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  1. 50 Reasons Your Landing Page Isn’t Working

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    If you have a landing page set up and you’ve noticed that your conversion rate isn’t growing, or that your audience isn’t engaging with your content, it can be confusing and frustrating. This is especially the case because landing pages are affected by hundreds of independent variables.

    So how on earth are you supposed to tell why your landing page isn’t working?

    In this guide, I present to you 50 possible reasons your landing page isn’t working—with solutions for each.

    Why Landing Pages Matter

    If landing pages are so complicated in the first place, why use them?

    • Landing pages provide destinations. No matter what types of marketing and advertising you’re pursuing, your users need somewhere to go. Landing pages provide that ideal destination.
    • They’re a focal point for conversion. Landing pages give you the opportunity to confront your users with a conversion opportunity, maximizing your potential revenue and/or customer value.
    • They allow for segmentation. Because landing pages are separate from your site, you can also use them to segment your target demographics and cater to them individually.

    So with all these advantages, why isn’t your landing page seeing better results?

    Why You Aren’t Getting More Conversions

    Let’s take a look:

    1. You haven’t measured anything.

    First, ask yourself how you’re able to determine the success of your landing page. Are you going by a gut feeling? Are you just noticing that nobody has filled out your contact form? If you aren’t measuring more in-depth metrics, such as how many people are visiting your landing page or what your exit rate is, you’ll blind yourself to the real variables responsible for your performance. This is inexcusable, especially since so many free tools, like Google Analytics, are on the market. If you haven’t been measuring and analyzing your progress, get started immediately—you’ll need those numbers to measure how effective your correctional strategies are.

    2. It isn’t loading properly.

    Don’t scoff at this. You’d be shocked and embarrassed to learn how many people scratch their heads over why more people aren’t converting when their pages don’t load properly to begin with. Fortunately, this is simple to detect and fix. If you’re looking for the easiest way, try visiting your landing page using as many different devices and browsers as you can think of. Is it loading? Are all your images viewable? Is your form easy to see? You can use a tool like BrowserStack to help test this. Otherwise, be sure to check out Google Search Console, which can tell you if your website is down and help you track down the reason.

    3. It doesn’t view correctly on mobile devices.

    Mobile optimization is a critical feature for your landing page, just like your main website, as the majority of traffic, for many businesses, now comes from mobile devices. Because landing page layouts are especially sensitive to directing users’ eyes and interactions, it’s vital that your page look attractive and engaging on mobile devices specifically. Is the bulk of your content easily viewable? Is all your text readable? Are your buttons easy to find and click, without zooming? Is it able to scroll easily? If not, you may wish to reconsider your design to cater to these mobile users. Again, BrowserStack can help diagnose problems here.

    4. The buttons or form fields aren’t functioning properly.

    Your web form is the star of your landing page; if it isn’t functioning properly, your visitors aren’t going to proceed with converting. Run multiple tests on multiple browsers and devices to make sure your functionality is intuitive and responsive; for example, is it easy to click into a form field? Do you proactively warn your visitors when they haven’t filled out a required field? Are your buttons easy to click? Do your dropdown menus load quickly and easily? Any deviation here could be an excuse to abandon your landing page, so don’t take chances.

    5. You aren’t targeting a niche audience.

    Who, specifically, are you targeting with your landing page? If you don’t have an answer, or you have a generic one like “our customers,” you’re doing something wrong. One of the greatest strengths of a landing page is its ability to communicate with high precision to one specific group of people. If you aren’t taking advantage of that high relevance, your users aren’t going to be engaged. Think carefully about what niche you want to target, considering your competitors as well as your demographics’ dispositions, and narrow your focus to that audience.

    6. Your tone and presentation aren’t appealing to your target audience.

    Of course, if you already have a target audience in mind, you could be suffering from a lack of relevance—or an inability to target those users effectively. For example, you could be using a vocabulary that’s too high for your users to follow, or so low that it compromises your reputation. You could seem too “boring” to your young users, or too “juvenile” to your older ones. Examine your brand voice carefully as it permeates your landing page, and reevaluate the tone you use.

    7. Your color scheme is off.

    When it comes to the colors you use in your landing page, there aren’t many “right” or “wrong” decisions. However, there are a few best practices you’ll want to follow. For starters, your coloration should be in line with your brand and your industry—if the colors don’t feel like “you,” or if they give the wrong impression, it could interfere with your results. Your coloration should also enhance your text’s readability—if it makes it hard to read, you’ll deal with the consequences—and it should help to call out prominent areas of the page, such as your call-to-action (CTA).

    8. Your design is obsolete.

    When was your landing page designed? Who designed it? The fundamentals of web design have changed significantly over the years, with new trends emerging regularly. Users have grown accustomed to seeing things like full-sized background images, minimalistic, clear designs, “modern” fonts, tasteful links, intuitive forms of navigation, and easy-to-scroll content. If your landing page looks like it came from the 1990s, they’re going to be immediately turned away. If you’re confused about what this means or don’t have anything to compare your site to, take a look at some modern web design examples.

    9. Your design is too crowded.

    While it’s not an absolute necessity, it’s generally agreed upon that minimalistic landing page designs tend to work better than ones that are overcrowded with information, like the Adobe example below. Minimalistic landing pages give users space, allowing their eyes to wander naturally and settle upon only the most important parts of your content. Cramming in too much content or too many features can be both distracting and overwhelming, ultimately leaving your users unsatisfied. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should limit the amount of content you offer, but you should space it out to give your users ample room to digest it.

    adobe landing page

    (Image Source: Unbounce/Adobe)

    10. Your headline isn’t compelling.

    The first line of your landing page, the one that’s most visible when users get there, is the most powerful piece of copy you’ll offer. If you don’t grab your visitors’ attentions here, you may end up losing them forever. Your headline needs to be a strong description of what you’re offering, and a compelling reason to stick around and learn more. Get your users excited, and tell them exactly what they can expect from you. If you’re looking for inspiration, Unbounce has some great examples here.

    11. It’s hard to tell what you’re offering.

    Sometimes, visitors aren’t interested in an offer because they don’t understand what it is. For example, let’s say you’re offering a free trial of your software in exchange for a bit of personal information—but what does your software actually do? What are the options when the free trial expires? Why would anyone be interested in this in the first place? If your landing page leaves any of this ambiguous, it could be a reason for its failure.

    12. Your offer isn’t valuable enough.

    All conversions are an exchange of value, in one way or another. If you’re selling a product, visitors are exchanging money for the goods; if you’re generating leads, they’re exchanging personal information for something valuable, like a free consultation. If your visitors see and understand your offer completely, they may still believe it to be too low a value to proceed with. As a simple example, if you’re charging too much for your product, people aren’t going to buy it—makes sense, right? Here, your best option is to use surveys to determine how valuable your offer really is, and make adjustments accordingly.

    13. Your form is too long to fill out.

    People are impatient, and they want things to happen fast. If your form is too long or too complicated to fill out, they aren’t going to invest any time in it. There’s no universal rule here, but try to keep your form fields as minimal as possible, such as asking for a first name, last name, and email address. Feel free to ask for more information, but be ready to back that request up with a better offer in exchange.

    14. You don’t have any visual engagement.

    Humans crave visual engagement. It’s easier to make a decision based on what we see rather than on what we read, because that’s how our ancestors survived for millions of years. At the very least, you should have a handful of images that show off your products, like Loot Crate does in the example below. If you’re not selling products, or if you’re selling something less tangible, consider including other types of images that convey the attitude of your brand or suggest the experience of your services. And they don’t have to be images—videos work well, too.

    Lootcrate

    (Image Source: Loot Crate)

    15. Your brand is inconsistent or invisible.

    Landing pages demand some different approaches than traditional websites, but you still need to have your brand carried throughout. Your brand personality and values should be evident in the image you present and the voice you use in every corner of your landing page if you want to give users a sense of comfort and familiarity. Even if they aren’t familiar with your brand, this is a powerful way to convince them that this is the type of company they want to deal with—don’t hide that personality.

    16. You don’t have information about your brand.

    Of course, your brand is about more than just your identity standards. There’s also a history to your brand, and probably a lot more to your company than you can adequately squeeze into the confines of a landing page. Include what information you can on your landing page without overwhelming your audience, and give them a chance to learn more with a link to a separate page or an embedded video. The information doesn’t need to be there explicitly, but it does need to be available for those who want to do more research on your business.

    17. There’s no contact information.

    Contact information gives people a sense of security. When they see a phone number at the top of your landing page, they’re reassured that someone exists on the other end to take care of any questions or concerns they have. When they see a live chat window, they feel like you care about your customers’ needs. Even if they don’t use these options, the fact that they’re there makes it more likely that they’ll convert, so if you omit them, it could be a source of your poor performance.

    18. You don’t have any trust badges.

    Of the 50 things on this list, trust badges probably seem like the most innocuous. These tiny symbols, proving your affiliation with various trustworthy organizations, may seem inconsequential compared to the functionality of your page and the strength of your design and copywriting, but the fact is they have a massive impact on your eventual conversion rates. If you don’t currently have any on your landing page, consider adding them in, and see what type of effect it has on your performance. You’d be surprised how many people they can convince.

    19. There’s no social proof.

    The majority of today’s consumers aren’t satisfied with a company’s proclamation that its product or service is the best—after all, they’re the ones trying to sell you on it. Instead, people are increasingly turning to social proof to back their decisions. These are things like reviews, testimonials, and even historical customer data—all of which are third-party indications that a company is worth working with. If you don’t have any of these soft recommendations and forms of social proof on your site, it could be a root cause of your landing page’s inability to perform.

