An online sale isn’t magic. It’s the result of a recipe, a series of steps and actions that result in a specific outcome. Those individual steps and acts customers take up to the point of purchase are called “micro-conversions,” and they are how to increase online sales. The purchase is a full conversion.
A micro-conversion is an indicator that the brand is moving in the right direction. Micro-conversions inform brands where the site is struggling and what the customer still needs from the brand to complete a purchase. In the correct combination, micro-conversions serve to incrementally reduce the friction between customers’ initial action and the sale.
As critical as this conversion-type is to sales success, it is actually the least watched. The most watched and possibly the least useful metric is the purchase conversion. Purchases are the most watched because at the end of the day, in the minds of management, the site led to a sale or it didn’t. It’s also an easy number with which to hold people accountable.
Unfortunately, the only intelligence that can be extrapolated from purchase conversions is whether the brand is profitable online. It’s completely binary, yes or no. The metric provides no information on how the brand is profitable online or how to be more profitable online.
What content, what calls to action, what things led the customer to a yes?
Where conversion reporting goes wrong
Google Analytics and other reporting services may be responsible for brands not looking deeper. These services have made it easy to collect cursory data and present it as analysis. As a result, brand leaders have become extremely proficient at reporting.
What the services haven’t done that well is help people understand how purchase events unfolded. What content, what calls to action, what things led the customer to a yes? These are the data points brand leaders innately know are important but don’t have a methodology for collecting and interpreting.
By the way, when we say a micro-conversion is every action that a customer takes on the site we mean every action: from newsletter sign up, to account registration, to Facebook like, entering in credit card information, etc. Even a bounce is a conversion and the bounce rate is a negative conversion.
What is important to focus on here is not whether conversions are positive or negative. Rather, that conversions exist throughout a brand’s digital medium and that each conversion informs the brand of something specific about the customer. Not all conversions are created equal and each conversion deserves different amounts of attention at different times.
While conversions help brands understand if they’ve met the customer’s need, micro-conversions help brands understand how close they are to meeting a customer’s need.
Micro-conversions identify misallocation of resources
Customers arrive at a brand’s site for one of two reasons, to research a product or to purchase a product. Conversion numbers are very good at letting brands know what proportion of the site’s visitors have met both of these conditions but they’re not very good at helping brands understand when, where, why or how those conditions were met.
For this reason, the micro-conversion is actually the most important metric of success. While conversions help brands understand if they’ve met the customer’s need, micro-conversions help brands understand how close they are to meeting a customer’s need. The former identifies whether an event has happened. The latter identifies what else needs to happen, which also helps brand leaders to recognize that additional resources are needed to complete the purchase.
In our experience, appropriate resource allocation — human and technology — is the most significant challenge brand leaders face. Under allocating resources typically results in fewer revenue opportunities. Over allocation may enable brands to hit desired revenue targets but it will be at the expense of profitability. A look at the site’s pattern of micro-conversions shows brand leaders exactly where more resources are needed.
Optimizing micro-conversions reduces the friction between the steps, which creates a customer experience that leads to them to purchase.
Micro-conversions are a roadmap to purchase
In the right combination, micro-conversions provide a road map for understanding customer intentions and needs, and how to increase online sales. As specific intentions and needs are uncovered, specific solutions can be devised to improve customers’ success at each stop. Goals and objectives can be easily identified and prioritized. Teams can move forward in unison with well defined success metrics. And brands can be confident in knowing that they are allocating resources with increasing effectiveness.
Brands that work on understanding and optimizing all the individual steps the consumer takes that lead up to the sale, know that it is how to increase online sales and see improvements in online sales. Optimizing micro-conversions reduces the friction between the steps, which creates a customer experiences that lead to them to make more purchases. Making the most watched metric well worth watching.