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How to Think About Conversion Efficiency in Content Marketing

One of the more interesting content marketing metrics that I rarely see in the field is conversion efficiency. There’s some content that simply outperforms other content, but one of the things we forget to include in our normal analysis of content is how much effort, in terms of time and resources, went into the promotion of that content. Did a piece of content perform well because it was great content, or was it merely good content with a great budget?

More important, what would happen if you put that great budget behind a piece of already great content?

Why isn’t this done more? Part of the reason is that understanding what content performed well is challenging for most companies that don’t use multi-touch attribution at the content level. Most marketers are familiar with multi-touch attribution overall – how did any one channel contribute to a conversion, knowing that channels work together sometimes to create better synergies together than any one channel would alone.

However, we don’t often think about our content with the same lens. What pages on your website, on the media properties you own, help nudge people towards conversion in concert with the pages you already actively promote?

Using Google Analytics data plus some classical machine learning techniques, we can understand what content nudges people towards conversion most; this is the basis behind the Trust Insights Most Valuable Pages analysis we wrote a couple of years ago that’s still in use today.

What is Conversion Efficiency?

If we pair the output of that report with the number of pageviews for any given piece of content, and essentially measure how many pageviews on average it takes to convert a user, we end up with a measure of conversion efficiency. In other words, conversion efficiency is pageviews per conversion.

Why does this matter?

A page that converts 1 person for every 10 page views will need less promotion and a lower budget than a page that converts 1 person for every 100 page views. Assuming that our traffic is roughly equal quality, we should promote and pay for promotion of pages that are the most efficient at converting users if we want the biggest bang from our buck – especially if budgets are tight.

Conversion Efficiency Example

We’ll start with a most valuable pages report for my website:

MVP Report

What we see is very straightforward; from the top to the bottom, these are the pages on my website that nudge people towards conversion the most. For my site, conversion includes things like signing up for my newsletter, buying a book, filling out a form, etc., and there are some pages that clearly outperform in terms of total numbers of users they help convert.

However, this data is skewed somewhat, because some pages receive a lot more attention than others. So, let’s look at a conversion efficiency report now:

Conversion Efficiency

This is, for the most part, a very different list. Why? Because the pages at the top require the least amount of traffic to convert, and they’re not always the pages I’ve been promoting. Some of these are even really, really old content, but content that still performs, content that still gets people to do the things I want them to do.

What Do We Do With Conversion Efficiency Data?

So, what do I do with this information? The top priority would be to assess whether the pages I’ve uncovered can be reshared as is, or if they need updating. Once I’ve made that decision, it’s time to get to work, either optimizing and updating, or promoting.

What we want to keep track of is whether the efficiency ratios hold firm as we send more traffic to these pages. It may simply be they are attracting small, niche traffic that’s highly optimized around a specific channel – as the floodgates open, that ratio may drop as the audience becomes more broad. The ideal situation, of course, is to find those hidden gems that maintain their conversion efficiency ratio as we send more traffic to them; those are the pages that we should divert as much traffic to as possible.

Find the conversion efficiency measurement method of your choice (or I can do it for you if your data is in good shape), and get started sending traffic to the pages that convert the best.


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