    20. The CTA isn’t obvious.

    Your call-to-action (CTA), the main button or final step of the conversion process, should be blatantly obvious to anyone on your landing page. If it isn’t, it could seriously detract from your ability to achieve conversions. You can make your CTA more obvious by making it a button (rather than just a link), giving it a color that significantly stands out from the rest of your page, making it larger, or even placing it above the fold. You can even use subtler tactics, like arrows or other directional cues to guide your users’ focus to this area.

    21. There are too many distractions.

    Enough distractions can ruin even the best landing page. When designing your page, it’s tempting to include as much as possible, such as more information about your brand, other options, or even links to your blog posts and other materials. However, you need to remember that there’s one goal to your landing page; get people to convert. Anything other than that conversion opportunity qualifies as a distraction, and may distract your visitors from ever completing the process. You’ll need to eliminate these distractions if you want to see your conversion rates improve.

    22. You have too many options.

    Common sense would tell you that more options are a good thing—but that isn’t the case for landing pages. In fact, sometimes, fewer options can help you achieve more conversions. When you have too many variants on the same offer, people can get confused and intimidated, but in a selection between two or three choices, there’s usually one standout pick.

    23. It’s too similar to other landing pages.

    Take a look at your landing page and compare it to some of the other landing pages you see from your competitors. How similar does it look? Does it stand out in any unique way? It’s a good idea to look to other landing pages as sources of inspiration and to see best practices at work, but if you don’t have any unique qualities to make you stand out, you could end up alienating a major portion of your audience. Be sure to show off what makes your brand—and your offer—unique.

    24. Your page seems spammy or untrustworthy.

    If you try too hard to sell to your visitors, your site could come across as spammy, unprofessional, or untrustworthy. Gimmicky companies have used spammy, deceptive landing pages to trick people into buying products for years, so consumers have become hyper-sensitive to tactics like flashing lights, big promises, and excessive use of exclamation points. Make sure your landing page looks professional and approachable.

    25. Your customers simply aren’t ready to buy.

    Almost every buying decision occurs in several stages. Customers learn about a problem their facing, then learn about potential solutions, then learn about the companies offering solutions. If you offer a solution to a problem your audience doesn’t know they have, they aren’t going to convert. That means you need to make one of two changes; either refocus your target audience to get people in the right stage of the buying cycle, or change your offer to target the types of users you’re getting.

    26. You don’t have a clear UVP.

    Your unique value proposition (UVP) is a single, concise statement that explains why your offer is important and how it’s differentiated from the competition in a single go. It can be hard to come up with, and even harder to present to your audience in a clear, effective way, but it’s something you need if you want your landing page to become effective. You can use this statement as a headline, or a main focus somewhere else in your copy, but it should stand out to your incoming visitors.

    27. You haven’t listed the advantages of your product or offer.

    It’s not enough to describe what you’re offering. You need to describe the effects of what you’re offering—essentially, you need to explain why your customers would benefit from purchasing this product or taking you up on this offer. Desk does an awesome job with this in the example below; it reduces its complex and multifaceted software to a series of four main improvements. Keep this list accurate, concise, and simple—the flashier you are, the less convincing you’re going to be.

    desk.com landing page design

    (Image Source: Desk)

    28. Your copy is unprofessionally written.

    This may be a hard one for you to judge, especially if you’re the one who wrote it, but if your landing page isn’t performing, it could be due to an issue with the professionalism of your copy. Any single typo, like a spelling or grammatical error, could cause some users to stop trusting you; after all, if you can’t proofread your own landing page, you probably aren’t quality-checking your products or services. Any clunky, awkward, or poorly written sentences could also contribute to this image, so keep your copy as tight as possible to maximize your potential for success.

    29. Your copy is too sales-y or pushy.

    It’s unfortunate that many marketers resort to hard-selling tactics and sales gimmicks to try and earn more conversions. Today’s audience is sick of hearing sales speak, and they’re tired of seeing advertisements. If you try to bully your visitors into converting, they’re not going to comply—they’re just going to leave. Instead, it’s better to be as direct and honest as possible.

    30. You use too many big words or buzzwords.

    In that same vein, your visitors may be distrusting you if you use too many big words or buzzwords. Even if your vocabulary matches your target audience’s, excessive use of big words may make it seem like you’re overcompensating for something, and using too many buzzwords makes you sound lazy and unoriginal. Instead, try not to overthink your writing too much. Explain yourself in brief, simple sentences, again being as direct as possible.

    31. You don’t have any visuals of your offer.

    I already mentioned the importance of having strong visuals earlier in this guide, but here this tip extends specifically to your product or service. People want to see what they’re getting—even if it’s just a hint of it. Establish your visitors’ expectations by showing them a product demo video, or a slideshow of images from different angles, or if you’re offering something digital like an eBook, show them some screenshots or a previous example of your work.

