How HubSpot used Historical Conversion Optimization to generate new leads and increase traffic - and so can you!
INBOUND! I have wanted to attend since I first became a HubSpot user in 2012 and this year it finally happened. In case you’re not familiar with it, INBOUND is an event hosted each year by HubSpot. It’s THE place to be for inbound marketers. Seriously. This year more than 14,000 people attended. That’s a whole lot of marketing under one roof!
I got a lot out of the conference, which I am excited to apply to our clients’ strategies. I am also eager to share these great insights, tips and tricks in a series of blog posts to be published over the coming weeks. To get things started, let me tell you about a session I loved, which was dedicated to generating leads from old blog posts. Get ready, there’s some really great actionable information ahead.
I was as giddy as my kids when I take them to the ice cream shop as I sat and listened to HubSpot’s Pamela Vaughan talk about using data from past blog posts to increase traffic and generate more leads. I realize that this makes me a rather large marketing nerd, but that’s OK; I’ll wear that geek hat proudly.
Why was I so excited? You see, I recently wrote a blog post about combining Inbound and Agile methodologies that aligned with a lot of what she was saying. Her session not only validated my thoughts, it also provided more statistical data about why the proposed process works, as well as more information about how to do it.
Historical Conversion Optimization
Pamela’s session was about something she called Historical Conversion Optimization. Doesn’t that just sound awesome?! Yes, I think so, too.
This concept arose when HubSpot found that 76% of its website traffic and a staggering 92% of leads generated by its blogs were coming from posts published at least a month earlier. That is, “old posts” were doing all the heavy lifting.
Additionally, HubSpot also found that nearly half (46%) of the leads coming in through the blog each month were from just 30 blog posts. At the time, HubSpot had THOUSANDS of blog posts. Just THIRTY of those blogs were responsible for generating half of ALL of the blog leads!
HubSpot set out to understand how it could harness the power of old posts and generate MORE traffic from its thousands of archived posts (not just 30 of them). In doing so, they were able to generate 70% more leads, 50% higher conversion rates and 35% more content downloads. Pretty great, right?
Here are the three basic steps for how it works, so that you, too, can harness the power of your “old” posts.
Step 1: Find Past Posts with Potential
Look back at past blog data and identify two types of posts:
- Those that generated significant traffic, but not very many conversions
- Those that didn’t generate much traffic, but did have a high conversion rate.
If you’re a HubSpot user, you can use Attribution Reports to conduct this analysis or do a deeper dive in the Page Performance tool. If you aren’t using HubSpot, you can access this same information from Google Analytics.
When I recently conducted this analysis for a client, there were around 10 top performers that stood out within both types of posts, which made it easy for me to select the posts I was going to work with. If it’s not clear in analyzing the data where to draw the line with which posts to choose, I recommend selecting the top 5-10 posts in each of the two categories.
Step 2: Optimize the “Old”
Once you have a list for each type of post, it’s time to start optimizing them. Within the existing blog post, see where you can make the following updates. NOTE: It’s important that you update the EXISTING blog post, using the same URL so that you maintain the SEO the post has generated to date. You don’t want to create something brand new, you simply want to take something that already exists and make it better.
Understand Where Traffic is Coming From
Get into source reports for the posts to understand where traffic has come from. Look for what has worked on the pages with high traffic so you can try repeating it on the posts with low traffic.
Keyword Research and Optimization
Use your analytics arsenal to understand what keywords visitors are using to find each post. You can use both HubSpot and Google Analytics for this, although this data is becoming harder and harder for marketers to get our hands on, thanks to privacy controls. (Good for us as users, not so good for us as marketers). Refresh the content of the post to make it more targeted for the related keywords.
Once you know what search terms people are using to find the post, incorporate them into the CTA, as well. Look for opportunities to tweak the CTA copy and even the actual offer to better align with the keywords. Even just some simple rewording can make a big difference.
Match CTAs With Content
The posts that are generating traffic but not conversions likely have some sort of disconnect between the body copy and the CTA. Read through the blog posts and then analyze the CTAs. Now ask yourself the following questions:
How tightly does the CTA align with the blog post?
What other offer might be more in line with the interests of a reader here?
Could the CTA be improved by including a couple of the blog post’s keywords?
Pamela used a great example of a HubSpot blog post that explained how to write a press release. The post had generated a lot of traffic over time, but not many conversions. The CTA was an offer for a very general public relations resource, which at first seemed like a good fit. Upon further review, though, it became clear that the offer was just too broad.
By changing the offer to a free press release template, and incorporating some of the keywords that visitors used to find the blog post, conversion rates jumped dramatically - by 240%! It’s proof that tightening up CTAs to align them with blog content is worth the effort!
The posts that need improved conversion rates could benefit from updated CTA formats, designs and locations. Look at the types of CTAs on the posts that are working, as well as the designs, offers and copy used in them. What can you learn from the posts that are converting well and apply to the posts that are not?
If you don’t have images in your CTAs, give them a try. If you do have images, try swapping it out for something different. In my experience, images of people and food tend to work well - assuming such images would work well with your post.
Consider adding a popup that appears as the reader scrolls down the page or once they have been on the page for 5-10 seconds. Think about adding a CTA banner midway through the post. You don’t want to overdo it, of course, but do look for ways to change things up and learn from the posts that are generating the most leads.
Step 3: Freshen Up
Update the content of the posts to give them a fresh feel. Some posts may need a lot of updating, others may just need a quick sprucing up. Don’t just make changes for change's sake, though, look for ways to add more value. Here are some ideas from Pamela for making these posts feel brand new:
As you read through the posts, see if you come up with any questions the reader might have along the way - and answer them!
Swap out existing examples, applications and stories for new ones - or add them in where they did not previously exist.
Look for areas to provide more details or explanations. Google loves complete, holistic articles!
Once you have an optimized, fresh, brand new “old” post, repost it with its new publish date. Promote it on all your social channels and then watch how the statistics change - hopefully for the better, and fast!
The Historical Conversion Optimization process has certainly worked for HubSpot. Pamela's team has used this strategy on several blog posts, as well as old content campaigns. The results are outstanding - some, of which are below.
Have you used a process similar to Pamela’s Historical Conversion Optimization? How have you reused or refreshed old content?