No doubt, blogging is misunderstood by many.
It’s time to get smart about your blog.
There are business owners and marketers out there who don’t even bother producing any content in the first place, because they are either impatient or non-believers.
My rhetorical response to them:
“Why are huge brands progressively spending millions on their blog content + distribution, every year?”
(Graph Source: MarketingBuddy)
* Head scratching action. *
Perhaps they just have money to burn — of course, all successful companies only got to where they are through sheer luck.
I frequently encounter common blogging mistakes that are bound to leave anybody feeling like it’s a waste of a resource:
- Content churned out with no real direction
- Failure to address target audiences
- Lack of call-to-actions (CTAs) to encourage conversion
- An imbalance of time spent on content production, promotion and engagement
- Little to no clever tools applied to transform visitors to leads, and leads into sales
All content marketing should be geared towards indirect and/or direct revenue generation — plain and simple.
If just one of the above elements rings true about your blogging strategy, you’re going to experience issues and consequently, disappointment.
ROI figures will inevitably fall short.
I’m going to unveil 3 cool blogging hacks that will not only excite you, but continuously squeeze the most out of your content efforts, while ensuring readers are 100% satisfied, enthused and always hungry for more.
First, I must remind you of these stats from my earlier ‘content hacks’ piece — because nothing paints a better picture of the necessity of inbound marketing (the type that subtly draws people in):
“The average person consumes 11+ pieces of content before making a purchase decision.”
“95% of B2B buyers consider content as trustworthy when evaluating a company and its offerings.”
“86% of B2C marketers say Content Marketing is a key strategy.”
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
Additionally, check out these fresh eye-openers:
(Infographic Source: ANJ Webtech)
Enough evidence to convince even the most unwilling! ☺
Without further ado, let’s begin your bottom-line-focused blog revamp for 2019.
HACK #1: Reward Visitor Engagement
What’s the point of a blog if it doesn’t entice any interaction?
Primarily, it’s important to realize that no matter what content you display, it needs to be compelling in and of itself.
That means it should ‘wow’ visitors without any of the glitz and glam coming up next. (The stuff that will essentially make it easier to take readers to the next level i.e. convert them to leads and then customers).
Note: Don’t forget you’ll also be sending existing leads and returning visitors to new content, forever warming them up. The customer journey never ends!
So, at this stage, imagine you’ve recently published a colossal piece of content that you believe will go down a treat — albeit a bare piece with no obvious direction for visitors to take in order for them to progress with your brand.
(Image Source: Tenor)
Hmmm. Not quite ready!
However, there are always some obvious / low-friction engagement metrics to promote and analyze from the get-go:
- Blog comments
- Social shares
- Time on page / scroll depth (using a tool like Hotjar)
- Clicks to sales pages after viewing blog sections (using a tool like Kissmetrics)
- Inbound links
They all collectively help, despite not being the most innovative concepts.
I’d say (hope) you measure all points in the list already — but let’s turn things up a couple of notches, beyond analysis and towards people — because there aren’t many marketers who do!
Seriously. I don’t see this very often at all, and it’s a ridiculously potent, yet easy technique to make your audience fall in love with your brand.
Why are you not rewarding engaged fans?
[Reward in its simplest form is appreciation. The screenshot below was taken from a very popular website, which could become even more admirable with an injection of two-way engagement.]
Responding is the absolute very least you can do.
Think about it like this…
Engagement and beyond, there are two major methods of rewarding your readers’ interest and loyalty to your blog.
(SMALLER BUSINESS LEVEL)
METHOD 1: MANUAL MONITORING & REWARD
If you’re in charge of running or marketing a new blog, you can swiftly keep tabs on who’s interacting, and how.
This process can be carried out by just one person in the company — or multiple people as you grow, using a basic team tool like Trello.
John I. Engage, Sally Interaction and Julia Comments are three repeat visitors who don’t merely scan your content and leave a generic comment…
These people are true brand advocates. They will go to the ends of the earth to tell others how much they love you.
That is until they stop loving you.
