Last month in this column, I demonstrated why impressions bear a striking resemblance to sperm; little items generated by the millions, to no purpose other than to ensure the survival of the fittest (“Why Impressions and Likes Are Like Sperm”). In the measurement world, “the fittest” means those specific impressions that are on message, that reach the target audience, and that actually result in a desired action. In measurement and marketing lingo, a desired action is known as a “conversion.”
And so, for measurement, conversions are the equivalent of children. Google Analytics introduced the concept of conversions years ago, and it has always surprised me how few organizations actually bother to define them. I think they get mistaken for sales or other marketing efforts from which PR people shrink. But in Google Analytics and most robust analytics platforms, you get to define a conversion as the completion of any goal you want. If your objective is to educate your audience, perhaps your goal is, “download a white paper.” If your objective is more engagement around an issue, then your goal might be, “spending more than two minutes on the Learn More About Us page.”
The point here is that conversions (children) are a far more effective way to show senior leadership that you are making a tangible contribution to the business than just showing how many “sperm” you’ve generated.
Here at Paine Publishing, we define several different goals as conversions, based on the short and long term objectives of the company. Clicking on the “Subscribe” page, downloading a whitepaper, and making a purchase each represent a different goal achieved and a value of conversion. I assign the monetary value for each conversion based on my estimate of the goal’s benefit (financial or otherwise) to the company. An actual purchase is easy to assign a value to; it’s the dollar amount of the sale. But a visit to the “Subscribe” page, for instance, doesn’t always result in the sale of a subscription, so its value is only a fraction of the sale price of a subscription.
My conversion-setting job is easy because ours is an e-commerce site. But what if you’re working in the B2B space? Start with a conversation with sales and marketing and get consensus around what actions or behaviors are good indicators of movement along the path to purchase. If you’re a non-profit, get consensus from development and your volunteer coordinator as to what pages on your site are a good indicator of intent to donate or volunteer. You will have to assign each conversion a value based on your own situation.
To learn about how to actually set up conversions in Google Analytics, read my companion article to this piece, “How to Set Up Goals in Google Analytics.” Once your goals are set up, make sure you put a call to action in your press releases and social media content that connects to the goal. Track your results for a month or so and see what you can learn from the data. Ideally, you’ll be able to see a connection between your PR or social media activity and the goals. If not, you need to figure out why not.
What’s most important when you’re tracking conversions is to evaluate the cost or effort you have put in to achieve that goal. Rank order all your efforts and campaigns to see which had the greatest conversion, then assign each one an effort/resource value, from low cost/low resources to high cost/high resource use. Voila, you’ll know where your efforts have paid off the most.