Everyone is talking about content marketing. A study we will be releasing soon shows that 34.8% of marketers are putting their focus on this strategy going into 2013. However, the core of the online chatter is about content marketing as a traffic-generation opportunity. Few and far between are those preaching this conversion power of content.

We look at the power content marketing can bring to branding, traffic, and search results, but we rarely look at how quality content can lead to increased sales.

Unless your business model is CPM based, and very few business models are 100% CPM/CPC based, you need to convert your traffic into your paycheck.

So what does the transition from content to conversion look like?

Emotional Self-Regulation

Definition: “Being able to properly regulate one’s emotions. It is a complex process that involves the initiating, inhibiting, or modulating the following aspects of functioning”

This is a concept I have explored heavily in our ebook, Click It with Feeling: Driving Traffic Through Emotional Responses.

Emotional Self-Regulation is actually a skill set I learned when going to therapy to improve myself. The idea is that every action has a consequence as well as an initiation point that kicks it into action.

This is a perfect diagram of how marketing turns into a sale.

So if we look at content marketing we see a basic pattern:

People will argue that content marketing can lead to a sale on a visitor’s first visit, and thus the above view is flawed. However, that isn’t my argument. My experience and data suggests that content converts into what we call secondary conversions at a higher rate than direct sales. These secondary conversions can be worked into primary conversions or sales.

The Unspoken Truth

The unspoken truth with most content marketing strategies is that they focus on this level of the cycle:

Initiation Point –> Thoughts –> Feelings

The result of this level of the cycle is traffic, and that will put some dollars in your pocket, however leaving the Actions –> Results out of the mix will cost you more.

If you are generating content for the purpose of marketing a business, organization, or product the ultimate goal has to be bigger than traffic alone.  This may be the businessman in me speaking, but from most marketing professionals I speak to CPA metrics are an important part of how they are reviewed internally.

Secondary Conversion Focus

Knowing that secondary conversions carry so much value means we need to build a strategy to place a focus on the Action portion of the process.

What will my visitor do once my content wows them and how can I make that action easier?

This statement should be at the core of your content marketing strategy.
Here are a variety of ways you can get a content-based visitor into your conversion funnel:

1)   Retargeting pixel

This can be done really well or terribly. If you are going to drop retargeting pixels on content marketing channels based on traffic, the banner creative and landing pages should tie to the same topic and emotional trigger.

Some Companies to Check Out

2)   Facebook Activity

This will have varying degrees of value dependent on how utilize the data and how you go about working with your visitors via Facebook. Application based interaction will yield the most value based on the data it gives you access to.

Some Great Resources:

3)   Opt-In Email Lists

Email list generation has always been a core component in content marketing, largely in the form of newsletters and unique content.  You can do more with this structure, and the real core to this strategy is what you do with your email list once you have gained it. I would suggest reading The Ultimate Sales Letter to get an idea of how to convert traffic.

Some Great Resources for Opt- In Email List Building

We would recommend these two email platforms:

  • MailChimp
  • ParProgram

4)   Bookmarking and Social Sharing

Pinterest Pin’s , Stumbleupon Stumble’s , and various other ways that people share content online are low hanging fruit for content marketers, but most don’t do more than ad bookmarking widget plugins and call it a day. You must test your share button choices, placements, and other small changes to this strategy that can get you a large amount of conversions.

Social Sharing Plugins with Different Value

5)   Downloadables

You shouldn’t force every ebook or other important content downloadable to enter an email for the content; sometimes the content alone can have enough value from a conversion-funnel standpoint. Personally, I like to collect data, plus make the information easily shared taking as much money off the table as possible.

Manage Your Downloadables

  • Premise

6)   Coupons and Codes

The goal of a secondary conversion is to turn the user into a primary conversion, and little does this job as well as coupons.


Traffic is an Ingredient

Traffic is ingredient to success online, but unless the model is CPM based the value has to be extracted from the traffic to yield true results.  Conversions can expand beyond the first sale as well to yield increased conversions over time, and maximum ROI.

You are either making money online for yourself or being tasked with making money for others. Regardless, your job is to turn traffic into money, and an incomplete content marketing strategy isn’t getting that done.