Conversion rate (CVR)
A conversion rate is a marketing metric that shows the percentage of times a user took a desired action.
What is a conversion rate?
A conversion rate is used to measure the effectiveness of a campaign or piece of content. Specifically, it shows how often viewers took a desired action such as clicking a link, registering for an event, or making a purchase.
A conversion rate is always expressed as a percentage: the higher it is, the more successful your campaign. Average conversion rates vary by industry, but they usually hover in the low single digits. For instance, just 2% of app downloads typically lead to a purchase. This means a small change in your conversion rate can have a big impact.
Why is your conversion rate important?
Your conversion rate is valuable because it shows you how effective a page or piece of content is.
After all, you don’t produce content for fun — it all has a purpose as part of your marketing plan, whether that’s getting users to buy, sign up, or complete another action. While metrics like page views or impressions are informative, they don’t tell you if your content is doing its job of driving users to act.
Let’s take the example of running a digital ad campaign with the conversion goal of growing app downloads. You may have a good click-through rate (CTR) to the app listing, but if few people download the app, your campaign isn’t performing as it should.
Conversion rates help marketers understand where there may be weaknesses in their marketing funnel. In the example above, the ad itself is performing well (it’s clearly grabbing people’s attention), but the landing page or promotional offer may have issues you need to address.
How do you calculate your conversion rate?
Many analytics platforms like Google Analytics or AppsFlyer calculate the conversion rate for you once you set up your goals. But you can calculate it yourself using a simple formula.
Just take your number of conversions (users who completed the desired action) and divide it by the number of interactions with your content (views, opens, or clicks, for example). Then, multiply this fractional number by 100 to get your percentage:
For instance, if a landing page has 1,000 views and 25 of those sessions resulted in a purchase, you have a 2.5% conversion rate (25 / 1,000 = 0.025 or 2.5%).
What factors impact conversion rates?
Think about the complexity of the average buying decision online. Do I like the product? Will it work with the space or device I have in mind? What do the reviews say? Is it worth the money? Can I buy it somewhere else for less? Can I trust this company? You need to capture a user’s attention and overcome objections in a very short window of time.
Of course, you need to show the value of your product or service with strong messaging and images. But that’s not enough by itself. You also need a powerful call to action and a seamless user experience. Here are the top factors that impact conversion rates.
- Page load time. Consumers tend to bounce if a site takes more than a few seconds to load: they’ll lose interest or decide they don’t trust it. Research from Portent shows that a site that loads in one second converts 2.5 times more customers than one that loads in five seconds.
- Page design. Your website and page design are critical to your user experience and optimization. It goes without saying that your website should be optimized for mobile viewing and follow web design best practices. Use images, charts, videos, and subheadings to break up big chunks of text. Keep your content sharp and to the point, and make calls to action stand out.
- Differentiation. If your page is hosted on a third-party marketplace like Amazon or the Apple or Android app stores, you don’t have control over the page design. Your content will also be side by side with your competitors, possibly selling nearly the same product. Follow site-specific best practices to optimize marketplace conversions, and use social proof and eye-catching images to make your offering pop.
- Pricing and offer. Your viewer may have an interest in your product or service, but be put off by your pricing. Benchmark your competition to make sure that your charges and pricing structure fall within the mean range for comparable products or services. Using promotional offers can create a sense or urgency to nudge users to convert.
- CTA message. The most important factor impacting your conversion rate is your call to action (CTA). Effective content uses prompts to keep a user moving. Give users a clear next step to take and choose the right words to get them there. Beyond standard CTA messages like “Sign up” and “Learn more,” think outside the box to highlight the value of taking action. For instance, try “Start saving” instead of simply “Sign up”, or “Discover your next destination” instead of “Learn more”. Find CTA inspiration from others, and test to find what works.
6. CTA format and placement. The most common type of CTA is a button, but it’s certainly not the only one. Banners, pop-ups, slide-ins, forms, and in-line links are all options to prompt a user to act. If you stick with the tried-and-true button, pay attention to its design (color contrast and spacing) and placement on the page. For longer content, for example, you may want to include one CTA above the fold and another at the very end.
Top tips to improve your conversion rate
No one wants a leaking marketing funnel. Follow these tips for optimizing your conversion rate to help you grow revenue and return on investment (ROI) for your marketing spend.
Three conversion rate mistakes to avoid
So, your conversion rate is lagging behind your peers. Now what? Make sure you aren’t falling prey to these rookie conversion-rate missteps.
