Conversions: Do You Really Know What That Means?

Conversions. They’re good, right?

Everyone wants them but almost nobody seems to really know what they are. This is one of those ‘If I had a dollar for every time someone said..’ kind of things that all digital marketers from SEOs to social media managers have to deal with at some point whether from clients, product managers or executives.

Recently, I’ve been having ‘less than thrilling’ conversations about how the word ‘conversion’ does not equal the sound ‘cha-ching!’ and that inspired me to write this week’s article. We’re going to talk about the different kind of conversions out there. I know I’ve discussed this before but since it seems that problem has not gone away, it’s time to cover this again.

We’re going to talk about the different kind of conversions out there. I know I’ve discussed this before but since it seems that problem has not gone away, it’s time to cover this again.





So let’s run it down one more time and here’s hoping I never have to have this conversation again.

But, of course, I will…….

Conversion? That Means ‘Money’, Right?


Short answer: no.

Long answer: no no no no no no no and no. Except in one instance when your actual advertising goal is to sell a particular product or service.

“But wait!” you say, “Isn’t the goal of all advertising to sell a particular product or service?”

Short answer: no. Long answer: yes and no.

Yes, your end goal is to make money but in reality, almost no one is going to just hand you money because you have an ad. You’ll understand as we go along. So let’s get started by defining the word ‘Conversion’.




A ‘conversion’ is when someone takes an action that you wanted them to do based on that particular ad’s goal.

That’s it.

Nothing more.

It does not mean:

  • INCREASED MY SALES 45896754967549%!!!!!!

Again, it just means someone did what you wanted them to do given that particular ad’s goals. Let’s break the top five most common conversion types down in no particular order:

Note: For these examples, we’re going to use an (obviously) fictional butcher shop called ‘Joey DeGrillo’s House O’ Chop Meat’.


‘House O’ Chop Meat’.

Deal with it.


Conversion Type #5: General/Brand Awareness



It’s exactly what it sounds like. Getting people to know that your company is a thing. In this case, it’s making sure people know that there’s this guy named Joey DeGrillo and he has a House O’ Chop Meat.


Maximizing impressions for your brand/most eyes on your ads. Again, we want everyone to know that this House O’ Chop Meat exists.

Why You Should Do This:

You know how Kleenex, Oreo and Google became household names and their brand names basically replaced the generic terms for the products they sell? It’s thanks to brand building.

You know why at first glance you probably wouldn’t buy filet mignon from a place called ‘Joey DeGrillo’s House O’ Chop Meat’? Because first of all, that business name is awful and second, who’s going to spring for the price of a steak at a place they never heard of?

You can have the best steaks in the world, the finest cuts of beef made from grass fed, free range (or whatever they do to make high-quality beef) cows and literally no one is going to buy anything from you if they don’t know who you are. This step gets your name out there so when people think ‘steaks’, they think ‘House O’ Chop Meat’…you get what I’m saying.

Think of it this way: just like in a personal relationship, unless you’re goofy, you don’t just wander up to a stranger on the street and say ‘Hey, let’s get married!’ and fully expect that to work, you can’t just say ‘Hey, I ran one ad, where are my sales???’

Nobody knows who you are or why they should give you a dime. This step solves at least the first problem. According to a study, it takes at least six to eight touchpoints before you get a qualified lead so don’t expect to get the wedding when you basically only just said ‘hello’.

For this type of campaign, we don’t care about sales, we don’t even care about link clicks to your site. All we want here is the maximum number of people to see your name. That’s it. Period. That’s your conversion. Did someone see your name on their social media feed? They did?

Congrats, Joey, you just made a conversion. Go have a cheesesteak.

Oh, and then re-run this campaign because guess what, to maximize its effectiveness, you don’t ever want to stop running these types of ads. Ever.

By the way, I don’t want to hear any whining about ‘but but but..I’m paying for these ads and I’m not supposed to get any sales or return on my investment?!?!’

Your ROI, in this case, is brand awareness. That’s something that every business needs. Gotta spend money to make money, Joey.

Gotta spend money to make money, Joey.


Conversion Type #4: Link Clicks



Again, it’s exactly what it sounds like. We want people to click your ads and visit your site. We want people to go to see the wonderful website for the ‘House O Chop Meat’.


It’s a ‘link clicks’ campaign, Joey. Your goal here is…link clicks.

Why You Should Do This:

Remember in the previous entry when we said ‘Nobody knows who you are and why they should give you a dime’? Well, the brand awareness campaign takes care of the first part and now the link clicks campaign will help take care of the second.

We want people to come to the site and see what you have to offer. Now people know who you are – or at least have heard your name before – they’re probably more willing to click your ads to see who this Joey DeGrillo guy is and what exactly a ‘House O’ Chop Meat’ does.

While a sale here and there on this type of campaign is great, don’t expect it. All we want right now is to get people to click through to your website and see what you have for sale, how much your items cost and what sets you apart from your competitors.

