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What is website conversion? (And why it’s all about your users)

When you think about website conversions, you might think about percentages and averages that measure key metrics like completed orders, subscription upgrades, and click-through rates.

But what do those metrics actually tell you about your customers—the people you want to serve; the people you want to captivate, engage, and persuade?

Last updated

18 Nov 2023

Reading time

7 min


If you don't understand what website conversion metrics mean for your business—or how to translate them into actionable steps to improve your product or service for your customers—the only purpose they’ll serve is to report isolated numbers and percentages.

To understand (and increase) website conversions, start by understanding your users: what drives them to your site or product in the first place, the blockers and pain points they experience, and the hooks that persuade them to take action.

Instead of focusing on the final outcome—the conversion itself—focus on what happens before: the user experience.

This article will help you shift your mindset to consider how website conversions inform the user experience (UX). We cover:

Bring context to your website conversion rates

Hotjar reveals what really drives customers to (and away from) your business, so you can make UX changes based on actual insights and watch conversions grow.

What is website conversion?

A website conversion happens when a user completes a desired action on your website, like making a purchase or filling out a lead generation contact form. Every business website is built to generate conversions.

There are two types of website conversions:

  • Micro-conversions happen when a step toward your end goal is achieved, like subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an ebook, or watching a product video (i.e. events that occur before a macro-conversion).

  • Macro-conversions happen when your end goal is achieved, such as a sale, a new paid subscriber, or a completed contact form.

#Micro-conversions are steps along the process to macro-conversions
Micro-conversions are steps along the process to macro-conversions

How to calculate website conversion rate

To calculate your conversion rate, divide the number of conversions (desired actions taken) by the total number of visitors, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

For example, if your web page had 17 sales and 500 visitors last month, your conversion rate is 17 divided by 500, multiplied by 100 = 3.4%

What’s a good conversion rate?

Conversion rates vary depending on your:

  • Type of industry (ecommerce, information technology, consumer goods, finance, etc.)

  • Target audience demographics (age, income, occupation, etc.)

  • Conversion goal (ad clicks, checkout completions, newsletter subscriptions, etc.)

Depending on the factors above (and the sources you consult), a good conversion rate can range from 2% to 5%.

Looking up industry averages may give you a useful benchmark to start from, but you’d be much better off developing an understanding of what’s actually happening when your users interact with your website and how you can improve the user experience. If you can do this, conversions will follow.

3 steps to improve website conversions

Sometimes the secret to conversion rate optimization (CRO) is as simple as changing the colors of your call to action (CTA) button, using a larger font for main messaging, or having fewer fields in your sign-up forms.

Minor improvements to your site or product are beneficial, and those tweaks may result in a small and temporary uplift to your conversion rates—but if you want to improve your conversion rate in a more meaningful, significant way, you need to look at the big picture.

You need to discover what your users really want, and then give it to them.

You can do this in three steps:

1. Find what drives people to your website

To convert your website visitors, you need to understand what they want and care about, and, in particular, what drives them to your website or product in the first place. Besides looking at website traffic metrics, one of the best ways to find out is to ask visitors to describe what brought them to your site and what they’re looking for—in their own words.

Place an on-site survey on a high-traffic page: ask your visitors to introduce themselves, tell you why they’re visiting your site, and whether anything is stopping them from taking action.

💡 Pro tip: ask different survey questions at each stage in the customer journey to gain valuable insights and improve the user experience. With Hotjar Surveys, you can embed a pop-up survey anywhere you like on a single webpage, or reach out to customers with an emailed questionnaire. 

To get started, check out our pre-built survey templates and fine tune them with our list of 70 example survey questions and the 15 best survey questions to ask. You can also take advantage of Hotjar’s AI for Surveys to create a survey based on your conversion goal in seconds, then watch as the AI auto-generates a report that summarizes actionable insights and suggests next-steps.

Using the information gathered from Surveys helped us make substantial changes that resulted in a +491% increase in email CTR and a +49% conversion rate increase for our landing pages.

Dave Powell
Former E-commerce Conversion Manager at TomTom

2. Find what might stop potential customers from converting

After discovering what drives people to your site, it’s time to identify the barriers that stop potential customers from converting. Use a tool like Google Analytics to review engagement metrics (like bounce rate) and identify poorly converting pages, then draw on insights gained from user behavior analytics tools that software suites like Hotjar have to offer:


Look at heatmaps to see how users click, tap, move, and scroll, showing you where they spend the most (and least) time on your low-converting pages. Hotjar Heatmaps will even capture rage clicks to help you uncover points of friction—like non-clickable text or a broken page element—that stop visitors from converting. 

You can also save time toggling between different heatmaps and find out which site features draw people in the most with a Hotjar Engagement Zones map, which combines data from multiple heatmaps into one streamlined view.