1. Measuring the wrong action
If you’ve built a solid content strategy, each ad or piece of content should lead toward a goal. However, the goal shouldn’t be the same for all content. Of course, your ultimate goal in marketing is for someone to complete a purchase. For bottom-of-the-funnel content, this is what you’ll measure.
For top- or middle-of-the-funnel content, however, this may not be the goal that will define a conversion. You may want to look at lead generation and lead nurturing conversions instead. Examples include a user downloading a resource, subscribing to a newsletter, or liking your social media page.
Once you’ve achieved the valuable step of adding someone to your email list, you can measure conversions according to your next goal — which might be someone signing up for a free trial, for example.
2. Asking for too much information
Consumers abandon nearly 70% of eCommerce shopping carts. The likely culprit? Cumbersome checkout processes. The average online checkout process has 23 elements, twice the number the Baymard Institute found to be optimal.
Lengthy lead generation forms can also cause people to abandon them before completing them. Customers abandon conversions when they feel that the time investment or experience outweighs the benefit they anticipate.
3. Not giving enough information
Finding the right amount of information to share can be a delicate balance. However, customers need to clearly see the value before taking the next step. You can accomplish this by:
- Listing tangible and intangible benefits
- Showing multiple images, videos, and product details
- Offering social proof such as customer reviews, industry awards, or media coverage
If you’re encouraging users to take advantage of a free trial or special offer, you may want to add the word “free” in your CTA or use other reassurances like “no purchase necessary” or “no credit card required”. This removes objections and helps people feel more comfortable taking advantage of an offer.
Three ways to boost your conversion rate
Once you’ve targeted the right conversion action and built your lead generation or purchase link, optimize your content to convince more users to convert. Follow these conversion-rate tips to help you grow revenue and boost ROI for your marketing spend.
1. Localize your content
Imagine clicking on an ad only to discover that the landing page is in another language, contains cultural references you don’t understand, or lists its price in another currency.
It’s essential to localize your content if you have a global audience, especially if you’re running paid campaigns in multiple countries. First, localize your messaging to account for language, dialect differences, and cultural references. Creating country-specific web pages and app listings can help you accomplish this.
Next, localize your images to ensure they’ll resonate with the demographic you’re talking to.
Last, ensure that the functional aspects of your conversion like currency, shipping, and product availability are localized upfront. It’s a poor experience for a customer to get to the end of a checkout experience only to find that shipping will be significantly more expensive or that a product isn’t available in their area.
2. Sharpen your messaging
If your ad is seeing good engagement but your conversion rate is lagging behind, take a closer look at your landing page content. Does it grab attention? Is the value of your offering clear? Or could there be a disconnect between your ad message and your landing page message?
The best content positions the problem and how your product or service will solve it. If there’s no need or no clear solution, there’s no reason to buy.
It’s smart to hire a professional copywriter or agency to optimize your page content. Use market research or A/B testing through dynamic content to uncover which message resonates best with your audience.
3. Create a sense of urgency
There’s a reason why sales give us such a buzz: they make us feel like we’ve won something. By creating a sense of urgency, you make people feel like they’re winning by saving money or getting something for free. Inversely, you create a sense of scarcity that they may miss out on something by not acting. Take a look at these examples:
- “Claim your special offer by Dec 1”
- “Register today to save $100”
- “Spend $50 and get a free gift”
Even if you don’t have a discount or freebie to offer, you can still use this tactic. In a B2C example, you can highlight when inventory is low (“Going fast!” or “Last few remaining”). In B2B SaaS, you can position value in a very direct way. If you’ve built an argument that a service saves time, for instance, use a CTA like “Save 2 hours of admin work this week”.
Your conversion rate may be a small number, but it packs a powerful punch. With this metric, you can strip away less meaningful ones like traffic to find out how effective your content is at driving users to act. With tools and strategies for optimization at your fingertips, you can inch your percentage up and drive more leads and sales.
Just remember these principles:
- Determine what actions you want users to take as part of your marketing strategy. As well as sales, don’t forget about audience-building and lead-generation conversions.
- Pay as much attention to your format and design as you do to the message.
- Create a killer CTA to make your offer irresistible: show users the value your product or service will bring.
- Use emotion and a sense of urgency to compel users to act.
- Track your conversion rate over time. Use A/B testing or make small changes over time to ensure it’s on the up.