Maybe the person isn’t in the mood or in the market for a pork shoulder at the moment but they saw that you have them at the same quality and possibly lower prices than the guy down the street. She might just remember that fact when she is looking to make a purchase of pork-based foodstuffs for her next gathering or social event.

This is why the link clicks campaign is so important. Yes, we would like to make the sale but realistically, not every click is going to convert and not every click is going to turn into a paying customer but every click is a person learning about your brand and what you have or someone coming back again because they liked what they saw before.


Conversion Type #3: Post/Content Engagement



You make a post on social media, people do a thing. With this type, we just want people to take an action with your posted content. That’s all there is to it. It’s not that hard.


A like, share, comment, retweet, whatever the millennials are doing these days to voice their approval of online content. We want to show everyone that good ol’ Joey DeGrillo knows his chop meat and get people talking about it! Basically, we want everyone to immediately associate anything and everything to do with meats with the ‘House O’ Chop Meat’  brand.

Why You Should Do This:

Now that people have heard your name and know what you have, now it’s time to get some positive feedback or at least show people that your brand is worth considering. Also, there’s nothing worse than making a post on social media or spending time and effort to create what you think is a really good blog post and nobody seems to care.




However, this type of campaign is more about social proof than stroking your ego. Social proof is basically quality word of mouth. A lot of brands live and die by this. If you don’t have it and your competitors do, you’re in huge trouble. Sure, it may not lead to a lot of direct sales but trust me, you want this.

Another reason you want to do this, and to blog in general, is that it gives you a chance to show your company’s expertise and thought leadership in your industry. It doesn’t matter how ‘boring’ you might think your industry is, there is always something to write about that people involved in your field will want to read. If you can’t think of anything, use a tool like BuzzSumo or Answer the Public to find topics.

Be aware though, this type of campaign isn’t something you can just throw money at and hope for huge returns. You can’t just write a bunch of junk and throw a huge budget at it. Well, I guess you could but it’s not going to do what you want it to do. You need to actually make good, quality content here and then promote it. It’s not easy at first but trust me, its a skill you’re going to need to for all facets of your marketing and once you get it down, it pays dividends across all of your channels.


Conversion Type #2: Follower Campaigns



You make an ad to get more followers to your social media accounts. These definitions really are pretty self-explanatory, no?


Yeah, I pretty much just told you but OK. The goal is to get more people to follow your social media accounts.

Why You Should Do This:

Some people will tell you, “Hey, you! Follower counts are just vanity metrics! Don’t worry about those! BAH!!!” to that I say, “Nah, man. You’re wrong.”

While it’s true that a lot of your followers on social won’t convert, it’s also true that if people like to follow and deal with brands with large follower numbers. Take away from that what you will but put it this way, if you’re about to drop a few hundred or thousand on steaks and chops for a huge holiday barbecue and the only two people in town are companies you never heard of, who are you going to do business with: the guy you never heard of who has ten fans on Facebook or the guy you never heard of with about one hundred thousand fans on Facebook?

Thought so.



Look, it goes back to the whole ‘social proof’ thing we just talked about before. Social proof is a powerful thing but more than that, the bigger your fan base, the more likely they are to see your organic posts and a bigger pool of people you can market your sales and specials to down the road. Who would you rather give your business to and who would you rather see an ad from? A brand you never heard of or a brand you follow on Facebook?

Again, thought so.


Conversion Type #1: SALES!!!! CHA-CHING!!!!





A person buys a thing or books a service from you.



….for a person to buy a thing or book a service from you. You know, you really should try to keep up, Joey.


Why You Should Do This:

I’m not even going to answer this. If you don’t know why you should be making sales, you shouldn’t (and probably won’t) be in business very long.


The Bottom Line

So we’ve talked about what different types of conversions are and why each one is important to your business. If you get so bogged down in just the sales type of conversion, you’re literally going to be tripping over dollars to pick up dimes (if you even get dimes) or worse, running one ad and seeing no sales and then swearing up and down that social media ads ‘don’t work!’ or PPC ads ‘don’t work!’ or whatever channel you tried without really understanding what a conversion was ‘doesn’t work!’

Trust me, these channels work.

It’s why brands use them. They don’t do it just to be cool or waste money because they’re so flush with cash it gives them great joy to burn it.

Before we end it, another thing to be aware of is this: with the advent of multichannel marketing and whatnot, do not look only at the ‘last touch’ conversions when it comes to a sale. Remember those touch points we talked about earlier?

If you’re not tracking where your sales came from accurately, you might attribute your sale to the last interaction – your Google Adwords PPC or your SEO campaigns, let’s say – when the reality is that the person who bought from you saw your Facebook ad three times before they decided to go back to your website by searching for your name on Google, clicking the PPC link and then checking out.

And there you have it. Go forth and get those conversions, now that you know exactly what they are, that is!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s