Last updated Feb 26 2020

CRO glossary: micro-conversion

What is a micro-conversion?

Micro-conversions are the small steps a website visitor takes that lead them toward a final conversion (often referred to as ‘macro-conversion’ in this context).

CRO professionals study micro-conversions to spot weakness in their sales or marketing funnels (such as pages where users drop off without reaching the final conversion page). Optimizing for micro-conversions can increase the number of visitors who make it through the entire funnel, thereby increasing total conversions.

Example of micro-conversions

If you needed to buy a birthday gift for your 10-year old niece online, you would follow a path that looks something like this:

  1. Visit the website
  2. View the category pages (e.g., kids’ toys)
  3. View a sub-category page (e.g., toys: ages 8-12)
  4. View an individual product page (e.g., Science Kit for Kids)
  5. Add to the product to your cart
  6. Proceed to checkout
  7. Enter your delivery address
  8. Select shipping (e.g., 2-day express delivery)
  9. Enter your payment information
  10. Place the order 

Steps 2-9 are micro-conversions, and step 10 is the macro-conversion (or simply, the conversion). Of course, you may skip some of those steps by searching for a specific product or product line, but your path would still make up a series of micro-conversions that lead to a macro-conversion in the end (if you decide to buy).

Why micro-conversions are important

Studying micro-conversions helps you spot weak links in your sales funnel—those pages where people drop off and (ultimately) fail to convert. For example, if 8 out of 10 visitors leave when they reach the sub-category page, you’ll want to study that page and find ways to make it more appealing.

Fixing the weakest link in your sales funnel (e.g., reducing that 80% drop-off to 40%) usually means an increase in conversions, since you’ve addressed the barrier that was blocking your visitors from reaching the finish line.

Micro-conversions can be especially helpful for low-traffic websites

Micro-conversions are important for all websites regardless of how much traffic they get, but studying micro-conversions can be especially helpful for low-traffic or low-conversion sites.

Why? If your website only gets a handful of conversions per day, that doesn’t give you a lot of data to study when looking at macro-conversions alone. However, you’ll have quite a bit more data to work with if you look at all the micro-conversions that take place. You can then focus on problematic pages within the funnel and on elements that block or distract people, and work to optimize them.

4 steps to optimize micro-conversions on your weakest pages

If you want to optimize micro-conversions, you’ve got to figure out what’s not working—and to do that, you’ll need to do some research first. The following steps will help you diagnose the problems so you can work toward a solution.

  1. Identify the problem pages: a traditional analytics tool like GA or Hotjar’s conversion funnels tool will help you identify the pages with the highest drop-off rates: those are the ones you want to study in depth.

  2. See how users behave in aggregate: placing heatmaps on the problematic page(s) show you where the majority of your users click, scroll, and hover their mouse pointers. This will give you a good idea of how visitors interact—or fail to—with different page elements.

  3. Watch session recordings: recordings let you watch a screen recording of individual (anonymized) visitor sessions so you can see what people are actually doing on each page, and particularly observe how they behaved before abandoning one.  

  4. Gather feedback: setting up on-page feedback polls lets you hear directly from your users and customers, so there’s no guesswork in trying to figure out why they’re leaving.
    Ask simple, open-ended questions, such as:
    - What’s missing from this page?
    - What’s stopping you from continuing?
    - What were you looking for?
    - How can we help?

🔥Pro tip: whether you're optimizing for micro- or macro-conversions, understanding what your website visitors are doing and how are they behaving is a crucial first step. If you need help getting started, check out: