Beyond Conversion Basics: Measuring Micro-conversions

By Aaron Maass
Managing Director, MaassMedia

In the world of digital analytics, a conversion is generally defined as the successful completion of a specific goal online.

It is easiest to tie goals to an e-commerce transaction, but in reality only about 28% of websites offer the ability to buy.  So how can and do the remaining 72% of websites measure success without the ability to count revenue as a metric?

If your site falls into the 72% and you can’t easily show how visitors to your site translate into sales, fear not as there are many other ways to measure success.

With any web analytics tool, lead generation sites, content publishers and brand (or information only) sites can instead track successful conversions through other metrics like clicks, downloads and registrations.

Historically, companies have focused on measuring and optimizing conversion rates by looking at only the end goal conversions, like the examples above.  These can be considered macro conversions.  Macro conversions are usually the final action a visitor takes during their session that draws in actual revenue or leads.

However, by identifying additional micro conversions, which are any key website actions that visitors complete prior to the final conversion, companies can use metrics other than just revenue or number of leads to better measure success and increase ROI.

The first step to taking advantage of differentiating macro and micro conversions is to identify all possible micro conversions that could be influential to completing a macro conversion.  A micro conversion could be anything from reading a blog post to viewing an image to downloading a pdf.

To understand what micro conversions may be important to measure, start by capturing VOC from stakeholders in various departments and compile a comprehensive list of key website actions.  Some questions to ask might be:

1)     What is your site’s primary purpose?

2)     What is your target audience and who is your ideal customer?

3)     What business questions about your website, user experience and marketing performance would you most like to answer?

You may also try putting yourself in the shoes of your “customers” by experiencing the site as they would.  Then ask yourself these questions:

1)     What actions are most important to my site’s visitors?

2)     What traffic sources, content, tools and behaviors on the site most frequently appear in the path to conversion?

Next, audit the key website actions visitors can take to determine whether or not each action is properly tagged and tracked with web analytics.  Those that are properly tagged are immediately ready for analysis, while those with tagging issues must be investigated and resolved before any data can be analyzed.

For a more comprehensive picture of conversion, consider including other factors of visitor engagement like the depth of someone’s visit, the amount of time spent on site and the number of days since the last visit.

While measuring micro conversions alone will give you a good sense of how visitors engage or interact with your website, incorporating these additional metrics will provide more robust insight and a more holistic view of what constitutes a successful conversion.

About the Author

With 14 years of online marketing industry experience, Aaron Maass is one of the early pioneers of tag-based web analytics. He co-founded and sold a website traffic tracking and reporting software service called SiteGauge to Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts in 2000, and has led web analytics initiatives in senior Internet marketing management roles at companies like KPMG, EF Language, Fidelity, DuPont and most recently Comcast, where he was head of e-commerce and web operations.

Aaron launched MaassMedia in 2008, where he works as Managing Director. He and his team help clients develop and implement improvements to their digital analytics capabilities that deliver measurable and immediate benefits to their bottom-line.

Aaron holds a B.A. from Cornell University, is certified in Google Analytics, Omniture and Six Sigma implementation and has been recognized for his achievements by the Digital Analytics Association (DAA), Interactive Media Council and Web Marketing Association. He also chairs the DAA Awards for Excellence Gala, teaches a course on digital analytics for the Online Marketing Institute and co-chairs the George S. Pepper Society Council of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

See Aaron Live!

Aaron will show you how to measure micro-conversions at Conversion Conference Fort Lauderdale 2012 on October 9th and 10th in Florida. Join him in his session on “Beyond Conversion Basics – How to Measure, Test and Target When Conversion Can’t be Clearly Defined.” See the full agenda or read more about this session. You can also follow Aaron on Twitter for some pre-conference networking.

Save $100 when you registerwith Aaron’s discount code FL12521. Only 12 days to go – get your Conversion Conference pass now!

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