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The landscape of business blogs has changed over the years. The advent of inbound content marketing saw a shift in philosophy for many businesses.
Blog lead generation strategies have shifted from a company-centric to a user-centric philosophy.
Many of the most successful blogs leave direct sales strategies out of the articles themselves, providing useful, non-advertorial information instead.
The changes that Google has been making to their algorithm, along with an increased sensitivity to advertorial content among users, have created a new set of best practices for SEO and writing on the web.
The marketing funnel for online content begins with questions that people ask or problems that they have. Google’s emphasis on user-friendly content means that savvy marketers need to provide a service first and make the sale later.
How do you balance the need to drive traffic and to turn a click into a sale?
Well, your blog can be a significant driver of sales and web traffic, but you need to make sure people don’t simply get their information and leave.
In this post we’ll go over some surefire blog lead generation strategies to keep your audience engaged and encourage them through that funnel to a sale.
The days of absolute control over a brand’s image are behind us, regardless of how carefully you construct your conversations.
Social media has made it practically impossible to share a message without audience input.
This tends to become a problem when you look at cognitive theories such as the anchoring effect.
This effect describes a human tendency to form an opinion, or make a decision, based on the first piece of information they receive about something.
Retail uses this effect to create expectations of the value of something in a consumer’s eyes. A consumer is more likely to buy an item that costs $40 if they’re told that it’s been reduced from $60.
The first indication of value, real or imagined, is the most likely to stick. $40 is just $40. But $20 off is a deal.
However, this effect can backfire in the social media landscape, and fast.
No matter how convincing you are, no matter what proof you provide, if someone’s first experience of your brand is that they’re told not to like you, then chances are they won’t.
A majority of people are unlikely to see your messaging in a vacuum. More likely, they’ll see it shared alongside the opinion of a friend.
Rather than directly seeing an ad, such as a Google Adwords link, their first interaction with you will be through the filter of their friend or colleague’s post.
Suddenly, you are not controlling your brand’s messaging. It’s being controlled by the context that individuals are giving it.
Before they click, before they even read your carefully tested title, they’ll read an opinion about it.
The only way to keep up is to embrace the conversation.
Conversational commerce is the art of giving your audience an interactive experience as they engage with your brand. Blogs are part of this process.
By including authoritative, informative content in an article, you’re beginning a conversation. It’s important not to let that momentum peter out.
You don’t have to end a post with a sales pitch to get people to the next step.
Invite further engagement through comments, polls, and access to additional resources, like webinars and live streams (we’ll go over these soon.)
This can lead to better conversions in your blog lead generation strategy.
Blog Lead Generation: Test, Test, Test!
Try out a varied set of calls to action and engagement on your blog. Try to match your titles with questions that people ask, rather than traditionally (see: out of date) optimized/viral titles.
Don’t be afraid to use synonyms of high-competition keywords, and phrase things the way people talk.
This is because Google’s algorithms have been getting better and better at divining what people actually want when they search, even when they phrase things awkwardly or use synonyms.
As such, exact matches are still useful, but the cool thing here is you don’t need them all the time.
You can safely prioritize user experience, and craft more engaging language.
When you do that, you’ll likely get the doubled benefit of good SERP placement, because that’s what Google wants to see anyway, these days!
With the right analytics tools, and by making use of your own custom surveys, you can refine your understanding of the needs of your audience. This kind of data can even identify new targets for your messaging.
All of your online marketing decisions should be guided by data research.
Never fail to take advantage of the analytics tools offered to you by Google and social media platforms, and always look for ways to poll your audience.
Either by inviting comments on blog posts, doing surveys through Twitter or hosting live Q&A sessions, your audience is perfectly willing to give you vital information if you find ways to engage with them.
One of the best and most accessible ways to conduct research is to experiment with A/B testing.
Put simply, you take a post or landing page to use as a control. Then you produce an alternative version, with different messaging and different calls to action.
You take data about the traffic, clickthroughs and bounce rates and compare the effectiveness of each page.
A combination of analytics like these, and direct feedback from your audience, can help guide your content in the future.
Vary Blog Post Types and Themes
A great way to build a regular audience is to develop a schedule of regular content around a theme.
A lot of the time these are based on days of the week. Thrifty Thursday, Tutorial Tuesday, etc. With the right content, you can generate an air of expectation and attract recurring visitors.
One of the finest examples of this is Moz’s Whiteboard Friday. As you can see, the theme doesn’t have to be hyper-topical.
Moz covers a wide range of topics with their whiteboards. They’ve established an expectation for exceptional content, and they deliver on time, every time.
That’s another key thing to mention: volume matters less than consistency. Focus on a manageable schedule, whatever that happens to be, and don’t worry about optimal post volume data.
Just deliver on time, every time, whether that’s twice a week or once a month.
These themes are also the perfect opportunity to experiment with different content formats. Videos, infographics, podcasts and livestreams.
Livestreaming is one of the best ways to generate live engagement and real-time conversation.
A regular livestream can also generate regular excitement from a loyal community; don’t underestimate the excitement of a live conversation!
Don’t be afraid to embrace social media culture if it doesn’t conflict with your identity. The occasional comic or meme breaks up the flow of content and generates goodwill.
Everyone needs a good laugh now and then, and showing your company’s human side is an important tactic in the fight to get noticed on over-saturated platforms.
There is an overabundance of businesses using content marketing to reach their customers. It’s a strategy that works, but it’s time to find ways to differentiate yourselves.
The more relevant to their needs, concerns and enjoyment you can be, the more likely you are to generate a regular audience that comes back, and becomes more likely to buy.
Which blog lead generation content strategies have you seen success with? Have you experimented with livestreams, or less common ideas like comics?
What has your testing told you about content that works well, and content that doesn’t?
Please let us all know in the comments! 🙂
Devin Morrissey lives in Daly City, CA, where he writes about small business and SEO. When his laptop updates or his Wi-Fi is down, Devin modifies his friends’ cars and hunts for vinyl records.