    32. There’s no guarantee.

    People need a sense of security before they buy from you, or even sign up for a free trial. Explain any guarantees you might have, including money-back guarantees, return policies, or how your free trial works once it expires. If you don’t offer this information to your visitors, any hint of a doubt could be enough to dissuade them from actually following through with the conversion.

    33. There’s a human element missing.

    People want to buy from other people—not from faceless corporations. That’s why you need to have more of a human element present in your landing page. You can do this in a number of ways, but one of the most effective is also the simplest; just include more images of people, the way Uber does in the example below. You could also combine this with social proof by offering pictures of the people who have given you reviews and testimonials.

    Uber - Human Element in Landing Page Design

    (Image Source: Uber)

    34. Your landing page has too much content.

    Content is king, but that doesn’t mean you should overwhelm your users with it. If you have too much content on your landing page, there’s no way your visitors will read it all—and even if they do, they’ll likely be too overwhelmed or distracted to take any further action. Keep things concise.

    35. Your landing page has too little content.

    However, concise doesn’t mean light. Your landing page needs to be focused and brief, but shouldn’t be scarce. People need information to be able to make a decision, so make sure you include enough details to reassure your visitors they’re making the right one. Remember, you can always elaborate by linking out to a separate page.

    36. There’s no action-based language to direct user intent.

    Your landing page should also feature strong, action-based language, with verbs that encourage visitor behaviors. For example, callouts like “try it now” or “stop worrying about ____” are more effective than “available for purchase” or “the perfect solution.”

    37. There’s no sense of urgency.

    People make flash decisions on landing pages. If they don’t make a decision within the first 10 seconds or so of visiting, they’re going to leave—and if they leave, they probably aren’t coming back. Reverse your lacking performance by inducing a greater sense of urgency, which will reduce visitor hesitation and earn you more conversions overall. You can do this by including more time-based language, showcasing limited time offers, or displaying the limited quantity still available. Expedia is a master of this tactic, displaying small slide-ins that show users browsing hotels and airfare things like how popular this destination is, how full the hotel is, and how many more flight tickets are available for a given flight.

    38. The price doesn’t seem good enough.

    Note that this is a different dilemma than having an offer that’s not valuable enough. Here, your offer may be plenty valuable, but the price point doesn’t have as much initial appeal. The best way to beat this is to change how you present your pricing; for example, you could take advantage of the psychological effect of discounts by showing your price as marked down from a previous high point.

    39. You aren’t using buttons.

    Everything outside your form should be reduced to button format. Hyperlinks aren’t only ugly, they’re hard to click on mobile devices, so the more easily clickable buttons you can include in your design, the better – especially when you’re tapping your finger on a mobile device.

    40. It’s clear your work came from a template.

    Take a close look at your site as it compares to others. If it looks like it came from a template, it may look unprofessional. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a template—it just means you have to be judicious when choosing one, opting for a platform that looks original, or at least stands apart from the usual options. Similarly, try to avoid using stock photography when you can—it often comes off as cheap and impersonal. Invest in original images that have never been used before.

    41. You haven’t called upon personal brands.

    Personal brands are extremely powerful in the marketing world. They’re personal (obviously), which makes them more relatable, and it’s possible to use them as a reinforcement of your brand’s reputation. For example, you could use your CEO’s image and a quote from him/her to describe his/her vision for the company. Something along the lines of “I built this company from the ground up so we could…” instantly adds some depth to your company’s history and may boost your visibility as well. If implemented correctly, people will feel like they’re reaching out to a person, rather than some faceless corporation.

    42. There isn’t enough flexibility.

    It’s true that as a general rule, you should seek to limit the choices your users have; but this mostly applies to things like product options and service plan offerings. Since you’ll be asking users for something valuable (money or personal information), you’ll need to give them some flexibility when it comes to options. For example, while you’ll need to make some of your forms required, many of your forms should be listed as optional to fill out. Similarly, it’s wise to accept a number of different payment options, so you don’t alienate anyone who feels more comfortable with one option over another. For example, SalesForce offers multiple ways to sign up for its free trial:

    salesforce

    (Image Source: SalesForce)

    43. There’s no social element.

    There are many angles to take with integrating social media into your landing page, so if you aren’t using any of them, you’re missing out on some free extra traffic and conversions. For starters, you could embed some of your latest tweets and social media posts into your landing page as a secondary means of social proof. You could also add links to your social media profiles as a peripheral “soft” conversion (earning new followers in the process). You could even enable converters to share their experience on their social platform of choice to draw even more people to your page. All of these opportunities are free, easy, and can contribute to your page’s effectiveness.

