By Shane Barker published February 22, 2021 Est Read Time: 11 min

How to Create High-Converting Content

As a content marketer,  your job is to use content to sell something – a product, service, or message. Maybe you already drive sufficient conversions. But do you really want to settle for sufficient?

You can do better and improve your content marketing to double or even triple your conversion rates. Today, let’s focus on how to do that with the most important aspect of content marketing – your content. Here are five ways to create engaging content to boost your conversions.

1. Write a killer headline

Your headline is the first thing readers notice about your blog post or landing page content. Whether or not the headline captivates them likely determines if they continue reading the content or bounce from the page.

Although different variations of headlines work, there are some common elements in successful headlines.

Recently, Auriane Alix shared some of the commonalities she found when analyzing Medium headlines. They are similar to some of the findings by HubSpot and Outbrain, which studied 150,000 article headlines in 2013. Among the high-performance qualities:

  • Headlines with seven words
  • Numbers in the headline
  • First word features what, why, how, or how (setting expectations) or
  • First word features the or this (indicating specificity)
Write a killer-conversion headline using a number in seven words, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

You can use these common characteristics of successful headlines as the foundation for writing killer headlines that convert. Clearly explain what the content is about in a few words, and if it needs a little bit more detail, include a short explainer after a colon or hyphen. And, when creating a list post, use a number.

In addition to these basics, pick words and phrases that are more likely to convert. According to WiderFunnel, words like “you,” “because,” “free,” “new,” and “instantly” help drive conversions. You can find more high-converting words in a list of 700-plus power words compiled by OptinMonster.

According to @WiderFunnel, drive conversions with words like you, because, free, new, and instantly, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. #tools Click To Tweet

Headline analyzer tools like the ones from CoSchedule or Advanced Marketing Institute are helpful to test your headline drafts so you can pick one that is likely to perform the best.

Headline analyzer tools like the ones from @CoSchedule or @AMImarketing are helpful to test your #headline drafts so you can pick the best one, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. #tools Click To Tweet

Example: The headline for this post – How to Create High-Converting Content – received an emotional marketing value (EMV) score of 60% from the Advanced Marketing Institute tool. That score is about double the average EMV score for most professional copywriters’ headlines.

An image showing the title How to Create High-Converting Content and its emotional marketing value score of 60 percent from the Advanced Marketing Institute tool.

2. Intrigue readers with your intro

Your headline should attract readers. Your intro should intrigue them enough to make them stay. It should make them want to read more. In other words, your headline is the bait, and your intro is the hook.

Your headline is the bait. Your intro is the hook, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

And wouldn’t it be great if your intro were a hook for search engines as well?

That’s possible when you use tools like TextOptimizer that match your content to the user intent of potential searchers. They offer content-improvement suggestions so your content satisfies the needs of people who land on it from Google search results. When they get what they are looking for, they stay on your page longer and engage with it better.

Use a tool such as @textoptimizer to match your #content to the user intent of potential searchers, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

For blog posts, the first three to four sentences are the intro. They should be to the point and clearly explain how readers can benefit from the post. Otherwise, why will they keep reading?

In the case of landing pages, the subhead acts as the intro and is equally important for intriguing and converting your audience. The subhead should highlight the main benefits, preferably with bullet points so the information is easier to scan and process.

Example: You can find an excellent example of an effective intro on the consulting page of Content Marketing Institute. As you can see in the screenshot below, the first sentence talks about CMI’s consulting mission and focus. The second statement leads into the benefit for the audience.

An image showing the intro of the Content Marketing Institute’s consulting page.

3. Don’t forget to add visuals

Adding visual elements to your text can make a huge difference in performance. It attracts and engages your readers while adding more substance. It also is an excellent way to break up longer pieces of text, making the content easier to scan and understand.

Add visual elements to your text to make a big difference in conversion performance, says @shane_baker via @CMIContent. #blogging #visualcontent Click To Tweet

A BuzzSumo study of over 1 million articles found articles with images every 75 to 100 words earned double the shares of articles with fewer images. Though the study was done in 2017, the popularity of visuals with audiences has only grown.

What makes the best kinds of visuals largely depends on the type of content you’re creating. These five types can help you increase conversions:

Original graphics

Taking time to come up with something valuable and original shows readers your content is unique. Even if you don’t have an in-house designer to help you with this, you can always use tools like Canva to help you create them.

Original graphics can work well as featured images for your blog posts. It’s best to try to come up with something fun and eye-catching yet still relevant to the topic being covered in the post.

Example: Here’s an original graphic created for one of my blog posts. As you can see, the image instantly catches your eye and relates to the topic.

An image showing an original illustration of a cell phone with a woman influencer amplifying a message.

Charts and graphs

If you quote studies or stats to support your points, include charts and graphs to illustrate them. Charts or graphs alongside the text make it easier for readers to process the information.

