Share This Post

Alok's Posts / Most Popular

The 2% of Everything!

Yeah!!! Here’s another piece I wrote for the holy Brand Equity of the Economic Times that appeared today!! Full produced article after the image…



The 2% of Everything 

When I started my first digital entrepreneurial venture – in 1998, I was an innocent fool. Coming from a wealthy Marwari family business that made hosiery (polite word for socks), I had assumed that things happened simply by asking. If asking didn’t work, they did by requesting. And if requesting didn’t work, then I got my way by demanding! 

In my avatar as a digital entrepreneur, as I began to pitch to the large MNCs in India to use my free ‘Internet contesting’ site, I learnt a bitter lesson. My asking, requesting and demanding yielded no results. That, considering that I was offering a free service! After a terrible start, I learnt a rule that has always stayed with me. It was the rule of 2%. 

How did I manage to survive in my digital business? In the first year, I cold- called 500 clients.  About 300 came on the phone. Of these, 150 agreed to meet me. Of the 150 meetings, 100 asked for a proposal. Out of the 100 proposals, 10 finally agreed to do business with me (for FREE). I closed 10 clients out of 500.   That was a success rate of 2 %. 

I’m sure you’ve learnt the rule of 2% in your own professional (and personal life). Let me share some of the best know statistics: 

–          Out of 100 visitors to e-commerce sites, about 2% convert to buying customers.

–          In the stone-age of advertising (think Mad Men), glossy envelopes mailed to targeted databases elicited a 2% response rate (think a reply or a mail order).

–          In the highly cluttered world of Internet advertising, a 2% CTR (click through rate) on a rich, well designed, interactive banner is considered to be supreme!

–          Zynga (a befallen gaming company) was able to sell virtual sheep, tractors, farmhouses and trees in a free virtual game to only about 2% of all its players. That game was called Farmville and the 2% made Zynga a multi-billion dollar company. For the record, the rest of the 98% (who didn’t pay) spammed all their friends on facebook and killed facebook game notifications forever.

–          If I am reading your mind right… YES, only 2% of folks playing Candy Crush actually pay for more levels and power ups. The rest of them … well, they spam us all.

–          The famous 2% rule amongst stock traders states that no trader will ever bet more than 2% of his worth on any trade. 

Clearly, there is a fascinating 2% rule that pervades the operating plan of this planet. And yeah, it operates in real life too. Think – how many people do you randomly meet in a flight whose first name (that’s important) you can recall? About 3. That’s 2% of a flight of 150 passengers. 

Now, what does 2% mean? Sadly, very little. It’s the 98% that slip away, that robs us of our profits. I mean think of how amazing it would be if 98% bought stuff on e-com sites or clicked on banners! 

But the hard truth is that the 2% of everything exists. Now, if you accept it as it is, you’re toast. But if you find ways around it, you can be KING! 


The UPSELLER – When only 2% of women bought virtual sheep in Farmville, Zynga did not fret. It leveraged that tiny 2% via the art of upselling. While most consumers bought 1 item of 0.99 cents in typical games, Zynga (using rocket science analytics), drove a typical 0.99 cents purchase up to US $9.99 and in some cases even US $99.99! Zynga was so phenomenal in its upsell to the 2%, that they more than made up for the ‘phokat’ 98% population that wanted ‘free ka maal’. 

The STALKER – In this very newspaper, I cribbed about the menace of retargeting. However annoying, e-com websites hound the 98% ‘non-buyers’ by using cookies and chase them all over the web with ads of the sites they abandoned. Data proves that of the stalked, 18% converted to buy what they had left behind! 

The HYPNOTIST – Have you bought a domain on I bet that only 2% of visitors who look for a domain land up buying one. Now, once you have bought a domain, godaddy injects the fear of God into you. Even as you proceed to check out (takes forever), the site scares you about security, spam hosting, fraud, etc. etc. of your newly acquired website and keeps selling you services you don’t want. Godaddy hypnotises the 2% and makes them leave their wallets behind! 

So, if you have a 2% situation, think of a clever way out of it. But for heaven’s sake, DO NOT send spam mails to your friends and clients saying, “I am a rich Nigerian widow of a Colonel who has 3 million dollars stashed away and need you to help me siphon it away…” 

The famous ‘Nigerian Scam’ has a 2% success rate, but that’s a method I would seriously ask you to skip!



First Published on: May 14, 2014


Share This Post


  1. Very Very True…can vouch for this based on my offline B2B  calling experience too

    nice article !

  2. nice read….makes a lot of sense

  3. Very interesting article Alok 🙂 Thanks for sharing this.

    I also wanted to mention about your article “Disaster Management” in Magzine “Entrepreneur” APRIL 2014 edition (Being a mom, am mostly running one/two edition behind the latest :P)The New Coke incident was very interesting to analyse and understand how consumers may behave, they in a manner own you & the company 🙂 Disaster management is definetly an art for every entrepreneur to possess and in the right manner.

    Thanks again for sharing these!

  4. Sir is it also true that out of 100 people who want to become entrepreneurs 2 become successful…..the ones who fail…celebrate failure and then they also come in the 2 %…..

  5. I like this article. Thanks for sharing … Wish I had know this metric before ! 

  6. Great piece and couldn’t have come at a better timing as was dealing with the same problem in the morning ! Thanks Alok!

  7. Simplicity explained in 2% ! WOW ..

  8. As Amazing as you like it.

  9. Nicely written with real-world explanations. Great Alok! Though I am not sure whether GoDadddy’s CEO will smile after reading this article…hope he doesn’t get terrified  🙂

  10. Wow Alok Jee,

    This information is eye opener for the my vision towards my website designing business. I need to seriously plan my marketing campaign and business module. I hope your 2% rule will surely help me to cover the remaining 98% success rate. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Very good article Alok.  Couple of qns for you –

    1.  Do you think this 2% apply to all business including offline B2B model – what would be good % to aim there?  

    2.  Your recommended strategies to go for higher % – pricing, quality, packaging, promotions, etc?  Your thoughts, articles, etc will be helpful.

    Many thanks again.

  12. Good read.  

  13. Good read and laid out well.

    2% have to make up for most of the business


  14. Excellent piece of writing with facts

  15. Planning to start a business, of all my biggest worry was about my FIRST SALE. I think I got my answer 🙂

  16. I am always wandering about my blog views. Despite Facebook and Twitter shares, despite getting goid reviews from readrrs. Understood the 2%phenomenon.

Comments are now closed for this post.

Lost Password