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How to track micro conversions in Google Analytics and other tools

Before we dive right into the lists, please note that while the list is extensive, the diversity of website and business types makes it impossible to include all of them in a concise format.

I won’t include step-by-step instructions for setting up the tracking. Instead, you’ll learn about each conversion and where to set it up.

Let’s dive in.

Looking for the definition of conversions first?

What is a website conversion and conversion rate

Examples of micro conversions

Products added to the cart

This conversion is self-explanatory. Tracking how many products visitors added to their carts lets you calculate the cart abandonment rate and benchmark various pages on your website. If you’re selling less, you might intuitively look to areas such as the checkout, or even question your product. However, if you find that people aren’t adding your products to the cart, perhaps the issue is with the design and/or functionality of the product page?

How to track "Add to cart"

Depending on the platform you’re using, you can track these using built-in methods of your platform or custom events and add to cart goals in Google Analytics.

Newsletter subscriptions

To this day, email marketing is one of the most effective digital channels. Mailing lists are among the most popular secondary conversion types. Knowing the conversion rate can help you optimise the layout of your website to drive more subscriptions. You can also use it to evaluate the profitability of your email marketing campaigns.

Tracking newsletter sign-ups

You can calculate the conversion rate using the data from your newsletter service, the website’s contact form, or using website events, which we’ll cover later in the article.

Feedback from your visitors

No amount of research and data analysis will tell you what’s wrong with the website better than direct feedback from your customers. Many websites make it hard to leave feedback, often not giving a noticeable option to do so.

How to track feedback

Tracking this type of conversion is as easy as creating an applicable contact form, or using third-party scripts like Hotjar.

Scrolling down the page

This is the first of the more advanced metrics on our list. You can use the scroll data to determine whether there’s an important section that needs to be moved because visitors are rarely seeing it, or that perhaps some of your pages are too long and your content needs a trim.

How to track scrolling

Tracking this micro conversion is now possible with Google Analytics 4 or using third-party scripts such as Crazy Egg or Hotjar.

Time on page and session time

In the Google Analytics department, time spent on a page is one of the most telling metrics. If you’re getting hundreds of visits from ads but the average time they spend on a landing page is 4 seconds, you’re effectively wasting your money. It’s also impossible to read a blog article in 30 seconds, so perhaps you need to tweak it to make it more engaging?

As a more general metric than time on page, session time is hardly useful on its own. It signals an issue, rather than pinpointing it. However, if your session times are low, tracking them will enable you to quickly take action and follow up – perhaps with time-on-page analysis. It all depends on your goal. If you’re converting visitors in 30 seconds, you shouldn’t worry about increasing the session time.

Track how long users stay on your website

All you need to track time on the page is Google Analytics.

Bounce rate as a micro conversion

When someone visits your website and exits without taking action, it’s called a bounce. It’s also a signal, telling you there’s something wrong with the website. A high bounce rate might lead you to investigate the performance of your website or the layout. Please note that you shouldn’t use the overall bounce rate value – analyse it on individual pages. You can learn more in our article about bounce rate values and how to fix them.

Tracking bounce rate

Use Google Analytics to measure your bounce rate.

Exit rate and exit pages

Exits differ from bounces, as they are preceded by interactions. They help you identify the exit points on your website – but a high exit rate isn’t always bad. If it’s a checkout confirmation, or if many visitors perform a desirable action (such as newsletter subscription), exiting from some pages is natural.

How to measure the exit rate

You will find your exit rate in Google Analytics. Identify the most common exit pages by sorting the exit rate from high to low.

Customer journey

When you build a website, you create a variety of funnels for your visitors. You should do this intentionally to control how visitors browse your site, but you can track them even if you didn’t. On many sites, the major funnels will be intuitive. If we take ecommerce as an example, if visitors rarely click through to a product from search results, perhaps you’ve failed to show them what they were looking for. Identifying these drop-off points will help you sell more.

Tracking the user journey

Funnels are available in Google Analytics, but tools like Hotjar can make it easier.

Custom events – button clicks, video plays

Every action on your website is an event, even mouse movement. They’re used to track many of the metrics mentioned in this article.

Here are two examples of on-site event conversions:

  • Button clicks – buttons won’t always take visitors to a new page. In that case, it’s important to assign events to the button click. That’s the case for newsletter subscriptions without a thank you page, multi-step checkouts, etc.
  • Video plays – services like YouTube track plays, but you won’t find them in your Google Analytics. In fact, you can track any action on the video player – plays, pauses, and even skips.
Tracking custom events in Google Analytics

You must add custom code and Google Analytics goals to track events.

Learn how to increase the click-through rate of your buttons

Visitor retention

We’d all love for all of our customers to return to us. But if 100% of your visitors are classed as returning, it means you’re not getting new ones. That’s obviously never the case, but we just wanted to illustrate the point – more isn’t always better.

It’s a metric that is often overlooked but it can show you that your site has issues with visitor retention. Perhaps a low value will lead you to investigate other micro conversions to retain your customers?

Measuring visitor retention

Google Analytics groups visitors by new and returning. The reporting is only accurate on the assumption that visitors don’t clear their cookies, so the numbers are almost guaranteed to be a little bit off.

Reading blog articles

Under the surface, reading a blog is a combination of a few metrics. It’s simply a page visit to a specific article, but as mentioned before, you should combine it with time spent on page. Depending on your content marketing strategy, the bounce rate also comes into play here.


Whether an ebook or a white paper, downloading a resource from your website is an important step during the customer journey that you need to track. Preparing such resources is quite an investment in your content marketing, so you can’t afford to just let them be.

How to track downloads

You can use “Thank you” page visits or events in Google Analytics to track the downloads.

Tracking conversions without a “Thank you” page can work two ways:

  • by setting up a custom on-click event, which requires adding new code and setting up Analytics to track it
  • if you’re collecting email addresses for marketing purposes, you can calculate the conversion based on the page views and the submission count

Additionally, your file hosting may offer a download counter.

Which micro conversions do you track on your website? 📈

Let’s see how good is your Analytics game. Let me know in the comments which micro conversions are you tracking on your business website and why.

You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken

There are dozens, if not hundreds of on-site conversions. In a way, your most important conversions – purchases, enquiries – are not that important at all. Of course, you need to know the profitability of your website to acknowledge there are issues, but micro conversions help you identify these issues.

If all you know is that your website is breaking even, the best you can do is guess the cause. And the most common solution is to build a new website, continuing the vicious cycle.

But if you know that you’re selling less, and you know that your Google Ads visitors spend less than 5 seconds on your website, and you know that only 1% of people click through to a product from search results, you have a very good foundation to make educated choices.

But remember, getting reliable data for any goal can be time-consuming. Some will work with historical data from Analytics, but goals like custom events can’t take advantage of existing data. The sooner you start measuring, the better.

If you’re unsure how to track some of the conversions mentioned in this article, drop me a line in the comments and we’ll steer you in the right direction.

Learn about Primary Conversions

Why CRO Will More than Double Your Sales

Discover the value of optimising your conversions compared to building more landing pages or designing a new website.

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Originally published Jun 23, 2020 1:21:44 PM, updated May 8 2024.

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