In 2018, marketers are competing for an audience share that is both smart and digitally savvy. That means they can’t rely on the same old marketing strategy to carry blog conversions.
If you’ve noticed stagnation in your conversion rate, it may be time to revise your strategy to boost conversions and keep your business growing.
Be sure you’re incorporating these eight proven techniques to maximize your blog conversions.
1. Know your Target
The most obvious element in conversion is a laser-like focus on the users you’re aiming to attract and convert.
Are you posting articles like mad, but lacking the traffic and engagement you’re looking for? Maybe you’re not focusing on the right target audience.
An intimate knowledge of your target audience—needs, wants, challenges and pain points—allows for hyper-personalized content and optimized tracking.
Unlike one-size-fits-all marketing, personalization uses customer choices and preferences to shape experience, resulting in a unique approach that’s designed to delight.
Recent research shows that personalization can deliver 5x-8x the ROI for marketers, but 85% of marketers surveyed say their audience segments are too broad..
Consider these options for increasing the level of customized content in your online outreach.
Call them by name
A study published in the journal Brain Research showed increased brain activity when people hear their own first name, particularly in the areas associated with social behavior, long-term memory and visual and auditory processing.
Harness that reaction by incorporating customers’ names into emails (which boosted open rates by more than 5 percent in a study by Statista) or by greeting past visitors by name.
Tailor your content
According to a University of Texas study, human preference for personalization is driven by two main factors: information overload and a desire for control.
Users see personalized content as more relevant and feel a greater sense of control over their experience.
Information like purchase history, past clicks and consumer behavior provides the data you need to customize your content and enhance your conversion rate.
To cite an oldie but a goodie, Charles Duhigg with the New York Times has a great example of stellar “know your target” principles.
Target customers are assigned guest identification numbers after their first brand interaction. This is used to store customer demographics and to track buyer behavior.
2. Address Pain Points
Now that you’ve gotten to know your target audience, you can use that knowledge to build blog posts around their pain points— and how your company can help solve them.
Pain points are as varied and individual as your customers, but they can often be identified by asking the following broad questions:
- What internal factors are causing them anxiety?
- What external forces are creating stress for them?
- If your customer could snap their fingers and solve one problem, what would it be?
- What criticisms do your customers fear hearing from their supervisors?
- How do your customers define failure in their own professional or personal lives?
Identifying broad themes, as well as specific pain points, can help you develop compelling, conversion-driving content.
Wordstream has a wonderful breakdown of pain points, and how to find and solve customer problems. They have incorporated customer insight round table events to bring customers into their offices to share their experiences with the service and site.
Don’t forget to consider the platform as well as the pain point as you create content.
While many of us default to written content, be sure to explore other channels to ensure your approach best supports your target audience.
Different users will respond to different channels, so be sure to incorporate user demographics, needs and preferences as you plan your posts.
Your topic may work fine in a written blog post, but it could also be recorded as a YouTube or Facebook video, published in a Slideshare deck or discussed in a podcast episode.
3. Say Hello to Video
Forbes recently shared some impressive statistics on the power of video marketing:
- According to YouTube, mobile video consumption grows by 100 percent every year.
- Video is expected to comprise more than 80 percent of all web traffic by 2019.
- Adding video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by more than 200 percent.
- Nine out of 10 customers stated that product videos guide their purchasing choices.
- 64 percent of customers said watching a product video made them more likely to buy the product online.
- One-third of the time people spend online is spent watching videos.
- Video ads make up more than 35 percent of online ad spending.
- 59 percent of corporate managers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post.
Use of video marketing clearly translates to increased conversion rates.
According to Forbes, 65 percent of business decision-makers visit the company’s website after viewing a branded video, and that 39 percent contact the marketer after viewing a branded video.
Given these numbers, video isn’t just a nice-to-have component of your marketing strategy. It’s a must-have.
Are you getting conversion rates at those levels with your marketing strategies?
Rich media like video enhances the power of your message and provides targeted, relevant content to a large audience. Many businesses are incorporating live video into interviews, product demonstrations, “day in the life” pieces, special events and more.
Consider converting a planned blog article into a video post, or go live with streaming platforms on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
I make it a point to use software options such as Lumen to take written content and turn it into video quickly and efficiently.
One of the strongest examples of great video marketing is Apple’s #TAYLORvsTREADMILL campaign, which promoted Apple Music with a relatable storyline.
4. Calls to Action
Convincing potential customers to consume your content won’t automatically lead to conversions.
That’s where the call to action (CTA) comes in—making it obvious to users what the next step is, and making it easy for them to take it.
You should keep in mind three key factors when developing your call to action: visibility, message and supporting elements.
