In my role as the Digital Marketing Wingman, I am frequently asked to audit websites for small and medium sized businesses. During my audit, I identify things the site owner can do to increase traffic to their website and convert more of their traffic into leads and sales. In almost every case, the blog provides the greatest opportunity for improving the client’s business results.
Two things business owners can do to drive more leads through their blogs are:
- Find ways to drive more traffic to the blog
- Find ways to convert more visitors on the blog
While both of these ideas could be comprehensive blog posts by themselves, for the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on a few simple things business owners can do right away to drive more traffic and higher conversion rates.
How to Get More Visitors to Your Blog
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to drive more traffic to your blog is make it easy for your readers to share it. If you’re using WordPress for your website and blog, there are over 1000 plugins that come up when you search for “social sharing”.
This creates another problem for less experienced bloggers and digital marketers: how to choose the best social plugin. In my experience with social sharing plugins, I’ve always used the plugin that I see used by the best bloggers I follow, and this has worked well for me.
In the past year, I’ve noticed a shift in social sharing buttons. Namely, that they have become mobile friendly. The minute I saw that, I started searching for a new plugin because more and more people are reading blogs on their smartphones every day.
The plugin I use now is AddThis, and so far I’ve been very happy with it for a number of reasons, including:
- There is a sticky social share bar that I can put on the right or left side of the page
- There is a mobile responsive version
- They have a great dashboard and reporting function
- They have a great social follow bar that sticks to the top of the page
- It auto populates the channels for sharing based on each visitor and what they use most
- It keeps count of shares by channel (social proof)
Here is what it looks like on my blog (of course, if you’re reading my blog, you’re seeing it live):
As you can see, with this social sharing plugin, I’ve made it very easy for my readers to share my content to their social networks. I use both the sticky side bar and the bar at the top of each post because some of my posts tend to be longer and I want to make it easy for people to share no matter how far down the page they go.
The old sidebar sharing tools I used weren’t mobile responsive and created a problem for people trying to read my blog on their phones because the sharing sidebar covered up the text.
As you can see from these two screenshots (and your own personal experience reading this post), I’ve made this post super easy to share, and by doing so, I will see more referring traffic from social media channels to my blog and website.
I actually use the paid version of this plugin ($10/month) in order to get some additional features and functionality (including more lead generation tools), but the free version offers everything you need to get started.
Keep in mind this is only one of many ways to drive traffic to your website and blog, but this is an easy one to start with and most of the blogs I audit aren’t using anything to enable social sharing of their content.
How to Convert More Blog Visitors Into Leads
There are multiple ways you can get more blog visitors to convert to leads, the most common of which is the “Subscribe to Blog” button that many sites use. Not surprising is the fact that I rarely see this being used on small and medium sized business blogs.
I think part of the reason for that is most blogs I audit do not publish new content on a regular basis, so the owners wonder why they should bother with encouraging people to subscribe. (A very unfortunate way to go about blogging.)
Three ways to capture blog subscribers are:
- A call-to-action (CTA) in the blog sidebar
- A banner, image or display ad embedded in the post
- An opt-in popup
As you can see, I use the CTA in the right sidebar for capturing blog subscribers. In a moment, when you decide to leave my blog, you will see how I use an exit popup to capture leads.
I was able to easily create the sidebar CTA for readers to subscribe to my blog in the WordPress theme I use, which is OptimizePress. Most themes I’ve seen and used offer this capability, although some make it easier than others.
By now, some of you are probably asking, “Are blog subscribers really leads?” The answer is yes, but only if you have a solid content marketing plan and editorial calendar for your blog. The other “but” is that I would call these “marketing qualified” leads versus “sales ready” leads, and it will take some time and a steady stream of good content for your blog subscribers to turn into “sales ready” leads.
The good news is that when they do, it’s usually in the form of a phone call to your company/sales department. I can also tell you for a fact that one company I’m familiar with generates over 50 percent of their leads from their blog and it’s a steady stream of leads.
That said, now I’ll show you how to get better marketing qualified leads and/or sales ready leads from your blog.
Let’s face it, simply providing a name and email address is not a great indication of strong interest in your product or service. One way to flush out people who have a higher level of interest is by offering your blog visitors something more substantial than a blog post and gate it with a more detailed form.
When using this approach, it’s a good idea to test different form fields with the goal being to get as much information as you can, such as: phone number, address, job title, etc. People are only willing to give you a lot more information if they feel what you have to give in return is worth it.
An effective way to do this is to create a “lead magnet” such as a guide, eBook, whitepaper or webinar on a topic that would be relevant and useful to your prospects. Then you need to create CTAs (banners, buttons, popups, etc.) to promote your lead magnet to your blog visitors.
I’m not going to go into creating lead magnets in this post, but I will show you how to use a simple exit popup on your blog to capture more leads and, in many cases, slight more interested leads. And the good news is, the opt-in popup tool is part of the same AddThis plugin I recommend for your social sharing button.
The other nice feature of this approach is that you can change up the lead magnet or offer to reflect the content of each blog post, so you can build a list of people according to the type of content they read and the lead magnet they downloaded.
In the post I’m using for this example, I’m promoting a free webinar through an exit popup, which looks like this:
If you click on “Learn More,” you are taken to a landing page (that I created in Lead Pages) to register for my webinar. This landing page generated a 49 percent conversion rate for webinar sign ups.
Once you register, I have your information and know you are someone interested in the topic of the webinar. I will be targeting you again later, based on this information, to ultimately sell you a product or service related to the subject matter of the webinar or a problem you are trying to solve.
The nice thing about using webinars for lead generation is you get the registrant’s name and email address in your database whether they attend the webinar or not.
In the blog post below, promoting the same webinar, we used both an embedded image ad and an exit popup:
These same tactics will drive leads with other lead magnets such as guides, whitepapers, templates, etc.
For all the time you put into creating great content on your blog, you deserve to be capturing leads. By making your content easy for your readers to share and implementing the lead generation tactics covered in this post, you (and your employer) will be very happy with the results.
24 Point Blog Lead Generation Checklist
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