What is a conversion?

A conversion occurs when a user completes some predetermined action on your site. Conversions do not have to be tied to monetary goals, and common examples are when a user completes an order, clicks a button, submits a lead generation form, reaches a specific page, or any other goal of interest.

Conversions are recorded as an absolute number and can be thought of as the number of people who took a certain action on your site.

Why are conversions important?

Conversions are an important metric because the number is used as the basis for calculating the conversion rate. Conversions are the lifeblood of conversion rate optimization and without them there would be no way to determine the success of an A/B test.

Conversion numbers should not be analyzed on their own, however, as they have little value until they are placed within the context of sample size and duration.

Micro-conversions vs macro-conversions

Conversions are split into both micro and macro categories, and both have important roles in results analysis.

  • A macro-conversion is the end goal you want a visitor to take, and more often than not, will be the closest step to the final sale that occurs on your website. Goals such as transactions and subscriptions are good examples of macro-conversions. These goals generate revenue for your business, and should ultimately be the deciding factors in an experiment’s success.
  • Conversely, a micro-conversion is any metric that is being tracked leading up to the final goal or that is useful to gain insight. Examples of micro-conversions often include watching a marketing video, clicking a call-to-action (CTA), creating an account, clicking a social link, or viewing a specific page in the funnel. These micro-conversions should not be used to determine the success of an experiment, but can be useful for generating or supporting hypotheses and gaining additional insight.

Which conversions to track & which to ignore

In CRO, most conversion goals (both micro and macro) can be boiled down to a few common action types: “Clicks”, “Pageviews”, and “Submissions”. With a few exceptions, the majority of conversions will be achieved by one of these three actions. Each business should determine one macro-conversion and a variety of micro-conversions for each experiment.

  • Do track: Any interaction that could possibly be influenced by the change you are making in a variation. If you are changing the wording of a CTA, you should track the clicks to that specific CTA. If you are rearranging the order of your menu items, then you should track user interaction with each of those menu items. When it comes to tracking conversions, more is better than less. Err on the side of caution and track anything that you think may be useful to you later.
  • Do not track: General site metrics or any metric that wouldn’t affect your decision to implement the test if it is a winner. There is no need to track every detail that you are used to seeing in your analytics platform.

Often, for lead generation businesses, the final conversion occurs over the phone. In this case, phone calls or final sales conversion numbers can be used as a macro conversion. Call volume can be used as a micro-conversion, but experiment success should be determined by final sales numbers whenever possible.