Advertising Conversion: Everything You Need to Know

Last updated on by Tyson Quick in Advertising, Google Ads, Facebook Advertising

If you’re an advertiser, you hear it every day: “more conversions,” “increase conversion rate,” “optimize for conversions.” Like other industry buzzwords, “conversion” has been used so many times and defined so few that it’s seemed to have lost all meaning.

You know conversions are so valuable that they can make or break a business. But, do you know what they are? What they aren’t? Do you know some of the most valuable types?

Today we cover this and more in our Advertising Conversion guide.

What is advertising conversion?

An advertising conversion refers to any goal action taken by a potential customer that you’ve deemed valuable to your ad campaign. Expanding on that definition, Google offers some examples:

Conversion: An action that's counted when someone interacts with your ad (for example, clicks a text ad or views a video ad) and then takes an action that you’ve defined as valuable to your business, such as an online purchase or a call to your business from a mobile phone.

One after the other, these “conversions” lead visitors through the buyer’s journey, and grow more meaningful along the way: prospects convert to leads, leads to customers, and customers to loyal advocates.

But generating these actions aren’t easy. They require the right tools and strategy, and a knowledge of how each type fits into the overall ad campaign.

Types of advertising conversion

While the term “advertising conversion” refers to a goal action a visitor takes in an ad campaign, it’s very broad. There are actually many types of advertising conversions that can be completed by a prospect. Which you aim for is largely dependent on the type of campaign you’re running, and the type of post-click experience needed to convert your visitor. Here’s a list of the most common types of advertising conversion, and when they’re likely to be used.


As a post-click conversion goal, a “click-through” is exactly what it sounds like. After clicking your ad, a user arrives at your post-click page and evaluates your content. Responding positively to that content, they click the CTA button on your page. That, in turn, takes them to another post-click page. Most often, this page aims to elicit a conversion with higher value, like a trial signup or a sale. Here’s an example of a click-through page from Moz:

When to aim for the click-through

Early in the buyer’s journey, transactions between prospects and businesses are very low risk, and they rarely involve money: an email address is exchanged for a report, a phone number for an audit, etc. As a result, you’re not likely to see click-through pages at the top of the funnel.

The bottom of the funnel, however, is different. Transactions are higher risk. They involve money, credit card forms, commitments, payment plans, and all the other things that send buyers scrambling for the back button. That’s where a click-through page works its magic. As a goal, it’s rarely talked about, because the click-through is only a means to an end. It supports sales pages, trial pages, etc., by warming up prospects to the idea of parting with sensitive personal information, like credit card number.

Post-click tools for generating a click-through

Since the click-through goal usually comes before a high-friction conversion, it should contain all of the persuasive elements you’d normally find on landing pages for other goals, but with none of the friction. Here are the tools you’ll need to generate a click-through:

Here’s an example from HelloFresh (top of fold):

(Clicking through on the CTA goes to this page to select a HelloFresh plan.)

Key to earning a click-through conversion

The whole point of generating a click-through conversion is to get visitors more comfortable with a higher value, higher friction conversion that comes after. Therefore, the key to getting it to work is to avoid the hard sell.


As an advertising conversion goal, a “lead” refers to a prospect that expresses interest in a product or service by submitting a piece of contact information in exchange for an offer. That contact information could be email, phone number, social media profile, etc. And the offer could be a number of things: a resource, like an ebook or a report; it could be a service like an audit; newsletter, discount, or a demo:

Lead generation marks the beginning of the official relationship between a prospect and a business. By exchanging their contact information for your offer, the prospect is expressing interest in your service and consenting to be contacted by your marketing team.

With this contact information, a business can begin the process of lead qualification through a number of channels — like social media or email, for example — collecting more and more information until the lead is deemed sales-ready.

When to aim for the lead

Of all the goals marketers count in their overall campaign strategy, none is more common than lead generation. More than two-thirds of businesses say their goal is to increase sales leads in 2019.

This work is done in the top half of the funnel. Leads are generated at the very top, with the help of brand awareness goals — like video views and time on page, clicks, traffic, etc. — then a little farther down, those leads are qualified by marketing and sales until they become viable sales opportunities.

Post-click tools for generating a lead

A highly successful lead generation campaign doesn’t just generate leads. It generates leads that could eventually become prospects. To get the job done, you’ll want to consider the following post-click tools.

Key to generating a lead conversion

While bottom-funnel goals are usually high-friction, top-of-funnel goals are not. That’s why the key to turning an anonymous prospect into a lead is to keep it simple.


