More thoughts on using visits or visitors to calculate conversion rates
Recently I was talking to a friend who was asking about my post on buyer versus order conversion rates I posted recently. We had been talking about the “every session is an opportunity to convert” mantra that some folks push as gospel; his comment to me was funny. He basically said, “I manage analytics for a company that does over $100 million annually through our online channel and that type of thinking is [crap].”
I told him to tell me how he really felt.
After he read my post he said he’d started calculating the delta between buyer and order conversion rates for his own site on both a daily and monthly basis; he’d been calculating both buyer and order conversion rates as part of his daily KPI set but hadn’t really thought about the difference between them. While he wasn’t surprised to see an average of six to eight percent difference on a daily basis, he was surprised to see that on a monthly basis his order (visit-based) conversion rate was, on average, twenty-seven percent lower than his buyer (visitor-based) conversion rate!
Put another way, by subscribing to the “only use visits to calculate conversion” methodology my friend would be under-reporting the likelihood that he would sell products to real people on a monthly basis by nearly one-third!
So he got me thinking, I wonder what the monthly delta is between buyer and order conversion rates (BOCR Delta) is for book sales on my web site. Have a look:
Aside from the fact that conversion is off slightly over the past few months, likely owing to the fact that I’ve stepped up my efforts to bring traffic to the web site, you can see that I have much the same problem as my friend on a monthly basis. Were I to rely on visit-based conversion rates alone, my understanding of how real people purchase on my web site would be incomplete.
Anyway, I stand by my original statement, you need both visit- and visitor-based conversion rates to understand how your audience converts. Both metrics tell you something valuable; one tells you about the person doing the converting, the other tells you about the process.
I welcome your comments on this subject. Perhaps you disagree with me? Or perhaps you agree but are having a hard time calculating one or the other rates using your web analytics application?