Find a Better Conversion Rate

Hostway Marketing - May 14, 2009

The measurements most useful to you depend on the goal of your Web site. Many companies with a product or service to sell make the mistake of focusing on the number of visitors to their sites. For a Web site designed to sell, sales are a much better indication of the Web site’s success.

Whenever a visitor performs the action that you set as the goal for your Web page, it’s called a conversion. The Web Analytics Association lists the following as just a few examples of conversions:

  • Clicking an advertisement
  • Registering for more information
  • Making a purchase
  • Requesting a quote

If you calculate your conversion rate simply by dividing the number of unique visitors (reported by your Web Analytics software) by the number of conversions, you’re likely to get an inaccurately low number. While it seems like the obvious way to measure conversions, Avinash Kaushik, a leading Web analyst and author of the popular “Occam’s Razor” blog says there’s a better way to measure the success of your Web site through conversions.

Bounce Rate, Bots and Spiders

First, Kaushik says, look at the bounce rate (the number of people who spent five seconds or less on your site or viewed only one page and left). This group may have bounced for a number of reasons. Maybe they clicked on the link accidentally. Maybe they expected to find something different. You don’t want to count these visitors as missed opportunities. They may not have been opportunities at all. Subtract the bounce rate from your total number of unique visitors.

Next, if you can, find the number of bots and spiders that counted as unique visitors. Again, these are not missed opportunities, and they shouldn’t count against your conversion rate. Subtract them from the total unique visitors as well.

When you’ve subtracted the bounce rate, bots and spiders from your unique visitors, divide that number by the number of conversions. While this is not an exact number, it’s a more accurate picture of your marketing strength.

Put It into Practice

Conversion rates can be useful in reports to management or to track your marketing, but it’s important to remember that not everyone who comes to your site is looking to buy right away. Some people are researching today, but won’t make a decision for a month. Even the best offer couldn’t convert them. Watch your conversion rate, but focus on the user experience and other measurements too.