Turn Your Blog into a Lead Generating Machine
August 4, 2016
These days, many tasks can be accomplished without human intervention. We rely on machines to perform mundane tasks, allowing us to focus on more mentally challenging activities. For instance, we’ve come a long way since the first Ford Model T production line was created. People no longer stand on a conveyor belt to do the same mind-numbing work day in and day out.
In today’s digital landscape, businesses have come to rely on automation to perform a large bulk of their marketing tasks. From social listening to data analysis, technology has been a huge enabler. But if there’s one thing we’ve yet to find a machine able to do properly, it’s crafting a compelling blog post.
Sure, there’s software that can pull content off the internet for you. It’s as close to automating blog posts as you can get, but be forewarned, as these typically create posts based on RSS feeds. Which means that you’re likely to end up with sub-par or duplicate content which can come off as spammy. Worst case scenario? You might even be charged with copyright infringement!
Suffice it to say, blogging is best done the old fashioned way. That is, with an actual human being behind the keyboard crafting their ideas into a blog post, and publishing it after (several rounds of) editing.
Blogs are also widely recognized as an excellent way to generate leads, and a huge help when it comes to achieving a robust bottom line. In fact, HubSpot claims that marketers who prioritize blogging are thirteen times more likely to have a positive return on investment.
To drive the point home further, take a look at the business gains you’ll get from blogging:
How Blogging Helps Generate Leads
1. Establish Your Position as a Thought Leader
When you produce insightful content on a regular basis, you demonstrate industry expertise. Providing valuable content that few others are offering will quickly establish your position as a thought leader. Educating your readers about the industry you belong to will turn your brand into a go-to resource. When you do this on a regular basis, you’ll be acknowledged as an important voice who is worthy of your audience’s attention and patronage.
Sharing valuable information is a great way to get customers to trust your brand, and blogging is the perfect platform for you to do exactly that.
2. Build Authority and Establish Trust
The key to establishing authority is not only to craft high-quality content that’s valuable to your target audience, but to do it on a consistent basis. Establishing trust takes time. There’s no shortcut to gaining a new prospect’s confidence. You need to prove that you’re the real deal and not just a fly-by-night operation.
Publishing quality content in a steady fashion shows that you’re offering a service or product that is here for the long haul and that you’re not simply looking to make a quick buck.
Even the mistakes you commit can help inspire trust in your followers. As long as you’re honest and find solutions to any oversights, it will not diminish your authority. You’re showing authenticity by letting them see your human side. You’re taking your audience on a journey and showing them how you handle problems that come along the way.
This transparent strategy was evident when Buffer published an article telling their audience that they were experiencing financial trouble and had to layoff some of their team. As long as you have a sensible solution to address any honest mistakes, you won’t lose authority or a follower’s trust. If anything, it might even enhance it.
3. Boost Your SEO
Blogging increases your digital presence so that you’re more visible on Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. The more valuable pages you put out there, the more favorable your ranking will become.
Blogging increases inbound links by as much as 97%, which improves your search rankings. These factors, in turn, attract even more visitors through search and improve your blog readership.
4. Engage Your Audience
Quality content attracts the right audience. It pulls them in, captures their attention, and increases your chances of turning them into loyal customers. Your blog can be a venue to answer questions through the content you publish there. But, you have to make sure you’re doing this on a consistent basis to maximize results.
5. Generate Quality Leads
Once you’ve captured their attention, offering a suitable reward in return for their contact information is a great way to generate qualified leads. A blog can be used as a lead magnet where visitors are offered something of value in the hopes that they’ll provide their email, address, zip code, and other details in exchange for something of value you’re providing.
Quality leads are more likely to have a better customer lifetime value compared to cold leads. You can also use their contact info for target marketing and advertising purposes.
10 Ways to Optimize Your Blog for Lead Generation
How do you turn your blog into a lead generating machine? Here are a few ideas you can work with:
1. Offer Exclusive “Gated” Content
Leave out a little extra for loyal followers that casual readers won’t normally get. Do this alongside the free content you’re already posting on the blog.
Of course, you can’t eliminate your public posts. You’re going to need some content for search engines to crawl, so you get the SEO benefits. But, make it worthwhile to buy into your exclusive of
fer by giving them something that free access can’t provide.
For example, you can set up an exclusive section on your blog that provides in-depth insights on concepts already tackled in regular blog posts. You can host webinars that provide detailed feedback that’s customized for clients who provide their contact and personal information.
2. Your Blog Should be Integrated into Your Main Website
You might be tempted to put your blog on a separate domain, but you’ll miss out on many opportunities to generate leads if you do so. Unfortunately, if you make your blog a separate entity, your main site won’t benefit from the search engine rankings you’ll get from inbound blog links. Your brand identity on the blog should consistently mirror what is on your main website.
A visitor’s first encounter with your brand might be via a blog post, and they might not even land on your homepage. Give them a seamless customer experience with your brand regardless whether they’re on your blog or the main website.
3. Try Marketing Tools Like a Slide-in CTA
A slide-in call to action (CTA) is a nifty tool you can use for blog readers who’ve managed to scroll all the way to the bottom of your post. It’s an indication that your prospect is interested enough to consume all of your content. This is where the Slide-in CTA comes into the picture—literally.
A box on the lower right-hand corner slides in with an irresistible offer your prospect can’t refuse. Your CTA could come in the form of a white paper, in-depth details about the post, or other valuable content in exchange for the reader’s contact information. This type of CTA is generally a lot less annoying than a pop-up.
