What is the average website conversion rate?

You finally got your new website “live” (amazing how time-consuming it is to create great content, eh?).  You installed Google Analytics and configured it to record a “conversion” every time a visitor submits your online quote form. After reviewing your first month’s analytics report, you’re shocked – 500 people visited your website and some of them even used keywords other than your company name!  Your excitement quickly turns into depression when you click on the “Goals” tab within Google Analytics and realize that less than 1% of your visitors filled out your online quote form.

Three questions immediately pop into your head:

While stats exist about online conversion rates for large, publicly traded e-commerce websites, there’s no single website that details visit-to-lead conversion rates for local service companies.  Few competitors are going to provide you with accurate numbers and the numbers coming from internet marketing companies looking to sell you their services are going to be significantly inflated as well.

Blue Corona started as, and continues to be, a marketing measurement company.  We help (mostly) business to consumer service business owners more accurately track their advertising investments – online and offline.  Ever wondered how many leads you’re really getting from your full-page Yellowbook ad?  Our tracking customers can tell you not only how many calls they received from a particular ad, but also how many of those calls were legitimate leads and how many dollars in revenue were generated for each advertising dollar spent!

We’ve been tracking close to 100 websites, from a multitude of industries, for nearly 5 years.  The companies vary dramatically in size and reach, but we’re starting to see some trends emerge with respect to website conversion rates.  For example, it’s not uncommon for service businesses like HVAC and plumbing companies to have website visit-to-lead conversion rates in excess of 15% (this includes phone call inquiries).  Think about it – if you go to a plumbing company’s website, you’re probably not there to browse.  You likely have a plumbing issue and you’re going to call to see how much it’s going to cost to get them out to your house and how quickly they can be there!

On the other end of the spectrum, bigger ticket products and/or non-essential services, like high-end home remodeling companies can expect much lower online conversion rates (especially when economic times are tough) – often in the 1-3% range (in boom times, the conversion rates appear to have been closer to 2.5-5% for this category).

So, what should your website’s conversion rate be and should you try to improve it or focus on getting more traffic to your site – or both!?

If you operate an essential service business – an HVAC company, plumbing company, roofing company in Maryland, etc., and your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rates are less than 10%, there’s a good chance you would benefit from a website conversion rate optimization.  Similarly, if you own a high-end bathroom remodeling company and your website’s visit-to-inquiry conversion rate is less than 1%, you too have some conversion rate issues to address.

However, no matter which industry you’re in, you should also consider the total number of visits you get to your site each month before making website changes designed to increase your conversion rate(s).

Even with the data derived from Blue Corona’s advanced website tracking tools, increasing website conversion rates is still very much an art form.  Different web visitors respond to different messages, colors, site layouts, pictures, etc.  Often, improved conversion rates happen through multiple marketing experiments and sometimes even by accident (although, you’ll never hear that language from the conversion rate optimization company that improves your performance)!

Before you and your staff start changing web page headlines, adjusting calls-to-action or changing website buttons from red to green, take a look at your monthly traffic.  If you don’t have a certain minimum number of visitors per month, it’s going to be very difficult to judge whether your changes worked, had no impact or actually made the situation worse! If you run a plumbing company and you only get 150 visitors per month, a 5% conversion rate is only going to net you ~7 leads per month.  If you make changes to the call to action that precedes your online contact form and your conversion rate increases to 6%, a 20% increase, it’s unlikely that you’ll even notice.  You certainly couldn’t attribute those 2 extra leads to the website changes you made – not with any confidence.  Now, if you had 1,500 visitors per month instead of 150, that 1% improvement would be a difference of 15 leads.

The “increase traffic or increase conversion rate” conundrum is one of the challenges online marketing companies face when they agree (perhaps mistakenly) to do short-term SEO campaigns for low-traffic websites in industries with low conversion rates (note:  ideally you increase conversion rates and then increase traffic, but the real world is far from ideal).

When a business owner invests in SEO, he or she wants to see tangible results measured in increased leads per month.  Maximizing leads per month requires getting more qualified visitors to the site (and SEO is a great tactic for this) and optimizing the website to convert more visitors into leads.  But, to do the later well (conversion rate optimization), you need certain levels of traffic and many small business owners simply don’t have the budget or patience to wait for it.

Take the high-end bathroom remodeling company serving (only) a handful of upscale cities. They have a full flash website which receives less than 5 visitors per month from non-branded organic search terms and a visit-to-inquiry conversion rate of .66%.  They get a new website with SEO which almost immediately results in a 700% increase in visits from non-branded organic search and a 400% increase in their visit-to-inquiry conversion rate, but they don’t think the results are good because they’re still only receiving ~8 leads per month.

Conclusion:

All service business owners should think of their website is a sales rep and maximizing your website’s performance requires (at a minimum) three things:

  1. Accurate tracking
  2. Clean, goal-oriented website design with specific calls to action
  3. Significant visitor volumes

By definition, it’s impossible to maximize your website’s performance without an accurate tracking system in place.  Operating the marketing side of your business or your website without tracking is like running a business without financial statements.  You might get away with it for a short period of time, but no consistently high performing business operates this way.

