We all know a blog is an effective tool for building thought leadership, influence, and awareness among your target market. It’s also a great way to recruit brand advocates. The trick is knowing how to turn those advocates into customers.
I’ll walk you through specific steps to guide blog readers into becoming advocates, and eventually customers. First, let’s quickly cover how to get them to your blog in the first place.
SEO is the number one source of leads for inbound marketing professionals, says research from Fractl and Moz. For the Close.io blog for example, 73.6% of visitors come via organic search. Now consider that people in the U.S. conduct 12 billion web searches per month alone, and 70% of them click on organic results.
Capturing your audience’s attention is a matter of writing about the topics they’re searching for. Solve their pain points and answer their questions. Attract them with relevance, keep them coming back with trust. This happens to be the first step in the conversion process.
1. Build trust with quality content
You successfully attracted a new visitor with a relevant topic and snappy headline. The first step to turning a reader into an advocate is to make them stay there and want to come back.
A solid starting point is to deliver what your headline promises. If you use clickbait techniques, your visitors are going to bounce and likely write you off as a spammer, eliminating all chances of trust.
To prove your value, give your visitors something they can’t find anywhere else. Do this through the type of content you share, the voice you use, or even the format of your content. Here are a few examples of how successful blogs have taken a unique approach to adding value in a unique voice:
- Groove’s Startup Journey blog shares actionable lessons from personal experiences
- Polygraph analyzes data to uncover cultural trends, patterns, and unique findings
- Brainpickings delivers well-researched think pieces, applying lessons from history’s thought leaders to modern issues
If you read any of the blogs above, you’ll notice the common theme is a focus on quality. When skimming, you can tell that the writers take the time to produce something they love. Visitors will see that effort and be much more inclined to come back and share your content.
Research says other types of content that attract readers (on social media) are:
- Why-posts: explanation of why something works
- How-tos: actional, step-by-step instructions
- Video: a convenient, more interactive way to consume information
- Giveaways: free images to use, templates, guides, etc.
- Lists: think BuzzFeed
2. Introduce the humans behind your brand
The author of Descartes Error and professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, Antonio Damasio says emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions. This explains why salespeople often lead with an emotional appeal when pitching.
It also relates to why cold calling still works (see Uber). It’s easier to speak to someone’s emotions when you’re actually speaking to them.
If you humanize your brand with actual humans, you’ll build a deeper connection with your visitors. In fact, human interactions increase sales. Moz shared the story of a large online bridal retailer who ran a split test to determine which type of apology for an order mishap was most effective. They sent Group A a $50 dollar gift card and called Group B to apologize personally. Group B was twice more likely to buy from them again.
Let your visitors get to know the people behind your brand. Give video a try. According to research from Cisco, 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019, up from 64% in 2014.
Video allows visitors to consume information in a more convenient way and appeals to their desire to interact with thought leaders. Think about the rise of Periscope, Blab, and Facebook’s auto-play feature. Video is dominating the social media landscape. You might as well incorporate it into your blog content.
3. Use compelling messages to turn your reader into a subscriber
A pop-up or blatant call to buy your product might turn off a first-time visitor. However, they’ll be more susceptible to it after you earn their trust and credibility.
A newsletter is effective for building a relationship with your visitors. It gives your visitors an opportunity to decide how trustworthy you are by regularly interacting with your content. But getting your readers to subscribe requires a compelling message with why they should want more. Here are some examples.
Most blogs validate their value by sharing how many subscribers trust them to deliver:
Many play up the value provided:
This is a great example of using creative button copy to compel visitors to sign up. Of course, it’s more fun to “BE AWESOME” than it is to “SIGN UP” for an email. ;)
Some offer a gift, like a t-shirt or exclusive ebook, academy or course:
We’re only asking subscribers to join the course, not our newsletter. This is just another example of building a relationship and trust through content.
Others play up exclusivity like Tobias van Schneider does:
Others take the simple and direct approach. They explain what subscribers are getting and why it matters in a sentence or two. For us, this means promising actionable sales advice, delivered weekly.
4. Ask your visitors about their pain points
Now that you’ve recruited a loyal advocate via your newsletter, get to know their needs and interests. Use the newsletter as a way to ask them questions or send them surveys.
Ask simple questions that will only take a minute to answer such as: “What sales questions do you have for us?” “Where do you have a leak in your sales pipeline? or “What topics would you like to see us cover on the blog?” By keeping it simple and specific, they’ll be much more inclined to take your survey or hit reply and answer.
Asking questions shows that you care and gives you a chance to demonstrate how you can help with their specific problem. Combine helpful content, a compelling message, and an easy sign-up process to turn your advocates into customers.
5. Time your call-to-buy just right
After a subscriber becomes a loyal reader (they trust you), they’ll be more interested in your product and call-to-buy. They’ve entered the advocate stage.
Use a software like Kissmetrics or Mixpanel to track visitor behavior, such as the average times a buyer visits your blog before making a purchase. This will help you determine what type of content to share and where (on what posts and pages) to place your CTAs.
Make your call-to-action relevant to the piece of content your visitor is consuming. If a piece relates to only one pain point your product solves, make the CTA focused on that solution.
If you’re on the Crazy Egg blog, unless you were looking for an egg recipe, you probably want to know how to increase conversions from your site. In their CTA, they quickly say exactly what their product will do and how it will help you:
Baremetrics focuses on how easy their product is and exactly what it will do:
Unbounce tells you exactly how long a demo is and what you’ll get in return:
Your blog visitors are more than leads and potential customers, they’re people. As you get to know them, ask them what they do and do not like about your content. Or better yet, your product. Yes, your blog is a potential source of leads. But if you think about it holistically, it will play a big role in the entire brand experience.
And, if you're a kickass content marketer, I'd love to talk with you! Check out our job openings because we're looking for someone like you!
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