More than 90 percent of all online marketers and businesses are leaving vast amounts of money and business on the table by ignoring conversion rate optimisation.

A recent survey by Alterian found that less than half of the marketers they surveyed use any sort of analytics.

Of those that do, many find it hard to interpret the data, and less than 10% regard analytics as a vital tool in improving their business results.

Alarming as the results are, they are not surprising. Optimising conversion rates and using analytics go hand in hand.

Global Conversion Rates Pathetically Low

Globally, average conversion rates are still around 2%, and going backwards, according to the Fireclick index. (Although part of that could be the global economic slowdown.)

However, they’ve still been stuck around 2% for more than the past decade, so there’s a perfect correlation between poor conversion rates and poor use of analytics.

Incredibly, despite all the resources that have been poured into online marketing and business over the past decade, most online marketers aren’t any better at improving their conversion rates than when they started.

The reason for this is simple: No one’s using analytics.

As Tom Peters once said: “If you can’t graph it, chart it or measure it, you can’t improve it.”

The Numbers Don't Lie

The Alterian results are a stark demonstration of how true that statement is.

If online marketers aren’t measuring and analysing their web traffic, (or in many cases simply don’t know how to) then they have no chance of ever improving their conversion rates.

To put this in even sharper perspective: the best performing sites for December 2008 had conversion rates around 30% and in some cases 50% (Source Nielsen.). Most of them have been getting those results consistently month after month, year after year. Unfortunately, they are the exceptions not the rule.

Simply put - The best are doing 2,500% better than the rest.

Do You Want 25 Times More Business?

Said another way, most online businesses could do 25 times more business just by optimising their web sites for conversions.

I use the word “just” advisedly, because making a site convert the maximum number of customers takes a lot of work over a sustained amount of time.

Nevertheless, the benefits of getting 2,500% more business should speak for itself.

So what is it that the leaders are doing that the rest aren’t? Many things, but one obvious thing is that they invest in analytics. You can’t do anything without meaningful data, and not just the data, but also the intelligence to interpret it.

Start Analysing

Brian Chappell lists what the top performing sites use over on his site 23 Top online retailers analytic packages revealed

While a lot use high-end packages such as Omniture and Coremetrics, which can cost several thousand to tens of thousands per month, others are getting just as good results using the free Google Analytics service.

What you should take away from that list, is that they are all prepared to invest significantly in analytics.

But again, as the survey reveals, those sorts of companies are in the minority.

The correlation between analytics and high conversion rates should be obvious, but it leads to an obvious question:

Why Won’t Most Marketers Use Analytics?

I’ll tackle that in my next post. Stay Tuned.

About the Survey

The Alterian 2008 Survey polled a total of 1,545 marketing professionals, marketers, agencies, marketing services providers and systems integrators. The survey, was conducted in North America and the UK between October 1 - December 4, 2008.

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