Conversion Rate Optimization and Content Marketing: Top Marketing Priorities for 2013

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In a recent survey conducted by Econsultancy and Adobe, content marketing and conversion rate optimization topped the list of digital marketing concerns for 2013. 

This is potentially great news, but let’s qualify this a bit. First, the sampling is not global - the survey had 700 businesses participate, and focused mostly on Europe and North America. Second, while CRO and content marketing both gathered 39% of the votes to top the list, it wasn’t a slam dunk; social media engagement and targeting/personalization both tailed pretty closely, at 38% and 37%, respectively.

Still, there’s reason to be (mildly) optimistic.

The survey just identified two of the most data-driven, bottom-line-geared areas and declared that marketers are paying attention. 

Owned Channels and Rented Channels

The idea is that while marketers will always have social media channels to push out the company’s messages and engage the customer base, more companies are focusing on channels they “own” (main web site, blogs, forums, etc.) rather than the ones they are “renting,” (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and that the more closely the areas map to ROI, the more the industry is paying attention. 

Two of the more telling results are that social media analytics dropped from 19% in 2012  to 9% in 2013, and viral marketing dropped from 32% to 26% in the same period. The metrics for social media and viral marketing are generally around reach rather than conversion, and testing ROI success for reach can be something of a stretch unless the channels are used for direct marketing (which will be sub-optimal anyway, because that’s not what people go there for).

Visitor Intent and ROI

By contrast, content marketing and CRO are both about moving visitors and customers from one phase of the buying cycle to another, and are generally friendly to conversion and ROI tracking. 

CRO, when distilled to its essence, is helping customers match visitor intentions to convert them from searchers to visitors, from visitors to leads, from leads to one-time buyers, and from buyers to loyal customers. Content marketing, at its core, is about being everywhere people need you to be to, and this is key, help them achieve their intent, leading to a move in the buying cycle.

Both are essentially about getting visitors what they want, and both tie closely into conversion goals.

Data, Data, Data

In conversion rate optimization, you would have a visitor intent in mind. The company builds pages that best match the intent for several types of visitors. Maybe the company runs ads that lead to the pages, or maybe the page is a high organic traffic page; either way, the experience needs to be consistent across the search and the visit. The company tweaks and tests, then the optimized pages replace the company’s champion pages, and visitor intent is achieved. 

In content marketing, you would have a story. The story will communicate your mission statement, and do so efficiently across channels. Maybe an eBook will go to the web site, feeding a customer relationship management system with leads. Perhaps a microsite will get the core education messaging out there, along with a free White Paper. If the content can be shared, The company’s YouTube channel can further augment the messaging. 

From an analytics standpoint, the funnels are almost identical. The scenario for CRO will be looking at referrals, time on page, bounce rate, funnel drop-offs, conversion rate and multi-channel attribution. The second scenario will be looking at referrals, downloads, time on site, leads, funnel drop-offs, conversion rate, and multi-channel attribution. The data tracked and the tweaks made will directly impact the bottom line, and those separate the two crafts from some of the marketing concerns indicated.

There’s a slew of other reasons CRO and content marketing are going to be even more important for companies moving forward. For some marketers, the survey just echoed what they already believe, but for others, it’s time to gear up. 

Catch your team up to speed fast. Bring them to Conversion Conference, where they can spend two full days learning the latest in testing, personalization, user-centered design, and all things conversion. Dates include April 15-17 in San Francisco, June 11-13 in Chicago and September 30-October 2 in Boston.