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July 30, 2021 - By Phoebe Neuman

Why Tracking Micro Conversions Is Key for Scalable Success

Conversions are the lifeblood of marketing. Primary conversions, which are often called macro conversions in the industry, are some of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) of any marketing campaign. When a prospect does what a marketing campaign was designed for, like buying a product or signing up for a newsletter, that’s a macro conversion.

While product sales and email subscriptions are important and extremely easy to measure, the reality is that these macro conversions represent the culmination of several other decisions and actions made by the customer. These are what we call micro conversions.

What Are Micro Conversions?

Any action a prospect or a customer takes that leads toward a macro conversion, which can be detected and measured by a marketer, can be considered a micro conversion. You can think of micro conversions like steps in a flowchart or stages in a sales funnel. 

If your main conversion is a product purchase, a few noteworthy examples of micro conversions could include the following actions:

  • Clicking an ad
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Putting an item in a shopping cart
  • Clicking images or videos on a product page
  • Clicking the FAQ or shipping information page
  • Clicking a Like button

Milestones and Secondary Conversions 

There are essentially two kinds of micro conversions. Those that happen before the macro conversion happens are known as milestones. Milestones tell you that the prospect is leaning toward converting, even if she hasn’t done so yet.  

The other kind are known as secondary conversions. They happen after the macro conversion and tell you whether or not you have a happy customer who will be a good candidate for future conversions. 

If a customer shares a page or subscribes to a newsletter before making a purchase, that could be considered a milestone. If she does either of these after the conversion, then it’s a secondary conversion. 

Why Tracking Micro Conversions Is Important

Tracking micro conversions has several important benefits. It saves you money, helps you to compare the results between ad campaigns and helps you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing efforts. 

If you’re selling products and services with long conversion times, micro conversions become exceptionally important, because they allow you to track the progress on a campaign without having to wait for the sales to start coming in. 

Micro Conversions in Action

Even with short campaigns, micro conversions can show you where things are going well and where they aren’t. Suppose you’re advertising a T-shirt online. After 10,000 impressions, you have zero sales. There is obviously a problem somewhere, but without any micro conversions to track, you’ll have no idea where the problem lies. If you’re tracking micro conversions, the problem becomes obvious from some of the following metrics:

  • Ad Impressions: on target
  • Ad clicks: higher than average
  • Page views: higher than average
  • Buy Now clicks: higher than average
  • Sales: zero
  • Abandoned carts: 100 percent

On closer inspection, you discover that your shipping zones were updated incorrectly, and you were charging a flat $50 shipping fee for a $12 T-shirt. 

Choosing a Micro Conversion Strategy

Many micro conversions are tracked automatically with tools like Google Analytics, ecommerce software or advertising platforms, like Facebook Ads. Not all of these tracked micro conversions are necessarily relevant for your brand, while other micro conversions that could be important aren’t going to be tracked automatically. 

It’s up to you to decide what should be tracked, rather than leaving it up to the developers over at Google or Facebook. In some cases, this is simply a matter of toggling an option on Google Analytics, but in other cases you may need to add a feature to your page, or modify an existing feature in order  to track a significant micro conversion.

A classic example of this is determining how long prospects actually spend on a page. Google Analytics measures this with a page’s bounce rate — a “single-page session… that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server” and is measured as “0 seconds.” 

This is a great tool if you have a multi-page blog post, but it’s practically useless if your ads are sending customers directly to a sales page. Even if someone spends twenty minutes on your product page, reading the details and looking at the picture as they consider your offer, if they don’t click anything, Google Analytics measures the visit as zero seconds. 

The trick is to give prospects something enticing to click on, like customer reviews, a video of your product in action, or a photo carousel of your product. If you’ve determined that if someone spends more than 60 seconds looking at your product you’ve achieved one of your micro conversions, then add a pop-up to the page with a 60-second timer. Now you can track the number of people who fulfill your 60-second micro conversion by the number of people who click that pop-up. 

How to Track Micro Conversions

Most likely, you have all the tools you need to track micro conversions already — it’s just a matter of turning them on and tweaking them as needed. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce and WooConverse include these tracking tools, as do email service providers and, of course, Google Analytics.

Using Email Service Providers

Email service providers (ESPs) like Klaviyo and Mailchimp are ideal for tracking email-based conversions and micro conversions. You can track new subscriptions, confirmations, open rates and even activity leading from your emails to your website, like downloaded pages and purchases. 

If you’re using Klaviyo, for example, you can turn on email to website tracking with just a click. Log into your account, go to Settings > Email and then click on the Website to Email tracking button. 

A growing trend for security-conscious consumers is that instead of clicking a link in an email, they will manually type out your URL. One of the nice things about Klaviyo is that it can track these as well, linking website page views to that opened email, depending on how much time has passed from the open to the website visit. 

Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics can track micro conversions just as well as it tracks macro conversions, through Goals and Events. All you have to do is to specify what you want it to track. If you run a B2B business and want to track how many people download a white paper or an industry report you’ve written, you can track readers who take the following actions:

  • Visit the registration page
  • Submit their registration information
  • Open the confirmation email
  • Go to the download page

To track micro conversions in Google Analytics, you can use its Goals or Events features. Goals are actually quite easy to set up because Google gives you several templates based on your specific industry. To take a look, go to your Admin page, then select Goals > View and select “New Goal.” From there, you can select a template or create a custom goal.

If you don’t see any templates, go back to the Admin page, select “Create Property” and then choose the industry category that best describes your business. 

Moving Forward with Micro Conversions

Once you begin to track important micro conversions, you will quickly begin to see what is working well and where the bottlenecks are in your sales process. When you see a significant slowdown, you may want to dive deeper by tracking additional micro conversions in that segment of the process to help isolate exactly where the issue may be. 

If you’re not certain which are the best micro conversions to track for your business, or the best way to set up tracking based on your platform and the tools you have available, it pays to talk to an experienced media consultant. Whichever industry you’re in, or whichever platform you use, a Hawke Media consultant can help you to optimize tracking for your specific needs. Just ask for a free consultation

David Weedmark is a published author and e-commerce consultant. He is an experienced JavaScript developer and a former network security consultant.