Conversion Rate – Short conceptual explanation

The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of visitors who took some kind of action on a site by the total number of visitors to a web site and expressing it as a percentage. So if a site had one hundred visitors and five of them did something that is counted as a conversion then the conversion rate is five percent.

What is a conversion?

A conversion is defined by the site owner and can be anything that a visitor does that is of interest. It could be buying something, watching a video, downloading an app or pdf file or signing up to receive a newsletter – whatever the site owner considers worthwhile. This is especially important if the business owner is paying for the traffic to the site to ensure they are getting value for money.

Tracking conversions

There are a number of ways of tracking the actions of visitors to a web site with Google Analytics being one of the most common. This tells the site owner valuable information about the behaviour of visitors and Google Analytics will count the number of visitors, record the length of time they spent on the site and what actions they took there. These actions can be anything that they can do on the site from a simple push of a button to filling out a form or buying something. Once the site owner has defined what is to be considered a conversion (or a goal in Analytics terminology) Google Analytics will calculate the conversion rate automatically.

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Improving conversion rates

It’s clearly in the interest of a site owner to take steps to improve their conversion rate because that means more sales or leads. In order to do this the owner must make the site as easy to use as possible and understand what the visitor is looking for. Google Analytics measures the bounce rate, which is the number of visitors that leave a site in under ten seconds. If it is high it may indicate that the site owner is driving the wrong sort of traffic to it and that these people are just not interested. If large numbers of people are engaging with the site by viewing multiple pages and spending time on it without converting it can indicate that the site is difficult to use or the call to action is hard to find.

There is no magic bullet.

Conversion rates vary widely between industries and when optimising a site there is no guaranteeing that what works for one site will work for another. The solution is to measure the results and analyse them to try to understand why visitors are not converting. Then a site owner can split test advertisements or landing pages or redesign parts of the site to see if there is any improvement in their conversion rate and return on investment.