These days, almost every business has a blog, but many don’t understand how to convert blog traffic into cold, hard sales. This guide by William Harris breaks it down, walking you through 5 key steps that will help you make money from your blog.
I walked into a coffee shop the other day and ran into someone I’ve had some casual conversations with in the past. We chatted a bit, and he congratulated me on my role in Sellbrite’s acquisition by GoDaddy.
Then he asked me a question.
“Hey, I’ve got a blog that gets about 400,000 monthly visits, but we don’t monetize it yet. Do you think there’s something we could do to help make money with the blog?”
I had to laugh. But he’s not the only one I’ve spoken to in a similar situation. A few months ago, I was chatting with a woman who told me her blog was getting about 700,000 monthly visits, but she wasn’t sure how to make money from it.
Blogs are amazing tools — for sales.
55% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority. And if you’re a B2B company, you should know that B2B marketers who use blogs get 67% more sales leads than those who don’t!
That’s not to say blogs aren’t for B2C either. A blog is one of the best ways you can increase awareness for your eCommerce store or service-based business, especially among people who aren’t looking for your exact product and service keywords.
You need to focus on your blog like your business depends on it—because it does. It’s a medium for generating quality leads, free trials, ecommerce sales, etc. from people who actually want to hear from you. These people are your tribe, the ones you need to nurture relationships with. They’re your current customers, your future customers, and even the friends and family of your future customers.
So let’s look at five steps to convert blog traffic into sales…
Step 1: Know your sales funnel
A sales funnel is the path your website traffic takes as it converts from visitor to customer. You want content that aligns with a prospect’s journey from awareness to consideration to decision.
Creating a sales funnel is the first step toward constructively utilizing your blog traffic. The design of your sales funnel will depend on what you’re selling, who you’re targeting, and the nature of your competition.
In this example, your online sales funnel begins with website visits by creating awareness through publishing high-quality blog content. A few of these visitors will take some action on your blog, like subscribing to your email newsletter or downloading an ebook, which moves them to the next stage in the funnel as they become leads.
You want to qualify these leads by filtering out any fake or missing data. If you’re an enterprise SaaS business, you might send these qualified leads over to a sales team to follow up, ideally using a lead scoring system in your marketing automation platform. Sales teams will then nurture these leads and convert them to real paying customers, but your content should also play a role in moving them through your funnel.
Knowing exactly what your sales funnel looks like at the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the marketing process will enable you to use the right marketing tactics to move prospects further down the funnel. For example, you might target blog articles to attract website visitors or price comparison guides and whitepapers for qualified leads.
You can be creative here by collaborating with influencers to publish content that directs website traffic to specific stages in the sales funnel.
You don’t have to get hugely scientific to convert blog traffic, but mapping the funnel out does help. The key here is to just start and refine as you go along. A lot of the success depends on your customers and how they make decisions, which you will be analyzing through observation. You might get customers who buy your product the minute they set their eyes on it while others will think about their purchase decision over a period of time before converting.
Step 2: Know how you will direct your blog traffic
Once you know what your sales funnel looks like, you need to know how you’ll move prospects through it. Getting laser specific on the types of content you will use at different stages in the sales funnel will help you convert blog traffic into sales.
The fundamental questions you need to answer are:
- What type of online business are you?
- What’s the price of your product, and how likely are customers to purchase it online?
- What’s the average value per customer transaction for you?
- What’s the lifetime value per customer for your business?
- How would your customers prefer to purchase?
- If you were your own customer, what expectations do you have from your business?
Answering these questions will help you empathize with your customers and create a user journey that identifies their pain points and seeks to address them. While sales are your focus, remember that being pushy won’t get you the sale. Addressing your customer’s pain points at every step in the sales process will.
To direct prospects through a sales funnel, you need them to take some type of action at each stage. For example, at the Visits stage, a prospective customer clicked on a blog article you published which led them to your website.
