factors that affect conversion



This is a formulaic representation of the factors that affect the conversion process as developed by the great guys and gals over at www.MarketingExperiments.com

Being a scientist by training and at heart I love a perspective like this,  as it not only exhibits all of the primary pieces involved, but also the relationship between them.  It is that interaction that is key.  When all factors are considered and addressed properly they are able to work in conjunction and bring about the end goal results converting your visitors.

Here’s the formula:


Now, let’s go through what each of these elements is and means:

 C = Probability of Conversion

This is just what is it says, the probability or chance of getting a prospect to take the step or action you desire from them.  In statistical terms, probability is the likelihood that a given (or desired) outcome will occur.

In marketing terms… the chances of getting an optin or sale.

 m = Motivation of User

This is also a simple concept… in short, how darned strong is the psychological push in the prospects brain to take the desired step. 

If the message to market match is good then you are offering something that the target prospects need or want.  We would then refer to them as "targeted" prospects.  If the message to market match is poor than you are asking the prospect to take a step that is too far out of their realm of natural possibilities. 

When thinking motivation ask yourself… wouldn’t it feel much better to have folks throwing their credit cards at you than having to club them over the head and drag them through the door?! 

v = The Clarity of the Value Proposition

Consider this statement for a moment… "The Clarity of the Value Proposition".  This is no reference to what the value proposition is or even its quality, but merely how clear it is to the observer.  If the prospect has to work too darned hard to even figure out what the value proposition is then you’ve probably lost them. 

i = Incentive to Take Action

 Now this is a factor over which you as the marketer have total control.

The easiest way to explain this factor is to demonstrate it.

Ask yourself this question:

Have you ever made a purchase in part for or

simply because of the bonuses being

offered with the primary product?

 Here’s another one… have you ever signed up for something or purchased a product by a specific date to avoid a stated price increase (think early-bird deadline!)?

This is the pushing of some basic psycho-emotional triggers at simple beautiful work.  This is the sort of stuff we see employed in sales offers both on and offline every single day.

 Yet another field in which this is employed online is in the "Free Gift" realm.  You know the ones:


Get a Free iPod!

Get this Free Gift Card!

Get a Free Laptop!

If you have an email address and have spent ANY time on the Internet you’ve undoubtedly seen one or more (probably more) of these offers.

In the example above they are incentivizing the prospect to "complete an offer (such as sign up for a credit card, or blockbuster online) and then get five of their friends to "complete an offer"… and once that is done they’ll send them an iPod.  They are using the incentive of the iPod to push people into taking the actions they want… in this case signing up for trial offers.

The examples I’ve just given are extremes but I think you’ll agree that they very clearly demonstrate the point.

The bottom line is that this can be powerful stuff and is an important aspect of the conversion process.

f = Friction Elements of Process

This element is a simple on in concept but is comprised of a million possible factors.

In short, this is an hurdle, be it psychological, physical, emotional or functional that may halt or slow the conversion process.  A classic example is a multi-step checkout process online as opposed to one that requires the user moving between a minimum of pages (steps).  The harder a prospect has to work the less likely they are to convert.

I just heard a new friend of mine, Perry Belcher of www.PerryBelcher.com speak at Yanik Silver’s Underground Seminar 5 (absolutely fantastic event!) about a simple way that they bypassed sales cart friction.  Here’s the example:

It has become a relatively standard practise on the Internet for a customer to be delivered an up-sell or secondary offer on the thank you page after they make an initial purchase.  This is a proven way to increase sales per customer but there are some issues to consider.

Yes, by making that offer right while the customer is in the buying mood and in fact may still have their credit card in-hand you can increase the "probability" of conversion as compared to emailing the customer with a follow-up offer.  The problem or friction element here is that the customer is going to have to go through the entire purchase process again… the same one they just completed.

SOLUTION:  what if the customer only had to click a single button to add that back-end offer to their first purchase?

That’s it… that’s all they have to do is click a single button that says "Add This To My Order Please!"

Do you think conversions might go up?  We just removed the huge friction element that was having to re-enter all of their personal and credit card information.  Conversions go through the roof with a move like this!

That is exactly what Perry did (Sorry, I can’t share the script that does this he gave to those of us in attendance… or I’d have to kill you!).

Do you get the point though?

Here’s an example from the world of copywriting: Objections

These are the possible reasons for maybe not buying or the questions that a prospect may have that cause some level of disbelief:

  • Too much competition
  • This one looks like all the others
  • Why aren’t they doing it themselves?
  • I can’t do all of that myself
  • What if I find out it doesn’t work for me?
  • And a myriad of others.

The job of a great copywriter is to anticipate those objections (friction elements) that may slow or flat out stop the purchase process and then address the solutions or answers to each of them.

 And last but far from least…

a = Anxiety About Entering (or revealing) Information

For those of us who work on the Internet and have gotten quite used to filling out forms and purchasing things online this may not be an important factor…

But what about the vast, vast majority of Internet users for whom there are grave concerns of identity theft or just plain being ripped off?

This is a very real issue that must be addressed and can be resolved in many instances with a few simple tactics.

The key word here is really "TRUST".


In the earlier days of the Internet (2-5 years ago ) marketers generally tried to combat this factor by including anti-Spam statements and/or links to legal Privacy Policies.  These are still very good tactics and most definitely should be employed.

Let’s take things a number of steps further.  These days if you want most anyone to make a purchase from you online you must gain their trust.  You do this either by being an accepted authority or brand (Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, etc.), by building a relationship with the prospect which takes serious time and effort (if not money), or lastly by borrowing trust from another source.

That third option is generally the easiest and here are some examples of such borrowed trust:


(here’s a recent one for my Exit Popup www.UltimateExitPopup.com)


Gotta love receiving impromptu stuff like that one!

Trust Symbols or icons:

These have been one of the smallest changes with the biggest impact for many ecommerce sites.  Here are a few examples:

Honeste Online (owned by my buddy Jimmy Sweeney)

HONESTe Online Member Seal Click to verify - Before you buy!

 Paypal payment processor


Or here’s yet another great one, McAfee’s HackerSafe logo


 There are other tactics that can be used as well such as consumer ratings, referrals, security statements etc.  The key is identifying the ways you can do it… and doing it!

 So there you have some further insight and explanation for each of the critical conversion factors identified by MarketingExperiments.com  If you haven’t yet visited their site you should as they have a tremendous amount of FREE research and resources that any marketer can use.

The Take Away

Now, the grand take away you need to get here is that there are a variety of very different factors that affect conversions.  Each of them has an impact on their own and should be attended to… However, like with any good marketing plan you really need to take a step back and look at things from a holistic perspective.  Consider all of the parts and how they work in conjunction.  Then start making changes and testing each one at a time.  Before long you will have made a difference in each and the overall result should be a dramatic increase in your conversions.

There’s a lot going on there to think about.  Any thoughts or comments about this post?  Any part of it ring home or touch a specific pain point?  Maybe you just simply slapped yourself in the forehead and said "Damn… so that’s why I ain’t selling anything!".  Regardless the reason or reaction, please share it with the rest of us below as a comment so we can all keep our businesses moving forward.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

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