Do you have a blog just because you have to these days? Or are you using it to capture subscribers and turning them into eventual customers?
A lot of companies treat blogs like an afterthought, something they have just because you’re supposed to have one to look legit.
Except blogs are one of the most effective ways to build your authority in a field, attract backlinks from authoritative sites who may not otherwise have a reason to reference your main pages and engage with your audience.
And know who else loves content?
Every article is another chance to bring new visitors onto your site and every new visitor may be a potential new customer. Since you can fill articles with much more content, they can also generate a lot of longtail keywords that lets your company show up in searches your main pages may not be able to capture.
So if you’re filling your blog with fluffy articles and presenting it in slapdash way, you’re missing out on these benefits:
So what should you be doing? Let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
1. Use signup forms to capture leads
As Ramit Sethi stresses, ‘drop-by’ visitors don’t mean much because as soon as they browse away from your website, it’s likely they have already forgotten about you.
That’s why it’s so important to provide an enticing lead magnet to capture the all-important email address, which gives you a way for you to say “hi” again, the beginning of all beautiful relationships.
So of course, the design, copy and offer of your email signup lead generation affects whether a customer says “I need this in my life” or “I think I already have 3 pdf variations on this theme waiting to be perma-deleted in my trashcan”.
To create an immensely valuable lead gen goodie, go to your competitors’ sites and download their main lead gen. Then offer something at least 3 times better.
For example, let’s say your competitors offer the Ultimate Packing List.
Something 3x better could include:
– Ultimate Packing List for short trips, long trips and overnight stays with some unique item suggestions for each
– Ultimate Packing List with diagrams to show how to most effectively place and fold items
– Ultimate Packing List with printable checklist so the reader can tick off items as they pack
Onto the design:
Whenever you want the visitor to take any action like click a button or enter their email address, you have to provide a compelling reason. Every call to action requires marketing.
Look at this spiffy design Hubspot uses for their lead gen downloads:
Here’s their high converting format:
Headline: Describe the results your lead gen helps achieve. Example – “Ultimate kit for building your inbound team.”
Tagline: Describe exactly what your product is. Example – All the resources you need to build and grow a successful inbound marketing team.”
Call to action: Directly ask your audience what action you’d like them to perform. Example – “Download now.”
If you have access to unique data points or are willing to share data points related to your niche that most of your competitors don’t, you can also a creative approach like Groove.
They open the kimono on their journey toward achieving revenue milestones and the challenges they had to face along the way:
2. Places to put your email sign up or calls to action
Your blog is a prime piece of real estate. Here are all the places you can place email signup forms to test which ones gets the best conversions.
A. At the bottom of each post
High converting format:
Headline: Best result you will achieve with product
Tagline: Describe a little bit about what your product does
Call to action: Colored button with a simple call to action
B. Place CTAs in the middle of your post
Clicking on the link triggers a popup asking for the visitor’s email in order to send them the download. These ones are good to catch visitors who scroll through your article but may not make it to the end.
C. Topbar call to action
You can also make the topbar sticky so it follows the visitor as they scroll down the page so they can click the CTA at any point.
Here’s what Gary Gaspart from ManyContacts says about how well top bars they convert:
“I can tell you that our users get conversion rates ranging from 15% all the way down to ZERO!
Let me explain…
Last month, I sorted all of our users from the highest conversion rate, to the lowest. After excluding those with little traffic, I went through the best 200 converters, individually.
The best converters do three things. They offer something of specific value and convey the speed to get the full value.”
D. Exit intent popup
You can set up a popup that gets triggered when your visitor moves their cursor to leave your page. If the visitor is not interested, you can either let them close it by putting an ‘x’ at the corner or by making them click the ‘no’ button. It’s up to you to decide how many hoops your visitors may be willing to jump through.
E. Welcome mat
They are a lead generation form that covers the entire page when you first open it. Users who are not interested can simply click the no button or keep scrolling down for the form to disappear.
Since welcome mat takes up the entire screen, it’s impossible for a visitor to not notice it. You can test its effectiveness by rolling it out on only a few pages first. This also avoids confusing first-time visitors on what your site is about.
The sidebar is also another great place to put a call to action since your visitors’ eye will eventually wander there at some point. You can also make your sidebar sticky so it follows your visitor as it scrolls down, making it more likely they’ll click on it.
Have a look beside this article so see how you do it on our blog:
G. Email signup form on your main blog page
You can also consider placing an email signup form with a lead gen at the top of your main blog page to bring in more subscribers. Create a graphic for your lead gen to make it feel like a real product you’re giving to subscribers for free:
3. Keyword optimize your old posts
After your article is up for a while collecting organic search data, it is key to go back to optimize the keywords again. Increase your article’s rank by going back to optimize keywords after 1 month after it has been posted.
