According to a study conducted by Fireclick, an industry leading provider of website analytics services, the average conversion rate for websites (worldwide) is just a hair over 2%. Depressing, isn’t it? But, before you set out in search of a bridge to leap off of, consider this: Blue Corona has dozens of clients with website conversion rates that exceed 15%!
Given the potential value of a conversion and with such a large discrepancy between different sites, it’s natural to wonder:
Before we start talking about what a good conversion rate is, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with respect to what constitutes a conversion. A conversion is any action taken on your website that you deem valuable. This can be an inquiry via an online contact form, an email newsletter signup, a webinar registration, a product purchase, someone downloading a whitepaper or any number of other online behaviors.
At Blue Corona, most of our clients are B2C (business-to-consumer) home services companies (HVAC, plumbing, remodeling, roofing, etc.). Home service business owners want leads and booked jobs. So, how do home services businesses get leads via the web? Typically, they get them from someone completing an online contact form or placing a phone call (both actions can easily be tracked as conversions).
As you can probably guess, a B2B (business-to-business) company selling multi-million dollar software packages is going to have a very different conversion rate than a B2C plumbing company. This is one of the problems with Fireclick’s study. The data they used in this study was, ‘compiled from the live statistics of participating Fireclick customers.’ We have no idea how many companies they used or which industries they represent.
What is a good conversion rate?
So what is a good conversion rate? It depends on your industry, but here are some good general rules of thumb. Visit-to-lead conversion rates for necessary home services like HVAC and plumbing tend to exceed 15%. If you own or manage the marketing for an HVAC company and you’re visit-to-lead conversion rates are less than 10%, you have a major conversion rate issue on your hands and you’re throwing money out the window (no pun intended) if you invest in more traffic (SEO and PPC) without first fixing your conversion rate issues.
Visit-to-lead conversion rates for higher ticket or non-necessary home services (like bathroom or kitchen remodeling), tend to be in the neighborhood of 1-4.5%. B2B services companies, like fire protection companies, can expect visit-to-lead conversion rates between 5-8%. Be clear, when we say, ‘lead’, we are referring to actual verified LEADS – inquiries from prospective customers (vs. a phone call that has not been recorded and listened to).
This is significant because it is quite common for other online marketing companies to tout much higher visit-to-lead conversion rates, but upon further investigation, we find out that they are calling every phone call or web contact a ‘lead.’ The problem with this? A huge percentage of contacts – web and phone – are often solicitations and spam! Just think about how many spam web contacts you get from so called SEO experts!
The tools needed to track conversion rates
You can’t effectively improve or maximize what you fail to (accurately) measure and track, so the first thing you will have to do is determine what actions or behaviors on your website should count as conversions and then track your site to get a baseline of how it performs today. Do you have email addresses on your site? You’ll want to replace those with online contact forms and track the submissions with a tool like Google Analytics. Do you encourage prospects to call you from your website? If you do, you’ll need a website tracking solution that also tracks web-generated phone calls.
If you’re the DIY type, spend some time Googling, “website conversion rates” and “how to track website conversion rates” and you’ll find the information you need. If you’re too busy for that, you might want to have Blue Corona do a website audit and assessment. Not only will our team show you what you can do to measurably improve your website’s organic search performance, but we’ll also capture your true visit-to-lead conversion rate and give you suggestions for how to increase it (doubling and tripling it is the norm!).
Tips for improving your site’s conversion rates
1. Make your calls-to-action obvious
It should be crystal clear what you want people to do once on your website. If you want people to call you, you shouldn’t have your phone number in 8pt font at the bottom of the page. Out of sight, out of mind. Keep things simple. You might consider a three-tiered approach – tell visitors what you’d really like them to do (call us!), give them a secondary option (email us!) and then give them an ‘out’ option (signup for our email newsletter).
2. Follow the mud-tracks and adjust your site accordingly
According to the folks over at Conversion Rate Experts, visitors to NY’s Central Park were taking shortcuts across grassy areas and in doing so, they created lots of little dirt paths in the grassy (aka mud tracks). Many cities, in an effort to discourage this type of behavior, put up fencing, tape, walls, etc. This isn’t what NY’s planners did. They actually encouraged people to take shortcuts and then they paved them!
You should do the exact same thing with your website! Instead of fighting visitor behavior, rearrange your content in a way that aligns with how visitors interact with your site. Of course, you need the right website tracking tools in place in order to see these patterns (which is why people hire Blue Corona!).
3. Ask your visitors what they want
Instead of guessing what people want, ask them directly! Feedback and survey tools like those offered by Kampyle and KissInsights make it cheap and easy to find out what your website visitors are looking for and what would make it easier for them to find it. Also, many younger users of the web are already very comfortable with feedback tools like these so look for an explosion in their usage rates as the kids of today become home owners looking for a plumber.
A final conversion rate consideration
One of the most common questions we get from small business owners (after, “what should my website’s conversion rate be?”) is, “which should come first – traffic generation or conversion rate optimization?” A lot of times, the answer can be determined quantitatively by tracking how the site performs today and then running a few scenarios in a spreadsheet.
Some local business websites have so little traffic (less than 500 visits per month) that it can be difficult to even determine what their website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate is. If this is the situation you’re in, you should probably make sure there are no obvious conversion rate obstacles on your website (like the phone number at the very bottom of the page when one of the most important things you want people to do is call you) and then invest in traffic, traffic, traffic. If you put the right tracking tools in place, you’ll be able to monitor (and improve) your website’s conversion rates over time and take actions to improve them.
If, on the other hand, you’re getting decent traffic to your site each month – say 1,500 visitors or more for the typical home services company – you should probably review the conversion rate numbers above and if your website doesn’t exceed them, fix it first (or call us)! Sending (more) traffic to a site that can’t close is an incredibly common situation, but it shouldn’t be – the ROI for a typical conversion rate optimization project often exceeds even ultra profitably online marketing strategies such as SEO.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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