I used to be fat.
How fat? How about 42 inch waist at age of 13?
I couldn’t find any pants that would fit me right off the shelf, because the length of the pants would almost always be too long for the waist that I had to get.
Thanks to the annoying cool guys in junior high school who tormented me about my weight, I managed to lose all the weight eventually, to a 31/32 waist that I now have.
(But now, THEY’RE FAT! Haha! Revenge! Thank you Jesus! Anyway.. you can read my weightloss story here.)
Of course, when I show people before and after pics of me, without fail, I get people asking me “can you help me lose weight?”
If you need to lose a few pounds yourself, there is no magic: eat less, move more.
But of course, that’s a loaded question. How exactly do you motivate yourself to move more? What do you like to do? Run? Swim? Dance? Hike? Eat less? Are you ok with eating less? Can you cut out sugars & fats? Can you develop a patter of eating just healthy veggies?
Online marketing is no different: people want the same results – more sales, but the path you take might be different.
That’s where the metric of conversion rate comes into play.
But people (especially newbies) ask me the same ol’ question: what’s a good conversion rate?
(Conversion Rate = Number of Actions / Number of Visits)
That’s like asking a fitness trainer, “is losing 30 lbs good?” That depends – how much did you weigh before? How fast did you lose it? Did you lose fat or muscle? and so on..
“Average conversion rates” are myths.
Why on earth do people publish conversion rates?
My guess? Get attention (i.e. links to their sites).
Conversion rates are all relative and the only way to tell if you’re “good” is relative to your past performance.
And you should never compare your results to others (different brands, or worse, different industry) because no two marketing campaign is ever the same. IN another words, conversion rate isn’t a social metric – it’s metric you use against your past.
Here are 5 VERY important factor that determine your conversion rate (and has nothing to do with others).
I say it over and over again, copywriting can make or break your marketing campaign.
“Pen is mightier than the sword” isn’t some cheesy slogan by some pen company to sell more pens.
There are companies like Amazon and eBay that have built multi-billion dollar empires based on copies.
In the book Cashvertising, which I highly recommend for beginning copywriters, there have been authors who 2x, 3x and even 10x, their book sales just by changing the copywriting (mainly the titles).
If you ever do email marketing, you know that subject is probably just as important as the body of the email.
Without copywriting, how do you entice people to read your message.. let alone convert them?
In another words, other than targeting, your copy will almost always be the biggest determining factor in your conversion rate.
I’ve had this problem many times in the past with my solar customers.
SolarCity is the 800 lb. gorilla spending multi on PR, advertising, community outreach, content marketing, etc.
If you’re a solo solar installer who happen to get in the game last 2-3 years, there is no way you’re going to have the same conversion rate online as on SolarCity.
The more branded, you are, the higher the chance of conversion.
Imagine you walk into a store and see two kiosks, side by side, selling almost identical products. Same shape, same color, same packaging, same material, same kiosk, but different name.
One is a well known international brand that’s been in the market for decades… the other one? Some unknown brand that you’ve never heard of.
Who will have a higher conversion rate?
This is one area where brand might not necessarily have the unfair advantage.
Now, suppose you’re in an industry where they don’t HAVE to have you stuff right now.
Like solar panels on your roof for instance: you don’t HAVE to have it.. it’s a nice to have (since it’s a long term investment). But I don’t NEED to have it RIGHT now.
So when the desire comes up, you as a marketer, better jump ALL over it (i.e. which is what search marketing achieves).
If not, you have to develop SOME kind of interest, get that lead, and nurture that lead.
But in certain cases, there is no need to do any kind of nurture.
For example, supposed you fell flat on your face while skating and need a emergency dentist in Brooklyn.
You need relief now , and the one who’s going to get you as the dental customer is the dentist that’s the most readily accessible.
Brand isn’t going to be an issue because the primal need to avoid pain is so great, that no amount of logic or marketing power is going to work.
Even though this is a “equal” playing field in terms of conversion rate, now this area can get quite “bloody” because now this area becomes a bidding war zone.
Imagine if the life time value of your customer is in seveal thousands of dollars.
Your cost per click (if you do pay for them) will be quite high (as in $10-$30 CPC). But at the same time, your conversion rate can be as high as 20-50%.
MacDonald’s has an insanely low friction to purchase: you state the number of combo meal you want, give them cash, and in 47 seconds, you get your product.
5 star restaurants in 5 star hotels has insanely HIGH friction to purchase: you have to make an appointment and dress up.
Of course, ideally, all businesses should have low friction and make it easy for their customers buy, but in some businesses, that is impossible because of legal regulations, financial checks that must be performed, human processing, etc.
Here are some ridiculous frictions that i’ve seen people put on their website
- Captcha on contact forms – Just delete the spam when you get them. Don’t make it hard for people to contact you.
- Hide the “about us” page, or use stock photos – Did you know “about us” page is 2nd most visited page on most websites? They want to know who you are. Remember, people do business with people, not websites.
- Insane number of fields on the contact form page – Come on, I just met you.. you expect me to give you my social security number on date #1?
(The picture above is to explain the relative differences, not to say that all leads cost in $30s or $40′s).
Lower the friction, the higher the conversion rate.
But higher the friction, the better quality of the lead because they’re jumping over hoops and hurdles to get to you.
For example, an ebook or whitepaper download is a very LOW friction activity – i don’t need to give you a credit card, just my name and email. Conversion rate can vary wildly, depending on what it is that you’re offering.
But if I have to give you my credit card number for you to give me something, that requires that a) you convince me that I need your stuff, b) i trust you with my credit card number, and c) I take another step to complete the transaction.
5) Quality of Traffic (i.e. distribution effectiveness)
Remember, not all traffic quality is the same.
a) New vs. Returning
Conversion rate on traffic (i.e. real people) who know you, trust you, and have done business with you is going to be 10-100x higher than cold traffic.
Which is why lead nurturing, re-targeting, and follow up email marketing is so vital to your marketing process, because at some point in your life, all your warm network will be depleted.
b) By Devices
People are more likely to buy on more “buyer” friendly devices.
C) Traffic Channel
Conversion rates are meaningful ONLY to you, and should be measured against your other marketing channels or against the past.
As I always say, don’t assume and test everything.
What’s a Good Conversion Rate?