Your blog is an important extension of your business website for several reasons, namely that you can use it to better optimize your site as a whole. With frequently updated content, you can add trending keywords, raise your page rank, increase advertising, and generally bring in more targeted traffic.
But of course, the better reason to add and optimize a blog is to increase your chances of connecting with an audience, giving you the opportunity to transform readers into paying customers and eventually, loyal patrons.
The only question is: how do you get from point A to point B? In other words, how can you design and manage your blog in a way that converts casual readers into customers and generates sales leads? Here are a few effective strategies you may want to implement.
1. Streamline layout and design.
Both your website and your blog need to provide visitors with a simple, streamlined layout that is inviting and easy to navigate.
Visually speaking, you should pay attention to white space, ensuring that your blog isn’t dominated by blocks of text that could intimidate visitors. And it’s a good idea to select a limited color palette and a dedicated font that carry over to all your online platforms.
You want consumers to recognize the look of your brand, and color choice is the easiest way – just think McDonald’s red-and-gold or T-Mobile pink.
As for layout, placing your header, buttons, bars, and so on in standard positions on the page is the best way to ensure that readers don’t have to look too hard to find page navigation, contact information, and whatever else they need to get around your site.
Providing quality content is a given. With so much competition, it doesn’t matter how visually appealing your blog is if you can’t deliver the goods.
In terms of making it easy for readers to take the next step, you need to provide the tools that put purchasing power in their hands.
A link back to your website in the header is a good start. But if you do product reviews, for example, you should include a link to the product page or even a “buy now” button for ease of use. This not only provides a pretty clear sales message, but it makes ordering as easy as clicking a button.
3. Funnel sales.
The selling process doesn’t begin with placing products in your online store. That is where the process ends for consumers. You need to create funnels elsewhere that lead to this conclusion.
Your blog is an important link in that chain. When properly optimized, your blog will bring in a lot more visitors than your website. And why not? Your blog isn’t a hard sell – it’s offering free value.
You can use that to your advantage. When visitors land on your pages, they should be greeted by compelling copy, images, or videos featuring your latest products or services.
These can be in the header or the sidebar, but they should be at the top of the page. They needn’t be intrusive, but if they’re not there, you’re wasting an opportunity to create a simple and immediate sales funnel. A call to action should also be placed somewhere in the body of text or at the end of your articles.
It’s a fine line between offering value through content and pushing for sales, but if you can do so in a way that is both invisible and present, you’ll encourage conversions without alerting customers to your sales pitch.
4. Offer product reviews and tutorials.
One of the best ways to promote products and services via your blog is by telling readers what you have to sell and giving them compelling reasons to buy.
Reviews alert readers to new products, services, and advances in your industry that they might otherwise be unaware of. And tutorials (especially video tutorials) help them to connect the dots between the products you’re offering and the value these goods can bring to their lives.
Breaking up blocks of text on your blog is important for both visual and intellectual variety. You can, of course, add graphics, infographics, and other static imagery.
But providing video content is a great way to break up the tedium of text and catch the interest of readers. You could take a page from the Blendtec playbook, for example. This blender company started a popular series of tutorial videos entitled “Will It Blend?” that featured a man in a lab coat blending everything from action figures to iPhones. Not only were the videos humorous and inventive, but they also showcased the power of the product, and went viral in the process.
Video is a powerful medium, and with a little planning and creativity, you can definitely use it to spice up your blog and convert readers.
6. Offer live chat.
You can offer myriad means for customers to connect with you, such as providing real-world contact information and adding a link to an email contact form.
But in a virtual world that thrives on instant gratification, adding a live chat option for readers to contact you immediately with questions and concerns could increase conversions.
7. Add a membership form.
Pop-ups that encourage readers to sign up for membership should be placed so that they appear as readers are on their way out the door. Once you’ve shown them what you have to offer, they may be more willing to sign up for membership.
Whereas the average person may close a window asking them to sign up for membership, interested parties are more likely to offer you their contact information when you provide them with something valuable in exchange.
Gated content could include more in-depth articles, e-books, infographics, or videos like tutorials, webinars, and more. Whatever they are, they need to go beyond what you might provide in a regular blog post so that targeted consumers are more likely to seek out the added value you’re offering.
You could lose some of your less devoted audience when you gate a portion of your content, but the end result will be that you build a network of connections that is much more likely to convert to paying customers. After all, they already have an interest in your products and/or services.
9. Integrate social media.
Once you have social media profiles in place, call on readers to become social media followers for ease of use. As followers, they can receive notifications of new blog posts, as well as new products, promotions, sales, and more.
You should also add buttons on blog posts for likes, shares, and reposts. Making it easy for readers to share your content increases your prospects for traffic and conversions.
10. Promote your business.
If you’re not using your blog to promote your business, you’ve basically missed the whole point of having it in the first place.
This isn’t to say that your blog should be nothing more than a veiled sales pitch, but you should definitely use it to keep readers informed about your business and your products or services. And you can also run a variety of promotions, such as discounts, contests, surveys, giveaways, and more through your blog.
Converting your business blog readers to customers is no easy feat – it’s going to take time, effort, and the right amount of trial and error. But when you create a virtual environment that readers find inviting and compelling, and you make it easy for them to connect and buy, conversions and sales should increase as a result.