Visibility and Appearance
Others argue that it should be above the fold, keeping the user from needing to scroll down at all.
Recent research by ConvertVerve, however, found that placing your CTA near strong supporting information on the lower half of the page resulted in a conversion rate increase of more than 300 percent.
Bottom line: Place your call to action where it best supports the user’s decision-making process.
While placement is key, so is appearance. Consider using different colors in your CTA to create contrast with the rest of the page.
Rounded call-to-action buttons tend to stand out best, further increasing the number of visitors that take the desired action.
Choosing the right size can be tricky.
Many designers believe that using a larger call to action will boost conversion rates, but studies by ConvertVerve and Unbounce showed that using a larger button resulted in a 10 percent conversion rate drop, theoretically because visitors felt pressured to take action.
Generally, your call to action needs to be large enough to be noticed, but small enough that it doesn’t cause tension or drive away visitors.
Your call to action should include a clear, compelling message that motivates users to follow through without creating pressure to respond in a certain way (which can breed resentment).
Your CTA should answer two critical questions concisely: what do you want the visitor to do, and why should they do it?
Replace generic instructions like “Submit” or “Buy Here” with phrases that clearly communicate the benefits of acting, like “Try It for Free” or “Support Hurricane Relief.”
Creating a sense of urgency with terms like Now or Today can also compel visitors to take immediate action, leading to higher conversion rates.
Images, white space and other supporting elements near your CTA can enhance conversion rates but should be used judiciously.
- Testimonials and case studies can increase conversion rates by nearly 70 percent, if they are credible and sincere. Never invent or inflate testimonials to appeal to users; if they see through a fake endorsement; they’ll be gone for good.
- Use only high-quality pictures to support your CTA. Unnecessary or low-resolution images create clutter and distract visitors from following through on the desired behavior.
One of the strongest, most common examples of a high-converting call to action is Netflix’s home page. With “Join free for a month”, and examples overlaid on the background of title options, the Netflix call to action is one of the most successful around.
5. Keywords Are Key
Do you know if you’re using the most effective keywords for your target audience?
Identifying the keywords visitors are using to find your blog—or a specific post—can tell you a lot about what they’re hoping to find there.
By determining which keyword most people used to find a post, you can tailor your CTA to match the keyword (or keywords) as closely as possible, increasing the likelihood that users will follow through on the CTA.
When identifying keywords, be sure to include a good balance of short and long-tail keywords.
Generic or short keywords can help drive big quantities of traffic to your website—think furniture or sofa— while long-tail keywords like modern chocolate brown sectional sofa can produce higher-quality traffic that’s more likely to result in a conversion.
Take advantage of the wide range of keyword research tools available to help you identify the most effective long-tail keywords.
SEMrush, KeySearch, Moz Keyword Explorer and Google Keyword Planner, among others, can eliminate the guesswork and help you find long-tail keywords easily and quickly.
Once you’ve identified your critical keywords, use them to shape new blog content, and take the time to go back and optimize past posts based on those keywords.
For example, evaluate an older post’s CTA to see if the initial offer was relevant to the search term people used to find the post. If you think there’s room for improvement, update the CTA to include the search term in its title.
You can also optimize images to more closely match the associated keywords.
Here is a great experiment you can use to test the results of your keyword optimization efforts:
- Before doing any keyword-based optimization, record the views, leads and conversion rates for each post for two weeks to allow for a before-and-after comparison.
- When optimizing, note each change made (tweaked the offer, updated the language in the CTA, etc.) If the posts’ performance drops after the optimization, you can restore the original content. If their performance improves, you can replicate your success.
- After two weeks, look at the optimized posts’ metrics (views, leads, conversion rate) and compare them to the original post to determine whether the optimization was effective.
An incredible example of keyword research in practice is The Spruce. Started in February 2017 by About.com, The Spruce rapidly began capitalizing on buyer-intent keywords.
Currently, it is ranking for several million keywords, has almost 6 million organic visitors monthly, and is one of the most popular sites online.
6. Nailing the Visual Appeal
First impressions matter.
Many visual factors influence visitors’ assessment of a site, including structure, color, spacing, symmetry, font choice, graphics use and length of text .
A recent study by Google concluded that websites with low visual complexity and high prototypicality (how well a website design conformed to expectations for its category) were rated by users as highly appealing.
In other words, clean, simple, familiar designs are most likely to attract and retain visitors. If your site’s design is cluttered, complex and unfamiliar, it might be time to rethink it.
