How to Calculate and Improve Your Conversion Rate



March 1, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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A website’s conversion rate is an important number to know if you want to grow your online business. Whether you’re selling the latest tech to full-time RVers or you’re doling out sports nutrition advice, you need to know what your conversion rate is, how to calculate it, and how to use it to improve your bottom line. In this article, we’ll reveal some pro tips that will help you walk away with a basic understanding of conversion rates.

What Is Conversion Rate?

A conversion rate is the ratio of people who complete an action on a website compared to the total number of the website’s visitors. This metric is measured over a specific time period, be it an hour, day, month, or year.

For example, if a website has 500 visitors in a week and 10 of those visitors made a purchase, the conversion rate is 2%.

Website visitors are converted when they take action, such as:

  • Making a purchase.
  • Clicking a button.
  • Signing up for a mailing list.
  • Liking a video or image.
  • Scheduling an appointment.

A high conversion rate shows that people are interested in your products and they’re willing to buy them. Many successful executives measure overall conversion rates for everyone who visits their website, plus those from specific traffic sources.

What you should remember about this number is that it represents a website’s ability to convert potential buyers into customers through a variety of factors, including:

  • Accessible design.
  • Competitive product offerings.
  • Quality content.

Who Uses Conversion Rates?

Marketing executives rely heavily on conversion rates to ensure they’re doing their best to serve their clients. However, anyone who works with web content will benefit from knowing their numbers. Company leaders can learn about how successful they are at attracting business by comparing their website’s conversion rate to industry averages. This information is helpful in creating a plan to sustain or increase user engagement.

Here are a few examples of people who routinely use conversion rates in their work:

Marketing Professionals

People who work in the marketing field frequently use conversion rates to formulate advertising campaigns. This ratio is helpful when developing strategies that target different markets and various types of customers. Armed with conversion rate information, pros can focus on the customer base that is most likely to make a purchase once they are on a company’s website.

Marketers also use conversion rates to determine what advertising methods most effectively attract visitors that engage with a company’s web content. They can monitor fluctuations in conversion rates and determine what factors influenced those changes.


Salespeople use website conversion rates to understand how many of their website referrals actually make a purchase. Conversion rates can help salespeople understand the thought processes of potential customers on their website. They can use this information to adjust their sales strategy and learn which customers are most receptive to certain advertisements.

Web Developers

Web designers are in charge of a website’s user interface and often make changes that directly respond to conversion rates. They are tasked with creating websites and developing content that is easy to use and facilitates customer interaction.

Features such as a digital shopping cart, payment options, account creation, and page navigation all influence the likelihood that a visitor will become a paying customer. Developers can measure the user-friendliness of their website functions by analyzing the conversion rate and looking for ways to improve it.


Artists create the look and feel of a company’s online brand. These graphic designers may be enlisted to modify their work based on a website’s conversion rate. They regularly collaborate with marketers and web designers to design an appealing website aesthetic that will encourage customers to spend more time on their page.


A company’s copy and technical writers are in charge of composing clear descriptions and instructions that will encourage user interaction on a website. Writers use conversion rates to assess the effectiveness of their writing and determine places where they can increase clarity and make a website more attractive to potential customers.

Data Analysts

Data analysts are often responsible for determining a website’s conversion rate and explaining its significance to a business. They can gather a website’s visitor information and look for patterns in how people browse the site, make purchases, or decide to exit the page. Data analysts can also make projections for how a website’s conversion rate might impact a company’s success and how the rate could change in the future.


Some companies hire outside talent to provide informed advice about particular aspects of their marketing methods or suggest improvements to their content and products. Depending on their line of work, consultants can use conversion rates to learn the context of a company’s overall performance or set new standards for success.

Why Are Conversion Rates Important?

Image via Flickr by Shahid Abdullah

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by statistics when you start out in conversion rate marketing, but conversion rates are by far the most influential measurement in digital marketing today. Every advertising approach you take is aimed at converting your website’s visitors into paying customers. Website conversion rates are an effective way to monitor the performance of your company’s various advertising channels.

