How To Use Trending Topics To Increase Your Conversion Rate

by Jacob McMillen

Last updated on August 26th, 2017

Every day, trending topics capture millions upon millions of eyeballs.

As I’m writing this, the “Philadelphia Eagles” and “Stephen Colbert” have each garnered 200,000+ searches, while “Kate Upton” and “Legend of Korra” are both clocking in at over 100,000 searches.

These topics are generating lots of eyeballs right now. They weren’t trending last week and they probably won’t be trending next week.

They are being searched thousands of times RIGHT NOW. As a marketer or business owner, how can you cash in on that action? How can you use these trends to get more of those eyeballs on your content?

To start things off, we need a perspective shift.

You’re Not Too Late

When it comes to trending information, we are almost always the consumer rather than the source. We understand that by the time something reaches us, it has already been read and distributed by thousands of people—maybe even tens or hundreds of thousands.

It can be very easy to view trending topics as missed opportunities by the time they reach us.

But here’s a crazy fact you might not considering: If you spend more than 2 hours online each day, you are more informed then the average US adult.

While the average US adult consumes more than 11 hours of digital media, only 2 of those hours are spent Web browsing. I couldn’t find sufficient statistics to finish out this point, so I’m going to make a few assumptions.


What I’ve done is throw the average of 2 hours per person onto a normal distribution curve. I’m making several major assumptions in order to fill in the gaps, but the actual statistics will probably look quite similar to this graph

The point here is if you spend 4 hours online per day, you are spending more time online than 97% of the country.

And given the way news breaks these days, you are probably more informed than 97% of the country.

Now that may actually be 90% or 85% or 99%. Regardless, think about the implications.

In a country of over 300 million people, if you are number 83,549 to hear the news, you are statistically one of the first to know.

It can be so easy to forget that in this digital bubble where there is always someone more in touch with the pulse, but at the end of the day, we are hearing things first.

Let’s look at a global story EVERYONE heard about.

On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan. The first credible confirmation emerged on Twitter around 10:25 pm Eastern Time, and by the time it was officially announced by President Obama at 11:35pm, the Web was already abuzz with news of bin Laden’s death.

Unless you go to bed at 8pm, you probably heard the news at some point that night. After all, the 11:35 announcement corresponded with a 24% global spike in online traffic. You might think nearly everyone heard the news that night.

But let’s look at the numbers.

According to Sysomos, the following is a cumulative snapshot of related activity up to 12:00 am.


Wow. 796 blog mentions. 801 news mentions. Over 500,000 tweets!

Everyone has heard the news at this point!

Now let’s look at the stats for 9:30 am the next morning.


Well, that escalated quickly… I mean, it really stepped up a notch.

So what does this info tell us?

If you posted about the news on your blog by midnight, you were in the initial 2%.


You would have published the news before 98% of news publications!

Think about that.

And this is a topic EVERYONE heard about. Think about all the trending topics that aren’t reaching nearly as many people as they could be. Yes, they are trending, but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached your audience yet or that they ever will without your help.

It’s not too late!

Utilize the trends. Do it now.

How To Use Trends To Increase Clickthrough Conversion Rates

Okay, so we’ve made a fundamental shift in our perspective on trending topics.

Great. But how can we actually utilize them to increase our clickthrough conversion rates?

Let’s take a look.

1. Identify What Is Trending

Let’s start at the beginning. How do you identify what’s trending?

One option is Google Trends. Here you can find trending topics and even compare search terms. With nearly 70% of the search market, Google is obviously the top source for aggregate data on what people are looking for right now.

Another option is social media. News that breaks via social media tends to break on Twitter first. Sites like Reddit tend to pull breaking news to their front page before many of the news outlets have covered it. By the time news reaches Facebook, where around 30% of people reportedly get their news (scary, I know), it’s already made the rounds.

Twitter does a fairly solid job of identifying trends, and their hashtag function is essentially tailor made for that purpose. Keep in mind that being the first to “know” doesn’t necessarily mean the information is correct, as evidenced here, but it does give you the inside track on what’s trending.

A less intentional option is to simply keep your eyes open. When you see something two or three times in quick succession, it’s obviously making the rounds. Jump in.

