There’s no doubt that nonprofit Web sites have become serious branding and revenue channels. Compared to recent years, most organizations now are seeing double-digit increases in the number of monthly Web visits, some even a rise in donations, new members and membership renewal.
While an increase in Web traffic certainly is a positive indicator, it isn’t the most vital metric for an organization looking to generate online revenue or increase online-visitor engagement.
Your online conversion rate — the percentage of Web visitors who join, give or take a desired action online — is the critical measurement of your organization’s online success. Your conversion rate tells you how well or how poorly your Web site is serving the needs of your prospective donors or members — and your organization.
Think of online conversions as the equivalent of direct-mail response rates. In direct mail, the number of total pieces mailed is divided by the number of responses to yield your response rate. It’s the same formula for the online world, except “total mailed” is “unique visitors” (number of individuals who visit your site) and “responses” are “online actions” (donations, memberships, e-mail subscribes, etc.).
Average online-conversion rates for retail Web sites are in the 2 percent to 4 percent range, even with top retailers such as QVC and Land’s End seeing 12 percent to 16 percent, according to a recent Nielsen//NetRatings report.
Shocking, isn’t it?
That means 84 percent to 98 percent of most Web visits do not result in a transaction.
You’d want to set your goals for a double-digit conversion rate. But since most nonprofit Web sites don’t have a singular focus on membership or fundraising, as do retail sites selling products, you should look at your specific program’s online conversion rate, too. For example, what percentage of donors who visit your online donation form end up completing their donation? Use the same formula for memberships.