A sales conversion is any transaction that involves the exchange of money for goods or services. The most coveted of conversions, this one occurs at the bottom of the funnel, after your lead has been nurtured to the point they’re comfortable buying.

When to go for the sale

While all sales occur at the bottom of the funnel, not all funnels are the same size. So, when you aim for a sale depends on what kind of business you’re running.

B2B funnels tend to be quite long for a few reasons: Their sales conversion is usually fairly expensive, and it also needs requires more stages of approval. Going for the sale immediately is usually a big mistake.

A B2C funnel, however, can be very short, since B2C products are often inexpensive, and the buyer isn’t buying on behalf of a team or department, but one or two individuals. So, going for the sale immediately is a tactic used by many ecommerce and retail brands.

Of course, intent must be taken into consideration. If, for example, a B2B customer finds you through Google with a keyword phrase that indicates they may be ready to buy, going for the sale immediately may be a good choice. It depends on a number of factors that are only available to you through analysis.

The tools for a sales conversion

More than anything, a sale requires earning the trust of a lead. And that isn’t accomplished by any one sales page, but through many relevant, quality, pre and post-click experiences. Still, there are components that a post-click experience which aims for the sale should include. Here’s what they are:

Since we’ve differentiated a click-through page from a sales page, when we say “sales page,” we mean a page on which a sale is completed. This type of page is the one that commonly follows a click-through page. It is designed specifically to complete a sales transaction, and its main features are a form that captures sensitive information, and some small but powerful indicators of trust and security.

Key to generating a sale conversion

If you’ve created a great click-through page, your sales page needs only to finish the job. The work is mostly done. Still, visitors have to feel comfortable inputting sensitive information and committing to a purchase. The key is emphasizing security.

Here’s an example:

Video views

A video view refers to a conversion goal in which a user views a certain amount of a video. That “certain amount” depends on the network where your video is played.

On Instagram and Facebook, a video view is counted when someone watches a video for at least three seconds. But on YouTube, a 30-second instream ad must be watched for at least 11 for a view to be counted, and an instream ad longer than 30 seconds must be watched for at least 30 seconds to be counted as a view.

When to aim for the video view conversion goal

To some, it’s strange to think of video view as a conversion goal, since it doesn’t end in a lead or a sale. However, video views are particularly valuable at all stages of the funnel.

At the top, they’re great for introducing an unknown brand or figurehead. In the middle, they can be valuable educational content that proves your authority. At the bottom, they can prove your effectiveness through case studies and testimonials.

They’re so versatile, that there’s no particular place in the buyer’s journey where videos excel more than another. However, if you’re aiming for a video views conversion, you’re likely aiming for a conversion in the pre-click experience, with an instream or outstream ad.

Key to generating a video view conversion

Internet users are more bombarded than ever by content. Not only does your video have to compete with that content for attention, but it must also be watched to generate any value. The key for generating a video view conversion is engagement.

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Why advertisers haven’t focused on conversion

Before the internet, advertising was simple: Advertisers advertised, salesmen sold. But when businesses made their transition to digital, the way people bought completely changed. Finally, they could research and buy all on their own.

The industry, though, was slow to adjust. While advertisements and web pages remained separate entities to the people creating them, to the people navigating them, clicking, researching, and buying was all part of a continuous experience.

Compounding the problem was not only a lack of tools early on, but an old-school mentality that the new business was the best business, and if you weren’t stuffing your funnel with prospects, you weren’t advertising.

So, advertisers did what they knew best: They pumped out ads and generated traffic. The rest was up to web designers.

But to web users, the advertising campaign remained imbalanced. Specific product ads sent people to homepages where they had to hunt for the offer they were promised. There was no consistency or trust, and soon it became necessary to rethink the modern ad campaign.

Today, we know the campaign does not end at the click. Users expect consistency between ads and landing pages, they expect value, and they expect a level of relevance so high that we refer to it as 1:1 personalization.

With more tools than ever to help advertisers improve landing pages, that experience is finally getting closer to users’ expectations. Still, though, there’s a long way to go to meet users’ needs.

Marketers are still focused on generating leads more than keeping customers, even though we know now that it’s more profitable to keep current customers than generate new ones. They’re on Facebook, YouTube, Google, LinkedIn, looking for leads and sales. Judging by the following data, though, they need to be more focused on the post-click experience. Otherwise, they’ll continue to leave money on the table.

Advertising conversion benchmarks by industry

What’s a good conversion rate? What’s a low cost per click? How high is the average click-through rate?

Chances are you've asked these questions regardless of your industry.

And while benchmarks can only tell the story of other businesses, it’s still valuable to know what’s possible. So, what is?

Find out from the following averages, and remember: the best key advertising conversion metrics are better ones than you have now.

Google Ads Average CTR by industry

The average Google Ads CTR across all industries is 5.06% for search, with a high of 7.83% in the travel & tourism industry, and a low of 3.27% for law & government.

On the display network, the average CTR is 0.50%, with a high of 0.64% in the business and industrial industry, and a low of 0.37 in the health industry.

Average cost per click in Google Ads by industry

The average Google Ads cost per click across industries is $2.41 for search, with a high of $6.35 for law and government, and a low of $1.38 for apparel.

On the display network, the average cost per click across industries is $0.59, with a high of $0.81 in the law & government industry and the finance industry, and a low of $0.44 in the apparel industry.

Average conversion rates in Google Ads by industry

The average Google Ads conversion rate across all industries was 4.40% for search, with a
high of 7.98% for vehicles, and a low of 2.77% apparel.

On the display network, the average Google Ads conversion rate is 0.57%, with a high of 1.12% for hobbies and leisure, and a low of 0.29% for business and industrial.

Average cost per action in Google Ads by industry

The average CPA in Google Ads across all industries is $56.11 for search, with a high of $101.40 in the computers and electronics industry, and a low of $26.17 in the auto industry.

On the display network, the average CPA is $90.80, with a high of $152.03 in the business and industrial industry, and a low of $35.43 in the hobbies and leisure industry.

Average mobile click-through rate by industry

The average mobile click-through rate across all industries is 4.10% on the Google search network, with a high of 5.36% in the travel and hospitality industry, and a low of 3.05% in the internet and telecom industry.

On the display network, the average mobile click-through rate is 0.60%, with a high of 0.93% in the hair salons industry, and a low of 0.36% in the automotive industry.

Average mobile cost per click in Google Ads by industry

The average mobile cost per click across all industries is $2.67 on the Google search network, with a high of $4.85 in the law & government industry, and a low of $1.01 in the arts and entertainment industry.

On the display network, the average mobile cost per click is $0.60, with a high of $0.81 in the home and garden industry, and a low of $0.41 in the arts and entertainment industry.

Average mobile conversion rates in Google Ads by industry

The average mobile conversion rate across all industries is 3.48% on the Google search network, with a high of 6.95% in the law & government industry, and a low of 1.92% in the computers & electronics industry.

On the display network, the average mobile conversion rate is 0.72%, with a high of 4.45% in the hair salons industry, and a low of 0.22% in the education industry.

Average mobile cost per action in Google Ads by industry

The average mobile cost per action across all industries is $80.89 on the Google search network, with a high of $140.40 in the internet and telecom industry, and a low of $19.35 in the beauty industry.

On the display network, the average mobile cost per action is $148.68, with a high of $308 in the nonprofit industry, and a low of $49.42 in the arts & entertainment industry.

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How to create a high-converting ad

While conversion happens in the post-click stage, it starts in the pre-click stage. Producing a sale, a download, a signup, etc., hinges on balancing both stages to produce a seamless, personalized user experience.

But the key there is balance. After discovering they’ve neglected the post-click stage for so long, some marketers have a tendency to overcorrect the problem, hyperfocusing on the post-click experience at the expense of the pre-click experience. This is just as big a mistake.

So, what does an effective pre-click stage look like? Here are some tips:

Choose your platform wisely

You don’t have to run ads on every platform. Actually, in most cases you shouldn’t. Your audience isn’t on every platform. And not every platform’s format suits your product or service.

Instagram, for example, is primarily a visual social network. For brands with highly visual products and services, it may be a valuable place to run ads. The same goes for brands with younger audiences, since Instagram is populated by mostly younger users.

LinkedIn, however, is known as the network for professionals. In fact, it’s known as the most valuable network for B2B businesses. If you’re an account-based marketing business, LinkedIn should be one of the first networks you consider advertising on. If you’re a B2C retailer? Probably not.

Before you run an ad anywhere, make sure your audience has a representation on the network, and that your product or service suits its advertising format.

Narrow your targeting as much as possible

It doesn’t matter if your images are engaging, your headline is magnetic, nor if you have glowing testimonials from industry leaders -- if you’re serving your ads to the wrong audience, they won’t get clicked.

