Only once their new website has been launched and seeing the poor results, many people realize that a site that looks great doesn’t necessarily bring the money rolling in.
Other companies with far less attractive websites are full of clients – or customers if we’re talking about B2C. Why? Because they are all built using a ton of the psychological element called micro conversion.
What the hell?
A micro conversion (sometimes also referred as a micro engagement) is a small, risk-free action that you ‘ask’ visitors to perform to receive something from your site in return. The reason why you badly need to use these kinds of psychology-based marketing hacks is because only a small fraction of your customers are going to go for the big sale (the macro-conversion) straightaway. Simply put, site visitors will not buy first time round… If you’re B2B, this means they won’t request a proposal, call you, write to you, or whatever you call a conversion.
There is no creative, copy or cunning marketing trick you can use to convince people at once, because quite simply, the human brain doesn’t work like that! The good news is that you can still start winning them over – this is where micro conversions come into play.
Let’s just say that a guy meets the love of his life, ask her out for a coffee and… she says yes! In its own way, this is a micro conversion. He haven’t reached his final objective – assuming he has more serious intentions than a shallow chit-chat over a cup of coffee – but he has taken a step closer to attaining it. If, instead of suggesting a coffee, he gets down on his knees declaring with misty eyes that he would like three children, and that one of them should be named Stanley after his grandfather’s former cellmate, chances are he will never see her Lady again.
HOW IT WORKS ON A MICRO LEVEL
The psychological phenomena that the mechanism of micro conversion can be attributed to is resistance: if someone’s freedom of choice is restricted, the unattainable item – one they can perhaps only obtain by meeting certain conditions – increases in value. If you want to try this one out for yourself, simply tell a child that they can play with any of the toys except the one his little brother is playing with…
HOW THIS GENERATES SALES
For the reason above, your visitors will be encouraged to make that momentary choice and submit to the attraction of the micro conversion – but how does that lead to a sale? The answer lies in the ingrained desire we all have to achieve consistency in our behavior:
Robert Cialdini wrote about how consistency works (you can check out his classic experiment here); once we have made a decision, our later actions are likely to reflect that decision. If we didn’t act like this, we would have to face the fact that we don’t keep our promises and that we lack persistence and willpower.
That’s how micro conversions lead to sales. Through lots of small reinforcements, we will sooner or later be left with no choice but to act in keeping with the decisions we have already made – and thus be converted through the website, no matter if the transaction is B2C or B2B.
What has this got to do with marketing?
Your brain only has one way of working, there is no separate online and offline brain – your actions work in the real world just as they do online. What happens, when you visit a website, is the same as when you are offered coffee versus a wedding ring – just on a smaller scale and faster. Despite the science, there are a lot of 18th century kinda websites out there that don’t just fail to convert – they actually succeed in pissing their visitors off big time.
The whole phenomenon is easier to understand in a B2B marketing context, because the longer the activation cycle (getting the client fully engaged), the higher the threshold for engagement. Yet the process is exactly the same for B2C, it’s just even faster: On an average e-commerce site, for example, only 3% of visitors make a purchase first time around – but if they come back, this number increases nine fold. Why? Consistency!
In every business all over the world, decision-making is significantly influenced by psychological factors – including a micro conversion, or the lack of them. If you build a website where the visitor needs to complete small tasks to progress – think of something small like pressing a particular button, or clicking through a link – you have a greater chance of converting once a certain quantity of number of micro conversions has been reached.
If you think all this psycho mumbo jumbo will only get you a .5% increase in conversions, you’re dead wrong: I have seen four or five micro conversions leading to as much as a 100% increase in conversions for a given website!
Micro conversion examples
If you want to make use of this knowledge for your own website, the first thing you need to know is that not every micro conversion was created equal. Every second of attention that you get from your visitor can be essentially regarded as a micro conversion – however, this is the weakest kind of engagement.
Clicking a button is already a bit stronger as it requires a concrete action. The visitor clicking to play a video, focusing their attention by viewing certain content or providing their email address can all be considered as the strongest micro conversions and generally speaking, signs of genuine interest. Here are a few examples of weak, medium and strong micro conversions:
Micro conversion on your website
The question of which micro conversion will be effective on your website cannot be predicted, neither by the wisest of marketing psychology experts, nor the dopest growth hackers. It all depends on the industry, how informed the visitor is and the final number of engagements, not to mention the visitor’s previous experiences, tastes, habits, current trends and cultural factors.
In practice, optimization of online marketing moves from one step to the next by finding which kind of micro-engagement pattern brings the most sales, and then focusing your sales efforts on those visitors who have already taken that particular path.
If you want to use micro-engagements for your own business, you need to do three things. The first two are very easy, the third is quite a lot of work:
The first is to give your visitors an opportunity to make micro conversions – as many as possible. The simplest tool is to have a twin CTA (call-to-action) on your site that they want to click on; downloadable material, links at the bottom of the page, clickable articles, calculators, online tools, tests, forms, dilemma resolutions – the list really is endless, you just have to be creative.
The second comes once your page has become a textbook example of how to employ micro-engagement – this is the point where data mining begins and you can start measuring individual actions. This is what Orbtr, or this WP plugin is for, though you can also simply measure these actions using Google Analytics or Mixpanel. I’d suggest measuring whatever you can, however, you can also just pick the most important micro conversions.
The third task is carried out once you have collected enough data for evaluation: now you have to find out what works and what doesn’t. If you can find positive correlations between conversions and micro-engagement patterns, you will know exactly what you need to do to get sales – or if you’re in B2B business, leads. Once you have done this, you have a comprehensive arsenal of online marketing tricks at your disposal, depending on what you want this engagement pattern to achieve…
Actual marketing hacks
Here are just a few examples of the online marketing tricks we employ to implement micro conversions:
- Instead of using inline newsletter forms, make those forms accessible to users only after clicking a button – the chances of getting that email address will grow. See this in action by clicking on the ‘Tricks’ menu item above…
- In some of our articles – including this one – you will find what is called a ‘dilemma’. A lightning-fast one-question opportunity to vote that gives us some useful feedback and also – since you have to press the button – serves as a micro-conversion.
- Multi-step forms yield more conversions precisely because of the greater micro-conversion required. Just get rid of the boring old-style contact forms and use this plugin or any similar one. Trust me, at step 5 of a good multi-step form, visitors will even provide their blood type if you ask it…
- There are traditional marketing tools like the five-star rating, which – in the world of social media sharing buttons – is now seen as old-school, but it’s definitely not: it’s a crystal clear opportunity for a tiny micro-engagement!
- If someone is already on your website, it’s not necessarily a good idea to send them to YouTube to watch videos – it’s better to present professional videos on your own website with Wistia. YouTube makes a pile of cash already – now it’s your turn, so keep that visitor for yourself!
So, where next?
It doesn’t matter how genuinely awesome or painfully ugly your website is – without the proper set of micro conversions it’s about as useful as a friendly waving against a bullet. So, if you want a better conversion rate, cram as many micro conversions into your website as you can and continuously measure what buttons your visitors click on, what videos they watch and what specific micro conversion pattern leads to the big conversion.
Good luck, and please micro convert by sharing or commenting (especially if you couldn’t resist engaging with the dilemma plugin above!) 😉