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While attending SES San Francisco this year, I was able to watch an incredible keynote by none other than the Google Analytics creator himself, Avinash Kaushik. During his presentation, he drew an in interesting analogy in website data analysis called “the one-night stand.”

Avinash KaushikThroughout his keynote speech, Kaushik frequently cautioned the audience against focusing on the one-night stand aspect of customer conversions. According to Kaushik, one-night stands are website visits that end only in a visitor making a purchase. Many digital marketing experts have become incredibly efficient at focusing on this small group of website visitors. But considering that this group, on average, represents just 2 percent of your website visitors, is it really worth putting 98 percent of your website traffic on the sidelines?

Is this really the type of relationship you want to have with your online customers? Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to enjoy nice long walks on the beach (like attending a webinar), send meaningful letters (actually reading your email marketing), or confess your feelings in public (social media endorsements)? These are the customer relationships that can transcend into brand advocacy with the right amount of nurturing.

There’s a ton of business value in customer engagement actions that don’t result in a purchase. For instance, users who tweet or blog about your brand are valuable. Other actions that have business value include signing up for an email, watching a video, writing a product review, sharing your content on social networks, attending a webinar and completing a contact form. These are called micro-conversions, and they should be tracked and targeted with the same efforts as purchases.

The savvy Internet marketer could probably come up with a pretty good estimate of what a micro-conversion is worth to the company in terms of dollars or revenue. However, it’s good enough to simply track growth in these metrics rather than to dig in and really find out what a new email subscriber is worth to the company. This may, however, be a worthy exercise if you’re fighting for departmental budget.

Most people today do a fair amount of research before making a purchase online. It’s important that you nurture these people rather than ignore them when they visit your website and don’t buy immediately. It’s really the 98 percent of your visitors who are the best candidates to turn into that 2 percent who actually buy. But, more than a conversion, the most value driven from a deeper customer relationship is when you turn these people into brand advocates.

If you’re having trouble identifying which online channel is generating the most conversions for your business, check out our free eBook: Valuing Digital Marketing Channels with Attribution Models.

How does your company work to create long-term relationships with your customers? Tell us in the comments.

Aaron Aders

Aaron Aders

Market Research Director at digitalrelevance
Aaron is a co-founder and Market Research Director at digitalrelevance. Building on more than a decade of Internet marketing experience, Aaron has contributed in many roles including Graphic Designer, Project Manager, Systems Analyst and Chief Operations Officer.
Aaron Aders
Aaron Aders
Aaron Aders

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