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Does your customer experience track anti-conversions?

Just about every digital marketer tracks conversions of some sort. They are those happy events where your customer buys something from you–or at least takes a big step in the right direction. But what do you track when there is no conversion to mark success? If someone comes to your website with a question, and finds the answer, there isn’t necessarily a conversion.

Let’s take an example. I am buying a new monitor stand for my desk, because I want to be able to move the monitors into different positions to help me avoid back and neck strain while I work. I found a nice stand, but now I want to know if my existing monitors can be attached to the stand. I have the specs for the stand, but now I visit the website for the monitor manufacturer to find the attachment specs for the monitors. I find the page and I exit the site happy. It was a positive customer experience, but no conversion. How do you measure that?

Enter the concept of the anti-conversion. In this case, when I reached the manufacturer’s site, I searched for the model number of the monitors and the word “specs” and I didn’t find anything useful. I re-searched expanding to “specifications” and I found what I was looking for. But what if I hadn’t found what I was looking for? I likely would have opened a chat with customer support. That’s an anti-conversion.

You measure anti-conversions for the same reason you measure conversions–to see how often they happen and to develop your return on investment model. We all understand the ROI model for conversions, but we need to consider anti-conversions as the sad sibling of conversions that tell us that the customer experience on the website did not work. Chats and phone calls are hugely expensive compared to the cost of customers finding their answers on the website through self-service, so avoiding those costs is a critical way websites can show ROI.

In fact, there was another anti-conversion we could have measured from that story. When I searched for “specs,” I didn’t find anything useful–a bad customer experience. But how would we measure that? I didn’t click on anything. A searcher should get results (no results is an anti-conversion), should click on a result (no click is an anti-conversion) and stay on that page for a period of time (pogosticking quickly back to the search results page is an anti-conversion).

So, not only should you be focused on counting conversions and counting anti-conversions, but you should be modifying your customer experience to make them easy to count. In addition to chat, maybe place a “Call Me” button on your site, rather and a phone number–because you can more easily count when they press the button and you can tie that action to the poor experience they just had.

Sometime you can’t tell when something worked, but you can tell when it didn’t work. That’s what anti-conversions do and that’s why they are so important for improving your customer experience.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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