Like any other aspect of business, websites don’t start with perfect success. They all start rough and improve with time. The key to this is web metrics, getting the numbers that tell managers what is happening in their site because you can’t improve something you don’t understand.
Success on the web means getting people to do what you want when they visit your site. So the first thing you need to do is decide what it is you want them to do. This is called the Target Action. In most cases it’s buy something or fill in a form.
If you haven’t determined what your target action is before you built the site, it’s worthwhile looking at your site once you have determined your target action. Ask yourself if your site’s design makes it easy for people to engage in your Target Action. Ease of navigation is consistently one of the top 10 complaints people have about web design.
Once you have determined your Target Action you need to determine how successful the site is. The key performance indicator of success is your Conversion Rate. This is the percentage of visitors to your site who engage in your Target Action. If you want them to fill in a contact form, your Conversion Rate is the percentage of visitors who submit the form. If you’re selling online, your Conversion Rate is the percentage of visitors who buy something.
The average conversion rate across the web is 2%. Amazon are said to have the highest rate at 9%, though this is not a figure they will confirm.
But these sites are special cases, with very high brand recognition. This means people already know what the site is selling before they go there. It is possible to run a perfectly profitable online business with a conversion rate of 2%.