Although there is no authority (yet) that offers insights into the conversion rates of local service business websites, “essential” service businesses (HVAC, pest control, plumbing, roofing, etc.), should expect visit-to-lead conversion rates to exceed 10%.  If you own this type of business and your conversion rates are lower than 10%, you have a conversion rate problem and need to consult with a conversion rate optimization firm to get your company on the right track.  If you sell a non-essential service or product – ex. high-end remodelers, luxury bathroom remodeling companies, home theater companies, etc. – you should expect much lower online conversion rates – likely in the 1-3% range.

While there are proven methods for increasing online conversion rates, it is still a mix of art and science.  Often times, it is far easier to cost-effectively increase website traffic and get more qualified visitors to a website than it is to improve the site’s conversion rates.  Ironically, the extra traffic also makes improving website conversion rates easier because trends are more easily seen with larger numbers.  Local service businesses in medium to large markets (plumbers, hvac companies, etc.) should shoot for a minimum of 2,000 visitors per month.  High-end, non-essential service companies serving local markets might shoot for somewhere in the 1,000 visits per month range.

Finally, when it comes to maximizing your marketing (and website) performance, adopt an “always be testing – track, test, analyze, tweak, repeat” attitude and, in the long-run, you’ll get to where you want to go!

Want to learn more about improving your website’s conversion rates? Send your website address and a description of your situation to: ben AT bluecorona.com

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11 Comments

Filed under Conversion Rate Optimization

11 responses to “What is the average website conversion rate?

  1. Lee Wilson

    Great! information regarding how to Improve Website Conversion rate seems very helpful.Make the best use of marketing strategy you can undertake to promote your web site.Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. sleepingduck

    I find your blog pretty interesting. Are you finding that Facebook is vastly increasing traffic to customers websites, if the customers have their own fan page?

    • Ben

      Sleeping Duck,

      We have a lot of customers testing Facebook. The short answer is, “no.” We don’t find Facebook effective for increasing traffic to our customer’s websites. Most of our customers, even those with a lot of fans, have yet to find efficient ways to monetize them.

  3. I’m trying to help or give ideas to a friend with a single action landing page (squeeze page) for plumbing biz.

    Do you have examples?

    Please email me.

    Thanks

    Sebastian

    • Ben

      Sebastian, Thanks for reading! As a company, we specialize in helping home services businesses – including plumbers – get more web leads. Unfortunately, I can’t give you an example of a single action landing or squeeze page. Best of luck.

  4. Thanks for providing the stats and the useful commentary around the numbers. Because people don’t share, It’s hard to know how you are performing. We have clients who are ecstatic with a 12-15% conversion rate, but some people find it hard to wrap their head around those kind of numbers. We tend to recommend that clients redesign a site for optimized conversion first, then build traffic, but take your point about having a foundation of data to work with, but being a small market, we can’t afford for people to have get a negative impression of a brand – they may never come back!

  5. Mike

    Would you say that it is normal to expect 10-15% conversion rate for a service business, like lawn care?

    • Mike

      lol, as soon as I posted that I read your other post. I guess my question would be if it is usually more than 15%, what would the maximum be? Around 25%? Again, it’s for something like lawn care which I think is competitive.

      ‘So what is a good conversion rate? It depends on your industry, but here are some good general rules of thumb. Visit-to-lead conversion rates for necessary home services like HVAC and plumbing tend to exceed 15%. If you own or manage the marketing for an HVAC company and you’re visit-to-lead conversion rates are less than 10%, you have a major conversion rate issue on your hands and you’re throwing money out the window (no pun intended) if you invest in more traffic (SEO and PPC) without first fixing your conversion rate issues.

      Visit-to-lead conversion rates for higher ticket or non-necessary home services (like bathroom or kitchen remodeling), tend to be in the neighborhood of 1-4.5%. B2B services companies, like fire protection companies, can expect visit-to-lead conversion rates between 5-8%. Be clear, when we say, ‘lead’, we are referring to actual verified LEADS – inquiries from prospective customers (vs. a phone call that has not been recorded and listened to).

      This is significant because it is quite common for other online marketing companies to tout much higher visit-to-lead conversion rates, but upon further investigation, we find out that they are calling every phone call or web contact a ‘lead.’ The problem with this? A huge percentage of contacts – web and phone – are often solicitations and spam! Just think about how many spam web contacts you get from so called SEO experts!’

      • Ben

        Mike, The highest I’ve seen is a residential plumbing company with a 22-25 percent visit-to-lead conversion rate. I think you should always be testing (to try to improve your conversion rates), but most business owners do not have the time/money to do everything. Success is about prioritization. You wouldn’t believe how many people waste a fortune on a new website, website banner, etc. when their conversion rates are actually fantastic – double their competitors! Instead, they should put the money into TRAFFIC!

    • Ben

      Mike – Thanks for reading! Generally speaking, I see two factors at play – whether the home service is a “need-based service” or more of an aesthetic service and the price. Lower ticket items and need based services should have visit-to-lead conversion rates that exceed 10 percent (I would expect many to exceed 15 percent). Is lawn care a “need-based service” – I think for some people it is (the elderly or injured), but I wouldn’t expect a company that installs backyard putting greens to have a double-digit conversion rate.

  6. I was wondering if I could improve my websites conversion rate:

    http://www.acancer.info/

    Thanks!

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