The Only KPIs that Matter Pt. 1: Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the north star of digital. Especially if you’re trying to scale.


Impressions, reach, cost-per-click, conversion, revenue. In the world of digital, numbers come at ya quickly. Internally, it’s your social media grunt hurling engagement metrics at you, your email marketing person talking open rate, or your sales director discussing seasonal revenue trends. And that’s if you’re lucky. In small to medium sized companies, it might just be you and maybe 1 other person in charge of sourcing, compressing, and editorializing all of this data. AND that’s all before the software, advertising, or platform sales guys get ya shilling access to new audiences or the latest digital widget, supported by, you guessed it...a shit ton of data.

Luckily, deep down there are only a few pieces of data you really need to apply maximum focus with conversion rate being right on top of that list.

If I was in charge of a brand, I’d probably sink no less than $1 for every initiative that grows audience into initiatives that improve conversion.

Conversion rate is the foundation of nearly every optimization, forecast, scalability plan, or profit model in digital marketing. If I was in charge of a brand, I’d probably sink no less than $1 for every initiative that grows audience into initiatives that improve conversion.

Traffic generation initiatives tend to shock and awe, with huge metrics (we’ve all seen those reports touting 10 bajillion impressions). Conversion initiatives pay the bills. All other things being equal, a conversion rate improvement from %1 to %1.25 represents a 25% increase in sales all for just a tiny little quarter percent.

Improving Conversion Rate

The million dollar question eh? Well unlike traffic, or impressions, which you can typically go buy. Improvements to conversion can be an organization-wide task. It could be as simple as changing the color and location of your Add-To-Cart button, or it could be as complex as better product or a tighter brand story. But no matter what gizmo you’re selling, be it a $1000 gold shoes or a subscription to an email newsletter, here are some good places to start.

  1. Merchandise. In the absence of a brick and mortar store and a sales clerk, it’s gonna be the look and feel of your website that does the heavy lifting to make the sale. Are your product photos all shot the same? Does the lifestyle imagery have a uniform (and relevant) look? Does your website serve content that answers most, if not all the questions a potential consumer might have about this product? If not, then get to work.

  2. Checkout Process. Is your checkout process clean, simple, and modern? There are plenty of antiquated custom ecommerce builds floating around, and there are even more sites with just plain lazy styling on these critical pages. For consumers to hand over their credit card info, they want this experience to feel pro. Bonus points - deliver crisp, styled order confirmation and service follow up emails after the fact.

  3. Service. This is a biggie. Do you have a clear warranty and returns policy displayed through the shopping process? Is it easy to track you down if something goes wrong? Are you responsive? Do you offer chat? While our species might have become less personable in real life thanks to our devices, we won’t hesitate to fire off an email, a discussion board thread, or a chat to the universe to get those lingering questions before a sale answered.

  4. Focus. Which channels are producing for you? Organic Search? Paid Media? Email? Rather than sink a little bit of time and effort into every channel at once, try and focus on strategies and executions that grow one channel at a time. Then start with the ones with highest conversion. Once you master a channel, add another one to your workflow.

  5. Add Value. This is a blanket statement for digital marketing. Do good. Avoid the fluff. Every interaction with your brand should add value to your audience or consumer. This means quality content, delivered to the right audience at the right time. The more people find value in your content, the more they’re likely to convert. Then if they find value in your physical (or digital) product, they’re more likely to tell a friend. Word of mouth is still the best currency in marketing.

  6. Don’t have a Conversion on your Website? Get one. Even if you don’t sell anything, you should have a clear goal for users to accomplish. That might be a newsletter registration or clicking through to your social channels or reading a specific piece of content or calling you. Conversions are your reason to exist on the web. Without them you’re just clutter.

READ Pt. 2 of our Only KPI’s that Matter Series: REAL Cost of Acquisition

Editor’s Note: We want this blog to be completely transparent about Craft 52 and our thoughts on digital marketing. It’s gonna be written off the cuff, about stuff we find interesting, published irregularly. But if this stuff is interesting to you, by all means, we encourage you to subscribe. We’ll email tasty, and probably sometimes tasteless, nuggets about digital marketing, ecommerce, code, marketing software and the like anytime we spit them out of our brains. It’ll be fun, we promise.

Digital StrategyKevin Luby