This is probably one of the most important blog posts I’ve ever written. Quite simply, put it into action, and you can completely transform a business.
- Exactly how to use content, and a powerful content marketing strategy, to drive increasing amounts of revenue
- How to make your content increasingly valuable to your business
- A Content Marketing Sales Model that can be adapted and put into action for virtually any business
- How, by tracking and testing each stage of the Content Marketing Sales Model, you can boost your sales by 1,592%, through the power of compounded results
- Four key tools you can get started with straightaway to start putting this process into action
- And more.
Shall we get started?
A Content Marketing Sales Model
If you’re going to be investing time, energy and other resources into content marketing, there does of course need to be a pay off – a return on your investment – to make it all worthwhile.
To show you how this can be achieved, here’s the Content Marketing Sales Model we use here at vWriter:
- Posts are published on the blog, as is other content around the web.
- The posts, and often the other content published elsewhere, contain one or more invitations for visitors to opt-in such as through content upgrades.
- After opting into a content upgrade, the visitor can get an opt-in upgrade, namely the Content Authority Formula special report.
- There is then a further opt-in upgrade, in this case a special training session on the same material which:
- Shows how vWriter’s content marketing platform facilitates putting the Content Authority Formula into action.
- Provides an opportunity to subscribe to the vWriter service.
Other marketing strategies are employed in tandem with the above, but this provides a high level, simplistic overview.
It’s an effective sales funnel, well integrated with content marketing, and can be visually represented as follows:
This model – or a version of it – can be readily put into action for nearly all types of business.
Here’s how it works.
Your content, whether on your blog or elsewhere, attracts targeted traffic. These visitors begin their journey through the Content Marketing Sales Model:
- A proportion of that traffic converts into leads, either immediately or at some point in future because of say social content or retargeting ads.
- As those leads descend the model, or sales funnel, they become increasingly qualified, and increasingly valuable for your business.
- A proportion of those opting into the training session (or whatever this final step might be for you) go on to become customers.
Leads progress at different rates. Some may take months or years to purchase something and become customers. Others drop through more quickly.
All the time, a regular flow of content:
- Attracts more leads into the funnel
- Helps retain them in it through regular communications across multiple platforms
- Encourages their progression through it.
So Why Am I Telling You All Of This?
Each stage within the Content Marketing Sales Model provides a different touch point with your leads.
By tracking, testing and improving the conversions at each different stage, you can increase your sales significantly. I’ll show you exactly how.
In fact, as you’ll see, you can use this strategy to boost your sales by 1,592% or more, with relatively modest conversion rate increases at each stage.
This is not just hyperbole. It happens thanks to compounded results. Putting the information below into action for your business can have an incredibly powerful impact.
Let’s see how this works…
The Baseline – Your Starting Point
For the purpose of this illustration, we’ll use the following conversion rates as your starting point or baseline.
These are of course just fictional, rounded numbers to make the illustration easier. However, they roughly reflect what the average business may initially experience.
- Stage One: 2% conversion rate for the initial opt-in (e.g. a content-specific content upgrade)
- Stage Two: 10% conversion rate for the opt-in upgrade (e.g. a more in-depth special report)
- Stage Three: 10% conversion rate for a further opt-in upgrade (e.g. a related training session)
- Stage Four: 10% sales conversion rate (e.g. from the offer made in the Stage Three training session)
Let’s add in some actual numbers, and see what this means for your leads and sales based on 10,000 visitors to your blog over a particular time period:
- Stage One: 2% opt-in conversion rate (CR) – 200 leads
- Stage Two: 10% opt-in CR – 20 leads
- Stage Three: 10% opt-in CR – 2 leads
- Stage Four: 10% sales CR – 0.2 sales
That means for every 10,000 visitors to your blog, you’re not even making one new sale on leads coming through your sales funnel. In fact, just a fifth of a sale.
So it would take 50,000 visitors to achieve a single sale.
Not great. But this is of course just a baseline.
It’s just your starting position…
You’ll be surprised what this leads to with some simple tracking and testing at each stage.
