Content marketing and CRO: Can they work in harmony?

Content marketing and CRO are two concepts with vastly different aims … but does this mean they can’t work together?Content marketing and CRO

Both play a huge role in improving online experiences, so it makes sense that they join forces to become a mega-marketing-machine, right? Well, we’re going to find out! Take a look:

What is CRO?

CRO, or ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’ (to give it its full title) is a relatively new concept. However, it’s already super-popular among marketers. A huge 71% list it as “very important” to their success … this probably isn’t surprising, as only 22% of businesses are happy with their conversion rates.

Whoops, we’ve got a bit ahead of ourselves here! Before we delve into why CRO is so popular, we should break down what CRO is, just in case you need a refresher.

Conversions are the actions you want visitors to take. These could be absolutely anything, including:

  • Email signups
  • Guide downloads
  • Contact forms filled
  • Purchases made

CRO is a range of different techniques designed to ensure conversion rate is as high as possible. One key way of doing this is to analyse your conversion funnel – which is kind of similar to the sales funnel we’re always banging on about. It has four key stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Decision
  4. Action

CRO’s aim is to nudge as many visitors as possible to the bottom (the conversion point), thereby increasing overall conversions and engagement rates. Sounds pretty good, right?

How does it work?

You optimise your conversion rate by intently studying user analytics and conducting tests to prove hypotheses about visitor interactions.

For example, you might believe that big red buttons with ‘BUY NOW!’ on them will achieve a higher conversion rate than an anchor-text link. So, you conduct a simple A/B test to figure out which is more effective. You can then change your website based on the insight gained.

It’s exactly the same as doing a split test on the subject line of an email campaign. If you’ve done that before, you’ve unwittingly participated in a CRO act – so you’ll know how effective it can be!

With CRO, you can test several variables to figure out the most effective structure for your page. Here are just a few you could try:

  • Headings & sub-headings
  • Body text (tone, length, type of address etc)
  • Call to actions
  • Text size & font
  • Images
  • Buttons
  • Links

Testing all of these gives marketers great insights into customer preferences. This can be really valuable when it comes to creating content, but shhh! More on that later!

It’s usually best to use dedicated platforms, like Mixpanel or Kissmetrics, to make sure your analytics and CRO tests are properly managed. They’ll give you a host of actionable insights and can make changes on your behalf. Best of all? Most of them have free trials to ensure you get the right solution for your business. Result!

How do content marketing and CRO tie together?

At the moment, they don’t. Most people see content marketing and CRO as two separate disciplines because they have very different aims:

  • Content marketing: to educate and inform the reader
  • CRO: to encourage visitors to take action and convert

You might understand why it’s hard for some people to understand how these conflicting goals can marry. However, we believe that content marketing and CRO could come together to be a powerful force. If we allow them, that is.

Here are just a few examples of how these disciplines could assist each other:

1. Content marketing can support the awareness and interest stages

The first two stages of the conversion funnel are where content marketing could have the biggest effect. These are the ‘awareness’ and ‘interest’ stages.

People don’t want to be sold to at this point, or feel like they’re being pushed to convert. They just want to find the information they’re looking for, and perhaps any additional info that might apply to them.

Sound familiar? That’s content marketing’s whole MO!

You can use traditional content marketing formats (educational blogs, social media posts etc) to attract visitors to your site and pique their interest.

High-quality, relevant and consistent content will bring visitors back for more. Then CRO can come into play, to give your pages the extra oomph they need to encourage conversions.

The end-result? Your content will be more effective. Fantastic!

2. CRO can fine-tune delivery processes

Timing is a big deal, in both content marketing and CRO.

“CRO is specifically about meeting a customer’s needs with the right content in the right place at the right time.”

Through extensive testing, CRO can identify the optimum times for delivery, and your audience’s preferred methods. It does this by analysing customer preferences and patterns, and testing hypotheses raised.

3. CRO data can give insights into your audience and overall content strategy

CRO is all about user analytics and gives you great insights into your users’ preferences and needs.

This data can help you build detailed audience personas for different segments. In some cases, it can even help you predict what a customer’s next move will be!

The level of insight CRO provides can assist you in tailoring content and the overall journey for specific customers. It will show you exactly what your audience responds to, so you can replicate it (if it’s positive), or ditch it if it’s ineffective.

Applying CRO techniques to your content will also help you establish goals and make structural changes to page format and layout, to increase conversions.

Content marketing and CRO have the potential to be the next big power-couple. Marketers just need to get to grips with CRO data and testing models, and we could see a huge boost in conversions.

If you think content marketing and CRO are a match made in heaven, try bringing them together today! Let us know how it goes.

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