A prospect then becomes a lead when they give you their email address in order to subscribe to your newsletter or download an ebook. A lead converts to a qualified lead by downloading a content upgrade that gives them more detailed information about your product. A qualified lead becomes a customer by purchasing your product.
Since progressing through the sales funnel is dependent on taking action, to convert blog traffic you need to think about all the actions you want your website visitors to take. To encourage prospects to take action, put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and run A/B tests on your blog posts to optimize traffic for conversions.
Step 3: Convert blog traffic into leads
Let’s look at some specific tactics to convert blog traffic into leads, sales, and customers.
#1: Newsletter signup
You’ve put in the work to get people to your website; make sure you capture as much of it as possible. Walk them through the next step of becoming your customers. A newsletter signup is a great way to do this.
There are a few methods you can use to motivate them to sign up for your newsletter. One way is a pop-up that opens on the screen when users have scrolled down to a specific piece of the content. Some great tools to set this up are JustUno or Popup Domination, either of which will open up a pop-up to attract visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, just like the one below:
Another technique is to have an email newsletter sign-up option on the right-hand side of the blog. This is always visible while being a bit less “obnoxious” to visitors who are reading the blog post. Some great tools for this are Get Drip or Hubspot, which allow you to create side opt-in forms, like the one below:
The cool thing about this pop-up is that it makes it easy for visitors to become subscribers because it gives them multiple options, depending on their preferred contact method.
#2: Call To Action
Giving prospects a clear action to take is the key to converting passive blog traffic into real, active, and engaged customers. This is arguably the most important persuasive skill you need as a marketer.
I recommend including a clear call to action in every blog article you publish. Too many blog articles, even on the best blogs, don’t result in any action after a visitor reads them. Including social share buttons at the bottom of a blog article will help visitors easily share your article, further expanding the reach of the article. Having a Contact Us button with an action-oriented color, like orange, can make it easier for people to get in touch with you if they have comments or questions about what they just read.
You can also have a public email address on the footer of your site, no matter which page of the website, the visitor is on. Or you can use a tool like Hello Bar, which is a fixed text bar on the top of a page with an action-oriented message for your site visitors. It may look like the image below:
The Get Started button on the top right of the screenshot above actually shakes to grab extra attention!
Of course, you can always allow people to comment at the end of a blog article, which is usually the default built-in feature on most WordPress websites with blogs.
#3: Lead magnets
Once a website visitor is on your website, there are numerous creative ways to convert them into leads with lead magnets. A lead magnet is essentially a hook or incentive you offer to website visitors in exchange for their contact details. A great lead magnet will usually solve a problem for your customers, be quick to digest, and assure a quick win.
For example, this is a lead magnet pop-up on a blog article on the HubSpot blog:
On the bottom right-hand corner, they offer a guide to email marketing, enticing prospects to click on the Download Now button that requires contact details in exchange to the guide.
Examples of other lead magnets include:
- A content upgrade ebook visitors can download to learn more about a specific aspect of your blog.
- A checklist website visitors can use to simplify their tasks.
- A cheat sheet that gives users hacks or tricks.
- A template or toolkit to make the prospect’s workflow more organized.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, so be creative and strategic about what lead magnet might be best for your unique site. Using your creativity with lead magnets to make them appealing to your audience is the key to making them work for you.
Once a website visitor lands on your blog, it’s clear they have some interest in your business, no matter how small or fleeting their interest is. Remarketing is an advertising technique that tracks website visitors and then promotes your ads to them even after they leave your blog.
Continuous exposure to your brand’s message influences your website visitors’ psychology and keeps you on the front of their minds. Remarketing can be effective if your bounce rates are high or if you simply want to remind people about your business.
Some tools you can use for your remarketing campaigns are Retargetr, Adroll, or Perfect Audience. Retargetr is great for displaying ads on Facebook or Instagram after users leave your website, Adroll is great for display ads on various online sites, and Perfect Audience is an online platform to bring all of your remarketing campaigns on one page and also target ads on mobile devices and various other online channels.
Of course, you don’t have to use a special too. You can also set this up very easily in Facebook Business Manager.
