What is your content conversion rate?
That’s the search phrase that sent someone to the CopyPress site recently. At first glance, it’s easy to shrug it off — more has been written about conversion rates and ROI in the past few years than we could ever cover, right?
Out of sheer curiosity, I did a few Google searches on content conversion rates, trying to pinpoint what had sent the searcher to the site. Surprisingly enough? Thousands of articles have been written on conversion rates…but precious few have been written about content conversion rates.
Naturally, we jumped at the chance to talk about how content success can be tracked and measured. It makes sense: what’s the use of creating and paying for content if you can’t measure its success rate?
Of course, before we delve too deep into math and measuring sticks, we’ve got to address something more important: why you should care about your conversion rates.
Why Bother With Conversion Rates?
Conversion rates are all about finding how many fish you catch in your net: out of your monthly visitors, how many buy your product, call for a consultation, pre-order your book, etc. It’s how you measure the overall success of your website.
To be blunt: it’s how all those call-to-action pages and blog posts are making you money.
What’s the use of getting 5,000 unique site visitors every month if they don’t stick around? If they don’t buy your products? If they decline your eBook offerings? What’s the point of putting out three blog posts a week if they don’t do anything for your site?
Conversion rates hinge on one thing: your primary end-goal. This isn’t necessarily purchase-based, especially if you’re not running an e-commerce site. You might be out to generate leads, get subscribers, or just lead customers to a “Contact Us for a Free Consultation” page.
In theory, everything else on your site — the content, the About Us page, the Press page, etc. — should be funneling people towards that primary goal.
Thus, your conversion rate is calculated through a simple conversion-per-visitors equation:
Conversions/Visitors = Conversion Percentage
For example: You created a site to sell your latest cookbook. Your primary goal is simple: sell that book. Thus, if you have 50 book sales for every 1,000 visitors, your conversion rate is 5%. Your site (in theory) just converted 5% of its visitors into buyers.
Content Conversion Rates: Here’s Where it Gets Tricky
In theory, your content should lead visitors to that one end goal. Your content is the flypaper that catches visitors; those visitors then buy your products or utilize your services, right?
Sorry, folks. With content, it’s not that simple.
Because here’s the simple truth: not all visitors come to your site to buy your stuff.
To stay with the cookbook example, not all visitors land on your blog or watch your cooking videos to buy your book. Maybe they’re on your site to learn how to fillet a fish. Maybe they searched for “steamed cod recipes” and landed on your blog. Maybe they heard your name on a cooking show and decided to see what else you had to offer.
So not all of those visitors are looking to buy — and that’s okay. Because content can effectively work for your site and your conversion rate in other ways — even if it’s not directly funneling into your main conversion rate.
How Content Can Indirectly Boost Your Conversion Rate
Content provides your site with the following benefits:
- Building trust and authority in your field. Buyers/clients can feel more comfortable knowing that you’ve frequently written at length about the subject. Well-written, researched content builds trust in your expertise; trust builds sales.
- Building a steady audience/fan base. Gathering a group of interested fans/readers are fans of your brand; thus, they’ll be more receptive to your product (if they’re a fan of your blog, they’ll be more likely to be a fan of your book, for example).
- Enticing people to subscribe/follow in order to have regular access to your content. This means your brand is guaranteed to stay present in your audience’s minds; furthermore, you’ve got a natural captive audience at your disposal whenever you introduce a new product, special, or sale.
- Promoting your brand in a useful, likable way. As Andrew Hanelly brilliantly summed up in Engage’s Why Content Eats Advertising for Breakfast: “People seek out content. They tolerate ads.” Content marketing ensures you’re not just shoving your products in your customer’s face. Instead, you’re giving them something useful — something they actually want.
- Boosting your search engine rankings. Fresh content naturally helps your search rankings: it naturally attracts links, helps you rank for relevant keywords, and proves to the engines that your site is frequently updated.
Even though you may have a low primary conversion rate on your content pages, your content can still passively improve your website conversion rates.
Measuring Content Conversions: Micro vs. Macro
Chances are, most of your blog visitors aren’t looking to buy your products.
Let’s rephrase: most of them aren’t looking to buy your products right now.
Instead of getting frustrated over your relatively low conversion rate, you can measure your content’s success in other ways — in small victories that lead to an overreaching goal. Your end-all conversion rate is your macro rate. Your smaller successes — social shares, subscribers, etc. — can be measured as micro-conversion rates.
Here are some micro content conversion rates you can track over time:
- RSS subscriptions. Getting someone to commit to a blog subscription is a huge deal for your site. You’ve officially converted a visitor into a community member. You can track your subscriber analytics with Feedburner.
- Clicks on eBook/book links. Who’s checking out your book on Amazon? How many visitors express interest in your eBook or white paper?
- Comments. Comments prove you’ve struck a chord and caused a reaction with your audience. As a result, they’re more likely to remember your content (and your brand) in the future.
- Direct links to your site. Are other sites finding you and linking to you? That means your reach is expanding — and that these sites think you’re trustworthy enough to grant you a link.
- Social media shares. Which content gets people talking about you? How many people retweet your articles? How many people follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook after reading your content?
- Newsletter sign-ups/email subscriptions. This is a huge gain: not only do you have a new subscriber, but you also have an email address for your mailing list.
- Page views (and other basic traffic analytics). Which content brings you the most visitors? Which types of content has the biggest bounce rate? Which types of content brings you the most new visitors?
- Search rankings. Has your content caused a boost in your rankings? Are you getting new search traffic for target keywords because of your content?
- Content downloads. Who’s downloading your free eBooks? Who’s taking advantage of your white pages?
How Do You Measure Your Content’s Success?
Did we miss any micro-conversion rates to measure? Let us know in the comments!
Nicki M. Porter is a working writer, fledgling foodie, and admitted alliteration addict who spends entirely too much time in Google Analytics. You should probably follower her on Twitter at @nickimporter. Or better yet, come hang out with CopyPress on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr!