Can online businesses increase their conversion rates through new content sharing strategies? The more content you have the more you can learn about what your users are actually interested in – and the more you know, the easier it is to produce content and promote products that they will actually engage with. The challenge is that most of today’s businesses have such limited content that users don’t spend enough time on their sites.
Let’s explore some ideas on how to use content to boost conversion rates.
Learn from publishers – the kings of content
Publishers have fought for years to create user engagement, challenged by the fact that most users consume only 1 or 2 pageviews on their site every month. Hardly enough to say that anyone is loyal to their brand. However, as the understanding and adoption of personalization technologies like Cxense Content increases, enabling publishers to show whatever content is most interesting to each individual user, publishers are recapturing user attention. Winnipeg Free Press is an excellent example; immediately after personalizing nearly the entire homepage, users stayed 60% longer on the site and increased clickthrough rates by 25%.
Except for personalization technology, what are the underlying prerequisites for creating engagement? At least one of them is content. Plenty of it. Imagine your favourite news site being an iceberg; the tip of the iceberg is the content that the editor has chosen to be surfaced, while the rest of it is the content that barely glimpses the light of day before being hidden away.
Personalization changes this, and the more content that is under the surface the more engagement we create, simply because the more content you have, the more likely it is that you have something for everyone. And when everyone starts seeing what they take an interest in, we know more about their preferences. And this is easy to use to increase conversion rates for any offering, whether it is a product, subscription or advertising.
The key is variation
By saying that we are able to create more engagement through producing more content, we are also implying that variation is a prerequisite to success. Even within the same topic, journalists find multiple angles to engage different audiences. To illustrate the value of subtle changes, consider how journalists and editors try multiple headliners for each story in order to maximize traffic. Angle is not everything, but it is certainly important!
Let’s turn to online businesses like banking, travel booking, consumer electronics… pretty much anyone who sells or promotes its products and services online. We have so far lifted conversion rates for banks by up to 40% by working with the content they already have available. However, we have done so with limited user data and a very limited number of pages to create deep and actionable insights. Although 40% uplift is great, imagine what we could do if we knew even more about users’ preferences.
The challenge from an organizational perspective is that few eCommerce companies have editorial content production as a core competency. This is where sharing may be an interesting option.
Four cooperation strategies
Figure 1 outlines four strategies for how eCommerce companies can obtain richer user data, and how publishers can profit from sharing it in a protected one-to-one manner.
Figure 1: Overview of four strategies for content and data sharing, that may work separately or in combinations.
Approach 1: Buy profile data
The first approach involves the least change, where users keep consuming news stories on the news site and banking services on the banking site. However, the bank may buy user profile data that further enriches their own profiles, resulting in a richer basis for predicting behaviour. This can be done technically by deploying the Cxense Insight technology on both sites, and then using the Cxense DMP to construct segments from behaviour based on both sites.
Approach 2: Buy stories
The second approach involves the opportunity for an eCommerce site to buy the right to publish stories on their own sites. If a bank can increase engagement levels from its own site, then not only will it increase actionable knowledge about its users, but also build a direct relationship to its customers.
Figure 2: An example illustration of how a publisher and bank may cooperate. Please note that these two players are shown for illustration purposes, and there is no cooperation between the two that I am aware of. I use these sites because (1) there is definitely great and relevant content on WSJ.com, and (2) I see that Chase Bank already has a news offering on chase.com, making it a great example of what can be done.
Approach 3: Improve the native advertising offer
The third and final approach is an incremental improvement from the native advertising offering that is currently growing in popularity. The current offering seems to be a spin-off from the more traditional display ad product, where the same basic statistics are offered as reporting. However, it would not be a large job to provide advertisers with actionable insights in terms of segmentation and content recommendation capabilities. Any user having spent time on a native ad landing page reading about a bank’s product, could be a valuable basis for further personalizing the banking experience when the user eventually visits the bank’s website.
It’s not about you – it’s about me
The recommendations above rest on the fact that users are expecting more and more personalized experiences. Great data strategists like Amazon, Google and Facebook are driving these expectations, and users bring these expectations everywhere they go online. Hence, it is not about what you want to offer or push to me on the top of your website – it is about me, my needs and what jobs I need done. Data is the prerequisite of understanding these needs, richness in content and variation is key to obtaining these data, and cooperation between eCommerce sites and content producers may be an interesting approach to obtaining a better connection with users and higher conversion rates.