This is the first in a coming series of blog posts on website conversion rates. This posts explains what conversion rates are and why you should work on improving yours. Subsequent posts will outline how to track conversion rates and strategies for improving conversion rates.
If you haven’t thought about conversion rates before, the term probably invokes either boring “business stuff” or foreign “tech stuff” or both. Photocrati is a web-based business, so conversion rates are very important to us. But we know most photographers using our theme have rarely if ever focused sustained attention on their own conversion rates.
In this post, I want to encourage you to think a lot harder about your website’s conversion rates. This is especially true if you are a photographer looking to increase your income from sales of images and photographic services. But even if you are just an enthusiast just looking to build a following and get attention for your photography, conversion rates are important. Consider the following:
TRAFFIC X CONVERSION RATE = RESULTS
You might define results as number of images sold, number of clients, number of blog or Twitter followers, advertising revenue from your site, blog comments, or just about anything else. Regardless, you have two ways of getting more of the results you want: get more traffic to your site or get more of that traffic to do what you want it to do.
You can get more traffic through advertising, Google AdWords, social media, SEO, or a range of other methods. Most photographers who begin to pay attention to their web presence or the web aspects of their business focus their attention here: traffic. They generally invest in SEO, Google Adwords, or some other form of advertising.
Your conversion rate, by contrast, is the percentage of visitors to your site that do what you want them to do. For example, what percentage of visitors hire you to provide photographic services? What percentages of visitors to your blog follow your RSS feed or become Twitter followers?
The important point I want to make in this post is this:
For almost all website owners, focusing on CONVERSION RATES is a much faster, more direct, and more effective way to increase sales or other results than focusing on traffic.
1) First, most websites have dismal conversion rates. Average conversion rates, even for well-crafted sites with outstanding offerings, average between 1-5%. For the average photography site that hasen’t focused on conversion rates before, the conversion rate is almost certainly below .5%. That means 199 out of every 200 visitors who come to your site just leave without doing anything.
2) Second, because conversion rates are so low, small changes produce disproportionately large results. If you increase your conversion rate from .5% to 1%, you’ve doubled your results (i.e., sales). If you increase your conversion rate from .3% to 2%, you’ve multiplied your results (sales) by a factor of six. It is much easier to multiply your conversion than to multiply your traffic.
3) Third, you have more direct control over your conversion rates. Your conversion rate is a function of your product quality, talent, website design, and web copy (writing). Unlike your SEO results, you can control all of these factors directly and immediately.
4) Fourth, when you increase your conversion rate, it multiplies the effects of your SEO or advertising efforts. Let’s say you spend three months on SEO, dramatically improve your rankings, and increase your targeted traffic from 500 visitors per month to 5,000 visitors per month, a factor of ten. If your conversion rate is .3%, your sales will increase from 1.5 to 15. If your conversion rate is 2%, your sales will increase from 10 to 100. That’s 100 sales versus 15 sales from the same level of traffic.
I’ve used sales in many of these examples, but again the same principles apply if you are trying to increase your following, comments, or anythings else. So look at your site and your own recent traffic statistics. What do you want people to do when they come to your website, and are they doing it now?
Be sure to look for our upcoming post on specific action steps you can take to boost conversion rates.