Here are the top six reasons conversion rates are especially important:

1. They Help Predict Success — and Failure

As more companies use web content to drive product sales, measuring your conversion rate and analyzing ways to improve it are vital for remaining competitive in the digital marketplace. It’s essential that you know whether your business is on the right track.

Conversion rates give you a straightforward assessment of which areas of your company attract the most attention. By monitoring your analytics reports, you can predict which audience is most likely to become customers. Correspondingly, weak conversion rates are a clear indicator that your campaigns need work so you can stop customers from leaving your page and start prompting them to take action.

2. High Conversion Rates Save Money

The whole point of analyzing your numbers is to maximize conversions for the lowest price. Promotional campaigns with strong conversion rates deliver more bang for your buck and lower your new customer acquisition costs. They’re more efficient than campaigns with poor conversions and are a clear indicator of the successful performance of any changes you make to your website or product line.

Pay-per-click costs are always on the rise as the demand for platforms such as Google AdWords increase. You could be losing money if you’re not converting clicks into sales while you’re waiting for your search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to kick in. By analyzing the information gleaned from conversion rates and adjusting your marketing strategy accordingly, your new or small businesses can cover more ground without increasing your ad budget. Likewise, you can invest any savings into testing new marketing tactics so you can boost your return on investment (ROI).

3. Focusing on Conversion Rate Improves Content

Developing content that converts is a top challenge for writers and graphic designers. Engagement is driven by a focused message. It’s easy to consume, educates your audience, and inspires visitors to take action. This allows you to target customers in the most efficient way possible by focusing on content that attracts customers who are ready to buy. If your metric data figures are coming in below average, improving your content should be a top priority for your organization.

4. Conversion Rates Indicate Consumer’s Attention

Studies show that the rising generation of consumers has shorter attention spans than their predecessors. What does that mean for your enterprise’s conversion rate? If the average user doesn’t quickly find what they need, they’ll go elsewhere — even if abandoning your site means they’ll have to pay more for whatever they’re shopping for.

5. Better Manage Affiliate Partnership With Conversion Rates

Working with affiliate marketers and other online retailers is an excellent way to get the news out about your website and its products. If your conversion rates aren’t what you hoped for, your affiliates could be part of the problem. By knowing your metrics, you can better understand how these partnerships are affecting your online presence and streamline your program with only those partners that are producing clicks.

6. Make More Money by Focusing on Conversion Rates

When you focus on improving your website’s conversion rate, it could mean more money in your pocket. Depending on your industry, even a small 1% improvement could results in thousands of dollars in additional revenue without spending more on advertising.

Remember, conversion rates surpass mere purchases. If your site generates a phone call or a request for a free quote, it’s counted as a conversion because that action brings your business closer to closing the sale with your online customer.

Essential Conversion Rate Metrics

The sheer number of metrics you can study can be overwhelming for new executives. If your website isn’t hitting your organization’s conversion goals, which metrics should you try to optimize and which should you ignore? Use this list of the eight most notable conversion rates to improve your site’s performance:

1. Traffic Sources

The most significant metric isn’t always how many people visit you — it’s knowing how those visitors found your site in the first place. Monitor each traffic source to see which ones are doing the best job of getting people to your page.

There are three primary sources of traffic:

  • Direct visitors. These visitors directly typed your URL in their browser’s address bar.
  • Search visitors. These folks found you through a search engine, such as Google.
  • Referral visitors. These guests clicked on your link from another website, social media page, or somewhere else.

2. New Visitor Conversion Rate

The way first-time guests interact with your site is very different from the way a returning visitor does. Isolate this metric from the conversion rates of loyal customers so you can see what these pioneers are interested in when they first land on your website.

Take a hard look at your first impression and see how you can improve that experience compared to your competitors. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention. Think about what matters when you visit a new site and focus on factors like:

  • Usability. How well can visitors navigate your site?
  • Clarity. Is it easy for visitors to understand the site’s message and what your business is all about?
  • Value. Do visitors have access to the information they need, and is it presented in a useful manner?

