by John Eberhard

The whole idea behind website marketing of a commercial web site, meaning a web site for a business, is to get people to respond. When someone goes to a web site and responds to you in some way, we call that a “conversion.” Conversions could include:

1. Someone calling you on the phone, from the web site
2. Someone filling out a form asking for more information
3. Someone filling out a form to be on your newsletter email list
4. Someone filling out a form asking for some free item you are offering like a free report or white paper
5. Someone clicking on an email link on the site and emailing you
6. Someone buying something via a shopping cart on your site

Sometimes those things are called the “desired actions.”

Obviously we want as many people to respond and become conversions as possible. But of course not everyone is going to respond, for a variety of reasons.

So if you have a web site, and the site is set up in such a way as to allow or encourage people or ask them to respond in some way, and you’re NOT getting many or any conversions, then what do you do?

The very first thing you should do, if you are getting few or no conversions, is to find out how many people are actually coming to the web site. And this means a web statistics program or service.

There are many such web statistics services available, and most web hosting programs have a free web statistics program. But most of these are just terrible. I recommend people to use Google Analytics, which is free and is very good. You have to set up an account, then take the code they give you and put that on every page of your site. If you have a WordPress site, you have to install a plugin that allows you to use Analytics, and then you just have to enter the account number and you’re set. I use a plugin called “Analytics WP.”

Once you are set up with Analytics, you should check the statistics once a week and see how much traffic you’re getting. If you do graphs for your business you should do a graph for web site visits weekly.

So let’s take a scenario. Let’s say you are only getting 2 conversions, meaning people responding to you, per month. Then you get Google Analytics installed on your web site and a few weeks later you see that you are only getting around 100 visits per week, or 400 per month. If you are getting 2 conversions per month with 400 visits to the site, that’s a conversion percentage of 0.5%.

Your problem in that case is simply that you are not getting enough people visiting your site. Your program then is clear: drive more traffic, via Google AdWords, sending out emails, social media, press releases, and so on. You need more traffic.

But now let’s take the other side of the coin. Same situation of 2 conversions per month, but after checking your traffic you find out you are getting 1,200 visits per week. That’s a conversion percentage of 0.04%.

Now you know that your web site is not set up properly to take advantage of that traffic. If you examine your site with a critical and fresh view, you will probably find one or more of the following:

a. It’s hard to buy stuff or hard to find where to do it.
b. Your newsletter signup form, if you have one, is not on the sidebar on every page (which it should be).
c. The phone number is not on every page or is hard to find
d. Your contact page is non-existent or hard to find.
e. You have no free offers to entice people to respond who maybe are not ready to buy right now.

If you find any or all of the above, you can make changes to the site to make it easier or more obvious for people to respond, or add some free offers if you don’t have any.

Now let’s wrap up by talking about conversion percentages. Ed Dale, well known Australian web marketing guru and organizer of the yearly 30 Day Challenge training program, says that 0.5% is an acceptable conversion percentage for a web site. That means you’d get one conversion for every 200 visitors to the site. In that case he is specifically talking about online sales, which are usually going to have a lower percentage than with lead generation.

If you are doing lead generation, meaning you’re trying to get leads that a salesman will call and close, I think an acceptable conversion percentage is anywhere from 1% to 5%. If you are getting less than 1%, you need to work on the web site, making it easier to find stuff, and adding some free offers.

But I find that in most cases when I ask someone what kind of traffic they’re getting to the web site and they don’t know, then the problem is almost always really low numbers of visitors to the site. And in that case the program is to start generating more traffic, because you need thousands of visitors.