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First, let’s define a website conversion:

A website conversion is an action a user takes on your website to reach a goal. This goal can be their own, one set out for them by your company, or a mutual goal of both parties.

What is a website conversion?

The (many) levels of conversions

Primary conversions sit at the top of the conversion ladder. There are typically two ways to think about how many levels there are:

  • two levels – primary (or macro) conversions, and secondary (or micro) conversions
  • many levels – primary, secondary, tertiary, and so on

I prefer sticking to the first philosophy most of the time. The latter is more useful for complex user journeys, for example in some ecommerce stores. In that case, the journey can look something like this:

Click on a product from search/categories (micro conversion) ➡️ Add to cart (micro) ➡️ Go to cart (micro) ➡️ Create an account for first-time buyers (micro) ➡️ Checkout (macro)

You could make it even more granular, but even here there are five levels of conversions.

Most of the time it’s not necessary, so sticking to primary and secondary conversions is fine.

Macro conversion vs. micro conversion

A secondary conversion is the activity that takes place before the primary conversion, which is the ultimate action on your website.

Primary (macro) conversion is your “money” conversion. This can be a monetary transaction, but also generating a lead. The specifics depend on your business model and the role a website plays in it.

A secondary (micro) conversion is the action users take on their way to the primary conversion.

Primary vs. secondary conversions in Google Ads

If you’re reading this article trying to master Google Ads, the definition isn’t much different.

In the end, Google gives you the power to choose your primary conversion. The same principles from above apply here – it’s your main goal, one which you’ll use to estimate the success of the advertising campaign.

Examples of primary (macro) conversions

Submitting an order

If you’re selling and accepting payments on your website, this is the obvious one. It’s your #1 conversion to track and without it, you won’t be able to estimate the overall profitability of your website.

Tracking ecommerce orders

Tracking purchases depends on your website. Many shopping solutions track it by default but it’s disconnected from your Analytics. Platforms like Shopify can integrate with Google Analytics to get all the data in a single place. In some situations, you might need custom solutions (such as events) – but in that case, consider investing in a more complete website solution instead.

Web form conversion tracking for a lead generation site

Many businesses, especially in the services industries, won’t sell directly on their website. If you’re promoting your services or allowing quote enquiries, this will be your main conversion to track. In that case, learn more about conversion value and use our conversion value calculators.

How to track enquiries

We recommend redirecting visitors to a “Thank you” page – it makes tracking much easier, and gives you real estate to keep them engaged after submitting an enquiry.

If you want to track web form conversions without a “Thank you” page, use your contact form solution’s built-in tools. Alternatively, you can add a custom event code on the submission button and set up tracking in Analytics.

Conversion page views (Google Ads, etc.)

We’ve mentioned “Thank you” pages as examples of a “page view” conversion before, and we’d like to highlight their importance for Google Ads. You might use a page view as a conversion for your ads, which will be crucial to ensure you’re running profitable campaigns.

Account registrations

When customers set up an account, there are obvious benefits for both sides. You can customise their experience, while also making communication and interactions much easier. If they’re not registering enough, the experience might be confusing – or perhaps you need to consider additional incentives.

Tracking new accounts

Set up a custom event goal in Analytics, or use your website’s account management system to calculate the conversion rate of registrations.

Phone calls

Whether a phone call is your main conversion or another form of customer support, tracking them will help you notice issues with the placement of your phone number. An added benefit to measuring phone call frequency is that you’ll ensure the phone numbers on your site are interactive. Many websites still fail to address that and force users to copy them, which is a bad user experience.

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 Feb 27, 2023 2:47:15 PM, updated May 8 2024.

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