Thinking of a redesign? You’re probably wasting your money. (+how/why to calculate your blog’s conversion rate)

It absolutely reeks of cheese.

That question web designers ask you, like you’re supposed to know the answer.

And they ask it with one eyebrow up and a smirk, like they know SO MUCH more than you, when really?

They’re just trying to sell you a website.

The cheesy, gimmicky, stick-a-spoon-down-your-gullet question:

Is your web design working FOR you?

(Gag.)

The assumption is, that your website isn’t PRETTY (see also: bold/daring/magnetic/sparkly/etc.) enough.

Your logo isn’t YOU enough.

Your website isn’t THEM enough.

But if you press him on it, that designer (bless his heart) who REALLLLLY wants to give you a new logo? Has no idea what a hard-working website looks like.

He’ll point to your logo, frown, and say, “Well, THAT needs help.”

He’ll say, “You don’t have more subscribers because your design isn’t CLEAN enough.”

(whatever that means.)

Or maybe he’ll just hold out his hand and wait for your cash.

And it’s true – sometimes you DO need a little polish, but here’s the truth:

No good design can salvage a weak brand.

(tweet that)

But on the other hand?

It’s absolutely possible to forge a strong brand without touching your design.

 

Calculate your blog's conversion rate

That means that before you go spend the cash you’ve been scraping together, HOPING a design is really what you need, you need to figure out:

Is there something your blog – your website – needs first?

::

That “something” you need – whether you’re just starting out, or whether you’ve been blogging since the First Clinton Era – is a strong BRAND.

But how do you measure something as touchy-feely as a brand?

Enter…your conversion rate.

Your conversion rate is like a thermometer that can show you how healthy your overall brand is on your site – it simply tells you out of ALL the people coming to your site, how many are taking the action you want them to take?

In business circles, we talk about converting someone from a reader/subscriber to a customer – meaning, the reader buys something from you.

In blogging circles, it’s usually a bit more simple: what percentage of visitors are becoming your email subscribers?

But before you start putting ANY kind of subscriber strategy into place, you need to know where you are right now. You need to calculate your blog’s conversion rate.

And the reason is this:

You need to know whether whatever you do to FIX your problem is working…or whether you’re flushing your Ben Franklins down the commode.

Just say NO to flushing Bens.

Think about it…you decide to spend time/money on:

  • a pricy “exclusive, cool-bloggers-only” membership. Does it actually help you build a stronger business?
  • a flashy plugin that promises to deliver new readers in droves…for a price. Does it actually help you build a stronger business?
  • creating that “bribe to subscribe” you’ve always heard you should create. Does it actually help you build a stronger business?

The answer may be yes, or it may be no. But here’s the deal:

If you’re going to be taking ANY time or spending ANY money on your blog/business, it needs to translate to a measurable, tangible change. “Knowing more” or having a shinier site is nice, but if you’re going to be a smart business owner, you need to know if what you’re doing is working, or if you should cut it loose and move in a different direction.

So today?

We’re going to take a measurement of how healthy your brand is…and you’ll have a starting point to compare with a few months from now.

***WARNING: MATH AHEAD***

Now, this might seem a little scary if you’ve been afraid to look.

But before you fuh-REAK (!) and click-away-real-quick because MATH and IDENTITY CRISIS, watch the video below. I’ll show you how to quickly grab the stats you need, how to calculate your conversion rate, and what all this means once you find it.

VIDEO: How to Calculate Your Website’s Conversion Rate (15:45)

 

As I said in the video, conversion rates vary widely from niche to niche. For example, food bloggers who are used to churning out “just” recipes will have a lower conversion rate than – say – a marketing blog that writes about how to make more money.

But if you do the math and it makes you want to hide under the covers with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, then you need to work on your brand, which will also help you develop a solid subscriber strategy. And then (and ONLY then!) do you even consider plunking down that wad of cash for a new design.

…and if you’re already converting 5-10+% of your new visitors to subscribers?

Then a new design will be icing on an already-delicious cake.

 

 

Psst! No time to run the numbers now? Then pin this on your “Blogging” board on Pinterest for later. >>

 

P.P.S. If you’ll share your results in the comments below or add your question, I’ll do my best to help!

