How to Make More Conversions Out of Your Content
Though we sometimes try to frame it differently so we feel less mercenary, content marketing is about making money.
Yes, we’re offering value and we’re giving customers what they want. At the end of the day, though, none of us would be sitting around trying to come up with some new, interesting angle on a timely subject if there wasn’t some form of payoff at the end. No one in the world of marketing is that generous and giving.
Is there really a way to make content more effective at converting visitors into customers? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Here are a few tips to help you increase the conversion rates of your content.
Understand People and Their Behavior
This might seem a little out there and philosophical. However, the more you understand about how people operate, especially in terms of their behavior as consumers, the better able you will be to create content that converts.
Open up any book on consumer behavior and you will find that they all reiterate one very important point: people buy based on emotion. Purchasing is rarely a rational, well-thought out, logical choice. People buy impulsively and then rationalize their decision after the fact.
So, what does this mean to you as a content marketer? It means that you need to use your content to elicit emotions in people that will get them to buy.
For example, a number of studies have been conducted that show peer pressure is one of the most effective ways to get people to do something. When a hotel tried to convince customers to reuse their towels, they first put up a sign in the room that simply asked people to reuse their towels. They then tried a different approach with a sign stating that a large number of the people who had used that particular room had reused their towels. The percentage of people who reuse their towels was much higher with the second sign than with the first sign.
One example of a website using this approach is Telerik.com. As you can see below, right on the homepage, the first subheading states that 1.4 million developers love their “UI frameworks and app development tools.” This is a form of peer pressure, as it shows the website’s visitors that people just like them are using and benefiting from Telerik’s products, which is extremely powerful from a marketing standpoint.
Telerik understands that this form of social pressure is very powerful, but it becomes even more powerful when backed by social proof. So, when you scroll down on their homepage, they display a series of testimonials prominently. These two elements work together to create a powerful connection with visitors because if their peers are loving these tools, then they need to get in on the action too.
Remember: your goal is to create desire in people. You want them to get to the point where their emotions are fully engaged and they can’t help clicking the buy or join now button, or whatever it is you want them to click. The best way to make a conscious effort at this is to understand how people’s minds work.
Stop Beating around the Bush and Ask for What You WantOne problem we’ve seen with many content marketers is that they are so worried about alienating their audience that they never ask for the sale/conversion. They beat around the bush, make suggestions and just, generally, avoid coming out and saying what they want.
The fact is that many of us don’t like selling, especially since there’s still this stigma against it as if you were a used car salesman trying to push something onto your audience. You need to change your mindset if this you. You certainly don’t need to be as pushy as the archetypal used car salesman but at the same time you can’t be the shy secretary hiding behind her glasses in the corner.
Most people need to be told point blank what it is that they need to do. You need to make things simple for them meaning that oftentimes you need to ask for the sale. This is also referred to as the call to action.
However, it isn’t enough to just ask for the sale. You need to make sure that call to action is prominently displayed and is all over your site. You don’t want it to become too annoying, but you need to make sure people see it clearly.
Returning to our previous example, Telerik does this with a link right at the top of their homepage, giving people an opportunity to sign up for one of their services to discover “What’s Next in App Development.” This trend continues with a floating menu bar on each of the of product pages that allows people to find out the pricing of those products or to get started right away. And that menu bar is there permanently, making it easy and simply for people to buy.
One approach is to use pop-ups. They have gained quite a poor reputation, but they can still be used effectively. You could, for example, give people a few minutes to get into the content and then a pop-up appears asking them to sign up to your site if they like the content. Make sure the “close” button is visible so people don’t get too annoyed, but you will find a large number of them will join the site because you’ve made it simple for them. They don’t have to go hunting for a form or anything.
SeekingAlpha.com, a stock market news and financial analysis website, uses pop-ups quite effectively. They allow visitors to read two-thirds to three-quarters of an article, and then a pop-up appears indicating that you have to sign up to finishing reading the article. Considering they’re only asking for your name and email address, most people won’t give it a second thought because they want to finish what they started.
Make Your Content Personal and Create a Feeling of Community
Your content shouldn’t sound like something out of a textbook or a board report. You have to learn to “speak” directly with your audience. This means using “you” and “your” regularly, both in your content and in your headlines, as it will help create a stronger connection with the person reading your content. Though logically they know you haven’t written the piece just for them, their subconscious still interprets it as such, up to a point, which is why it’s such a powerful approach.
Using expressions like “Join Us” and “Become a Member” will help create a sense of community. Everyone wants to feel like they belong and that’s precisely what you will be offering them when they join “the club”.
Of course, if you want to take things to the next level, then make your audience feel as if they will become part of something that’s very exclusive. While people want to belong, they’re desperate to be a part of something exclusive because of the perception of prestige such exclusivity engenders, which is irresistible. So, employ wording such as “By Invitation Only”, “Join Our Exclusive Club” and similar phrases and you’ll find your conversion rates increase significantly.
Quite a few sites are using this “community” approach to convincing their visitors to sign up. For example, the Content Marketing Institute invites their visitors to join a community made up of 100,000 of their peers. Not only do they inspire a sense that subscribers will be joining a strong community, but they also use social pressure very effectively.
If you join, you clearly will become part of a community. By specifying the number of peers you will be joining, the smart people from CMI create a sense that you need to be part of that community too. Could you be missing out on a key piece of information 100,000 other content marketers already know? That’s what you’ll end up thinking without even realizing it.
Of course, then the fear factor comes into play. What are you missing out on? What are your peers learning/discovering/reading that you aren’t? Because of this train of thought you’ll pop your email address into that little box faster than you can blink without even realizing the debate that’s been going on in your subconscious.
If you really look at these tips, you’ll realize that they are all the result of analyzing consumer psychology and behavior. This is why it’s so important to understand your audience. Once you have a good grasp of consumer psychology in general and of your audience in particular, you’ll be able to create content that converts like crazy.