3. Return Visitor Conversion Rate

When you analyze your returning visitors’ conversion rate, you should be asking yourself three questions:

  1. Why did the person return?
  2. Did the customer convert the first time?
  3. How can you get them to convert again?

Even if one of your site’s visitors didn’t convert on their initial pass, if you made a good enough impression, they’ll come back. Often this metric means that the conversion process on the return visit will be easier than the first time they found your site.

4. Interactions Per Visit

Even if a new visitor doesn’t convert, all hope is not lost. You can still observe their behavior on your site. What exactly are they doing? How can you get them to do more of it, and how can you convert a lookie-loo into a regular paying guest?

Are they bouncing around several different pages? Did they leave a comment or review? If so, they are still interacting and are one step closer to converting. Your goal is to figure out how you can leverage those interactions onto conversions, whether it’s downloads, subscriptions, or purchases.

5. Value Per Visit

The value of each visit is a simple metric to understand. Basically, it reveals how much each visit is worth. Take the number of visits and divide that by the total value created.

For example, if your average conversion rate in e-commerce is 3%, your store generates an average purchase of $100, and you sell $300 for every 100 visitors, your value per visit is $3.

Sometimes value is hard to determine, such as when shoppers leave a positive review or refer a friend. These actions create intangible benefits that are difficult to quantify.

6. Cost Per Conversion

Cost per conversion — also called cost per referral — is one of the most critical metrics you can calculate. It doesn’t matter how high your conversion and value-per-visit rates are if your lead generation costs are putting you out of business.

Keeping an eye on marketing costs is just as important as conversion rates. If your online store is generating $100 per order, but it costs you $150 per conversion, your enterprise is destined to go broke — quickly.

7. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate represents the percentage of people who visit your site but immediately leave without viewing other pages. Since they’re not interacting, they’re not going to convert.

High bounce rates are often related to:

  • Poor visual design.
  • Confusing usability.
  • Slow load times.
  • Complicated checkout process.
  • Surprise costs or fees.

8. Exit Pages

Figure out which pages are causing people to leave. If people duck out of your site before getting to your final call to action, you’re losing out on customers. Dive deeper into your exits and figure out which pages are causing your visitors to make their escape.

How To Calculate Your Conversion Rate

If you don’t know how to calculate your company’s average conversion rate, it could cost you big bucks in the long run. Overpaying for leads and sales may cause you to market yourself right out of business. This is one area of administration that you don’t want to ignore. Knowing how to determine conversion rate will help you:

  • Develop an advertising budget.
  • Hire additional salespeople.
  • Determine your organization’s profitability.
  • Efficiently allocate resources.

Whether you just opened your business or you’re a digital content expert, limiting your tracking to adjustments over time is a common mistake. Having an in-depth understanding of the logic behind the numbers you’re following gives you more insight into content improvements, optimization techniques, and streamlined processes.

To calculate this magic number for your website, you need to decide what exactly you’re defining as your conversion event, be it a sale, newsletter signup, review, or something else.

Use the steps in this formula:

  1. Start with the total number of conversions.
  2. Divide that number by your variables, such as the total number of hits, unique visitors, or leads.
  3. Multiply the result by 100 to get your conversion rate as a percentage.

If you’re looking for a quick way to determine conversion rates, use this handy calculator:

What Is a Good Conversion Rate?

Average conversion rates are a key element in your paid advertising approach. After all, if you’re not turning lookers into buyers, why bother promoting your business?

So, what is a good conversion rate? Metrics vary by industry, and it’s probably higher than you might guess. However, the average landing page conversion rate for a website in the U.S. is a surprisingly low 2.63% during the year 2020. Does that mean that if you see numbers around 3%, 5%, or even 12% or more, that’s as high as you can go?

A skilled marketing professional must understand that conversion rates vary by industry, such as retail, business-to-business, legal, and finance. What may be stellar for a high-end electronics dealer may be below par for someone selling cheap clothing. has one of the highest conversion rates in the biz: a whopping 30%.

