A clear majority of studies out there focus on ad and headline click-through rates (CTR), bounce rates and other metrics, many of which are vanity. Here in the inPowered labs we’ve made it a point to go much deeper in the benchmark data we share.
We’ve explored cost per engagement, averaged engaged time with content, and content engagement rates across many verticals using millions of dollars’ worth of data. We’ve juxtaposed this performance across more than 40 social and native advertising networks, explored how AI impacts video view time and engagement, and looked at the top 200 performing headlines from 2018 that drove the most engagement.
The next step in our mission to get the industry to evolve from a click-economy to an engagement-based economy is to look at the CTA performance from users taking a next action after content is consumed for 15 seconds or longer. We looked at 12 months of data to determine this.
This serves the purpose of understanding content’s impact on a user’s propensity to continue to engage with a brand online. It also serves as a feedback cycle in understanding the overall quality of content. This exploration will look at next actions taken at each stage of the buyer’s journey by vertical post content engagement.
While we don’t have data for all the verticals out there, we do for 13 of them. In addition, we broke down each CTA into awareness, consideration and conversion. The 15-second engagement benchmark allows us to explore the impact of content on consumers’ likelihood to voluntarily move themselves further down the funnel.
This 15 second rule is critical because our own studies show once this threshold is breached 70% of the users consume 80% or more of the content. Chartbeat Analytics was the first to prove this out. This is why we never serve up a CTA unless a user engages for 15 seconds or more with content. The assumption is that if a user consumes 80% or more of the content the likelihood of them clicking on a next action should be better than a user that doesn’t consume the content.
There’re other possible contributing factors, too. For example, if the on-page next action has a poor value proposition it will impact click-through rates. It’s critical to A/B test next actions in order to optimize them for performance over time. In addition, performance can be impacted if the next action isn’t in the context of the content consumed. For example, an article about a Caribbean travel destination may not be a good place to ask the user if they’re likely to consider a ski resort.
Next Action CTRs Across All Verticals
Before we get into the individual vertical performance lets explore overall performance across all of them.
|Avg. Conversion CTR||Avg. Awareness CTR||Avg. Consideration CTR|
Just like a funnel, these numbers stack up across all verticals how we expected. Awareness next actions have a much lower barrier of entry for engagement because it sits towards the top of the funnel. Consideration has a higher threshold as it sits in the middle of the funnel with conversion sitting toward the bottom of the funnel.
Leighton Interactive did a pretty thorough study on CTAs and CTRs and found that, on average, next action click-throughs happen 3.29% of the time across verticals. However, the study doesn’t differentiate between the different stages of the funnel.
The reason we in the inPowered labs made the distinction is because we know that where the next action lies in the funnel has a major impact on CTRs. That said, across all verticals and funnel placement we found CTRs to perform at 4.03%. This is a 22.5% improvement from the above-mentioned study.
As previously mentioned, there are other contributing factors, however, what probably made the biggest impact on CTR performance in 2018 was two things – the fact that our technology doesn’t serve up a next action unless a user spends 15 seconds or more with the content, and AI-powered optimization.
Next Action CTRs Across Verticals
Again, not all verticals use all three types of next action – awareness, consideration and conversion. As a result, they’re not all represented in every vertical below.
|Arts & Entertainment||Avg. CTR|
|Family & Parenting|
|Health & Fitness|
|Home & Garden|
|Shopping / Retail|
|Style & Fashion|
|Travel & Tourism|
According to the Content Marketing Institute, a consumer, on average, requires six to eight interactions with a brand before becoming a customer. How many times a user interacts with a brand can impact the likelihood of a lower-funnel next action being taken. If a user has only one interaction with a brand’s earned, owned or sponsored content they’re not very likely to take a bottom funnel next action.
That’s why investing in awareness is so critical. Inviting users to consume more top-funnel content with a smaller barrier to engage contributes to the six to eight brand interactions mentioned above. That doesn’t mean a brand shouldn’t invest in consideration and conversion, too.
It means they should invest appropriately with more time, energy effort and budget going towards awareness. Think of content and amplification budgeting like a funnel – invest more at the top, a little less in the middle and a little less toward the bottom.
Many of our clients across all verticals are coupling content amplification and retargeting to give their lower-funnel content additional visibility throughout the web. Content amplification at the top and middle of the funnel is a good way to build and grow a retargeting pool for lower-funnel content.
The biggest takeaway from the above data is that, on average, serving up CTAs that are optimized using AI at the 15 second mark has nearly a 25% lift in CTRs across all verticals. The data also shows that CTRs on next actions post content engagement are highly impacted by funnel placement. Lastly, when planning out content and its amplification, resources should be allocated like a funnel looks. More towards the top, a little less in the middle, and a little less at the bottom.