Using this approach, Hubspot was able to increase the conversion rate of old posts by 87% and the number of leads it generated by 99%
To check the keywords an article is ranking for your article, you can use tools like SEMrush:
Once you find out what keywords you’re ranking the highest for, you can edit your existing article to sprinkle variations of it in places throughout the article where it would sound natural. Also include the highest ranking keyword in your article’s title and meta description.
4. Format your blog into a Lead Generating Gold mine
A lot of blog articles have extremely high bounce rates because what do most visitors see when they land on the page?
Walls of text!
It goes without saying; you won’t have a chance to capture the emails of visitors who navigate away after 3 seconds. Reading your content builds your visitor’s interest in hearing from you again eventually leading to provision of email address.
So what do visitors want?
– Content broken into easier to consume chunks.
– Headlines and subheads that summarize each section so they can scroll through them and extract an instant takeaway.
– For long articles, a table of contents that lets their visitor quickly navigates to the sections they are interested in.
Here’s how to effectively design and format each.
A. Break up a long article into sections
If you have a long article, break it up into multiple sections and put a subheading above each cluster of related points. This way, as your casual readers scroll through, each subheading can serve as an instant takeaway and inducement for them to get deeper into the article.
For your deep readers, each subheading acts as a break to signify a change in talking points.
Here’s how our blog breaks up an article into easy to scan sections to keep visitors sticking around for much longer:
You can also experiment with differentiating between sections by alternating their background colors.
B. Table of contents
If you are publishing a long article, experiment with a table of contents at the top so your readers can easily jump to the sections that most interest them. There’s different styles you can use for your table of contents / navigation menu so play around with one to see what design gets more of your visitors clickin’.
A table of contents breaks up a sprawling piece of text into more digestible bites and gives readers easy points of entry into the article. Here a few styles you can try:
D. Chapter arrows
Look how Moz has created chapters of their comprehensive SEO guide
5. Tools to capture leads and improve conversions
Unless you want to code and do everything yourself (in which case when are you going to have time to actually work on your actual business?), using ready-made tools to run blog analytics and visitor conversion are key to turning your blog into a lead conversion machine. Here are a few of the most effective ones:
A. Email signup forms
Pop ups, toolbars, slides ups and welcome mat email capture forms, you can set up all of them with SumoMe. It integrates with practically every email marketing service. Check how wpbeginner use email signup forms on their blog.
B. Use heatmaps to perform design arrangements and CTA placements
TruConversion lets you overlay a heatmap over every page on your website so you can see exactly what visitors are looking at, what they are clicking clicking and where they are dropping off.
See a red zone in one part of the page? May be the perfect place for another CTA button. See your visitors tend to drop off at 20% through your article? Perhaps you can try to place a funny caption image there to get more visitors to get going.
Find below a move map we ran on our blog main page. Notice how there is a lot of activity on the left side of the text with a heavy focus on the list? A worthwhile design experiment for us would be seeing what happens when we break up our text into even more bullet points and shorter sentences.
C. Use Buzzsumo To Generate Targeted Traffic for Effective Lead Generation
No matter how many well placed CTAs you have throughout your page, nobody would ever click on it if they’re not on your page in the first place. So how do you get those juicy social shares and traffic? How do you compete against the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of articles out there on any given topic?
Method #1: Tape a bunch of topic ideas to a board and write on whichever one your dart happens to land on.
Method #2 (waaay more effective): See what other blog articles related to your niche have performed the best, then create a more comprehensive version of it
Find put together a list of general relevant topics. Let’s say you offer a lead generation service. Relevant topics can include:
– Cold email
– Follow up with leads
– Sales objections
Enter those keywords into BuzzSumo and it’ll return a list of the most widely shared articles related to your keywords:
Study the top 5 articles and take notes on:
– Which points do most of the articles mention? Reiterate but also expand on those points in your article.
– What questions did the commentators on those articles ask? Answer those questions in your article.
– What other points related to the article are they missing? Research and include those points on your post.
By creating a more comprehensive and useful version of the most popular posts on the topic, you will not only attract more social shares but it will also make it easier to build backlinks for. This is key to cracking the first pages of Google for your articles’ keywords and breaking open the floodgates of traffic.
Remember, no matter how amazing your content is, no matter how amazing your design is, even if you host a $5000 value giveaway, you will only ever convert a % of those visitors. So it goes without saying the more traffic you get, the more leads you will be able to capture.
What are the main takeaways?
– No design element is too small to experiment with.
– While there are literally hundreds of styles and placements you can play around with to entice your visitors to stick around, you should consult the blogs of similar companies to see what they do first. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Steve Job’s M.O of tweaking something to make it a lot better worked out pretty well for him!
– A lot of companies treat their blog as an afterthought, filling it with cheap content just to have one. Designed and leveraged properly, a blog can be a great convertor of casual drop-bys into email subscribers and email subscribers into eventual customers.
Further Readings on Lead Generation:
Has your blog generated good leads for you? Let us know in the comments below!