Conversions and Micro Conversions

For a business website, having visitors show up to your website is only the first step. To turn website visitors into prospects, you need some of your website visitors to take the actions you’ve defined.

You need to implement conversion (in some form) so you either get contact information which allows you to follow up, or your visitor completes a purchase.

Conversion tends to be defined as the completion of a sale, whether the visitor is buying a $6 phone charging cable, or a $700 laptop.

Micro conversion, on the other hand, are smaller steps people take toward the purchase. In the case of the phone charging cable, people probably do very little research.

If it matches your specs and it’s only $6 and they can ship it to you in two days, you complete the purchase.

When you buy a $700 laptop, you do more research. How much RAM? How large a hard drive? How much extra for a solid state drive? How does it compare with a competitive product (this assumes you’re buying a Windows laptop)? Etc.

Again, micro conversions are the smaller steps you take towards making a purchase.

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What People Will and Will Not Do When Asked

There is a limit to what you can reasonably ask visitors to your website to do. The limit depends primarily on the cost of what you sell.

If you sell $5 fidget spinners, you can immediately ask people to buy, and some will.

If you sell $700 laptops, you can immediately ask people to buy, and very very few will.

But you can ask them to do less. You can ask them to fill out a configuration form in order to get a price, and people with a serious interest will. You can ask them to fill out a form telling you what they use their computer for so you can make recommendations as to memory, disk storage, CPU speed, etc. Some people will. You can ask them to sign up to get emails for special deals you occasionally run. You get the point.

Psychologists say every time we are asked to give something (even our name and email address), we unconsciously do a little cost/benefit analysis. What’s important in conversions and micro conversions is that you ask someone to do something that benefits them AND that they’re willing to do.

The Buyer’s Journey

This concept of people taking incremental steps towards a decision is named The Buyers Journey. It is in effect the set of decisions a person makes when they buy something.

Think about how you last made a major purchase. Let’s use a car for an example.

Some of the decisions people make when buying a car is:

  • It’s utility (sports car vs mini van).
  • How it makes you feel (sports car vs mini van).
  • What it costs to buy
  • What it costs to maintain\
  • What it costs to insure.
  • New vs Used?

It turns out people tend to follow the same set of decisions (more or less) when buying stuff, and this allows us (as marketers) to provide answers for each step of the way, then to nudge people along from step to step.

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The Sales Funnel

When you take The Buyer’s Journey people go through when buying from you and invert it, it is then your Sales Funnel.

You move people closer to a purchase by walking them through your sales funnel (their buyer’s journey, one step at a time.

Leads: The Lifeblood of Every Business

Which brings us to the next important idea, which is Lead Management. The two broad subsets of lead management are lead generation and lead nurturing, which are discussed individually below.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process of turning a website visitor into a lead by having them indicate an interest in what you’re selling and getting their contact information. This is the dropping of someone into the top of your sales funnel.

The way this is done through Content Marketing is to attract people to your website via organic search (through publishing and link building), then using well-placed Call to Action buttons to urge them to take some initial action.

An initial action could be downloading an eBook, registering for a webinar, or taking a quiz for which they get a result.

What turns them into a lead is when they provide their contact information in exchange for whatever enticed them.

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Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing can feel involved, and in this section, I may introduce some terms you’re not familiar with. I make an attempt to define them as I realized I’m using them.

Lead nurturing is in many ways more involved than generating leads. Now that you’ve got their contact information, how do you nudge them into buying?

The answer is a series of micro conversions, each one of which is of interest them.

There are two rules at play here:

  1. It takes 6 to 8 touch points to convert a viable sales lead.
  2. For software subscriptions, those who sign up for a free trial right away, leave right away. Those who convert after multiple touch points are much more loyal.

Lead nurturing is walking something through their buying decision process (their Buyers Journey) one step at a time.

So how do companies implement lead nurturing?

Generally with a Marketing Automation or Email Marketing software package or service.

Businesses sell to people who have certain needs (or wants), who fit certain definable criteria.

People who have the same set of criteria are defined by what is called a Buyer’s Persona. Examples of buyer personas are:

  • Homeowners who want to spend less on their energy bill.
  • Homeowners who desire to consume less hydrocarbon based energy.
  • A young person looking to rent an apartment near work.
  • A young family looking to buy their first house.
  • A model airplane enthusiast needing spare parts.

