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If you were to ask digital marketers how effective their marketing budget is at delivering results, they’d probably share some great statistics about metrics, return on investment and customer engagement.

The fact is that while few will admit it, not many companies are getting maximum return on investment for their digital marketing efforts.

The reason for this is that marketing professionals are still stuck using the 92:1 ratio.

This ratio illustrates the fact that for every £92 businesses spend driving traffic to their websites, they only spend £1 converting it.

We spend all that money on raising awareness of our product offering, differentiating ourselves from competitors and carefully adapting our website design to ensure easy navigation, and then we virtually ignore customers once they land on our website. We leave them to complete the most important part of the journey alone. What could possibly go wrong!

There are clear reasons why there is such a gap between the £92 we spend driving traffic online for every £1 allocated for conversion:

1. Stuck in a traditional offline marketing model

In the past, it made sense to put the majority of the budget into an expensive advertising campaign. The more people we got to the top of the funnel, the more that made their way to the bottom of the funnel and converted.

We didn’t have the measurability and visibility we have online today and so pushing all our money into the top of the funnel was the most sensible course of action. That’s simply not the case in an era of online marketing, where measurability is at the heart of all that we do.

2. Ineffective targeting

The internet allows marketers to target campaigns much more effectively than offline campaigns. Reaching the people that are more likely to want to buy from you, whether through behavioural targeting, SEO or even email, is far easier and allows marketing budgets to work harder, bringing down cost per conversion.

3. A lack of customer experience analysis

It isn’t as simple as making marketing spend work harder, it is about realising that investing in online customer experience is another vital way to improve CPC metrics.

4. Inability to identifying online customer struggle

And the first way to make meaningful improvements to the experience visitors have when they come to your website is by understanding where they are struggling and the steps that need to be taken to eliminate these problematic areas.

We’ve seen companies that have been incredibly effective at driving targeted traffic to their website. They’ve spent the £92 driving traffic, but they’ve spent it very wisely. However, they’ve still only investing the equivalent of £1 converting their customers.

How do I know they spent the £92 wisely? Because the vast majority of their customers were progressing to the final stages of their checkout funnel. They had a clear intent to buy.

But because they were struggling on these final pages, they were abandoning in droves. The company had no idea why this was happening because they didn’t have any visibility into the online experience of their customers. They weren’t investing properly on improving conversion, so their £92 investment was effectively wasted.

How to build a business case for investment in customer experience

So what is the best way to change this mindset? If the 92:1 statistic isn’t enough to persuade a board or a marketing director to invest money in better online conversion, you’ll need to start collecting proof points and evidence.

This means really understanding what visitors are doing when they hit your website - the issues and struggles they encounter - and the action that needs to be taken to improve this.

The clearer this evidence is, the better. I’ve sat in meetings with CEOs of blue-chip organisations where they’ve been shown replays of actual page-by-page experiences their customers have had on their website.

It is amazing how quickly they open the cheque book when they can see the daily struggles their customers are having on their website and the number of visitors that are dropping off, probably to a competitor.

Research we conducted with Econsultancy
recently found that, of the UK companies we surveyed, on average, they said they were losing the equivalent of 24% of their annual revenue due to poor customer experiences alone.

This equates to £14bn in lost revenues each year. Calculating the impact of poor online customer experiences in terms of lost revenue will also speak very clearly to a CEO.

So, next time you start to plan your online marketing campaigns remember 92:1. Invest a bit more in truly understanding the experience of your customers when they hit your website. And identify the steps you need take to optimise your site and enjoy the very real revenue benefits that await.

The goal of an online marketer these days isn’t just about driving traffic, it’s about driving traffic that converts. And to give your traffic the best chance of converting, you need to invest at all stages of the customer journey. Digital marketing is incredibly measurable, but it’s what you do with this measurability that really matters.

Now, why not go ask your marketing department if they can tell you what 92:1 is?

Geoff Galat

Published 15 June, 2011 by Geoff Galat

Geoff Galat is Worldwide VP of Marketing at IBM Tealeaf and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

25 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Tom Eldridge, Senior Digital Strategist at G2

Excellent post, I was unaware of the 92:1 ratio. But some very valid points that organisations can address.

From my experience, the mentality of 'Build it and they will come' prevails. There is very little invested once an online campaign goes live.

In some cases organisations see ongoing analysis and support as a cost and a justification to wind a campaign down.

However it's within this period that valuable insights and learnings can be gained and a likelihood of increased ROI

over 5 years ago

Paul Shearing

Paul Shearing, Head Of Product Development at Search Laboratory

How true!!!

I can totally believe the 92:1 ratio.

over 5 years ago


Ian ( Seo Nottingham) Bowland

Great post! I'm actually surprised that it is not more like 99:1. There is generally so little effort given over to conversion and so much expenditure on driving traffic to the funnel. Eye tracking studies and even just simple videoing of real users and the difficulties that they face (get them to say what they are doing and why they are doing it when working their way through the site) always reveals a great deal.
Look forward to the research.

over 5 years ago


Stag ideas

Really thought provoking post. It strikes me that it's a bit like a safety blanket approach (from Snr Mgmt) "we know we're getting more traffic so everything's heading in the right direction". Perhaps this is driven by ego - we always hear people talking about 'uniques' (on Dragons' Den etc), as if that's the only metric that counts.
I guess ultimately it's a brave person that stands up in front of the Board and says "we're cutting spend on traffic acquisition to watch how people use our site". Perhaps marketers just need to be a bit braver!

over 5 years ago

Adam Tudor

Adam Tudor, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at The Black Hole

I'm quite surprised that the gap is so large - maybe I'm just lucky to have worked with companies that are at least making the first steps to optimising conversion rate and experience on their website. Even getting Google Analytics up and running can be a great first step to optimising conversion on your website and is not too difficult to do.

I think it's worth noting that many companies do make lots of investment in converting customers online, but not from an analytics or experience led approach.

Special offers, product promotions, and things like loyalty programs are all campaigns that will aid conversion. Sure they'll drive traffic, but they'll also help to increase conversion rate of existing traffic. It's not all about usability and web experience, there are other indirect ways you can increase conversion rate and lots of companies are doing these types of things. Even a free delivery offer is going to make a difference.

over 5 years ago



The ratio is certainly believable and I agree to the fact that most of the marketers lie about their budget and time.

What I feel is most of us fail to understand the intricacies involved in direct marketing and all we do is keep repeating mistakes.
The article is an eye opener. Thanks Geoff for your wonderful effort to address the issue.

over 5 years ago


Tim Leighton-Boyce

Please can someone point me at a source for the 92:1 ratio? It would be handy to have that. I've tried Googling it but all I've found is the evidence of this post's excellent ranking!



over 5 years ago

Ian Lyons

Ian Lyons, Founder at Social Focus

I try to make sure that 50% of the development budget is still available at launch - because it's only then that we start to learn about and become able to optimise the customer experience.

over 5 years ago

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