conversion rates

Traditionally, conversion is the sales term for closing a sale or converting a prospect into a customer. The definition has been expanded to include web conversions as a measurable, successful outcome of a web visit. Depending on your site’s goals, this desired outcome can take many forms. Examples include: sales of products or services, PDFs or software downloads, subscriptions to a newsletter, or just about any activity beyond simple page browsing. In addition, these conversions can each be weighed independently of one another, allocating higher value to some versus others.

To give a broad perspective, the average conversion rates for e-commerce sites are in the 3 to 5 percent range. Assuming that $10,000 is spent to drive 5,000 visitors to your site and the conversion rate is 2%, increasing your conversion rate from 2% to 4 % not only increases revenue 2X, but also reduces your marketing costs and increases ROI (see chart).

Many elements impact this metric, but at the center of every conversion is your customer. By understanding your user, and their preferences, you can implement their feedback in order to create a more effective website – one that results in significant lifts in conversion rates, proving to have an unbelievably powerful effect on your company’s performance. Here are a few things to consider:

1) Content Optimization:

It is fascinating to watch a slow-motion replay of users’ eye movement as they read and scan across specific pages. Fast is the first word that comes to mind. In a few seconds, their eyes move at amazing speeds and only scan for visual cues related to their desired outcome. If a user feels like they are on the right path, they will continue to dig deeper into your site. However, as visual clues lessen, they are more likely to give up. Because users won’t read your text thoroughly, writing for the web should be dealt with differently than writing for print. For instance, headlines should always refer directly to the place the visitor came from or the ad copy that drove the click. That will restore your users confidence that they have landed on a site that contains relevant information. Also, content must be organized so it’s very easy for the visitor to figure out what to look at, in what order, and how to take the conversion step when they are ready.

2) Testing Optimization:

Fortunately, there are highly effective means of testing that are available to any marketer. A/B split or multivariate testing is used to measure the impact of different pages and page elements. At its simplest form, this type of test splits responses into two groups (A and B) and allows you to test many variables such as copy length, graphics, headlines, offers, or calls to action. Armed with a control group, marketers can continuously tweak various site elements in order to test multiple hypotheses and derive the optimal elements that will boost conversion in the long run.

Fine-tuning traffic volume

Alternatively, one can increase traffic volume in order to increase revenue and ROI. Assuming that the conversion rate is 2% on your site and somehow (organic SEO, Social Media efforts, etc.), you are able to drive 2X more visitors to your site – revenue will increase by 2X, advertising costs will remain the same, and cost per transaction will be  reduced by half (See chart).

Obviously there are a million variables related to driving traffic to your site, including: organic SEO, PPC, paid-inclusion, affiliate marketing, Social Media optimization, e-mail campaigns, etc. Since we don’t have time to focus on each of these individually, I will say optimizing these efforts individually, as well as collectively, will yield the best result. In terms of analytics – TEST TEST TEST to prove you have actually achieved the optimal combination.

Optimizing conversion rate and traffic simultaneously

The concept of optimizing conversion on your website works synergistically with increasing exposure and traffic to your website. While more buzz and dollars has typically focused on the latter, combining increased website usability with increased traffic can increase your ROI as mentioned previously. While marketing focuses on driving more “eyeballs” to your website, usability focuses on improving the experience of those visitors. If you drive twice the traffic but your conversion rate remains the same, you are not capitalizing on the true potential of your marketing efforts. By increasing your conversion rate along with your traffic, you can increase your customer-to-visitor ratio on a larger scale.


If you want to yield higher conversions, you can either increase your conversation rate, or increase traffic coming to your site. However, the ultimate goal would be to do both synergistically. When analyzing conversion rate for optimization purposes, keep in mind that conversion rates for new vs. return customers, or branded vs. non branded keywords, can be very different. Segmenting your data based on customer type, referring domain, and acquisition method are just a few examples to uncover deep insights from measuring conversion rate.