Measuring Micro-Conversions

This week Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk) filled in for Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) and came up with a great question set titled “Measuring Micro-Conversions.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How would you define the term: “Micro-Conversion” in PPC?

  • Soft KPIs that allow you to understand how your audience is engaging throughout the buying cycle. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • Something that indicates a valuable click without actually generating any value in itself. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • An initial step that leads to the desired conversion you are tracking. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • A Micro-Conversion is a lesser-importance goal you want to target for an account that helps you identify visitor quality. – Kirk Williams
  • An action from a user that would (hopefully) eventually lead to a conversion. – Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
  • I’d define a micro conversion as any step that leads to a conversion. Could also be side goals as well. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
    • Good point – things like email sign-ups are often side goals that also indicate engagement & possible intent to convert. – Amy Bishop
  • A “micro-conversion” is asking someone for coffee rather than proposing marriage. – Amy Hebdon (@amyppc)
  • An action that gets a visitor into the funnel and on your radar, but not a true lead. A partial or potential future lead. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Micro-conversions help us see where our visitors are leaving the site and to take necessary actions to avoid that to happen. – Shiva Teja (@ShivaTeja1707)
  • Lower-value conversions that is not your bottom line, but still actions that you want to track, such as event tracking. – Kim Thomas (@PPCkimpossible)
  • Love this! Need more conversations on attribution. Confirmation of a small step on the way to a primary goal. – James Hebdon (@jphebdon)

Q2: What are examples of PPC Micro-Conversions you track (Lead Gen or E-commerce)?

  • Webinar registrations, whitepaper downloads, email signups. – Mark Kennedy
  • Account sign ups, downloads, time on site/pages visited, add to cart, promotional look ups, etc. – Gil Hong
  • PDF downloads, email link clicks, newsletter signups. – Joe Martinez
  • Spec sheet downloads, whitepaper downloads, shopping cart additions, product review clicks, key link clicks… among others. – Kirk Williams
  • Downloads, video views, email/list sign ups, store locates, sometimes online quotes, product comparisons. – Amy Bishop
  • Email sign-ups, sample requests, catalog requests. – Brooke Townsend
  • Sometimes at start of new campaign I’ll measure a combo of pages viewed & time on site to gauge engagement & spot leaks. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • Can be as little as adding to cart. Lead gen could be starting to complete form, but not finishing. – Steve Gibson
  • I track “Average Read %” for my blog posts and heat maps on the website using SumoMe. – Shiva Teja
  • Event & action-based behavior (clicking for directions to retail store, submitting form (non-lead), signing up for whitepaper). – Kim Thomas

Q3: To help the beginner PPCers: How do you actually track Micro-Conversions? Goals & Events in Google Analytics? Something else?

  • Learn Google Tag Manager. Track link clicks, filled out form fields, downloads all in once place. – Joe Martinez
    • Google Tag Manager is awesome for this (and lots of other things)! – Kirk Williams
  • I prefer to do it in Analytics (usually as goals). Easier to separate the results. – Mark Kennedy
  • Generally as events in GA – and GTM is great for this. – Steve Cameron
  • Either GA, or if its a really soft micro conversion, I might just set up an audience for it to check in. – Gil Hong
  • Goals & events in GA mostly. Don’t track in AdWords unless it’s the only true objective (harder to analyze multiple conversions). – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
  • Because limited “Goals” in GA, I prefer to save those for “bigger” MCs like downloads, & save user interaction MCs for “Events”. – Kirk Williams
  • I like to have everything in GA. Then I can import whatever I want and/or create audiences. – Amy Bishop
  • I’d say, “Users flow” option in “Behavior” tab in GA. Insightful. – Shiva Teja

Q4: What is the purpose/benefit of tracking Micro-Conversions in PPC?

