How To Use Conversion Rates to Increase Sales

Whether you’re selling online through Etsy or at craft shows, taking the time to calculate conversion rates can improve your sales in a matter of days.

It’s often ignored by small business owners, but it’s something every successful business (and every large corporation I’ve worked for) does on a regular basis. 

This task is a 5-step process and it will help you uncover what to do more of (and what to do less of) to improve your sales. 


Weekly Task: Calculate your Conversion Rates

An important task you should be completing each week is calculating your conversion rates. 

Most business owners know their sales conversion rate (e.g. how many people who visit your Etsy shop buy), but there are so many areas of your business you can dive into and find areas of improvement, with a simple conversion rate calculation.

Don’t just guess: 

>> which products sell the best

>> which social media posts get the most interactions

>> which marketing method is the most successful (social media, email marketing, or paid ads)

>> which sales channel is the most profitable…

Calculate the conversion rates of each area of your business.


How to calculate conversion rates in your small business

The simplest way to explain a conversion rate is:

Number of people who take a desired action

Divided by

Number of people who did and didn’t take a desired action

Then multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage.

For example:

Number of people who buy an item divided by number of people who visit your online shop or craft show table

15 people purchased at a craft show and 80 people stopped at my table.

15 divided by 80 = 0.19 (x 100 = 19%)

My sales conversion rate at the craft show was 19%

This simple calculation can be applied to several different variables in your business.


What type of conversion rates can you calculate?

You can calculate conversion rates for most parts of your business. It just depends on the area you want to improve. 

If you don’t have many shoppers, look at the different product and marketing related conversion rates you can calculate. Such as which products garner more attention online and at craft shows. Which marketing platforms drive more traffic to your online shop? Which types of marketing methods produce more interactions? 

If you have lots of people coming to your Etsy shop and craft show table, but not many sales, or you want to increase sales, dissect different parts of the sales process. Which listings have higher conversion rates? Which products are commonly purchased together? How many people put items in their shopping cart but don’t buy? 

As long as you have a action you do and don’t want consumers to take, and you can track numbers, you can calculate a conversion rate.

Tracking numbers is easier for some platforms than others.

If you have a website and have Google Analytics set up, you can gather many different stats and very specific numbers. 

Etsy will share some stats with you, but not as many details as Google Analytics does.

On the other hand, when tracking numbers at a craft show, these numbers won’t be as exact. You won’t be able to count every action each shopper does and doesn’t take. But you can start being more aware of shoppers’ actions and each break, jot down estimates (e.g. I had about 20 shoppers stop at my table in the last hour. Almost every shopper picked up X item. No one picked up Y item, every other shopper picked up Z item, etc.).

The more you can track, the more conversion rates you can calculate. 

But don’t track numbers for the sake of tracking numbers. Only keep track of stats that will help you improve your business and grow sales; don’t let vanity stats become a distraction.


What’s a good conversion rate?

For most conversion rates you calculate, you’ll only be able to compare them to your past conversion rates to determine if they’re “good” or not. 

You may be able to find some industry averages to compare your conversion rates to.

  • Average e-commerce (sales) conversion rate = 2.5% – 3% (source)
  • Average brick-and-mortar (sales) conversion rate = 20% – 40% (source) 
  • Average email open rate = 21.5% (source)
  • Average Etsy conversion rate = 2% – 3% (source)

Keep in mind, there are many variables that impact conversion rates.  For example, the conversion rate of an Etsy shop that sells $5 items is going to be much higher than one that sells $100 items.

That’s why it’s best to compare conversion rates to your own and determine if it’s better or worse than your average.


How to use conversion rates to improve your business

Follow these steps each week and month to improve one aspect of your business by assessing your conversion rates. 


Step 1 – Choose your area of focus

As mentioned, you can dive into conversion rates for almost every part of your business. To keep things simple and actionable, focus on one area that you believe has the biggest opportunity for improvement. 

3 things must be in place for a sale to occur:

  1. To make a sale you need people to visit your sales channel (i.e. Etsy shop, craft show table, website).
  2. For people to visit your sales channel, you must market to them.
  3. For people to pay attention to your marketing, you must be offering a product they’re interested in. 
  • Do you need more people visiting your sales channel?
  • Do you need to reach more people with your marketing?
  • Do you need more people to pay attention to your marketing?

Find which step needs improving and focus your attention there.


Step 2 – Explore what you can calculate

Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of people who took a desired action by the number of people who did and didn’t take the desired action.

A desired action may be:

  • People stopping at your craft show table
  • People picking up an item
  • People purchasing an item
  • People returning to buy from you again
  • People liking your post
  • People clicking a link
  • Etc.

To sell more, you need to uncover best practices, as well as where you’re “losing” people, and thus, where you need to make improvements.

  • Do the majority of craft show shoppers walk right past your table?
  • Do they stop at your craft show table but they don’t pick anything up?
  • Do they pick up lots of items but don’t buy?
  • Do they buy but never return to buy again?

A low conversion rate for the number of craft show shoppers who stop at your table tells you your display or products need improvement. 

