Conversion journey

The conversion formula – and how to make people do what you want them to do.

I stumbled across this formula for conversions – that works especially well for SaaS companies – and was intrigued by how simple and understandable this process is.

I’ve always been working from this mindset but never put the variables down in a formula, and it turns out that it helps with getting the mental picture right when you create your marketing campaigns.

Let’s dig in.

To begin with, the formula consists of two parts, one adding and one subtracting to make the conversion happen.

The first part has three components (Value Proposition + Motivation + Incentive) that are adding to a person’s willingness to convert.

The second part has two components (Friction + Anxiety) that decrease a person’s willingness to convert.

Depending on what you offer and who you sell to, you might weight them differently.

Let’s have a look at the Formula

At first sight it reminds us of those dreaded math classes in school. But fret not, I’ll walk you through it. It’ll become crystal clear once we reach the end of this article.

C = V + M + I – (F + A)

C         is Conversion Rate
V     –     is Value Proposition
M    –     is Motivation
I          is the Incentive
F     –     is the Friction
A         is the Anxiety

Let’s start with the first one.

Value Proposition

The Value Proposition can also be seen as the smallest denominator that distinguishes your product or service from others. To figure out your Value Proposition is an evolving process that takes testing and feedback from your customers – you’ll get this in time.

It can be something like this:

The Platform for Every Kind of Social Media Marketer.

With Falcon you can be a content wizard, team whisperer, analytics geek, customer hero and strategy guru.

–, a social media management tool

Or this one.

A Planning and Collaboration App Teams and Managers Love.

Favro is a new and easy all-in-one planning and collaboration app. Get developers, marketers and executives on the same page, and start achieving your goals faster today.

–, a product management tool for tech companies

I’ve been working with both these companies and we’ve spent many hours perfecting and testing what best describes the product and drives further engagement, but at the same time is easy to understand and relatable for every customer in the target audience.

Once you have your Value Proposition in place, people will find it much easier to understand why they should use your service or product, what value they get from it, or how they can explain what you do to other people. This is key.

No matter how important Value Proposition is, it is only one piece of the puzzle, one of the things you need to consider before actually getting a person to do what you want them to do – you need to trigger their Motivation too.

Motivation is the strongest driver for people to convert.


Motivation is the foundation of the formula. It’s your base, and it depends on factors that you can’t really change in the short term.

Manipulating motivation requires either a lot of effort over time in order to construct a need in people, and then convert them. This approach is often combined with that people are not solution-aware yet and don’t know that there is a solution to their problem. The initial focus should be on educating the customers about the problem and that you have the solution.

Or, the easier way, find a true need that people have and work hard to meet it in some way with your product or service. These customers are looking for a solution since they are already aware of the problem they are having.

Successful companies have built their brand over a long period of time, and have built up that motivation for their customers to buy.

Motivation can stem from several different needs, the immediate need to find a solution to a problem a customer has, and then usually turns to Google or their network for a solution.

So, in summary: motivation is something that comes from deep within, and builds on a need to solve a problem.


The next component of the formula is incentive. This element helps a person to understand why they have to do something now rather than later.

People are generally keen on procrastinating and postponing their decisions, so we as marketers need to find a way to trigger that incentive now, rather than later.

There are several ways of doing this. Normally, when we communicate a deal to an audience we put a clear time limit on every offer. Something like a Black Friday offer that lasts only for a day or weekend.

I recently did a Black Friday campaign for a clothing brand we’re we were targeting cold audiences with a Black Friday discount through Facebook ads, and even though these customers haven’t established a relationship to the brand beforehand they were more than willing to jump on the deal, thereby creating motivation through incentive.

A lot of internet marketers use a tactic with limited time offers or that they “threaten” to increase the price of their product in X days, thus creating a incentive to act fast.

You should make sure that a user understands why they need to convert now rather than later.Depending on your industry, or what you are trying to make people convert to, you will probably need tune the messaging in different ways.

Let’s have a look at the conversion formula again, as we have now covered the first part of the equation, Value Proposition + Motivation + Incentive.