Some standard variables that impact your company’s conversion rate include:

  • Product type (fashion, electronics, software, etc.)
  • Product cost
  • Traffic source (lead generation websites, affiliates, etc.)
  • Device (desktop, mobile, and tablet)
  • Platform (Android, Windows, Mac, or iOS)
  • Location

Achieving an average conversion rate isn’t necessarily good enough to run a profitable e-commerce store or online business. Instead of settling for average, focus on skyrocketing your numbers as high as they will go.

Factors That Impact Conversion Rates

Most people don’t walk away from a purchase while they’re standing in line at the checkout counter. Online, however, it’s an entirely different story. This is a frustrating scenario for merchants like you who are looking to close a sale. If you want to reduce the number of times this happens to your enterprise, consider these six factors that impact your conversions:

1. Perceived Value

What does your website offer its visitors? If your potential customers can immediately see the benefits of your product or service, and if it outweighs the costs, your guests will convert. If either your product or proposition is weak, you’ll have to redefine it to improve your conversion rate.

2. Complexity

Can your visitors quickly find what they’re looking for on your page? How hard or easy you make it for your customers to commit to the next step directly impacts your online conversion rates — in either the worst or the best possible way. Usability positively influences a user’s overall satisfaction and helps to build brand loyalty. Simplify the process by streamlining your framework, and you should see a rise in your average conversion rate.

If you make the process too complicated, you may lose your sale. For instance, customers may not convert if:

  • Your website takes too long to load.
  • Your shopping cart is too complex.
  • Your forms are long and overwhelming.

3. Clearly Defined Goals

Is your content clearly communicating what you want from your leads? Make sure your information is easy to understand and clearly defines your company’s goals. Do you want guests to upgrade their service or do you want to capture their email address for a monthly subscription? Avoid the temptation to get too much done at once. Instead, prioritize your goals into manageable tasks first.

Some common goals for online business platforms include:

  • Generate leads.
  • Close sales.
  • Improve customer satisfaction.
  • Re-engage existing customers.

4. Your Client’s Trust

Are your potential customers abandoning shopping carts and ducking out of half-completed signup forms? This hesitation could indicate a lack of trust. Establish credibility so that your visitors will feel comfortable converting. Some visitors are apprehensive about the risks of working with unreliable web-based businesses. If you want to take the fastest route to Trustville, establish your business as the authority.

Build a perception of credibility and earn a solid reputation with these tips:

  • Deliver valuable content.
  • Maintain an authoritative voice.
  • Engage customers in communication.
  • Solicit user-generated content and reviews.
  • Always act responsibly.

5. An Inviting Design

Could elements like animation or large images be stealing the attention away from your main message? It’s a fact that design dictates whether a landing page is going to convert or not. Designers should focus on usability, engagement, and key performance indicators, then remove any content that’s distracting customers from moving forward on your site.

According to Nielsen Norman Group, users often leave a web page within 20 seconds. That’s not a lot of time to capture their attention. Don’t distract them with obnoxious blinking banners as they scroll through your page.

6. Thoughtful Storytelling

The way you deliver content will either boost your online conversion rates or flatline them. Your organization’s story sets you apart from the competition. It’s a key marketing strategy for a reason. Stories help to establish authenticity and keep people coming back for more.

No one wants to be subjected to stale marketing content. People like stories, so find as many ways as you can to incorporate your tale into your site. From testimonials and reviews to rich snippets, whatever way you tell your story, cater content to your target audience’s persona. Make sure it offers relevant value and leads your clients down the sales funnel.

How To Boost Conversion Rates

Every part of your website should inspire your customer to do something, depending on your conversion goals. That’s why it’s essential to know how many people are taking action and how many are taking their first opportunity to exit your page. You now know the importance of conversion rate marketing, so the next step is to boost your results.

