“The road to a sale is made up of a thousand actions.” ~Anonymous
Okay, so that quote really isn’t a thing. And I may have made it up to suit the needs of this week’s blog post. Either way, it illustrates a good point that marketers need to keep in mind from time to time.
I’ve often found myself sitting in a meeting or on a call, reporting on the results of a given campaign that launched recently. Myself and my colleagues here at MarketMatch are often asked one question during each of these results meetings, and it is: “What is taking so long? Why isn’t this campaign meeting expectations?” As in, we’ve turned the campaign on, now show us new accounts/loans/appointments, etc.
Only, the road to a sale from a consumer point of view doesn’t work that way. There are often many stops on the journey to making a final decision and converting. (See this article from a couple of weeks ago.) In financial services, consumers take longer to decide and convert.
It would stand to reason, then, that instead of focusing solely on the final sale – or macro conversion – marketers need to better understand what other actions are being performed on the way to a sale. Between website analytics, a well-integrated marketing automation system and a well-executed digital strategy, this becomes easy to track, measure and understand.
What we’re talking about here is what’s known as micro conversions.
Micro conversions are actions that consumers take on the path to the macro conversion. They can also be measured as actions taken that indicate interest and engagement with a product, service or content.
Micro conversions can be as general or specific as desired. Some examples include:
- A visitor hitting the threshold for the number of pages viewed on the site.
- Visiting specific pages on the site.
- Downloading or engaging with content.
- Taking steps toward opening a new account or applying for a loan.
- Starting the application process without finishing.
Although none of these actions guarantee a macro conversion at the end or contribute to the bottom line results of a campaign, they are worth understanding and tracking. Micro conversions help marketers understand a few things, such as:
- Is the campaign strategy and tactics accomplishing what was expected?
- Is the strategy gaining traction that will lead to conversions?
- Where are there pain points or places where the process breaks down?
Tracking and Measurement
A large part of tracking and measuring micro conversions is understanding where it’s appropriate to report them. Micro conversions are helpful for two primary reasons. For the marketing team to understand how consumers are journeying to macro conversions, and for reporting to senior management to understand the overall awareness and traction of the marketing efforts.
However, putting micro conversions into practice as if they were macro conversions can be a costly error. Let’s say you have the paid advertising side of your digital campaign set up in Google Ads, running both search engine marketing and display ads. A preferred way Google recommends recording and tracking conversions is to set them up as Goals in Google Analytics and import them into Ads.
If this were done for both macro (the final sale or desired action) conversions as well as micro conversions, it would end up confusing Google Ads and placing ads incorrectly. The digital campaigns that are going to generate the most bottom-line results for your organization will have bidding strategies that focus on either:
- Maximizing conversions
- Hitting a target CPA (Cost per Acquisition)
By telling Google to place ads for both macro and micro conversions, the ads will target anyone who fits into either category. Which means those consumers that are still on their buyer’s journey and those that are ready to convert will receive the same ads equally. Additionally, Google Ads will count each conversion equally – whether macro or micro – skewing the CPA (cost per acquisition) and the conversion results you report.
The best practice to separate the two is to only count conversions that matter to your bottom line on your advertising platforms. All other (micro) conversions can be tracked and reported through your website and email analytics.