How to Calculate Your Blog's Conversion Rate by The Blog Maven

Leave a Comment:

46 comments
Jenilee says

Well… that was kinda scary! But I ran the numbers and last spring, my conversation rate was .0638 #handmeacoffeenowplease but over the last 2 months, it has bumped up to .429 still not fabulous but it is much better. 2 big things – my traffic is falling off, cut in half, now that I’ve zoomed in so specifically. But my conversion rate is better. and yes… the traffic loss is a huge part to get over because of how much it has dwindled but on the other hand I love the strong community I’m building. This was helpful!

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    Jeni Elliott says

    So…on the surface this seems concerning – but do you realize your conversion rate is now 7x what it was before? The strong community is what’s telling. You no longer have wishy-washy folks who only sort of like you. You have hardcore fans. The next step is just to start creating products to serve them. And THEN once you’ve established the business side of things, you can focus on driving more traffic to buy those products and build your tribe.

    The funny thing is…once you have products for sale, it’ll boost your authority and your conversion rate will go up as well. Authority builds on itself. Excited to watch the snowball effect as you start releasing those products, Jenilee!

    Reply
Rachel Norman says

So how do you isolate months in ConvertKit? i can’t figure out how!

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    Stephanie says

    Hi Rachel, Steph here from the Customer Success team over at ConvertKit. What do you want to see in ConvertKit? Because as of right now you can only see a month in our graphs. Does that help at all? Feel free to email support@convertkit.com so we can dive into this more for you.

    Reply
    Rina says

    Rachel, go to subscribers tab and create a new segment. You can add a filter based on date (subscribers before or after xxxx). Not sure if there’s a better and easier way to do this.

    Reply
Kristine says

Thank you for this! My conversion rate at the moment is .14% but I’ve been narrowing my niche for a couple months now so I compared it to Sept of last year. My visitors # was a lot higher but the conversion rate was only .08% so I guess it’s working!

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    Jeni says

    That’s almost doubled, Kristine. Sounds like you’re reaping the benefits of more focus!

    Reply
Kelly at StickyBlogging.com says

LOVE. This is going on my monthly stats tracking spreadsheet so I can keep a pulse on the health of my conversion rate!

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Shannon Acheson says

Wow. So, I hadn’t looked at this in a few months…and when I did it today I was blown away at the change in the last couple of months!

I did two months at a time for comparison and here’s what I found:

Feb/Mar
No focused bribe to subscribe, burnt out posting 3-5 times a week, broad range of blog posts (DIY, recipes, life, etc.)
Conversion Rate: 0.23%

Apr/May
Free decorating course by email for sign up, still posting 3-5 times a week, but narrowing down to decorating
Conversion Rate: 0.44%

Took Blog Smarter Course…

Jun/Jul
Free 5 steps to find your decorating style guide for sign up, plus all printables free, posting less frequently as I worked through the course and took a vacation, stopped RSS feed as email, more subscribe options, removed dates from posts and comments, reduced ads, focused entirely on how to decorate
Conversion Rate: 0.42%

Aug/Sep
Free 5 steps to find your decorating style guide for sign up, only 3 free printables of choice as secondary bribe, and a few decorating cheat sheets as bribes as well, newer site design, no pop ups, removed ads entirely, posting once a week or less and deliberately posting authority content several times and then a trust post
Conversion Rate: 1.54%

I’d obviously like to see a higher conversion rate than that, but it’s 366% better than it was!

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Barbara says

Thank you for explaining this. I had no idea how to figure out my conversion rate.

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Rina says

I just started growing my email list a few months ago, so I don’t have before and after stats. But currently my conversion rate is 0.27%. Not too bad as a starter lol, but hopefully it will grow in the coming months.

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Teri says

Thank you for this tool! I compared July/August 2015 with July/August 2016. In that year, I have increased my subscribers significantly (partially with a new blog theme that has an email sign up front and center), but did not change my opt-in freebie, or general content/focus.

The conversion rates were:
July/Aug 2015: .69%
July/Aug 2016: 1.28%

So, my conversion rate doubled, which is great.
What I’d love to calculate next is the amount of INCOME I have generated from my blog. I think I’ll run the numbers from those same time frame and compare my effectiveness at supporting my family via my website.

