There are a couple of easy ways to tell if your website isn’t converting an appropriate amount of your traffic. We’ll start with the easiest and broadest methods, and then go a bit more granular if you want to dig deeper into your traffic.
This is going to be a really obvious one, but I want to speak about it anyways. You should definitely benchmark your conversion rates with industry averages, and make sure to segment your by traffic source. Not all traffic sources are created equally, and the conversion rates will vary depending on where they’re coming from.
Your website's conversion rate average provides good insight into your user experience, and whether or not people can find what they’re looking for. In order to act on this information, it needs to be MECE. MECE is a term used in consulting circles and stands for Mutually Exclusive, and Collectively Exhaustive.
If your average site conversion rate is below the industry average, then break down your traffic sources until they are mutually exclusive (i.e. there is no overlap between segments) and collectively exhausted (there is no traffic that is unaccounted for).
If your traffic sources account for why conversion rates are low (i.e. 90% of traffic is paid traffic and accounts for slightly lower performance) then addressing user experience issues may not be your first concern. If there isn’t any other logical explanation for why conversion rates are low, then it's likely you have a user experience issue.
Average Conversion Rate by Industry
Bounce rate is another great way to tell if you have user experience issues, as it’s a metric that is a strict measure of whether your traffic finds your site useful enough to stay and interact with it. As with conversion rate benchmarking, you need to take into account bounce rates for your various traffic sources.
Average Bounce Rates by Industry:
Average Bounce Rates by Traffic Source:
Bounce rates continue to rise year over year, while average page views during sessions with a conversion have increased by over 300%.
Poor content is the number one contributing factor we see with poor bounce rates. Consumers expectations are higher than ever, and if your content doesn’t capture their attention they'll leave for something that does (i.e. your competition).
Other bounce rate factors to consider are page speed, mobile friendliness, and confusing/overwhelming navigation. User testing and heat maps are quick and easy ways to see if and how people are engaging with your content.
Though it can be more challenging, optimizing your page speed with Google's Page SpeedInsights is a great way to compare your performance. Run a speed test on a few of your pages, then do the same for several of your competitors similar pages and see how you measure up. Faster is obviously better, but certain industries will be slower than others based on multiple factors, so it’s important to directly compare with your competition.
The last “quick” way to tell if your site sucks is to identify leaks in your conversion funnel. This is the most in-depth measure of success that we will talk about in this article, and will require you to have Google Analytics setup and be able to utilize your shopping cart behavior or user behavior flow.
This is typically easiest to do for eCommerce, because industry benchmark data is more readily available. However, understanding your conversion funnel is essential for improving your conversion rates.
For example, what if both your conversion rate and your bounce rate are low? How do you identify your problems? The answer is a conversion funnel analysis which will help you identify where people lose interest.
We call this the war on attrition, because on average, about 96% of people are going to leave your site without converting. If we can get 50% of visitors to view a product or service page, and 15% of them to add-to-cart, then we can typically get about a 3% conversion rate.
However, if 70% of our visitors view a product or service page, but only 5% of them add to their cart, then we’ve identified our leak. We’re losing the war of attrition on our product pages.
This method, or a conversion funnel analysis, allows us to pinpoint problem areas in our site's conversion funnel. It provides us with the information we need to focus our efforts on improving the user experience where it is needed most.
Your average conversion rate, bounce rate, and a conversion funnel analysis are all very useful tools that will give you insights into your user experience before you begin a complete overhaul of your website design and copywriting. They can also help you identify if a smaller project will have a greater impact. However, make sure you dig into your preliminary results to make sure you’re getting the entire story of what these numbers are telling you.