Why the 100% Conversion Rate Doesn’t Exist

PushON | February 9th 2010

In the past, our success as search marketers has been measured by rankings and then by traffic but in today’s market place we measure success by ROI. It’s all about the bottom line and providing greater revenue levels for our clients. With this in mind much of our work centres on conversions and improving them.

When reporting we often talk about conversion rates and sometimes clients will ask why a conversion rate isn’t 80, 90 or even 100 percent. These people are often new to SEO and in need of educating but I think Tim Ash of sitetuners.com explains perfectly why the 100% conversion rate doesn’t exist. He believes there are three types of visitor to a website.

Noes – These are people who will never take the desired action in order to complete a conversion. There are endless reasons as to why someone might not take the desired action. For example they maybe simply surfing the web and thought your site looked interesting or simply don’t have the financial means to use your service or products. It would be difficult to change these people’s minds.

Yesses – These are the people who will always take the desired action. They are not put off by shocking registration or check out processes and are often sold on an item before they arrive at your site. If you are the only seller of a particular product or service then they have to use you. People who fall in to this category don’t need convincing.

Maybes – The title is pretty much self explanatory and it is likely that you are converting some of these already. This is where you should focus your attention as testing different landing pages can improve conversions here dramatically. Tim goes on to break down this group further and can be found on the graphic below.

For one reason or another you can never satisfy all the visitors to your site. This is because they often have different intents. For example many searchers will research a product or service before making a purchase. They will look at maybe 3 or 4 sites before making a decision. Are you likely to convert every one of these? Unlikely.

So when explaining this to clients i start to look at ways with them at trying to convert the maybes. I do this by exploring possible user mind sets. What is their intent and how can we convince them to purchase our products and services over others. Once i have looked at the various options i move onto landing page testing.

People have written whole books on this topic so i couldn’t do it justice in this post. I recommend reading ‘Always be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer‘ by Brett Crosby though. At the moment i am using Google Optimiser for testing but there are plenty of other great tools out there.

I guess the take away point from this post is that you should never assume that every visitor is a potential buyer. The 100% conversion rate doesn’t exist and you should spend time refining your landing pages.