Often my clients (mostly small businesses/individuals) ask two common questions. Those who've already integrated a blog with their primary web site sulk about not getting any concrete results from it and those who've not yet started, question the necessity of having a business blog. In both cases, they do have general awareness about using blogging as a potent weapon to rope in customers, but they lack the know-how of effectively leveraging business blog's real estate.
It is either used as a news outpost or merely resembles a collection of posts hard-selling products. These are just the two mistakes at the macro-level which are blended with dozens other to make sure your business blog serves no purpose. As a result, the team maintaining the blog finds it very difficult to convince the management to keep it running in the absence of any credible data showing leads or sales. Your business blog is not just for announcing policies and products. So, for what it's made for?
- It's there to make a connection with your existing customers.
- It's there to turn prospects into loyal customers.
- It's there to push potential buyers into your sales funnel.
- It's there to get feedback about your existing products and services.
- And last but not the least, it's there to give your company a face.
Acquisition - Getting Qualified TrafficOver the years, different case-studies and analysis have clearly suggested that organic traffic from search engines yields much better results as compared to the traffic spikes coming from social media sites like StumbleUpon. Moreover, it's not the quantity but the quality of traffic that makes the difference.
What does 'Qualified Traffic' mean? It's as simple as pulling selective traffic from popular search engines where people are querying about exactly those problems for which you've affordable and easy-to-implement solutions. To pull this targeted audience, you need a thoroughly researched and refined content creation strategy. This strategy can be divided into 3 simple steps.
- Identifying relevant keywords (long tail as well as highly competitive) people are using on search engines.
- Creating an archive of relevant and useful content based on popular visitors' queries.
- Refining and applying the above two steps in a loop.
Channeling - Diverting Visitors To Honey PotsOnce you've managed to attract potential customers coming from search engines, your next step is to channelize them towards professionally written persuasive text/video/audio content that's going to be a foundation for sign-ups for your sales funnel.
These landing pages can be separate pages on your business blog or they can a part (static pages) of your primary business web site. I'll strongly suggest you to avoid the latter approach unless your blog's look 'n' feel matches with your web site. The most common and easy approach for creating diversions within a blog post is context-sensitive links with an alluring anchor text.
You can experiment with different anchor texts by tagging and analyzing them through your favorite web analytics system over a period of time. In fact, every link involved in the lead-generation process should be properly tagged for better analysis such that you get enough data to optimize and refine the whole process. Apart from text links, custom hyper-linked banners within or around the post are an effective method to divert incoming traffic. While embedding these banners, you must ensure they're not too loud; else you'll end up experiencing high bounce rates from these posts.
Baiting - Converting Prospects Into LeadsSuccessful completion of acquisition and channeling phase presents the next challenge of alluring an individual to sign up for your sales funnel via landing pages (honey pots). These pages consist of premium content surrounded by at least 2 or more email sign-up forms. The design and placement of these email sign-up forms should be actively researched and analyzed. A wrong placement or a too loud design not only kills the conversions, but may also trigger negative feedback on various public platforms. When it comes to premium content that's used as bait, there are several forms used by expert marketers over the years. Here's a list of diverse content formats served on such type of pages.
- Videos - It is the most effective medium to persuade an individual. Video has the power to instantly make a connection with the viewer. With some clever tactics that uses human psychology, you can achieve very high conversion rates through videos.
- Product comparisons - This is yet another popular method to allure a visitor. Carefully choose the rival products/solutions to compare with and created a table or an infographic highlighting what's unique about your product.
- Q & A list - It is something like a FAQ section present on a typical web site. The only difference is that this list can be much longer and one question may lead to another question in the list. Tip: You may leave the most important question unanswered just above the email sign-up form.
- Case studies/reports - If you have a data set from credible sources that convincingly displays the qualities of your products, nothing can be better than that. The real challenge is packaging this information into a persuasive copy that converts well.
Refining Lead Generation ProcessNo lead generation system is perfect and requires continuous monitoring and optimization. You need lots of data (visitors' behavior) and people smart enough to extract trends from that data that paves the way to replenish the existing system with new improved methodologies. Here are some general guidelines that will help you in creating a solid lead generation system through your business blog.
- Extensively split test your landing pages using Google Website Optimizer. Employ both A/B and multivariate testing.
- Get your email sign-up forms designed from a professional. It is one of the critical factors that decide the course of your lead generation campaign.
- If your targeted landing pages are on the primary web site, make sure the design of your blog matches with the web site. That's where blog design fundamentals come handy.
- Keep your business blog absolutely free of any sidebar widgets, adverts or any other distracting stuff that may hurt your conversions.