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What is the Average Conversion Rate? A 2013 Update

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Much has been written about conversion rates since this article was originally published in 2007 on our website. The most recent available data comes from a 2012 Marketing Sherpa report on average conversion rates for different industries.

According to the data, retail/ecommerce sites reported an average conversion rate of 3%, while media/publishing sites averaged 10%, technology hardware sites 5%, and the software industry sector averaged 7%. Professional/financial services, which would include legal, medical, and accounting firms, reported the highest average conversion rate of 10%.

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That being said, one can’t forget that there are multiple factors that play into conversion rates. Within industry sectors, product differences can be significant. Let’s say your site sells $100 leg pads for hockey players and another site features $2,000 hockey skates -– odds are that the two sites will have significantly different conversion rates due to the price of their products alone.

As well, the definition of a conversion varies from site to site. For example, you may define a conversion as a user downloading your white paper on setting up a remarketing campaign, while another site in the same industry sector defines a conversion as someone hiring them to run their remarketing campaign. Should you expect conversion rates to be the same for each of these sites given the relative level of difficulty in achieving that conversion? Unlikely.

Many other factors can also influence conversion rates, including how well you promote your product, the ease of the purchase process itself, the impression your site itself gives visitors – even the seasonal appeal of your product line.

The bottom line of the original article remains valid – instead of becoming overly concerned about how your conversion rate compares to others in the industry, concentrate on your own company objectives and how you can improve upon your current ROI. Improvement should always be the end goal, no matter what your average conversion rate might be.

—– The original article from Kevin Gold follows: —–

A question I am asked frequently is what is the average conversion rate for an ecommerce website, or for any website for that matter. There is a basic answer and a more complicated yet more practical one.

For the basic answer, I reference a recent study conducted by Forrester as presented in an article from the August 2007 edition of Target Marketing Magazine. The article stated, “Forrester research indicates that the average conversion rate – that is the ratio of orders to overall site visits – is 2.9 percent.”

About three-fourths of the ecommerce companies I have worked with to improve their conversion rate (defined the same way as indicated above) initially reported to me a conversion rate of less than 1.0 percent. Therefore, from my experience, the average conversion rate among small to mid-size businesses (ones probably not well represented in Forrester’s study) is maybe closer to 1.5 percent.

NOTE: If anyone has experience with a larger number of small to mid-size ecommerce sites, please send me your thoughts on the average conversion rate! It would be a great information for everyone to know.

For lead generation and other non ecommerce sites, the conversion rate fluctuates drastically. I have not found reliable average conversion rate figures yet for non-ecommerce sites, but I assume that subscription sites could experience similar to slightly higher rates (around 2.9 to 6 percent), while lead forms could reach even higher levels (around 8 percent to over 20 percent). Certainly variables like B2B versus B2C, the type of offer, the type of attracted visitors (advertising methods), incentivizied vs. not incentivized, quality/relevance of creative, and so on will influence the conversion rate.

The paragraph above and its obscure assumptions lead perfectly into the “more complicated yet more practical” response.

Comparing conversion rates within markets, or worse across industries, is difficult, if not almost impossible. There are so many variables affecting conversion rates. More importantly, a conversion rate metric provides no indication of profitability — the number that really matters. Knowing an “average conversion rate” is nice, but you should really be concerned with what conversion rate you need to achieve to drive profitable leads, subscriptions, sales, or other business value associated with your objectives.

Set your own conversion rate goal based on a financial analysis focused on greater sales volume and/or higher profits and compete against this internal benchmark. At the end of the day, its not a matter of whether you are above or below the “industry average” — instead it’s about the financial success of your web business.

Image: Calculating Percentages — Original Billboard Image from Shutterstock

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

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33 Comments

  1. Thanks for the references, Kevin. As for average conversion rates, I'm never happy with "average". In fact, if 2.9% of my visitors are buying, then that means 97.1% of my visitors aren't buying, and I want to know why! I will only rest when I have a 97.1% conversion rate :) Thanks for the informative article. Paul Hancox

  2. With some small business e-commerce sites i see around 1% conversions, so there is much more room for improvement. ;-) chris faron

  3. I asked a couple marketing directors that I've worked with in the past, what their average conversion rates were for people who contacted their businesses, inquiring about products and services. The answers I got were "1.2%" and "1.7%" respectively. Granted, those are bricks-and-mortar businesses with tangible products - and, while they said they certainly wouldn't mind higher conversion rates, those rates still translated into highly profitable businesses.

  4. Keanu

    Hi, Great information. It will be also interesting to know, if we have average conversion rate for different industries like apparel, fashion, electronics, computer etc. which will help to identify the future prospect for start up e commerce site!

  5. I recently reviewed a book on increasing the ROI for ecommerce sites. The concept is a conversion optimization to improve the ratio in converting visitors into customers. Search for 'Pixel Handler' to read or listen to the audio review of the book, "Web Design for ROI".

  6. In my experience, between 1-2% for competitive e-commerce markets is about right, but it can be significantly higher with a well written (plug plug plug) site in a less competitive market.

  7. Wow, 2.9%. That's really high, at least from my personal experience. Generally happy to get between 1-2% as mentioned before.

  8. Paul

    I am looking to increase our conversion rate as I thought it was low. It has been for the last 3 months average: 3.64% and we are quieter than normal. I'll keep at it though. Regards

  9. I would be more than happy with 2.9% conversion. Got a little to go but hey the sites fairly new and Ive got a lot of work still to do but its always good to have goals to beat!

  10. Vivek

    One more thing - conversion rate depends on the category. I have seen conversion rates in electronics business in the low single digits, in apparel in the higher single digits. In grocery in high double digits and some specialty sites in 20-30%

  11. My average conversion rate is 1.1 since start up 6 months ago. I am hyper local with a real product in local stores. The 1-2 percent average is fantastic for me and the e-commerce biz has complimented my company very well. Our bounce rate hangs in the low twenties and we're just now starting to dabble in affiliates. IMHO a "good" conversion rate will depend on a multitude of factors and should be considered "good" or otherwise based on ROIC, market saturation, and the internal workings of the business itself. Conversion rate is a metric. A good one, but easily misunderstood.

  12. My online shop sells environmentally friendly products, our average conversion rate hovers around 1.5%. It would never be possible to get a really high conversion rate as many people simply browse when online, either buying from a choice of many shops or returning later. Others open ten windows about the same product and never even look at half of them. Even using PPC to direct customers to your site doesn't guarantee conversions due to these facts.

  13. Nice post Kevin. Thanks for sharing. I was searching for average conversion rate and landed at your site. I found useful information in your post and comments.

  14. 2.9 is definitely high. I've been marketing ecommerce Websites for clients well over 10 yrs now and that is a high average compared to most companies. Some might say it was the 'marketers' fault for less than 2.0% conversions, but its simply not true. I think it's the ever-growing competition and advertising that is now present online.

  15. Kevin Gold Post author

    Thanks for the great comments! I agree Frank, competition and advertising certainly play a role. There are many, many variables that affect conversion rates including business-level factors like product offeting and pricing strategy. To Home4eco's comment - content marketing strategies are really important to address the browsing situation. It is about funneling more people into the 1.5%. If the conversaion rate doesn't increase but the volume of visitors you send through it does, then you're still in great shape.

  16. Website traffic is hard to get without using article marketing. Article marketing is the best traffic source available and has true realistic results.

  17. Your information about optimizing with seo techniques to help increase website conversions is insightful. I am always looking at other ways to optimize like landing page seo. There are so many different ways to optimize a website. Article marketing is still one of the best ways via backlinks too.

  18. With a 1-2% conversion rate on a B2B offering, how can a business justify this unless they are selling a product over a few $100?