#5: Identify exit intent & manage it
There are some tricks you can use to identify if people start to act like they are going to leave your website. For instance, if users drag their mouse cursor toward the close button of their browser, they might be about to close the window and do something else.
At these critical online events where user behavior is pointing to an exit intent, you can manage it by stopping users from dropping off. Using a tool like the previously-mentioned HelloBar to place messages on these exit zones can prevent blog traffic from fizzling out.
Another trick is to add a messaging app on your website or blog, so there’s an actual person who can respond to any user queries your blog visitors may have. It might look something like this:
A friendly message self-publishes on the messaging window, asking the visitor if they have any questions. This can be a great way to talk to blog visitors to show you’re interested in helping them and to direct them further down the sales funnel with a real conversation.
Step 4: Nurture your leads
Once blog traffic is converted into leads, it’s time to qualify those leads and get real customers by nurturing them. Nurturing leads is a marathon, not a sprint, and takes time and effort as you build relationships with your blog visitors.
There are many ways to do this:
#1: Organize webinars for email subscribers
Up to this point in the funnel, all of your interactions with your blog visitors have been very impersonal. Webinars take your interaction with your email subscribers to a more personal level. You’ll have the opportunity for leads to actually see you and meet other people in a live format.
Organizing webinars can take a bit of effort, and I’d recommend that you use tools like GoToMeeting, BlueJeans, Appear.in or Webinarninja to do them well. You’ll need to put some effort into creating the content for your webinar, and then marketing it to attract attendees. Letting your email subscribers know you’re hosting a webinar is a vital step to ensure your already-invested audience will attend.
Moz even sends texts to remind people to attend webinars they’ve registered for. It can be easy for subscribers to sign up for a webinar and not attend simply because they got busy and forgot. A few reminders before the webinar can boost the attendance rate significantly.
#2: Email drip courses for subscribers
Once a blog visitor becomes an email subscriber, you can nurture them with email drip campaigns, to engage subscribers. An email drip campaign is when you send emails to subscribers in a sequence, over an extended period of time. You can design email drip courses for subscribers, so they’re continually nurtured over time through an approach with educational, engaging content.
Get Drip is one of the best, cheapest tools out there to design email drip campaigns. You can send, resend, adapt, and modify emails to your subscriber list. The software will send the email you choose, depending on the response you get from your audience. Below is a sample email drip campaign created on the tool:
As you can see, you can customize your email campaigns and have a high level of sophistication in your drip campaign approach.
Letting people know you’ve created a newsletter they should read, along with a link to read the newsletter, is another impactful email that gets clicks. Blend it in with your drip campaigns so your subscribers never miss an email newsletter you publish.
Step 5: Analyze your efforts
Once you’ve invested the time and effort to convert blog traffic into sales, you’ve done a majority of the work! Now it’s time to analyze how your tactics are performing. You need to monitor certain key metrics to ensure your blog traffic is actually converting into sales. These metrics include email subscriptions, sales conversions, newsletter signups, content downloads, and most importantly, sales!
Depending on the insights you gather in your metrics analysis, you can further optimize your marketing efforts by tweaking your blog and website to enhance conversions. This is the practice of conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Use tools like HotJar to figure out where users are spending the most time on your blog, what they’re attracted to, and which buttons they’re clicking on the most so you can create the right elements to make them paying customers.
For email analysis, there are a range of tools you can use to track your subscribers. You can track open rates and click-through rates and learn more about who’s clicking on your emails and reading them using Aweber or Drip.
Another great tool is Lead Feeder, which gives you deep insights on who your blog visitors are by showing you their social media profiles. If you spend some time analyzing who your visitors really are, you’ll be able to refine your marketing campaigns to perfection.
Wrapping it up
Generating blog traffic is only half the game. It’s knowing how to convert blog traffic that differentiates winning marketers from the rest of the crowd. Apply the actionable strategies we’ve discussed, and you’ll start seeing how your blog can be an effective tool to win you the sales you seek.