Here are eight optimization tactics that are designed to take your conversion rates to new heights:

1. Sharpen Your Pay-Per-Click Ads

Pay-per-click (PPC), also called cost-per-click advertising (CPC), is one of the top strategies to get more conversions and grow your website’s ranking. The best way to capture a higher ROI is to nail your merchandising.

A good headline is essential to entice potential customers to click on your digital ad. It must be specific and easy to understand, and it should cause a reaction. Always consider hiring an expert copywriter to improve your metrics.

2. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Your PCP budget is going down the drain if you don’t have a captivating page for your customers to land on. Once they’ve taken the initiative to click on your ad, it’s go-time. One terrific way to boost your landing page conversion rates is to deliver on your ad copy.

Immediately fulfill any promises you make, and use concise language that’s catchy but not overly clever. Follow some of the industry’s best landing page practices to attract more prospects and convert more customers, such as:

  • Keep your design simple and free of visual clutter.
  • Include a clearly worded offer.
  • Feature a pronounced call to action (CTA).
  • Lead with the important details.
  • Include contact information.

3. Test New Ad Funnels

The “sales funnel” is a pro marketing term that describes each step someone must take to become your customer. All ad funnels aren’t created equal, though. The goal is to warm up your prospects to the idea of spending their hard-earned cash on your website and then priming them to buy.

Try creating new ads and updated variations of your landing pages and see how well they perform. Your e-commerce conversion rates will usually shift right along with various advertising approaches — hopefully for the better. Wait about three or four days before you decide how well the new content is doing.

4. Pare Down Your Audience

Sometimes casting a wider net is better, and sometimes it’s not. Narrowing your focus can produce desirable results too. Use your analytics metrics to identify your target audience and boost conversion rates by directing your efforts to specific consumers.

Micro-marketing is a smart and practical approach that can boost your business. Focus all your efforts on excelling in your niche and position your company as the go-to source for your specialty. Save your resources for the people you really want to attract — those who are ready to convert.

5: Leverage FOMO 

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a powerful tool that you can use to your advantage. Improve conversions by driving potential customers to take action. No one wants to be left behind or miss out, so add phrases such as “time is running out” to your ads or on your landing page. Go so far as to add a countdown clock to increase your customer’s sense of urgency.

According to one source, roughly 69% of millennials experience FOMO every day. Since this group spends nearly $600 billion a year in the U.S. and makes 54% of their purchases online, that’s a customer pool your online enterprise wants to tap into.

6: Grow Your Social Media Following

Boost your social media conversion rate by urging your visitors to follow you on the top social media platforms. Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are some of the top networks shoppers use to research and buy products online.

Take advantage of social media login buttons on your website. If you have a strong following, display those figures on your pages as a testament to your engagement. Further appeal to the masses by:

  • Holding contests.
  • Sharing videos.
  • Using hashtags.
  • Updating profile and cover photos often.
  • Including something eye-catching with every post.

7, Diversify Traffic Sources

Utilizing a wide range of marketing tools can help your organization impact a wider audience. A diverse collection of traffic sources is an essential action plan for every successful online business. It can be risky to depend on one source for all your incoming traffic. Take a comprehensive approach to sourcing prospects and try branching out with partnerships, affiliates, blogs, forums, and social media sites.

The top social media contenders include:

  • Instagram.
  • Twitter.
  • Facebook.
  • YouTube.
  • Tumblr.
  • LinkedIn.

8. Bring in a Professional

Creating compelling content is a crucial component in every company’s successful advertising campaign. Your enterprise may have tried to do it yourselves, as this duty often falls on existing staff.

Play to your organization’s strengths and let your salespeople focus on sales. Consider bringing in a professional if your in-house copy isn’t meeting your conversion rate goals. The experts know how to increase sales and engage your potential customers with unique concepts that help you stand out from the crowd.

When Conversion Rates Become Unreliable

Conversion rates are undoubtedly one of the most universally relevant statistics in evaluating the performance of your digital marketing efforts. However, just like with any other metric, if this data is viewed out of context, it’s incredibly deceiving.

