What’s the whole point of your blog?
Are you working hard researching, writing, editing and proofreading out of the altruistic motives of your heart?
Of course not. You blog because you care about your business, want to build your reputation, enhance your brand, grow awareness, and develop thought leadership.
All of that is excellent. Nothing wrong with it at all.
Here’s the deal, though. Do you know how to bring your blog readers further down the conversion funnel?
Yes, you’re building brand awareness and thought leadership, but are you actively converting your readers?
If not, you should be. After all, these people are right there — interested, reading, looking. All you have to do is make the appropriate changes to your blog, and you’ll get more conversions.
I want to make two quick points before I dive in:
- Keep in mind that the sale doesn’t usually happen right away. What you’re going for instead is some form of conversion, which will eventually produce a sale.
- I’ve written this article from my own perspective as a consultant. I use my blog as a means to gain conversions for my core business, which is training for the digital marketer and consulting services. You’ll get the most benefit from this article if you blog for an online business and have a similar digital strategy.
Ready for the tactics? Here they are:
1. Write targeted blog posts.
There are certain types of posts that convert, and certain types that don’t convert. I do not advise writing a conversion-focused article every time. However, I do recommend that you occasionally write a targeted blog post that is designed to get conversions.
What’s a targeted blog post?
A targeted blog post is an article written with the intent of gaining one specific, single client.
Here’s what you do: You write the article for and about a certain business with the goal of gaining that business as a client.
Want Starbucks as a client? Write a blog for them and about them.
Want Ford as a client? Write a blog for them and about them.
Want BuzzFeed as a client? Write a blog for them and about them.
“Woah!,” you’re thinking. “How does this work?” Or maybe you’re thinking “Does this work?!” I’ll answer both questions.
Look at this:
I wrote an article about the Bank of America. I analyzed their landing page, and found some things I didn’t like, along with some things that worked pretty well. My argument in this article was that their landing page was not so great. (I did the same thing with Hootsuite; they fared a little better than Bank of America.)
Now, I have confidentiality agreements with my clients, but I can tell you that targeted posts really do work.
Let’s be all hypothetical for a minute and pretend that Bank of America’s in-house marketer saw my blog post, thought seriously about it, looked at his budget, and decided to give me a call. Well good for him, because my business phone number is right there on the blog.
That’s a targeted blog post. You write about the company that you want to gain as a client.
How does this work?
Neil Patel does the same thing. He explained how he wrote an article about Like.com, and told them how they were missing out on tons of search potential. This was back before Like.com got acquired by Google.
The founder of Like.com saw the article, called Neil, and gave him a job.
Noah Kagan did it, too. He wrote an article about Kissmetrics, telling them how they were falling short, and where they were doing okay. In his War and Peace-length blog post, Kagan goes deep into the Kissmetrics strategy and uncovers some valuable information about Kissmetrics that they could use to do better SEO.
See what he’s doing with the blog article above? Not only is he auditing Kissmetrics (for free), but he’s also showing what he can do for other companies.
He throws in a CTA for Eli Overbey, who can do “an audit of your own website.”
Let’s keep following the daisy chain. Eli Overbey, in turn, wrote about Yelp. He told them how they can improve their SEO. Oh, and he did the same thing for Buffer. And Wistia.
There are real people over at Yelp, Buffer and Wistia. They see this stuff. It catches their attention. You think that Eli might get a job from them?
He very well might.
Neil wrote this:
As long as your post is detailed, you’ll get traction. For every three such posts you write, you should generate at least one customer. The customer, of course, would be the company you had written about.
Give it a try. But if you write a blog post tearing apart JeremySaid.com, I’ll know exactly what you’re up to.
2. Add CTAs to your blog.
Captain Obvious speaking now. Put some CTAs on your blog. Heck, put a whole lot of CTAs all over your blog.
I have shamelessly covered my blog with CTAs. Notice the arrows. Each one is either a soft CTA or a hard CTA, and all of them accomplish my blog’s objectives — to get conversions.
Getting conversions depends on your call to action. If people can’t respond, they won’t respond. (I told you this was going to be obvious.)
The exact placement of your CTAs is less important than the fact that you put them anywhere and everywhere you can.
Header, footer, sidebar, end-of-article, popups — do it all. Do it often. All the successful blogs are stacked with CTAs. I mean stacked.
You can’t even look at Buffer’s blog unless you first face their massive CTA:
And there’s Bryan Eisenberg, kicking it with a CTA. He’s even leaning on his CTA — kinda pointing at it!
Amy Africa’s blog, Eighty by Eight, has a pretty noisy UX, but at least she has CTAs! Check the right side of the page — “click here,” “sign up,” “join now,” “get a quote!”
If you want your blog to be a nice little spot where people can read information, that’s fine. No CTAs needed. But if you actually want some ROI from your effort — some conversions — then get your CTA game on.
3. Do a case study.
Case studies are a lot like a focused blog article that I discussed in point one. However, they have a more general intent.
A case study focuses on a success that you or your business was able to achieve for one of your clients. The idea behind the case study is that other people similar to your clients will see that case study, get an idea of what you can do for them, and convert.
