How do you convert readers to customers? Photo: Bigstock

Blogs are great at making your Web site visible and findable on search engines. Most entrepreneurs can do the work themselves or hire talent to make that happen.

What’s a little more difficult to pull off is actually converting those visitors and readers to customers. I understand, because when I started off in this business I learned how to get visitors…and even learned how to get loyal readers

But getting paying customers was harder.

In the last ten years, however, I’ve learned how to move those visitors to readers, and those readers to customers through countless research, tests and successes…and I’ve broken what I’ve learned down into seven simple steps.

1. Embed your blog on your website

Since your blog is going to make you visible to searchers through SEO, it’s important that your blog and business website are connected. See, most people won’t find your website through the homepage but will come through the backdoor…like from a post on your blog.

Set up your blog as a sub-domain from your main website. Over at KISSmetrics, our blog sits off the root domain at blog.kissmetrics.com.

Here’s how Mail Chimp does it:

You will also want your blog and main website connected because as your blog increases in authority and rank, your website will share some of that authority and rank.

2. Write about what they care about

Scan any successful blog and you’ll quickly discover the focus of the content is on one thing: solving the problems of their prospects and clients. You’ll also discover that the content is fresh, research-heavy and consistent.

How do you figure out what you should blog about?

  • Ask your readers through posts, on-site surveys and email
  • Ask your people who are dealing directly with the customers
  • Research your search logs to see what keywords people are using to find your site and build content around those queries

For each piece of content you need ask: what’s in it for them?

This means you never want to share press releases or content that comes off as marketing creative. You may think its brilliant, but if your readers don’t find any benefit from it, they won’t care.

So, if you want readers to grow into real prospects you’ll need to keep them around for awhile and earn their trust…and the only way you can do that is by giving them those solutions they can use.

3. Arrive early and stay late

There are two parts to growing traffic to your site and increasing the number of leads you get: 1) content that solves customer problems on a 2) consistent basis.

As you can see, you can’t separate the two.

Building trust is all about predictability, and you can do that by blogging on a consistent basis. This means you need to create a blogging schedule that you can sustain over time. Here are a few good resources you can use to help you create editorial calendars:

But don’t forget that you are equally responsible for answering comments on the blog and engaging readers on other social sites.  This is the idea of arriving early and staying late. In other words, it should seem you are ever present.

4. Write seductive headlines

Plain and simple…your headline is the gateway to your content. If it’s not good…if it’s not compelling…if it’s not interesting…then it doesn’t matter how great the post is…nobody will read it.

Take a few of these examples from Ben Settle:

  • Attack of the Spelling Nazis
  • Contrarian Email Secrets Your Favorite Goo-roo Doesn’t Know About
  • How To Stick Out In The Inbox Like A Fart In Study Hall (But In A Good Way…)
  • Why Writing Emails Is Like Cooking Illegal Meth

Tough to ignore, don’t you think?

One trick to writing killer headlines is to focus on the hook: the one thing that stands out.  A good hook makes you beg to know more because it’s unbelievable and shocking.

But seductive headlines are not easy to crank out. Sometimes it takes me more time to come up with a good headline than it does to write the post. Is it worth the investment in time? Absolutely.

If you really want to take it up a notch, use the Google Website Optimizer to test several different headlines to see which one works best. Or A/B test headlines like Huffington Post does.

5. Link out to authority blogs

A post without any links is like someone talking to themselves. That’s a show stopper for readers.

Author Neil Patel

You links in your blog. And you need them to go out of your site. Where should you point those links? I like to think of writing blog posts as a sandwich: research before you begin, write and research after you finish. It’s during the research that you collect the sources you will link out to.

This isn’t just polite blogging practice, but it also serves an SEO purpose as well. Linking out to high authority sites is a trust indicator that search engines evaluate.

It’s not certain how much link juice you will get from an external link going to a high authority site, but since it doesn’t require much effort it’s worth the work.

6. Qualify leads through email newsletter

Give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog through RSS feeds and email. But don’t stop there. You can develop your leads by offering an email newsletter.

An email newsletter is a great device for identifying people who want to know more about you and your company. This newsletter can be a weekly or monthly email and you can provide subscribe options in a number of ways to grow this list:

  • Sidebar Opt-in BoxAweber gives you an easy way to create a sub form. What’s special about this is you have the option to allow people to subscribe with one click if they are logged into Facebook. (I have seen this convert 51% better than without using the option. )
  • Hello Bar – This tool is great for promotion everything from an email newsletter to books like bloggers like Darren Rowse and Tim Ferriss do.
  • Lightbox – A simple, nicely designed pop-up with a sub form lays over the website, lightboxes are very popular and effective.
  • End of Post Subscribe Box – At the end of each post you should include a email newsletter sub form to grow your email newsletter list.

Prospects who sign up for an email newsletter are interested leads…so it’s important to identify them and then work on trying to convert them.

7. Qualify leads through email newsletter segmentation

To really boost conversions you need to segment your email newsletter list. By narrowing the focus of each email you can deliver hyper-focused content that your readers will find more relevant if you just blasted the same email to your entire list.

How can you segment?

  • Email behavior – Is the reader a new lead? Inactive on the list? Does he or she open emails on some offers and not others? Does he or she share the content?
  • Purchasing behavior – Readers who have actually bought or used your services need to be treated completely different. You want to try to take them from first-time users to loyal advocates, which deserves an email all its own.
  • Product category – If you sell different products across different lines, segmenting readers into product preference will also help boost your conversion rates.
  • Preference center – This is probably the easiest since readers are self-selecting which emails they want to receive.
  • Demographic data – You can gather quick data about readers by asking simple questions about gender or inputting their zip code to grab location.

That might sound like a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it. Mail Chimp measured the open and click rates across several industries and discovered that users got 15 percent higher open and click-through rates when they segmented their lists.

Conclusion

Although advanced techniques like email marketing segmentation are the key to converting leads from your blog, you should always treat your blog like the center of all that communication.

That means your email newsletters should point back to the blog, your guest posts should point back to your blog and any other link building tactics should focus on driving traffic to the blog. Why? Your blog is the place where you build and maintain trust…trust your main website can leverage.

What other tactics do you use to generate and convert leads from your blog?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions.

More from Neil Patel on GeekWireSeven signs that you might just be an entrepreneur Eleven things every entrepreneur should know about innovation… 17 things I wish I’d known when starting my first business

[Photo of blog sign via Bigstock]

Latest News

Comments

  • http://www.tenddeapact.com/ Alex-SEO Ireland

    Interesting read. I have always thought that blogs are better embedded on a web site than standing alone. Thanks for some good insights.

  • Judy

    This is wonderful information!  I’ve just recently started a blog so…no surprise, I haven’t figured out everything I need to know.  That includes, but is not limited to, how to convert visitors to customers!

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.