C = V + M + I – (F + A)

Your task is to fine-tune these three components we’ve seen so far, until they are stronger than the two subtracting ones we will cover next.

The more you do that, the more you’ll be able to convert people into buying your product, downloading your ebook, or grabbing your app from the appstores.

Now we’ll move on to the subtracting factors of converting.


Friction is everything that removes the ease from a user’s experience on the journey to converting.

In the case of a website, friction might be things like slow load time, badly created forms, poor mobile responsiveness, and bad navigation that unwillingly make people work hard to reach the conversion point.

Identifying friction starts by looking at actual challenges that exist the user, both in the physical or digital interactions that a person makes along the journey to converting.

How to reduce Friction

The best ways to reduce friction is to make actual users try out the conversion journey and provide feedback. The hard thing here is to get reliable feedback though, as people might be too proud to say what they have found difficult, or feel that they need to construct obstacles in order to be useful.

Services such as and are really useful for trying out your website to a specific audience with a specific set of skills or industry knowledge.

Also using tools like’s recording feature helps you see the user’s interaction and time spent on specific pages of your website in order to find out where people hesitated and what made them hesitate.

Whatever you find through these methods it should give you the information you need to update your website, and messaging.

There are really only 3 things you can change: the Design, the Copy, or the CTAs. Once you’ve made some changes, you need to test, observe, learn, and test again.


While anxiety is the same as friction, but for everything that exists inside the person. All of the psychological perspectives that go into making a decision.

Anxiety might be things like a lack of https (indicating a secure page) or ‘verified symbols’ on a checkout page, or photographs of your products that cannot be enlarged, or no terms of service or information about the company. Anything that makes the user question whether or not it is safe to convert.

In a social context, like if you want someone to share something to Facebook, then you have to consider all the anxieties that go into ‘putting yourself out there’ in front of your network.

One classic example of this is when you authenticate yourself to services using your Facebook account. This might trigger some anxiety regarding how the service will use your Facebook account. Ff you then anticipate this anxiety and add a relieving message such as: “We don’t post anything to Facebook” underneath the ‘Login with Facebook’ button, you should be able to get around this issue.

How to reduce Anxiety

When testing for anxieties I’ve found that customer interviews are actually are very useful. What we did at was to create a set of questions that we wanted the sales representative to ask the customers once they had signed up for a Demo of the product. Questions like; “What made you hesitate when signing up?” or “What was unclear with the signup page or the product in general”?.

However, this technique only added data about the user’s that actually did sign up, not the ones that didn’t. What we did to gain some information about these customers was to implement a question popup using (or similar tools) that shows the user a question after a set time period on the landing page. We had several questions that were rotated to that the user only were presented ONE question, but different questions for different users. The questions where: “Do you understand what the product does?”, “Is anything unclear about what we offer?” etc.

In fact, interviews and questions to your customers are perhaps the only way that you can figure out what someone was actually feeling when they didn’t convert. Our main issue at falcon was that we didn’t have a pricing page the first couple of years, which was the source of a lot of the hesitation. A pricing page was later introduced though since the benefits of having one increased with the volume of visitors.

An issue related with having a booking a demonstration of the product is that people feel more obliged to use the tool after, but this can be fixed by putting a message like “Try a no-obligation live platform demonstration to see Falcon in action for yourself.” relieving the feeling of stress from the customer.

Another important topic centered around alleviate Anxiety is trust.

In order to fix trust issues you need to figure out a way to meet their need for reassurance.

When customers are faced with a trust issue, I always try to look for third party verification. This means, simply, that you should either put customer reviews and/or customer logos on your website, ideally in close proximity to where the signup process is located.

If that doesn’t work, and people are still anxious, you could try combining logos with a strong incentive to convert. You focus on telling them the story, that if they don’t do what others have already done, then they risk missing out. This could be something like “Join 10,000 other marketers increase their Social ROI”.

That’s all for now – make sure to also check out How to get Email Addresses From Facebook Groups