Converting Blog Readers into Business Customers

convert blog readers

In order to turn readers into customers, you will need to get to know them better, and be able to provide them with comprehensive and valuable content that turns readers and visitors into sales leads.

Think of How Your Content Fits into Your Customer's Buying Journey

There are three stages to the buyer's journey, the active research process that people take leading ultimately to a purchase: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

It benefits you to create content for your customers that matches each stage.

For example, if your visitor is wondering why she is experiencing discomfort, researching how to deal with a bad back or deciding upon an ergonomic mattress, your mattress blog will have all the articles she needs to make informed decisions at every stage. This imaginary client won't have to leave your site to become aware of her problem, research solutions and find the best product for her.

Potential customers can and will reach you, however, at any point of their buyer's journey. If you want to please your customers and make those sales, being aware of the varying stages of their decision-making process will help. Not every post will be closing a sale and not every post will be about explaining your products or services, but you should have posts for every stage of the buyer's journey.

Use premium, Value-Added Content to Create Leads

A lead differs from a visitor or a prospect in that you have their contact details in your database, for example your mailing list, because they've submitted their details into a form. Creating leads could be described as any process that gets people to give you their email addresses or other contact details, which allow you to sell to them at a later date.

Creating this relationship with a visitor is much more valuable than a single sale. Unless you are converting visitors into leads, when a visitor does purchase your product or service it's possible that you'll never hear from them again and that they will never hear from you. Even if you do bump into each other again down the line, you're not necessarily going to know. It's valuable to have a measurable and traceable relationship.

In order to generate a lead, modern online marketers offer something of value in exchange for contact information. There's a lot of competition for the time, attention and, yes, money of your visitors. Would you be more likely to give your email address to a site that simply had a web form with the word 'subscribe' or to a person who was offering you something genuinely useful that you would receive and employ straight away?

It's a bit like samples that are given away in supermarkets. A big sign saying "Please buy our cheese" might generate some sales. A free sample at the cheese counter, however, gives the customer a taste of what they could be getting on a regular basis. If it's as sensational as the producer maintains then the customer knows where they can get more and they will.

What would you give in exchange for a long-term, potential customer who then tells people in their network how good your product or service is?

It's helpful to think of this kind of lead generation as an exchange rather than a giveaway. Every visitor who signs up for your offer is giving you the chance to have a relationship with them and this is actually a beautiful thing.

Make your offer good. With some thought, you'll find that you can exchange all kinds of material that doesn't diminish your portfolio. Your offer needs to have a perceived value. If it's monetary, then consider the impact of the discount you're offering. Would you rather receive a gift that represents a saving of one dollar or a gift that would normally cost you $100? One of these offers raises the pulse a little. The perceived value, however, could also be in the fact that the item is exclusive.

As long as what you're offering is relevant to your business and addresses your customers' problems and needs, it needn't break the bank to turn visitors into subscribers or leads. Ideally, you will match your content offers to the various stages of the buyer's journey, giving you the ability to generate leads at every stage.

You might find that you already have all you need to make a stellar content offer for lead generation. Businesses routinely exchange such items as white papers, cheat sheets, and digital books in order to satisfy their visitors and encourage them to enter into a longer, measurable relationship. If you have more than one book, consider offering one for free. Use your books and other content to create cheat sheets and checklists that your visitors are likely to find useful.

Create Landing Pages

sample landing page

The purpose of a lead generation landing page is to convert prospects into leads. It has a very important job to do, so it needs to be focused.

It's crunch time. Without the ability to capture email addresses or other contact details, your marketing efforts are going to get carried off by the breeze. Imagine getting people excited to to see a movie, then not telling them how to get to the cinema. You want to make it easy for your visitors, and potential customers, to stay in touch with you.

Unless you're thinking about employing a specialist to create your landing pages, use everything you've learned about content creation so far.

Use one or more strong images to draw the eye, get your message across quickly and create an emotional response. Why not make one of those emotions 'desire' by showing your visitor an image of what he or she will receive in their inbox moments after handing over their email address?

Ensure that the visitor knows why they are there. If the link that got them here said 'Get your free cheat sheet now', the landing page should clearly say 'free cheat sheet' in the headline or somewhere prominent.