We studied Hotjar's heatmaps to understand where users were clicking during Taskworld’s signup process. The entire process revealed some great insights. We discovered a few issues which only required 5 minutes to be resolved. This quick fix boosted our conversion by 40%.

Shiv Sharma
Former Head of Operations at Taskworld

Session recordings

Watch session recordings of under-performing pages and see how users experience and interact with your site, from homepage to product page, so you can uncover more UX design issues or blockers like website bugs. Seeing people struggle to use your site in real-time helps build empathy for your customers and puts you in the right mindset for coming up with creative UX solutions.

With Hotjar Recordings, you can filter your session recordings to look at specific user segments—for example, users who exit your site from a particular page, users who come from a particular country, or users who access a set number of pages.

User feedback

Place a feedback widget on your problem pages, and let users tell you about their experience. Giving visitors an opportunity to provide nuggets of opinion while interacting with your site gives you digestible (and quantifiable) voice of the customer (VoC) feedback that you can use to lobby for new features or redesigns.

Hotjar Feedback widgets let visitors rate their experience with a simple emoji, or they can go into more detail by writing a comment, highlighting specific page elements, or leaving their email address for follow-up communication.

#Use Hotjar’s discreet Feedback widget to gather in-the-moment reactions
Use Hotjar’s discreet Feedback widget to gather in-the-moment reactions

💡 Pro tip: for additional insight, connect your feedback responses to your session recordings in Hotjar to understand how what your users said relates to what they experienced. Then, zoom out even further with a heatmap to discover whether negative feedback found in one recording was an isolated event or a widespread functionality issue. 

Connecting Feedback with Recordings and Heatmaps lets you zoom in and out on user issues effortlessly, saving you time as you work to identify, understand, and validate areas to improve your conversion rate.

Zoom in and out on UX issues with Hotjar’s integrated Feedback, Recordings, and Heatmaps tools

Bring context to your website conversion rates

Hotjar reveals what really drives customers to (and away from) your business, so you can make UX changes based on actual insights and watch conversions grow.

3. Find what persuades visitors to act

Knowing what attracts people to your site (and what drives them away) will only get you so far—you’ll also want to know what persuades visitors to go from browsing to buying

To find out what does and doesn't work, set up a post-purchase survey to ask customers who've just converted what persuaded them—and what almost stopped them!—along the buyer’s journey. Ask questions like:

  • How would you rate your overall experience?

  • What can we do to improve the experience?

  • What did you love most about the experience?

  • What almost stopped you from completing the purchase?

Using the information gathered from Surveys helped us make substantial changes that resulted in a +491% increase in email CTR and a +49% conversion rate increase for our landing pages.

Dave Powell
Former E-commerce Conversion Manager at TomTom

You can also invite customers to participate in an external link survey to ask them more detailed questions. Find out what their biggest concern was before they converted and how their experience could be improved, or use an NPS survey to find out how likely they are to recommend you to a family member or friend. You can even adapt the feedback you collect into case studies or testimonials on your site to build social proof and reinforce trust in your business.

💡 Pro tip: it’s good practice to verify the opinions and suggestions collected from users before making any permanent changes to your site. Try A/B testing different sales funnel iterations based on feedback insights, then conduct funnel analysis to see which versions actually lead to more conversions.

Hotjar integrates with popular A/B testing tools, like AB Tasty, Optimizely, and Unbounce, and you can reference Funnels to expose where visitors drop off and get an overview of how well your pages convert.

Why should you measure conversion rate?

Conversion rates can tell you a lot about your website and product beyond just revenue: they demonstrate customer satisfaction levels and expose weak spots in your website’s performance and user experience.

To find out what your customers want and need from your business, you need to understand who they are and what they like (or don't like) about your site or product. Website conversions can help you understand both your customers and the user experience. For example:

  • A low conversion rate might indicate a poor user experience, so you'll need to investigate and uncover the pain points and blockers your users are experiencing: a low-converting product page could suggest that you need to further explain or clarify your product's benefits to your users.

  • A high conversion rate probably means you're doing something right (yay!), so you might want to try replicating that success elsewhere on your site: look at the placement, phrasing, and design of the CTA on a high-converting landing page to illustrate how you successfully persuaded your audience to convert.

When you know how your customers experience your site or product and can identify what works (and what doesn't), you can prioritize changes and optimizations to improve what your business has to offer. Ensuring the user experience runs smoothly while sparking customer delight will lead to happier customers and, ultimately, higher conversion rates.

When our users have a better experience, it benefits our conversions and ROI as well. Hotjar helps me identify bottlenecks and deliver the experience people want when they visit our website.

Piriya Kantong
Former Senior Online Marketing Analyst at Gogoprint

FAQs about website conversion

Bring context to your website conversion rates

Hotjar reveals what really drives customers to (and away from) your business, so you can make UX changes based on actual insights and watch conversions grow.