For each buyers persona, there is a series of common steps people go through in making a purchase. Lead nurturing is you walking them through the process using various pieces of content on your website, and some form of messaging (typically email but I see no reason why social media messaging wouldn’t work).

This is an important point, so I’ll repeat myself here. The business walks people through their sales funnel (the leads buyers journey), one step at a time, by taking them through various pieces of content on their website, each of which answers a specific question, and in turn leads to the next. This is done through some messaging platform, generally email, although I’m expecting Marketing Automation software to start messaging through social media sites soon.

This requires the publishing of any many pieces of content as there are steps in your sales funnel, for each of your buyer’s personas.

If you sell to three different buyers personas, each of which has a six step sales funnel, you need to publish 18 pieces of content to allow your business to effectively nurture leads.

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The Importance of Improved Conversions

Let’s use some example numbers to illustrate this point.

Understand that to make the example easier to follow I use round numbers to make the math easy AND we’re using unrealistic conversion ratios. But doing so makes the illustration easier to understand.

Let us pretend that your sales funnel has 5 steps and that at each step you have a 10% conversion rate.

This is not realistic as no sales funnel has the same conversion ratio at every step, and as you get closer to the end (and are dealing with highly interested prospects) the conversion ratios increase, but we need an easy example to illustrate the point.

Q: How many leads do you need to make one sale?

A: 10,000

10,000 leads dropped into the top of the full results in

1,000 progressing to step 2,

100 progressing to step 3,

10 progressing to step 4, and

1 making a purchase.

Now let’s pretend that with A/B testing you’ve managed to double your conversion rate at every step of your sales funnel.

How many sales do you now make with that 10,000 leads?

10,000 at the top of the funnel

2,000 at step 2

400 at step 3

80 at step 4

16 sales

So by doubling your conversion rate at every step of your funnel, you experience a 16 fold increase in sales.

To make the same sales without increasing your conversion rates, you need 16 times as many leads.

This is why it’s important to improve your conversion rates, independent of your actual numbers of leads and conversion rates.

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Split or A/B Testing

Split testing (or A/B testing) is where you have two versions of the same landing page and you test them against each other. You do this by loading version A for half your visitors and version B for the other half, then monitoring conversion rates per landing page version.

Once you see which version performs better, you remove the underperforming page, create a new one, and then test landing page B against landing page C.

There are various software tools available to make this manageable.

Built into Theme

There are some WordPress themes with this capability built in.

There is one named Thrive, which was specifically built to make A/B testing easy.

Our site uses OptimizePress, which has an A/B testing addon.

Google Analytics Experiments

If you’re tied to a theme that doesn’t do A/B testing within the theme, Google provides a split testing solution named Google Analytics Experiments.

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Monitoring and Measuring

We’ve all heard some variant of “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” and that is especially true of conversions (and micro conversions).

Without the ability to know that landing page A converts at 8% whereas a slightly different landing page B converts at 6%, you’ll never know which one to eliminate and which one to move to the next test. And you need to do this for every landing page at every step of the sales funnel.

This monitoring and measuring is done through whatever software you’re using to do your split testing. There is no way to be generic here as the various software packages are closed systems and each reports analytics their own way.

But….. in terms of conversions what you’re IDEALLY looking for is detail on:

  • How many people loaded the landing page?
  • If there is a video, how many people started it? How many finished it?
  • How many people hovered over the Call to Action button?
  • How many people clicked the CTA button to load whatever form loads?
  • How many people started filling out the form?
  • How many people completed the form?
  • How many people submitted the form?

While this may seem like a lot of detail, and while some split testing analytics don’t provide this level of detail, to improve your conversions you want as much detail as possible.

You may know that landing page converts at 6%, but you also want detail as to what people do on the page, as while it’s true you’re losing leads “on the landing page”, when creating landing pages for your next test, you want to know WHERE on the landing page you’re losing them.

Do you need a better video?

Do you need a shorter form?

Can you get away with a longer form?

And those questions can only be answered by knowing how far people get ON THE LANDING PAGE.

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While split testing is critical to the successful incremental improvement of the conversion rates of your landing pages, when creating new landing pages to test against, you need appropriate detail from the analytics of your split testing.

This means you must have identified what you want to measure before you implement the system.

So when you’re shopping for a split testing capability, pay particular attention to what you can and can not learn about what people are doing on landing pages.

Those details matter greatly.

Additionally, when talking with a software vendor about how to measure what you need to measure, don’t ask them “if”, but rather, ask them “how”.

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