The Universal Average Conversion Rate Myth

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I often hear from vendors that an average conversion rate for PPC is between 2%-3%. Well, from the wise words of Chris Goward, the CEO at WiderFunnel, “Average conversion rates are meaningless. Switzerland on average is flat.”

Near Space photography - 20km above ground / real photo

Way too many variables come into play to have a “universal average conversion rate.” Just to name a few:

  • Traffic source
  • Industry
  • Landing Page Layout
  • Price of product
  • Definition of a conversion

What you should focus on, is generating as many leads as possible from your advertising budget by always trying to make it easier for web visitors to convert. The question you should be asking is, “what else can I test to see if my conversion rate increases?” Not, “what is the average conversion rate for PPC?”

The first question has you comparing your rate to your past rate- trying to improve. While the second has you comparing your rate to a meaningless “industry average” that tells you nothing about your specific situation.

Aim high. Set a high bar for your conversion rate like 25%, even though you may think that’s unrealistic. We have vendors that get conversion rates above 20% and they’re still testing and trying to improve, so don’t think it’s not possible! A high goal will push you to keep trying new things with your value proposition, call to action, copy, trust elements, and overall look and feel so you’re always improving and learning.

Now back to the infamous, “average conversion rate”. MarketingSherpa published a chart back in 2012 in the PPC Edition of their Search Marketing Benchmark Reports. They found the median conversion rate to be 3.5% and the average conversion rate to be 8.4%.  In this same report, but for SEO instead of SEM, the average conversion rate was only 8%.

Organizations-experience-wide-variability-in-conversion-rates-on-paid-search-traffic

But then in an analysis done by WordStream on thousands of accounts over a  three month period, the median conversion rate was only 2.35%. Surprisingly, the top 25% had a 5.31% conversion rate or higher, and the top 10% of AdWords advertisers had conversion rates of 11.45% or higher!

search-conversion-rate-distribution

Lastly, MarketingSherpa also published a report in 2012 breaking down the average conversion rate by industry. There was a huge range between the 2% for Non-profit to the 10% for Professional or Financial Services. Showing us that industry itself can have a huge impact on what conversion rate you’re seeing.

The numbers are conflicting and they always will be. My biggest piece of advice is to take all these reports and data with a grain of salt. Use them to help educate yourself, but understand the best way to improve your conversion rate is to use your own metrics, KPIs, and A/B test results from your own audience.

If you don’t A/B test already, you can get started gaining insights and improving your conversion rate today with an easy landing page tool like Unbounce!

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author

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Kaitie Connolly

As a Product Research/ Buyer Advisor Director at Capterra, Kaitie serves as an outside marketing consultant for nearly 300 of our B2B software companies. She is an expert when it comes to website optimization for lead gen, and helps software companies of all sizes increase lead flow through their website.

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