Macro vs. Micro Conversions
Since the humble beginnings of web analytics back in 1994, there has always been an unhealthy fixation on the conversion rate as a website's key metric. Understandably so, ecommerce sites often measure the success of their website by the amount of visitors who finally purchase a product. However, as a blog post by Avinash Kaushik advises, it is simply not worth your time to be obsessed with this one, often distorted, number. There are a myriad of other important "micro" conversions on your site that you could and should be focusing on.
In order to improve the value of your site to your visitors, it is essential to understand why they come to your site in the first place. All visitors are NOT created equal. Each one has his or her own reason for coming to your site and what he or she wishes to gain from it. Remember, most of your visitors probably do not come to make a purchase. If you have a product site, visitors could be trying to find price comparisons, product information, your address or opening times, all preparing for an in-store purchase.
The way we see it, if a visitor lands on your site and signs up for a newsletter, requests a product demo, or fills out a contact us form, then these actions might be worth more than a simple one time conversion. You've now got them sticking around for a long term commitment as opposed to a short term transaction. And their loyalty can ignite a growing fan base. Every time a visitor creates buzz about your website through a social network such as Facebook or Twitter, you should count it as a micro conversion. Often, a micro conversion like these can affect your end result much more than a single macro conversion alone.
How not to do it
For example, it is quite possible that a lot of the visitors landing on the American Airlines website are looking for flight arrival and departure information. However, more than a quarter of the AA landing page is devoted to booking while the arrival and departure information is hidden away in their navigation menus.
This landing page is clearly designed according to how American Airlines would like visitors to use their website, as opposed to how the visitors themselves would like to use it.
What you can do
The sooner the information above is put into action, the better. Here are three simple steps to get you started:
1. Find out what your visitors want.
Use traditional analytics such as Google Analytics to find out where most of your visitors go, then use In Page analytics such as Clicktale to find out what visitors do once they get there. Do not simply monitor how many visitors land where you want them to land and do what you want them to do. Instead, find out which web pages they want to go to and what they want to achieve. Define which conversions besides your "macro" conversion would be beneficial to your business.
2. Find out which micro conversions work.
You want to highlight the conversions that fulfill both your visitorsâ€™ needs and your own. If you notice that many newsletter subscribers end up purchasing a product, then make it easier for visitors to sign up to your newsletter. If you get a lot of traffic from social media, make sure customers can effortlessly promote your site on Twitter and Facebook.
3. Study your successes.
Most conversions are a multi-step process, even micro ones, so start by evaluating each step. If it is easier to get visitors to "tweet this site" than to make a purchase, then that is where your focus should lie. It may take longer to see a return, but Rome was not built in a day and nor is the perfect website.
Macro conversions are still regarded as the key performance indicator of any website. However, by focusing on the micro conversions, you prove your website's true value for your visitors, ultimately having a long term effect on your bottom line.