There should be nothing on this page that isn't about what you're offering and how they can get it. This means no links, neither internal nor external. No navigation. I repeat, no navigation. When they reach your landing page, it's because they've clicked on something, and they should have all the information they need from you in order to continue the process. The only options should be to enter contact details, an email address at the least, or to close the window.

Incorporate Call to Actions (CTAs)

ebook cta sample

It's time for your visitor to convert into a lead. Make converting an easy option.

Have a clear call-to-action visible on the page. Some marketers ensure that it's the most attractive thing on the page - the biggest, most colorful, or only image - so it draws the eye and cannot be missed.

Play around with the wording of the call to action and see how that alters your numbers of leads generated. Remember that Aweber increased trial signups by 12% by adding the word 'now' to their call to action.

Use evocative language. The landing page is a good place for your most powerful adjectives to close the deal on your offer. Use action verbs to motivate your visitors to step up. Click, download, sign up, read, receive, watch, send me, deliver, show me are all words you might use in your call to action to set up expectation in the visitor and propel them toward action. And maybe throw in an 'instantly' to good effect. Experiment with your language just as you experiment with your images, colors and positioning.

You might think your landing page may be a thing of beauty, but try to take a step back. Is it functional? Is it clear what the visitor is supposed to do and what they will get as a result? Does it make it clear when and how they will receive your offer?

Put yourself in the user's position and imagine that there is something competing for your attention on the other side of the desk or in another tab. Use a critical eye and if you find that you can't, borrow one from a friend or colleague. You'll be able to see how well the landing page is doing by examining your analytics, but it's good to have a human perspective upfront before your landing page and call-to-action go into service.

Reduce Distractions

Whenever you're thinking about converting your visitors into customers, focus on what you want them to do. Stay specific. Keep your offer simple and tell people how to get it.

When editing your writing, check the spelling and the grammar, yes, but also check that your message is consistent. What is the outcome you desire as a result of this content? Are your words working hard enough to this effect?

If you really seek conversions with an item of content, seriously consider removing anything that's not moving the reader closer to sending you signing up or otherwise availing themselves of your offer. If you can't face deleting your prose, you can always put cut material into a folder on your computer called 'Close But No Cigar' to use elsewhere. Perhaps it will be best suited in another kind of post or elsewhere on your site. If you're seeking conversions, that should be the consistent mission of your text.

If you've used bold text or other highlighting, is it leading the reader effectively through your offer or could it be a distraction? Use bullet points and ensure that there are no unattractive blocks of text to wade through and potentially become stuck in.

Are your images working with your text to close the deal? Images can be attention-grabbing, but they shouldn't steal attention from the goal at hand. Your images ought to say something about your branding, your offer and/or its benefits, otherwise it might actually be working against you.

Stay focused on your goals and your content will be too.

Think Long-­Term / Don’t Go Straight for the Kill

There are two key reasons not to go for conversion as soon as you see the whites of your prospects' eyes.

Firstly, has the hard sell ever worked with you? And if so, how did you feel afterwards? Was that an experience you're looking forward to repeat?

If your focus is on providing solutions for your customers and being genuinely helpful, and if you have a useful product or service, sales will not be far away. There's no need to chase down and corner every prospect. That will not only exhaust you, and it won't do much for your reputation either; except with people who like to be pressured into parting with their time and money. Know many people like that?

The second reason for having a long-term approach to sales it that a repeat customer is worth more than a one-off sale. Repeat purchases are better for your bottom line. The trade off is that it takes time for this to happen and it's not guaranteed, but there are other benefits too.

When a visitor feels they have a connection with you and feels a sense of community with your blog, they are statistically more likely to convert into a customer later on. Remember that GrooveHQ reported that people who engage with a blog spend more money more freely than those who do not.

Unless you're riding a gold rush, you're in this for the long-term. Wouldn't it be good if many of your customers were with you for the long-term too?

It's more costly to acquire a new customer than to keep one. And - as if that wasn't reason enough to focus on customer retention via providing an excellent customer experience and after sales support - consider also that customers share experiences with their networks, networks that are growing and becoming increasingly influential thanks to social media. Customers share both positive and negative experiences, so make your approach to sales a thoughtful one that puts the customer first.