If you’re not generating leads – as in: a lot of leads – from your company’s blog, you’re missing out on what is perhaps not only your best opportunity to convert organic Web traffic into actionable, measurable sales inquiries, but also the best way to actually show real ROI from your social media investment.
Here are 10 proven ways to generate more leads from your blog. And no, #1 is not “write better content” (because you already knew that.)
1. Optimize post titles for search.
It’s highly likely that most of your blog traffic will come, not from visitors wandering over from the main corporate site, but through search. Therefore, the #1 way to drive blog traffic, and more sales leads, is to ensure that 1) the title of each post is optimized for search, and that 2) the language drives interest and engagement. Ask yourself: if someone sees the title of the post alone, and nothing more, will he/she be motivated to read that post?
2. Offer multiple subscription options.
The best way to convert organic blog visitors to subscribers is to write great content. But if the only way to subscribe to the blog is through RSS, or email, you’re missing out on a large subset of leads who may prefer other channels. That’s why it’s important to offer as many subscription options as possible, including RSS, Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and aggregation services like Flipboard.
3. Sell subscription options prominently.
On the working assumption that your blog already has great content, getting people to subscribe to that blog is the easiest way to convert casual readers into leads that you can then nurture, educate, and ultimately convert into sales-ready prospects. But don’t think that simply placing a row of social icons at the top of your main blog page is enough. Create a “subscribe to this blog” box in your sidebar, and add selling copy to attract potential subscribers (ex: “Don’t Miss Another Post. Subscribe Now!”)
4. Use a pop-up subscription form.
As one last method for encouraging visitors to subscribe, consider a pop-up subscription form. (On our blog, we use the Indeed Smart PopUp for WordPress.) With the right plugin, you can choose when to launch the pop-up window – for example, when a visitor visits a certain number of pages, or leaves the blog, or clicks on specific content. With IP tracking, you can also choose to only show the pop-up to visitors who aren’t already subscribed, or present current subscribers with a different offer.
5. Use the sidebar to promote downloadable offers.
Dump standard widgets like “Tags” and “Categories” and instead use precious sidebar real estate for content that actually drives engagement and sales leads. Create download buttons for content like white papers, videos, or recorded Webinars that tie in to the topics you cover on your blog, and gate those offers behind landing pages and short registration forms. That way, readers who enjoy your blog posts have a vehicle to request additional, related content.
6. Add calls to action to the end of blog posts.
If you post about Topic A, and you also have a white paper on that same topic, there’s every reason to include a short call to action at the end of the blog post that gives the reader the option to download that same paper. As in: “For a more detailed discussion of [Topic A], download our free white paper on [Insert Title Here].” Just don’t do it on every blog post, or readers will tire of the pitch.
7. Excerpt long-form content as blog posts.
A similar technique is to post an excerpt from the actual white paper (or similar, long-form content) and then give the reader the opportunity to download the complete version. As in: “Excerpted from the white paper: “[Insert Title Here]”. To download the complete white paper, visit our Web site [link].”
8. Promote gated content offers on the blog.
There’s no law that says that every blog post has to be standalone editorial content. If you just recorded a Webinar with a well-known speaker, or if you’ve published a new ebook, write a blog post about that same content and provide a link to the full version. Just make sure that the blog post provides information of value on its own merits (that is, the reader learns something even without accessing the full content). And again, don’t overdo it. We recommend no more than one “promotional” post per month, or every 4th post at most.
9. Link keywords within blog content to relevant Web pages.
Linking keywords within blog posts to targeted Web pages or landing pages has long been an effective way to drive sales leads and also increase the “authority” (in SEO parlance) of the linked pages. But be careful – some experts claim that the technique can be subject to penalty by Google if they believe it represents an attempt to “manipulate links to your site”.)
10. Email all new blog content to your marketing database.
Email newsletters may be a thing of the past, but an effective way to increase blog traffic, leverage your investment in blog content, and drive more sales leads, is to package up all new blog posts (or perhaps just highlights, depending on how often you publish) and email that content in newsletter form, with links to the full articles, to your marketing database.
11. Create a separate demand generation blog.
Let’s say that social media strategy at your company is owned by the PR folks, and they’re not too crazy about the demand gen team converting their precious blog into some kind of lead generation vehicle (the nerve!). No problem. Let the PR team run the corporate blog, and create a separate blog, with a more industry trends/thought leadership editorial bent, that’s optimized for lead generation.
For more information on this topic, including real-life examples of successful blogs, view our Slidecast “Getting Leads (and More!) from your Blog: 10 Tips for Higher Blog ROI.”