Calculating Visit Rate to Optimize Digital Ads

Apparently I have single-handedly come up with a crazy new calculation to apply to digital marketing, because whenever I bring it up as a key metric I get blank stares from everyone in the room. It’s certainly not rocket science, and it’s pretty easy to get as long as you know how many people clicked your ad, and how many website visits resulted from that click. I call this the Visit Rate and it’s immensely important in optimizing ad spend, site placement, CPC, and creative performance.

The Visit Rate is simple:

Ad Clicks / Visits from Ad = Visit Rate (x100)

When I present this number to clients, usually the first response I hear is “Aren’t all clicks equal to visits?”


In a perfect world, the visit rate would be 100%. However, in this world browsers crash and many users have fat fingers and accidentally click things they didn’t mean to click. It’s inevitable.

Now that we’re level-set, one of the highest visit rates I’ve seen was around 85%. (If you’re doing better than that you deserve a raise.) One of the lowest visit rates I’ve seen was around 10%.

What does a high visit rate mean?

As a rule of thumb, I like to think any visit rate above 65% is a good one. It means that a user that clicked your ad purposefully clicked the ad. That’s a good thing, which you can potentially chalk up to a reverberating message, great creative, or proper channel and timing.

What does a low visit rate mean?

If you are dipping below 50%, the ads are getting clicked on accident more than on purpose. You should think about the ad placement, makes sure it’s visually discernable to the user, and adjust accordingly. For example, this is an ad that probably gets less than 50% visit rate:

It looks like the content of the rest of the page, and is therefore easy to click accidentally. (NOTE: I’m not saying this is a bad ad, or a bad target segment.) So what would happen is that a user would click the ad, a new window would start to open, and the user would then realize they clicked an ad and quickly close the new window. That would be 1 click and 0 visits.

If the visit rate of an ad is extremely low, say below 20%, chances are the ad is obnoxious to users. You know what I’m talking about: One of those page take-over ads that shows up out of nowhere just when you were about to click something cool.

With these types of ads you should also try to break out the mobile visit rate from the desktop or tablet visit rates. Generally the pop-over and page take-over ads are much harder to close on a mobile device. This may skew the desktop visit rate quite a bit.

Wait, how can I tell if clicks turn into visits?

Tracking is Step 0 for all of these types of things. You should make sure you have robust tracking across platforms to ensure you can follow the user from the ad to the website. If you’re unsure if this is being done, or are looking for some help to get this set up, reach out.

With the proper tracking in place, you can determine visit rate from different ad sizes, different ad placements, and different sites or site networks.

By using visit rate to determine well placed ads that are resonating with users, your are one step closer to optimal ad performance and happy consumers.

Happy Analyzing!

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