April 26, 2018

How to Define Clear Conversion Pathways

Conversions are the lifeblood of inbound marketing. To drive and sustain successive conversions down your funnel, you must define clear conversion pathways for each of your core buyer personas. But what does that look like from an overhead view? And what elements are needed to be successful? We've spelled out everything you need to know to make your site into a lead-conversion machine.

The Anatomy of a Conversion Pathway

Every successful conversion pathway includes these four elements:

1. A variety of engaging and relevant content

Content is the key to the inbound methodology. In order to attract, engage and delight visitors, you need to create a wealth of contextually-relevant, optimized, persona-driven content to warrant and guide their continued engagement. Web pages, blog posts and emails are popular content delivery mediums that come with their own set of conversion pathway best practices. Blog posts, for example, should address a specific buyer persona’s pain points and challenges, highlight relevant keywords your target persona may be searching for, include inbound links to other relevant blog posts or web pages and offer a relevant CTA for further engagement.

Take this post as an example.

Its purpose is to help you learn how to define clear conversion pathways to improve your funnel velocity, lead engagement and overall conversion rates. You'll find relevant links to blog posts that lend context to various topics throughout this article. Because the goal is to educate readers, you won't find any overt references to specific products or services. Additionally, this post will conclude with a CTA that highlights a premium content offer you might find helpful after reading this piece.

2. A clear call-to-action (CTA)

After engaging with a blog post, web page or email, CTAs ask visitors to take an action to continue their educational journey and sustain their engagement. Blog posts should be matched with relevant content offers to boost the likelihood of a conversion. Each blog post you publish should feature a single premium content offer (offering more than one can overwhelm and dissuade your audience from taking action), but that one content offer can be promoted in the form of two CTAs:

  1. An in-line CTA
  2. An image/button CTA

In-line CTAs should be embedded in the blog content and should provide a one-line description of the action you’d like readers to take and what they’ll receive in return, like this one below:

Download The Essential Guide to Developing a Content Strategy to learn how to  effectively drive high conversions.

Image CTAs are larger and should be added to the end of a blog post so as not to disrupt the flow of your article or overwhelm the reader early on. Once a visitor has read a post, an image CTA is more likely than a simple link to grab their attention and provide a logical next step to continue their educational journey.

image CTA example screenshot

To be effective, the CTA you add to a blog post should be in agreement with the post’s subject, target persona and funnel stage. For example, a top-of-funnel (ToFu) blog post on how to create buyer personas (see what I did there?😉) should lead to a CTA for a ToFu premium content offer (PCO). ToFu PCOs are educational assets that exists in the form of e-books, guides, templates and checklists.

Conversely, bottom of funnel (BOFU) content offers are usually more product focused and exist in the form of assessments, audits and discovery calls with a sales rep. Case studies that exemplify how your product or service has helped a customer overcome a specific challenge are a great example of BoFu content.

In addition to choosing a relevant PCO, you should use clear, concise and contextually-relevant CTA language that leads to your chosen PCO. To ease the transition between a post and the CTA offer, you may want to write a short segue between the blog content your reader has just consumed and the call-to-action you’re suggesting, like the one at the conclusion of this article.

3. A landing page and submission form

When a visitor clicks on a CTA, they should be brought to a landing page for the featured content asset. This landing page should clearly restate the subject of the premium content offer and go one step further to provide greater detail than the CTA that led them to this point. Compelling PCO landing pages offer context, assert why the gated asset will be valuable and provide a clear set of takeaways that a visitor will gain if they follow through and submit the form. Landing page copy often ends with its own mini CTA — a final sentence that asks readers to fill out the attached submission form to access the premium content offer in question. When a visitor fills out a gated form to access a PCO, they’re taking advantage of a conversion opportunity and actively qualifying themselves as a lead in your database. 

It follows that, for a landing page to effectively convert leads, it must feature a submission form that asks for specific contact information in return for PCO access. Much like CTAs, your inbound form strategy should align with the funnel stage of the offer it's gating.

4. A thank you page and asset delivery method

Inbound best practices dictate that any form submission be followed by a thank you page. Thank you pages serve a few different functions:

  1. To express gratitude to the customer for their interest
  2. To indicate that the submission was successful and tell them how to access the asset they've requested
  3. To provide contact information to use in the event that the asset delivery was unsuccessful
  4. To continue the conversion pathway by offering additional engagement opportunities for the contact to pursue after consuming the premium content offer

Oftentimes, thank you pages provide a link to access the PCO and/or tell visitors to be on the lookout for an asset delivery email that was triggered by the form submission. It's important to note that, though thank you pages exist as site pages, they should carry a "no index" code to prevent search engines from bypassing the attached form and leading searchers directly to this asset delivery page.

Thank You page screenshot example-183124-edited

In order to continue your conversion pathway beyond this initial BOFU conversion, the last point from the above list is key. So as not to create a stagnant engagement loop, make sure that the next content you highlight corresponds to the next subsequent stage in their buyer's journey. After a BOFU conversion, for example, you should begin the nurture process again with relevant middle-of-funnel content and conversion opportunities.

The Takeaway

Conversion pathways rely on the existence of compelling, helpful, relevant content. Before you can begin to hone your CTAs, landing pages, thank you pages and form strategy, you need to create a wealth of content to serve as building blocks for powerful conversion pathways.

To learn how to create a comprehensive inbound content strategy that impels conversions at every stage of your funnel (or to see how a conversion pathway looks in action) download our content strategy guide below.

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Meryl Kremer

Meryl is a former New Breeder.


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