Screenshots

If you explain how something works, screenshots can enrich your content. They can explain visually in ways words cannot adequately express. For example, use them to illustrate how-to tips for a tool or the implementation of a strategy. You also can use screenshots as proof of claims made in the text.

You can highlight, annotate, or edit your screenshots to explain a point better. To keep picture quality intact while editing it, you can use free photo editors like Instasize that are optimized for your target platforms.

To keep picture quality intact while editing your screenshot, use a free photo-editing tool such as @Instasize, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. #tools Click To Tweet

Example: In a blog post about product launch ideas, I included a screenshot of the Instagram post for a Samsung Galaxy launch to show exactly how the brand used social media teasers and a countdown to market its product launch.

An image of an Instagram post from Samsung. The image shows a simple black box with a bluish glow, a caption telling people to get ready for the next Galaxy, and launch date.

Infographics

Complex data and complicated concepts can be difficult to understand with words alone. In these instances, infographics can be helpful in explaining or illustrating the information. A Venngage study in 2020 found 40% of marketers found the format to be the most engaging form of content.

40% of marketers found #infographics to be the most engaging form of #content according to a @Venngage study, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Tools like Piktochart and Infogram are great for creating eye-catching infographics, even for beginners. You can also use infographics to repurpose your old text. Look for some of your best-performing blog posts, then turn them into a shorter piece highlighting the main points. After that, use the shortened piece to create an infographic.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 7 Ideas to Spark Great Infographics

Videos

Images or text alone may be insufficient for explaining how a product works or how people can benefit from it. You could include a short explainer video on your landing page to help boost conversions. Or include video testimonials or reviews from customers and/or influencers.

If you don’t have the time, skills, or resources to create proprietary video content, use stock footage websites. They offer videos that can be used unlimited times for a one-time fee. At nominal prices, you can access their large repositories of intro videos, Instagram Stories, animated logos, and YouTube templates.

Include a short explainer #video on your landing page to help boost conversions, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Example: Conversion Rate Experts used video to help boost Crazy Egg’s conversion rate on its home page. Though the video message was the same as the text on the page, it worked for people who prefer visually delivered information and helped drive 64% more conversions.

An image showing a video message on Crazy Egg’s home page.

4. Use an easy-to-read format

Another factor that influences your content’s ability to convert is the format. Writing about useful tips and information in huge chunks of text doesn’t make it easy for people to read and process. That delivery method can hurt your conversion rate because people don’t want to have to work hard to glean the details.

To make your content more reader friendly:

  • Break up blocks of text into shorter paragraphs. Don’t create paragraphs of more than five or six lines.
  • Use bullet points wherever applicable to highlight key points.
  • Add other elements like visuals to illustrate your points and break up text blocks.
  • Include subheads whenever appropriate to make your content easier to read.

Example: You can see reader-friendly formatting in many CMI articles – short, easy-to-scan paragraphs, subheads, and screenshots. What’s really noteworthy is the use of the Better Click to Tweet plug-in to highlight key points (and make it easier for readers to share the point on Twitter.) You can see it in this post from Jodi Harris.

A screenshot of a click to tweet shown in a blog post.

5. Create a compelling CTA

Your call to action should convince people to take a desired action. Maybe your CTA is at the end of a blog post, urging people to subscribe to your newsletter or download your latest e-book. Or maybe it’s a CTA on your landing page for a product or service. Even your video content needs a CTA to drive conversions.

Even your #video content needs a call to action to drive conversions, says @shane_barker via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

Wherever it is used, make sure the CTA is compelling:

  • Explain clearly what you want people to do. Make it actionable by beginning the sentence with a verb. For example, “Get your free guide now” or “Start saving today.”
  • Get to the point. If the CTA is at the end of a blog post, you can write a detailed sentence. For a landing page, limit it to five to six words.
  • Focus on what they’re going to get or how they’ll benefit from the action.
  • Create urgency with words like “now,” “instant,” or “today.”
  • Create exclusivity using words like “custom” or “exclusive.”
  • Highlight benefits with words like “free” or “save.”

Pick a couple of the tips to craft each CTA. Then run an A/B test to see which drives more conversions.

Example: The OptinMonster landing page showcases an excellent example of a compelling CTA. “Get OptinMonster Now” is short and to the point. It explains what people will get and uses the word “now” to create a sense of urgency.

An image showing an excellent example of a compelling CTA. Get OptinMonster Now is short and to the point.

Don’t settle for satisfactory

You may be a novice content marketer or an expert just looking to expand your knowledge. Either way, these easy and effective tips can help you improve your content to boost conversions.

Are there any additional tactics not covered above that have worked well for you? Please share them in the comments.

All referenced tools come from the author. If you have a tool to suggest (your brand’s or another’s), please add it in the comments.

 How’s this for a compelling CTA? Get free content marketing advice every weekday. Subscribe today to receive the CMI newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Shane Barker

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant for 15 years with an emphasis on influencer marketing in the last five years. He is specialized in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities. Connect with him on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Other posts by Shane Barker

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