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Is there a formula for online marketing success?

Supplier: Industracom
10 November, 2011

It’s easy to get distracted and focus too much on the numbers behind marketing campaigns, and it’s important to keep in mind that marketing is as much about creating and nurturing relationships as it is about trying to maximise response rates.

In saying this I was invited to a marketing webinar1 some time ago and they proposed a formula to calculate the probability of conversion on website landing pages. 

The formula that they came up with was C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a where

C= Conversion probability
m= Motivation of the user
v= Value proposition clarity
i= Incentive to proceed
f= Friction elements of process
a= Anxiety about proceeding

Now it’s been a while since I had to work with equations but what struck me right away was that this formula wasn’t designed to calculate actual conversion probability. It’s actually a way to demonstrate the relationship between the different factors that influence whether or not people will respond when they engage with your marketing - not just online, but with all of your direct response marketing.

Let’s look at these factors in a bit more detail and expand on these using examples from an IndustrySearch Storefront:

Conversion probability

The goal of an IndustrySearch Storefront is to provide enough information to our users so that they are ready to contact suppliers directly. In this case someone clicking through to the supplier to “Find out more” could be considered a conversion. Using this equation, the factors listed below will influence our success in this area.

Motivation of the user

It’s very important to understand the motivation of the people engaging with your marketing so you can tailor your message to meet their needs. We know that our audience are motivated buyers who are researching prior to making a purchasing decision, so we’ve structured IndustrySearch to include information that will help their research. It’s also worth pointing out that in the above formula, motivation is weighted very highly as a conversion probability factor.

Value proposition clarity

The value proposition can also be thought of as the “what’s in it for me” element. Most B2B marketing is about understanding business problems and providing solutions. We encourage our Storefront owners to provide specific information about how their products and services can help our audience find solutions that meet their needs. This content should clearly demonstrate the benefits using text, images, and video demonstrations where appropriate.

Incentive to proceed

Offering an incentive is a powerful option available to marketers and it often helps to get a prospect over the line. It doesn’t have to be as specific or tangible as discounts or free shipping, and many of our Storefront owners go into detail about their extensive experience and capabilities and highlight these as incentives.

Friction elements

Friction is the term used to describe anything that makes it difficult for people to do what you’re asking them to. Something as simple as having your contact information buried in a different section of your website can add friction to your conversion process. Using the example of IndustrySearch we address this by placing our “Find out more” links prominently on all Storefront and product pages.


Anxiety is the little voice in the back of someone’s head asking them if they’re sure this is going to help and worrying whether it’s the right decision. Providing enough information to establish trust and credibility can overcome this. IndustrySearch aims to overcome this by publishing accurate and relevant information from active and motivated suppliers that provide value to our audience.

If it helps you can also think of these factors as levers that you can control to improve the conversion rates for your marketing. If your results aren’t what you are expecting try looking at each of the factors above. Whatever you can do to understand motivation, clarify your value proposition, add an incentive and reduce friction and anxiety will improve your marketing conversion.

While C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a may or may not be a formula for online marketing success, understanding and managing the contributing factors will hold you in good stead.

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