Gather as much information as possible on your prospects. Create buyer personas with data. Uncover ideal customer profiles. Interview your customers and sort through analytics.

There are countless qualitative and quantitative ways to determine who buys your product and how they do so. Take advantage of them.

Start with a goal

If you take examples from popular ads, it’s easy to get overwhelmed: Where do you start?

Headline? Image? Copy?

No, no, no. You start with a goal.

What are you trying to achieve and how does that translate to what you have to offer?

For example, your goal may be to generate leads with an ebook. Your prospects, however, don’t care about that. They care only about what’s in it for them.

So, what can your ebook provide to your prospects? What will they learn from claiming your resource? What will they become? What will they be able to do?

Put yourself in their shoes. What is the most valuable thing your ebook will offer? Is it a plug-and-go worksheet? Is it a case study from an industry influencer? When teased out, this is the major selling point of your ad, and it will be used as a foundation for your creative.

Write a benefit-filled headline

Once you’ve extracted the major selling point of your ad, it’s time to present it. And there are numerous ways to: You can start with a strong verb, like “Become” to indicate transformation, or “Start” to convey a new beginning; You can use words like “Introducing” “Quick,” “Easy,” or “New and Improved,” You can drop names of brands or use statistics to boast of your success…

Whatever you do, though, your headline should imply a benefit. For example, “Become a lead gen expert with this strategy used by Amazon’s top sellers.” This headline emphasizes transformation, and because Amazon is a recognized brand filled with lots of competition, a strategy from “top sellers” sounds like an appealing and valuable offer.

Another example might be, “Learn how we generated 10,000 in a week in this Instapage case study.” The benefit is that you will learn how Instapage generated 10,000 leads in a very short time, which you may be able to use yourself.

Whichever route you take, make sure to remember the most valuable word in advertising: “You,” and to test many different approaches. Here’s a headline from Uber that entices people to sign up to drive and earn money on their own schedule:

Elaborate with copy

Most ads you write will allow more than just headlines. They’ll let you add body copy too. Treat this copy as though it probably won’t get read, but if it is read, it’ll add value.

In other words, use your most persuasive and powerful content in the headline (the USP), but if the platform you’re using allows for body copy, don’t repeat yourself. Body copy is valuable real estate. What other benefits are there to claiming your offer? This is where you add them.

Make your visuals stand out

This is straightforward but often forgotten. Your visuals are your key to grabbing attention in a highly competitive online world.

Remember that our brains aren’t wired to treat all stimuli equally. This is the basis of visual hierarchy.

Motion will grab our attention, contrast will make an ad stand out from its surroundings (so if you’re advertising on Facebook, avoid too much blue and white), and bigger and bolder visuals yell louder than the smaller ones that blend in. These are just a few rules to remember when picking visuals.

As always, test, and keep in mind that some visuals are better for conveying certain kinds of information. For example, infographics are great at presenting statistics in an easy to understand way, while more complicated products are best presented in a short explainer video.

Like you would ask about the platform you choose, ask: Which visual is the best for my offer? And how do I use it to grab attention? Here’s a great example of how statistics, when presented visually, can really highlight the unique selling proposition of a brand:

Call to deliverance

The “Call to action” is the word or set of words used to earn the click. Often they’re words like “Download” or “Sign up,” or “Register” -- but these words put too much on the shoulders of prospects.

Instead of emphasizing a benefit, they emphasize what the prospect has to do to claim the offer. This is backwards.

A better way to think is: “What will this offer deliver to the user?”

If you’re advertising an audit, your button copy might say “Fix my website,” or “Upgrade my landing pages” or “Show me how I’m losing money.” Much better than “Register” or “Sign Up,” these emphasize the benefit of clicking the button as opposed to the action that the user must take to receive it.

Here’s an example from VWO:

It’s not all about the ad anymore

Advertising isn’t all about the ad anymore. But it’s not all about the post-click experience either. Today, users expect a personalized, relevant campaign from the first impression to the final click.

For advertisers, that means that every ad needs its own dedicated post-click experience. Providing it, though, can’t be done the traditional way.

Building from scratch is too slow. Hiring an agency can be too expensive. The only answer is post-click automation.

With post-click automation, users can create, scale, optimize, organize, and personalize post-click experiences in a matter of minutes. To learn more about how, get your Instapage Enterprise Demo here.

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