Tracking and Testing – Round 1
So you start split (or A/B) testing at each stage in the Content Marketing Sales Model. Let’s say that leads to a 20% improvement at each stage, relatively easy to achieve.
Here’s what your conversion rates then look like, together with the number of leads and sales generated. As before, this is based on 10,000 visitors to your blog over a particular time period:
- Stage One: 2% 2.4% opt-in CR – 200 240 leads
- Stage Two: 10% 12% opt-in CR – 20 28.8 leads
- Stage Three: 10% 12% opt-in CR – 2 3.456 leads
- Stage Four: 10% 12% sales CR – 0.2 0.415 sales <- Sales have more than doubled already
As you can see above, even with a relatively small 20% lift at each stage, you’ve already more than doubled the number of sales.
Rather than 50,000 visitors to achieve a sale, it now takes just over 22,000.
Progress is being made….
Tracking and Testing – Round 2
We don’t stop there of course. You continue to track and test.
This time you achieve a 30% increase in your conversion rates at each stage. Again this is a relatively modest improvement, and relatively easy to achieve.
Here’s how your lead and sales numbers further improve:
- Stage One: 2% 2.4% 3.12% opt-in CR – 200 240 312 leads
- Stage Two: 10% 12% 15.6% opt-in CR – 20 28.8 48.672 leads
- Stage Three: 10% 12% 15.6% opt-in CR – 2 3.456 7.593 leads
- Stage Four: 10% 12% 15.6% sales CR – 0.2 0.415 1.185 sales <- Sales have again more than doubled
Because of the compounded results all the way through, you’ve now:
- Again, more than doubled your sales. In fact, it’s a five-fold increase on your initial sales levels, an improvement of 492.5%.
- Achieved one sale for roughly every 8,000 visitors. A far cry from the 50,000 from your baseline.
But there’s still work to do…
Tracking and Testing – Round 3
With more testing, you achieve another 30% lift in conversion rates at each stage. (None of this is hard to do.)
Look what happens now with your 10,000 visitors:
- Stage One: 2% 2.4%
3.12%4.056% opt-in CR – 200 240 312405.6 leads
- Stage Two: 10% 12%
15.6%20.28% opt-in CR – 20 28.8 48.67282.256 leads
- Stage Three: 10% 12%
15.6%20.28% opt-in CR – 2 3.456 7.59316.682 leads
- Stage Four: 10% 12%
15.6%20.28% sales CR – 0.2 0.415 1.1853.383 sales <- More than doubled again
Compared to your initial sales levels of just 0.2 sales per 10,000 visitors, and with just three rounds of tracking and testing, your…
Compounded Results Have Increased Your Sales By 1,592%
Your results have increased dramatically all the way through the different stages in the Content Marketing Sales Model:
- Stage One: Over 400 leads compared to 200 to start with. In other words, you’ve more than doubled the number of leads through some simple tracking and testing.
- Stage Two: Over 80 leads compared to 20 to start with. That’s an increase of 311%.
- Stage Three: Nearly 17 leads compared to 2 at the beginning. That gives you an increase of 750%.
- Stage Four: Nearly 3.4 sales per 10,000 visitors, compared to just 0.2 to start with. This gives you a massive sales increase of 1,592%.
Presuming you’re tracking and testing at each stage, the further down the Content Marketing Sales Model you go, the greater the benefits.
This is perhaps best illustrated with the following graphs. As you can see the gradient of the incline increases at each stage, despite the conversion rate increases remaining the same:
Of course, the Content Marketing Sales Model isn’t set in stone. For your own business, it may look quite different with different stages and different actions required from the visitor or lead.
In practice, it’s also unlikely you’ll achieve such a neat set of harmonized results, nor such clearly delineated rounds of testing.
For example, you may still be trying to achieve a conversion rate increase at Stage One, while you’ve already netted a 50% lift at Stage Two, and are continuing apace with others.
But it’s the broad principle here that’s important.
By tracking and testing continuously, you’ve made the return you get from your content far more valuable. You’ve turned it into a viable source of long-term revenue growth for your business. You can invest more into it and accelerate your success.
