sales conversion rates – from clicks to conversions

sales conversion rates

One of my recent tweets read:

Will post “digest” of “new” “tips” on website later for “free”.

So what prompted me to write this? Read on…

inbound marketing

Hubspot as you might know are vendors of all-in-one inbound marketing software (according to their blurb). They have 10,000+ users of their software platform and we might be joining that group soon. These users manage 2.5 million contacts using the software. Hubspot therefore have access to the aggregated data that they host and quite naturally mine this data (hopefully confidentially) at a macro level to yield all sorts of statistics about inbound marketing success and sales conversion rates.

I listened to a webinar on Tuesday evening at 2.00 pm US ET – being 7.00 pm UK time. Note the time. Dedication eh? It was entitled the Science of Buying Signals. Actually I think it was mis-titled based on what I saw and heard but no matter, the content was interesting enough to keep me involved for an hour.

There were some useful “tips” that I will try to present in a “digest” below some of them “new” and all of them “free”. Those four words again….

All the stats that I will give in the blog are based on hubspot’s webinar data relating to the 2.5 million contacts mentioned above.


Some definitions:-

stranger – not yet a contact…

contact – someone about whom you know something but not much

lead – a contact about whom you know much more; sufficient to be able to engage with them in a relevant way

customer – a lead that has purchased and parted with money

A basic ratio that we are all familiar with in the context of email campaigns is the open ratio.

Hubspot say that 12% of leads (not yet customers) open marketing emails whereas a reduced proportion of 10% of customers open marketing emails. About 2.75% of leads click through compared with about 2.25% of customers. A couple of useful benchmarks for inbound marketers and which make us feel quite good about our stats!

Now I do not want to bore you rigid with loads of figures …. but a crucial piece of information for me was that of all contacts who click through on emails 20%  or to me a massive 1 in 5 – become customers – a significant sales conversion rate.

This benchmark sales conversion rate was then used to compare the conversion rate driven by the use of different words in the subject line of an email.

The host then proceeded to rank the keywords which, when used in the subject line, most influenced the conversion rates.

sales conversion rates

Guide 15% – 33% less than the average of 20%

Tips 22% – 10% more than the average

Free 22% – plus 10%

E-book 23% – plus 15%

New 25% – plus 25%

Win 33% – plus 65%

Digest 35% – plus a massive 75%!

(Disclaimer – these figures are drawn from my notes and might not be 100% accurate but they are close enough)

So now you know why I chose the 4 words in my tweet – digest, new, tips and free!

I would not include “guide” (deemed too soft and implies insufficently stretching content) and could not include “e-book” for obvious reasons (there isn’t one) – or the word win!

Now I have an issue with the word digest. In the webinar it was being used to imply depth and quantity. So what does the Oxford English say?

“To reduce to convenient form, classify, summarise (facts, laws etc).”

This definition casts some doubt in mind about the validity of the use of the word Digest in a UK context. The word digest also feels a bit arcane these days. So I guess proceed with caution.

But… the percentages cannot be ignored. If you are undertaking email marketing who wouldn’t want to increase their conversion rates by 15%, 35% or even 65%?


Now a bit more on the e-book which is most cases is of course offered as a dowload. Did you know that 35% of e-book down-loaders would prefer Kindle format compared to 20% for PDF? This points heavily to a preference to consume the information while mobile. A serious consideration for all of us for the future.

I was also amazed by the preferred size of e-book. Either small (less than 5 pages) or large (more than 50 pages!). So either a quick read “digest” or a deep and meaningful study or white paper.

buying signal

It can be assumed that at the moment when a 50 page document is downloaded the consumer is serious about buying (or of course maybe just wanting your free data!).

The downloader has then moved from Top of the Funnel (TOFU) through middle to Bottom of the Funnel (BOFO) – pre buying. From being a contact to becoming a lead and hopefully soon to becoming a customer (and actually parting with cash).

At this point i.e. BOFU, the key words need to change and refer to “services”. Helping the customer to actually buy what you offer. Contacts and Leads ready to buy want information on what you are selling. So in addition, ensure that your website has a “search” facility.


So a “digest” of the above “new”  “tips” for “free” :

TOFU – Strangers and Contacts – subject line designed to draw in – attract

MOFU – Contacts and Leads – content is king – say what you do – expertise – what you can do for them

BOFU – Leads and Hot Leads -give something new and fresh – not more of the same – benefits led

…and of course choose your words carefully.

Next time you read an email subject line you will hopefully see it in a new light and you might even consider if the subject line is appropriate for your stage of interest!

My thanks to Hubspot.

The webinar can be viewed here

About Leslie Woodcock

Leslie is the founder director of Enigma. He is an experienced strategy consultant and marketer and has a strong senior executive c.v.

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