Elise Dopson

How Buffer Uses Micro Conversions to Nudge Visitors Toward Serious Sales

Not everyone who visits your website is ready to buy on the first (or even second) visit.

That doesn’t mean they’re leaving without doing anything, though.

As much as we’d love for customer journeys to start with a website visit and end with a product confirmation email, the truth is: there are tiny actions people take in between.

They’re called micro-conversions—and could be the secret to getting more site visitors to turn into paying customers.

If you don’t have a clue what micro-conversions are, don’t panic.

In this post, we take a deep look at Buffer's use of micro-conversions. We'll walk you through what they are, identifying common micro-conversions in your business, and how to engineer and use them to your advantage.

Let’s get to it 👇

What are micro-conversions?

Micro-conversions are the more minor actions people take on a website that lead towards a larger goal. These small actions can be as simple as someone:

  • Clicking a button
  • Viewing a product page or landing page 
  • Subscribing to an email list
  • Watching a video
  • Downloading a PDF or whitepaper
  • Attending a webinar 
  • Adding items to an online shopping cart

They’re small touchpoints a person does on their way to completing a more general macro-conversion, like starting a free trial or making a purchase. 

(Sometimes, they’re called secondary actions because of this.)

Macro vs. micro-conversions

Customers make micro-conversions on their way to macro-conversions—such as purchasing a product, subscribing to a paid plan, or hiring you to complete a service.

The key to increasing your overall conversion rate is to think about nudging visitors along in your buyer journey little by little, rather than expecting them to go from point A to point B right away. 

Research shows that very few customer journeys happen on the same day. Around 40% of businesses say there are more than four months between a prospect’s initial engagement and the final macro-conversion:

Customer journey lengths

In the four months building up to a sale, micro-conversions happen.

It’s how prospects build trust with your brand. Most times, they’re not ready to complete a big goal until they know you’re the best provider for them.

Tracking micro-conversions tells you how close they are to making their final decision.

Why marketers should pay attention to micro-conversions

Here’s some shocking news:

Some 98% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy as soon as they visit your website.

People watch videos, read product reviews, and follow you on social media before the macro-conversion (like a sale) happens. Most times, they have to visit your website repeatedly to do those micro-conversions. 

Tracking micro-conversions is so important firstly because you can watch a customer’s journey. The more you understand a customer’s process before buying your product, the better you can craft marketing campaigns that push them along. 

You can also personalize the shopping experience for people based on their micro-conversions. 

Let’s put that into perspective and say you have two types of people visiting your ecommerce website:

  • Group A: Has completed several micro-conversions. They’ve subscribed to your blog, created a free account, and open your emails regularly.
  • Customer B: Has only completed one micro-conversion: visiting your home page.

Which of those two audience segments do you think is further in the sales process?

It’s group A. They’ve shown more commitment and interest in your brand than someone who’s passively read a blog post. So, there’s a considerable likelihood that they’ll be more receptive to product information, deals, or tutorials. 

That’s where you really get ahead.

Most marketers lump customers all in one bucket and send the same marketing messages to everyone.

But if you’re taking notice of micro-conversions, over time, you’ll learn which small actions indicate someone is closer to a purchase. That data will help you double down on segmented marketing campaigns, increase conversion rates, and get the best ROI.

The Buffer micro-conversion journey

Buffer is a master at micro-conversions.

Take one glance at its website, and you’ll see several process milestones: small steps on someone’s journey to becoming a paying customer (Buffer’s primary goal.)

Here’s what that looks like at a glance, with micro-conversions in pink and macro in blue:

Sample micro-conversion journey for Buffer

You’ll see that Buffer’s typical customer journey starts with customers visiting a page on its website. Some example micro-conversions at this point are:

  • Reading blog posts
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Engaging with a Twitter thread
  • Viewing their annual "State of Remote Work" report
  • Reading a case study
Buffer micro-conversion Twitter example

Once a customer has completed that stage of micro-conversion, Buffer pushes them to do another that’s further along the sales funnel, such as:

  • Subscribe to the blog
  • Subscribe to the podcast
  • Install the Chrome extension

People might do this round of micro-conversions a few times. Ultimately, the goal is to get people on their email list.

Buffer micro-conversion button example

After that, you’re encouraged to start getting to grips with their product. Buffer uses emails to push people at this stage towards:

  • Creating a free account
  • Starting a "no card needed" free trial
Buffer product email example

Once someone has created a free account, the micro-conversions don’t stop there. They continue to nudge people towards their ultimate macro-conversion of becoming a paying customer.

The first one comes in their welcome email. As soon as someone takes up a free trial, they’re nudged towards the product to:

  • Schedule their first post
  • View their analytics for a scheduled post
Buffer schedule a post email

Finally, Buffer encourages people on free trials to connect three channels. This is what ultimately segues them into upgrading to a paid subscription (the overall macro-conversion).

Plotting your website’s micro-conversion path

Now that we know what Buffer’s micro-conversion path looks like, let’s take a look at how you can plot your own. 

1. Use Google Analytics data

The first step in plotting micro-conversion paths is to look at what’s already happening.

