What exactly is a ‘conversion’? It’s up to you!

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The goal of any A/B test is to compare two (or more) versions of a web page and see which version performs best. What “performs best” actually means is entirely up to you and depending on the test’s goals, it could mean any number of things. But however you define “performs best,” you’ll measure this by a conversion goal, an aggregate goal, or an what I like to call an ultimate conversion goal.

Conversion Goals, Aggregate Goals and Ultimate Conversion Goals

A Conversion Goal is the measurement of some action an individual user has done on your site. A few examples include:

  • A completed purchase
  • A submitted form
  • A button or link click
  • Reaching a particular page

An Aggregate Goal is typically an average of some set of numbers across users. Time on site, revenue per visitor (RPV), or page views are Aggregate Goals because they average values across several users within a given experiment variation. A few examples include:

  • Time on site
  • Average Page Views
  • Average Revenue Per Visitor (RPV)
  • Articles read

An Ultimate Conversion Goal is the primary goal you have for your site. Both Aggregate Goals and Conversion Goals can be an “Ultimate Conversion Goals.” For example, a media site like the New York Times may use an Aggregate Goal like page views as their ultimate conversion goal whereas an e-commerce site like Target may use completed purchases as their ultimate conversion goal (although many e-commerce sites often use RPV).

Common Conversion Goals by Site Type

The following chart lists some of the most common conversion goals for particular site types. For the purposes of this article, I’ve broken websites down into four broad categories.

Site Type

Common Conversion and Aggregate Goals

E-Commerce – a site that sells things for users to purchase online.
  • Completed purchase
  • Each step within the checkout funnel
  • Products added to cart
  • Product page views
Media/Content – a site focused on article or other content consumption.
  • Page views
  • Articles read
  • Bounce rate (when measuring within an A/B testing tool, this is often measured by seeing if the user clicked anywhere on the page)
Lead Generation – a site that acquires business through name capture.
  • Form completion
  • Clicks to a form page (links may read “Contact Us” for example)
Donation – a site aiming to collect donations.
  • Form completion
  • Clicks to a form page (links may read “Send a donation” for example)

Identifying what constitutes a conversion for your website is part of building out your testing strategy. Pin pointing the specific action you want people to take most on your site will lead you to the tests that have an impact.

 

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