Have you ever curiously tried to search the definition of “Google”?
Oxford Languages has categorized the term as a verb. Surprised? Today, Google is not just a brand. It is so deeply integrated with daily life that we did not even realize when it got transformed into a verb. Google has become the first resort for any question that needs immediate answering.
- According to Google’s recent statement, it handles over 2 trillion search queries each year, meaning almost 3.5 billion search queries per day.
- Almost 50% of all products and services are searched first on Google.
So, it is no wonder that Google is the most lucrative platform for marketing. Yet many businesses struggle to utilize Google Ads effectively.
- Surprisingly, a whopping 44% of marketers are unable to identify the Return on Investment (ROI) of their Google Ad campaigns.
Running an ad campaign without considering ROI is like driving blindfolded on the busy street; in both cases, the result will be a complete disaster!
Any type of ad campaign is an investment and to calculate whether you are gaining profits or desired ROI, you need to be able to track the results of your campaigns. And that’s where conversion tracking comes into play.
So before we deep dive into conversion tracking, let’s find out what exactly “conversion” means.
What is a website “Conversion”
When I say the term conversion, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Most people think of sales. Of course, from a business point of view, a sale is usually the ultimate goal.
However, many smaller steps or micro-conversions precede the final sale. For example, someone may watch a video, download a PDF, and start a free-trial before becoming a paying customer.
Also, some businesses, like publishers, are not even looking for direct sales from the majority of their website visitors. It does not imply that these businesses are not looking for conversions.
Overall, the term “conversion” can be defined as an outcome or goal that you expect to achieve on your webpage. There can be multiple conversion actions on each page and their values will differ greatly depending on the type of business.
For example, lead form completions might be the primary website conversion action for a new start-up, whereas online donations will likely be the primary conversion action for a not-for-profit organization. We’ll cover more examples below.
Use Conversion Tracking to Connect-the-dots
The main benefit of conversion tracking, when done right, is that it enables you to connect-the-dots between the start of an online customer journey and the final sale. However, it is critical to ensure that each conversion is accurate and closely tied to the core business goals of the website.
For example, let us assume that Larissa’s Luxury Resort, a boutique high-end resort in the Florida Keys, has a primary business objective of revenue growth and Larissa wants to achieve it by increasing online bookings through her website. The primary conversion for her business website could be a “booking confirmation”.
However, Larissa knows that expecting brand new visitors to book her expensive suites on their first visit would be like expecting a hole-in-one on every shot. Most of the time, a golfer needs to hit multiple good strokes to put the ball into the hole.
Therefore, Larissa created “entry point” content and offers such as:
- Promotion video
- Virtual 3D tour
- Downloadable brochure
- “Last minute specials” newsletter
- Inquiry form
These entry point content pieces and offers nurture her website prospects and eventually lead them towards the primary conversion of an online booking. Each one of these steps towards an online booking can be tracked as “micro-conversions” to help connect-the-dots to the final purchase.
With accurate conversion tracking in place, Larissa can investigate which conversions are getting hit, what the ideal conversion path is, and where users are getting stuck, so that she can improve each step in the funnel. This is especially easy to see when conversions are displayed in a marketing analytics dashboard.
Now let’s dive in to see the different types of conversions that you might want to track on your website.
Conversion Types and Examples
Not all online actions are equal in value. Therefore, they should be treated differently when using them to optimize your marketing efforts.
An easy way to think about website conversions is to distinguish them into two types:
- Hard Conversions
- Soft Conversions
A Hard Conversion can be characterized as a conversion action that is directly linked to bottom-line business value. There is also, ideally, contact information being exchanged during the process.
These users tend to be closer to the final (decision) stage of the buyer’s journey and have either made a purchase or are clearly interested in doing business with you and/or staying in touch based on their behaviour.
Examples of Hard Conversions:
- Transaction: Online purchase of a product or service, booking, registration, subscription, donation, etc.
- Form Submission: Contact forms, Quote request forms, Questionnaire with Contact Info.
- Trial or Demo Sign-up: Subscriptions or signups for trial or demo of the services.
- Phone Call: All phone calls that are tracked with phone call tracking software and verified.
- Email Collection: For some businesses, email collection is a critical step in their sales and marketing funnel. In such cases, emails collected through a quiz, assessment, online chat, survey, mini-course, brochure or pdf download can be categorized as a hard conversion.
- Event or Webinar Registration: Seminars, webinars, or any events registration can be identified as a hard conversion. Especially since people will usually be entering their contact information to attend.
- Newsletter Subscribe: Free or unpaid subscriptions for newsletters, magazines, blogs, updates, etc.
