Can Content Improve Your Conversion Rate?

Digital marketing circles’ main concern is steadily increasing conversions from websites, webpages, online ads, etc. We must all strive to understand the SEO-conversion-related factors; obviously, SEO increases visibility, which increases traffic, and, in turn, your chances of attracting your target audience.

SEO -> Visibility -> Traffic-> Target audience!

However, there has recently been quite a shift away from a strictly SEO approach to conversion to a more customer-focused one – especially when it comes to B2C campaigns.

“Content [should be] written with a clear vision of what must be conveyed to the reader, built through understanding their pain points (mainly B2B) or emotional connection (mainly B2C)” David Rosam, Content Strategist.

So, once you take a customer-focused approach, what comes next? Understanding your customer base is key. Who are your customers? People. (Please forgive us for stating the obvious). And people like stories – good, authentic ones. Words like brand affinity, trust, and shock value come to mind. Thus, we have expressed a couple of thoughts from SEMrush and digital marketing experts on the potential of content to increase conversions.

Conversion content marketing should not be confused with landing page optimization. The latter, of course, plays a part in the conversion from content; however, the mission of content is of a different nature. Content marketing builds brand awareness, at first, that later is supposed to grow into creation of brand impression, that is to result in brand affinity, which leads, eventually, to conversion.

Brand awareness -> Brand impression -> Brand affinity -> Conversion!

Unlike landing page optimization, the process of driving conversion through content takes, generally, longer. David Sayce has called it a “journey.” Here’s how it works:

“There’s content you publish to increase your industry standing. Consumers of this type of content are unlikely to be ready to purchase your product immediately. But once they’re ready to buy, they’ll probably be more likely to convert. Unfortunately, an uplift in conversions in relation to this type of content is much harder to prove. But just because something’s difficult to prove, does it make it wrong to focus on?
” – David Bain, Host at Digital Marketing Radio.

However, optimization is no stranger to our case. In fact, platforms that provide toolset for the digital world are recognising the need to help out the content branch. For instance, SEMrush has improved its SEO Ideas functionality by adding an SEO Content Template feature, which allows you to SEO optimize your content before you’ve even begun to create it!

What can affect conversions significantly in terms of SEO are meta descriptions, which are often neglected. Many content writers disregard metadata completely, even though providing it along with content can greatly impact its performance.

“After spending time working and developing keywords (themes) and landing pages, this micro text it the attraction that can make the difference between someone clicking through to a website or not. Much like writing headlines or tweets, this micro content can be very difficult to work on, but once smart, emotive content is created, it can produce a huge uplift in the CTR to the website.” – David Sayce, Digital Marketing Consultant

In particular, the meta description is instrumental when it comes to e-commerce websites. Relying on his vast experience, David Sayce has concluded that many e-commerce sites are including manufacturers’ descriptions in their product descriptions, which becomes problematic once the user stumbles upon similar or even the same product descriptions on other websites. By simply altering its product descriptions, a company can dramatically increase its competitive advantage

Another factor that really affects e-commerce sites in terms of product descriptions is the fact that these websites, paradoxically, often neglect their consumers’ needs. What customers want is not an answer to a what question, rather the truly relevant question here is why. Why should I purchase your product and not your competitors’? (Bas Van Den Beld emphasized this fact at SearchLove in London; Laura Crimmons also mentioned it to the SEMrush team in a brief interview.)

Our expert Laura Crimmons recommends checking out AO.com: “[They] do content on product pages really well. They have so much rich content that answers users’ questions with long descriptions and product features, customer reviews, question-and-answer sections, video reviews, etc.”

In the 1920s, Elmer Wheeler coined the phrase “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Since then this approach has been reconsidered only slightly. Still, emotional content, overall, generates higher conversion since it triggers an impulse, and that’s a powerful instrument in the hands of a marketer. Of course, depending on the buyer persona, the rational content might work just as well.

Both approaches should focus on showing the advantages of the product rather than describing precisely what you get once you purchase it. The Mutual Rescue video represents a textbook campaign for expressing the benefits of making a purchase. This campaign involves both emotional and rational with inclusion of video (quite the “it” thing in digital marketing) elements. Another great example of a brilliant mixture of humor and useful information, all compiled into one smart campaign is the Dollar Shave Club’s video.

According to David Sayce:

“Visual is often the first thing seen by the user that grabs their initial attention. After that, I would suggest emotional. Again there is often an interesting mix of these between B2B and B2C, with B2B seen as more rational and verbal and B2C being emotional and visual. While there is some truth in this, it comes back to the overall branding and the target audience and thinking of these more as a sliding scale than absolute.”

Laura Crimmons, Communications Director at Branded3 says:

“In terms of tech, rational tends to perform best, so giving people descriptions, facts and figures will help to convert (them?. In terms of fashion and beauty, or travel, visual and emotional factors will be more important, as you’re buying the aspiration of what you will look like or where you will go, so you need to connect with that on an emotional level.”

Thus, optimization-related matters such as design, sign-up forms, posting time, promotional channels, and the inclusion of testimonials play a key role, but only if your content has real value, meaning you have addressed the right topic in the right way.

There are two chief aspects that constitute “the right way.” First, it is of paramount importance to stay “on brand,” which David Sayce defined as “having a consistent message / proposition throughout a business’ marketing process”: your visitor should instantly feel they are in the right place upon landing on your homepage. One of the greatest marketing campaigns in this regard was dedicated to Meerkat, the UK insurance comparison website Compare the Market.

Secondly, your decision on whether to place emphasis on visual/textual or rational/emotional content should be based upon meticulous analysis of your customers’ needs. For instance, Laura Crimmons shared that, according to her experience, “UK and US [customers] vary; and those in the UK convert better with longer, more descriptive phrases, whereas those in the US convert better with more succinct language.”

If you would like to learn more about content marketing, please join Online SEMrush Meet up 2016: Content marketing – Full Cycle on December 15.

By Meri Chobanyan is a Content Writer at SEMrush.

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