Figures often beguile me …
Web marketing geeks compare conversion rates … opt in rates … open rates … bounce rates … click through rates, and on and on. It’s like penis envy.
But what do any of these numbers really mean to your success?
IMHO: Not as much as you’ve been led to believe.
Dare I say, there’s just one web marketing metric that really matters?
Before I reveal it, let me tell you why the above stats are overrated.
Conversion Rate – Everybody in IM seems to love talking about their big fat conversion rates. Jake brags about getting a 10% CR with his latest sales page.
For every 1000 unique visitors, that’s 100 sales. Great!
He’s cock of the walk.
Using roughly the same abacus, Judy’s manhood is just 2.5%. 1000 people come, only 25 sales – poor Judy.
Not so fast.
Know this …
Conversion rates are m-e-a-n-i-n-g-l-e-s-s in this context. They are of no consequence whatsoever. Zero, Zilch, Nada.
Suppose Judy’s product costs $97 and James’ $19. Now who’s packing heat?
Even if the two products are identically priced, conversion rate is still meaningless.
Maybe this is the first time Jake has mailed his list about his new landing page. And Judy has already mailed hers ten times.
Do you think the conversion rate is going to stay constant mailing the same people ten times, or even twice?
Conversion rate talk gets bandied about a lot, but it’s a useless comparison in most cases. It doesn’t even tell you how much you can afford to spend to get a click or a customer. In truth, there’s only one context I know of where conversion rate means anything at all …
And that is where two web pages bearing the same offer are being split tested in real time. In this case, and in this case only (assuming statistical validity), conversion rate is a reasonable indicator as to which of the two pages is likely to be more productive.
Opt-in Rate – this is the ratio of unique visitors to email subscriptions. Again, comparisons are just plain dumb outside of the domain of the real time split test.
Jake counts an opt-in when a unique visitor clicks the send button on the form on his website. Judy, when the person clicks on the confirmation link she sends after they opt in. Comparing the two is like comparing a Papaya fruit with a slab of head cheese.
Sure, Jake has the studlier opt-in rate. But Judy will probably make more money with the emails she sends to her list – all other things being equal. And of course, the opt-in rate has nothing to do with how well those leads will monetize over time …
Let’s say Jake over promises in order to achieve a stunning opt in rate. And then under-delivers on that promise in his follow up. And Judy under-promises and over delivers.
Is Jake’s big bad opt-in rate a slam dunk indicator of more sales? … Probably not.
Bounce Rate – This metric refers to the percentage of visitors who visit just one page of your website. It’s generally agreed that a lower bounce rate is better. If one-hundred people come to your site and five of them click on any of the internal links you’ve got on your landing page, your bounce rate is 95% – dismal right?
Well that depends …
Let’s suppose your goal is to convince people to click through to a third party payment processor and make a purchase. You know … the kind of page that actually makes you money.
Do you really want to work on your bounce rate?
If some web monkey brain tells you to put eye candy around your menu links, or any other hair brained strategy that gets in the way of your sales process, in the interest of lowering your bounce rate, shoot the bastard.
Your bounce rate may improve, but your income will suffer.
Is that what you want?
Open Rate – If you send HTML email, you’ll get a report from your autoresponder that will tell you how many people opened your email.
People opening your emails is a good thing right? Maybe yes.
Maybe no …
Do you make money when people open your emails? Or do you make money when people buy stuff?
What many marketers don’t realize is that a higher open rate does not necessarily mean higher sales.
Suppose Jake sends an email to his list with a misleading subject line. Maybe one of those proven badass subject lines, like “Bad news …” People open it because they think somebody died or something.
But inside the email there’s no bad news, just a blatant trick to get attention. Remember the boy who cried WOLF?
Two things can happen here. Some people will forget why they opened the email and carry on reading. That’s what Jake is counting on. Most however, won’t.
Contrast this with Judy’s straight forward approach. “Just 4 copies left …”
Her open rate totally BOMBS. It stinks to high heaven.
It’s a quarter of what James gets with his marketing NLP ninja mind hack.
But guess who makes more sales? Jill.
Because people know why they’re opening the message … there’s no mystery or deception. Dang if they don’t want one of those last 4 copies.
Are you getting the picture?
Open rate statistics can be misleading as hell when it comes to predicting how much money ends up in your merchant account.
Click Through Rate – Again, this metric generally refers to email and involves the ratio of opened emails to the number of clicks generated by those emails.
If you generate 100 unique opens and only 25 unique visitors arrive at your web page, you’ve got a click through rate of 25%. Or if you calculate the number based on emails sent, versus emails opened, it would be something lower.
And here the same logic applies. The sales you make are impacted just as much (if not more) by the expectation you set to generate a click as by the number of clicks you generate.
So if all of these mind-numbing stats are merely interesting, what metric should you be taking dead seriously?
Average Visitor Value – It all begins when a unique visitor is tracked on your website for the very first time.
If you’ve got half a marketing brain you’ve got a very specific plan for this individual – a series of yes/no decisions that drive him deeper into a congruent and continuous sales funnel. You have that going on, right?
Your landing page makes a very clear proposition. Opt-in to my list – yes or no? If the answer is yes, then maybe you advance to a $97 offer. Yes or no? If yes, how about a nice $247 upsell? If they take the upsell, maybe you come back in a couple of weeks with a juicy coaching program for ten times that amount.
If they say no to the initial offer, they get a series of follow up emails and you keep trying. You keep re-engaging them in your sales process. After a certain point, maybe you shift gears to a scaled down version of the product at $47. And over a period of time, say 15, 30, maybe 45 days, your prospect makes his way through your entire funnel.
The average dollars you collect from each unique visitor during this defined window of opportunity represents your average visitor value. This is the only metric that really matters.
Monitoring and managing it carefully is genuinely useful to you because it tells you roughly how much you can afford to acquire a click or a customer. If it goes up, you know you’re making more money. Down, not so much.
Bottom line, your website should not be a wonderland of choice for your prospects. And you should not be lying awake at night worrying about your bounce rate, or your open rate, or even your conversion rate.
Keep your eye on the real prize.
Until next time, Good Selling!