When conversion tracking goes too far - Showtime Digital

When conversion tracking goes too far

03 October 2018 Read 1818 times

As marketers we are always being asked ‘what was the ROI?’ In the digital age of consumption that question can be hard to answer. So, we create metrics which will calculate a ‘soft’ conversion, or lower scoring lead, for example capturing an email address.

And sometimes, in efforts to prove ROI, providing a good customer experience is forgotten.

In this article I’m going to show you an online retailer who let marketing objectives trump user experience. And the social backlash which followed.

I’ll also demonstrate how another online retailer is meeting the same marketing objectives, in a more considered way. In fact, I will illustrate how this retailer is going the next level, to stimulate demand in their approach.

If you don’t give people a chance to get to know you, why should they provide their email address?

Online retailer Everlane use a carousel Facebook ad to showcase their sandals to prospective customers.


As a prospective customer I think ‘Wow fashion and function in one, that’s interesting!’

Acting on my intrigue I click through to shop now.


Boom! In your face, full screen pop up requesting email details. Let’s look a little deeper…

To view this item, please enter your email below. I’m sorry, what? As a consumer this is a totally jarring experience. They drew me in with product but now I can’t view the product. They asked me to ‘shop now’ but I can’t even begin the shopping process without providing email details?

Customer lost. The shoes didn’t look that great anyway…

And it turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought this.


Clearly, there’s a way around handing over your email to view the goods, as some comments point out. But let me say, an unsatisfactory user experience will turn people away. But a shocking user experience will evoke complaints…

Is it possible to engage your prospects and stimulate demand?

This question is the marketing trifecta. Tick all these boxes and you have struck gold. Which is exactly what online retailer Petal & Pup have done!

Petal & Pup also use a carousel Facebook ad to showcase their clothing to prospective customers.


People can click on ‘Shop Now’ and go straight to the item on the website. In testing this out, I’ve found there is a subtle demand-driver at play here.

Quite often, clicking on the item will reveal it is sold out. Many people would say ‘Idiots! Don’t advertise something people can’t buy!’ But in this strategy lies the magic – psychological targeting.

Knowing item has already sold out, is a signal of popularity, therefore elevating the item’s perceived worth. Now the potential shopper has FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Thanks to Cialdini’s principle – Scarcity, the product has now become highly sought after.

Based on this psychological drive, Petal & Pup take the chance that the shopper might be inclined to enter their email address to receive notification when the product is available again. In doing so, Petal & Pup can send them ongoing emails with product releases and offers to drive shopping purchases across a more cost-effective channel.

Let’s see it in action:




How can this tactic be justified when immediate sales can’t be made?

It’s likely Petal & Pup view Facebook as an awareness channel. They award budget to expand their audience, gain new customers and raise product awareness.

With awareness activities, the measures will be different. They are looking at reach, click through rates, clicks, comments, likes, shares to gauge success, not pure conversions. Tracking conversions on sold-out items is a ‘nice to have’ metric. Tracking the users who sign up can provide an understanding of the customer’s lifetime value, which in turn supports the awareness methodology.

Petal & Pup may find overtime, that the ROI of this type of activity is higher because the lifetime value generated for these kinds of users is higher than those who simply click and purchase.

Who did it better?

Using a similar approach, Petal & Pup were able to deliver a more useful user journey and stimulate demand for their product via psychological targeting. The goal is the same – both Everlane and Petal & Pup are chasing email addresses. Petal & Pup have offset expectation by tying email address to a desirable outcome. Whereas Everlane were brazen in their approach, providing no motive or value for an email address to be given. They are almost opting potential shoppers out, rather than opting them in.

By viewing Facebook as an awareness channel, the shift in measures puts less emphasis on the need for conversions. Conversion anxiety takes a backseat, allowing other metrics to measure performance. In this world, there is less need for overt attempts at capturing a conversion as ROI doesn’t come from the first click, it comes from the lifetime value generated.

At Showtime, understanding the consumer is at the heart of what we do. We love this example of weaving psychological principles into the consumer journey. When we are able to do the same for our clients, we find we are able to create a better user experience and generate better outcomes. If you’re wondering how you can create a similar approach for one of your products, put us to the test by contacting us.

Prue Takle

Prue is a creative in a suit. With degrees in both marketing and creative arts she naturally thinks outside the square, coming up with ideas that will engage audiences and promote larger-scale objectives. Prue enjoys creating synergy between branding and communications, especially when it comes to developing marketing strategy.