    44. Your landing page isn’t exciting.

    If you want people to convert, you need to generate a little bit of enthusiasm. As we’ve seen, conversion is an emotional process as much as it is a logical one; merely presenting an item and describing why it’s worth what you’re requesting isn’t enough to persuade users. You need to get them energized, so use exciting language and images to jazz them up. Show them pictures of people having fun. Use strong, emotional words to make them sympathetically feel what you’re suggesting.

    45. You don’t have any concrete evidence or numbers.

    This isn’t an absolute necessity for your landing page, but it could be the factor that pushes them over the edge. If your landing page doesn’t have any numbers, concrete evidence, or statistics to back up what you’re offering or what you’re selling, people may be less convinced that it’s worth their time or money. Numbers are objective and inarguable, which makes them some of the most compelling types of evidence you can provide for your campaign. Even a single metric, like your current number of customers, can be valuable here.

    46. You haven’t marketed or advertised your landing page at all.

    Remember, landing pages are designed to serve as a destination for visitors; if you don’t have a stream of visitors to direct, it’s not going to be able to perform that duty. Even a well-designed landing page can’t attract visitors on its own in a vacuum, so you’ll need the help of marketing and advertising to get there. As for the specific channels you use to generate traffic, think about your target audience and choose from there—content marketing, SEO, PPC ads, social media marketing, and other forms of advertising are all viable.

    47. You’re advertising to the wrong audience.

    Earlier in this guide, I listed a poorly targeted landing page as a critical reason your landing page might not be working—but the targeting problem may begin even sooner, if you’re targeting the wrong audience in your marketing and advertising. Think of your advertising campaign as a filter for your incoming audience; this is your chance to choose exactly who should be coming to your landing page. Getting the right audience there is half the battle, so be sure you’re using whatever demographic targeting features you can, and refine your messaging.

    48. Your lead-in doesn’t match your page.

    Sometimes, marketers like to promise more than they can deliver in order to get people in the door. For example, you may claim that you’re offering “rock-bottom” prices for your products—but if a user arrives on your page and sees that these prices are barely competitive, let alone “rock bottom,” they may leave immediately. Truth in advertising goes a long way here; if you make a claim with your lead-in, make sure you’re able to back it up with the content that’s actually on your landing page.

    49. You haven’t diversified your traffic generation efforts.

    There’s more than one way to attract traffic to your landing page. How many have you tried? Even with audience targeting options in place, different traffic channels may offer different advantages for your brand; for example, social media users may be more energetic, and organic search visitors may be further along in the sales funnel. Even if you don’t stick with them forever, you should at least try a number of different traffic generation methods to maximize your potential.

    50. You haven’t experimented with anything.

    The secret to effectiveness in conversions and landing pages—and I’d argue marketing in general—is experimentation. There’s no universally reliable way to predict exactly how your audience will react to something until you actually make the change. And if you don’t change things, you’ll never know if it can be better. Your entire landing page strategy should be a constantly shifting experiment; change colors, change fonts, change layouts, change offers, and keep changing things, one at a time, until you piece together a product that earns the conversions you need. Unbounce and Leadpages are two highly respected and recommended A/B testing platforms for landing pages. Both allow you to create mobile-optimized pages from templates or scratch, and A/B test any element you can think of.

    Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, you should have been able to pinpoint at least a handful of plausible reasons why your landing page isn’t more effective than it is. Once you put some corrections in place, you’ll be able to optimize your conversion rates and earn a higher overall return, but don’t be fooled in thinking that this new threshold is the ultimate goal; the truth is, your strategy can always be better, so continue striving for better and better results.

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  2. How to Use Content to Earn More Conversions

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    Conversions are your path to making more money online. Get more conversions, and you’ll earn more revenue. It’s that simple. There are a handful of ways to increase your conversion rates, from using paid advertising to featuring your products on external eCommerce platforms, but for me, there’s no better tool for achieving conversions than content.

    “Conversions” are often loosely defined, and you’ll encounter some writers who will say a conversion has taken place when someone clicks through a different article, or socially shares your piece of content. For the purposes of this guide, however, we’ll focus on harder, more measurably valuable conversions—usually either securing a purchase or donation, or collecting some meaningful bits of personal information from a user. This guide’s intention is to teach you how to use content to get more of these hardline conversions for your site.

    Content vs. Copywriting

    First, I need to acknowledge an important distinction between content writing and copywriting. Though similar, copywriting is typically short-form, and focused on persuading an audience to take a specific action. You’ll find this type of writing in advertisements frequently. See Trello’s ad as an example:

    Trello

    (Image Source: Trello)

    Here, you have a catchy headline, a short description, and a CTA button. This is a fine example of copywriting, but it doesn’t have enough meat to be qualified as “content” in this sense. We’ll touch on elements of copywriting when we get to the section on in-content calls-to-action, but for the most part, everything in this guide will focus on actual content marketing.