And of course, there are trends you can identify in advance, like Christmas, Valentine’s day, spring, beach season, etc. And there are on-going trends you can tap into, like birthdays or anniversaries.

2. Make It Relevant

The next question to ask yourself is, “How is this topic relevant to my audience?

Not every topic is relevant, so don’t spend too much time trying to make “Philadelphia Eagles” into a blog post for your Southern California surf retailer.

That said, a big part of trend marketing is creatively making a 3-way connection between your business, the trend, and you audience.

At first glance, “Stephen Colbert” might not be relevant to your fashion retailer, but a blog post on “The 10 Most Outlandish Stephen Colbert T-Shirts of All Time” is a guaranteed social hit.

Can’t find that many t-shirts? Your post doesn’t have to be exclusively about that topic.

“The 10 Most Outlandish Political T-Shirts. Stephen Colbert’s Cracks Me Up.”

“18 Lessons On Marketing I Learned Watching Stephen Colbert”

“How To Make A Widget Like Stephen Colbert”

” 7 Reasons Stephen Colbert Is Going To Retweet This Article”

Again, it’s all about creativity. Make it relevant. There are no rules or parameters you have to follow. As long as you are delivering value to your audience, you can use a trend to hook them in.

3. Don’t Overdo It

Trend marketing is a fantastic supplemental option for your content marketing campaign. It can significantly increase your clickthrough conversion rate if you use it correctly.

Just remember not to overdo it.

As long as you aren’t failing to deliver on your trend click-bait, users won’t mind that your Stephen Colbert article isn’t actually all that relevant to Stephen Colbert.

On the other hand, you want most of your content to deliver exactly what the audience expects after reading the title. Surprise, intrigue, and curiosity are best used as a change of pace rather than an everyday thing.


The most important thing to take away from this post is that you aren’t too late to utilize trend marketing in your headlines and content. It’s low hanging fruit, so start picking.

The picking itself really just comes down to creativity and having some fun with it. Identify the trends, connect them to your business and then to your audience, and try not to overdo it.

What’s the last trend you utilized to increase your conversion rate?

Read more Crazy Egg articles by Jacob McMillen



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Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a website copywriter and content strategist. He helps businesses stop playing around with content marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. Download his free guide: 2 Fail-Proof Marketing Strategies For Businesses On A Budget


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  1. Lamont says:
    December 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    fantastic put up, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector do not realize this.

    You must continue your writing. I am confident, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

  2. Olivia says:
    July 4, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    The bounce rate increase. A bounce in GA is a person who saw a single page on site.
    # they found exactly what they needed and they left.
    # they didn’t like what they saw and left.
    It’s not very good.

  3. 40deuce says:
    January 22, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I’m a HUGE fan of using trending topics to gain attention. In fact, that’s why I wrote that post for the Sysomos blog 4 years ago (Wow! That was 4 years ago?!?).
    But you make a great point when you tell people to make it relevant. Too often I see brands trying to “nwsjack” something going on that has zero relation to their brand in the first place. And a lot of the time those attempts don’t work.
    I’m lucky in that I can look at trends of news stories etc through social media like that because it pretty much always relates back to our core Sysomos business, which is providing analytics around what’s happening in social media. Not every company is that lucky though and when you can see them stretching far to try to make something work, it comes out as very obvious. However, if something trending does relate to your brand, I say jump on it and use it as best you can.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 22, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Great points, Sheldon. Relevance isn’t just a catchword. It’s a necessity if we want to connect and convert.

    • Jacob McMillen says:
      January 22, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Hey Sheldon, yeah that was a fantastic post.

  4. Cathy Goodwin says:
    January 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Good point and also true of current hit popular shows. When PBS’s Carrier was hot, I used it in a headline and got tons of good visitors.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Great example, Cathy. Thanks for sharing!

    • Salifu Junior says:
      January 29, 2015 at 11:44 am

      I have not tried this method yet on my blog, but i would dive straight in. One question however is, with this type of blogging , keyword research and stuff are not relevant?

      • Jacob McMillen says:
        January 29, 2015 at 5:00 pm

        Great question Salifu! Keyword research is still super important. That’s the “make it relevant” part. You want to make the trending topic relevant to your current marketing focus, which includes your keywords. That said, not every article has to target your keywords, so you can be creative.

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