Understanding conversion is fundamental to your digital marketing success.

You need to be aware that conversion means different things to different people. Conversion could mean turning visitors into leads. Conversion could mean converting leads into sales.

The basic definition of conversion is to transform someone from one state to another. Your objective as a digital marketer is to move people through different states of the customer lifecycle as quickly and profitably as possible.

The first point of contact someone has with your business is the AWARENESS phase. This is when they first hear about you from a friend, or see your ad on social media, or view your website on the Google search results page.

The objective now is for them to take action:

  • Click on the ad
  • Click on the search results that takes them to your website
  • Call the number to reach your call centre

Converting someone from being aware that you exist to taking action to find out more about your is the first step in the conversion process.

There are various ways to measure these important conversion events.

Conversion events are measured when people take action which leads them down the customer journey funnel.

If the conversion event is for someone who sees your ad to click on the ad, the conversion event is a click. This click will bring them to your website.

You now have a number of metrics you can measure.

Impressions are the number of people who saw your ad.

Clicks are the number of people who clicked on the ad.

Visitors are the number of people who visited your website after clicking on your ad.

If someone asks you “how are your ads converting?” it could mean “of everyone who saw your ad, how many people clicked on it?”

This metric is also called the click-through rate.

You also measure click-through rates on email campaigns. When you send a list of people an email, the list size is one metric you need to be aware of. The open rate is the measurement of how many people who received the email opened it. Your click-through rate on an email campaign is the number of people who clicked on a link to your website in the mailer, of all the people who opened it.

Someone who sees your website URL in the Google search results counts as an impression. When they click on the search result and come to your website, this conversion event can be measured as a click-through.

Click-through rate can therefore refer to an ad campaign, search result as well as an email campaign.

As you can imagine, tons of really interesting data is generated throughout the customer journey. You can track and measure every action your potential customers, customers and returning customers take.

Conversion optimisation are the steps you take to increase the efficiency with which people move through the customer journey. Data is what drives conversion optimization.

Let’s explore some of the actions you can take at various points in the customer journey to improve conversion.

Improving impression to click rate (or click-through rate)

Paid ad click-through rates can be improved by making the ad design or copy more compelling. Ad performance is measured (at the top of the funnel) by how effectively your ad results in desired action. In this case the conversion event is a visit to your website’s landing page. 

You can test different ads simultaneously and see which result in better click-through rates. The Facebook Advertising platform for example has a built-in mechanism that allows you to perform these tests. 

If you’re testing two different ads (with only one difference between them) this is called A/B testing.

Multivariate testing is when you test multiple elements at the same time. You might test different headlines, graphics and ad copy simultaneously and then use the click-through rate data for each combination to see what works best.

Testing, learning and adjusting is where digital marketing really excels. 

Improving visitor to lead rate

Your business might rely on leads that your sales team converts into sales. In this case your primary acquisition objective is QUALIFIED LEADS.

Not all leads are the same. The focus is on VOLUME and QUALITY.

You can improve lead volumes by focusing on the relevance and user experience from ad impression to click to lead.

If you target the right audience with the right message and send them to a landing page where you have a message and imagery consistent with the promise and visuals of the ad, you are more likely to convert traffic into leads.

The experience is broken if you have an ad that says one thing but a landing page that says something else. Consistency and relevance is key.

The visitor to lead experience is also improved by ensuring that your landing page is designed for optimal conversion. The factors that affect visitor to lead conversion include:

  • Responsive design for multiple devices
  • Clear and concise message
  • Appealing image or video
  • Persuasive headline
  • Benefits summarized with a short paragraph or short bullet points
  • Clear call to action
  • Social proof (through testimonials or similar content)
  • Lead magnet (a  piece of value you give someone in exchange for their contact details) such as an ebook or cheat sheet or access to premium video content

These elements work together to increase conversion from visitor to lead.

As with all things digital, you need to test the above elements to continually optimise your visitor to lead conversion rate.

Try a different headline. Use a different image. Tweak your call to action button – using different text and even different colours make a difference.

Above all, make it easy for your visitor to take the next step. Don’t make them think. Don’t confuse them with multiple things to do or read. Simple, concise and clear – these are the words that must guide your conversion optimisation efforts.

Improving visitor to sale rate

If you run an ecommerce business where people buy directly from your website, the same elements as used to improve visitor to lead conversion can be applied. The difference here is that you are asking your visitor to do something much greater than simply giving you contact information – you want them to take out their wallet and buy from you.

The visitor to sale rate can be very high if the product is relatively cheap and provides immediate gratification. The risk to the customer is small.

When your customer has to make a highly considered purchasing decision the visitor to sale rate can be very low. They might be in research mode and not ready to buy yet. They might be comparing prices. After they add to cart the whole experience of taking out their credit card might frighten them.

There are many drop off points in the visitor to sale process. 

As a digital marketer working on an ecommerce business your objective is to fix the leaks in the funnel – discover where people are dropping out of the buyer journey and then take steps to prevent that from happening or to bring them back.

Cart abandonment

Visitors add products to a shopping cart before they check out. If they leave without returning to your website you can target them with ads or emails (if you’ve asked for their email address).