How Does This Work In Practice?
Let’s continue the illustration, this time with dollar values.
Let’s imagine the lifetime value of each customer is worth $500 to your business. That would mean, based on the illustration above, a value of $1,700 per 10,000 visitors to your blog (i.e. 3.4 sales per 10,000 visitors x $500).
In other words, the average visitor is now worth $0.17 to your business – that’s $1,700 divided by 10,000 visitors.
(Before your testing and tracking, each visitor was worth just $0.01).
What does this tell you?
You now know that a blog post that attracts just 1,000 visitors to your website over time is worth an average of $170.
A thousand visitors isn’t that many. In fact, if the blog post attracted just one visitor a day for three years, you’d have more than 1,000 visitors.
Established blogs are likely of course to far exceed this.
But what if you’re not there yet? Is this still worth while?
Making your blog more established and attracting increasing levels of traffic is achieved in the main part by simply:
- Regularly publishing content; and
- Building your audience through content repurposing (or upcycling) and other activities.
In other words, presuming you continue investing in content for the growth of your business, that content should become increasingly valuable over time.
The trick is to avoid judging future content value based on current traffic levels.
So, for the sake of illustration, let’s triple the number of visitors for an average blog post to 3,000. Each blog post is now worth over $500 – in other words, the same value as a new customer in this illustration – and those numbers are only likely to increase with time.
By building your audience on social, on your email list, and through other content channels in addition to your blog, you gain a huge amount of leverage to drive increasing amounts of traffic back to your website and increase the overall value of all your content.
The Value of Tracking and Testing Your Content
Hopefully it’s clear just how valuable this approach can be.
It can transform a business that’s fumbling along with a blog and not really getting anywhere into a highly successful business, thanks to a solid content strategy that’s attracting leads and customers in increasing numbers.
The effects can begin to snowball.
To start with, by following this process, you gain a clear understanding of:
- How much the content you produce is worth to your business
- How much you can (and should) be investing in it.
As we’ve seen, by:
- Testing the different stages in the Content Marketing Sales Model…
- Tracking your numbers…
- Increasing your conversion rates over time…
… your content becomes dramatically more valuable.
That leads to:
- More investment in content. If you could invest $200 in a blog post, and know that it will bring in at least $500 to your business, why wouldn’t you do more of it?
- Continuing improvement in results. The more content you create and publish, the more authority and influence you develop, and the more attractive you become to your marketplace.
Effectively you now have a business that feeds on and grows off its own success.
So Where Do You Start?
Perhaps it all seems a little overwhelming.
But you don’t have to do it all at once.
Start by simply testing a single stage within your sales funnel. Let it build it up from there.
Bear in mind that many tests won’t succeed and will show that what you have already is the best version. Don’t let that put you off.
Other tests will provide some dramatic improvements, and motivation to continue if not accelerate the process.
The key is to adopt continuous testing as a key habit within your business.
Need an example to see what results you can achieve in practice?
Here’s a couple…
Example One: Boost Registrations 1,066.67%
Here at vWriter, we tested the following two versions of the sign up page for the Content Authority Formula training session:
- The control – the first screenshot below.
- The variation – an updated layout based on a silver theme and various design improvements.
As you can see from the results shown below, the improvement in the conversion rate achieved by the newer design of the page was dramatic – an improvement of over 1,000%.
Example Two – Boost Click-Throughs 224.14%
Content upgrades are offered on multiple posts on this blog, including this one.
At the time of writing, clicking a content upgrade link within a post takes the visitor through to a quick opt-in page.
The more click-throughs on those links, the more opt-ins can be achieved.
The opt-in page itself is also tested continuously, but this test was focused on increasing visitors to it.
This particular experiment was ran on this LinkedIn post.
As always, rather than emulating something on blind faith (it may after all be part of someone’s own testing, and not a winning version) I like to test for my own market.
The variation we tested it against (shown as ‘B’ below):
- Incorporated the word ‘now’
- Suggested the resource would help them, rather than telling them they needed it.