  • You need to make a decision now. Long buying cycle can make this tricky to do with full conversion data. – Richard Fergie
  • Helps identify lead quality, or potential barriers to conversion. Could also identify new conversion paths as well. – Gil Hong
  • If nothing else helping people understand that not all conversions are created equal. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • To help see if certain marketing strategies or assets are contributing or working. – Mark Kennedy
  • Especially in long-sales-cycle clients, allows you to identify visitor quality. Can also aid in traffic funnel identification. – Kirk Williams
  • The decision to purchase, or contact a biz, can be a long process. Need to understand what drives earlier stages. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • You can associate KWs with tracked micro-conversions. Look at different assists along the path to see true KW value. – Joe Martinez
  • Better understanding the user journey/path, optimizing for actions that you know contribute to revenue or your bottom line. – Kim Thomas
  • Microconversions are merely directional. They can’t override the base KPIs, but they can add color to long tail keywords. – Lance Dobson (@LanceDobson)
  • Show how all channels play a role in the customer journey. – Francis Shovlin
  • Micro-conversions are primarily important/helpful when being used to push people down the funnel. For example, create audiences! – Amy Bishop
  • One benefit is, if you don’t have a lot of traffic, micros can be goals in website split-tests. – Steve Gibson
  • Micro-conversions shouldn’t be reported as conversions. That distracts from the bigger picture & demeans their actual purpose. – Amy Bishop
  • Definitely a value add for SMBclients, micro conversions can be a valuable insight into the customer’s journey. – Kimberlee Raymond (@kimberleeann)
  • Careful how you weight MC’s or may overshadow actual conversions. IE:1,000 pageviews, 10 leads – you’ll optimize wrong KW. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Q4.2 So, on the flip side: What are drawbacks to tracking Micro-Conversions in PPC?
    • Very few drawbacks to just *tracking* them. – Richard Fergie
    • You have to be careful of the value/worth of a micro. Don’t overvalue. – Mark Kennedy
    • Over complication! – Gil Hong
    • When microconversions that don’t equate directly to revenue/qualified leads aren’t segmented from the conversions that do. – Timothy Jensen
    • The Micro-Conversions can drown out your Macro-Conversion. Can make your optimizing/reporting focus on the wrong things. – Kirk Williams

Q5: What are the characteristics of an account where you focus on Micro-Conv? Where you do NOT focus on Micro-Conv?

  • Don’t focus on them for ecommerce (usually); microconv very important for lead gen where sales take place offline. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • When the client may need help diagnosing potential hiccups in their digital sales cycle. I might avoid MCs depending on the client’s objectives and audience. (ie. like one-time novelty gift purchasers). – Gil Hong
  • Think is hard to focus on MCs when you habe enough conversions to make decisions already. Specially for ecom clients. – Bruno Giosa (@brunogiosa)
  • Clients w/ a long or structured sales process can benefit from micro conv. Also clients that have tracking gaps (site-to-store). – Amy Bishop
  • Lead gen clients w/ long sales cycles are prime for identifying microconversions. – Timothy Jensen
  • Focus where unable to track bottom line, such as retail stores where online to offline conv. tracking isn’t quite there yet. – Kim Thomas
  • Long sales cycles and B2B as Melissa Mackey said are perfect for microconversions. An emeregency plumber, maybe not. – Mark Kennedy
  • Content marketing campaigns (but might then be KPI), paid social (esp. for things like likes, rts, follows instead of traffic). – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Low Data Density Accounts can be helped by a closer attention to micro conversions. Lots of keywords with little data per KW. – Lance Dobson
  • I try to use MC’s anytime I can, just set up weighting of MC’s for optimization correctly. – Josh Kelson
  • Lead Gen, Branding, Rebranding, Lead Gen and Lead Gen, especially if you’re new. – Tyler Juhola (@Tyler_Juhola)
  • I ignore micros any time where they’re not going to change how I manage account/marketing. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)

Q6: How do you determine what will be a Micro-Conversion for each specific account?

  • It all depends on the sales funnel, the available content & how users engage. – Amy Bishop
  • I try to identify what smaller events lead to the big Macro-Conversion in each account. Those are my Micro-Conversions. – Kirk Williams
  • Usually client-driven, but based off an initial questionnaire we may suggest some & determine value with client. – Gil Hong
  • Base it on attribution modeling, if A tends to result in B, and B is your conversion, better track A. And follow up with A. – Tyler Juhola
  • Email signups, chats initiated, key content viewed, cart additions, product views…I’m blanking now. – Lance Dobson
  • Horses for courses. Depends on client’s business model, traffic levels, conversion rate etc. – Steve Gibson

Q7: Should You Optimize FOR Micro-Conversions? If so, how do you determine impact compared to your Macro-Conversions?