“Loyalty is about likeability (86%) and trust (83%).”
(Source: Rare Consulting)
(Infographic Source: Customer Thermometer)
“Like human relationships, it’s emotional and instinctive. When asked to name any brand to which they were loyal, 90% of people later named it as their favorite.”
(Source: Rare Consulting)
If these natural advocates are constantly ignored on your blog comments section and on Social Media, do you believe they will remain loyal?
My bet is no, not at all.
If you’re not making them feel special, your competitors will be.
- Keep a digital list of every engaged loyalist and all available contact details, including their preferred channel/s of interaction
- Make responding to them a priority
- Send goodies at regular intervals
- Offer bigger swag when they do something that has clearly taken a lot of their time and thought — and always match their time and thought with yours
- Involve them in company decisions
- Ask for their feedback on ideas
- Invite them to your company to meet the team
- Never underestimate their importance to your success
I can’t tell you how many times I have felt let down by brands that didn’t respond to kind gestures or compliments.
Similarly, there have been occasions when I’ve been stressed out to the max because their products aren’t working correctly and invested great amounts of energy helping them improve — in return for nothing.
Sometimes I’d even think, “It would have been nice to receive some cost off their product.”
The exact same principal applies to the people who engage with your content.
Don’t deflate their passion…
A little effort, consideration and respect are forever remembered and go a long, long way.
Here’s a grateful message I received not too long ago:Aside from the wonderful feeling of giving — from a total business perspective, it doesn’t take Einstein to know this person is infinitely more likely to make a purchase from me in future.
Keep this example firmly in mind each day.
METHOD 2: SEMI-AUTO MONITORING & REWARD
Let’s say your blog is now at a stage where it’s near impossible to manually keep track of your top interactors — because there are thousands.
Have no fear; engagement tools are here!
Use a tech combo like this, along with the ‘human’ input described above. You will never miss an opportunity to make somebody’s day while simultaneously encouraging sales…
First up, take a peek at Nimble.
It’s a nifty CRM software that can also be used across Social Media (for our specific purposes) to auto-monitor, categorize and score people on Twitter, LinkedIn etc — just as you would with leads on your website.
Useful data to have all in one place.
I’m sure you can see how the dots are beginning to connect, making it so much easier to reward brand loyalists!
BONUS: Your entire team can see the same information, including your history of conversation with these people across all channels.
No more shouting across the office to ask what your colleague said to Sally Interaction last week, or how much support she recently showed your brand.
Time to start sending some swag.
Part II of our slick combo: Check out Queue.
Still one of the lesser-known tools out there, Queue is insanely dominating when it comes to driving massive engagement and creating a real ‘viral loop.’
In other words, it pairs referral marketing with gamification — incentivizing audiences to spread the word to all their friends and peers by not only rewarding them on autopilot, but creating a sense of competition between participants.
In this case, it’s your blog readers:
That’s right, top interactors even unlock titles such as ‘The Ultimate Fan.’
I’ve used this tool in the past and can vouch for its effectiveness; it surged traffic and interest in a product by thousands of percentages in a matter of hours.
Queue is a dynamic hub that’s programmed into your site — it does take some work to set up properly and test, but get it right and you’ll be amazed.
Here’s a super-quick example of how you can use it on your blog:
- Set up Queue on your site
- Encourage readers to share on social, comment on your content, subscribe, or refer their friends using CTAs throughout your material
- Designate points and subsequent rewards (swag, free eBooks, free products or services and other prizes) for milestones of individual engagement
- Sit back and watch the fun begin
Both tools are incredible for any blogging application — just be prepared to invest resources, as Queue (in particular) doesn’t come cheap, and you’ll also need skilled developers.
Spammers or cheats can also become an issue if you’re not on the ball.
Marrying data with Nimble, however, can solve this — and the rewards for all parties are so worth it!
HACK #2: Roundup, Absorb, & Segment
This hack should spark another ‘AHA!’ moment.
What if I told you there is a 3-step strategy to massively ramp up engagement on your company blog, collect interesting data to use as lead bait, and swiftly ensure all your individual email subscribers receive content tailored to their needs?
