microWe love our conversion rates. :) Really really.

Part of me is glad because my book and the Trinity strategy and the Web Analytics 2.0 mindset all stress the importance of measuring Outcomes.

No Outcomes = No Happiness.

But I have come to realize that we are not being the best we can be by focusing on just the overall website conversion rate. We are leaving money on the table. We are not getting enough credit. We are not getting a good understanding of the complete picture. We are being short sighted.

Regardless of why your website exists it is quite likely that there is a rich diversity in reasons why people come to your website (hence the core pitch to understanding Primary Purpose using 4Q: The Best Free Online Survey For A Website). Conversion being just one of them ("please please let me in, I want to be converted!!").

What about those who refuse to be converted online?

You worked hard (hopefully!) to get them to the site, if they did not convert did you accomplish nothing?

Hence my recommendation:

Focus on measuring your macro (overall) conversions, but for optimal awesomeness identify and measure your micro conversions as well.

Let me explain.

This "picture" represents a typical website and measurement of it's success, what's the word I am looking for. . . . oh conversions. . . . : )

the conversion rate dilemma 1

You have your two percent conversion rate (though just to be generous I am probably showing a number much higher than that above). You should be happy, atleast you are up to some benchmarks in that space.

But what do you do in terms of measuring complete success of your website? All that white "space" (Unique Visitors) wasted for nothing?

No. Well maybe some.

But people don't just come to your site to Buy. They are there to Research products and services (and buy offline). They are looking to get Support. They are there for looking for Jobs. They might be there to look at your latest Blog Post, etc.

Make each one of those your Micro Conversions. Identify what they should be using 4Q and then using your Web Analytics tools to measure success.

Here's your new, and I might add complete, measurement of success. . . .

macro conversion rate and micro conversion rate

Nothing wasted, every activity on the site measured for success in some small or big way.

Here's a view that might apply for your ecommerce website. . . .

macro conversion rate and micro conversion rate demystified

For the macro conversion you measure Outcomes (say orders, see this post for definitions: Conversion Rate Basics & Best Practices). For micro conversions you could measure page views and job applications submitted and number of times the Print This Page was clicked (the hypothesis being you'll buy in a store or something like that) or Task Completion Rates by Primary Purpose for Support, Research & Careers from your website onexit survey.

Either way you have just provided your management team with a complete picture of your website's success. And you have shown that you are brilliant because you are measuring success of all visitors on your website. Priceless.

Have you clearly identified what the micro conversions are on your website?

why use cod liver oil

Benefits of measuring micro-conversions:

  1. You'll focus on more can just the main reason the site was created.

  2. You'll measure multi-channel impact, well beyond your website. Most people don't get budgets for web analytics because all they are focused on is measuring what happens during a small % of visits. Expand and conquer.

  3. It will force you to understand the multiple persona's on your website, trust me that in of itself is worth a million bucks. It will encourage you to segment (my favorite activity) visitors and visits and behavior and outcomes. Success will be yours.

  4. You'll realize the limits of a pure clickstream strategy and you'll be forced to expand beyond just Google Analytics or Omniture or CoreMetrics etc and execute a true Multiplicity strategy, that is good for your company and it is good for your career.

  5. You'll be happy. Most people who do web analytics are sad and/or frustrated. One of reasons for it is because they are hyper focused on a small part with way more data than they can ever churn through.

    By expanding your measurement horizon and seeking insights from a broader area means you'll know what to do with all this data. Which means you'll smile a lot more, because you'll feel a sense of accomplishment from your job. Happiness is good.


Ready to execute?

Let me share some stories to spark ideas in your mind about how to identify your own complete conversion rate picture.

Photo publishing and sharing website:

When www.fotonatura.org, an awesome Spanish photo sharing website (check out: Calopteryx splendens!) wants to track success they measure Conversion Rate. . . .

conversion rate fotonatura

They are doing very well. Fernando is quite happy with how is project is performing. But he is also very smart and he is measuring micro conversions, things that his site is trying to do that mean success for him. . . .

micro conversions fotonatura 1

His micro conversions. . .

    1. Registrations on the site.

    2. People / Members publishing photos (core for growth).

    3. (I think, my Spanish is bad!) People who sign up for premium content.

