The term conversion rate can be simply defined as the number of visitors to your site who convert to paying customers.
If you sell products online then a completed purchase is a conversion. If you are a service business such as an accountancy then the phone ringing with an enquiry is a conversion (actually its a lead, because as you know, not every enquiry results in a sale, but for the purposes of this article we’ll call a phone call a conversion).
What ever it is that you sell, then without optimising your site to maximise its conversion rate then your business (via your website) is essentially leaking money. That’s right, you are basically throwing money away. This is even more true for non organic traffic where you are paying for incoming visitors through advertising.
Without data it is impossible to intelligently and scientifically tune a website to increase conversion rates and therefore sales. The problem is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different metrics available to track. So which ones should you track?
The list below gives 5 of the most important:
1. Sources of Traffic
There are three top-level sources of traffic to any website, each of which you need to track:
- direct visitors: these are visitors who type your web address directly into their browser. This could be for a number of reasons – maybe they are a repeat customer or perhaps they were referred by a friend.
- search visitors: these are visitors who find their way to your site from a search engine such as Google or Baidu. At the top level these visits could be organic or paid for.
- referral visitors: these visitors find their way to your site from a link on another site such as a blog, a review site, or a forum.
As you might imagine, each traffic source will have a different conversion rate, because of the relevance of the search term or what was said in a conversation with a friend or acquaintance. Because of this, you should track each separately and think about improving the conversion of each individually.
2. Conversion Rate
Your top-level conversion rate is actually a blended average across all your visitors. If you think about your own purchasing behaviour then you’ll probably buy products you’re familiar with and have purchased before in a different way to a product which is completely new to this.
This is definitely the case with my own behaviour. There are certain clothes brands I’m very happy buying online, because I already know the sizes fit me really well and I know already they have a really good returns policy should I not be happy for some reason.
Because of this it is a good idea to track both types of conversion (new visitor conversion and return visitor conversion) separately and optimise for them both separately too.
3. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is defined as the number of visitors who navigate away from a website after viewing just a single page. The most important pages to optimise so as to reduce bounce rate are your homepage and your landing pages.
The bounce rate on each page should be tracked separately as each page can be influenced by multiple factors including, is traffic coming from a “research” keyword rather than a “buying” keyword, page load times, pay layout, copy, and a multitude of other factors.
4. Exit Pages
Your bounce rates only show what percentage of people leave your website after viewing just one page. All other users who don’t convert leave your site on other pages, known as exit pages.
You should track exit pages as often improving an frequent exit page can have a dramatic impact on your conversion, for example, imagine a scenario where you find that a large proportion of visitors are leaving your site on step 3 of a 4 step checkout process. In this case, improving that page (step 3) and removing any friction to make it as easy as possible to get to step 4, would have a significant impact on your conversions.
5. Interactions per Visit
Not all visitors convert into sales, so this metric allows us to track what these visitors are actually doing. Within the term “interactions per visit” there are actually, dependant on your site, multiple metrics that you might want to track, for example, how many pages does a typically visitor view, what percentage of users download our product guide etc.
You need to track these different metrics week on week to begin to understand how users of your site are behaving. To do this, then you might populate a template such as this one:
Once you have this data over a number of weeks you’re ready to start forming hypotheses about what might improve your conversion rate and design and conduct some tests to see if you’re right.