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Dona Bumgarner says

I haven’t implemented my new onboarding yet, so I just calculated my baseline. .61%, which is far higher than I was expecting! So encouraging. How do you calculate the number of views to get one subscriber (8:55 in the video)?

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    Jen @ Girl in the Garage says

    I’m trying to figure that out also…

    Reply
    Tonia says

    I think you divide the number of visitors by the number of subscribers for the month/time period you are checking.

    Reply
    Jeni Elliott says

    I’m using a little formula still in the memory banks from pre-algebra… 🙂

    %/100 = is/of

    In this case, we want to say “1 is .61% of WHAT number?” So you cross-multiply and divide. 1 x 100 / .61 and you get…

    164. At .61% conversion rate, you’re getting one new subscriber for every 164 website visitors.

    Reply
      Dona says

      The only bits of algebra I remember are the bits that help me convert knitting patterns! Thanks for explaining this.

      Reply
Gretchen Louise says

What fun math! Thank you, Jeni.

(Out of curiosity, I calculated my conversions on new unique users as well as total unique users, and found that conversions on new unique users were always slightly higher, as I expected.)

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    Jeni Elliott says

    Ha – if you heard me hesitate on the video…I said “there are a few ways you could do this, but that’s good enough.” And that’s what I was talking about. 😉 At a certain point you’re splitting hairs, but MATH for the win!

    Reply
Gretchen Louise says

For those trying to find their monthly subscriber stats in Mad Mimi or ConvertKit, I’ve outlined the process.

In Mad Mimi:
1. Go to Audience
2. Go to All Contacts
3. Click the checkbox next to Email
4. Click the checkbox next to Select ____ People
5. Click Export and Export again (CSV or Excel file is fine)
6. Download the file that you’re sent, and open it in Excel.
7. Select All
8. Click Sort & Filter, and choose Custom Sort
9. Make sure “My data has headers” is checked
10. Sort by signup_timestamp, sorting newest to oldest.
11. Use your mouse to select the signup timestamps for one month’s dates. In the footer, Excel will give you the count of the number of cells you have selected. There’s your number for that month!

In ConvertKit:
1. Go to Subscribers
2. Click the checkbox next to Subscriber
3. Click Select all ____ subscribers in your account.
4. Click Bulk Actions and choose Export
5. Download the file that you’re sent, and open it in Excel.
6. Select All
7. Click Sort & Filter, and choose Custom Sort
8. Make sure “My data has headers” is checked
9. Sort by Signed up, sorting newest to oldest.
10. Use your mouse to select the sign up date for one month’s dates. In the footer, Excel will give you the count of the number of cells you have selected. There’s your number for that month!

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Jen Grice says

Before BlogSmarter I was not even at 0.1% (.091 actually!). Now, just for September, I am at 3.07%. I took Jeni’s advice, using all of the strategies she’s laid out clearly in the program and on her blog… and I’m seeing success.

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    Jeni Elliott says

    Woot! Congrats, Jen – you’ve done a ton of hard work in the program and deserve every ounce of success you experience.

    Reply
Kit says

Amazing post like always! Your audio quality is amazing! What mic an equipment do you use?

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    Jeni Elliott says

    It’s my podcasting setup, Kit. The mic I use is a Heil PR-40 plugged into a mixer, and that’s where the great sound is coming from.

    Reply
LaToya Edwards says

My conversion rate is 1.17% I was very shocked to see that. I have watched my pageviews drop from 65K in Jan to barely 18K last month. It was feeling like a failure. But now I see that eventhough the pageviews have gone down my subscribers have nearly doubled. I have really focused my brand, reorganized my site and I’m getting lots of emails when I send out a newsletter. And this week I booked my first coaching client. Thanks Jeni for showing me what I really need to focus on.

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Michelle says

Thoughts on taking it a step further by applying the % new visitor to the unique visitors number in Google Analytics? I’m just curious if this might be a more accurate depiction of conversion, since theoretically these are people that have not been on your site before. Whereas, just unique visitors could include a lot of people that have already visited in the past, and therefore have already subscribed. Thoughts?

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    Jeni Elliott says

    Sure, that could be more accurate…but sometimes folks visit your site 2-3x before they bite the bullet and subscribe. 🙂 As long as you’re comparing apples to apples (doing the same calculation for both time periods), you have solid data.

