Remember that the first goal of blogging is not just to get more traffic, but to get a specific outcome. You want more subscribers, more sales, or more people engaging with your brand.
Despite the internet’s collective dream of “going viral,” that’s not the best way to build a customer base. Having a million hits on one post – and no others – won’t do much for your business. Traffic on its own isn’t very useful if it doesn’t convert.
So instead of aiming for massive popularity, it’s better to steadily build interest in your brand among an audience that may be smaller but more devoted.
There’s a process to this, and it’s often difficult to get right, but I’ll take you through the basics you need to get started:
Start With a Specific Goal In Mind
In the words of Blog Tyrant, “start with what you want your readers to do … and work backwards.” Having a goal in mind will help focus your content towards achieving it.
Most likely, this will be to lead viewers into your sales funnel. If so, here are some steps you can take towards it:
Make sure your post is something your target audience would actually want to read. Keep your blog content topical and informative. Remember, it’s not about you, It’s about your customers and what they’d like to know. Feel free to use the personal voice, but avoid the temptation to go into self-indulgent detail, be sure any stories you tell about yourself lead to a point – and preferably some actionable advice – that will be of use to your readers. And maintain your professionalism at all times.
Make it entertaining, as well. Focus on writing engaging, useful content in a conversational voice.
Illustrate it with photos. Very few users want to slog through a wall of monotonous text without any visuals to break it up or add interest. In addition, a well-placed photo or cartoon can add humor to a piece, or can illustrate a boring technical section concisely and interestingly in a way that text alone can’t.
And finally, edit. Edit, edit, edit. And wait a little while before you submit. I can’t encourage this enough, especially since it’s such an overlooked component for so many bloggers. A cursory search through many e-commerce blogs will reveal slapdash posts, spelling errors, and awkward or confusing phrasing that could have easily been fixed if the author hadn’t just tossed the blog post out the second the last period was placed.
There’s another reason to wait, too: if you’ve been staying on top of your analytics, there’s a good chance you’ll know your company’s maximum viewership times. And, of course, you should try to publish during those times, so your update will reach the maximum number of eyeballs.
“All this content advice’s well and good,” I hear you think, “But how do I turn readers into actual subscribers or customers?”
It’s simpler than you might think.
Give them a clear Call to Action, just like you would on a sales page. If you want your readers to comment, ask. If you want them to subscribe, don’t assume they’ll just do it themselves: ask. If you want them to come back the next day, include some preview of what you’re going to be posting the next day and what they’ll have to gain by reading it, then ask that they return.
Don’t assume that your content is so amazing that readers will line up to praise you, share your posts with all of their friends, and subscribe just so they can get more of it pumped into their eyeballs. Yes, it sounds ridiculous when put that way, but when you think about it, that really is the unspoken mentality behind the “if you build it, they will come,” method of promotion that many bloggers inadvertently use.
People will always respond better to an invitation than an expectant silence, so invite them in. If you’re running a good, customer-focused business, this will benefit them just as much as you, so don’t be shy. Express it clearly. Don’t hard sell or try to force the CTA down your readers’ throats, but make sure you express it with confidence.
Do something to draw the reader’s eye to it, as well. For example, make it a big, brightly-colored button, or put it in a pop-up window. If that still doesn’t work, give your reader an incentive. We’ve discussed how you can use coupon codes for this purpose in a previous post, and the promise of access to exclusive content for subscribers also works quite well.
However, make sure to include just one CTA per post. You don’t want to come across as desperate. Make the action simple, achievable, and preferably, something that your reader can do simply by clicking a button on your page.
Other Methods of Marketing
Many customers will be coming into your store through your blog, especially the ones who were referred directly to the blog via someone else who shared it. Therefore, it might prove very useful to put a business profile in the sidebar of your blog. Again, you want to couch this in terms of your customers. For example: I’m a wholesaler who exports affordable widgets in bulk quantities to retailers on the west coast of Borneo.
You can also use a Hello Bar, a full-width bar that spans across the top of your page, to showcase your testimonials, or promote the offer that you’ll give to readers who buy or subscribe. If you go for the latter route, make sure you’re offering something specific. According to DIYThemes, Hello Bars that promise a specific reward get 28% more conversions than ones that promise “more updates” or “more information.”
It’s not all about the sales, though. You also want to encourage people to share your posts on social media, even if they don’t end up buying. Some readers may not end up subscribing or buying, but may instead recommend your business to people who will – similar to how some people who catch a virus become asymptomatic carriers even if they don’t get sick themselves. Except here, the virus is your business, and the sickness is conversions, and…you get the idea.
You’ll want to include a few micro-CTAs on your blog, and include emphasized links to where your readers can subscribe or buy in your navigation bar. You can also place banner ads for yourself on your page.
Finally, you can use remarketing services like ReTargeter and Perfect Audience to track your readers so that when they move on to other sites, the banner ads they see will be for your company. According to Neil Patel, when you remarket to your blog readers, you will on average get a click-through rate of .2%. Of all those visitors, 3.58% will convert into customers.
Affiliate marketing can be useful, too. Think how much more value your customers will see in supporting your business when it means that they’ll also get deals from several other different stores.
The process of converting blog readers to customers may be a complex one, but the basics of it are simple. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll have a much easier time with it.
Did I miss anything? Have any more tips of your own to add? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Image source: Salvatore Barbera