Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Is It Possible for Conversion Rates to Exceed 100%?

Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Is It Possible for Conversion Rates to Exceed 100%?

Google Analytics has a very useful and informative feature by which you can track your site’s specific conversion rate. A conversion is considered to be any action that you want to record as a result of the user’s interaction with your website, These conversions might be tracking the percentage of people who visit your site that sign up to the newsletter, or it may be the amount of people that visit your site and actually buy something. The beauty of this is that you can tailor it to your specific website goals and once you’ve specified what you would like to track, Google Analytics does the rest for you and automatically generates your conversion rates.

Google Analytics does this through two distinct avenues:

  • Goal Tracking

Are you looking to build a newsletter database? Are you looking to get people onto the ‘Contact Us’ page? Are you looking to get people to click the ‘refer a friend’ link? You can specify to Google Analytics what pages you would like to track and what you would consider an instant win that your website has achieved (with a ‘conversion’).
Example: if your goal is to get newsletter signups, and 200 people visit your site and 70 people sign up, then Google will report your conversion rate for that month as 35%.

  • E-Commerce Tracking

If you’re running an e-commerce site, then your point of goal tracking will be whether or not someone buys from your store – that is, how many people proceed and complete a shopping cart checkout.
Example: if your site traffic is 1000 people in any given month, and your site has checked out 500 shopping carts, then your commerce conversion rate will be 50%.

Sometimes, your goal tracking conversion rate or e-commerce tracking conversion rate can show as a figure being above 100%. So what exactly does it mean when your conversion rate is at 300% for goal tracking, or 150% for e-commerce tracking? How is this even possible?

To answer this question, I’m going to look in closer detail at goal tracking conversion and e-commerce tracking conversions separately to see how these figures could be possible, and what they mean for your campaign’s statistics.

Goal tracking conversion

Goal Conversion At 500%

Let’s revisit our previous example: If your goal is to get newsletter signups, and 200 people visit your site and 70 people sign up, then Google will report your conversion rate for that month as 35%.

The idea seems quite straightforward, and the possibility of getting a conversion of 150% seems, well, impossible. This is an ideal example of goal tracking in Google Analytics. But what about when you have more than one goal? What if you are tracking both the number of people that sign up to the newsletter, and the number of people that submit an enquiry form?
If the one site visitor both signed up to the newsletter, and submitted an enquiry form (both of which are goals being tracked), then you have a 200% conversion rate.

E-Commerce Tracking Conversion

E-Commerce Conversion at 200%

A ‘conversion’ for e-commerce sites is each time someone checks out of a shopping cart. However, the same person may buy something, then return either half an hour later, or a week later, to buy something else. This means that for the one visitor, you can again have multiple conversions.

Think about it this way – if you’re tracking your conversion rate across six months, what is the possibility that someone who bought from you in the first month at some point returned to buy something from you sometime over the next six months following?

Conversion Tracking Summary

  • Google Analytics lets you track conversions via two avenues: according to your specified goals (goal tracking conversion) or according to how many people check out a shopping cart (e-commerce tracking conversion)
  • If you have more than one specified goal, then it is possible for one site visitor to ‘convert’ more than once. This can result in a number of conversions being higher than the number of site visitors, resulting in a conversion rate higher than 100%
  • If the same person that checked out of your shopping cart once returns to your site and checks out another transaction using a different shopping cart, then again that one visitor will have more than one conversion next to them, resulting in a conversion rate greater than 100%.
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