Soft Conversions are website actions that indicate positive intent of your online visitors but not bottom line business value. Unlike hard conversions, there isn’t any contact information being exchanged.
These visitors might not be ready to make the final action right now, but their behaviour tells us that they are likely to be more interested or qualified than the majority of visitors. Therefore we should treat them differently and, ideally, retarget them more aggressively to try to get them to take that next step.
Dating apps offer a good comparison: If you messaged every person that you just matched with and said “Hi, will you marry me?” you probably wouldn’t have a very good conversion rate! However, under normal circumstances, each micro yes along the way will help to build trust and depth in the relationship, then if you’re lucky, you’ll get the final macro “yes!”.
Examples of Soft Conversions:
- Phone & Email Clicks: Phone number or email clicks without any third-party confirmation can be treated as soft conversions. They don’t qualify as a confirmed call or email; however, these clicks do indicate the user’s interest to contact the business.
- Outbound Link Clicks: Depending on the purpose of your website, outbound link clicks may be meaningful to track as a soft conversion. An outbound link click is a click to a different domain than your website.
- Downloads without Email: Free content downloads on the website (such as whitepapers, reports, slideshares, etc.)
- Social Like/ Share/ Comment: Active user engagement through likes, comments, or shares on website blog articles
- Percentage of page scrolled: For long sales pages you may want to track users who reach 50% or 75% down the page and retarget them more aggressively than users who only see the first 25%.
- Video Views: If you have a key video on your website, you may want to track viewers of that video as soft-converters. Especially if they watched most of the video.
- Important Page Views: When a user is engaged with the content on important pages on your website, it can be treated as a soft conversion. Pages may include e-commerce product detail pages, pricing pages, about us pages, etc.
- Initiate Checkouts: Add to cart buttons, Donate now buttons, Inquire now button, etc. all fall under this category. There’s no information collected, but if they started the purchase process, they’re more likely to complete it and they should be treated differently than users who bounced after spending 2 seconds on the homepage.
And more! Depending on your website and industry, there may be other meaningful actions that are important to your business.
Which Conversion Metrics to Choose for Your Business
With so many different types of conversions available, you might be wondering which conversion metrics are the most suitable for your business? So, how do you choose…
It may be tempting to choose them all. It’s like visiting an ice cream parlor. Choco chip brownie or chocolate hazelnut? Chocolate strawberry or french vanilla? Why can’t we just try everything!
But, unless you’re picking conversions that are “actionable” you might just give yourself brain freeze!
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of conversion metrics for different types of businesses that will help point you in the right direction. However, this is just a starting point. To really know what your business needs you’ll want to work with a person or digital marketing team who has a lot of experience with conversion tracking.
|Business Model||Hard Conversions||Soft Conversions|
|Consulting / Professional Services||
|Referral / Affiliate||
Again, the above table is just a starting point for reference. Depending on your business needs and objectives, there is always scope for changes. What’s important is that you understand which conversions are more aligned with your business goals. Need help? Reach out to the Ollo Metrics team and book a discovery session with us!
Moving from Soft Conversions to Hard
So far, we have learned about soft conversions and hard conversions and the right conversion sets for various business models.
Focusing on soft conversions can be a good strategy for initial brand awareness campaigns when you are identifying the segments and audiences that are interested in your product or service. However, if you aren’t receiving hard conversions from your digital ads, you’re likely going to be unsuccessful in the long term.
You also won’t be gathering any 1st-party data, which is crucial to making your campaigns more profitable.
Why Gathering First-Party Data is Important
Compared to soft conversions, hard conversions provide you with useful “first-party data” such as a user’s email, name, city, address, purchase history, and other personal details. This data can be used to build a profile on each user which you own – Not Facebook, not Google, You!
Gathering first-party data in your marketing funnel lets you use email, marketing automation or sales to do the heavy lifting in the final stages of the customer journey, which improves your ROI and usually your close rates.
Furthermore, due to the growing privacy concerns, Google, Facebook, and other marketing channels are gradually moving away from 3rd party cookies leaving you with less and less access to retarget your audience effectively. Google has announced that it will stop using 3rd party cookies by 2022, whereas Facebook pixel retargeting has already been seriously affected by the latest Apple iOS 14 update.
As a marketer or business owner, it is important to be prepared for these changes and focus on combining soft conversions with hard conversions in your customer journey to build your database.
You now should have a solid understanding of why conversion tracking is important, the different types of conversions that you can track on your website, and which one might be most appropriate for your business.
In part 2 of this blog, we’ll dive into conversion values and how to use them to provide an even deeper understanding of your website visitors’ behaviour. We’ll also look at how to calculate your break even return on ad spend and ROI of an advertising campaign as well as how to find your highest value audiences to advertise to online.
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