At the recent Direct Gardening Association conference, I heard a lot of attendees asking each other, “What’s your website conversion rate? What percentage of visitors to your website buy from you?” It reminded me of all the times I’ve been asked, “What’s your average response rate?” about the direct mail campaigns I’ve managed.
The answer is completely meaningless, and here’s why:
A company selling greenhouses for $500 to $2,000 will have a completely different conversion rate than one selling hand tools for $50 to $100. A company selling tillers will have a vastly different conversion rate than one selling seeds. Average conversion rates are composed of such widespread variables that they’re meaningless.
At the end of the day, what’s important is not how your conversion rate compares to anyone else, but whether your website is profitable. Measure the cost of generating traffic to your site – from search engine optimization, paid search programs, catalog mailings and other any means – and determine whether the return on investment for each effort is worthwhile. Concentrate on your ROI and keep trying to improve your own conversion rate. Knowing what anyone else’s key performance indicators are provides little to no measure of how you’re doing.