A Good Conversion Ratio Takes a Lot of Visitors!

Bob McElwain

Commonly we hear that a 1% or 2% CR (Conversion Ratio) is good. This expression means that one or two visitors take the desired action in accordance with the site purpose – perhaps they make a purchase, request further information, or download a file.

Such numbers mean different things to different people. Many sites would be dismayed by a CR of less than ten percent. Still others, particularly those selling high ticket items, may be quite content with a CR of 0.1%. What the CR for your site ought to be depends upon the site purpose. For example, it’s easier to generate leads than to sell product. Thus you would expect a better CR in lead generation than in selling.

CR And Newcomers

If you’re new to the Web or have only recently launched a site, you may not have enough visitors or sales to work out what your CR is, or ought to be. The bottom line is that visitors are hard to get, and the task is far more difficult for a new or relatively new site than it is for one that’s established.

So What Should Your CR Be?

As I outlined above, your CR should be a function of your site’s purpose. As an example, assume that you’ve opened a site, and you’re selling an ebook at $20 per copy. Further assume it’s a fantastic book with great content that interests many. And one that over-delivers big time.

In theory, you should be able to generate 1-2 sales per 100 visitors (1% – 2%CR). In practice, however, this may be an unrealistic goal. Why? Because the inconsistencies between groups of only 100 can mislead.

The Makings Of A Great Site

Let’s assume you’ve taken a practical approach to your site, and that it’s all working well. You have great content that, even now, is beginning to draw traffic. And you have other products, and perhaps an affiliate program or two, besides the ebook.

Given this model, visits to the site don’t relate directly to the CR for your ebook. You need to look at the visitors to the page that contains the sales presentation for the book, and then consider sales relative to this count.

To put this another way, it may require 1000 visits to your site to generate 100 visits to your sales presentation. If these visits bring two sales, your CR is 2%. However, relative to your site, which received 1000 hits in total, ebook sales amount to only 0.2% of total visits.

1000 Unique Visitors? That’s A Lot!

You bet it is. And if you’re new to the Web, you may not yet have received this many visits in total. Growing targeted traffic is the most difficult task there is in doing business online. It takes time, a lot of learning, and above all, patience.

So what can you do in the meantime?

Continuously examine all aspects of your site, with the goal of directing more visitors down paths to sales. Ask youself:

  • Does your content at least indirectly point to a path which leads to a sale?
  • Can your sales presentations be improved?
  • Is there a product that can be dropped that would increase the sales of others, by bringing a sharper focus to your range?

While the above pointers seem to be clear cut, it’s very difficult to measure the effectiveness of any change you might make to your site. That is, given a change, 100 visits to a sales presentation may yield 3 sales rather than 2, but this still requires a lot of guesswork. In fact, a good improvement in the presentation may result in a drop to only 1 sale in the next 100 visits. With so few visits, results are inconclusive. If you are convinced your new page is better, you may decide to keep it regardless, and worry about the CR over a longer time period.

How Many Visits Can You Expect?

When a new site is launched, visits come from the Webmaster and their friends. While you build content, submit to search engines, improve sales presentations and get involved in everything else that’s required to grow a site, you’ll be busy. Unique Visitor counts will climb, but slowly. And sales will rise even more slowly.

While there are those who have the experience to generate massive visit counts in a short timeframe, even the most determined newbie may need to be content with something between 2000 and 4000 total visits in the first year. Translate this to only a few sales of a $20 ebook, and it’s easy to see why so many ebusinesses fail to hold on – even for 12 months.

The good news for the persistent types is that a growth rate of ten percent per month is not out of reach. And this produces double the visit rate in 7.5 months. The secret? Hang in and make it happen!

It Takes A Lot Of Hits

Until you generate two to three hundred visits per day, testing is not likely to "prove" the effectiveness (or failure) of changes. In fact, even at 1000 visits per day, there will always be a need to evaluate results. In some cases, you must ignore what the numbers appear to say.

To put this another way, suppose you’re up to 1000 visits per day. If you put up a new sales presentation and your CR jumps from 2% to 4%, and stays there, there’s really no choice. Stick with the new version. However, you may decide to do so even if the CR drops a little. Why? Because results from even 1000 visits per day can be circumstantial, a function of the traffic that happened by. The new page may be determined to be good, so long as there is not a significant drop. In taking this choice, the hope is in gains over time.

Where Does That Leave You?

In the end, it’s always a matter of judgement. If you receive only a few visits, then you may have nothing else to go by, other than your instinct. Given a lot of visits, you’ll not only have better foundations on which to make your judgements, but you’ll also benefit from greater experience. So for now, as in the future, you may need to act upon your sense of things, rather than numbers.