Conversion is a huge part of success for any website that is selling a product or service. After all, when people arrive, they are merely visiting. Depending on what happens during their visit, they may end up purchasing.
What should be happening in the meantime is the conversion process, which is where you use various aspects of your website to convert visitors into customers.
Sometimes, owning a business is about playing the long game and taking the small wins instead of the big one.
What are micro conversions?
The first thing that you need to know is that there are two basic types of micro conversions:
Process Milestones: These micro conversions take place along the consumer journey timeline and represent movement toward the macro conversion, or ultimate goal, of generating a sale.
Secondary Actions: These are small conversions that may not be related to the ultimate goal of the site, but they are still desirable actions that may also be indicative of potential future conversions.
An example of a process milestone would be the initial email capture for coupons that offer savings on the product or service that will ultimately be purchased. A secondary action could be someone subscribing to your blog. While this could eventually lead them to decide to purchase your product(s), it isn’t usually a step in the transaction process and it certainly isn’t necessary. However, a blog subscriber shows that they are interested in the information you have to offer. Eventually, that information might lead them to realize the value of your product or service.
To better explain micro conversions, let’s take a look at the lifecycle of a typical internet user’s website visit. For this example, we’ll use someone searching for garage door repair.
Step One: Joe searches for garage door repair services in Ohio. He follows a sponsored link (also known as a PPC ad) to Dave’s Door Service. There's one micro conversion, as Joe goes from a searcher to a visitor.
Step Two: Joe arrives on the Ohio service page, where he also finds a sidebar with a couple of testimonials and a link to read more. Since building trust is essential to getting the job, Dave’s Door Service wants users to click through to their testimonials. When Joe does this, another micro conversion happens.
Step Three: Now that Joe has read the reviews, he feels confident about this company and wants to learn more. He navigates to the contact page and proceeds to fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page. At this point, Joe hasn’t even made a transactional move and Dave’s Door Service has already seen five micro conversions (navigating to the contact page and filling out the form being two separate goals of the website).
Step Four: The service calls Joe, per his request, and does such a great job answering questions and offering a reasonable appointment window that he books the service. This is both a micro conversion and the ultimate conversion, because it took all the steps, including this one, to arrive at the ultimate end goal of generating revenue.
Hopefully, now you can see a little clearer how micro conversions work and just how easy they can be to come by. Next up, we’ll explain their value and what you can do to increase your chances of getting more micro conversions of your own.
How micro conversions create value
Considering that only about three percent of people actually make a purchase on their first visit to a website, nurturing is going to be crucial to your success. Part of the nurturing process allows you to cultivate information and create micro conversions that keep buyers on the sales track and keep them interested in your products and services.
Even the buyers that never fully convert, despite completing a number of different micro conversions, are going to contribute value to your business. You can learn from their behavior and figure out why they aren’t making the conversion, which can allow you to make better moves for optimizing your conversion rates and improve your overall website and marketing strategy.
Next, you’ll find an explanation of some of the most common micro conversions and how they affect (or can affect) your bottom line and the end goal of generating sales.
Adding items to the cart
If you’re anything like the rest of the eCommerce websites out there, you probably have made it easier than ever for people to add items to their cart. While this is helpful, the internet is also making it a bit of a complication for most eCommerce sites. In fact, a 2018 study showed that shopping cart abandonment is a serious issue. If someone took the time to come and put something in the cart, they’re probably still interested, but you have to find a way to get them back.
You might be aware that shopping cart abandonment is a problem, but did you know that on average, 80% of users abandon shopping carts? A study by Barilliance breaks it down by device:
Desktop Users: 73% abandonment
Tablet Users: 80% abandonment
Smartphone Users: 87% abandonment
That means that only 13% of smartphone users are actually completing their transactions. If you’re not using cart abandonment software to get visitors back, you’re missing out on the majority of your audience. Fortunately, retargeting is also going to be an integral part of improving conversions, so you have plenty of potential users to work with when you get to this process.
How can you reduce abandonment rates? Make the checkout easy. Minimize the number of steps, forms, and pages that need to be gone through. Speed up the pages so they load quickly and easily. Make sure there’s a progress indicator and consider offering a “quick checkout” option like Amazon’s one-click ordering. Make sure that you’re transparent about all taxes, fees, and additional charges, too. No one likes to think they know what they’re paying and then be surprised with hidden fees or extra charges.