When someone visits your website a cookie is stored on their device. You can show Facebook and Google retargeting ads to people after they have visited your website and are back on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or a website that is part of the Google content network.

You can greatly increase your sales by implementing strategies to recover abandoned carts so that people pick up where they left off. You can include an exclusive discount to make the recovery offer more attractive. 

Checkout abandonment

You can implement the same interventions and actions as for the cart abandonment process but remember that someone who has abandoned the CHECKOUT process made it slightly further down the funnel and was at the point of payment when something stopped them.

Perhaps the purchasing methods weren’t suitable. Perhaps you aren’t offering great shipping times or costs. Maybe there’s an issue with the usability of your checkout process.

Measure, adjust and test to continuously improve the checkout process. 

Chatbots improve website conversion

Chatbots are now very sophisticated and relatable and therefore indispensable tools for improving visitor conversion rates. Chat bots are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, constantly improving the quality of answers they give visitors. 

Chatbots can be deployed to pop up automatically after a certain period of time or if the expected conversion event hasn’t happened in the expected time. Chatbots can also remain silent until the visitor requests a chat. You can test and see what chatbot behaviour works best for your visitors.

Chatbots play the role of a salesperson on your website. They are there to offer a helping hand, answer any questions and assist with the decision making process. 

Chatbots first need to be trained about your products or services and what the correct answers are to questions. Natural language processing makes chatbots conversational and you can determine the correct tone of voice for your audience.

Chatbot design is important – people want a friendly avatar or character to help them.  Chatbots can be humanoid, robotic or even animal characters. Test what works for your business and your brand identity.

Email marketing for conversion

Email is still one of the most powerful marketing tools you have available.

Conversion emails include welcome mailers, info mailers and email sequences scheduled to go out on specific days or triggered by specific customer actions.

The power of email marketing lies in automation. Emails are sent to very specific audiences with highly relevant messages in bulk, but personalised.

Emails are sent based on triggers that you set up during the automation process. You design workflows and sequences to improve conversions and each email can be monitored, analysed and optimised.

Email campaign optimisation includes tweaking the subject line, images, email content, call to action and design of the email.

Excellent integration between your email system and customer relationship management system (CRM) means you can use real-time data to view campaign success in visual dashboards.

The key is to test and learn and continually improve performance of your email campaigns – and this is done through the power of data to measure email campaign open rates and engagement rates.

All your email marketing can be set to autopilot to fill your funnel and convert people through the customer journey. As with other digital marketing channels, AI and machine learning has made an impact on email marketing for constant improvement and refinement.

Conversion events differ per business

Remember, your business is unique and has conversion events which differ from other businesses.

For an insurance company, conversion events could include:

  • Visitor to contact: a prospect gives us their contact information
  • Contact to sale: a contact buys an insurance policy

For a lawyer, conversion events could include:

  • Visitor to consultation
  • Consultation to case appointment

For an education company conversion events could include:

  • Visitor to lead: someone is interested in studying an online course and gives us their contact information
  • Lead to application: when the person completes an application
  • Application to enrolled: when the person pays and starts studying

For a pizza restaurant the conversion cycle could be very short:

  • Visitor places an order for pizza

Conversion cycles can be long or short. A purchase that requires a great deal of decision-making (like buying a house or a car) has a much longer conversion time than a purchase that doesn’t require much thought (like ordering groceries online).

As a digital marketer you need to understand the conversion process, where the drop off points are and the average time to convert.

Conversion optimisation by machines

Advertising platforms are now so advanced that AI technology and predictive analytics can be used to automatically optimise your ad campaigns without the manual intervention of yourself or a digital advertising specialist.

Campaign optimisation is one area where technology has and continues to replace human labour. Algorithms can now do the work of finding the best audience for your campaign based on performance objectives you specify. Ads are automatically optimised by testing different designs, formats, placements, headlines, copy and call to action elements.

Conversion optimisation has now become the work of machine learning and as a business owner you can trust the algorithms to spend your marketing budget appropriately for maximum performance.

Massive amounts of data are now processed in seconds to give digital marketers access to insights that give them the edge over their competitors.

Astoundingly, even content generation will soon be the work of machines who develop headlines and copy for audience engagement testing.

Conversion optimisation is now fairly automated and as a digital marketer it is important that you come to grips with the available technologies, trust the algorithms and follow the data signals.

From chatbots to AI-managed ad campaigns, technology is here to stay.

Let’s hear from you

What are your thoughts about the conversion process? How do you fix leaks in the funnel? Let me know in the comments below…


About the author : Tony Lopes

Tony Lopes is an expert digital marketer who has worked across competitive industries since 2003. His broad experience covers SEO, Content Marketing, PPC, Email Marketing and Marketing Analytics. He works with sustainable, purpose-driven clients across the world and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with his wife, daughters and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

About the author : Tony Lopes

Tony Lopes is an expert digital marketer who has worked across competitive industries since 2003. His broad experience covers SEO, Content Marketing, PPC, Email Marketing and Marketing Analytics. He works with sustainable, purpose-driven clients across the world and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with his wife, daughters and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

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