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There’s a lot that goes into marketing, but in the end, it’s all about conversions. You devote money and manpower toward a top-notch website, awesome content, well-researched optimization and a super user experience. The goal of it all? Convert, convert, convert. You want to turn those visitors into customers.

When you take the time to track your conversion rates, you see how well your website and marketing efforts are moving people along your funnel. Get some conversion marketing basics under your belt and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring your hard work gets the results you want.

What Is a Conversion Rate?

A conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who perform a particular action. Those actions vary widely, but here are some examples:

  • Buying your product
  • Joining your email list
  • Downloading a resource you offer
  • Creating a free account or upgrading to a paid membership
  • Engaging with your chatbot
  • Responding to a survey or poll
  • Submitting a contact form

A conversion rate isn’t a measure of traffic alone. It measures what percentage of that traffic performs your desired action.

Why Are Conversion Rates Important?

Tracking conversions can clue you in to the parts of your website that are working — or not working. For example, say you’re driving a lot of traffic to your online store but have few resulting sales. You can look at your data to determine why. Does your website load so slowly that the traffic eventually bounces? Maybe you notice that you have a lot of abandoned shopping carts — is your checkout process too hard to navigate?

Knowing certain conversion rates can also help you identify which marketing efforts are giving you the most ROI. For example, if your Facebook traffic converts better than your LinkedIn traffic, then you know to invest more into your Facebook strategy.

How Do You Calculate Conversion Rates?

The formula to find an overall conversion rate is to divide the number of conversions by total number of visitors to your website or landing page. Then, you multiply that by 100 to get the percentage. For example, if your landing page had 5,421 visitors last week, and 179 of those visitors converted, then your conversion rate is 3.3 percent.

You can narrow this overall conversion rate in many ways in order to obtain more targeted, specific data. For example, you can calculate conversion rates by:

  • Channel: Do you get more conversions coming to you from YouTube or Instagram?
  • Page: Do you get more conversions from pages that contain a video or lots of product photos?
  • Campaign: Which marketing campaigns resulted in high conversions overall?
  • Keyword: Do you get more conversions when you use certain keywords?
  • Advertisement: Was a specific ad particularly effective in converting viewers?
  • Engagement: A visitor spends a certain amount of time on your site or clicks through a certain number of pages.

Marketers use A/B testing to determine which slogans, hashtags, images, layouts and CTAs result in the highest conversion rates.

How Do You Track Conversion Rates?

If you’re using Google Analytics or another analytics tool, then you’ve got lots of these numbers at your fingertips — no calculator required. Many marketplace websites like Shopify and Etsy have built-in analytics functions, as do social media sites (Facebook Page Insights and Twitter Analytics). You may need to manage data across several channels unless you invest in a tool that aggregates everything for you.

Within many programs, like Google Analytics, you can set custom conversion metrics or conversion goals to display the information you’re looking for. In most instances, you create a specific webpage — such as a thank-you page or a landing page — where people go after completing the desired action. You tell your analytics tool to track that page, and you’re on your way to measuring your conversions for that specific goal.

Here are some popular tools that are designed specifically to facilitate and optimize conversion marketing:

  • Google Analytics: Free and powerful website analytics tool that covers all the major bases. Integrates with many other complementary analytics tools.
  • Mixpanel and Kissmetrics: Comprehensive analytics tools (similar to Google Analytics) that specialize in tracking how users interact with your website so you can learn why they convert.
  • SEMrush: SEO tools to measure how well your website ranks in SERPs and how you stack against your competitors.
  • CrazyEgg: Tracks user interaction on your website using tools like heatmaps, scrollmaps, click reports, user recordings and more.
  • Optimizely and Google Content Experiments: Easily perform A/B tests to determine which versions convert best.
  • Chartbeat: Great for article-based sites, this tool shows you how visitors interact with your text content.
  • Databox: Integrates analytics data from multiple sources into one dashboard so you don’t have to log in to many separate platforms.

Once you have the tools in place to collect, view and analyze data, the next step is to learn how to use this information.

Tips to Optimize Your Conversion Rates

In many instances, optimizing your website experience is synonymous with optimizing your conversion rate. Making your website — or specific landing pages — as effective as possible increases the chances that visitors will take you up on those CTAs. Here are some smart tips to optimize conversion rates:

  • Drive the right traffic to your site: Getting found is one thing, but it’s much better to get found by the people who need what you offer. Use those analytics to make sure you’re attracting the right people and marketing on the right platforms to find them.
  • Make it easy for visitors to convert: Remove as many barriers to conversion as possible. If you’re a local business, make sure your phone number and address are prominent on your website so people can locate you. If you’re selling products, don’t require users to create an account to complete an order or scroll for the buy button.
  • Have a clear, simple website design: A deluge of graphics or text can confuse visitors and leave them wondering where to go. Even first-time visitors should immediately see — within one or two seconds — how they can shop, contact you or learn more about what you offer.
  • Optimize for mobile: Make sure all CTAs are available on mobile. Ensure no pop-ups get in the way of your site and that navigation is just as easy as it is on a desktop.
  • Help people trust you: Are you a new business? Prominently display ratings, reviews and awards to build trust quickly with new visitors. This encourages them to stay long enough to give you a chance.
  • Test and test again: Conduct A/B tests to check which language, CTAs and design layouts perform best with your audience.