    The 3 Pillars of Content-Conversion Relationships

    There are three main areas where content can affect your conversion rates, and I’m going to explore each of them in turn:

    • Acquisition.First, there’s content’s capacity to earn you more visitors. Increased traffic, with a steady conversion rate, is going to result in a higher total number of conversions. Our goals here will be writing, publishing, and syndicating content across multiple channels to secure the greatest volume and relevance of traffic to your site or landing page.
    • Exchange. Content may also be used as an element of exchange, particularly when it comes to B2B conversions that only ask for personal information as a conversion event. This content must be equal to or greater in value than the information you’re requesting.
    • Immediate conversion. There’s also the opportunity to leverage your content as a platform for immediate conversion. Here, you’ll be injecting CTAs into the body of your content in an effort to secure a completed conversion event.

    Without further ado, let’s find out exactly how content can secure you the conversion rates you’ve always wanted.

    Content as Acquisition

    Let’s assume that you have a steady conversion rate. You’re happy with it, but you need more inbound traffic to scale your total number of conversions to a desirable level. The best thing to do here is focus on generating traffic—and even if your conversion rate leaves something to be desired, more traffic is going to help you eventually, so you might as well get started here.

    Content is your greatest tool for long-term traffic generation, because it can be used in three interrelated ways.

    Onsite Content and SEO

    Understand that every new piece of content you create on your site is another page for Google to crawl and another opportunity for an average searcher to encounter your brand. My quick search for “SEO news” turned up three articles before even getting to the organic results, and this certainly isn’t the only way to get more search visibility.

    SEO News Search Results

    Writing more content gives your site more text for Google to crawl, giving it a better understanding of your site. Each new piece is also an opportunity to rank for a relevant user query. Accordingly, all your pieces should be:

    • Highly specific. General topics, like “SEO,” are already done to death by major brands you probably can’t afford to compete with—plus Google’s Knowledge Graph may supply searchers with this general information before they ever encounter you. Choosing very specific topics will help you navigate around these competitive challenges, and secure you greater per-piece visibility.
    • Desirable. Obviously, your content can only be found if people are actually searching for it. You’ll want to delve into some keyword research, competitive research, and into your current client base with surveys to ensure you’re selecting topics that people actually want to read. Generally, the more practical they are, the better.
    • Targeted. Your inbound traffic is only going to convert if they’re comprised of your target demographics in a mid- to late-stage of the buying cycle. Write your content accordingly. Dig deep into your market research, and try to supply information for the types of people who are most likely to convert once on your site.
    • Optimized. I won’t get into the specifics of SEO in this article, but know that your articles will have to meet certain SEO protocols to maximize their chances of being featured in SERPs. For example, title tags, header tags, a meta description, and visual elements should all be included.

    Be aware that it takes time to develop your domain authority to the point where your content earns a substantial rank.

    Offsite Content

    Offsite content has two main purposes. The first is for SEO and organic visibility. Google sees inbound links as a form of third-party approval of a site; a link from a high-authority domain will “pass” authority to its intended destination, increasing its authority by proxy. This occurs on both a domain and page level, and is necessary if you want to earn any ranking momentum.

    The second is for referral traffic. Any link you build using an offsite piece of content will be clickable, and if the content is good enough, it will generate a substantial stream of traffic to your site.

    You can take advantage of both these benefits as long as you have a solid offsite content marketing campaign. Typically, this involves getting your content featured on sources of increasing authority, from local news sites and forums to major national publishers. Again, I’ll stay out of the weeds on this, but I’ll leave you with a handful of important takeaways on how offsite content can best increase traffic ready to convert:

    • Write stellar content. If you’re just stuffing links into mediocre material, you’ll lose referral traffic, and you might not even get accepted by external publishers in the first place.
    • Know your audiences. Don’t write for a publisher whose audience is far outside your target demographics.
    • Link to your key conversion opportunities. If you have specific landing pages or product pages, link to them frequently to boost their page authority. If your homepage doubles as a conversion opportunity, that makes the process even simpler:

    Wave Apps

    (Image Source: WaveApps)

    Social Syndication

    You can also use your content as the “meat” for your social media campaign. Rather than constantly trying to goad your followers into visiting your site or buying your products, you’ll supply them with a near-constant stream of valuable content, which they can use to inform their decisions and build trust in your brand. Click-through rates on content are higher than for sales (typically), so use your content as a bridge to get your social users to your site, and sell them once they’ve crossed that bridge.

    Of course, you’ll also have to work on building up your social audiences—the more dedicated, active followers you have, the higher impact your content syndication will have on your bottom line. Remember to engage with your users, leverage the power of influencers to tap new markets, and remain as personal and active as possible.

    Content as an Exchange

    Conversions are always an opportunity of exchange; in conventional B2C settings, this involves a customer handing over money in exchange for a physical product. The more valuable this product is, the more likely it is that the consumer will partake in the exchange, giving you a critical opportunity to secure more conversions.

