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Conversion Metrics: Measure Whether Your Site Keeps and Converts Customers

Conversion metrics are among the most important indicators for measuring and monitoring the success of your Web site. When you measure conversions, you are looking at how many visitors actually purchase something, sign up, or take whatever action is appropriate on your Web site.

Industry-neutral average conversion rates hover around 3 percent. This means only 3 out of 100 visitors across all industries complete an intended action.

You can measure the conversion rates for your Web site and improve them by fine-tuning your site; every online business should watch these numbers and have Plan B ready in case key conversion rates suddenly plunge.

So what conversion rates should you measure? There are three basic processes that can be measured for conversion versus abandonment, and each depends largely on what your ultimate goal for your site is.

  • Activities that lead to an acquisition or conversion. The user makes a purchase or requests a service. This one is probably the easiest to measure because you know when it's done and you have the money in hand. You can see the actual impact in your bottom line.

  • Activities that lead to gathering important data. The user fills out a form, signs up for a newsletter, or contacts you. You haven't actually made a sale yet but you have more information about that user and probably also their permission to continue the business relationship. This might be the end in itself, or just a step along your conversion process.

  • Activities that direct visitors to information that reduces your operational costs. This one is trickier to measure because you'll have to track multiple data points — how often someone accesses your FAQ or Help section, how many calls to your customer support group you're receiving, how much those calls diminish after implementing a change aimed at giving greater support up front, or any other operational changes aimed at reducing overall cost.

Conversion also looks at abandonment — the ones who got away. Maybe they intended to complete an action but were frustrated during the process and bailed out.

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