As you can see, the variation (B) attracted 224.14% more clicks than the original (A). In other words, it was attracting triple the number of clicks we were getting before.
As a result, a similar style of wording was rolled out across other posts.
So how do you start testing?
To point you in the right direction, here are…
4 Key Tools To Start Running Tests On Your Blog – and Other Content
AB Press Optimizer
How do you run A/B tests like the one shown above, where you test specific text (or other content) within a particular blog post?
In this case we used the WordPress plugin, AB Press Optimizer. It allows unlimited experiments, and is quick and easy to set up and get going.
The plugin does require a small one-off investment, well worth it when you understand the power of A/B testing.
How It Works
Visitors are shown one of the following for the part of a post you’re testing:
- The original content
- The content variation(s) you’ve created within the software.
Here’s the general process to follow in using AB Press Optimizer:
- Decide the part of a post you want to test.
- Create an experiment within AB Press Optimizer via the WordPress dashboard.
- Set up one or more variations. For example, for the experiment shown above, the content was tested against a version with a green tick. A variation is entered as follows:
- The one above tests the number of clicks, so the Goal Trigger is set as a Click Event. Other options include a Page View of a particular post or the submission of a form (for example, on any lead pages).
- Go back to the post you are testing. In the source of the post (i.e. via the Text tab when editing), surround the portion of content you want to test with tags as follows:
- Note the opening tag contains an id, in this case id=”68″. This number reflects the ID of the experiment in AB Press Optimizer, retrieved either via the list of experiments within the plugin, or from the URL when editing or viewing the experiment. For example:
So for the experiment above, visitors see either the original content:
Or the variation with the green tick:
Once your experiment has been running for a few days, check back and you’ll see data begin to come through within AB Press Optimizer.
The data includes:
- The number of visitors…
- The number of conversions…
- The conversion rate…
- And, most importantly, the probability of a particular variation beating the control.
This probability percentage tells you when an experiment is safe to stop.
Stop it too soon, and you risk damaging your conversion rates longer term.
In other words, experiments sometimes start going one way, but then go the other way completely. So you need to wait until the data is conclusive.
How Do You Decide When To Stop An Experiment?
It can get a lot more complicated (if you’re interested, see this article over at ConversionXL), but here’s a general rule.
Wait until you have at least 95% probability on a particular result before declaring a winner.
For AB Press Optimizer, this number only shows for the variation. So that means stopping the experiment when the number is either:
- Over 95%, indicating the variation has won; or
- Below 5%, indicating the control – your existing content – has won.
However, even if the above numbers are reached, it’s best to give tests at least a week or two to run. That’s simply because conversion rates can differ on different days of the week which may give you an inaccurate result.
For testing pages other than blog posts, the easiest approach has generally been to use Google Experiments.
However, while it’s likely to be around for some time to come, the tool will be deprecated at some point. The replacement is the more powerful Google Optimize software, which is described in more detail below.
But, for now at least, Experiments can be a good starting point if you’re new to A/B testing.
You’ll find it within Google Analytics:
The software allows you to test one straight page against another. For example, you might want to test a new version of a particular landing page or sales page.
The basic process is as follows:
- Decide on the Goal you are testing against. For example, this might be a new lead. Your Goal needs to be set up within Google Analytics.
- Click to Create experiment via the Experiments page.
- Name the experiment for your reference, and select the Objective you want to measure. This is where you select the Goal.
- Check the other settings. Generally you’ll want:
- 100% of traffic to hit the experiment
- To receive an email notification when the experiment ends – more on this aspect below.
- Enter the URLs of the pages you want to test.
- Add the experiment code to your website.
- Review and start the experiment.
Google automatically ends the experiment when either of the following conditions are met:
- The 90 day limit has been reached. In other words, you need to have sufficient traffic to a page to allow a result to be determined within 90 days, or the experiment will end inconclusively.
- It has been unable to reach a conclusion. If Google determines there’s not enough traffic to allow a result to be reached, it may end the experiment before the 90 days have elapsed.
- It believes a conclusion has been reached. In other words, in the jargon of A/B testing, it believes statistical significance has been achieved.
