A Totally Counter-Intuitive Way to Increase Conversion Rates

by Andrew Krebs-Smith | June 14

For online customer acquisition, it is generally considered a best practice to keep the funnel short and simple, making it as easy as possible for users to complete the checkout process. For example, when driving people to a landing page via ads, we’d usually recommend that the landing page have a single call-to-action, and we’d look at the different steps in the checkout funnel to see if there are any that can be removed to prevent user drop-off. Since you tend to lose users at each step, a shorter funnel should mean more conversions… right?

As it turns out, the rules change a bit when content enters the picture. Recently we implemented a content marketing campaign for a client that provides certifications exams for professionals in the cyber security industry. As part of the campaign, we tested two conversion funnels:

1.) Ad -> Landing Page -> Checkout

2.) Ad -> Content -> Landing Page -> Checkout

The results were surprising! Option #2, with an entirely extra step added into the conversion process, consistently showed the most conversions, the highest conversion rates, and the least expensive costs of customer acquisition (COCA). 

content conversion funnel

Based on what was done and what the results were, we can make the following two assumptions:

1.) The low COCA generated by the conversion process that included a piece of content can at least be partially attributed to the low cost-per-click (CPC) we were able to achieve by promoting the content via Outbrain. Outbrain is a content promotion and amplification platform that helps new users find your content by placing it in the ‘Recommended Content’ sections on over 100,000 blogs and media websites. By testing and optimizing your content headlines, marketers can easily achieve an average CPC on Outbrain of $0.35 or less, garnering a large amount of clicks for little money. Because this number is so low, campaign COCAs can remain low even if users drop off between the content and landing page steps because the total number of clicks was so large to begin with.

2.) This only works when the content is super targeted, and super valuable. In this particular case study, the piece of content that generated the best results talked about the immediate benefits that can be achieved by taking and passing the certification exam for a very specific subset of our client’s target audience. Rather than being promotional, it focused on the user, and essentially acted as a pre-qualification tool; although the conversion rate from content to landing page was nothing special, the conversion rate from lander to checkout only for those users who first read the content was upwards of 50%. This suggests that half of the people who made it to the landing page after reading the content were essentially already sold.

Moral of the story? Content + Conversions = Killer Customer Acquisition. (Tweet This)

Andrew Krebs-Smith
About the author

Andrew Krebs-Smith

Helping B2C Retail/Ecomm companies test, measure, and scale digital marketing. Trying to fix the agency model so that agencies are accountable to every client media dollar they spend.