Content conversion rate optimisation: work those resources

In my role at Modern and also in my past life running a web development agency, I have a complete and utter fascination with the concept of conversion rate optimisation (CRO). I love thinking about and improving how organisations can attract and convert more new leads.

We’ve recently completed several projects that have all had us asking the same question:

“How can we improve conversion rates of our content?”

Or, in other words, “we have a lot of gated content, how can we get more of our target audience to download it?”

Here’s the challenge we’ve seen software and technology companies face time and time again. These companies sell highly complex enterprise products and services, they have sales cycles of anywhere between 6-24 months and they work across a wide range of specific sectors.

The reality of this in terms of content creation is that we’re managing a portfolio of varying content types that address every step of the buying cycle for every persona that we’re targeting (translation: it’s a lot content.)


Not only that, but it’s widely varied and difficult to sort through. If we presented it simply as a list or grid of items on a web page, visitors won’t know where to look or what to read. The result? They’ll get overwhelmed and they’ll leave. And all your glorious, expertise-filled content goes unread, unloved and unshared – and un-downloaded.

Of course, this article assumes that you have gorgeous, riveting content that is incredibly valuable to your audience. If you’d like to read more about planning the perfect content strategy, that’s another blog post altogether.

A real world example of CRO for resources / content downloads

For example, one of our clients targets CFOs and Finance Directors in the financial services sector, the third sector and the professional services sector. They create videos, whitepapers, presentations and infographics for every stage of the customer journey (awareness, consideration, evaluation, sale). This means they have over 40 pieces of content to sort through, covering a huge range of topics and targeting three different sectors.

It’s crucial that we provide relevant ways for visitors to filter and sort this content in the resources section.

In terms of what we could do, the possibilities are endless. We could filter or sort by:

  • Type (E.g. video, whitepaper, report, infographic, presentation, guide, ebook, use case, case study, business case, press release)
  • Topic or Category
  • Industry
  • Recency
  • Popularity
  • Author
  • Tag

Although we have a lot of options to choose from, there is one cardinal rule when it comes to organising large amounts of content or information – keep it simple.

Be ruthlessly simple

And I really mean be ruthless. In fact, the simplest option may be to have no filtering or sorting options at all. If you have 7-10 pieces of content, chances are you don’t need them.

If you’re just getting started with filtering your resources section, start with a simple A/B split test of one filter vs. two filters. As long as you have the data volume for a meaningful test, you’ll quickly see which your visitors prefer.

But which filters to choose?

‘Type’ is by far the most common and after looking at our client’s metrics, I can see why.

The client I mentioned earlier has two filters in place in their resources section: ‘topic’ and ‘type’.

In the past year, out of everyone that’s visited their resources section, 31% of visitors used the ‘type’ filter – a good amount of people. However, only 6% of people used the ‘topic’ filter.



We have thousands and thousands of visits, so I trust the results. So what should we do next?

Based on those numbers, we’d recommend one of two things.

  1. Experiment with the the contents of the ‘topic’ filters. Change it, simplify it, shorten it – anything that will make it easier to use. It’s crucial that you use the same language as your audience here, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask some of your clients what they think before you implement these changes.
  2. Swap ‘topic’ out for another filter. We’d recommend ‘sector’ since this is also a great way to let your visitors know what your specialisms are.

The key to conversion rate optimisation: keep it simple and test, test, test

There are all kinds of creative ways to experiment with CRO, but the primary principles remain the same. Keep it as simple as possible, and create a process that allows for continual measurement so that you’re always driving tangible improvement.

How do you organise and manage your resources section? Tell us on Twitter.

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