How to identify the right micro conversion goals for your website using Google Analytics

A beginner’s guide to tracking micro and macro conversions

Patrick Han
Oct 4, 2017 · 9 min read
Image via Marketoonist

In the past year, we’ve interviewed more than 100 small business owners. Almost all of them agree on one fact — at the end of the day, it’s all about conversion.

Nothing matters unless it converts. Conversion is the only reason your digital marketing exists in the first place.

However, many business owners do not know that conversions can be divided into what digital analysts call micro conversions and macro conversions.

A macro conversion is what you traditionally think of when you hear the word “conversion.” The importance of tracking macro conversions is a no-brainer: after all, it is the ultimate goal of your website, whether that’s making a purchase or filling out a lead form. For ecommerce businesses that sell products on their website, for example, it would be product purchases.

A micro conversion, on the other hand, would be actions that a prospect can take that brings them closer to the macro conversion on their digital customer journey. This means that most micro conversions are indicators of interest, such as subscribing to your newsletter, spending a certain amount of time on a lead page, or clicking on a product page.

Conversion funnels are like a game of Chutes and Ladders. If you only track macro conversions (how many users make it to the finish), you miss all the micro conversion points along the way where users may drop off (chutes) or get fast-tracked to the goal (ladders). Image via Uncyclopedia.

So why should you care about tracking micro conversions?

Because micro conversions measure the early engagement actions of a customer’s digital journey before a purchase, which are not captured by macro conversions.

The 4-step digital customer journey framework we use to help our clients maximize their bottom line at every stage of the customer journey (corresponding metrics in parentheses).

If you don’t track how your users are “micro converting” to important engagement actions on your website, you can’t fix these friction points. And if you don’t fix these friction points, you are literally leaving money on the table.

In this article, we’ll cover:

How to Select the Right Micro and Macro Conversions for your Business

For most businesses, selecting the right macro conversions is fairly straightforward. After all, macro conversions simply reflect the company’s key business objectives.

Our AI marketing tool automates this whole process of setting up micro/macro conversions. Sign up to try it out for free.

For ecommerce businesses, this is usually product purchase completions. For other businesses (e.g. SaaS or B2B), this might be app downloads, lead form submissions, creating a new account, or free trial signups. This is why you have a website at all, and it usually has to do with the bottom line of your business.

However, buying may not be the only reason your users are coming to your website. Other reasons for visiting your website may include:

  • Information and research for your product or service
  • Customer or technical support
  • Reading or watching your content
  • Signing up for your jobs list

These user activities, while not immediately serving your business objective (i.e. your macro conversion), still have value for your business. As such, you should set micro conversions for these other user interactions, which may build trust and credibility with prospects.

So the principle behind selecting your micro conversions is simply to identify the main conversion funnels, i.e. the series of user actions, that bring prospects closer to their macro conversion.

Step 1: Write down a list of potential macro and micro conversions

First write down your main 2–3 business objectives. For example, a business objective can be to increase ecommerce sales for a new product.

Next, write the corresponding macro conversion for each business objective. This should be a trackable Goal on Google Analytics (e.g. a destination goal for the purchase confirmation page).

Then write down 2–3 corresponding micro conversions that lead to each macro conversion (e.g. clicking on the “Shop Now” button on the home page).

An example goals document with an ecommerce company’s first business objective, macro conversion, and micro conversions.

For example, for many of our ecommerce clients, the main conversion funnel looks something this:

Home Page >> [click on “Shop Now” button] >> Product Gallery Page >> [click on a product] >> Product Page >> [click on “Add to Cart” button] >> [click on “Checkout” button] >> Checkout Process >> Purchase Confirmation

You can use our Micro/Macro Conversion Goals Template (a public Google Doc) to get started:

Step 2: Check the behavior flow report on Google Analytics to validate this funnel

Go to the Behavior Flow report on Google Analytics (Behavior >> Behavior Flow). Use this report to see if the funnel you had in mind is the way that most of your users are actually flowing through your website.

Micro conversion tracking allows you to identify how well your users are getting to the next step toward the finish line. Image via IAAF.

Start with your best landing pages by traffic and engagement (most sessions, lowest bounce rate, highest average session duration, etc). Then look at your exit pages to see where people are dropping off. You may be surprised to discover unexpected behavior flows from and to pages that you did not expect.

For example, you may find in your Behavior Flow report that 60% of your website users go to your Shop page by clicking on the “Shop Now” button. Then 50% of these users go to a product page. Then 30% of the remaining users go to the Checkout page.

Therefore, the main user flow for this website is:

Home >> Shop Page >> Product Page >> Checkout

You then want to set micro conversions for each step of the process (e.g. clicking on the “Shop” button).

If you really want to verify the best sequence of micro conversions, on-site user surveys are one of the most scalable options to investigate how users are really getting to your macro conversion. Learn more about user surveys with Avinash Kaushik’s article on the 3 most important questions to ask in a website survey.

Now that we’ve explained how to select the right micro and macro conversion goals based on your Behavior Flow data, let’s talk about how to set it up in Google Analytics.

How to Track Micro and Macro Conversion Goals on Google Analytics

As we explained in our tutorial on setting up Goals in Google Analytics, there are 4 types of Google Analytics Goals:

You can set up Goals for page visits without using Google Tag Manager. You can find Goals in Admin >> View >> Goals >> New Goal button. You can create up to 20 goals for each website property. Learn more about how to set up Goals in our Goals setup tutorial:

Step 1: Set up destination goals and goal funnels for the micro/macro conversions that represent page visits.

Destination Goals are often ideal for macro conversions such as purchase completions, because you can simply use the URL of your purchase confirmation page (or thank you page) to set up a destination Goal.

You can then build a conversion Goal Funnel with a sequence of destination Goals. Currently, Google Analytics only supports Goal Funnels with destination Goals. Check out our tutorial on how to set up Goal Funnels here:

Step 2: Set up event goals, duration goals, and pages/session for your other micro conversions

Unlike macro conversions, engagement-related micro conversions are sometimes Event Goals such as button clicks. For example, some of your micro conversions may include clicking on a “Shop Now” button or submitting a form.

To track these kinds of micro conversions with Event Goals, you need to create tags with Google Tag Manager. You can add the tag directly into the headers of your website, but we recommend using Google Tag Manager to centralize your event tracking and tag management.

Check out our tutorial on event tracking with Google Tag Manager here:

Once you’ve set up your Event Goals, set up any micro conversions that are Duration Goals or Pages/Session Goals. These micro conversions are especially useful for adding highly-engaged visitors to audiences or retargeting lists for Google Adwords campaigns.

For example, you can set up a micro conversion Goal such that if a user visits more than 3 pages and spends more than 2 minutes on a lead page, Adwords will add them to a retargeting list (because I see these visitors as “hot leads”). Adwords can then automatically retarget them with display ads and Gmail ads.

Step 3: Plan a weekly workflow to monitor your micro/macro conversion goals

Once you have all the tags set up to track conversions, it’s time to implement a weekly workflow to monitor your conversion metrics.

Our AI marketing tool automates this whole process of setting up micro/macro conversions. Sign up to try it out for free.

I would recommend setting aside at least 30 minutes at the end of every week to review your micro and macro conversion metrics in your Goals reports under Conversions (Goals Overview, Funnel Visualization, Goal Flow).

You can even configure Google Analytics to email you and your colleagues these reports at a set time every week. You may want to schedule reports to be sent to the relevant executives, managers, and IT teams.

Based on this information, you can use our Analyze-Act-Monitor framework to turn these conversion metrics into action steps to improve your business.

Our simple 3-step Analyze-Act-Monitor framework. We recommend incorporating this cycle into your weekly analytics workflow.

Here are some questions to get you started:

Next Steps

As you can tell, selecting and tracking your micro and macro conversion is not a trivial exercise. It takes a serious amount of time and learning to test, monitor, and iterate your conversion goals to make sure you have the right goals on Google Analytics.

That’s why at Humanlytics, we’ve been helping a few dozen businesses set up the right micro and macro conversions on Google Analytics by analyzing their digital marketing data. Many of these businesses are led by very smart and technical cofounders. But even these entrepreneurs who are trained in digital marketing and data analytics often don’t have the bandwidth or resources to set up their conversion goals correctly with a data-driven process.

This is the reason we decided to build an AI-based conversion recommendation tool as the first feature of our marketing analytics platform. Setting up the right conversion goals was such a common pain point among our clients and beta testers that we felt compelled to solve this problem first.

Our AI-based marketing analytics tool delivers recommendations for the right micro and macro conversions for your business. PC: The Daily Dot

The tool simply takes your Google Analytics data and uses AI on the back-end to recommend and setup the conversion metrics (and target numbers) that are most relevant to your business. In other words, the tool automates everything we’ve explained in this tutorial so you can spend less time learning this stuff through trial-and-error, and more time doing what you do best — running your business.

If you’re interested in beta testing this feature for free (or need help setting up your conversion goals), shoot me an email at Thanks!

Action Steps

This article was produced by Humanlytics. Looking for more content just like this? Check us out on Twitter and Medium, and join our Analytics for Humans Facebook community to discuss more ideas and topics like this!

Analytics for Humans

We examine how technologies can work with humans to create…

Patrick Han

Written by

Seer Interactive Alum | @VentureForAmerica Alum | Former Contributor to Analytics for Humans Blog

Analytics for Humans

We examine how technologies can work with humans to create a brighter future for everyone. To that end, we showcase augmented analytics tools we are building to bring us closer to that vision. Beta test our AI-powered marketing analytics tool for free:

Patrick Han

Written by

Seer Interactive Alum | @VentureForAmerica Alum | Former Contributor to Analytics for Humans Blog

Analytics for Humans

We examine how technologies can work with humans to create a brighter future for everyone. To that end, we showcase augmented analytics tools we are building to bring us closer to that vision. Beta test our AI-powered marketing analytics tool for free:

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