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May 15, 2014

How Do Conversion Paths Work? [FAQs]

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pathAs a marketer, a big part of your job is to convert qualified website visitors into leads. Simple enough.

But as an inbound marketer, your job is to convert qualified website visitors (aka your buyer personas) into leads by offering remarkable content for which they’ll want to trade their contact information in exchange. Ideally, those leads turn into opportunities, who turn into customers and even promoters.

Clearly, conversions are a big deal. So how can you optimize yours? By creating conversion paths optimized to most effectively convert your ideal visitors into leads.

What's a Conversion Path?

A conversion path is the process by which an anonymous website visitor becomes a known lead. A conversion path is comprised of a remarkable content offer, call-to-action, landing page, and thank you page. In order to convert into a lead, a visitor sees a content offer of interest to them (that’s your remarkable content), clicks on the call-to-action button to access that content, and is then taken to a landing page. On that landing page, the visitor can provide their information on a form in exchange for access to the offer itself. Upon submitting that form, the now-lead is taken to a thank you page where they receive the offer.

Voila! Conversion path complete.

By designing and implementing the right conversion paths, you can most effectively move website visitors through the buyer’s journey and help them become customers and promoters.

What Makes a Good Conversion Path?

Well as you might have guessed, you need content, a call-to-action, a landing page, and a thank you page. But with so any conversion paths out there on the internet for your potential customers to explore, it’s now more important than ever to create the RIGHT paths -- paths that your ideal customers are drawn to and most effectively convert the right visitors into leads.

Let’s explore the four items you need in your inbound toolkit to create effective conversion paths.

1) Context-Appropriate Content

Content is the fuel that powers effective inbound strategies -- and it’s what you’ll use to convert those website visitors into leads. The good news is that content is everywhere! Content is what your website pages are filled with, what goes into your emails, and what’s hosted on your blog -- your website pages, emails, and blog are just vehicles to deliver that content.

Although content is in no short supply, in order for it to act as your inbound rocket fuel, you need to create the right content. As you can probably guess, the right content is optimized to appeal specifically to your buyer personas. It should focus on the challenges they’re trying to overcome and the goals they're looking to hit. Most of all, it should be relevant and interesting to them.

But here’s the kicker -- it’s not enough to just create persona-specific content. That content needs to be relevant to your persona based on where they are in the buyer’s journey.

The Buyer’s Journey is the active research process your personas go through leading up to making a purchase -- and specific content is more relevant to your personas at different stages of that journey. This is where the “context” piece comes in: It’s not enough to just create content for your personas. You have to make sure that content is relevant to what they’re interested in and hoping to learn more about.

Most visitors to your site are still at the very beginning stages of that journey -- they might not even know what your product does or how it can help them. All they may know is that they have a problem or there’s an opportunity at hand. So, the content that will most appeal to your personas when they’re first visiting your website and converting a lead will generally be high-level and educational in nature.

In order to be an effective tool in your conversion path toolkit, make sure you have remarkable content tailored to your buyer personas and where they are in the buyer’s journey.

2) Landing Pages That Speak to Your Personas

After you’ve developed a remarkable content offer that speaks to both who your personas are and where they are in the buyer’s journey, the next step is to leverage that piece of content to convert website visitors into leads. That’s where landing pages come in.

Landing pages are specialized website pages whose sole purpose is to collect visitors’ contact information in exchange for something of value to them. Landing pages contain forms that potential leads must fill out and submit before getting access to your remarkable content offer. And like that offer, great landing pages must also be tailored to both who your personas are and where they are in the buyer’s journey.

In order to most effectively convert website visitors into leads, your landing pages must present the benefits of your offer that are most relevant to the particular problem your persona is experiencing -- and discuss the aspects of that problem that are most important to where your persona is in the buyer’s journey.

Imagine, for example, you work at a pet store and have created an ebook on raising a puppy. Someone who’s at the beginning of the buyer’s journey probably won’t be too interested in downloading your ebook if your landing page talks all about how your ebook contains the best techniques for housebreaking. Instead, an effective landing page for this persona might highlight how your ebook discusses how to choose the right dog breed for you.

Great landing pages focus on both who your personas are and where they are in the buyer’s journey.

3) Attention-Grabbing Calls-to-Action

While having a remarkable content offer and great landing page are key to creating a successful conversion path, your website visitors needs a way to actually access that landing page in the first place. That’s where calls-to-action come in.

Calls-to-action are buttons you can embed throughout your website that advertise your content offers. When a user clicks on one of these calls-to-action, they’ll be taken to your landing page. In effect, every call-to-action you have on your website is the beginning of a conversion path.

To create calls-to-action that get those clicks and act as key steps within your conversion paths, you must ensure that the message displayed on your call-to-action aligns with the message on your landing page -- and the content itself.

Great calls-to-action should be just that: action-oriented. Since their main objective is to garner clicks and direct people to landing pages, ensure that they’re click-worthy by using actionable language and colors that help them stand out from the rest of your website.

4) Optimized Thank You Pages

If a call-to-action is the beginning of a conversion path, a thank you page marks its end. Thank you pages are the final item you need in your inbound toolkit to lead your website visitors down a conversion path to become, well, a lead.

Thank you pages are specialized website pages from which your now-leads can download the offer promised by your call-to-action and landing page. They’re also an opportunity to move people further along in the buyer’s journey, by including things like additional calls-to-action that complement the offer you've just provided your lead.

Conversion paths are the process by which anonymous, unknown website visitors become leads. When done right, your conversion paths can go beyond the first conversion to help move your now-leads through the buyer’s journey to become customers. To learn more about this stuff -- creating remarkable content, optimizing landing pages, designing stand-out calls-to-action, and setting up great thank you pages, check out HubSpot Academy’s Inbound Certification program and pay special attention to the “convert” series of classes.

hubspot academy inbound certification

Topics: Lead Generation

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