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KPIs Explained: Conversion Rates

Harsha Potapragada
December 10, 2021
February 27, 2024
Table of Contents

Finding the Relevant KPIs for your Business

Identifying KPIs that are relevant to your marketing team depends on your particular type of business. For D2C businesses that sell directly to customers, website traffic and cart abandonment rate are two essential KPIs. The former helps guage how successfully a given marketing campaign is able to encourage customers to click on desired CTAs and advertisements, while the latter helps figure out possible pain points for customers that may be hindering their completion of purchases. If your cart abandonment rate is high, retargeting ads on customers’ social media feeds with their in-cart products can serve as useful reminders to complete a purchase. Alternatively, it can help identify customers’ pain points like contentions with shipping or exchange policies, pricing, etc. Such insights are useful in determining next steps. Similarly, for B2C companies, customer retention rate is an important KPI. Unlike B2B businesses, B2C deals seldom involve long term contracts and a continual inflow of revenue from paying customers. Finally, for B2B companies, a KPI like Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is a useful measure of the overall cost involved in onboarding a customer. 

In this article however, we deal with a primary KPI(s) that impacts all businesses: Conversion Rates.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates may refer to different concepts. It can mean conversions per activity; which measures how many customers perform the desired activity  (clicking on an ad, signing up for a webinar, downloading a free booklet, etc) — all of which can be a part of an overarching campaign or strategy. Conversion per Activity is an important metric in it's own right when it comes to determining what works in your overall strategy. 

While these activity conversions contribute to the ultimate success of the marketing campaign, the actual success is measured by sales conversions — How many people actually converted to paying customers?

Hence, conversion numbers usually fall into two categories:

Category 1: Lead Generation

These include conversions per activity, website traffic, social engagement, etc. Sometimes these indicators receive a bad rap for being some what superficial. However, they have their own value to marketers in understanding the overall efficacy of a strategy. 

For example, Website traffic may not directly measure the impact of a strategy in acquiring new customers, but it can help determine impact of a strategy on brand awareness. This can be particularly useful when there is a strong correlation between awareness and sales. If 20% of your website traffic has converted to paying customers, improving the website traffic may have a positive impact on the final conversion numbers. Alternatively, if boosting website traffic does not seem to have any positive impact on sales, it can be a sign of potential customer pain points or inefficiencies in the overall marketing strategy. 

Category 2: Sales Conversions

These are conversion metrics that measure for concrete, direct impacts on revenue. Here are three influential metrics to keep an eye out for:

I. Campaign Conversions or Conversions per Campaign:

This determines what percentage of traffic to a certain campaign landing page/webinar/new subscribers to a newsletter — turned into a customer. 

How to measure: To find the campaign conversion rate, divide the traffic by the customers attributed to that traffic. For example, out of a 100 attendees to a webinar, 7 convert to paying customers, the conversion rate is 7%. Or if your ad had 200 interactions that can be tracked to 15 conversions, then you divide 15/200 to find the conversion rate of 7.5%.

Having a proper attribution model or platform in place is key to finding accuracy in such conversion numbers.

II. Website Conversion Rates:

It is safe to say that almost all B2B or D2C companies have websites which are their primary point of contact with potential and returning customers. So, the conversions from the website becomes an ultra important KPI. Although this indicator is calculated pretty much the same way as the campaign conversion ratio, it can get tricky as the customer journey gets complicated. There might be other touch points that impact the customer’s conversion decision even before they visit the website. Again, having a good attribution system is key to understanding the true impact of website traffic on conversions. It can help understand customer journeys and isolate the impact of the website on conversions. More importantly, it can help identify what works for the website and what doesn't. Insights like what pages converted users visited, how long they spent on those pages, what CTAs they acted on, etc can help figure out possible pain points and improve website conversions.

One thing to remember is that regardless of how customers make their way to the website and when they made the decision to buy, a website has important consequences for the conversion. In the digital age, a business’ website is essentially its storefront. It influences the customer’s perceptions and opinions of the business. In other words, it plays an important role in the customer journey. As such, the website conversion numbers are all too important to ignore for online businesses. 

How to measure: The most common and direct way of measuring the website conversion rate is to divide the number of conversions in a given timeframe by the total number of people who visited the website in that timeframe. For example, if in the past week, a site had 100 visitors, and 10 visitors converted to customers, the website conversion rate is 10%.

III. Lead-to-Close Conversion Ratio:

The Lead-to-Close Conversion Ratio, more popularly known as CVR, measures the number of sales that were made in comparison to the total number of leads the marketing team started with. This indicator helps marketers focus not only on creating leads but also on actually closing them. In other words, it helps create quality leads who will actually make the purchase. The effectiveness of the various components of the marketing strategy can be measured with the CVR. It gives the all important insight of which campaigns convert leads to customers and which do not.

How to measure: Similar to the aforementioned, the CVR is calculated by dividing the number of sales by the number of leads generated. For example, if you started out with 1000 leads from webinar attendees or newsletter sign ups or holiday ad campaigns and 170 of them convert to paying customers then you have a CVR of 17%.p

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