Content marketing is only effective if there’s a clear plan and a well defined goal behind it. Obviously, what can be a better goal than higher conversion rate. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to adjust your content marketing to focus on conversion optimization: Match your content plan to each step inside your conversion funnel.
What is a Conversion Funnel
A sales funnel is your site visitor’s path to a desired conversion.
It doesn’t have to be a path to a sale, actually.
You may want your site visitor to join a free trial, subscribe to your email list, download your brochure, request a product demo or a call-back, contact you, or, of course, buy your product.
One page can include many different conversions, so the conversion funnels may all lead in different directions.
The food news is, this article will fit any conversion or content marketing conversion funnel.
What Does a Conversion Funnel Look Like?
The traditional conversion funnel is linear:
A more modern approach to conversion funnels is claiming they are much more diverse and multi-step:
This abundance of colors is not just for a pretty picture. It is done to symbolize multiple steps towards an action. On top of that, your sales funnel doesn’t end at the actual conversion (e.g. action). Once a visitor converts, there’s another step: Advocacy.
As I am an active advocate of turning your customers into your loyal supporters, I’ll stick to this 5-step approach to a conversion funnel:
Here’s a content marketing trick to help each step towards the bottom of your sales funnels:
Awareness: Optimize for Search Intent
The awareness stage is on the very top of the content marketing conversion funnel: It is all about attractive new visitors to your site. The awareness step is fundamental – meaning that without it there’s no one to follow your funnel.
There are lots of ways to attract traffic to your site, including social media, PPC ads, building referral traffic and more.
Yet, the most consistent, reliable and – as a rule – profitable source of traffic remains organic search.
There are many reason why organic search traffic win the traffic generation game, including:
- It doesn’t interrupt the customers’ journey, unlike social media ads that tear users from browning friends’ feeds and force them into third-party landing pages offering them to buy something they were not really looking for at that particular moment
- It matches the in-the-moment need: Google users are actually there for a purpose and search results match that purpose precisely
- It is not affected by “banner” blindness, as people are pretty used to ignoring ads in any form these days, etc.
In fact, in most cases, if you are not findable in Google, you are neglected.
This puts SEO as the highest priority for top-of-the-funnel (TOF) success.
While traditional SEO (keyword research and link building) is still mandatory for search findability, there’s a newer tactic out there that is becoming more and more important: Search intent optimization.
Search intent optimization is matching your page content and layout to a searcher’s exact need behind each search query.
Put simply, there’s no need in creating a how-to article to rank for something like “buy a phone”, like there’s no point in trying to sell a phone to a person searching for “why my connection is slow.”
You want to give each searcher exactly what he was looking for, and Google puts much more emphasis on whether you do.
Text Optimizer is an intent optimization platform that uses semantic analysis to cluster Google’s search snippets for your target queries into related concepts and entities.
The tool also analyzes your existing page to show you which audience it targets and what to do to better match an intent behind any search query:
Search intent optimization is actually essential for both “discovery” (top of the funnel) and action (“interest” and “engagement” steps which are right in the middle of the funnel because it:
- Helps your content rank higher
- Engages your audience by giving them what they were initially searching for
Interest: Ask a Good Question
Interest stage is where you basically prompt a first-comer to make a pause and get curious.
It is actually harder than you may think as the digital browsing is getting faster and faster paced every year. People are getting used to scrolling through information-packed social media feeds.
Scanning is quickly replacing reading, and people switch to the next item on their list faster than they can realize if they need to pay attention.
Information overload is making it incredibly hard to get web users to pause and give a page a second glance.
Asking a good question is still effective though.
Questions have been found to trigger a natural “answering” instinct in human beings, that is, when hearing or reading a question, we have a natural impulse to pause and start looking for an answer.
This is why most TV commercials start with a question. And this is why you need to focus more on answering questions in your content creation process.
Google seems to agree with this strategy as they are actively integrating questions into their search result pages in the form of “People Also Ask” boxes, and even adopting a new type of structured markup, called FAQ schema, to give pages featuring answers to popular questions more visibility in search:
That being said, when creating your copy, focus on asking (and answering) popular questions that people tend to ask when researching your topic or product online.
Google search is a good source for questions worth covering. IMN Featured Snippet tool collects Google’s “People Also Ask” results and suggests the best ways to integrate them into your copy:
Engagement: Match Your CTA to Your Context
Every page is a different start of a new buying journey, so on-page calls-to-action should match that journey.
While there may be site-wide CTAs that appear on each page (e.g. “contact us!”), do take time to create a custom call-to-action matching each of your pages individually.
The best example of that implemented well is Hubspot that features a new, relevant CTA on each blog post:
[Every Hubspot blog post has a unique CTA matching the particular topic or angle of the current page]
You can easily implement contextual CTAs with the TLDR CTA plugin that allows you to integrate your call-to-action inside your article summary.
Action: Analyze and Compare Your CTAs
You cannot improve what you are not measuring, so monitoring your progress is a must. As soon as you start rethinking your conversion optimization strategy, set up an effective process of tracking what has really been performing well and what yields no results whatsoever.
This will help you better optimize your process going forward and spend time only on implementing tactics that have proved to work well.
Finteza is a web analytics suite with a strong focus on conversion optimization. It allows you to easily visualize your sales funnel to be able to spot which steps are leaking conversions sending users away,
[Here’s a clear example of a middle-of-the-funnel page that leaks conversions ending 92% of mobile traffic away: Something to diagnose and test!]
There are quite a few B2B conversion optimization tools as well as powerful Google Analytics alternatives to choose from, so make sure to test a few other options.
Another way you better understand what triggers your customers is to get into a good habit of surveying them. Customer surveys help you to better understand your audience as well as provide you with content ideas. Here’s how to do them for free.
Finally, a conversion is only the first step of interacting with your customer. What you really want is that they come back to buy again, or even better:
That they come back to buy again AND bring a friend too!
Repeat customers buy again, and loyal customers sell!
Your content marketing can help turn one-time buyers into loyal customers.
You can achieve better brand loyalty if you consolidate your content marketing asset into something bigger, better organized and more useful.
One idea is to create a video course or a knowledge base (here are tools and plugins for that). This strategy has lots of benefits, including turning your brand into a niche educational hub and creating a lead nurturing channel.
Conclusion on Conversion Funnel Optimization
To focus your content marketing strategy on higher conversions, think how your content help on every step of the funnel:
- Awareness (Top of the conversion funnel): Optimize for search intent!
- Interest (Middle of the conversion funnel): Ask and answer questions in your content
- Engagement (Middle of the conversion funnel): Match your CTAs to your copy
- Action (Bottom of the conversion funnel): Monitor how your different CTAs are performing and fix those that leak traffic
- Advocacy (Bottom of the conversion funnel): Consolidate your content assets into a long-term project (like a video course) to keep your leads engaged and tied to your brand.
Hero photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash