If you follow tech blogs, read Internet marketing reports or tweet regularly, you’ve probably come across the buzzword conversion. Conversion marketing, optimization and calculating conversion rates are growing discussions on the web today. Many of us know the right steps to generate and measure web traffic. The challenge now lies in persuading users to buy something when they visit. Converting visits to business is never easy unless you’re Apple. It can be especially difficult for SMBs and startups who are also working overtime on growing their brand.

As I scanned the Internet for resources on web conversion for a new LinkedIn Group, I realized that so many users aren’t sure what conversion means for marketing. I tweeted my concerns out to many. I asked for help on LinkedIn and Quora. Some expressed their confusion and others thought I was inquiring about web conversations instead. So why is  conversion buzzing around so much lately?  Without fully understanding what web conversion is, the chances of  creating a successful marketing strategy and choosing the right tools to increase conversions are slim.

Instead of speculating and adding more confusion to the pot, I decided to ask the “pros” what conversion means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Eric Tsai

Eric Tsai

@designdamage Malaysia

Web Strategist, Marketing Ninja, Author. Focus on Integrating Social Media, SEO, SEM & Content Marketing for Business ROI & BI. I work @WebMetro

http://designdamage.com

On his blog, Eric Tsai defines conversion as “an action a user takes on your site that has value to your business.” In a recent Twitter interview, he added that “conversion is an opportunity to help someone and to build a relationship with your brand.”

Tsai posted a set of equations to show how conversion rate can be calculated to discover marketing campaigns ROI:

Brian Massey

Brian Massey

@bmassey, Austin, TX

Conversion is the science of turning Web visitors into leads and sales. It also makes the Web more interesting.

http://ConversionScientist.com

 

Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist and author of a column on Conversion Science featured on Search Engine Land, was quick to lend me his expertise on conversion over LinkedIn:

”Advertising takes money out of your pocket. Conversion puts money in your pocket. Social media takes your time. Conversion pays you for that time. Clicks cost. Conversion pays. Where are you spending your time and money?”


Ian Lurie

@portentint, 47.567177,-122.38454

Internet Marketer. Author of http://www.conversationmarketing.com. I tweet marketing & news 5-8 times/day.

http://www.portent.com/

 

Ian Lurie, tweeted me back a short and sweet definition: “Conversion: What happens that lets the marketing team keep their jobs.”

“No one’s done a really good job of tying all the separate components of a successful Internet marketing strategy into a single package. Lots of people have created and thrown around phrases like ‘Web 2.0′ and ‘Social media’. But those phrases only make things more confusing.” So Lurie took initiative and started his website as a guide for good decision making.

 

Aaron Bradley

Aaron Bradley

@aaranged, Vancouver, B.C.

Search marketing consultant specializing in enterprise-level organic SEO. Semantic web stringer, compulsive categorizer. I like to cook!

http://www.seoskeptic.com/

 

Aaron Bradley often blogs about Conversion Rate Optimization on Search Engine Land.  He defines conversion in a few steps:

“What is conversion? What people often overlook in focusing on the noun is the meaning more apparent when in the verb form. When you convert a visitor, you have successfully transitioned them to one state to another.In the context of the web, the nature of this conversion is almost always converting a visitor from a passive state to an active state.  Browser to buyer. Reader to re-tweeter.Just in traditional constructions using convert, such as a religious conversion, or a convert to a cause, web conversion optimization focuses on the desired outcome, rather that the starting point. Success is not measured by what a visitor was doing before, but what you’ve persuaded that that visitor to do.So what is conversion? It is successfully persuading a visitor to take a desired action or sequence of actions that satisfies the fulfillment of a predefined goal.”

So next time you need to create or tweak an online marketing strategy, remember conversion first. What steps can you take to influence your visitors to make the next move? Conversion comes in all forms and sizes. Whether you’re looking to get more people to order your product, share your article or techniques on how to baptize a bear(?), there are many great resources and experts that can help.

Thanks Eric, Brian, Ian and Aaron for all your help!

Nancy E.