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Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate: Brief Summary

In online marketing terms, a site’s conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors who carry out a desired action. For example, within the field of e-commerce, a successful conversion may occur when a website visitor becomes a paying customer. However, it is important to understand that conversions can refer to a range of other actions as well, such as registering for an account, or leaving contact details when downloading a white paper.

Essentially, a conversion can be described as the act of moving beyond casual browsing of a website to carry out a specific action, which has been requested – either subtly or overtly – by a business, its marketers, or its content creators. A website’s conversion rate can be calculated by dividing the number of visitors who carried out the desired action by the total number of website visitors, then multiplying the figure by 100 to give a percentage.

Conversion Rate: Detailed Summary

Conversion rates are used as a key metric by digital marketing experts when analysing the performance of a website. The act, or acts, that constitute a conversion are defined either by the website owner or business, or by marketing experts, with conversion rates demonstrating the number of visitors who are carrying out that action. While online purchases are the most obvious type of conversion, they are far from the only one.

For instance, the purpose of some websites or web pages may not be to generate sales, but instead to generate leads. In such cases, a conversion may be defined as the act of supplying contact information, such as through an account registration, or newsletter sign up. Similarly, the aim of a website may be to build brand awareness through the publication of a white paper. Here, then, each download of the white paper may be considered a conversion.

The conversion rate metric is often utilised by marketers or website owners to assess the quality of a website and its content, as well as its overall design and ease of use. A low conversion rate could, therefore, be indicative of a poor user experience, or poor-quality site content, which fails to engage users. It could even signify a poor-quality landing page, which fails to encourage enough visitors to carry out the desired actions.

In terms of solving this, many digital marketing and web design experts use things like web analytics software, visitor feedback and customer service techniques to try to improve conversion rates. The process of designing a website to maximise conversions is sometimes referred to as conversion optimisation and an example of this would be focusing on the most important conversion pages on a website and trying to direct traffic towards them.

Nonetheless, it must be stressed that there are certain limitations to using conversion rates as a tool for assessing site performance. A lack of sales conversions, for example, may not necessarily be a reflection on the quality of a website and could instead be the result of a poor pricing strategy, or an unsatisfactory product range.

Similarly, low conversion rates are not always a bad thing for business performance. It could be that a website with a 5 percent conversion rate makes more money than one with a 10 percent conversion rate, because the metric does not take into account how much website users actually spend. For this reason, conversion rates should be analysed in a broader context, encompassing all aspects of the business and its offerings.

Examples of Types of Conversions

As mentioned, the definition of a conversion can differ quite significantly from one website to another, depending on the specific action that is desired. The action, or actions, which constitute a conversion are usually defined either by marketing experts, or by the website owner. Nevertheless, some actions are more commonly used to measure conversions than others and some of the most popular conversion types are detailed below:

Making a purchase, Registering for an account, Providing contact information, Downloading a file, Clicking onto other pages

  • Making a purchase – Perhaps the most obvious type of conversion, this refers to visitors who actually part with money in exchange for goods or services offered by a business, and is frequently cited as the most important conversion goal for e-commerce sites. It may also include actions like signing up for a free trial.
  • Registering for an account – The act of registering for an account with a website is often considered to be a conversion, as it demonstrates a level of interest in the site’s content that extends beyond casual browsing. Having an account may enable a user to buy products, post comments or access exclusive areas of the site.
  • Providing contact information – Also referred to as leads, website visitors who provide contact information are often counted as successful conversions, because they can be chased up in the pursuit of other goals, such as sales. Customers may provide contact information when signing up for a newsletter, asking for a quote, etc.
  • Downloading a file – In many instances, downloading a file can be considered a conversion, especially when the file is a white paper or other professional document. If visitors are required to supply contact information prior to downloading a file, this can be combined with the above conversion type, achieving two goals at once.
  • Clicking onto other pages – Finally, some websites or marketing experts define a conversion as the act of clicking onto another page on the site, or visiting a few different pages. This simple action demonstrates that the visitor has an interest in what the website has to offer.

Factors Influencing Conversion Rates

A number of internal and external factors can influence conversion rates and while some of these can be controlled, others are uncontrollable. One example of an external factor, which is completely beyond the control of web designers, marketing experts, content creators and site owners, is the state of the economy in a certain country, as things like product purchases may decline in a harsher economic climate.

Attempts to positively influence conversion rates by making adjustments to controllable factors fall under the umbrella of conversion optimisation. Some of the controllable factors that can impact upon conversion rates include web page design, the quality of website content and the price and quality of products and services. Calls to action, customer reviews and live chat help have also been shown to boost a website’s conversion rate.


A website’s conversion rate is the percentage of online visitors who perform a specific action. It can be calculated by dividing the number of people carrying out that action by the total number of website visitors, and then multiplying that number by 100. Generally, a high conversion rate is indicative of a well-designed website, although there are some limitations to this, so conversion rates are best used in conjunction with other metrics.

There are a wide number of actions which may constitute a conversion and the precise action is usually defined by the website’s operators or digital marketers. Examples include purchases, file downloads and the supply of contact details, among others. The process of trying to positively influence conversion rates is sometimes called conversion optimisation and may include factors ranging from web design to the quality of products or services.

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