    Reply
Kristen says

My average conversion rate is .2% right now, and I’m anxious for the next Blog Smarter enrollment period to begin! I feel like I’m just at a stand still with my blog. I need focus and branding help badly because I don’t want to spin my wheels anymore.

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Sarah UmmYusuf says

Such a great article, and I was just telling my husband the other day about our conversation about my lead magnet and what you said about tracking conversions…Only thing was, I had no idea how to calculate my conversion rate, so it was on my list of things I need to ask you! Haha, you’re such a good mind reader. 🙂

So I’m just going to put this out there so I have it as a baseline. Just did my calculations and for July and August of 2016 my conversion rate was .41% – not great, but def better than I expected, actually. Can’t wait to check back in a few months and run the numbers again. Thanks, Jeni!

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Sandy says

Hi Jeni,

What formula did you use to figure out that she needed 1316 visitors to get 1 subscriber?

Thanks,
Sandy

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    Jeni Elliott says

    Hi Sandy, check out my reply to Doña Bumgarner above. 🙂 How are things looking for you?

    Reply
Corina says

Thanks for this!
My conversion rate for July and August was 3.35%, and when I tried to go back to January, Google Analytics said that the stats are not available, which is weird.
Here is my question: Although my subscribers numbers are rising rapidly, and I’m grateful for it, how does that really matter? When I send a blog post to these subscribers, I get about 25% open rate of the emails, which doesn’t seem very much. When my subscriber list was lower than that, I got a 35% open rate regularly. So in a way that means although I have more subscribers now, fewer people are reading my emails.
Am I making any sense?

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    Jeni Elliott says

    Hi Corina, such a good question! Your email subscriber list is only worth something if you’re using it effectively. It’s completely normal for your % of opens to go down the larger your list gets…so it’s a good idea to periodically clean your mailing list so you aren’t paying for a bunch of people who don’t open/click/read. The ultimate goal is to have an email list FULL of readers who L-O-V-E you and devour everything (post or product) you create.

    Reply
Pam @ BrownThumbMama says

As a writer, I really shy away from doing math…but this helped me see that some of the new subscriber features I installed are really helping. My conversion rate went from 0.0037 (yes, really) to 0.51. Yippee!

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Shelly says

Thanks for this information. I calculated my rate and it is pretty low, .144. But at least now I have a baseline to start with. My conversion rate was higher in Jan at .222 but during the year I removed the pop up for my list sign up, I think I need a new strategy to get more people signing up each month. My traffic has been going up but my subscriber rate has stayed flat causing the decrease in conversion rate.

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Shekera says

This is awesome Jeni! Thank you. I’m just starting out. I’m literally building my blog (thinking of hiring a designer) so I can start off with a solid brand. I think I’m doing good so far, but I was just quoted what I thought was a ridiculously high amount to build it. Do you think I should spend the money to create the site now, or start with a simple design since my brand is intact?

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Mark says

Great Article Jeni, another stat that people should know is their RPM (revenue per 1000 visitors). This can be quickly determined by the following bit of simple math.

Income/visitors x 1000 Obviously it helps if you know what others in your niche are making. If people are lucky a rival will do a monthly income report from that you can get their RPM (use similar web to get traffic if they don’t include it)

I’ve found that $100 to $150 is a good ball park figure to aim for initially, I do know of blogs that get $400+ RPM and unfortunatly some that do less than $20.

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    Adam Waring says

    Thanks Mark, I actually really like this tracking statistic too.

    My newsletter subscription rate is actually quite okay considering I’m still very new to the blogging world (only a decade late) however, the actual sales I make are still very, very low.

    In that, some months I don’t make any sales, but I pretty much always get a few e-mail subscriptions per week.

    Reply
sahil suman says

This is awesome Jeni! Thank you. I’m just starting out. I’m literally building my blog (thinking of hiring a designer) so I can start off with a solid brand. I think I’m doing good so far, but I was just quoted what I thought was a ridiculously high amount to build it.

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Muthukrishnan says

Hi, Thanks for the useful article. I am an avid reader of your blog. You are sharing very useful articles for the bloggers.Keep going.

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Faisal Zamir says

I hope that i can learn from this article because in this posts, She sheared her good knowledge to us.
Thanks

Reply
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