Content serves many roles. It’s designed to provide value to your users, so they become more trusting of and familiar with your brand. It helps you rank higher in search engines. And perhaps most importantly, it gives you a platform to call your users to action, securing more conversions — and therefore, revenue — for your business.
But what happens if you’ve optimized your content for conversions, and you’re seeing a steady stream of visitors, but you aren’t seeing a decent conversion rate?
Obviously, there’s a problem with your sales funnel and/or conversion strategy, but pinning down the root of the problem can be tricky. That’s where these seven steps can help your investigation (and ultimately, fix your problem):
1. Check your conversion process. First, take a look at your conversion process. Walk through it as if you were a user encountering it for the first time. How long does it take for you to fill out the forms? Alternatively, how long does it take to go through the checkout process? Is it easy to provide payment? If your conversion process is overly complicated, if it takes a long time, or if it doesn’t load properly on customers’ devices, they aren’t going to convert. This is rarely the holdup, but it’s a relatively easy fix if you find it to be a problem. Just be sure to check the process on multiple different devices to get the full picture.
2. Measure differences in content performance. Next, dig into your website analytics and figure out exactly how your content is performing. This could illuminate one of many possible root causes. For example, if your content simply isn’t bringing in traffic, it could be a sign that your content isn’t engaging or valuable enough to truly captivate your audience. If you notice that some of your content is more popular, and sees a higher conversion rate, you may infer clues about the type of content most capable of converting. Take notes here. If you don’t notice any significant differences in content conversion rates, you can move on.
3. Audit your audience targeting. Next, consider what audience you’re targeting. Your conversion success depends heavily on who you’re targeting, and how you’re targeting them. For example, if you’re targeting an audience too early in the sales funnel, they won’t be ready to buy when they read your content, and they won’t convert. If you’re targeting users further along (i.e., those ready to buy), but you aren’t appealing to them in a way that invokes a sense of urgency, they may pass on your offer or leave your site feeling unfulfilled.
4. Audit your inbound traffic. Next, figure out where your inbound traffic is coming from, and how that traffic is converting. This could help illuminate potential problems with individual segments of your audience. For example, if you notice that all your organic SEO traffic seems to be converting fine, but your conversion rates for social media users are much lower, it could be a sign that you aren’t targeting the right social media users with your campaign, or alternatively, that you should spend more time and money investing in your SEO campaign (since you know it’s working).
5. Create more in-depth, targeted content. Turn your attention to improving the depth and relevance of your content. Spend more time creating fewer, higher-quality posts — after all, quality is better than quantity — and conduct research to determine just how much your audience enjoys your content. User comments, surveys, and social listening can all help you figure out how your content is performing, and give you signs that your improvements are taking you in the right direction.
6. Experiment with different calls-to-action. If your content is on point and your traffic sources seem accurate and plentiful, the problem probably lies with the nature and frequency of your calls-to-action. Are you prompting users at the beginning or end of your content? Are you using blunt sales pitches, or a softer, more suggestive approach? There are lots of examples of persuasive calls-to-action, but there’s no surefire formula for success here — brands and audiences are too different for there to be a one-size-fits-all strategy. Instead, your best bet is to experiment with different styles and approaches, and filter out the ones that don’t appear to be working.
7. Measure, adjust, and repeat. Once you’ve done everything else on this list, you’ll have a stronger idea of how your content is working and how your calls-to-action are working, and you’ll have a solid first batch of experimental strategies to refer to. At this point, your greatest asset is the scientific method. Once you find a strategy that works, you’ll be tempted to stick with it, but it’s actually better to keep experimenting, keep measuring, and keep adjusting to incrementally increase your performance. There’s always room for improvement and always room for expansion, so keep tinkering indefinitely
The deeper you get into learning about conversion optimization, the more you realize it’s an art as much as it is a science. There are claims of “weird tricks” that can instantly multiply your conversion rates, but the evidence for these tricks are limited and anecdotal. You’re better off learning the fundamentals, and applying your own changes, discovering what works for your brand specifically rather than what works for everybody else.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!