Skip to content

How would you like to generate more website engagement from your upper funnel digital marketing, without increasing your spend?

In my last article, I talked about how optimising for leads (for your lead-generation website) was like throwing money away. The logic here is similar. Today, I’ll be talking about how to crack the top half of the funnel and sharing some golden nuggets.

A quick disclaimer – this is only for some of the top funnel.

As many of us are aware, it’s normally important to choose a campaign objective and bid strategy that align with your objectives. Some campaign objectives should continue to be used for their desired purpose; left uncracked, if you will. If you want to increase brand awareness/recall and you aren’t interested in website visits, then you should stick with campaign objectives and bid strategies that align with these goals. In this article, I will be focusing on how to optimise when you want people to visit your website – and engage with it.

Generating website visits is important for the upper funnel. Multi-funnel marketing strategies typically rely on top-of-funnel activity to fuel the bottom-of-funnel activity. This is regularly achieved by defining broad audiences, reviewing ad engagement to refine those audiences, and using clicks from those audiences to build remarketing lists.

There is a big problem with this strategy – it doesn’t guarantee good-quality website traffic – and you need good-quality website traffic. Cast the net wide, show lots of impressions, and people will bite. You’ll generate some clicks. Clicks may be your primary objective, or they may be a nice by-product. But a click is not the same as a website visit. And a website visit is not the same as a website engagement. And you need people to engage with your website or there is no chance of them converting, right? That’s why you need good-quality traffic.

Introducing Microconversions

A microconversion is a measure of engagement. It’s an action that you’d expect a user to complete before they convert by way of a macroconversion (make a purchase, complete a form, or contact you, etc). For ecommerce websites, you are probably already aware of some microconversions such as add to basket, view cart, and begin checkout. But microconversions are often under-utilised for ecommerce and are certainly less commonplace for lead-gen websites. There’s a phrase that we love at Fountain: What you can measure, you can improve.

Microconversions are great for optimisations, reporting, retargeting and even business growth. You can use microconversions to generate higher-quality traffic from your top-of-funnel campaigns.

Off-site, a microconversion could be an engagement with your ad, such as (but not limited to):

  • Watched % of your video (e.g. 75%);
  • Clicked through to your profile page; or
  • Viewed comments

On-site, a microconversion could be (but not limited to):

  • Scroll depth* (e.g. 75%);
  • Time spent on site (e.g. 3 or 30 seconds);
  • Number of pages visited (e.g. 5 pages);
  • Clicking on a call-to-action (CTA); or
  • Clicking into a form

*Most websites have pages that require either little or no scrolling. Therefore, when measuring scroll depth, it’s really important to ensure that you only do this on scrollable pages. Otherwise, anyone who visits an un-scrollable page will be added to the list of people who scrolled 100% of the page.

This is by no means an exhaustive list because microconversions will vary for each website. Identifying and harnessing microconversions opens a lot of doors for your digital marketing. From more efficient bidding to more website engagement, more insightful reporting, and even business growth.

Microconversions for Optimisations

Funnily enough, advertisers often like users to visit their websites. Therefore, a common tactic is to optimise for clicks. Unfortunately, the types of people who are likely to click on your ad are not necessarily the same people who are likely to engage with your website (or later become a customer). This is because some people are click-happy, and/or perhaps your targeting is slightly off, and/or your targeting is spot on but not everyone is ready to engage with you right now, and/or some people are in fact not people at all (they are bots). Attracting those types of visits to your website is a waste of money.

Smart-bidding algorithms are constantly improving. Big ad platforms are always getting better at working out who is likely to do what on your website. All we need to do is point the algorithm in the right direction.

Therefore, instead of optimising towards clicks, why not optimise towards people who will load the page? Better yet, optimise towards people who are likely to scroll down 75% of your landing page. Or people who are likely to click on a CTA? Or people who are likely to visit 5 pages on your site? Or any of the above? Doing this will help get your ads in front of more people who are more likely to engage with your website. This reduces spend wasted spend, which leaves more budget available for ad impressions for users who are more likely to engage. This is infinitely better than the “optimise towards clicks” approach that many advertisers choose. Plus, your remarketing lists are going to be cleaner too!

Not only does this reduce wasted spend, but you get higher rates of engagement and more people engaging with your website.

Microconversions for Growth

Smart-bidding algorithms on big ad platforms are infinitely more complex than what a human can achieve. Historically, we have tried to gain learnings and insights by repeatedly segmenting known audiences, or by using third-party services and data to identify new audiences that might be interested in your service or product.

But when given the right information (microconversions), the algorithms can already work out who is most likely to engage with your website. (Which means more time and resources for you to work on 5-star creatives!)

Perhaps once you have tested optimising towards microconversions in your upper funnel, you can broaden your already-broad target audience even further, which means you can reach outside of your known targeting, and reach entirely new audiences!

Microconversions for Reporting

As an advertiser, you may be interested in reporting things like impressions and CPM to the board. But is that really measuring success?

Measuring success from your top-of-funnel activity can be challenging because some metrics are more useful than others. But it isn’t always clear which metrics are useful and which require more context. Metrics such as impressions, cost-per-mille (CPM) and frequency mean nothing without more context.

Here’s a hypothetical that uses real ratios that we’ve seen in the wild. Let’s say you define a target audience and generate 1,000,000 impressions. Those impressions lead to 5,000 clicks. Those clicks result in 3,000 website visits. Out of all of those visits, only 450 spent 3 seconds or longer on your website. Even fewer visitors scrolled or visited multiple pages.

Using real ratios, you could have had 5,000 clicks and only 450 people engage with your website. To make matters worse, you are either paying per impression or click! From 1,000,000 impressions and 5,000 clicks, why are so few people engaging with your website?

It’s probably because you are trying to generate lots of impressions with a low CPM, or perhaps you’re trying to generate lots of clicks.

  • If you want a high number of impressions and a low CPM, then your ads will appear in cheaper ad placements which also appear to less valuable users. It costs more to get good ad placements in front of valuable users.
  • If you want more clicks, your ads will appear in front of people who are likely to click, but that’s not the same thing as people who will engage with your website.
Reviewing your Targets and Measure of Success

When you want to (or need to) get people to your website, then lots of impressions and a low CPM might sound great, but these metrics by themselves lack context. A higher CPM with fewer impressions can absolutely be worth it!

When one door closes, another opens. Whilst impressions might be going down, and CPM is going up, you should be able to see that the number of microconversions is increasing – from the same investment. This means more engagement with your website. And isn’t more website engagement a much more tangible way to win new customers than an ad impression?

To be clear: To increase your website engagement rates and get more people to engage with your website with the same spend, your impressions will likely decrease and your CPM will likely increase.

This is because the algorithms know what they’re looking for to achieve your engagement goals. In this example, your goals are microconversions. Meet Fred – he is in your target audience but isn’t likely to engage with your website. Yasmin is also in your target audience, and she is much more likely to scroll through your site and click on those CTAs.

When you optimise towards impressions and clicks, you are giving equal value to Fred and Yasmin. But not when you optimise towards microconversions. When you optimise your upper funnel towards actions, then the algorithms will bid less aggressively for Fred, which means fewer impressions. But when they see Yasmin is online, then the bid will be more aggressive. This is because a higher bid means a better chance of getting your ad in front of Yasmin, but it also means a higher CPM. Putting it all together, you get fewer Freds but more Yasmins. You get fewer impressions and a higher CPM, but more success.

You may need to just review which metrics (and targets) are important to measure what your success looks like.