    4. (I think) People who sign up for newsletters / announcements (good for future customers).

A complete picture measuring all types of behavior and all elements of success. The 1.72% conversion won't go up waaay high, but the site's success is bigger than just that one number. Above picture is how you measure that.

Makes sense right?

A quick note: Your micro conversions don't have to lead up to the macro conversion (though in this case they kind of do). In our very first example of ecommerce website notice that the micro conversions are very different from the macro, they are just subservient, a little bit, to the macro.

Tech Support Website:

(These ideas are from one of my posts: Measuring Success for a Support Website.)

Macro Conversion:

    Task Completion Rate (measured by surveys, true customer centricity baby!).

Micro Conversions:

    five bugs1. "Call Avoidance": Number of Visitors who see the Phone Number page (hypothesis: all other things being equal if the site is good this number goes down over time).

    2. Content Consumption: Visits over time to each technical support core area (maybe different products or types of problems etc).

    3. Tickets Opened: # of technical supports tickets opened on the website (and over time compared to those opened over the phone).

    4. Sales: Revenue from referrals from the tech support site to the ecommerce site (sometimes the best solution to fix a problem is to buy the latest version of the product, or a upgrade!).

    5. Net Promoters ("Likelihood to Recommend"): The % of people (or a indexed representation) who will recommend the company products after a experience on the tech support site.

Again the stress is on understanding the overall purpose, get people answers to their questions hyper fast, and also the other smaller things that the site might be impacting.

Who knew this thing was so much fun? :)

Another Ecommerce Website:

We have already covered ecommerce in the very first example but I wanted to share this one as well because it was so nicely created for this concept. . . .

micro conversions big site

Very self explanatory, covers all the reason the site exists beyond simple taking orders / transactions.

Social Media Metrics / Blog Success:

Social media sites are tricky because many traditional analytics tools and mindset fail at identify first what to measure and then at data capture. At the moment there are not set tools and perfect answers. For blogs I have made an attempt at creating metrics to measure holistic success.

The "macro-conversion" I use, and recommend, is RSS Subscribers, or more specifically growth of RSS Subscribers. The hardest thing to do in an attention economy is to get permission to push content, RSS represents that permission to me.

I track RSS using FeedBurner:

feed subscribers occams razor

Of course it would be silly to get hung up on a point in time and obsess about daily up and down, so I actually track growth in Feed Subscribers over time (month to month):

feed subscribers over time occams razor

Macro Conversion: Net Subscribers Added.

When it comes to micro conversions things get a bit more delightful. . . .

Clicks on the book's link to Amazon:

clicks to amazon web analytics an hour a day

Ok so I have to put that into excel and actually compute the % between the red and the green, but you get my point. It is a "conversion" if people click on link and perhaps go buy a book (it is especially nice because 100% of my proceeds from the book are donated to charity!).

Since the link as a affiliate code in the link I can track conversions at Amazon's website using their affiliate reports.

Conversation Rate:

conversation rate occams razor

The number of user comments per post, trended over time. It represents the success at engaging visitors with your unique content and getting them to contribute their thoughts, i.e. in the most social of social environments your ability to create meaningful conversation.

For the last 30 days this number stands at approximately 30, a bit higher than my goal.

(Thanks to my good friend Joost for the Blog Metrics plugin!)

Ripple Index:

technorati ripple index occams razor

The number of unique blogs that link to your blog (with links expiring in in six months to ensure you keep creating content that causes a "ripple"). I use Technorati to measure this.

In the above image that number is 1,163. Your, or my, ability to influence others and create conversation in the ecosystem.

There is another interesting thing the above example of blog illustrates, something you can apply to your own success measurement of any type of site: Sometimes you have to go beyond just the tools you have, and other times you have to create new metrics to measure micro conversions. That's ok.

Macro + Micro = Complete Picture.

I hope the above examples help you paint your very own unique picture. Good luck!

Was that helpful? What do you measure when it comes time to identify success of your website? Any unique micro or macro conversions you would care to share? There are so many different types of websites out there, care to share conversion metrics for your site?

Please add to the conversation using the comments form below.

Couple other related posts you might find interesting:

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