Be wary of both high or low conversion rates that suddenly appear out of nowhere. Carefully evaluate all the data at your disposal and get a clear, comprehensive picture before abandoning — or escalating — your efforts.

Here are three reasons why conversion rates can be misleading:

1: A Higher Conversion Rate Doesn’t Equal Higher Performance 

It’s very tempting to open that bottle of bubbly you’ve been saving when you see high conversion rates on your website’s metrics report. However, higher conversion rates may actually hide poor performance, so don’t staunchly take this statistic at face value.

Yes, strong conversion rates are usually a positive sign. Just don’t assume your campaigns are profitable based on your company’s average conversion rates alone. Perhaps high advertising costs are wreaking havoc on your ROI, or maybe you have a high conversion rate paired with a low sales volume.

For example, Day 1 has a 4% conversion rate, with 5,000 visits and 200 sales. Day 2’s conversion rate more than doubled to 10%. However, there were just 1,000 visits and only 100 sales.

2: Not Every Visitor Is Ready To Buy

People visit websites for a multitude of reasons. They may be researching your products, checking on their order’s shipping status, or emailing support. Your blog could also be building a following, and your average customer is stopping by more often to read your engaging stories.

If you focus solely on conversion rates, you may be missing out on vital information about your audience. Remember that you’re benefiting in other ways because every visit to your site has the potential for more. Even if your first-time visitors leave without making a purchase, that doesn’t mean they won’t be back and become a paying customer.

3: Conversion Rates Vary

Your website’s metrics will fluctuate with different audiences. An influx of visitors from your latest ad campaign may drive down your conversion rates. Stay the course. New visitors are less likely to make a purchase than your returning customers.

People who click through from different traffic sources tend to convert at different rates as well. Direct visitors are more likely to engage with your site than those who wander in from an affiliate link. Use a free platform such as Google Analytics to help you calculate your conversion rates by source.

How To Use Conversion Rates More Effectively

Despite any limitations, conversion rates are a powerful tool in the hands of an ambitious business owner. Use these tips to make average conversion rates work better for you, so you can take meaningful actions to improve your results.

1. Look at the Big Picture

Always take other numbers into account alongside overall conversion rates. Whether your metrics have gone up or down, ask yourself why the numbers have changes. A vast reduction in visitors coupled with a slow decrease in sales is one misleading scenario that could result in an increase in conversion.

2. Use It for Specific Tasks

Building individual landing pages and email marketing campaigns around conversion rates is an excellent game plan that generally yields positive results.

3. View Reports by Channel

Pay attention to where your new conversions are coming from. View reports by channel, as acquisition platforms like generic PPC campaigns convert at a lower rate than average conversion rates. Working to improve each channel independently will save you money and lead to more visitor participation. It’s a better approach than narrowing your focus on your headline conversion rate.

4. Get To Know Your Customers

Scrutinize your conversion rate by visitor type. Separate the reports for new and returning customers, as well as previous buyers. While it’s easy to get carried away with creative elements, superficial site changes will affect new visitors more so than established customers because this demographic is more likely to be swayed by perception.

5. Examine Conversion Rates by Task

If your site has several key goals, treat those as separate conversion tasks. Prioritize the tasks and work to increase their rates individually, based on where they rank in your enterprise’s growth strategies.

Some common tasks for a company’s website include:

  • Sales.
  • Customer support inquiries.
  • Leads.
  • Account updates.

6. Focus on Micro-Conversions

Your website’s primary goal, be it sales or signups, is always accompanied by smaller goals, called micro-conversions. These activities are valuable because they lead your customers towards your company’s real prize.

Common micro-conversions can include these actions:

  • Signing up for your newsletter.
  • Adding products to a shopping cart.
  • Downloading content, like a white paper.
  • Subscribing to your channel.
  • Visiting multiple pages.

Conversion rates are vital when optimizing your content marketing campaigns. Now that you know what conversion rate is, you can use it to verify your strategy’s profitability and how visitors engage with your website. Driving conversion rates, click-through rates, and numerous other metrics are the keys to every successful online enterprise.

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CopyPress writer

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