4. Another Marketing Tool to Try: the Hello Bar
A Hello Bar is a bar that appears at the top portion of a website, typically spanning the page. It’s hard to miss since it is located in the area on the screen where a visitor is likely to see first when the page opens. Hello Bars often include a call to action to help drive traffic to landing pages or squeeze pages.
Readers who don’t click immediately but read the post will find that the “Hello Bar” follows them as they scroll through. It has been proven to be an effective tool to drive targeted traffic and build your email list in a relatively short period.
5. Link to Other Useful Internal Resources as Often as Possible
When you write a blog post, be mindful of specific words or phrases that are related to other posts or content within your site. Throughout the post, link these words (i.e. Database Marketing) to other resources on your site.
Keywords can be linked to landing pages or other pages, and you can have these lead to related offers or deals that your prospects might find interesting. It could be a webinar sign up, a free trial, or an e-book that expounds on a certain topic.
6. Maximize the Real Estate Around a Blog Post
The “leaderboard” at the top of the blog, the sidebars on either side of a post, and the space at the end of an article are prime real estate on your website. Don’t let these spots go to waste by not putting CTAs, banners, or buttons on full display.
The footer following a blog post is also a great opportunity to include a supplementary offer or another exciting piece of content. That space can also be used to link to landing pages to encourage subscription or CTAs that require email registration.
7. Include Irresistible Perks
Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Consider adding free shipping or discounts when they sign up for your email newsletter. This boosts your chances of gaining new subscribers and interested customers.
In some cases, offering a physical catalog could be used as a way to collect email addresses. IKEA generates leads this way by giving prospects the option to download an online catalog or have a printed version snail-mailed to their delivery address. You just need to fill out the form that includes your email address or physical address.
This is also a chance to keep in touch with a prospect through an opt-in button that adds them to your email list for updates or other special perks.
8. Add Subscription Services
Offering a subscription service gives your visitors an easy way to sign-in to receive regular blog updates through email and RSS feeds. When they do, a subscriber is notified each time you publish a blog post.
Most blogging platforms include subscription plug-ins, while other email marketing services can integrate a plug-in that allows you to build your subscription list. Other providers can offer this for free such as FeedBlitz or Google FeedBurner.
9. Make it Easy to Share Your Content on Social Media
You can do this by adding social media icons in and around your blog post. This encourages visitors to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other sites, which in turn, helps enable your audience to expand your online network.
You want to drive traffic to your site as much as possible and social sharing is an excellent (and easy) way to complement your lead generation campaign.
10. Stick to an Editorial Calendar
Aside from creating quality content, the key to successful lead generation through blogging is consistency. You have to abide by a schedule for creating regular content and publishing a post based on your editorial calendar. You can either do this manually or use plug-ins that map out topics and publishing schedules on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual schedule.
To avoid burnout, make sure that you create a sustainable plan by delegating certain tasks to freelancers and different content creators on your team.
Business Blogging Tips
Whether you’re just about to start your first B2B blog post, or you already have a blog up and running on your website, here are some B2B blogging best practices and tips to help you build a strong online presence:
1. Know Your Goal
Before you start drafting a new article for your blog, determine what your goal is for this particular post. Is it to attract new visitors? Is it to generate business le
ads? Or is it to subtly inform your readers about the updates to your products and services? Having a goal to start with will give your posts more direction, making it easier to determine the steps you need to take to reach your goal.
2. Know Your Audience
Determine, who your audience is, and why you are writing for them. Keep in mind that visitors may read your blog for a variety of reasons. It may be to research a topic they barely know about, or it may be due to their need to address an immediate problem or concern. The more you know about your audience, the more personal and relevant your content will be.
3. Think Before You Post
Remember that your blog serves as an extension of your company’s values and morals. Thus, your content should reflect your company’s values. If your business values education and professionalism, make your posts more polished and formal. On the other hand, if your brand values entertainment, make your posts amusing and fun to read.
4. Be Consistent
For your blog to be a success, you must publish content on a regular basis. A little bit of downtime can cause you to lose readers you’ve worked so hard to gain. You definitely don’t want to see a sharp drop in your blog’s analytics.
5. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
Make your blog more searchable by keeping it SEO-friendly. Optimize keywords that are likely to be used by visitors when they’re searching for information related to your offerings. Integrate your blog with a writing platform like WordPress. Unless you’re a keen developer, these platforms will make your articles much more easy for search engines to find and index.
6. Make Subscribing Worthwhile
Your blog subscribers are potentially probably going to be your best source for generating highly targeted leads. Blog subscribers already love your content, so provide them with exclusive bits of content to help guide them further down your sales funnel.
Things to Remember
If only engaging content could be summed up in a neat algorithm, fed into a machine, and used to create blog posts at a flick of a switch, blogging would be so much easier.
Until then, the best thing to do is to come up with a strategy that enables you to churn out quality content on a regular basis. We mentioned a few digital tools you can use to free up time and resources. Make use of them so that you’re not overwhelmed by tasks that can be easily automated.
Don’t forget to use social media to drive traffic to your landing page. Iterate on these ideas, and it’ll be just a matter of time until you establish authority in your niche and fill your sales funnel on a continual basis.
In the end, remember that blogging is basically a means to an end. In this case, the end is lead generation (and a healthy bottom line). It’s also an opportunity for you to connect with customers in a way no other software or app can ever replicate. But, for it to work, it needs your active involvement.