Well, there is…
In my previous guide, I explained how to personalize the customer journey by bucketing visitors into very closely-related groups. As we’re now specifically on the topic of blogging, there is one main subset of personalized marketing to discuss — and this 3-step approach relies on it.
You may have already guessed?
I’m referring to: Email Marketing.
“Email makes money. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38.”
“While Social Media and SEO should not be ignored, email has higher conversion rates than both tactics combined.”
(Source: Smart Insights)
(Infographic Source: Constant Contact)
There is still no bigger ally to business blogging as we head into 2019!
Yet, there’s so much more that can be achieved when this beast of a marketing discipline is synced with a couple of other major partners:
Blog roundups and appealing data.
The former is when you encourage influencers and/or bloggers to take part in your post by asking for their trusted input on a topic that is aligned with your business.
(Your content also favorably reaches their own audiences, as they share their contribution on various channels.)
The latter takes the form of useful information from which your audience can learn.
So: How exactly do you roundup, absorb and segment for boosted blog interaction, revenue and customer retention?
I asked this guy:
“Influencer and/or blogger roundups (that are relevant to your business) work very well, and they can perform even better with a twist.
While sending 1 – 3 long-form questions to your chosen contributors — request some further data (like company size, industry and position) in a multiple choice format.
Next, identify patterns in their long-form answers and categorize them by industry, company size, turnover, years active, plus any other suitable firmographics or metrics.”
[Note from Sam: The more contributors you manage to obtain, the stronger the validity of your data. 100+ participants will return a ton of attractive data! Brands boast about their total participants all the time, and rightly so.]
This is a clever way of discovering suitable ‘lead generation’ content for your audience, which can be beefed up with visual material i.e. once you combined the information, you can create a data-driven report to use as gated content.
You can even keep 1 of the 2 – 3 contributor answers to your questions top secret until visitors become leads after deciding to enter their details to receive your special download.
Blog title: How Influencers Distribute Content — We Asked 119 Industry Leaders
Lead gen form: 119 Influencers Share What REALLY Makes Money When Distributing Content — Grab The Hidden Report
“Publish the roundup on your blog and offer a brief taste of what extra details are included in the exclusive, juicy download — displaying banners and links in the publicly-visible roundup. From these, direct visitors to a landing page or trigger a pop-up form where they can download the report packed full of data and insights.
Make sure the topic of the roundup and report is directly related to your product, so visitors who click ‘the big green button’ show a keen interest in your product or service.
Then you need to follow up and nurture the leads who downloaded your report, using an email marketing automation platform (like Automizy).
Done right, this will help boost your conversions and subsequently — revenue.”
SAM’S BONUS: Don’t forget to ask all your contributors to subscribe to your blog. This is big for growth and unexpected opportunities.
Now, segmentation really comes into play.
It’s vital to send different emails to blog subscribers, leads, prospects and customers. To do this, you first have to be able to differentiate between these types of contacts.
Additionally, you can try segmenting your audience even further, based on what they downloaded on your roundup.
For instance, you could possibly display 7 download forms on one colossal page — each of them targeting a slightly different subset.
Lead gen form (Subset 1): 119 Influencers Share What REALLY Makes Money When Distributing Content — Grab The Hidden Report
Lead gen form (Subset 2): Download ‘The Geek Cheat Sheet’ — Using Excel To Save Time Distributing Content
Same topic, varied interests.
The more granular you go, the better you are able to accommodate your audience’s individual needs.
Mór continues his golden advice:
“You can do so by internally sending them to different email lists within your software, or assigning them certain tags your software recognizes and adheres to.
This is what your funneling process might look like:
Educating your leads, prospects and blog subscribers is vital for increasing revenue.
Share your best educative, value-packed material with these people. Monitor their engagement level and include a sales pitch in your emails to all who are highly-engaged, with a view to converting them into customers.
And when they do buy from you?
Publish use-case specific, product or service-related blog content with new feature releases, upcoming features and other important news — then continue to email your customers these links throughout every fresh blog post.”
