Marketing Research: Average conversion rates
Jon Powell and I recently spoke on a Cisco webinar and were asked that ever-popular question — what is the average conversion rate?
Here’s the answer — 8.2%. You can stop reading the blog post right now.
In all seriousness, I wish I could give such a simple answer. However, the truth is much more complex. We’ll take a look at some average conversion rates in just a moment, but first let me suggest you use this data with caution. And here’s why …
There is no such thing as the ‘right’ conversion rate
There are too many variables that affect conversion to settle on one number, such as:
- Source of traffic
- Where that traffic is directed to
- New vs. returning visitors
- Current marketing campaigns
- Competitors’ marketing campaigns (if you’re Chevy, and Ford starts giving away free cars, even your best optimization efforts won’t amount to much)
- Product categories
- Price points
- Payment options
- Even the very definition of what you consider to be a conversion
- And the list could go on …
The bigger question you need to ask is – why are those who are converting choosing to act, and why are the rest bouncing? A/B testing to produce a customer theory can help you answer that question.
While you’re working on that, let’s look at some of those average conversion rates that everyone is so hungry for. Where they can help you most, I’ve found, is with those inexperienced in marketing.
For example, I was recently helping a local nonprofit, and they were disappointed with the 10% conversion rate they recently achieved on an email send, and were somewhat relieved to learn about some email conversion rates I have seen in the past — theirs ain’t so shabby.
So feel free to turn the below research loose on the inexperienced clients, business leaders or investors you work with.
Since we can’t cover every possible source of traffic in one blog post, I’ve focused on two search marketing channels, using data pulled from recent research conducted by Kaci Bower, Senior Research Analyst, MECLABS.
SEO conversion rates
As you can see in this data from the MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition, while the median is 4% and the average is 8%, we’re not comfortable calling out just one number as the conversion rate for organic traffic. While most marketers achieve conversion rates in the low single digits, there is an impressive range.
And if you just happen to be the marketer nabbing 60% conversion rates from your organic traffic, then drop me a line please! We’d love to write up a MarketingSherpa case study about your efforts. We all could learn from your outstanding SEO efforts.
Paid search traffic conversion rates
According to MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – PPC Edition, the conversion rate for PPC search ads seems only slightly lower than organic search traffic, with a median of 3.5%, and a few more very high performers skewing the average up a little. (Again to the 60%ers, share your tactics with us. We’ll make you famous.)
But there is still a wide variability in conversion rates on paid search traffic. So take these numbers with a grain of salt. Use them to help educate the less marketing-savvy individuals you deal with on a day-to-day basis, but improve your own marketing performance based on your metrics, your KPIs, and A/B testing to learn more about your audience.
What Your Customers Want: How to predict customer behavior for maximum ROI — Web clinic on March 28, 2012 at 4:00-5:00 pm EDT