Presuming you’ve set the Email notification setting to ON, you’ll receive an email to inform you when the experiment has ended.
If you want more power than Google Experiments gives you, or simply want to start using the latest tool, Google Optimize is the tool for you.
It came out of beta and became freely available in March 2017. It’s a lighter version of their enterprise-level Optimize 360 solution, and more suitable for small and medium-sized businesses.
While more powerful than Experiments, it’s not particularly complex or hard to use. There’s a bit of technical set-up, but then it’s relatively straightforward.
Here’s the general process:
- You add a single line of code to your website, as described below.
- You create and set up experiments from within Google Optimize:
- Use simple drag-and-drop editing within their visual editor to set up variations
- You can also use the editor to edit the raw code underneath.
How to Get Started
Firstly, make sure you’re using the Chrome browser. You’ll need to download a Chrome extension later to access the visual editor.
To get started, click to Create Experiment. Enter the name of the experiment and the URL of the page you want to test.
For this example, I’ll test the headline on the Content Authority Formula opt-in page.
Choose whether to set up:
- An A/B test
- A multivariate test
- A redirect test (A/B testing based on different URLs, similar to that provided within Experiments).
If you’re using Optimize for the first time, or for a new site, you’ll need to link it to your Analytics account.
After selecting the Analytics Property you want to use, you’ll also need to select the relevant Analytics View.
Then add the Optimize snippet you’re provided with to your site. In fact, it’s just a single addition to your existing Analytics code. For vWriter.com, it looks like this:
Note: It does get slightly more technical as there’s also a page hiding snippet to install on pages where you’re running experiments. While an ‘optional’ step, it is recommended as it stops the page ‘flickering’ for users on slower connections as your experiment is loading.
Once done, that’s the most technical bit out of the way. You can then concentrate on setting up experiments as you need them.
Creating an Experiment
Start by configuring the objective for the experiment, by selecting the Goal (these are from the View set up in your Analytics account):
You can also choose one or more secondary objectives.
For example, you might want to run a test based on:
- Visitors who opted in (Primary objective)
- Opt-ins who then when on to become a customer (Secondary objective)
This helps avoid the following scenario:
- A particular variation of a page converts more visitors into leads.
- Although you are getting more leads, those leads have a lower propensity to become customers.
In other words, a particular variation might convert a lower number of visitors into leads, but may prove more profitable overall. This is the kind of additional power Google Optimize gives you that isn’t possible with Google Experiments.
Enter a description and hypothesis for the experiment.
A hypothesis might read, An orange button will increase conversions or Putting the link higher up the page will increase click-throughs. The experiment then tests that hypothesis.
Click to add a variant, entering a suitable name.
Edit the variant by clicking the row in question:
At this point, you’ll need to download the Google Optimize extension for Chrome if you don’t have it already.
You can then use their Visual Editor to make changes to the page you’re testing, such as dragging elements to different positions, editing the text (or HTML) and so on.
After making changes you can preview how it looks across different devices:
Once happy with the changes you’ve made, start the experiment and wait for the data to start coming in:
optinopoli is a powerful piece of software you can start using for free to help convert your blog visitors into opt-in leads (I mentioned it previously in 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Convert Blog Visitors into Opt-In Leads), and is the software used here on this blog.
One key advantage is that you can run split A/B tests as you do so, and over time find out what works best for your blog and your audience, boosting your conversion rate overall.
While the split testing feature is only available after upgrading to one of the paid business levels, it’s worth it for the additional leads it brings.
After creating a campaign, you simply create a variation of the original.
Make a change based on the aspect you want to test.
And start the test.
The software then collects the data and shows you graphs and other conversion information to enable you to boost your conversion rates over time.
As we’ve seen, by:
- Adapting the Content Marketing Sales Model and putting it into action for your own business, and
- Testing and tracking each stage…
… you not only create a powerful sales machine for your business, but dramatically increase sales by 1,592% through the power of compounded results.
Is there any reason not to start putting this into action right now?
Key of course is the testing and tracking outlined above. Make sure you get the split testing cheatsheet you need to increase your conversions.