Offer free shipping when and where you can to help improve abandonment rates. If you have to increase product costs a little to cover this, you’ll quickly find that it’s the better way to go. People would rather pay $50 with free shipping than $45 with a $5 shipping charge, even though the money is the same. Plus, major corporations like Amazon, Walmart, and others offer free shipping so regularly that many consumers have come to expect it.
Email or newsletter opt-ins
This is another example of a micro conversion that might someday lead to a sale. Connecting with people this way allows you to establish rapport. You can build your reputation as an authority in your industry and provide them with value-added services at the same time. When they see that they can trust you as a valuable resource, and not just another company selling something, visitors will be more likely to return as buyers.
If nothing else, they might come across an old email six months down the road, remember how much they wanted to look at your products, and come back to make a purchase even without your prompting.
Other form submissions can also be classified here as micro conversions. Whether you’re asking solely for an email address or a full profile of information, you have to keep it simple and only request what you really need. Don’t make people fill out too many forms. Even removing just one form field can increase conversions by as much as 11%, according to one study. The bottom line? Don't make people work too hard here.
Especially as the holidays approach, social sharing can be a goldmine of conversion if you use it well. People are more likely to share items that they really enjoy or items that they want to receive or give as gifts. If you include a social sharing link on your product pages, you can guarantee that you’ve already started on a micro conversion that’s in line with the customer journey. Even if that visitor isn’t planning to come back and buy, they may be sharing with people who will. Use this to your advantage.
Viewing the product page
Obviously, someone who makes it to the product page would be completing a fairly big micro conversion. This may be the last one before the sale, or it may be the first of many micro conversions that ultimately result in sales down the line. Regardless, if you can get people to your product page, you can instantly increase the chances of converting them to a customer. In order to get more product page visits, you can incorporate product links in your blog, homepage, and other areas of your content.
You can also create curated content or publish articles on third-party sites with links that redirect people back to product pages, instead of your homepage. In fact, Google and other search engines actually ding you for using homepage links excessively. Always redirect people to the most specific, useful site based on their needs. Usually, for an eCommerce store, that ends up being the product pages.
Visiting multiple pages
Considering that the average user visits about three web pages per session (site visit), there’s definitely room for improvement here. This micro conversion is also a long-term tool because some people could spend hours visiting all the pages on your site to learn about your brand and products, and still not make a purchase for six months or a year, or even longer. Fortunately, getting people to visit multiple pages is an accomplishment in and of itself and you will be able to trust that this metric is taken care of when you have people who keep coming back or digging deeper into your website.
If someone visits your homepage, product page, contact page, testimonials, and your blog, they most likely have an intent to purchase. Most people won’t invest this kind of time into something if they aren’t planning on making a purchase or using the product/service that is being explored.
Make a plan
When you want to improve conversion rates, especially with micro conversions, you need to come up with a strategy for attacking them effectively. Figure out which micro conversions are most effective. Double-check those ones and make sure they can’t be tweaked to make them just a little better. Then, go through the rest of the possible micro conversions on your site and ensure that they’re up to scratch.
Even though micro conversions aren’t immediately adding to your revenue stream, they are an important tool in the consumer journey and in the marketing process. Make sure that you develop a plan to improve them and track every single conversion that takes place with your visitors so that you can see what is working and what you might need to fix.
The bottom line
Don’t discount the little, seemingly-insignificant actions taking place on your website on a daily basis. Micro conversions tell a story and are a part of something much bigger than themselves. They help marketers see where websites are effective and which strategies or sections need to be changed to be more customer-focused and provide the right solutions.
It’s crucial that you remember that only a small fraction of visitors will ever actually make an immediate purchase when they arrive at your website. However, with cart abandonment and consumer selection at an all-time high, you also can’t discount the people who don’t buy right away. Even if someone leaves your site, they could very well make their way back later on to complete the transaction. Perhaps they won’t come back, but if you’re doing conversion optimization right, they should.
Regardless, your most important realization is going to be that the sale is not always instant and that’s okay. The seemingly-endless number of micro conversions that factor into the buying process will increase your understanding of consumer behavior, help encourage visitors to continue on the buying journey, and develop better lead generation and nurturing practices.