The average website might convert only around 2% of leads, with rates much lower in some industries.  

Even though the conversion rates are still such a low percentage of visitors, internet marketers are often still looking at data sets from 100% of visitors when evaluating web performance.

In other words, because 98% of visitors didn’t show themselves to be serious customers or convert, arguably 98% of the data they’re looking at is skewed and possibly incorrect.

Despite the platform’s huge active user base only 2% of social sharing takes place on Google+ and only 2% of people in the US don’t have internet access.

Another figure you might not be aware of is that the average website might convert only around two per cent of leads, with rates much lower in some industries.  

I realise 2% might look like a small number, but it’s 100% of customers that actually showed an interest in you, and what they can tell you is potentially gold.

Find out what those ‘good’ visitors did on your site and you’ll know what content motivates those types of people to do want to do business with you.

Improve and optimise that content (that you know those good visitors responded well to) and what that small sample of 2% tells you could actually look like seriously valuable information. It’s what we call the 2% rule - learning from the people that really want to do business, not just the site-seers.

So, critically, the key to all of this is identifying not necessarily what isn’t working but what is. A term my speech and language therapist wife calls 'brief-focused-solution-therapy', which is all about asking a positive question to get a positive answer. She thinks it’s far more productive, and annoyingly she’s right.

If we understand what works and we do more of it, or do it even better, that 2% could very easily increase by 50%, 100% or more.

Of course we need to understand any glaring problems so we shouldn’t completely ignore the 98% but the gems are to be found in the 2%.

Using a website visitor playback tool will allow you to follow a chosen customer’s experience by seeing exactly what they see, read and click, and miss.

If they didn’t follow the route you would have expected, or it’s not as smooth as you think it could be, this can highlight what to move or improve to better funnel them through to success. This gives you an understanding of how the 2% behave. 

But as well as seeing how visitors interact, it’s important to have an understanding of the content too. Valuing every page element is a method we use to find out how much influence each piece of content relative to others on a page had in contributing to a visitor converting.

It’s so you know what really packs the punch. Imagine the potential of knowing what your customer really care about, i.e. which headlines, subjects, content, images, calls-to-action, offers, benefits and features trigger action. It’s competitive advantage and easily extends to offside and offline activity too. 

However you cut and dice your audience, look for the positive before the negative. Getting into bed with the 2% will ensure you’re working with a wealth of information that the 98% can’t give you, and that alone could give you multiple increases that draw additional revenue and leads from one of your most valuable assets – your website.

Ben Harris

Published 3 October, 2013 by Ben Harris

Ben Harris is CEO at Decibel Insight and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Ben on Twitter and Google Plus.

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Comments (4)



Hi Ben,

I enjoyed reading your article. It's great to see you recommend using session replay as a tool for improving site conversion.

Our own experience with SessionCam has shown the value of segmenting website activity to only those that show serious purchase intent and then focusing closely on optimising the customer experience.

A programme of improvement aimed at the small but significant details can quickly aggregate into a meaningful increase in performance.


almost 5 years ago


Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Data, Insight & Analytics at Eurostar International Ltd.

I would argue that part of the problem is that all that companies look at is the 100% OR the 2% without actually looking at something in between.

With most websites where there is a focus on driving conversions, there are other touchpoints between the arrival and the conversion that are key to the customer during their journey. As a result, by looking at the people that are hitting these touchpoints and looking at the differences between those that are and are converting and those that are but don't convert you can start to piece together what's going wrong...

almost 5 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

I think a tiny thought missing from this article is that you're not talking about '2% of visitors', you're actually talking about '2% of visits'.

If each visitor comes to the site 4 times prior to a 5th converting visit, that means you're actually talking about 10% of visitors.

A subtle but very important difference.

almost 5 years ago

Ben Harris

Ben Harris, CEO at Decibel Insight

Thanks for your comments.

Kevin, I was thinking of 'Decibel Insight' rather than a visitor replay focused product because of Decibel's impressive advanced segmentation capability and it's unique ability to score and value aggregated visitor behaviour - which are both needed to optimise a website. Visitor replay just helps with one aspect but a tool is needed to help identify and value content associated with a goal or conversion so you know what to move, improve, and create more of, i.e. if you know what works across groups of visitors and you can make it even more effective, then success beckons - and looking at each journey individually cannot give you this aggregated understanding.

Matt, I completely agree and nicely put. I very much had that in my mind when I was writing the blog. For many sites I come across 'conversion' cannot be tracked which is when 'visitor scoring' and 'goals' become even more of a focus. But yes it would be useful to view these types of interactions/visitors on any site.

Dan, you make an astute point although I think it boils down to the same thought that Matt had. Certain types of behaviour can show there is 'intent' to convert and that they are potentially good visitors, without a purchase being made. It just depends on the type of website and how success is measured. The main issue from my perspective is that we identify those people that have gone that final step (relative to your website) because if we really understand what triggers them to take action then we have the power of knowledge to influence more to do the same. Of course depending on the nature of the site and the correlation of repeat visitors to conversion we should look investigate repeat visitors too.

almost 5 years ago

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