What is your conversion rate and why does it matter?

Turning website visitors into clients: what you need to know about conversion rates

Here’s a quick way to understand the importance of conversion rates (a.k.a. conversion ratios). There are people on social media who have hundreds of thousands of followers but cannot make money from them. Then there are those with a few thousand followers who make thousands of dollars every month from the foundation presented by this small base.

These two scenarios are the foundations of understanding conversion rates. If you run a website or any sort of digital marketing platform and want to make money from it, you need to understand this concept.

What is a conversion rate, anyway?

Imagine you have an online store that sells the world’s best cupcakes. You had 100 people visit your website, and 5 of them ended up buying a delicious treat. Your conversion ratio for this scenario would be 5% (5 sales/100 visitors x 100).

In plain speak, the conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete a specific action, like signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or filling out a contact form, compared to the total number of visitors.

Why should you care?

Because leverage. If you can convert more people it means that your website or online platform, using exactly the same resources, is delivering more results for your business.

Because revenue. Every point, click, or tap could mean more cha-ching for your business.

You should care about your conversion rate because, in a digital ecosystem filled with distractions, you want to figure out how to keep your audience’s attention long enough to get them to DO something.

In other words, if you don’t understand your conversion rates, you’re basically flying blind. And nobody wants to be that pilot. 🙈

Conversion rate planning in real life

When I was a teenager, growing up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, I remember once there was a plot of land that came up for sale. Some developers wanted to buy it to construct a shopping mall, but then decided against it.

Apparently, one main reason drove the decision; The land was on the side of the road adjacent to vehicles traveling into the CBD in the morning. The developers, based on studies, realized that this would reduce the number of people coming into the mall on a daily basis.

Cars and shopping malls can help us understand conversion rates...
Imagine all the cars on the right are heading to a residential area, coming out of the CBD, if there is a shopping mall on the left of the road, most of them will skip it and will opt for another easier to access shopping location. Placement of physical shops affects conversion rates, just as there are factors that have the same effect for online stores.

It turns out that when a shopping mall is on the same side of the road as vehicles heading home at the end of the day, it leads to more conversions. More people turn off into the mall, as it’s an easy detour.

Understanding things like this makes a difference in the success of a physical location.

The same concept applies to online properties. When you understand how websites work and how your visitors interact with your website, it makes it easier to get higher conversion rates.

How can I improve my conversion rate?

Ah, the million-dollar question! I’m glad you asked. There’s a whole field of digital marketing that focuses on improving conversion rates.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or otherwise engaging with a website in the way that the website owner intends.

Remember our definition of “conversion rate/ratio” from above? The goal of CRO is to improve this rate so that a higher proportion of visitors complete the desired action.

Here are some time-tested tips to get that number skyrocketing:

1. Understand your audience

The better you know who you’re talking to, the more likely you are to say something they want to hear (or in our case, sell something they want to buy).

One way of understanding your audience is by studying the keywords they use when they are looking for your service or products online.

You also want to understand things like their pain points and what driving them to seek your product.

Understanding conversion ratios is understanding how to move your visitors over the line so they become clients.
Understanding conversion ratios is understanding how to move your visitors over the line so they become clients.

2. A/B testing

Experiment like a mad scientist! Create two versions of an ad or webpage and run them both to see which performs better. Tweak, measure, repeat!

Platforms like ClickFunnels (sales funnels) or Mailchimp (mailing lists and marketing automation) make it easy to carry out A/B testing. Even WordPress has a number of plugins you can use for A/B testing.

3. Improve user experience (UX)

Nobody likes a clunky website. Make your site as smooth as a hot knife through Vaseline, and you’ll keep those visitors around long enough to become customers.

Use a tool like the Jack Checker to see how your site loads on both desktop and mobile devices and then a platform like SEO Actionz to give you recommendations on what to do to make your site load faster.

4. Nail your hook & call-to-action (CTA)

Your hook is the opening sentence or paragraph that grabs the visitor’s attention and keeps them around long enough to see that you are the right business to provide the solution they are looking for.

Great hooks come from testing. I highly recommend the book, Hook Point, by Brendan Kane, to help you understand the power of great hooks.

Your CTA is the final nudge that pushes your visitor into becoming a conversion statistic (in a good way). Firstly, make sure you have one. Then make it compelling. Make it irresistible.

5. Optimize for mobile

Let’s be real: We live on our phones. According to Oberlo, over 51% of Internet traffic is from mobile devices.

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re turning away a massive chunk of potential customers.

6. Use heat-mapping software

Use apps like Crazy Egg and HotJar to analyze which parts of your web pages draw the most visitor attention.

Hear-mapping enables you to optimize the placement of key elements on the parts of your website you know receive lots of attention.

7. Offer value

Why should someone buy your product or subscribe to your newsletter? Offering something of value can go a long way in turning a maybe into a definitely.

In an earlier article, we spoke about how one of the main problems with website content is that it tends to focus on the business in question and not the client.

Focus on the needs of your clients. That’s the foundation of value.

8. Analyze and adapt

Marketing is a never-ending cycle of learning and improving. Use analytics to understand what’s working and what’s not, then adapt your strategies accordingly.

Wrapping it up

So many times, I speak to creative entrepreneurs who think their product or service sucks because no one is buying it.

The first question for me in a scenario like this is always who are you showing this product to and how many of these people are seeing it?

An understanding of conversion rates means that we know we need to show our products to hundreds or thousands of the right people to get the sales we are looking for each month.

This tiny little number is like the pulse of your digital marketing body, and learning how to improve it can be the difference between flatlining and thriving.


Fungai is a writer, web developer, and creative entrepreneur. He is the founder of Artist Dynamix and is passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs use digital media to realize their full potential.