Introduction to On-Line Marketing

Conversion Rate and Bounce Rates

Almost anyone who has ever spoken to me about marketing has heard me say, “marketing is measuring”. Two key metrics that you want to watch for your on-line campaign are conversion rate and bounce rate. Conversion is when a prospect takes the action that constitutes achieving the goal you set for the campaign (e.g., signing up for your newsletter). Bouncing is at the other end of the spectrum: it’s when a prospect comes to your site, and not only doesn’t convert, but doesn’t even click on a second page of your web site, he simply leaves.

So what are some good numbers here? Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer. For bounce rate, the answer can vary dramatically depending on how targeted the campaign is. For example, a search engine ad is directly targeted at people searching on words that are meaningful to them, and so if your ad copy and web page are well written, the bounce rate should be relatively low. On the other end of the spectrum, an email blast may have a very high bounce rate, as the people who click through may have only a passing curiosity. For conversion rate, those same factors apply, but are magnified by the difficulty of conversion. Clicking on a link to get a discount code is easy; filling out a form to give you information is hard (not only does it take time on the part of the prospect, it requires them to get over a psychological barrier and release information to you).

That said, you do need a starting point. At a minimum, your bounce rate should be below 30%. As far as conversion rate, you absolutely want it to be no worse than direct mail. Direct mail response rates vary dramatically by industry and by target audience, but if you’ve never done this before and have no idea what to expect for your industry, a good starting point is 2.3% — that’s an across-the-board average for all direct mail.

Regardless of your initial results, however, your goal will be to improve those two key metrics. And in order to improve them, you need to measure them.

Measuring On-Line Responses

If you’re working with an on-line advertising company, they should provide these metrics for you. However, if you’re rolling your own, Google provides some excellent, free tools to help you do this.

Google Analytics is an incredible tool. It provides goal tracking, conversion analysis, and ecommerce reporting. Additionally, it can be used to track not just your google results, but email campaigns and banner ads. (And, of course, it integrates really easily with Google AdWords).

Another great tool is Google’s Website Optimizer. It integrates with your website and with Google Analytics to let you do some pretty sophisticated split testing, and even multi-variate testing, to really help you drive up your conversion rate.

Those tools are just the tip of the iceberg, but they really do give you some powerful capabilities. I’ll talk more about them in the future posts in this series, but for now, if you’re thinking about running an on-line campaign, I definitely encourage you to check them out.

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