  • If you have prospecting/higher funnel campaigns, sure, but I prefer to keep low funnel campaigns focused on the money makers. – Amy Bishop
  • If u find that the micro has a strong impact on Macro, then in that case it makes sense to optimize that strategy/asset w/ care. – Mark Kennedy
  • Could be a double-edged sword to balance click to MC cvr. and MC to final conversion cvr. I’ve seen quality dip in some cases. – Gil Hong
  • Depends. If that’s all you have, as in long sales cycles w/offline conv, then yes. Also if micro impacts macro. – Melissa Mackey
  • Short sales cycle? I don’t optimize specifically for MCs. Long sales cycle? Then I probably do. – Kirk Williams
  • W/a high-end furniture client. We knew driving chats was always our best way to get people in client’s showroom where they buy. – Kimberlee Raymond
  • Look at analytics data. Is there a correlation between the microconversion and the KPI? If yes, give the micro conv some love. I should clarify, that a degree of causation should be there as well…correlation doesn’t merit optimization. – Lance Dobson
  • Use high funnel campaigns to drive to the micro-conv. Put them in an audience, deliver appropriate content to get to reg conv. But.. If they are already (seemingly) low funnel – don’t distract them from the main goal. – Amy Bishop
  • This is a great question. A year ago I’d say unequivocally yes, now I’d say that practically it’s very tricky to do it right. – James Hebdon
  • Ideally you want micro and macro data to see if they correlate and optimize accordingly. – Melissa Mackey
  • Who likes focusing on 1 metric, measure as many as you can and prioritize down the line. If macro are equal, what’s micro like? – Tyler Juhola
  • Micro-C Opt tip: use Custom Columns in AdWords to identify where individual Micro-Cs are coming from. -Kirk Williams
  • Use micro-conversions as part of the attribution model when it makes sense. It doesn’t have to get 100% attribution. – Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)

Q8: What are specific ways Micro-Conversions can be used successfully for PPC? I mean, we all track them right? So how are we actually using Micro-Cs in our PPC accounts?

  • If you know that certain MCs reveal a specific intent, you can remarket with ads focused on those aspects. – Gil Hong
  • If the path is fairly well defined: Track micro, put in audience. Target with content toward next micro. Once next micro is achieved, exclude from previous audience. Down & down the funnel until ultimate conv is reached. – Amy Bishop
  • Remarketing (webinar, whitepaper, etc). Also, ad extensions and even full ads if they test well. – Mark Kennedy
  • One way is to establish the value of different keywords quicker than using full conversions. Another is CRO. – Steve Gibson
  • For long-cycle clients use MCs for bid adjustments/opt decisions. I also love using Micro-C’s for remarketing to build my lists. – Kirk Williams
  • Building remarketing audiences. – Francis Shovlin
  • MCs used to understand “intent” of KW. Intent depends on what MCs you capture on site and how you use to analyze. Setup is key. – Josh Kelson
  • IMHO micro-conversions are useful when there are multiple steps/metrics that add value i.e. Email for Custom Lists. – Christi Olson
  • Also use micros to ensure you aren’t hitting the same audience with content/CTA that they’ve already completed. – Amy Bishop
  • Also, I like using the assets for micro-conversions as tests for paid social campaigns. – Mark Kennedy
  • Two KWs have 10 clicks each and no convs. What to do? Micro-convs can help you know if the keyword is directionally good. – Lance Dobson

Q9: Are you currently using Micro-Conversions in your Remarketing strategy? How?

  • Yes – it helps determine the content to deliver (and avoid delivering). – Amy Bishop
  • Yes, I love using Micro-Cs for list building.  You can get an idea of your sales funnel here & show them specific ads/LPs. – Kirk Williams
  • Targeting people who added to cart would be an example of that. – Steve Gibson
  • Yes! Remarketing is all about using micro-conversion events. – Christi Olson

Q10: Do you report on Micro-Conversions to your clients? Why or why not? How? Details!

  • Macros are reported separately, but micros are important to report to show if certain marekting strategies/assets help or not. – Mark Kennedy
  • If its important for them to know/report up the chain then yes. Otherwise, no unless it’s to drive a conversation. – Gil Hong
  • Only present them in a way leading TO the Ultimate, Conversion Goal of Awesomeness. – Kirk Williams
  • It depends on how micro it is. Sometimes report them. Don’t include them in total conv or CPA, though kinda like view-throughs. – Amy Bishop
  • Yes, micro, macro, primary, secondary, assisted, engagements… everything that can help paint a complete and accurate picture. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Another great question, and very much a “depends.” Small, less-knowledgeable clients no. Too easy to derail focus & priorities. – James Hebdon

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Amy Hebdon (@amyppc)
• Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
• Bruno Giosa (@brunogiosa)
• Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• James Hebdon (@jphebdon)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Kim Thomas (@PPCkimpossible)
• Kimberlee Raymond (@kimberleeann)
• Lance Dobson (@LanceDobson)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Shiva Teja (@ShivaTeja1707)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Tyler Juhola (@Tyler_Juhola)

Micro Streamcaps Created By:

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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