Ep. 118 | What is the Best Converting Content On Your Website
This week, we return to a conversation we had with Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media Studios to drill down into better understanding what is the best performing content on your website.
This is always a question I and other content marketers and strategists are asked. If we want to follow Larry Kim’s advice and make unicorn babies, how do we get started beyond lighting some candles.
Andy walks us through the process using a tool we likely all have, Google Analytics.
Act-On: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and about Orbit Media Studios?
Andy: I’m the cofounder of this company. We’re here in Chicago. And Orbit is a web design company. We do just one thing, web design and web development. But two weeks ago or three weeks ago was my 10th anniversary as a content marketer. So I’ve done lots and lots of writing, and publishing, and teaching, and speaking, and making videos. And basically I’m probably, if anyone here has heard of me, it would be because I do a lot on the topics of Google Analytics and search engine optimization. I make my rounds at a lot of the conferences. And yeah, I’m one of the many out here who just teaches everything I can about everything I know related to content marketing.
How do you find your best converting content?
Act-On: How do we know what is our best converting content?
Andy: It all reminds me of that famous quote by Wanamaker. He said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Because he lived in an era before data driven marketing. Now we know or we should know. So that dashboard should be — we should actually make a dashboard and give it away, like the Wanamaker dashboard, the which half. Basically what Larry Kim’s [mantra to make unicorn babies with your best performing content] and what we should all do. Find out what’s working and double down or make baby unicorns on that. And find out what’s not working and quit.
The sooner you do that, the sooner you get better results.
So as a general example, it’s like if you just look at analytics, and see Google Analytics, and see which if your traffic sources converts visitors into subscribers at the highest rate, maybe which social networks convert visitors into subscribers at what rate, you might decide, wow, I was spending equal time in Facebook and Pinterest, and Pinterest is worth 10 times as much. What am I doing here? You could make decisions based on that data.
If I was making a dashboard about the performance of content, I’m basically looking for two things, which specific articles or posts or URLs are generating the greatest subscriber rates, conversion rates into subscribers, or maybe which topics in general, which categories on my blog are getting the greatest traction, generating the most subscribers or the most visits.
So seeing which of these produces the most visitors is very easy to do. You just look at the Google Analytics. It would be the acquisition, site content, all pages report.
Google Analytics is organized like A, B, C, acquisition, behavior, conversion. Those are the bottom three reports. So top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of the funnel. That’s how I teach analytics usually. It’s like acquisition’s where they came from, that’s A. B is what they did, that’s behavior. C is what percentage took which action, that’s conversion. So it’s shaped like the funnel. And they’re so smart that they alphabetized them.
So acquisition is one way that this might be a unicorn. I’ve got unicorns in acquisition. They’re driving way more traffic. So acquisition, site content, all pages. Go look at the all pages report and you’ll see immediately — or sort by blogs, filter for blogs — you’ll see which things are attracting way, way more visitors.
Set the date range to like starting two weeks back to that you’re not looking at the emails you just sent or something. Segment the list, segment the report to see just search traffic if you’re focused on search, which Larry mostly is. And you’re going to see which of these are unicorns and what you should double down on because these things are just getting way better results than others. Maybe this is just what your audience likes. And that’s the cheese.
The mousetrap half is even more interesting. Which of our articles are converting the greatest percentage of visitors into subscribers? You can find this answer. Actually Act-On — those reports, and you guys have amazing tools, but I’ll show you how to do it the pedestrian way, here’s how to do it in GA.
Go to the conversion. We’re in mousetraps now, so A, B, C, we’re at the bottom of the funnel, conversion. Conversion reports, there’s a report called reverse goal path. It shows me what people were doing before they took action. If you look at what people were doing in terms of what blog posts they were reading before they took action to subscribe to the newsletter, you can see, wow, a lot of people who read this article then subscribed. Very few people who read this article then subscribed.
That’s the raw number and it’s not sufficient to calculate the conversion rates because these patients will have different amounts of traffic. But once you know the total number of people who read that and then subscribed, you can divide that by the number of page views. And that’s it, that’s all the math, we’re done, we’re there now.
Now you calculate — I just told you how to calculate the conversion — just use the reverse goal path report. You can calculate the conversion rate, the percentage of people who read this article and then subscribed.
The conversion rate for some of your articles might be 1 percent. That’s amazing. The conversion rate for others will be 0.001 percent. That’s horrible.
But as soon as you calculate this and you see it on a chart, you’ve noticed the difference, you will know, wow, I should be publishing — these are unicorns. I need to do way more on these topics. I need to write another angle on that article. I need to link to this popular — everyone who reads this subscribes, or 1 percent of people who read this subscribed. I should be linking to this more often. I should put it in heavy social media rotation. I should put this on my homepage. I should put this article in my email signature. I should make sure all the sales team had this one because everyone who reads this article converts at 100 times the rate as my other articles.
It’ll change your content strategy as soon as you know which of your articles are the best mousetraps and which are the best cheese.
And sometimes even just linking, just a simple internal link, or a read more, or a next. Add a next button from that super high traffic article to the super high converting article. One link can actually improve your results. Because some things are getting 100 times as much traffic. Some things convert at 100 times the conversion rate.
Once you know these things, you can make way better decisions about what to promote, or what to produce, or how to align your content strategy. Wanamaker would have loved this approach because he would have known, yep, I’m doubling down over here, and I’m going to quit doing that stuff over there.