Stacks of coins

We, humans, are insecure creatures. Therefore, it’s only natural that we always want to compare ourselves with the rest to make sure that we are, at least, doing as good as them.

This is especially true in the domain of conversion optimization. As soon as our clients start monitoring their conversion rates (i.e. the result of dividing the number of converted visitors by the total number of visitors) they rush to see if their conversion rate is better or worse than the average conversion rate. Understandable, but a complete waste of time. Asking what your conversion rate should be is the wrong question for at least two very important reasons:

There is no such thing as an average conversion rate

Sure, if you ask around you’ll probably hear that you should expect a 2-3% conversion rate, meaning that 2 or 3 out of every 100 visitors to your web will end up converting (buying your product, subscribing to your mailing list or whatever action you want them to do). The problem is that nobody knows where this number came from. Everybody talks about it but there’s no public data to back it up beyond anecdotal examples. More than a real number, it is a myth.

If you dig a little bit deeper you may find a couple of other recurring graphics, like this one from MarketingSherpa:


Again, this is more of a curiosity than something to seriously rely on given that the data is provided by the own participant organizations (think on how honest are your answers when answering to public surveys 🙂 ) and only a small number of them replied (the graphic suggests that only 167 companies participated and there are 10 different subcategories which implies that the “average per sector” value is based on the responses of just around 16 companies in that sector, not really a significant sample).

Even if we conducted a huge conversion rate survey, the result wouldn’t matter to you

Imagine that we had such “typical conversion rate” number. Same as you cannot just copy the conversion strategies that help others succeed, you cannot assume that your target conversion rate should be the average in your sector since many factors come into play (seasonal, target population, geographical distribution,…) that may explain why yours is better/worse than the average (independently of how optimized your website is).

Just as an example, a very important factor is the conversion goal you choose. Even your own website will show different conversion rates depending on whether your target is to get more subscribers or to sell an expensive product.

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The question is not whether your conversion rate is as good as the rest but if it’s better than yesterday!

The only important value you have to compare your current conversion rate with is the conversion rate you had yesterday. This is the one thing you should focus on and the only one that will help you make more money with your website (check how quickly small improvements on conversion rates may translate in big bucks for your business!).

Don’t worry about what others are doing, keep thinking on the A/B tests you’re going to try to convert all those visitors that you lose every day. Instead of worrying because your conversion rate is 1.5% and you read somewhere that should be 2%, worry about the fact that 98.5% of people landing in your site (probably many of them paid visitors) leave it!

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