Keep them in the loop; you will transform them from blog visitor to lead, to prospect, then to customer and repeat customer.
Remember to upsell and cross-sell!
A first purchase is only the beginning.
HACK #3: Stop Hiding Your CTAs
Please don’t misinterpret this one…
The last thing anybody wants to see is a page like this:
(Image Source: Euro VPS)
There’s a fine line between effectively communicating your key messages to blog visitors, and annoying them so much they leave.
Attention spans are dwindling and so is overall tolerance of promotion.
You must achieve the right balance, especially in our mobile age!
- Win the challenge and you’ll succeed in gaining tons of new leads and customers
- Lose the challenge and you’ll probably never win the interest of these people again
Let’s look at a few examples.
The page that displays the above ‘pop up’ GIF contains a detailed blog post explaining why your website may be slow to load.
It’s very helpful for any reader — helpful enough for them to be interested in the brand (a brand that happens to sell hosting, which everybody prefers perform as fast as possible).
Interestingly, there are only 3 opportunities for readers to get to know the business on a deeper level; and just 1 of those opportunities are unmissable.
As you hit the page, you see the hamburger menu icon, which uncovers company services:
Desktop presents better, although as mentioned, our world is now mobile:
The next opportunity will definitely grab anybody’s attention — although it may be a little too direct for a blog post pop up.
Scroll halfway down the page, and you are greeted with this:
It’s completely relevant to the topic, and the scroll trigger means readers who see this are more engaged.
However, there is no field for the reader’s website URL.
As a colder first-time blog visitor, this is a friction point because I immediately think, “Hmm. So they will either contact or hound me to arrange an audit and more, but I just want to see my results automatically, right now.”
I’m sure you’ll have seen the ‘fake audit’ approach done before, which I do not recommend.
In such a situation, what I suggest is offering a real audit automatically prepared for the blog reader. No friction, and they can contact you after — or you can follow-up with the details they entered.
Friction is the enemy of convenience, and convenience matters.
(Graph Source: Slice Intelligence)
Even if the automated component provides a fraction of results before you direct the now-warm lead to a full (and still free) manual report, this will very well.
You can apply this same principle across industries.
The final opportunity on this blog post is the least noticeable of the group:
An in-content text link to their service page, that sells hosting.
Albeit focused on load speed, it’s a shame for the brand to neglect their awesome content this way — a few optimized CTAs won’t dramatically affect loading time — so think about these examples when crafting your own blog material.
CoSchedule are content geniuses, so you can borrow some of their ideas. The team will have undoubtedly tested well.
Check this out:
No danger of missing a CTA there, right?
I purposely took a desktop screenshot of a point on their blog post where I managed to show ALL the goodies. They don’t appear all at once, don’t worry. 😉
The same displays on mobile, bar the ‘download now’ slide-out box on the right side of the page.
[If you’re going to use pop ups, always stick to Google’s preferences for SEO and better user experience.]
The entire execution is classy and not too ‘in your face.’ The friendly language also transforms users’ feelings from what may otherwise be deemed as over-promotion.
The devil is in the details, as they say.
- Users feel like they are getting a lot for nothing (‘free’ is used multiple times, the brand seems to be there to help, and even the staff appear to be available on demand.)
- Colors aren’t garish, but the differences in contrast suits and increases visibility
- The varied styles of CTA fit together nicely
If you close CoSchedule’s ‘pick your time’ chat function, it doesn’t show next time you visit the blog content. This likely works via cookies, because it appears again if you switch browser.
Using a combo of cookies and IP address matching would solve this minor ‘issue’; skilled developers will be able to accomplish such a task.
Incidentally, just in case you decide to leave the blog post without becoming a lead, look what happens when you show exit-intent:
Here are a few cool tools that can help you achieve a similar strategy, along with scroll triggers and slide-in pop-ups:
I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote to intensify your blogging ambition:
“Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts.”
(Source: HubSpot ‘State of Inbound 2018’ Report)
Happy business blogging! 😀