Here are some examples of conversion rates to explore in different areas of your business:

Product-related conversion rates

>> Calculate the conversion rates of each product and then compare which products (or which types of products) have a higher conversion rate than others.

    • Number of product A sold divided by total number of products sold (within a time period; e.g. a month) = Conversion rate #1
    • Number of product B sold divided by total number of products sold = Conversion rate #2
    • Number of product C sold divided by total number of products sold = Conversion rate #3

>> Calculate the conversion rate based on views; how many people view a listing or product at a craft show (which might be based on how many people pick an item up). This can tell you which types of products grab shoppers’ attention. Or it may help you discover a specific display or photography technique that helps grab attention.

>> You may also look at which products require the most amount of your time (and then compare that to whether or not the labor-intensive products are giving you a return on investment; i.e. are they selling?).


Marketing-related conversion rates

>> Number of website visitors that come from X marketing platform (e.g. Facebook) divided by total website visitors.

>> Number of website visitors that come from X marketing platform and buy divided by total sales.

>> Number of people who like/comment/share/click on a post divided by number of people the post reached.

>> Number of people who sign up for your newsletter divided by the number of people who visit a page with a signup form.

>> Number of people who open your newsletter divided by number of people who received your newsletter.

>> Number of people who click a link in your newsletter to visit your shop divided by number of people who opened the newsletter.


Sales-related conversion rates

>> Number of people who buy at a craft show divided by the number of people who stop at your table.

>> Number of people who stop at your table divided by the number of people who attend the event (you should be able to get this number from the event organizer).

>> Number of people who buy multiple items divided by number of people who buy – this will tell you if you need to work on increasing your average UPT (units per transaction) and what type of products customers often purchase together.

>> Number of people who are return customers divided by number of customers – this will tell you how many people are happy with your products and how well your after-purchase care and marketing is.

>> Number of customers that are referrals divided by number of customers – if you have a referral system (e.g. “refer a friend and receive 10% off your next order”) or a quick survey during checkout (e.g. “how did you hear about my business?”) this conversion rate can tell you how effective your referral system is and if customers are happy enough with your business to tell others about it.

>> Number of people who buy divided by number of people who put an item in their online cart – this will tell you if something during your checkout process is throwing people off (e.g. high shipping fees may lead to a higher cart abandonment rate).

You can also explore conversion rates of undesirable actions to uncover areas of improvement.

For example, when people visit your website, you want the design, speed, navigation, etc. to encourage shoppers to click around and visit several pages. You can calculate the bounce rate of different pages of your website.

Number of people who leave without clicking around (undesirable action) divided by number of people who visit that web page.

If many people land on the home page and leave without clicking to a product page/about page/blog/etc., that tells you there’s something about that page that is turning shoppers off. 

On the other hand, if people who land on a specific product page or a blog page end up visiting several pages of your website, that tells you the design, text, links, etc. are encouraging them to click around.

Hopefully these examples give you ideas for the different areas/steps/processes/etc. of your business you can calculate conversion rates for.

The products you sell, and the marketing and sales channels you use will also determine the type of conversion rates you can calculate. 

For example, if you have a website for your business with Google Analytics set up, you’ll have access to more numbers than if you’re selling on a platform like Etsy.


Step 3 – Analyze

Look at your highest conversion rates; what do they all have in common? Try to find patterns that can be repeated (or avoided) to improve sales.

For example:

  • Products – do your products with the highest conversion rates follow the same style, have a similar price point, have similar features, etc.?
  • Marketing – what do all your highest converting social media posts, or sent newsletters, or paid ads have in common? They might be focused on sharing a tip rather than having a focus on selling a product (e.g. “How to wear the latest necklace trend” may convert better than “Check out my latest product”).
  • Selling – what do all your highest converting craft shows have in common? Time of year, type of audience, event theme? What do your highest converting online listings have in common? Keywords, photography style, product description?

Analyze the features of your highest converting products/marketing channels and techniques/sales channels and techniques to find best practices.

It’s also valuable to look at commonalities among your lowest converting products/marketing/sales channels so you know what to avoid.


Step 4 – Repeat best practices

Take the best practices you uncovered in the last step and repeat them. 

As well, take the lessons learned from your lowest conversion rates, and avoid or reduce those practices moving forward. 

For example, if my newsletters with the subject line: “New products launching” gets a low open rate, I would avoid that subject line moving forward. If my newsletters with “How To” in the subject line have higher conversion rates when it comes to opens and clicks, I’ll work “how to” into more email subject lines. 

You can also take a best practice, and apply it to other areas of your business.

For example, if an item in your Etsy shop is a bestseller, week after week, not only should you fill your shop with more of that item, and slight variations of it, but you may also:

  • Update your shop’s banner to feature that item
  • Add a shop section for that type of product
  • Make sure your listings for that item appear at the top of your shop
  • Run an ad with that listing
  • Find ways to increase profits on that product
  • Etc.


The more you calculate your conversion statistics, the more information you’ll be able to work with to find your repeatable best practices.

Find time each week to calculate conversion rates for your business, compare them to past conversion rates, and find areas of improvement.


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