Google Analytics has a wealth of data you can use to see which pathways people take when they’re on your website. The Behavior Flow report, for example, shows the pages someone usually visits before purchasing:

Google Analytics Behavior Flow report

While these pages aren’t the highest value micro-conversions, you’ll need to understand the on-site journey when placing calls-to-action that convince people to take the next step. 

2. Survey existing customers

Your existing customers are a goldmine of data. 

They’re people who’ve already completed a customer journey of their own. So, send surveys in your purchase confirmation email that asks about it. This can be as simple as asking:

Which actions did you take before becoming a customer? 

Look for any common denominators in your survey results. 

Remember: with this step, you’re collecting data from actual customer journeys. Take them into consideration when trying to understand which micro-conversion paths you’re encouraging new customers to follow. 

3. Poll current website visitors

It’s not just existing customers you can poll to understand what people need before completing a macro-conversion.

With ConvertFlow’s site messages, you can show a popup box on specific pages of your site to understand what each visitor wants. You could ask:

  • Is there anything you need before converting? 
  • Do you have any questions about this product/service?

In most cases, visitors will have questions, pain points, or objections before buying.

For example:

You might find out that people browsing a landing page want to watch a video. 

That’s a critical insight to planning your micro-conversion path; it’ll show you that you need to embed a video on the page itself before expecting anyone to complete another conversion goal further along the sales process (like joining your email list).

Make a list of the most common answers, and see whether you can plan micro-conversion paths to solve that for future customers.

PRO TIP:

Use all of the data you’ve collected at this stage and plug it into Miro. You’ll have a visual reminder of the typical micro-conversions someone takes before completing a final macro-conversion.

4. Create space for micro-conversions to happen

Great job! You’ve figured out the standard micro-conversion path people tend to follow on their journey to becoming a paying customer. 

Now that you’ve got this data, it’s time to put it to work.

The final step is to create spaces for those things to happen.

Just like each stage of Buffer’s journey, prospects are given easy calls-to-action (CTA) that push them toward the subsequent micro-conversion in their funnel. They do this through:

  1. Lead magnet forms on their blog post 
  2. Email automations with a "get your free trial" focus
  3. Emails to connect three social channels
  4. Calls-to-action inside the product to encourage them to upgrade

Do a similar thing for the micro-conversions you’ve found throughout your research process. Think of the order someone usually does each micro-conversion in and how they get from one stage to the next.

For an ecommerce site selling candles, for example, that might look like:

  1. Site messages to ask blog post readers to join your email newsletter
  2. Automated email series containing videos on how to make candles
  3. A final call-to-action that directs subscribers to your best-selling candle making kit
  4. An "add to cart" button on the product page

It’s simply a matter of connecting the dots and having several micro-conversions that come together and guide someone from first-time visitor to paying customer.

How to track micro-conversions

You’ve put all of the hard work into creating your micro-conversion path.

Don’t let your hard work go to waste just yet! 

Just like any marketing campaign, your job isn’t finished as soon as you start putting these micro-conversion opportunities on your website. You need to keep an eye on your conversion funnels to see how people are engaging with them—and, more importantly, whether people are completing the micro-conversions you’re asking them to. 

The first step to tracking micro-conversions is to create Google Analytics Goals for each. These are small, specific actions that someone takes on your website, such as:

  • Visiting a specific page
  • Viewing a video
  • Completing a form

To create a Goal, head to the Admin section of your Google Analytics account.

Find the Goals tab and select "New Goal":

Google Analytics Goal Step 1

You’ll then be asked to explain what the micro-conversion is. For this example, we’ll use the "watched a video" micro-conversion:

Google Analytics Goal Step 2

Finally, choose the context in which you want the Goal to be recorded. If you wanted to track a specific video, for example, you’d enter the category pages it’s found on:

Google Analytics Goal Step 3

That’s it! Repeat this process for each micro-conversion you’re tracking.

With all of your micro-conversions into Google Analytics as individual Goals, you’re ready to track the number of people converting on each.

Consider mentioning post-signup checkbox survey for podcast, blog, etc.

PRO TIP:

You can also use ConvertFlow's progressive profiling functionality to track the various pages and micro-conversions your contacts have taken along the way to becoming a lead or customer.

Just open up any contact in your ConvertFlow account and view their page and submission history:

ConvertFlow contact image

Learn more about contact profiles in ConvertFlow

Start tracking micro-conversions today

There’s no doubt that understanding micro-conversion paths helps you create better, more personalized marketing campaigns that push cold prospects into paying customers (without frustrating them.)

Fancy some great news? You don’t have to scratch your head, questioning how you move people from one micro-conversion to the next.

With ConvertFlow, you can create:

  • Site messages
  • Surveys
  • Quizzes
  • Landing pages
  • Popups
  • Sticky bars

All these can be hyper-targeted and managed in a single platform. Allowing you to strategically guide individual website visitors along the micro-conversion path you’ve planned out for them.

Start a free 14-day trial to see for yourself.

About the author

Elise Dopson

Contributor, ConvertFlow
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Elise is a writer at ConvertFlow, and expert in B2B marketing. She's been featured in publications like ConversionXL, HubSpot, CoSchedule, Content Marketing Institute, Databox, and more. You'll usually find her cooking up some high-quality content for the ConvertFlow blog or campaign library.