You hear it all the time in marketing circles: don’t get caught up on vanity metrics. The metrics that actually matter are the ones that relate directly to sales. But if you’re not careful, you could end up throwing out meaningful metrics in your attempt to avoid vanity numbers. That’s because micro conversions matter too.
What Are Micro Conversions?
Micro conversions are the smaller actions taken by a prospect before they’re ready to take the step of a purchase. Micro conversions don’t immediately result in profits, but they do demonstrate an interest in your brand and products. And they’re frequently an important part of the larger process that leads to a sale.
In practice, micro conversions take a lot of different forms and what they look like will vary depending on your business model and goals. Some common examples include:
- Clicking on a call-to-action (CTA) button or internal link on your website
- Following and engaging with your brand on social media
- Downloading a piece of gated content
- Signing up for your email list
- Attending a webinar
- Clicking on the Pricing page of your site
- Filling out a form to set up a free consultation
- Adding a product to a shopping cart
All of these actions show an interest in learning more about your product or brand, and some directly suggest an interest in buying.
Why Are Micro Conversions Important?
Sales may be the ultimate goal of marketing, but they typically only come after a buyer’s journey full of preliminary actions. That can be true for all types of products, but is especially the case for business-to-business (B2B) products, which tend to have a long sales process, and for high-price items that consumers want to make an informed decision about.
Your customers may make impulse buys when grabbing a candy bar at the supermarket, but if you sell something of higher value—software, electronics, even clothing—many consumers approach the purchasing decision with more caution. Research from Criteo found that fewer than 10% of consumers buy a product from the first website they visit, and in most cases they wait over 20 days between their first interaction with a brand and a purchase.
Micro conversions help you track and understand the actions they take between that first touch point and the decision to buy.
A prospect that spends time on your website—moving from page to page, instead of bouncing right away—is investing time in learning about your brand and products. By the time they do click away, they’re more likely to remember and have you top of mind when they’re closer to making a decision.
A prospect that signs up for your email list is opting to hear from you again. That gives you the chance to keep the relationship going and convince them your brand is trustworthy, which makes them more likely to continue the buyer’s journey.
Micro conversions like these matter, but shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum. If your visitors are spending a lot of time on your website, but never come back to buy, your website needs work. Or if you’re getting a lot of email signups, but subscribers frequently unsubscribe or rarely convert to customers, you’re either attracting subscribers who aren’t in your target audience, or need to change up our emails.
Either your micro conversions are helping you toward that almighty ultimate conversion of a purchase, or they’re telling you something about where your marketing needs work. As long as you put them in their proper context and match them against your larger goals, they’re not about vanity; they’re doing important work.
How to Optimize for Micro Conversions
Understanding micro conversions helps you understand your audience better, and gain insights into how they make decisions. And the more you know, the better you can optimize for micro conversions and move prospects through the funnel.
1. Analyze your buyer’s journey.
In order to create a marketing strategy that gets people to the point of purchase, you need to understand the most common steps they take to get to that point. The buyer’s journey can look vastly different from business to business. The process involved in deciding to purchase a piece of B2B software will have little in common with the purchasing process for B2C products like lipstick or shoes.
To understand what the buyer’s journey for your products looks like, look to your audience research and the data you have now. Consider setting up interviews with customers to learn how they heard about your brand, what marketing materials they interacted with, and how they made their decision. And if multiple people are involved in the typical buying process for your product, aim to understand the role each plays in it and their particular priorities.
2. Identify the micro conversions most likely to lead to sales.
This is where you separate out the vanity metrics from the meaningful actions. Are the people downloading that ebook taking further steps after the fact? Are the ones signing up for your email list opening your emails or clicking on links therein? Brands with a long and complex buyer’s journey have the difficult job of ensuring each interaction with a prospect is effectively designed to lead them to the next, from beginning to end.
If you can identify micro conversions that rarely lead to sales, you’ll know they aren’t as valuable as they look at first glance. And if you can spot points in the buyer’s journey where prospects frequently fail to convert, you’ll know where to focus your energy on improving things.
3. Set up your analytics to track micro conversions.
Make sure you’re tracking all the micro conversions that line up with your goals. Set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics. Pay attention to the data provided by other marketing tools you use, such as your email marketing software and social media. Beyond tracking individual micro conversions, try to understand how they connect to each other to gain a fuller picture of your prospects’ relationship with the brand.
And test and test. For each micro conversion you track, try out different CTA language, different designs, and different headlines. Testing is the best way to learn what your audience responds to so you can tweak your marketing to better suit them.
5. Analyze what your data tells you.
Even when your conversion numbers aren’t where you’d like, the lack of action tells you something valuable about your audience. Everything you learn can be applied to marketing updates you make and future campaigns you develop. And the insights you learn from measuring one type of micro conversion can be applied elsewhere. Knowing what CTAs convert best on an ad can help you improve your blog titles or website buttons.
6. Solicit customer feedback.
Data can tell you a lot, but it’s always more valuable when you couple it with actual customer input. Use surveys and customer interviews to supplement your data and understand how your audience thinks and what drives their decisions. You run less risk of learning the wrong takeaway from the data if you actually ask the people behind the micro conversions why they made the choices they did.
Micro Still Matters
For marketers, understanding the relationship between the different smaller interactions a prospect takes with your brand can help you improve your overall marketing strategy. Improving micro conversions will increase the bigger conversions that more directly translate to profits.