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Mar 16, 2010

New Chart: How Do Your Search Conversion Rates Compare?

SUMMARY: Do you wonder how your search conversion rates measure up when compared to other search marketers? Check out this week’s chart to see typical conversion rates for sponsored advertising (PPC), organic search (SEO) and online shopping engines, broken out by conversion type.
By Jen Doyle, Research Analyst

Conversion Rates by Conversion Event and Source

View Chart Online
Click here to see a larger, printable version of this chart

One of the most common mistakes made when dealing with conversion rates is confusing the use of different types of conversion rates. In analytics, a conversion event is what is known as a user-defined event. In other words, it can be anything you want it to be.

The most important part of defining a conversion event is to make sure it matches the strategic goals most important to your organization and is realistic enough that you can receive actionable data. The harder a conversion metric is to collect, the less data you will have to make marketing decisions.

Ideally, an organization will collect multiple conversion metrics in order to gauge effectiveness of marketing throughout the purchase funnel, not just at the end.

When we isolate conversion rates by conversion event and source, we see a few trends echoed from other sources. First, organic conversion rates are higher than paid conversion rates. This makes sense when one considers that organic searchers are often already familiar with the brand, have searched for specific products and are more likely to be closer to purchase rather than still considering many brands.

Second, the higher up the marketing funnel a conversion event is, the higher the conversion rate will be. A sale is nearly always going to be more difficult to achieve than collecting an email address. For this reason, it‘s important to compare "apples to apples" when judging conversions.

For additional research data and insights about search marketing, download and read the free Executive Summary from MarketingSherpa’s 2009 - 2010 Search Marketing Benchmark Report.

See Also:

Comments about this Chart

Mar 16, 2010 - Scott Mineart of Revival Animal says:
These conversion rates are significantly higher than the rates provided by other studies. Were you able to study actual conversion data or is your research conclusion based solely on the optimistic responses of Search Marketers surveyed last May?

Mar 16, 2010 - Matt Gethins of Professional Prospecting Systems says:
Very interesting. For the past year we have averaged an 8.02% conversion rate for PPC. Of interest to any marketer doing PPC, we use a video landing page...meaning, a 2 minute video plays when someone click on our ad and goes to our landing page. And I was frustrated we couldn't get our conversion rate to go any higher...guess we should be happy with what we have achieved. I'm off to write a note to our the head of our company about this.

Mar 16, 2010 - Ryan of VacationRoost says:
so with this chart, is it mixed conversions? The conversion rates seem a bit high, but if you throw in "acquire email address", "downloads", "pageviews" or "add to carts" as conversions, then i can see it getting high. As pointed out in the article, "conversions" vary by company, but in general I would accept a conversion for these benchmarking purposes to be either a purchase or a complete lead (not just an email). That would be more useful as a standard comparison and cut out the inflated noise.

Mar 17, 2010 - Nancy of says:
Can you provide more information on the source of this data? Most conversion rates that I've seen reported in the past were in the 2-5% range, these are substantially higher so I'm wondering why...

Mar 19, 2010 - Jen Doyle of MarketingSherpa says:
To answer a few questions about the conversion data in this chart: The data came from our Search Marketing Benchmark Survey, which was fielded to search engine marketers in May of 2009, and we received 679 responses to this question. The reported conversion rates may be higher or lower than some other numbers you may have seen elsewhere because we're showing a high level view of conversion rates across all industries, and conversion rates can vary drastically by industry. As for the question of potential "noise" in our conversion rate, we defined a conversion as an online sale of product or service, or a lead generated (registration data or email obtained).

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