Researchers have also found that it takes 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to locate the area of a website that will have the most impact on their first impression. Eye-tracking data gathered in the study showed that users spent the most time on the following sections of the page:
- Logo (6.48 seconds)
- Navigation menu (6.44 seconds)
- Search box (6 seconds)
- Main image (5.94 seconds)
- Written content (5.59 seconds)
- Bottom of the page (5.25 seconds)
The more appealing these six elements are, the longer visitors will spend on your page—and the more likely they are to respond to your call to action.
The bottom line for your blog? You could have the best content in the world for your chosen target market, but if you can’t package it up pretty, your viewership will be lacking.
A notorious example of a well-received redesign is the Olive Garden logo. Having staled from years of continuous use, the new Olive Garden logo took things from the equivalent of a sign to a more minimalist, branded approach.
7. Get Social
Most marketers are already using some form of social media as part of their conversion strategy.
But it’s important to revamp your approach periodically to incorporate the latest social tools and features into your blog.
For example, social messaging apps aren’t just for sending cute emojis to your friends. Savvy marketers know that
- Facebook Messenger has more than 1.3 billion active monthly users.
- Customers and businesses exchange more than 2 billion messages each month on Facebook Messenger.
- WhatsApp boasts 1 billion monthly active users, who send 55 billion messages every day.
These statistics illustrate the growing popularity of social messaging apps—a prime opportunity for businesses to expand and strengthen their customer base.
Since people are spending more time in messaging apps, failure to establish a presence there means missing out on potential customer contacts.
Social messaging apps also allow for greater personalization and enhance users’ experience.
In fact, 46 percent of people would rather use messaging than email to interact with a business, and nearly 50 percent prefer messaging over contacting a business via phone.
Social media stories provide another rich-media channel for connecting with customers. Story features on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and even YouTube use live video to promote user engagement and brand awareness.
Story videos often have a raw look and feel, lending them an authenticity and credibility that over-produced, highly edited pieces often lack.
Because stories disappear after a set period (usually 24 hours), they allow you to tap into audiences’ “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO).
They also appeal to users’ shrinking attention spans with exciting but temporary content. Popular content ideas include employee features, reviews, behind-the-scenes pieces and product demonstrations.
A great example of a blog with great social media presence, even in a niche market, is Offbeat Bride.
Specializing in information relating to non-traditional weddings, they have highly active profiles on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
8. Harness Technology
The rapid growth of online technology provides a wealth of opportunities to build your conversion rate. Consider incorporating the following cutting-edge tools into your blog.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is evolving to play a critical role in online user experience. AI can analyze consumer behavior by sourcing data from social media, online searches and other activity.
This analysis helps businesses understand how customers find and make decisions about the products and services they use.
AI can also obtain consumer information straight from the source by engaging users in conversation.
According to Gartner, by 2020, twenty-five percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels, up from less than two percent in 2017.
Chatbots use an instant messaging format to interact with site visitors in real time, 24 hours a day.
They can answer questions, provide customized information about products and services and request an email address to send users additional details.
They can also retain information so customers don’t have to start from scratch every time they visit your site.
Because of their prompt, timely and unfailingly polite responses, many customers prefer communicating with chatbots to interacting with humans.
These virtual assistants offer outstanding customer service and automate repetitive tasks, which marketing experts believe will save businesses more than $8 billion a year by 2020.
For example, ride-sharing service Uber leans heavily on chatbots for customer interactions. Passengers can use the digital menu to make a request, track the location of the car, send friends their ETA and pay their driver.
Voice search has exploded, thanks in large part to digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s “Hey Google” prompt.
While people can access comprehensive information through traditional search engines, they don’t always have the time or patience to sort through the data-dump to find what they’re looking for.
Voice search helps narrow the results and provide the relevant information in an audio format.
Many brands are now including voice search in their digital marketing strategies to deliver content more effectively to their customers. Domino’s Pizza, for instance, allows customers to order pizza through their Amazon Alexa devices.
If you need further evidence of the importance of voice search, have a look at these statistics:
- 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by the year 2020.
- 20 percent of mobile searches on Google are voice searches.
- 25 percent of all Bing searches are voice searches.
Creating content that converts isn’t complicated, but how to make your blog convert?
In addition to the eight tips mentioned above, a simple online search turns up a long list of strategies for improving your conversion rates.
The key is to select a few that pique your interest or fit your audience and then take them for a test drive. If they don’t work, you have dozens of other options with which to experiment.
By taking the time and effort to refine your approach and have high converting blog posts, you’ll make your content more valuable to your target audience and your bottom line.
Manvi is a Marketing & Communication Strategist at SocialPilot. Social Media is Manvi’s niche area in which she employs an interactive user-oriented strategy and loves exploring this industry’s tips & tricks. Besides social media, Manvi loves experiencing new things and trying new food!
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