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Oct 23, 2012

Marketing Research Chart: Average website conversion rates, by industry

SUMMARY: No matter what channels you utilize -- from email marketing to social media to print advertising -- the call-to-action often leads to a website where an actual conversion, be it generating a lead or completing a sale, occurs.

In this week’s chart, discover average reported website conversion rates by industry, and share your insights about these findings.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In the following chart, from the MarketingSherpa 2012 Website Optimization Benchmark Report, we look at average conversion rates broken down by industry.

Marketing Research Chart: Average website conversion rates, by industry

Q. Please write in your organization's average conversion rate.

View Chart Online

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

Please Note: Bars with the same percentage don’t always line up, because the number has been rounded off, while bar length represents the exact answer.

What are your other thoughts on this data? Share your own analysis in the MarketingSherpa LinkedIn Group for a chance to be published in a future blog post. Include your feedback as either a comment or a link to a blog post where you offer advice based on this data.

Here are a few points to consider as you evaluate this data …


How do you define conversion?

There are many possibilities for the variability of conversion rate performance among the different industries in the above chart. There are certainly many reasons for this disparity, ranging from customer motivation to promotional budgets to marketing channels used.

However, another likely difference is the very definition of conversion rate. A conversion rate can refer to any goal a marketer has, from the sale of a product to a lead form fill, newsletter subscription or free-trial software download.

Perhaps, in the above chart, financial services firms' main conversion goal is simply an email address for a lead in exchange for a free e-book or print publication, and media websites might only be looking for a free newsletter subscription. Whereas, nonprofits might be focused on a much harder conversion goal to attain -- a cash payment in exchange for an idea of doing good, which requires a much higher commitment on the part of the customer and much less obvious concrete value.

What are your conversion goals for your website, and how do they affect your conversion rates? Do you adjust your conversion rate expectations based on the commitment required from the customer and the value given in exchange for that commitment?

How do you use benchmark data?

Some marketers use benchmark data to compare their own organization’s performance to industry averages to gain buy-in and budget approval from senior marketing management and business leaders, and to apprise the entire organization of their team’s performance.

Others simply eyeball benchmark data, using it less as an official yardstick of their performance, and more as a general ballpark of where they would like their performance to lie.

Still, others dismiss benchmark data out of hand, simply focusing on their own company’s previous performance in a vacuum.

How do you use benchmark data? What are the benefits and downsides of using such information? Has comparing performance to benchmark data improved your ability to gain budget approval, influence and political capital in your organization?

Free Benchmark Report Excerpt

Use these discussion questions to gain value out of this marketing research data by discussing these and other pressing issues with your team and your agency (and feel free to share your insights with the MarketingSherpa community, as well).

For three more key findings from our research, download a free excerpt from the MarketingSherpa 2012 Website Optimization Benchmark Report (there is no squeeze-page form fill required, this is an instant download).

Related Resources

Email Optimization: 72% of marketers test subject lines

Lead Generation: 81% of marketers use email marketing

Email Marketing: 83% of CMOs says social media will affect email programs

See Also:

Comments about this Chart

Oct 23, 2012 - Liz Martin of Team V says:
where does automotive sit as far as conversion rates?

Oct 23, 2012 - Prugh Roeser of Founder, LeadLogix says:
Hi Daniel, I feel like we're getting to know each other. Interesting chart and comments about the variables that can go into what's classified as a conversion rate. Besides the differences in what is defined as a conversion, there's also the additional dimension of the period of time over which conversions are counted. It appears from the way things are discussed that there's a transactional view of conversions underlying the survey question and the responses; namely, a direct response to an individual contact or touch, regardless of channel used. Based on the survey responses, that certainly fits how many people view conversions. When you're involved in multi-touch or multi-wave or multi-channel marketing activities, though, I'm not sure the picture is quite so clear. A responder may have received several touches, and only after previous touches do they respond to the current contact. I realize this will get us into an attribution discussion, but it's simply to illustrate that the conversion rate for the current contact may be overstated. As a result, we usually track conversion rates at 2 levels: the individual touch and the entire campaign. For many, I know the two are the same. But for those whose campaigns are comprised of multiple touches, it's the campaign level that really matters since this rolls up all the variables that may affect the individual touches.

Oct 23, 2012 - Daniel Burstein of MECLABS says:
Thanks for the question, Liz. Automotive falls under "Manufacturer or Packaged Goods"

Oct 23, 2012 - Bill Shultz of FixClicks says:
Thanks for the info and good comment Mr. Roeser. Historically, Sherpa has not published conversion metrics with clarity or even the correct calculations (Mean, Median, Averages) on their Benchmark Reports anyway. Strong marketers use charts and data such as this as a model to create their own metric evaluations with the goal of improving lead, pipeline and won revenue figures. I do like how Sherpa tries to gauge the overall conversion rates here from all traffic sources -- however it is vital to correctly identify the sources of traffic with the proper Analytical tools and tracking methods. Doing this incorrectly greatly skews metrics either up or down. Essentially, it's great to measure conversions but the truth is only leads, pipeline, won sales and ROI. Adding in overall gains in business using assisted conversions, brand impacts and environmental factors are extremely helpful for pin pointing trends but when push comes to shove, ROI is the only thing that matters.

Nov 13, 2012 - Ruth of 5pm says:
Are organisations' conversion rates based on unique visitors or visitors generally?

Nov 23, 2012 - Mark Weyland of says:
Thanks a lot for this interesting and informative chart about the average website conversion rates of different industries. Going through this chart has helped me understand where the different industries sit at the moment as far as internet marketing is concerned. The questions mentioned in the blog are equally useful. I agree with the writer where he clearly stated that the conversion rate of any industry primarily depends upon the different marketing channels and the various promotional budgets.

Jun 03, 2014 - Nick of says:
Great succinct article. Be very interesting to understand how these industry averages would be impacted by various tools and techniques to improve the conversion rate optimisation such as phone tracking/GA systems or IP business tracking such as Great read and really interesting. Will be sure to use some of these stats in our presentations!

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