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April 28, 2008

Conversion Rate: What's Your Website Tracking As A Conversion?

By Li Evans

Increase_website_conversion_rate When you  hear the word "conversion" do you automatically think "shopping cart", "secure server", or "SSL"?  It's O.K. if you do, most people think along those lines when they hear talk about converting visitors to buyers.  When people first started talking about successful websites and how to measure the success of a website, conversion rates went hand in hand with retail sites.

The world of online marketing and being held accountable for the bottom line has advanced quite rapidly in the past few years.  It is no longer the retail site that is concerned about the "conversion".  Just about every site on the internet can track some kind of conversion.  Now you are probably scratching your head and thinking "what's she talking about"?  Well lets take a look at the different types of conversion rates you can track - and help to prove the success or the failure of your online marketing efforts.

  • Purchase Conversion:
    This is the type of conversion that most equate with the term "conversion".  This is where a visitor comes to your website or web page and then eventually, either in that visit or a subsequent visit depending on your analytics tracking, purchases a product or service that your website offers.  This type of conversion is pretty clean cut as you can clearly tie back advertising spend, resources and product/service costs to the conversion.

  • Email Sign-Up Conversion:
    Signing up for an email newsletter is a conversion?  You bet!  You have engaged the visitor enough for them to check that box, fill out that form and hit the submit button.  Although not quite a clean cut to tie back resources too, some companies assign a specific value to each sign up, in order to be able to track the success or failure of the campaign.

  • Viewing More Than One Page Conversion:
    If your site is a content site, and you get revenue from impressions, this is type of conversion is rather important.  You've gotten the visitor into your site, now you need them to come in and visit more articles, blog posts, or content.  Being able to use some sort of Path Analysis would be a smart way to also check on if there are bottle necks or problem areas of your site.  Is there a certain area the visitors seem to leave at? Are there areas of your site that aren't visited?  Watching the path and correcting the issues, could help this conversion type increase!
  • Engagement Conversion (Watching Videos / Playing Games, Etc.) :
    Again, this is likely an important conversion to content sites.  You've gotten the person into your site, now you want to see how many people become engaged with the video or game on your site that's been offered.  Games that are programmed in Flash are a bit harder to track, since the game itself is embedded in a .swf file.  Videos are a bit easier, as most players now are offering some type of statistic showing the number of plays - some even show "partial plays" as well as "completed plays."
  • Lead Conversions:
    They might not have purchased something today, but they are interested in your products or services and want more information.  This type of conversion is more common with bigger ticket items, car dealerships, real estate agents, financial loans are all examples where the "lead" is the conversion for the site.  Visitors come to the website and fill out the form.  Online marketers should be wise enough to assign a monetary value to each "genuine" lead that is recieved through this method to help show successes and failures.
  • Offline Literature to Website Visits Conversions:
    Do you have a catalog?  How about some printed literature you hand out?  Not sure how successful it is?  Want to be able to track this?  The next catalog you drop ship or the next set of literature you have printed up, print up the url with a special page on it.  For example: www.sitename.com/special-offer - and block this from being indexed by the search engines, as well as not having it in your on site navigation.  Doing this will help you get a true handle on how well your offline literature is working for you and converting online   
  • New User Sign-up Conversion:
    Like the lead conversion, this type of conversion isn't a purchase, but it is showing interest by the visitor in your site.  They took the time to actually fill out the form and sign up as a user to your site - this is a conversion as well.  This type of conversion goes for retail sites, forums, and even social communities that rely on "memberships" to keep them going should be measuring this type of conversion and applying some kind of monetary value to it.   

  • Contribution Conversion:
    This is particularly useful for a social media site to track.  Every time a member of the community contributes something, this too is a form of conversion.  They are adding user generated content to your site.  From posting photos, videos, comments, answers to questions, to adding their own blog posts to their profiles, this is all an action taken by your users.  Assigning some type of value to each type of action would be a smart initiative to measure the popularity or unpopularity of features of your site if you are promoting them.   

Website_conversion_rates Don't be pigenoned holed into thinking that the term "conversion" means one thing.  Conversion can mean something entirely different for every site your visit.  You may have something very unique to show on your website, figure out how to measure that and attach a value to it!  If you don't, you're missing out on understanding the value of your online marketing efforts.


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I agree, actually to truly account for search value we all need to not just look at 1 conversion. I like voicestar for phone call tracking.

The question I find is that clients have a hard time quantifying the value of each of those to help us get a more overall view.

Great article Li - conversion tracking is so important, it often seems to get overlooked in this rush towards social media though.

One useful tip for beginners is that you can track contact email links using Google Analytics. If you have a WordPress based site, Joost has built that into a plugin.


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