What Are The Benchmarks for Conversion Rates?

Pondering upon the conversion rate made me wonder what the standard, normal conversion rates for various types of sites could be.  If I am entering online retail business, what should I strive for or measure against when I launch my site?

According to MarketingSherpa’s Ecommerce Benchmark Guide 2007, the average conversion rate on top tier search sites 2006 & 2007 was 4.3% for both years. In 2006, high end of normal range was 10%, most common rate was 2.5 % and low end of normal range was 1.0%.  In 2007, the average rate remained the same (4.3%), but the high end rose up to 12%, thus driving the mode (most common rate) to 3% and leaving the low end the same (1%). So, it is not 50% or 70% that we should expect seeing from online marketing and if we reach 12% – we are the winners! It make sense if we simply look at the formula for conversion rate (total number of outcomes (leads, orders) divided by the total number of unique users), with the former number being significantly lower than the latter.  Of course, these standards apply only to e-commerce sites, which assume purchases as a result of conversion.  Lead generation and content sites might enjoy higher rates since all they track would be of somewhat easier visitor engagement behavior (filling out the registration form, signing up for a newsletter, requesting more information or providing comments and viewing the content).

So what could you do to drive and truly impact your conversion rates? To do so, it is worthwhile to look at the conversion data on all acquisition channels that you employ (email, banners, SEM and organic traffic) separately and summarized.  Once you go through this exercise, it is easier to see where to invest to drive the right traffic to your online store and eventually see those rates go up!