    There are two scenarios in which content may be used as the “other half” of this exchange as a standalone value. The first is in a B2B setting, where your company is only after personal information of potential leads. Personal information is valuable, if only mildly, and people won’t part with it unless they know they’re getting something out of the deal. Content, a digital good with infinite replicability, serves the role of exchange here quite well.

    Take HubSpot’s usual eBook offer as an example:

    hubspot optin form design

    (Image Source: Hubspot)

    The other scenario is one in which content is offered as the product in exchange for money, though an even higher standard of quality is demanded here. Still, both scenarios share much in common and can be used to the same ends.

    Key Values

    There are a handful of “must have” features for content you’re using as an exchange for conversion value:

    • Originality. It was true for your onsite and offsite content, but here it’s even more important. Why would someone give you their personal information for an eBook that they can basically read elsewhere on the Internet for free? Original research and new data is imperative here to seal the deal.
    • Practical value. Most people are willing to pay more (or give up more) for something that has a practical value than something that has a passing, or entertainment value. Give them something that could be qualified as an investment; teach them a new skill, or improve their lives in some meaningful way.
    • Exclusivity. You can’t offer an eBook in exchange for personal information, then distribute that same eBook for free to your social media followers. Your content should be an exclusive offer for anyone willing to convert. It’s a way of introducing scarcity value and simultaneously making sure people feel like they got their money’s worth (or in this case, information’s worth).
    • Length. Your eBook or whitepaper can’t be 1,000 words. Don’t stuff your content with fluff, either. Give your audience a long, detailed, yet still-concise piece.
    • Authority. If you want people to follow through with the conversion before reading your piece, you need to convince them that it’s all you say it is. This means showcasing your authority, or otherwise proving that you have the qualifications to make this piece of content worth your visitors’ time. Referencing past works, noting your industry affiliations, and offering up reviews and testimonials are all good ideas here.

    Balancing the Exchange

    This is a tough consideration, since you won’t be dealing with any absolute values, but it’s an important one. Remember, a conversion is all about exchange, so you need to know how valuable each side of the exchange is to maximize the potential payoff.

    For example, if you spent a year of your life doing the research and living the experiences that led you to write this eBook, asking for just a first name and an email address, or asking for $0.99 isn’t going to justify your work. On the other hand, if you invested a minimum in your original research, it isn’t fair to ask your customers for pages of personal information or $29.99.

    There are two good ways to do this. The first is through research—take a look at your competition and see what they’re offering, and what they’re asking for in exchange. Use this comparatively to settle on the value of your own offers and requests.

    The second is through experience. Experiment with different price levels and forms of content to see which prices and offers “stick.”

    Previewing the Content

    Most users won’t be satisfied with your promise that the content they’re about to receive is good enough to make the exchange. They need some kind of proof, or preview. At the same time, you don’t want to give away the secret sauce.

    The solution is to give your users a tease—tell them what types of things they’re going to find in the body of your content, but don’t tell them the exact things they’re going to find. Take a look at how HubSpot handles this, identifying some of the quote contributors without giving away the actual quotes:

    101 Awesome Marketing Quotes

    (Image Source: HubSpot)

    In-Content Calls-to-Action

    The third pillar of content-conversion relationships is probably the most important, as it directly affects your conversion rate in any context, rather than affecting only your inbound traffic figures or being limited to one application. The goal here is to include CTAs within the body of your onsite content, which is already doubling as a means of increasing search visibility and generating inbound traffic.

    In some ways, these CTAs are like any other; they need to be short, compelling, accurate, and persuasive. However, if you want to retain the value and appeal of your content as is, you can’t go the traditional advertising approach in total.

    Take Crazy Egg’s traditional advertisement as an example:

    crazy egg ad

    (Image Source: Crazy Egg/Wordstream)

    This is a good example of an effective CTA, but it’s still an advertisement. This makes the CTA almost confrontational—pinning a user down with a pitch, and forcing them to either convert or depart. Instead, content-based CTAs are softer, and hinge on trust that you’ve already built with the quality and usefulness of your material.

    Topic Selection

    The first hurdle to overcome in maximizing the conversion potential of your content is to choose the right topics. At a glance, this means selecting content topics within your area of expertise that your target market would find useful. For example, if you sell skateboards, it wouldn’t make sense to write content about the best types of office furniture for a startup. It would instead cater to individuals who might be in the market for a new skateboard, covering topics like “how to repair a broken axle” or the even-more-blunt, “how to choose your next skateboard.”

    Try not to make your topics too sales-y, or it will turn people away. Buyer’s guides and product comparison articles are helpful, but if that’s all you put out, people will gradually feel alienated from you. Provide helpful, original material that a prospective buyer might read. Know your sales cycle inside and out, and target people at multiple stages to nurture them to a conversion.

