What is the average conversion rate for PPC?

We’re frequently asked about the conversion rate that should be expected from a PPC campaign. The short answer to this query, is 2.70% on the Search Network and 0.89% on the Display Network (WordStream). The longer (and more important) answer, is that you need to account for a huge number of variants. Whilst a solid PPC strategy involving informed targeting, persuasive copy and a streamlined user journey are overwhelmingly influential on your conversion rates, there’s also something that’s often overlooked – and that’s your industry. Here we dig into just how much user behaviour can differ between markets when it comes to conversion.

Research and wildly different industry averages

First, let us define ‘conversion’. The following data has been crunched by WordStream based on enquires. The only exception is ecommerce, where a conversion is defined as a purchase.

Let’s begin with the conversion rates on the Google Search Network, where adverts are displayed directly in the search results.




Finance and insurance          7.19%

Consumer services                 5%

Advocacy                                 4.61%

Real estate                              4.40%

Legal                                         4.35%

Education                               4.13%

Employment services            3.97%

Dating and personals            2.75%

Home goods                            3.68%

Industrial services                   2.58%

B2B                                          2.58%

Travel and hospitality             2.57%

Technology                              2.55%

Health and medical                2.51%

Auto                                         2.27%

E-commerce                           1.91%


There are certainly significant differences between industries, but before we move onto an explanation as to why, let’s compare the conversions of these industries on the Google Display Network, which shows visual adverts on websites. Interestingly, Here’s the running order…


Home goods                            2.19%

Finance and insurance          1.75%

Real estate                              1.49%

Employment services            1.28%

Technology                              1.04%

Legal                                       0.98%

E-commerce                           0.96%

B2B                                          0.96%

Consumer services                  0.96%

Industrial services                   0.88%

Auto                                         0.79%

Health and medical                0.77%

Travel and hospitality             0.53%

Education                                0.50%

Dating and personals              0.41%

Advocacy                                 0.37%

Here’s the infographic putting all of those figures into a single pretty picture:

Credit: WordStream

Understanding the science behind the differences

To say that these statistics vary would be an understatement. The finance and insurance industries clearly lead the way on the Search Network and the Display Network. This could be explained by the fact that such businesses frequently experiment with their strategy, which results in ever improving conversions.

On the Display Network, we see that Home Goods and Real Estate fair well, which is unsurprising, given that their advertising would feature carefully chosen imagery.

The fact that ecommerce struggles to compete when compared to others can largely by explained by the fact that it is a purchase then and there, not an enquiry, that counts as a conversion. An additional factor could be the difficulty in targeting searchers who are looking for a specific item; creating a PPC campaign around each product keyword that covers an entire inventory is undoubtedly a universal challenge.

A conundrum – Industries, CPCs and the choice between the Display and Search Networks

The Advocacy industry which is so effective in Google search, comes bottom of the pile on the Display Network. The same switch around can be seen for Technology, which also becomes more effective on the Display Network. Home Goods additionally which moves from middle ranking in Google search, to top of the Display Network.

These differences underline the importance of choosing the right mix between the two networks when it comes to your business, however you might already consider the Display Network null and void – delivering lacklustre results as compared to the Search Network. Here’s the thing however – the Display Network is excellent for growing brand knowledge, nurturing sales where there is a long buyer journey and visually showcasing products. On the contrary, the Search Network is imperative if you’re:

  • Selling an emergency product or service (such as a plumber or tree surgeon) OR;
  • On a restricted budget and you need cast iron measurements and the best chance for conversion.


The buyer’s journey – Ignore it at your peril

Sales funnels and buyer journeys are woefully overlooked in the PPC world, yet they have such a massive impact on conversion rates and should positively influence campaign strategy.

As a very brief overview, consider this image – this is the sales funnel, and the buyer journey is defined by those four steps that you see: awareness, interest, decision and action.

Credit: Mail Munch


Awareness – The initial stage is where a prospect becomes aware of a solution – they visit your website for the first time, for example.

Interest – At the interest stage, the consumer is seeking out information – potentially visiting numerous websites many times over in order to further their buying journey. Eventually, with enough knowledge to answer the question: “which product or service is right for my problem?”, they’ll be ready to make their decision.

Decision – During the decision stage, the prospect has chosen a supplier, and is now weighing up the options, packages or different products. This stage can be assisted by landing pages, ebooks and webinars.


Action – Finally, converting – making the sale, signing the contract or transferring a deposit.

With this knowledge in relation to buyers’ journeys, you can now perhaps appreciate the very big differences in conversion rates – and how purchasers of cars (Auto) go through a very long buyer journey given the investment, compared to an insurance policy, which could be a matter of a single quote and one-payment premium (the two industries that are at the bottom and top of the conversion chart respectively).

Money. It makes the world go around

On a final note, it’s worth considering how conversion rates compare against the average cost that each of these industries pays (it also provides you with clarity as to how much you could and should expect to fork out for your PPC campaign). Notably, these don’t naturally align with conversion rates – but actually could be linked, loosely, to the price of the products or services that each industry is defined by.

Credit: WordStream

Ultimately the conversion rate of your campaign relies on so much more than just your industry. Crafting an effective sales funnel that understands your user journey, and coupling it with a comprehensive PPC strategy, is going to be far more influential on those conversions than benchmarking against industry averages.

No Comments

Post A Comment