Conversion Rate Experts does a great job, and they don’t mind bragging about it. Their bragging is entirely justified, however. Here’s what they do:
They show how they ramp up the conversion rates of some of the best and brightest brands around. Who wouldn’t want to increase their conversion rates by 363% or 300%?
ConversionXL does the same thing in this article:
This kind of blog post is saying, “Hire us!” like nothing else.
4. Leverage the power of your "About" page.
I wanted to include this point in this list because it’s extremely powerful. I’ve gone in depth on the subject in another article.
Let me sum up the idea for you in a few cogent points:
- Your About page is one of the most visited pages on your sites.
- Visitors to the About page are engaged and ready to convert.
- If you make your About page all about what you can do for them, they will be very likely to convert on a simple CTA (such as capturing an email address or getting more information).
Your About page is the promised land of conversions. It attracts the best prospects, and can gain the greatest amount of conversions.
If you have a blog, you also need an About page. Users will be looking for it. And when you do have an About page, it needs to be rife with CTAs. Users will be converting on them.
5. Create a detailed guide with subtle barriers.
This one is a bit more complex, but let me make it very simple.
- Develop a blog post that explains to your audience how to do something. Obviously, this will be an area in which you have a high degree of expertise. It should also be an example of something that you offer as a service.
- In this blog post, be extremely thorough in your explanation. Use a lot of detail. Point out specifics. The more in-depth you can go, the better. By diving into the minutiae of a topic you are suggesting two things: 1) You’re really good at this. 2) This is pretty hard to do.
- Finally, provide a soft call to action at the end. Explain, for example, that you’ve done this before and can do it again. Explain how it takes a lot of time and practice. Be positive, but be clear that this is a tough task, and a professional can do it a whole lot better.
See what’s going on? The subtext of the blog post is this:
This is freaking hard to do, and you’d be way better off just letting me handle it for you.
HubSpot is the master of this. They produce content like gangbusters. Most of the time, it’s great content with practical and actionable steps for success. But sometimes, you find yourself thinking, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I want their reporting software for this. Let me go buy it.”
And I think that HubSpot probably does that on purpose. Good job, HubSpot. If you invented the term “inbound marketing” you have every prerogative to tell people how it’s done.
6. Tell a success story.
Here’s yet another technique. It’s similar to the Case Study in its intent, but differs in its application.
Tell a story.
Stories grab readers by the cortex (does that sound weird?) and engages their long-term attention. As long as your story has a clear structure with relevant details, it can turn your blog into a conversion machine.
The STAR format of stories is a good one. Usually, this methodology is described as a job interview technique. That’s okay. Because maybe your blog is kind of like a job interview.
Here’s how you do it:
Explain a problem that you faced. This can be a problem that you faced as a business, or a problem that you were dealing with on behalf of the client. I think it’s more effective if you explain this as a problem that you were dealing with for a client. It makes the story more conversion-ready.
Next, tell what the goals were for your client. Explain how your forward-looking prowess and goal-oriented vision allowed you to visualize a set of results.
Now, list the tactical things that you did to achieve those goals. Go through the grueling details of how the battle was won. Throw in a few challenges that you overcame while doing so. Like when Legolas had to shield surf down the stairs while shooting orcs. Dang, that must have been hard.
Finally, write out the glorious results of your labor. This is a success story, remember. You want to reveal profit-boosting numbers.
This is a kind of story that will get you conversions.
Remember, though, that the story isn’t all about you. It’s about your readers. You’re not engaging in narcissism. You’re telling them about the awesome things you can do for them.
7. Tell readers what you want them to do.
When someone reads your article to the end, it is a clear indication that they are a positive lead. They are ready to convert.
This is the most crucial time to pitch them with your offer. Yes, your blog is already stacked with CTAs, because you did what I told you to do in Tell them what you want them to do.
LanderApp has this article, and they provide a CTA at the end in this style. It’s not strong, but it does exemplify what I’m telling you to do.
Let me give you a script or two that will both provide an example and give you a template for telling people what to do:
- Sum up what they just read. You can see that, based on these five techniques, Panera Bread was able to improve their mobile app downloads by 560%.
- Tell them the benefits they can expect: This is the same kind of results that anyone can have, if they are selling a mobile app.
- Tell them what you want them to do: What you should do now is send me an email with the subject line “App Download.”
- Tell them what you’ll do in response: I will email you right back with instructions on how to get started with the five-point technique.
You can follow that basic pattern:
- Sum up the article.
- Explain the benefits.
- Give them instructions.
- Tell them the results.
The idea is simple. If you want your blog readers to be buyers, you might just have to tell them exactly what to do.
So you want blog ROI. Well, guess what. ROI doesn’t just happen on its own. You have to make that ROI happen.
The way to make ROI happen is to follow these techniques.
- Write a targeted blog post.
- Add CTAs to your blog.
- Do a case study.
- Leverage the power of your About page.
- Create a detailed guide with subtle barriers.
- Tell a success story.
- Tell readers what you want them to do.