On the way to generate revenues, we focus on what’s important to make conversions happen. The main and ultimate goal of any e-commerce is to boost sales, i.e. convert visitors into paying customers. However, this direct objective goes hand-in-hand with smaller goals or micro conversions. They are the actions that lead customers to a larger goal, a macro conversion.

We may define micro conversions as a bevy of actions indicative of the user’s progress towards purchase, such as newsletter sign-ups or RSS subscriptions, leaving a commentary, browsing a ‘get your quote’ page, adding items to a cart, visiting specific pages that may satisfy an interest in specific products, and more.

If you think about it, there is a slew of trackable micro conversions or touch points. By orchestrating and measuring these seemingly small opportunities, you can actually eliminate the CR bottlenecks and build an optimal customer journey.

Some experts tend to split micro conversion into more granular categories:

Process Milestones, or Micro-step Conversions (adding products to cart, playing with the quote form, studying the price list, etc.), come closest to a primary macro conversion; they are just one step behind. This is where the customer makes a decision so it’s crucial to keep the UX clean and transparent in these points to ensure seamless conversion.

In the course of micro conversion tracking, specifically, when you’re working with process milestones, you’re more likely to perform fruitful experiments. By segmenting the customer path into tangible chunks, you know exactly where you can improve usability, make rewrites, or change the entire logic.

Secondary Actions, or Micro-indicator conversions (social media engagement, downloading a whitepaper, watching a webinar, etc.), are not directly related to the initial conversion, yet they help build credibility and spark product recognition. These are more subtle indicators that can’t be overlooked. Apparently, you don’t have to read a whitepaper on the evolution of data storage to order a memory stick, yet this is how you engage with a brand. A secondary action is your first unconscious step towards conversion.

Why should you monitor micro conversions?

When matching micro conversion vs macro conversion, you can’t neglect the importance of these seemingly irrelevant micro-steps. The main reason being – scarcely any visitor buys from you on a first website session. They just don’t – unless you are a monopolist on the market (which is rarely the case), and even then, they may have second thoughts: wrong timing, not a must-have, could buy later offline, etc. A typical visitor may choose to do research on the website, look at the news and blog postings, go through the job openings list, and whatnot.

Normally, a visitor converts after a series of events and activities, or micro conversions. Here’s why monitoring micro-steps is a future-proof strategy:

Insights into visitor behaviors. Who’s your customer and what helps them in decision-making? Which visitors require extra attention? Micro conversion goals give you the clue. As we discussed, people may visit your website for a multitude of reasons, from potential purchase intent to competitive benchmarking and career prospects evaluation. If you apply a one-size-fits-all approach, you may jeopardize the ‘hot’ segment of the audience and disperse your user acquisition activities. Micro conversions help keep you on the right track.

Lead nurturing. Once you’ve decided on your paying customer profile, you can start interacting with leads to drive further engagement. Did someone opt-in for your newsletter? Provide the right incentive to prove this is not just another useless thread in their spam folders. Throw in a plethora of marketing tools – discounts, personalized offers, or valuable information – to steer the customer towards conversion.

CRO. Conversion rate optimization is not rocket science if you can pinpoint discrepancies in your funnels. As we said above, process milestones, or micro-step conversions, can contribute greatly to rectifying the problem areas. For instance, if your signup form is too lengthy or, on the contrary, too short to understand the prospects’ needs, the sales team may fail to address this request efficiently. Needless to say, if the form simply malfunctions you’re losing money and boosting churn rates without even knowing it. You may expect the same pitiful result should the said form be buried on a tertiary page. Micro-step conversion analysis will help you unveil these factors and fix most of them on-the-fly.

How to tell ‘important’ micro conversions from less meaningful ones?

How do you measure your micro conversions, the effectiveness of various touch points, or communication channels? Depends on the context and your business goals. In B2B funnels, for instance, watching a webinar may sometimes be indicative of a solid commitment, whereas a quote request could be a perfunctory long-listing action.

It would be inaccurate to say that secondary actions are, by default, less significant than process milestones. Although they don’t result into immediate conversion, they may eventually contribute to greater LTV or increased customer loyalty.

It’s all about building relationships with your prospects. A visitor opting for email blasts, notifications, or social media subscription gives you indications where your content applies best and where your channel is really strong. No one signs up for your corporate blog? Well, they may not be the company blog type of audience after all. Perhaps, they prefer a fun YouTube video or a down-to-earth how-to.

That said, most businesses naturally prefer direct fast cash flows and give full priority to macro conversions and everything around them, fixing the preceding micro-step conversions in the first place. The closer to the revenue the better.

Optimize for micro conversions?

We all agree that tracking micro-conversion metrics does a lot of good, providing a holistic overview of the website ‘health’, UX integrity, and potential roadblocks. The idea of optimizing for micro conversions may, however, appear more controversial. As a rule, the deeper we test the more challenging it becomes to reveal actual intent. Improve micro conversions? Yes, but an excessive elaboration of micro-steps may mislead the customer, create unwanted bottlenecks and lead to revenue loss.

How does the micro-step optimization technique benefit marketers and facilitate their work? The most common application for this is to accelerate A/B testing and perform in-depth analysis, especially for lower-traffic websites where every action matters.

Imagine you’ve just launched a new product and don’t have an appropriate sample size due to the lack of conversions. At that, the product page gets enough traffic to run a test. Play with micro conversions to see if quantity (number of interactions) eventually translates into quality (macro conversions).

Micro-conversion increases sales? Yes and no, it’s complicated. What you need to avoid is pushing known issues up the funnel which inevitably leads to raising churn rates. Miracles don’t happen: People will simply fall out on the next step. If you try offering visitors some free stuff as a micro-step and then switch to a paid offering, you’ll probably improve CTR –and reap some grave CR issues. At the end of the day, any misalignment or bait-and-switch will sink your product down the funnel.

Building conversion funnels based on micro conversions

First of all, measure your micro conversions as the junctions you need to build into a perfect customer journey. What is the right mix of actions in the funnel that leads to a conversion? Let’s look into e-commerce as a common example. An online purchase usually involves the classic combination of process milestones: pick the product, land on the product page, add-to-cart, sign up for a personal account (if required). Between these steps, there is a myriad of factors that could go wrong – or ensure a faster macro conversion.

Bear in mind that user paths are hardly ever linear so micro conversion goals always have their indirect impact on macro conversions. After all, your average conversion rate boils down to how your website performs for each of the audience segments, and how much effort you invest into engaging the user with relevant actions. Micro conversions should be incorporated into your holistic approach to CRO: you can’t just make a couple of tweaks and test a couple variations here and there. Short-lived changes will bring along short-lived results.

The rule of thumb in conversion rate optimization is: Make sure to analyze micro conversions but don’t get too obsessed unless you’ve calculated a positive business impact that may result from their optimization. Micro conversion tracking is smart, yet focusing on smaller ‘optics’ may blur your vision and lead to revenue loss. When measuring micro conversions, don’t lose sight of the major goals!