User experience has been one of the dominating topics of recent Google I/O developer conferences, particularly with regard to interactions and micro conversions.
Think about YouTube, a Google property that is quickly becoming a flagship earner for the company. Notice how each video is accompanied by certain elements such as view counters, social media features, a comment section, reviews, recommendations, and others. There are various reasons for the presence and strategic placement of these elements, and they largely have to do with increasing the likelihood of users performing actions that may result in revenue generation.
Introducing the Micro-Conversion
On the surface, your average YouTube, Gmail or Docs page may not seem to be shaped like a sales funnel, but a closer look at the data-oriented design preferred by Google suggests that developers are highly interested in delivering user experience conducive to conversions. But not everything on a web page needs to have a call-to-action to be considered conversion material.
Obviously, ranking high on Google is the first step down the road to visitor conversion, but we need to break down the series of effective micro-conversions that follow that first click from the search page. What follows should should guide site visitors towards the ultimate destination of a macro-conversion.
Google is hardly alone in its mastery of micro-conversions. Open up just about any Amazon product page and take a look at how easy it is to click on the link that takes you to positive online reviews, special offers or expanded descriptions.
When it comes to e-commerce and online sales, not everything boils down to the moment a visitor adds a product to the shopping cart and proceeds to checkout. These are the most important situations we define as macro-conversions but it’s important to plan, track, and manage the array of less obvious elements, such as the online customer reviews we mentioned, that lead to smaller interactions along the way.
Just about any website interaction that creates some level of engagement among visitors can be considered a micro-conversion as long as it can be tracked on a data analytics platform. We already mentioned some common YouTube and Amazon micro-conversion elements. Here are a few others related to e-commerce:
- Watching videos that give more information about products.
- Leaving comments.
- Clicking links or buttons that elucidate on pricing.
- Going back to the product catalog from the checkout page.
- Signing up for a newsletter.
- Initiating a live chat customer support session.
In other words, actions that seem to be progressing towards a purchase or conversion scenario are micro-conversions. The road to macro-conversion success is paved with successful smaller actions, and we have a few things to say about that as well.
Determine Key Performance Indicators
Think about an apartment rental website getting visitors from an email marketing campaign targeting only qualified leads. Since this is not an operation that sells goods, there is a clear need to entice visitors to either get in touch with agents or leave their contact information.
The latter is preferable. If only 20% of visitors are clicking or tapping the “Contact Us” link, this is a KPI in clear need of optimization, and it could be improved with more conspicuous buttons or a pop-up contact form campaign.
In a broader sense, figure out what performance standards are for your industry and do your best to surpass them.
Get to Know Your Visitors
Being able to segment your visitors is crucial for the development of an effective sales funnel, and micro-conversions can give you a better idea of their motivations. An e-commerce website operator cannot take for granted that visitors will arrive exclusively for the purpose of making purchases. If they are holding lively conversation in the comments sections of blog posts, you may be able to craft campaigns to target them more narrowly based on the information gleaned there.
Modify Your Conversion Funnel
When evaluating your website analytics, take a good look at the visitor flow upon arrival. If you notice a high bounce rate – and you aren’t in the midst of a DDoS attack, in which case you’ve got bigger problems – a common cause is server downtime or pages loading too slowly. In other words, tend to any technical issues before turning your attention to the sales funnel itself
Do you use a cheap web host? That could be part of the problem.
In a Hosting Canada study, researcher Gary Stevens pitted several of the leading affordable web hosting providers against one another via Pingdom in order to come up with average downtimes and uptimes. His findings revealed that these cheaper hosts (which new online entrepreneurs love because, well, they’re cheap) averaged less than 96.5% uptime. For comparison, standard uptime expectations should be at least 99%.
Test your site’s uptime and consider changing hosts if the news is bad. Once you’re certain that your uptime is adequate, then it’s time to dig into the sales funnel.
Testing, Testing Testing
Once you have a list of all the micro-conversion possibilities on your site, it’s time to conduct a simple A/B testing exercise to determine which features work better. This test consists of two versions of a particular element, the original versus one where you have changed the placement or visual style, observing established web design practices of course.
How many visitors does your site attract daily? How many of them successfully complete a single or a series of micro-conversions? Where do they drop out? These are numbers you need to track. Likewise with sales. What is the average order value? The median sales amount? How do these numbers change as you fine-tune micro-conversions with A/B testing?
Learning to think at the micro level is not difficult but it does require a shift in perspective from online marketers who are in the habit of focusing intently on macro-conversions but have yet to systematically break down all the smaller steps that occur along the way.
Put the processes into play that allow you to follow your visitors as they go from one micro-conversion to the next. The more you dig into these dynamics, the better you will be able to understand the success or failure of your macro-conversions.