  19. James

    It's difficult to compare conversion rates across different websites and make any real conclusions from it. For example, "branded" sites, like say officedepot.com, tend to have very high conversion rates because a large portion of their inbound traffic is already "buy oriented", and typed "officedepot.com" directly into the browser to get there. A smaller business, that gets a larger portion of it's traffic from non-branded searches, will have a lower conversion rate, because there's a larger proportion of "non buy oriented" traffic. For example, if some of the inbound traffic came from people typing "officejet printer", perhaps some of that traffic is looking for downloadable drivers, or a troubleshooting guide. That traffic can't be converted, because they aren't there to buy a printer. All that to say that there's no specific number that's a "good conversion rate". The only thing the number is good for is to measure improvement on a single site. Or perhaps comparing two very, very similar sites.

  20. I've been working quite hard on improving my conversion rate. Know it's hard to compare across industries but it's still handy to read comments on other peoples rough averages. Thanks

  21. Cameron

    I was the Director of Web Marketing at a company (as I no longer work there, I won't mention the name), our conversion rate was around 37%. However, we had a very specialized market.

  22. Our online store has been live for almost a month and we have a conversion rate of 3.6%. Does anyone have an idea about what the average conversion rate should be for a fashion website?

  23. I was searching for average conversion rate and landed at your site. I found useful information in your post and comments. Your information about optimizing with seo techniques to help increase website conversions is insightful.

  24. I have recenly launched a new ecommerce site aimed at consumers. At present I am totally dependant on PPC and am only getting 0.5% sales conversion rate which is a little worrying. I note the the comment regarding the Forester report does not take into account smaller businesses which are estimated less than 1%, but is 0.5% poor? If anyone can help advise on ways of improving our performance it would appreciated.

  25. Over the last few years we have slowly gone from 0.5% to average just over 1% . We continually look at ways to increase but as previously mentioned sometimes there is a cap due to the competitiveness of the sector you are in.

  26. Thank you for a most interesting article and discussion. We are new but hope to get to the 1.5% goal....!

  27. When I hear of conversion rates more then 0,5% it's something incredible for me. As I turn in e-commerce software and media application sales, in our industry that's amazing if you have more then 0,3 / 0,35% conversions Then more visitors you have then more decrease your conversion. For websites more then 200K visitor, amazing conversion is about 0,1 / 0,15% If ANY ONE have conversion more then 0,5% please post your website

  28. Hi Kevin, Fabulous post but, there is definitely issues involved with benchmarking against an "average" conversion rate. Many companies use different site tracking technology and even those with the same tools implement it slightly different making any industry comparison impossible. Having said that, 2-3% for an ecommerce site with good footfall and design is quite common. Obviously, it can be much higher/lower depending on a whole host of factors. Personally, I would like to see more comprehensive measurement within a business and less focus on benchmarking against an irrelevant conversion number from outside the business. Would love to hear your feedback on the subject. Cheers, Alex

  29. This is all so industry variable - for most small businesses 2% would be really good on average I guess

  30. Just read that Marketing Sherpa study from 2012. It's awesome! Conversion rates definitely vary depending on the market and scope of websites (just like your example of re-marketing campaign). Many people think that the more information you ask from your visitors, the lesser would be your conversion rates. But that doesn't always have to be true. Ex. conversion rate of a one-page form can be less than that of a three-page form. It totally depends on your site's market I guess.

  31. Spook SEO

    I'd say that the conversion rate has a lot to do with your page's distractions. The sad part is, the webmasters or business owners can't even see the distracting elements because they are used to it. The more these distractions are removed or at least changed to a point where it looks very insignificant, the higher the probability of the pages converting.

  32. Just want to point out that in the commercial sector the conversion rate not only varies from product to product, but seasonally too. Beachwear and garden furniture will be peaking in the Spring/Summer, perfume and leathergoods in November/December. Also sales promotions should produce a high hit rate. A really well run internet mail order company will be taking every opportunity to ramp up the conversions whenever possible.

  33. Hans

    Great article! Can anyone share research that shows how good/detailed product content on a webshop impacts conversion rates? Focus is manufacturing or packaged goods.