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Once in a while, a client will ask us:

“Is my conversion rate good? What are other organizations’ conversion rates?”

This question causes pause among our consultants because it’s easy to blurt out a number and say that for some reason, a particular organization is under-performing or kicking butt.

For non-profit organizations, these conversion rates could relate to a visitor goal like: make a donation, sign up to volunteer, or contact us for more information.

First, just like your mother used to tell you: Stop comparing yourself to others. If you were told 3% was the normal conversion rate, would you stop trying to improve after hitting that mark? Of course not!

So here are three factors to consider when assessing your conversion rate:

1. Thinking strategically about goals

Goals should help to separate valuable visits from less valuable ones and should reflect your organizational goals and reason for having a website.A goal is worthless if a visitor can accomplish it accidentally.

For instance, if viewing a particular page is a goal, then 100% of visits that enter on that page would accomplish the goal. This is fine if the visitor can gather all the information they need in one second, but further qualifying the goal would ensure that you know that a visit was valuable to the organization.

2. Goal requirement

What are you asking in return from your visitors as they move toward a goal?

Do you ask for an email address? A credit-card number?

Are visitors filling out a form or watching a video?

When setting up goals and thinking of conversion, ask yourself what barriers need to be overcome before that goal is accomplished and at what point visitors may drop off.

If you want to increase conversion, ask for less from your visitors. To narrow the quality of visitors that complete a goal, increase these requirements.

Of course – all other factors being equal –  a company that sells common items at a low price will have a higher conversion rate than a company that asks for thousands of dollars for an obscure luxury. What are you selling? Would people buy this sort of thing every day?

3. Page design

As goal-conversion funnels often illustrate, every click is an opportunity for visitors to leave. Effective landing pages and supporting pages help to eliminate the barriers between that visitor and the goal.

Pages need to be designed with the goal in mind. Improving the visitor’s experience and answering their concerns as they make their way toward a goal can increase conversion.

However, making the goal to simply view a page means that almost everyone is accomplishing the goal and your conversion rate is not a good reflection of qualified visitors. So think of your goals as the bottom of a funnel, much the same way that Google Analytics does.

Stop the comparisons

Ultimately, you want to have the best conversion rate possible. If you feel that your website is  underperforming, it may be the case. Monitoring your web analytics on a regular basis and continually improving your website content and traffic is the best way to guide your organization to better conversion rates.

Think critically about your goals and never stop improving. Then you won’t worry about how well other websites convert, and you’ll start getting down to work on improving your own conversion rate.

Read more about non-profit organizations on Cardinal Path.

Do you think your conversion rate accurately reflects your organization’s goals? What first steps would you take to remove barriers to conversion?