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How to use the conversion equation to find relevant conversion levers

Reading time: 2 minutes, 59 seconds


How to use the conversion equation to find relevant conversion levers

The conversion equation - also called MECLABS Conversion Index - was formulated by Marketing Experiments more than 10 years ago. It is designed as a heuristic representation of what goes through visitors' minds when considering whether or not they should convert.

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) - 2a ©

When applied with care, this formula allows marketers to understand what conversion levers they should apply pressure on to generate more conversions.

Conversion - C

On one side of the equation we have C, which represents the probability to convert. It is often ignored by marketers but should be pondered cautiously. You need to figure out:

  • Who are you aiming at converting? Be specific.
  • What's a conversion? Is it a sale, a signup, a pageview?

E.g. let's say you're running a fitness blog generating income from ad revenue. You need visitors to stay longer on the site and to click on ads to grow your revenue. In this context there are many ways to define conversion; it could be a visit with more than 3 pageviews, or a click on an ad, or event signups (generating more engagement over time).

Without knowing first what a conversion means for your context you'll have a hard time finding applicable ways of using conversion levers. So pick one conversion goal to get started, preferably the KPI that impacts the most your site's primary income stream.

Conversion levers - 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) - 2a

On the other side of the conversion equation are the conversion levers. As you can see with the numbers, some are more important then others. Let's dive in:

4m represents motivation

It is the single most important factor, and there is nothing you can do about it: you can't very well sell a fridge to someone looking for a oven. You can however investigate visitors' motivation to create new conversions that would fit, or refine your acquisition strategy to attract traffic with the right motivation to match your conversion objective.

3v represents the value proposition

It is the perceived value of the conversion, and the reason why visitors should convert with you, not with a competitor. The stronger the value proposition the more likely a conversion is to occur; to strengthen your value proposition you can make your offer exclusive or more appealing by providing more details or emphasizing user benefits. The higher visitors perceive the value of the conversion the easier it will be to sell.

2(i-f) represents incentive and friction

It is a representation of how easy/difficult it is to actually convert. Friction makes it more difficult (e.g. filling out long forms, asking for unreasonable information) while incentive makes it easier (e.g. "if you fill out this form, you'll get this for free"). To increase the likelihood of conversion the incentive should outweigh friction elements as much as possible.

2a represents anxiety

It is whatever could stop visitors in the process of converting; is this site secure? Will I be disappointed by my purchase? Will it be delivered on time? The better you understand these concerns the easier it will be to address them with the right solution at the right time for the right visitor. E.g. "Delivered on time or your money back".

I've used this conversion equation very often over the years. It is not a scientific formula of course, but it is a very useful tool when running a conversion diagnostic or conducting conversion research.

Want more info? Read the detailed presentation by Marketing experiments.

Have you used it before? Did you find it useful? Share your thoughts (-: