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It Takes A Lot Of Hits!

By Bob McElwain
Posted Thursday, October 16, 2003

Commonly we hear that a one or two percent CR (Conversion Ratio) is good. By this is meant that one or two visitors take the desired action in accordance with the site purpose. Perhaps they make a purchase, request further information, or download a file.

Such numbers mean different things to different people. Many sites would be dismayed by a CR of less than ten percent. Still others, particularly those selling high ticket items, may be quite content with a CR of 0.1%. What the CR for your site ought to be, depends upon the site purpose. For example, it's easier to generate leads than to sell product. Thus you would expect a better CR in lead generation than in selling.

CR And Newcomers

If you're new to the Web or have only recently opened a site, you may not have enough visitors or sales to figure what your CR is or ought to be. The bottom line is that hits are hard to get, and the task is far more difficult for a new or relatively new site.

So What Should Your CR Be?

As suggested, it is a function of the site purpose. As an example, assume you have opened a site and are selling an ebook at $20 per copy. Further assume it's a dandy book with great content of interest to many. And one that over-delivers big time.

In theory, you should be able to generate one to two sales per 100 visitors (1% - 2% CR). In practice, it may be an unrealistic goal. The inconsistencies between groups of only 100 can mislead.

The Makings Of A Great Site

Let's assume you have taken a practical view toward your site. And that it is all working well. You have great content that even now is beginning to draw traffic. And you have other products, perhaps an affiliate program or two, besides the ebook.

Given this model, hits on the site do not relate directly to the CR for your ebook. You need to look at the hits on the page which contains the sales presentation of the book. Then consider sales relative to this count.

To put this another way, it may require 1000 hits on your site to generate 100 hits on your sales presentation. If these hits bring two sales, your CR is 2%. However, relative to your site which received 1000 hits, ebook sales amount to only 0.2% on total hits.

1000 Hits? That's A Lot!

You bet it is. And if you're new to the Web, you may not yet have received this many in total. Growing targeted traffic is the most difficult task there is in doing business online. It takes time, a lot of learning, and above all, patience.

So What Can You Do Meanwhile?

Continuously examine all aspects of your site, with the goal of directing more visitors down paths to sales.

- Does your content at least indirectly point to a path which leads to a sale?

- Can the sales presentations be improved?

- Is there a product that can be dropped that would increase sales on others by bringing a sharper focus?

While the above are clear cut, it's very difficult to measure the effectiveness of any change. That is, given a change, 100 hits on a sales presentation may yield 3 sales rather than 2, but you still must do a lot of guessing. In fact, a good improvement in the presentation may result in a drop to only 1 sale in the next 100 hits. With so few hits, results are not conclusive. If you are convinced your new page is better, you may decide to keep it, and worry about the CR over time.

How Many Hits Can You Expect?

When a new site is opened, the only hits come from the webmaster and friends. While building content, submitting to search engines, improving the sales presentations and all else that is required to grow a site, you will be busy. Hit counts will climb, but slowly. Sales even more slowly.

While there are those who have the experience to generate massive hit counts in very short order, even the most determined newbie may need to be content with something between 2000 and 4000 total hits in the first year. Translate this to only a few sales of a $20 ebook, and it's easy to see why people so often do not hold on even for a year.

The good news for the persistent types is that a growth rate of ten percent per month is not out of reach. And this brings a doubling in 7.5 months. The secret? Hang in and make it happen!

It Takes A Lot Of Hits

Until you are generating two to three hundred hits a day, testing is not likely to "prove" the effectiveness (or failure) of changes. In fact, even at 1000 hits per day, there will always be a need to evaluate results. In some cases, you must ignore what the numbers appear to say.

To put this another way, suppose you are up to 1000 hits per day. If you put up a new sales presentation and your CR jumps from 2% to 4%, and stays there, there's really no choice. Hold to the new version. However, you may decide to do so even if the CR drops a tad. Why? Because results from even 1000 hits per day can be circumstantial, a function of the traffic that happened by. The new page may be determined good, so long as there is not a significant drop. In taking this choice, the hope is in gains over time.

Where Does That Leave You?

In the end, it is always a matter of judgement. With few hits, this is really all there is to go by. Given lots of hits, you will have better numbers to help you make such judgements. But you will also have greater experience. So now, as at some future date, you may need to act upon your sense of things, rather than numbers.


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