    Three Main Approaches

    Once you’ve properly identified the right types of topics, you’re essentially halfway done with the battle. You’ll have a stream of optimal customer candidates reading your content. Now, your job is to guide them to a successful conversion. You can’t just stick a CTA in the middle of your article, so you have to use a subtler, more tactical approach.

    There are three main approaches to in-content CTAs.

    • The redirect. The redirect encourages users to head to a different section of the site. It doesn’t contain any pitch by itself, but instead compels a reader to discover content that does the “pitching” on another section of the site. For example, let’s say you’re an HR consultant, and you have a dedicated landing page that explains what you do and asks users for personal information. In the body of one of your articles, you may include a reference to something like “this is just one of the many services an HR consultant can offer you,” with a link to your full list of services. Or you might be more direct with a straightforward request like, “for more information, check out my contact page.” This is advantageous because it keeps the primary focus on the value of your content, rather than on the sales pitch, but disadvantageous because it delays the customer’s point of conversion.
    • The casual mention. The casual mention is a discreet way to offer up one of your products or services in the body of your article. For example, if you sell clothing and you’re writing about this year’s biggest fashion trends, you can mention some of your top selling products, along with prices, as a kind of mini-sales-pitch. The same can work for B2B companies; for example, you can write something like, “link building is essential for SEO success, but you may need to hire an agency like AudienceBloom to execute the work professionally.” This is a harder sell, but it still doesn’t deviate far from the core of the article.
    • The sales pitch. The sales pitch is essentially a mini advertisement, usually at the end of the article, that only loosely connects to the body of the article and instead focuses on getting the customer to a point of conversion. For example, at the end of an article on “X common skateboard repairs,” you could have a section with text like, “When you skate, you want the best. Our company offers top-of-the-line skateboards in al styles to make sure you perform your best.” Its weakness is that it deviates from the central value of your content, but it also makes a harder sell.

    Since each of these approaches has distinct advantages and disadvantages, I encourage you to use all three of them in rotation to maximize your potential payoff. If you notice one style outperforming the others, don’t be afraid to switch. Remember, your main priority here is to provide excellent content—if you have a great CTA embedded in an iffy, poorly written article, it isn’t going to land.

    Similarly, you can’t just post a link and hope people will click. Your wording needs to be sharp, concise, compelling, and accurate—like any CTA—if you want your readers to convert.

    Optimization and Improvement

    You don’t have to be satisfied with your traffic, or your conversion rates. In fact, it’s almost a guarantee that your first-draft strategy isn’t going to earn you the best possible results. The only way to improve your campaign is to take careful measurements of your most important metrics, make iterative changes, and then evaluate to see whether or not your changes were effective. Just be careful how you measure and report the differences—you never know how your biases may be affecting how you perceive the results.

    One of the best ways to do this is through ongoing A/B testing. The basic premise of an A/B test is to create nearly identical scenarios, with one small difference between them, to see if one scenario outperforms the other. For example, you might write two highly similar articles with very different CTAs to see if one CTA performs better than the other. You can use this information to maximize the return on your future pieces.

    AB Testing

    (Image Source: VWO)

    You can change virtually anything and see a potential difference, but here’s a short list of ideas for your variables:

    • Content topics, lengths, and target audience. The nature of your content will have a huge bearing on the type of audience who reads your material and their disposition by the time they get to your CTA. Don’t rule out the possibility of targeting a different audience altogether, and look to your competition to get inspiration for new content angles.
    • Syndication channels and framing. There are hundreds of possible channels for you to distribute your content, each with different audience segments and different advantages and disadvantages. Get to know them, and experiment with different channels and angles to maximize your inbound content value.
    • Content previews. This is exclusively for using content as a basis for exchange, but experiment with providing different previews for your offered material.
    • Types of calls-to-action used. Rotate between redirects, casual mentions, and full-blown pitches. You may find that different angles work better for different applications, or that one in particular is ideal for your niche.
    • Wording of calls-to-action used. Of course, you should also experiment with the copy you use in the body of your content to call out your products and services. Tiny differences, sometimes only a word or two, can make the difference. It also pays to change up the language so regular readers don’t get tired of the same message at the end of every piece.

    Think of your content-based conversion strategy as a constant, revolving experiment. The more ways you tinker with it, the more you’ll learn, and the better performance rate you’ll eventually earn.

    Conclusion

    The two variables that affect your total number of conversions are your total inbound traffic and your overall conversion rate. Content, if you know how to wield it, has the potential to influence both. By leveraging the power of content for SEO, offsite reputation building, and social syndication, you’ll maximize your inbound traffic streams. Offering content as part of the conversion exchange can aid your conversion rates on landing pages and specific callouts, while in-content CTAs are your best bet in other applications. In any case, the more you invest in your strategy with quality, focus, research, and ongoing development, the better your content can support your overall conversion goals.

    Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.

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